Marmalade days

Orthodox Easter was one week later than in UK and I joined Simon and Kezzie on Rope Sole just as the temperatures started to creep up and preparations to celebrate began.
These Greeks consider us northerners rather reckless as we cast off our clothing at the merest hint of sunshine, they remain well wrapped in various interpretations of long trousers and jackets until at least mid May!
No exceptions this year and over the past few days there has been an entertaining stream of skimpy summer dresses and shorts interspersed with woollen suits and hefty coats passing our stern. Sadly we have noted fewer proud grand parents happily rambling in family groups with push-chairs, an observation in line with the national fall in birthrate.We have have mazed our way through the backstreets and alleys and mused on the many differences between this year and last.
One shop mysteriously switching from butchery to taverna and another from empty to butchers.
My favourite hardware shop has cleverly ditched a lot of plastic goods in favour of sturdy white porcelain and I have been visiting Yannis often; for glass jars into which I am heaping freshly made and chunky marmalade, in others, quarters of oranges and lemons to be preserved in sea salt for the winter.
Beneath a well positioned hotel my lovely creative friend has opened her second little space, this time for beautiful handmade shaving goods and soaps. Her son is taking time out from his degree to learn the craft of fashioning extraordinary Japanese style blades from high quality stainless steel, yet another Greek family with vision!
Spice girl is pregnant so mum is learning the business and the ‘Chocolat’ shop has more beautiful and tempting offerings than ever.
Sadly the long-standing bakery was refused a new licence last year but has now been replaced by a smart artisan affair selling rye loaves and sourdough, amongst other baskets of tempting fare.
Heavily scented orange blossom has drawn us to discover hidden trees, simultaneously flowering and laden with ripe fruit. Many in unloved or neglected courtyards but also behind old railings, where rampant roses make an excellent companion.
We have had to hunt out the usual cascades of nasturtiums this year but have easily encountered massiveroadside sprawls of sun-worshipping pinkness. My book reveals, ‘Carpobrutos acinaciformis,’ commonly known as pig face or sour
The first moment of Easter Sunday started with a firecracker bang, the end of much mournful chanting and bell ringing, of fasting and of solemn contemplation, mostly centred in the churches. The ensuing fireworks heralding new resurrection life and a day of feasting to celebrate the victory of Jesus. Last year we sampled the customary ‘special midnight soup’ which is made from lambs heads and various other entrails. No surprise to hear that we have another name for it and will be steering clear of the tavernas until all traces have been consumed.
Local shopkeepers are slowly adding stock to their basic winter selections and an esteemed little back street eatery, also closed by the mayor, has quietly reopened with

tiny tables rebelliously strung down the adjacent alleyway.
This morning, as Kezzie and I strolled around a partially woken quay we quietly observed; a large delivery of takeaway coffees to Russian skippers and their sleepy crews, taverna owners gently shaking out table-cloths and awnings, fisherman selling slippery catch for slippery cash and

a murmur of warmly wrapped gents huddling round steamy
Greek coffees. Everyday life gently unfolding and such a privilege for us to be here for this, our seventh season in Greece.
Always lovely to return to Rope Sole and find that my own skipper has happily squeezed the oranges, topped up the coffee pot and set breakfast in the cockpit…just waiting for that little stick of artisan rye.

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