Wow, what a day it’s been –yesterday.
Up early, 5:30am to be precise, and then out of the house by 6:15am to get into town.
I’m always being asked, why so early?
It’s simple really: it gives me time to do things ‘gently’, without rushing and dashing like a “BA fly”! You don’t know what a BA fly is, I hear you say? It’s what my better half calls a ‘blue-arsed fly’, you know those big fat blue-bottles that come whizzing into your home like Phantom jet fighters.
The 50 minute drive turned out to be an adventure in itself: it started to rain heavily just as I was about to lock the front door, having left hubs gently snoring in a cosy warm bed, totally oblivious of my disappearing. It was pretty nippy and the skies looked sooo not agreeable! When I fired up the engine, the on-board Motor-Brain revealed it was just 2C – bet that would mean snow somewhere along the road. It did... barely 10 minutes into the journey the snowflakes had taken on the size of ping-pong balls, at least that’s how they looked to me... However, since we hadn’t had any serious frost, the ground was simply not sufficiently cold to allow the snow to claim squatters’ rights. About twenty minutes later, around hilly Zihni, with the snow mercifully left behind, I drove into fog – although not too bad, it slowed me down sufficiently to curse loudly. I have no depth sight – born like that apparently – and fog makes me lose the ability to let my brain compensate for this deficiency, which it normally does without me even noticing... Needless to say I like fog even less than snow! However, upon approaching the villages outside Serres, that too had cleared, and drizzly rain took over.
When I finally sat down for my special treat breakfast with hot chocolate, I’d already been to the post office and on the way to the hotel, stopped to take pictures of one of the dozens of Koulouri sellers in town (see Emma’s World of Recipes in What’s Cooking? for my take on Koulouri). I set up shop at “my office table” in the corner of the breakfast room which allowed me to plug in my laptop and do some work while enjoying the exception to our fruit-only-for-breakfast rule which I treat myself to when here and a little chat with the staff who passed by to say hi and enquire about the family’s wellbeing... one of the things I so love about Greece and its people! In this neck of the woods people still take out the time to speak to one another and are genuinely interested in sharing your life.
Just after ten o’clock I left and drove to a village a few kilometres outside town to pick up an elderly lady friend and her husband and take them back into town. Since they have no car and she’d received her pension, she needed to get into town to go to the bank where I would assist in the battle against the ATM in order to get her money out – a monthly occurrence, by the way- after which we’d do her big shopping together. At the age of 75 she cannot cope with those “new-fangled monsters” as she calls them. This was, however, the first time in all the years we’ve known each other that I had the dubious pleasure of her husband’s company in this adventure. Let me just say that by the time I’d returned them safely home just gone 1pm, he and I both decided it would be best for mankind if he didn’t come again - ever! A mutual agreement in the name of world peace, so to speak...
Then back into town to sort out my own things followed by a very quick visit to Frosso at the little photo shop where we’ve been taking the family’s photographic jobs for years. I’d missed a meet-up which I’d promised to my friend Tina because ... well, no need to embroider here; however, I really needed to see Frosso to give her something. When she asked me why I was so late, I told what I’d been up to during the morning, and also that I’d been taking pictures of the koulouri vendor in front of the Serres Courthouse and would like to nip into a bakery to take a picture of a basket full of these bread rings. She told me it was actually a bit late in the day for that, but that she knew a baker-of-the-old-school, a true artisan and a dying breed, just around the corner and would take me there to introduce me and ask if I could take some photographs inside the lady’s bakery. I can just imagine trying to do all this outside Greece, in the “developed world” so to speak! She’d probably be reprimanded by the boss for abandoning her post in the first place leaving her colleagues to fend without her!
We hurried back to the shop – after all poor Frosso had a job to do – and when I walked in the boss, Zisis, who had just returned, burst out laughing when he saw me. Because of the cold, I was wearing what I call my “Russian hat” and it was the first time he’d seen me in it. I told him jokingly he was moving in dangerous waters laughing at me like this in front of a shop full of people but we still hugged and kissed each other with three pecks on the cheeks, no doubt leaving some of the customers wondering who the hell this crazy foreign woman was!
(I'm adding in brackets a short description of what the picture to the left shows: it is a wooden contraption used by bakers in the olden days in which they would drop the kneaded slabs of dough, which then would be covered with a cloth and left to rise, before being baked... Vaia obviously found an alternative use for them... Quite pretty...)
When heading back home from a day in town I always fill up the car at a petrol station in a small village where over the years we’ve befriended the owners, a very kind couple called Christos and Tina. Today it was Tina herself doing the honours and we always have a little chat when we meet, exchanging the latest titbits of happenings in our lives. Conversation nowadays mostly ends up in relation to the disgustingly high fuel prices. We are really being clobbered here in Greece. In fact, I dare go so far as to say that it is legalised daylight robbery ... however, better not to fret about it now. As the car was being filled up and we were standing there chatting away, a large tanker pulled up behind me, awaiting its turn. So, I quickly paid up and we bade our goodbyes, after which I climbed in the car, made a U-turn to point the car in the right direction and stopped by the side of the road to put in my purse the change that I had received and left on the passenger’s seat in my hurry to vacate the yard. And that’s when I noticed that in the haste of my departure Tina had made a mistake in the bill. The total had come to €35 and I had paid with a €50 note. I was looking at €35 in my hands – she’d mistakenly given me €20 change too much. So I turned the car again and pulled up on the station’s yard, this time behind the tanker, got out, went up to her and handed over the €20 note she’d mistakenly given. I received such a huge hug and big kiss for that! ... I was singing all the way back home, simply thrilled to know I’d made her happy!
Back home, hubs was soon treated to the corn sticks – a first. Loved them! Likewise the mixed seeds sticks went down a treat. Caused havoc with the planned dinner, though, but what the heck!
And that’s how another busy day in our lives came to an end, and I hope you enjoyed me sharing this here...
For today, smiles again!
PS: I’m putting up a picture stream relating to the day’s events for you to enjoy and also to continue this tale in a photographic nut-shell version, for I never really know when to stop rambling...heheh! So that you're not totally lost, I've added captions at the bottom of each picture with a short description... Emm xx