The Glory of the House
The beauty of the house is order;
The blessing of the house is contentment;
The glory of the house is hospitality;
The crown of the house is godliness.
Various Out-door Eating Places
Under the vines
On the Terrace
(see an earlier blog for the story of the marble topped table)
Outside the Kitchen
It all began with a Watermelon
I have written a book (still in manuscript form) about our renovation adventure. Here are three passages from the book.
‘There’s something about the way old traditions are kept on the island, and this has always attracted the family, and me too. I arrived on August 15th, St. Mary’s Day. This is one of the most celebrated Greek holy days and it’s also my name day, and my mother had prepared a great celebration. I hadn’t seen my mother for a long while, nor most of my relatives since boyhood, so seeing so many of them all staying in the house was amazing.’
‘So everybody was still going there in those days.’
'Some were in the kitchen, some playing cards on the terrace, and I could hear others calling from upstairs as they got ready for a swim. There were wonderful aromas from the kitchen where my aunts were preparing meals and sweets, supervised by my mother who was the matriarch at the time. Ah, I remember it so well, the meals, the swims, the discussions on the terrace every evening while we sipped coffee, Greek coffee of course!’
Takis Sups with his Siblings
‘After the taxi left, George and I stood on the steps, and I swung the large door knocker. Almost before I’d knocked the door opened.’
I imagined that he was giving me these details to make me fall in love with the house, sight unseen.
‘Costa stood there filling the doorway. You remember how big he was from when you saw him in Athens on your visit? The two of us followed him through the house and found Zoe, my other sister Olga and a cousin from Athens on the back terrace.’
My First Meal in the House
‘Takis’ two sisters, brother-in-law and an elderly cousin were nearing the end of their summer in the old house so we planned to stay in a nearby hotel until they left. However, that first evening, we were all going to have a meal together. Costa had again cooked a wonderful meal, but it was nevertheless an awkward situation. I was worried they might feel we were trying to dispossess them. Of course any family member had as much right as any other to spend time in the house, but this branch of the family had made it clear to the rest of the family that they were now the current host and hostess, and we’d not only come uninvited we’d come with the idea of making changes. ‘
My first meal
(in what was then the kitchen of the house)
Chow and Chunter Today
Guests at the table with us sit and talk.
Facing each other we delight in conversation
Lightly discussing the day’s activities and the food.
Difference is digested, culture consumed.
We joke and present our gastronomic interests;
For facts and fodder, chow and chunter, go together.
As each guest airs their views on various victuals
Moussaka is analysed – eggplants and cinnamon
Just enough? And even the eponymous
Greek Salad takes on new dimensions.
Takis at breakfast
The terrace is where we eat breakfast and lunch. Takis and I enjoy those times when we don’t have guests and can leisurely have our tea and toast spread with our own marmalade. Anestis arrives about eight am, and then he and Takis will start planning the day’s work.
Coffee and Gossip
Come mid summer, I try to do my gardening before and just after breakfast and then take an early morning swim. But I make sure I’m back for our eleven o’clock break because then it is down tools and we all relax with a cup of espresso coffee and few glasses of cold water.
This is when usually the time that friends drop in and gossip is exchanged, and we find out what is happening in other parts of the island.
Lunch with Guests
Having had our coffee break we do a bit more work before lunch. For me this is usually when I write and prepare the main meal, which will be eaten around 2.30 pm. Anestis often joins us, and when we have guests there are often seven or eight sitting down around the table.
Evening on the Terrace - or by the sea
Anestis leaves after lunch and we all retire and try to sleep a little - with the fan on. After siesta George and Koula dispense Greek lessons for interested guests. Then in late afternoon the sun will still be biting and its time for a second swim. But at dusk, when the terrace catches an evening breeze, we’ll often sit and chat with a few neighbours again. And sometimes we’ll walk down to the sea front to meet friends, for just looking at the darkening sea makes you feel cooler.