Monday, 15 February 2016

A Full Life at Home


In one of my last blogs I wrote that I’d not been able to find much free time to write a blog since the Christmas and the New Year. And it looks like I may find that 'finding the time' continues to get harder.

I’m writing this one to try and explain, and putting in some pictures. 

For those of you who do like catching up with my peripatetic Greek-Australian life,  I’ll probably take up writing blogs about it again, slowly at first, but with more energy when I get back to Greece.

Here are some reasons for my absence from the blogsphere.

And, always when in Melbourne we find ourselves was caught up in family events. Some involved entertaining here at our home. Others, because schools in Australia have their long summer holiday in January involved having grandchildren to stay. Both these activities take time and energy, but are filled with joy.


One trip with grand daughters involved going to a farm where you pick your own fruit. It was blueberry time and we brought bags full home and made blueberry filled meringues. 



We have made some good friends since moving to Emerald. This summer we've taken trips out with some, to some nearby sights, or spent time at home having a BBQ or just coffee and chat.

Then on top of that I've just run a children’s dance/drama workshop here in Emerald. 

The story was a fantasy, very lightly based on the history of this area for in the early days gold was found near Emerald. 

The children acted out a hold-up by bushrangers who stole the gold a family had found when gold panning. The gold was on its way to a bank in Melbourne.

But the big time waster is my writing.  I’ve been trying to finish the first draft of a whodunit (a cosy mystery) I’ve set in Lemnos. This takes hours and hours and I’ve been doing that rather than think about my blog!

I’d not been the Melbourne Art Gallery for years and I loved taking my granddaughter there


Reading is always relaxing. 
I’ve managed to read a few whodunit books, and books about writing whodunits - guess why!

 And I always find gardening relaxing, even weeding. More about that later.

Plus I’ve visited a couple of new gardens. A waterlily park, and St. Earth, an ‘old English Garden’ hidden in bushland an hours’ drive from Melbourne.


So Beautiful. I'm now making myself a mini water garden. Just one waterlily in a pot.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Past and Present Learning Curves

Past and Present Learning Curves 

Learning Curves

Thinking of the New Year and what I would like to accomplish in 2016 has got me thinking of past years and some the learning curves I’ve dealt with, more or less successfully, in order to successfully carry out my life. There have been many. I suppose that most important have been those learning curves that I’ve dealt with for work; these involve teaching, lecturing and academic study and research.

But now that I’ve retired I do not need to put as much thought into those aspects of my life any more, though they do still enhance my life, and make me who I am. However, picking two current learning curves, that make life right now more livable and pleasant, I thought I’d share something about those that are ongoing, and have to do with weather, and gardening.

Learning Curves and Weather


As you age you may want to return to a place where you can once again feel ‘at home’ with the weather. I was born in England, a very wet damp place. But, this damp wet weather encouraged beautiful green hills and wonderful gardens, and it was not damp and wet all year, so when seasonal changes interrupted this usual weather they were so much appreciated – winter snow, spring flowers, the odd day of lazy summer warmth, the colours of autumn.


I now feel most ‘at home’ here in Australia or in Greece when the temperature is around 20, and when it is over 25 I almost expire!

Takis, on the other hand, was born in Alexandria, and he now feels most ‘at home’ when the temperature is around 25 and over. He also does not mind heat and humidity, as it was often very humid in Alexandria.


Our joint learning curves have been to learn to adapt to a lifestyle that includes hot Greek summers, and cold winters when we are in this part of Australia in August. This has resulted in looking for a house in Australia with a good heating system for Takis, and limiting our exposure to Greek summers to only July, plus putting an air-conditioner in the bedroom. It’s a compromise that works, however that doesn’t mean we still don’t complain at times!

Learning Curves and Gardening People

There are things that you learn from books and magazines. And I’m right now enjoying a Gardening Magazine subscription my daughter in law gave me for xmas. Lots to learn there.

Then there are things to be learnt from gardening clubs. I belong to a local Australian garden club, and I enjoy their knowledgeable speakers, and the Mediterranean Garden Society that has been inspiring (though often due to my peripatetic lifestyle it’s hard to keep a up continuous connection with these).

But, what I’d like to emphasis are those aspects of gardening I’ve benefited from by having worked alongside two gardening people.

Isn’t it true that sharing is often the best way to learn?


1.     Anestis in Greece

I think its been hard for Anestis to work alongside a woman, but in the end I think we have managed to share and learn from each other. Though, as I’ve written before, this experience has been limited by my lack of Greek. But I have learnt not to fuss about each weed, to clear the lot quickly and then work on the cleared patch and I’ve learnt how to water different, pouring water on every third day in very hot weather to encourage deep rooting. And Anestis had learnt more about mulching and composting, that you don’t have to only use sheeps dung, but can keep garden clippings and seaweed, and sawdust and they rot down, and that you can use dried out weeds as mulch around trees and pine needles around strawberry plants as mulch in summer.


2.     Isabel in Australia

When I began my Australian garden on ½ an acre there were some plants that were there to shape the garden around, but the back yard was a large weedy slope. I needed help to do some heavy work and found a lady who had a wonderful garden of her own, and who was ready to help me. She has now become a good friend. She has taught me a lot, about plants that love this are too much and take over and become weeds, (Japanese Anemones, Morning Glory, Euphorbia, etc). And fortunately we speak the same language. Actually, not just English, but the same gardening language, as we both like the same style of gardening. This has helped a lot.


