After wandering around Koroni Castle we descended down the stepped streets to the harbour front in search of ice creams and coffee. Greek ice cream is delicious and ours came in many astonishing flavours. We wolfed it down like five year olds. Next we settled ourselves at a seaside cafe and ordered coffee, but we had not been there long when the waiter came dashing to tell us there was a big turtle to be seen just off the quayside. ‘It is the last turtle of summer,’ he said. ‘Tomorrow it will be gone.’
A little crowd had gathered and was peering into the stormy looking water. The weather had changed, and there was a cool wind blowing off the Messenian Gulf. It was hard to spot the turtle between the dark ripples, and I missed a couple of chances to take a photo as it popped its snout above water. Then a silly young Frenchman decided he wanted to swim with it, jumped in and scared it away. ‘Merde’, said his girlfriend. Merde, indeed.
So here is my best shot. Little more than a peek. But then it is good to know that there are still loggerhead turtles around the Peloponnese. One of their breeding beaches is at Koroni on the far side of the castle. Every year between June and mid-September the turtles make some 46 nests there. These are monitored throughout the summer by ARCHELON, The Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece, along with a host of volunteers from around the world. Good on them, I say, and bon voyage last loggerhead of summer.
You can find out more about Archelon, The Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece HERE.
By way of a brief intermission from the on going Greek series, here is the sun over our Shropshire garden at around midday yesterday. The tail end of Hurricane Ophelia had apparently whipped up the dust of Africa along with the ash from the tragic forest fires in Portugal and Spain and so created this apocalyptic orange twilight complete with rosy sun. Nothing to do with us of course, all this global mayhem.
Well he has to be some sort of Greek god, doesn’t he? For one thing I can tell you he wasn’t wearing a stitch beyond the sarong slung round his neck though you will have to take my word on that.
We had walked down to Peroulia Beach in hopes of some good photos. It had been gloomy all afternoon after short sharp showers. Only at sunset did the sky clear and the last light bathe the Messenian Gulf in shades of famille rose. It was all rather astonishing – a pink-blushed azure sea. And if at first the son of the deity was doggedly wading backwards across this seascape, presumably making a video on his phone and thus proving rather irritating to those of us who wished to take a photograph, when he turned to check his creation I decided he very much added to the scene.
It was the quickest way to Peroulia Beach – left down the hill from the Iconpainter’s gateway, with a quick wave and a kalimera to the old lady in the farmhouse opposite, then following the rough track beside the olive grove with the decomposing Volvo, then on through the trees to the pretty house with green shutters, whose owner we met several times out on the lane, clearing the drains in advance of the forecast storm; on into another olive grove, following the overhead power lines, then a dogleg round some more recently planted trees, a scramble down dirt steps in the cliff bottom (minding the little cyclamen) and finally picking our way through mature olive trees, pony droppings, the mish-mash of phragmites canes and onto the shore.
Phew! It really isn’t far, but it has the feeling of uncharted territory, and at least three of us admitted to losing our way on the return trip.
There is anyway something so momentful about olive groves. For one thing there is the complete and utter stillness; the depth of leaf litter that absorbs one’s footfalls and very probably one’s soul if you do not watch out. For then there is the existential sense of earth and weather elements and human hands, conspiring over generations to train and sculpt the trees to encourage the best possible yield; hands whose deftness is doubtless informed by Athena herself, that wise deity whose spear long ago struck the barren scarp of the Attic acropolis and so brought forth the first Greek olive tree.
From fruit and seed, empires were grown and in many Mediterranean lands beyond mainland Greece. Among the earliest, back in the Bronze Age, were the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations of Crete. The olive tree was an all-provider. The timber served for tools and shelter, the fruits made good eating, their oil gave food, light, unguents, medicine and formed the basis of extensive trade networks. It is not surprising, then, that the trees were seen as sacred, to be protected on pain of death for those who would dare to destroy them. Athletes used the oil on the bodies to invoke its intrinsic power, and the victors at the Olympian games were crowned with olive leaves.
And so as you walk through a grove, the response is natural reverence. Every tree is its own self; its individual biography wrought in knotty bark and bough. There is more though. I would call it immanence. For if trees have spirits, then they are here. And if I had an olive grove, then I would worship it and none other.
