Thoughts Of Sailing A Candyfloss Sea

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The weather in Shropshire has taken a frigid turn – flurries of sleet and bone-chilling winds, the need to wear too many vests and socks and feeling that I’m far too nesh to venture out in it. For any reason whatsoever. (Allotment? What allotment?) Which also has me thinking of a warm sea and Peroulia Beach and the rosy displays laid on there each dawn and dusk, and walking through silent olive groves that come down to the shore, the days’ warmth stored in the many seasons’ leaf layers beneath our feet. At sunset we find we have the beach to ourselves. The sea barely lapping the sand, and somewhere across the Gulf, above the Mani’s fortress scarps, a raptor mews. There are no other sounds.

copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

Silence

Koroni Castle ~Thursday’s Special

This view across the Gulf of Messinia to the Mani peninsula was taken from one of the bastions of Koroni Castle in the Messinian Peloponnese. This part of Greece has a coastline dominated by several of these great Venetian strongholds begun in the 12th century and expanded through several centuries of repeated Venetian-Ottoman conflict.

You can find more of the castle’s history HERE

As you can see, our visit coincided with the sudden arrival of autumn, which perhaps adds to the overbearing broodingness of the place. But when I looked at the photos later I was intrigued by the accidental ‘tromp l’oeil’ effect in the header shot – that apparently displaced, more brightly lit view through the arched aperture. It’s a trick of the geography – a spit of land jutting out into the sea way below the castle.

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The town of Koroni had its trading heyday in the 13th century. You can see here how it hugs up against the battlement for the full width of the photo, up to and beyond the church in the top right corner. Within the castle there is the town cemetery, several churches, a convent and a number of cottages with gardens and small holdings where people still live. It is a fascinating place, the past somehow still marching on with the present.P1020696

One of the cottages inside the castle.

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Inside the convent garden and the convent entrance (below).

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Thursday’s Special: Traces of the Past

Thursday’s Special ~ Best Shot 2017

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This week Paula asks us to post our best photo from 2017. I wasn’t sure where to start, but decided to reprise the cricket which, the first time around, Ark kindly identified as a Katydid or bush cricket. It is certainly my most surprising shot of the year – both for its clarity and the fact the cricket appears to have been watching me while I organised myself with the camera. I also like the curving grasses and the bands of light and shade, and the way the cricket appears to be super-illuminated. But best of all, it reminds me of Kalamata, and the mesmerizing views of the Taygetos and the Mani across the Gulf of Messinia for I find myself still badly smitten with the Peloponnese. Ah, well. Maybe next year…

Thursday’s Special

The Hardware Shop In Harakopio

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I’m very fond of hardware shops, though I’m old enough to say they mostly aren’t what they used to be – those ill-lit aisles of childhood with their mysterious bins containing every size of nut, screw, hinge and widget. The cocktail whiffs of twine, Jeyes Fluid, paraffin and polish, and a little man in a brown cotton coat behind a high, gloss painted counter, he the unassuming master of this multi-component repository.

The shop in Harakopio looked promising on the authenticity front, and I was only sorry not to have the chance of a good mooch inside. But still, it was good to capture its jolly exterior, and nice of some local to park their blue motorcycle outside.

Inside The Old Fort At Pylos ~ Thursday’s Special

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The Ottoman fort at Pylos is monumental, and comprised of an outer defensive wall and a citadel. It was built after the Turkish invasion of 1500, and apart from two brief interludes – one Venetian, one Russian, was held by the Ottoman regime until the Greek War of Independence in 1821. Even at the last lap, Ibrahim Pasha and his Turko-Egyptian army  proved hard to oust, and after an initial surrender of the fort in 1821, it was reoccupied by them in 1825, and hung onto until 1828.

The first photo was taken from the citadel, which during occupation by the French in the 19th century was used as a prison. The church you can see below is the Church of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, and was originally built as a mosque around 1573. Under the brief Venetian rule of 1675 to 1715  and during the Orloff Revolt of 1770 it served as a Christian church, and it is in this capacity that it was restored by the Greek Government between 2011 – 2015.

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Inside the citadel, and the nineteenth century prison cells.

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Looking down on the outer defensive wall and the sea-arch beyond.

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The outer walls on the seaward side. The hillside was heavy with the scent of pine trees, and cyclamen were growing everywhere among the cones and fallen castle debris.

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Inside the Church of the Transfiguration of the Saviour.

 

Thursday’s Special: Traces of the Past Please visit Paula to see her fine view of Alnwick Castle.

On The Path To Harakopio ~ Peroulia Dreaming 13

We had been promised rain, and rain it did, pounding off the pantile roofs, turning the veranda steps into cascades. By lunchtime the shining Gulf that had been our view all morning was sunk in steely gloom while the Taygetos had dissolved completely. (How can mountain ranges disappear like that?)

It was not a good start to the holiday. But the six of us gathered together in one little house,  and some of us prepared bruschetta using up the solid Greek bread together with the more delicious tomatoes and garlic from Maria’s garden, which we tucked into to the sound of tumbling rain.

But at last the storm bursts eased, and across the valley the cockerel began to crow, and among the garden olive trees the crickets sang, and the grasses steamed. A consensus of smart phone forecasts also suggested that the rain had passed – well, more or less, and that it might now be timely to set off to Harakopio and discover what its supermarket offered in the way of supper supplies.

We set off under cloudy skies, following directions on Maria’s hand-drawn map, which Bob had snapped with his cell phone. It was a one and half mile walk, we were told, mostly on level paths, and with our backs to the sea. Hopefully we would not lose ourselves on the network of byways between Harakopio and Kombi. We were also told that if we bought too much stuff to carry back to tell the girls at the supermarket and they would keep it until Michael was next passing in his car. Our hosts at the Iconpainter’s Villas left no stone unturned to ensure our every comfort and happiness.

And so here are some of the sights and vistas on our path as it wound through olive groves and vineyards, by ramshackle farmsteads and deluxe villas, our passing marked by proprietorial, but good-natured barking from farmyard dogs. Otherwise, all was quietness. No cars. No distant traffic drone. Only our soft chatter. There were wild cyclamen growing along the verges, fennel and rosemary, shrubby Kermes oaks with their spiny acorn cups and leaves like holly, prickly pears, morning glory.  And as I went, I fell in love with olive trees, their stillness, their gnarly boles and contorted branches, the muted tones, the changes in light beneath and between the trees as the sun came out once more.

 

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And on our return trip, well laden with good Greek produce, we again looked to the sea where the storm clouds were finally clearing, and beneath all was ethereal blue with the Taygetos doing their mirage impression. It would be a fine evening.

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copyright 2017 Tish Farrell

Travel theme: branches

Jo’s Monday Walk

Cats’ Eye Views Of Koroni ~ Peroulia Dreaming 12

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When it comes to pets, I have to admit to being a dog-lover first and foremost, but as we tramped up and down the many stepped byways to and from Koroni castle, we  met a number of very handsome cats. In fact there were cats and dogs everywhere we went along the coast. Some had more to say for themselves than others. The Koroni cats were particularly self-contained. One definitely had the impression it was THEIR village, and foreign interlopers were thus beneath their regard. They could take us or leave us.

The Last Turtle Of Summer ~ Peroulia Dreaming 11

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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.

 

Daily Post: Peek

Related: The Castle At Koroni