So perhaps the lesson to learn from this is you need to be able to adapt to survive.

Adapting to others preferences, sharing our own, making compromises, finding joys in aspects of life that are different and we might not find ‘at home’.


Something we might have to do more of this year!


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

New Year - Resolves, Aims and Hopes

New Year – Resolves, Aims and Hopes

 I’ve not been writing much on my blog since the New Year began. The reason? I’ve been caught up in family events, many of which involve travelling an hour into the city or entertaining here in our home in the Hills behind Melbourne. Both these activities take time and energy. And, then on top of that, I’ve set myself a goal of finishing a rough draft of a book I’m writing, to send off to some friends. So, every spare hour or so I’ve been rushing to my computer to do that writing rather than the blog.
New Year in Sydney
New Year in Melbourne

However, in the evening I’ve been contemplated what subject I’d write about on my next blog, when I got around to it. I could write about New Year resolutions, but that seemsda bit irrelevant at my age. I can imagine younger people making resolutions, as the New Year will be a blank to be filled, but for me it is more of the same.

BUT, then I thought, no, I am making plans, which involve resolutions, though, entwined within these resolutions are also Aims (to extend what I was previously doing) and Hopes (that my activities would not be curtailed).


Thus here they are, my Resolves, Aims, and Hopes.


I will be again preparing this house in Australlia to leave for three months before going to Greece, and when we arrive there, I will be preparing the Greek house to receive us and the guests we expect this year.

Meanwhile I will be endeavoring to keep in touch with friends and family in Australia before we leave, and get in contact again when we return. And, I will make sure that we manage to meet a few folk in Athens and Rhodes, and on Lemnos while we are in Greece.

And, importantly, I will not let all this activity stop me from writing. I managed it  last year and I resolve to do the same this year.


Within all this activity I have some new directions I want to pursue. as I find this aspect of my writing often the most exciting.


After I’ve finished writing my mystery novel (about a mystery on the island of Lemnos) I know I’ll be editing and doing all that stuff, but, I also want to start drafting a second mystery, using the same heroine.

A few people have said they’d like to know what happened later, after the end of my travel/social book about renovating in Lemnos, so I’ve been considering that too. I’m thinking of comparing the two villages, Myrina and Emerald, their people and local activites.

(Takis too has some new directions he is planning – his island marmalade plan – and I’ll have to work around that activity too.)

Hopes and Prayers

Now all the above sound wonderful, and I might get some of it done, BUT, as you know, the world continues to rotate around the sun, and as they say ‘stuff happens’.


So, thinking about this, and how it could impact on my wonderful plans, I wonder what I can do about it.

Thus, I resolve not to be distracted by Prideful Politics or the Pestilent Press. This is difficult, as it’s such a temptation to look at the news on my computer, before I start sending off emails or opening up my writing files. One answer is to strongly resolved not to do so. And, it can’t do any harm to HOPE that we do not have so many prideful politicians and pestilent journalists this year!!

Then there is the weather. This is definitely something that impacts on ones’ activities. I hope and pray for good weather, for me and for you all. We can direct such pleas to God, but also to the politicians as global warming increases.

But our prayer for no fires, floods, tornadoes (and thus, no burnt out homes, no water surging through our houses, and not falling trees that smash our cars and the power lines) is something that we can’t just leave to the Politicians and God. We have to do our small bit – recycling, planting more trees.


Lastly I hope and pray for good health. As with the two hopes above, I can do my little bit, but on the whole one has to accept that this too is mostly in the hands of the gods.


However, I’ll close with the hope and prayer that there is enough good health to go around for you all to accomplish most of your resolves, and to begin those new directions you’ve thought about.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

A Walk into the New Year

A Walk into the New Year

The Last Week of 2015: 

in which to pause and contemplate

The hills that are beginning to bleach, while green still holds sway into the distance

The spaces which are maintained for our pleasure

This is the time of year that the television is full of 'that-is-the-year-that-was' programs, or 'this-is-the-year-to-come' shows. I too am pondering the immediate past (25 for xmas lunch - successful even though the temperatures rose to 33); and the longer past (3 months in Greece and 7 months here in Australia).

Lots has happened, good and bad, exciting and frustrating (but mostly good and exciting!)

Holidays: Home and Away

This week, between Christmas and New Year, offers a time between 2015 and 2016 to ponder the year gone and the one to come. 

It is also a time when most Australians leave the towns and drive off to holiday in some seaside town or other but some come to the hills.

Here in Emerald you find B&Bs and holiday-lets

And though many have left for the beaches the village is still welcoming visitors.

For us our 'holiday' is taken when we travel from one home to another, from one village to another. We move between the green hills and tall trees in Emerald to the Greek island where the hills are bare and the trees stunted, but, the seas sparkle all around.

Many local homes are blessed with huge trees, and distant views

 Emerald Village

But right now we are in Emerald. This place is fast becoming my 'home' village now that I have lived here and experienced all the seasons. I have come to love those aspects that are particular and unique to this place - often very different to those aspects that make Lemnos special. 

And as I walked today I thought again of some other aspects I appreciate in this place, its history and the care taken by residents and council to keep it still a little jewel of a place.