Respect for the sheer potency of these trees is also requisite. For I have read* that you should never fall asleep beneath an olive tree. Its shadow is said to be too heavy, and so may later induce bad dreams and vertigo. I can believe it. With all my heart I can.
* Patrick Leigh Fermor Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese
One of the truly useful institutions we Brits left behind in the African countries we invaded is the Annual Agricultural Show. We went to both Kenyan and Zambian versions, and found them hugely popular events, still held on their original dedicated show grounds. Nor are they simply about entertainment, shopping and crop and stock competitions, although there is plenty of all of these to be had. I remember one Kenyan smallholder being quoted in the national press. He had travelled many miles to attend the Nairobi show, and at some expense. ‘But,’ he said, ‘this show is my university. This is where I come to learn how to improve my farming skills.’
And as we wandered round we certainly found plenty of advice to hand, much of it rendered in model farm lay-outs. There was also that year’s exhortatory slogan to spur all to action: “Feed The Nation And Export”. And there were promotional exhibits for small-scale battery chicken rearing, camel raising, the Post Office and family planning. Even the National Archives had a small pavilion in which they were showing 1950s film footage from the Land Freedom uprising aka Mau Mau. The Young Farmers were showing off their crop growing and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (the place where Graham had his office) also had a big stand with plenty of experts to provide farmer guidance.
Welcome to Nairobi’s 1995 Agricultural Show:
Wishing the Kenyan people well on this their election day.
No, it’s not a joke question, but there’s clearly a lot of satisfaction going on in these photos. So many hoverflies, and different kinds too. Also photographer satisfaction – in that I managed to capture them so I could show you. Then there’s gardener satisfaction too – always something new to discover out in the garden, with or without camera. The only problem is I’m sure Ark is going to ask if I know what species they are. Nope, I don’t, but here’s the place to find out, which further adds to my satisfaction, because I can now provide this very fascinating link – at least as far as hoverfly lovers are concerned.
This year I seem to have started off the zucchini aka courgette season with a glut. I anyway usually slice them into spaghetti strips or noodles to use, seasoned, sprinkled with fresh chopped oregano or coriander, and warmed through with a little oil or butter, instead of pasta. They go well with either tomato or meat based sauces.
But then as the harvest began to multiply beyond the sensible, including exceeding neighbour capacity, my mind wended towards cake. I remembered having a delicious slice of lemon courgette cake last year in a museum cafe. So I did a trawl of recipes on the internet, and adapted a gluten free flour one found at The Pink Rose Bakery into a ground almond-polenta version. In fact I’ve been using ground almonds (and or polenta flour) in most of my cake recipes these days. They give much lighter, moister results.
So this is what I did:
Lemon Zucchini Cake
20 cm/8” deep cake tin, oiled
oven 180 C/160 C fan/350 F
250 gm/ good 8 oz of coarsely grated zucchini/courgette placed in sieve over sink to drain
2 large eggs
125ml/4 fl oz vegetable oil. I used groundnut
150gm/5 oz sugar. I used coconut flower sugar for its slight toffee flavour
112 gm/4 oz polenta flour
112 gm/4oz ground almonds
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
3/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
zest of one unwaxed lemon, though zest of two would not hurt if you like lemon
1. In large bowl beat eggs, oil and sugar together until smooth;
2. Stir into the batter all the other ingredients except the zucchini;
3. Gently squeeze any excess moisture from zucchini and add to the mix, distributing well;
4. Pour into tin and bake for around 45 mins until lightly browned and firm to the touch. I was using a fan oven. Probably wise to check after 30 mins.
5. Cool in tin for 10 mins. Turn out onto rack and sprinkle with coconut flower sugar.
Options: You could drizzle it with icing made with lemon juice and icing sugar, or maybe add a carrot cake topping, although we found the cake sweet enough without. I’m also thinking you could swap the lemon zest for orange zest, and use half a teaspoon of cinnamon in place of the vanilla essence. And I think the cake would be good served with fresh raspberries and creme fraiche. Unfortunately we have now eaten it before I could try out this last suggestion. But never mind. There are plenty more essential ingredients growing at the allotment.
copyright 2017 Tish Farrell
Daily Post Photo Challenge: Satisfaction
The come-hither finery can be safely shed: the insect lure has done its work, leaving the fruit capsule primed and fattening; its contents – miniscule parcels of poppies-to-be – busy ripening, waiting on sun and wind to complete the enterprise. Nature in action. Where would we be without it?