Sometimes life here can have its more amusing moments, especially when it concerns struggling with the language.
I was at the Butcher’s shop in the village the other day, waiting my turn behind an elderly Greek couple who seemed to be stocking up for Armageddon. After ordering a kilo of this and three or four kilos of that, I thought they had finally reached the end, when Aroula, the (female) butcher brought out from the cold room a bag of what looked like the insides of some poor beast. However, none of the contents looked like anything I had seen before!
Aroula started dissecting the various bits, as butchers are want to do and put the tubes and fatty bits into one bag – για το σκύλο - (for the dog), which I understood but what were these strange oval-shaped leftovers – smaller than a heart but larger than a kidney? I struggled to find the Greek for – what are they? However, before I could crank the old brain into action, Aroula had sliced them into strips and it was clear that they were neither hearts nor kidneys , nor indeed anything else that I had seen before (or so I thought!).
When her Greek customers had left, I tried to ask Aroula what they were but she speaks no English and my Greek failed me. She brought out various cuts of meat and offal but I just could not make her understand! At this point, the woman who runs the garden shop further along the road came into the shop. We had met her last week when we went to buy some fertiliser and her English is excellent, so I asked her to explain what I had been trying to say to Aroula.
The two of them then fell about laughing – much to my consternation as I had asked which part of the body the choice cuts related to and had nearly suggested that she point to whatever the relevant aspect was in relation to my own torso. After the mirth had subsided somewhat, she explained in a loud voice that they were pig’s balls! Apparently, they are considered a delicacy by Greek men who eat them fried (no doubt by their women folk) and drink a quantity of raki to wash them down. She explained that they are supposed to improve vigour!! I was very glad that I had not suggested that she indicate which part of my anatomy was relevant to the question – feeling somewhat inadequate in comparison with our seemingly well-endowed porky friends!
Aroula apologised that she had none left for me to try (was she implying something?) and I retreated rather quickly from the shop, leaving the women still giggling!
Last Sunday, we took the bikes on the back of the car to Xerokambos on the east coast and cycled along the coastal path to the village of Agia Irini. On the way over, the road drops 400m down a hairy descent to the sea, so Sheila cycled down, while I followed in the car – well to be truthful she held on to the brakes for what was clearly an exhilarating experience!
We then set off but it was a hot day and we needed our hats! After only about two miles, our path virtually disappeared at a cliff edge, so the bikes had to be abandoned and we took to Shank’s pony for the remaining mile or so.
Sheila went off exploring and discovered a vertical cave and a small beach, while I watched a distant bird of prey doing its thing.
We retraced our steps, collected the bikes and had what we considered to be a well-earned swim, followed by a late lunch at the Dolphin taverna. It was a fine day out!
This can best be summed up as pretty tedious but at least we now know what we don’t want! We do not want to live in a hill village – too many twisty roads; we do not want to live in a town – too close to other people and we (or at least I) would prefer a more traditional house to one built-in the neo-concrete modern Greek style.
The problem is that we would like to be reasonably close to other people and reasonably close to the sea and there is very little available which meets our requirements! So we may have to buy some land and build what we want! Watch this space.
Next week, we are going on holiday! Now you may think (and you could be right) that these folk don’t need a holiday – surely they are on holiday all the time? We don’t see it like that and we need a break so we are meeting up with Bruce and Cathy for a few days in Chania followed by a visit to Santorini. Bonnie is going to stay with Hans and Hanneke and is assured of a good time, so we are foot-loose and fancy free. We will be in touch again on our return.
But before I go and back on subject of balls, I just need to mention my dear friend Ed (he of the aspiring Chancellor of the Exchequer variety). As a lifelong Labour Party member, I was appalled to read of the plans which the People’s Party are proposing for the welfare budget in the UK, including the further erosion of universal benefits. Nowadays, they never even seem to consider that the income tax system is a more cost effective way of spreading the load, rather than introducing still more means testing. Here in Greece, the Government has shut down the State Broadcasting Service (the equivalent of the BBC) which is pretty amazing but no doubt will continue to levy the tax (paid as part of the electricity bill) which funds it. Politicians both here and in the UK are, I am afraid, a spineless bunch offering no leadership and little imagination at a time when both are sorely needed. They and the bankers who created the mess get off scot-free whilst everyone else pays! Rant over.
Hey, ho! We’re off on holiday.