Yacht Pipit


A New Year in Greece and a new article in Sailing Today - 15th January 2014

A good shot for good luck.

When we met Costa, who owns 'our' villa, in Nidri just after the New Year, he gave us a small bulb plant and asked us to throw it onto the roof. This is a Greek tradition we had not heard about that is to bring prosperity and good luck to the home in the coming year. Whatever the bulb is, there are thousands of them popping up everywhere here - especially amid the olive groves and along roadsides (even through tarmac in some places!). Most are really big with the bulb base from the size of a cricket ball to nearly the size of a football. I can't wait to see what flower springs from them - just hopefully not from the one I lobbed onto the roof! We have subsequently read about another Greek New Year tradition of breaking a pomegranate on the threshold of your home, but we didn't know about it at the time nor did we have a pomegranate!

Our plant tossing has already brought some good luck in the form of another article we have written being published in the February 2014 edition of Sailing Today magazine. Already available at all good newsagents, delivery to your door or e-reader by subscription, or for the non-sailors (and 'thrifty' sailors) amongst our readers, with the permission of the publishers you can access it here. Normally whatever we have submitted has been published pretty much verbatim, but this is a shorter piece that had to be edited slightly due to space constraints and unfortunately a couple of minor errors that we didn't have the opportunity to correct have crept in. Overall though we are pleased with the result.

We continue to try to make the most of the days when the sun shines by walking the island. January and particularly February are typically very wet here, so we're trying to make hay while the bull is gathering moss... We regularly have a short afternoon stroll from Vathy following the road around the coast toward Abelike, often stopping out on a point where there is a small goat farm. Just recently some kids have appeared and we're always amused by their antics - play head-butting one another, leaping onto their hay feeder and generally, um, playing the goat.

Yes, I know these aren't goats, but I didn't have the camera to take their photo and the sheep and lambs are just as cute.

We made an 11 km route recently taking in the bays of Abelike and Port Atheni. Cutting inland from Vathy to Abelike, we followed the coast track all the way around to Port Atheni, around its double bays and out to the navigation light on the point, where we stopped for lunch gazing across the crystal clear water to the mainland. Backtracking from the point, we then continued down the east coast for a while before heading back inland to Katomeri and then home to Vathy.

Port Atheni on a glorious winter's day walk.

Our two bays route.

Lunch on the rocks.

Just south of the Port Atheni light.

Kioni on Ithaca is well known for the three restored windmill bases at the entrance to the harbour, but there are also some here on Meganisi - this is one we scrambled through the maquis and terraces of ancient olive trees to reach.

During our autumn walks, we'd seen lots of beautifully delicate miniature cyclamens, most of which have now finished flowering. We also saw a few wild irises when we walked to the Nidri waterfalls, but while we eagerly await the reputedly glorious spring flowers, we've seen lots of other plants with various winter berries. There are strawberry trees still in fruit and lots of what we think are myrtle bushes full of berries which, along with their leaves, apparently have various culinary uses. We've spotted another bush we think is juniper with berries that are still green, so we plan to revisit to harvest some once they've ripened. There are also some bushes with lots of pinkish red berries, which I thought may have been pink peppercorns, but might be some type of wild edible berry. Oh, and don't worry, we'll make sure we are certain anything we pick from the wild is safe to eat before I get Andy to try it...

We think these are myrtle berries - any botanists or wild harvest experts (Penny?) out there, answers on a postcard (or email) please...

Juniper berries?

Strawberry tree - edible fruit, but apparently they taste nothing like strawberries.

Mystery dark pink berries.

Now, before you look at the next few photos, I have to explain - I have a bit of a fascination with trees... Not in a Druid tree-worshipping kind of way, nor a hippy tree-hugging kind of way (although I have cooked with lots of lentils and chickpeas recently), but I just love looking at them and trying to capture their compelling shape and form in photos. I guess this might go back to my childhood days in California when my dad worked for Hewlett Packard (in the days when Mr H & Mr P were still the guv'nors) and we went camping and caravanning in Little Basin, the company's Santa Cruz Mountain retreat for employees. Hiking there in the forest dominated by the towering and majestic redwood trees with their enigmatically craggy but spongy-soft bark, with the refreshing scent of conifers filling your nostrils, was wonderful and holds very happy memories. Here in the Ionian, my interest is piqued by the ubiquitous olive trees. Though not the lofty giants that redwoods are, their trunks and branches grow twisting and curving into the most intriguing shapes. Often, like redwoods, parts of their trunks will be hollow and one might assume they are dead or dying, yet fresh growth proliferates in their branches. OK, so enough of my arboreal rambling - feel free to scroll past the photos if you think I've been at some of the aforementioned berries...

I defy anyone to tell me this doesn't look like Snoopy (from Peanuts) doing his Happy Dance!

And this one looks like some kind of elk-like animal with enormous antlers - go on, have another drink, you'll see it...

This is a typical example of one with a hole that you'd think would indicate a dead tree, but it's the same tree as the one in the photo of Port Atheni above!

A lovely spot with the sun streaming through onto a perfect perch for these cats.

Yesterday we had another trip to Lefkas, this time for a monthly shopping run and other incidental business and also to meet up for coffee in Lefkas Marina with some fellow cruising sailors we met last winter in Marina di Ragusa, Sicily, who are this year spending the winter in Lefkas. It was great to catch up and hear each other's plans for 2014. It was also interesting to compare & contrast the weather (especially that Sicilian wind), the local environs and facilities, and the overall liveaboard experience last winter and this. Keith and Angie from Castor and Pollux gave us a top tip - they pointed us in the direction of a greengrocer who has both sprouts and parsnips! A shame we didn't find this ourselves in time for Christmas, but as the saying goes, sprouts are not just for Christmas...

And so ends another instalment of ramblings - the forecast is for cloud for a few days, but we also have an iCloud so all is not bad...

Website design by Ionian Webworks