Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Phoebe The Fish!

Phoebe Swimming
Originally uploaded by *Puss*
Yay my nearly 4 yr old!! Check her out swimming in the sea at Chrissi Millia. It had pond like qualities today and Phoebe couldn't keep out of the sea. We had left Clara at home with Papous and YiaYia after she had a large attack of The Rage whilst attempting to get her into her sunsuit. So it was lovely to have just Phoebe on her own for a couple of hours and I think she rather liked the 2 on 1 attention for a change!

I think my favourite bit was when she saw the fish swimming around our feet, next year we try and get her snorkelling I think!

We also, for the first time, reaped the benefit of the girls learning to swim so early. Clara fell in the swimming pool at yesterday's excursion to Milia Bay and was able to turn herself around and get back to the ladder where she had slipped in before Paul could get to her. So proud and very relieved!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Phoebe Bingo

Phoebe Bingo
Originally uploaded by *Puss*
We are a week and a half into our holiday and after numerous outbursts from Phoebe along the lines of:

I don't want to.
I'm Cold
I'm Freezing
I'm Exhausting (you think?!)

etc etc. We decided that a small game of Phoebe Bingo was required so Jane mocked up some cards on our lunch napkins and we have been playing since. I have 2 lines and am currently just an "I'm cold" and a "I don't like it" away from Victory.

Of course as soon as we started playing Phoebe clammed up tighter than, well, a clam! Took her a while to loosen up and then we started!

The only rule is No Prompting (just been busted by Jane whispering it sotto voche whilst waving a milk frother! Hmmm, it wasn't a winning shot so we will let it go). It has kept us amused all afternoon, I can heartily suggest it as a method for coping with the mosquito like whine of a nearly 4 yr old.

Monday, 28 September 2009

The Greek Wedding!

Wow, just wow! The Greeks really know how to party, especially where a wedding is involved!

Frieda asked that I come and take some pictures of her getting ready, she was worried when we arrived as she "hated" her hair and make up (said whilst hair and make up woman was doing it... risky!) but soon settled and, of course, looked stunning!

One of the traditions I researched after seeing her do it was her writing the names of her unmarried friends on the sole of her shoe

From what I understand this is one of the equivalents of our throwing the bouquet (when she also did!). The names rubbed off after the wedding and all the dancing at the party (and there is A LOT!) are the ones to get married next. Her father also put money in her shoe so she could start her married life on riches.

The next thing that happened was Paniotis came to greet her, this was when he gave her the engagement ring. I was unable to get near this to photograph alas as I was jammed in a doorway by the swathes of people who were gathering at the new apartment in order to watch the things that happened there and then join the procession to the church. Paniotis then lead Frieda out accompanied by the wine they would share in the wedding ceremony, the two decorated church candles and their Koumbaro (the best men... Frieda broke from tradition and had a male the role of her Maid of honour). Everyone else follows on and we all headed to the church. At this point I have to say that dress sense and the question of "what should I wear" are easily answered in Greece, it seemed what ever people felt happy and comfortable in. Some wore the clothes they would normally and some glammed up to the nines, what a wonderful eclectic mix!

When we all arrived at the church Frieda, Paniotis and the young gaggle of bridesmaids and page boys went one way whilst everyone else went the other. This meant Frieda and Paniotis were able to make a grand entrance!

The church had been beautifully decorated by the local florist all in their colour scheme of Red and White, just gorgeous!

The wedding ceremony itself takes 2 parts, The Service of Bethrothal and The Sacrement of Marriage.
The Service of Bethrothal consists of the priest blessing the rings which the groom's Koumbaro then swaps over 3 times to represent the trinity of Father Son and Holy Ghost. The Sacrement of Marriage is the vows, which in a Greek Orthadox church are said by the priest, the couples attendance together in church is enough to show their commitment of each other. This part of the ceremony includes the couple's right hands being tied together, it is also where the couple are crowned with (as in Frieda's wedding) Gold bands that are joined by a length of white silk ribbon. The Bride's Koumbaro then swaps these between their heads 3 times. The couple are then led on their first steps as a married couple around the altar by the priest and followed by the Koumbaro holding the ribbon. It is at this part of the ceremony that the couple are showered in rice and Sugared Almonds (ouch!):

Somewhat unusually (or so I am told) Frieda and Paniotis decided to have a line up at the altar of the church and once that was done they came out of the church to a huge cheer, red and white balloons, confetti canons and more rice being thrown... They looked so very happy together!

There was just time for a quick pastry (yum!) and then everyone headed home to change, have 5 minutes down time or a quick coffee for the night ahead. At 9.30pm we headed down to the Taverna hosting the evening festivities and squeezed onto a table (seating plans? What seating plans!) where we were treated to a feast of wine, more wine, feta cheese, salads and honey balls before the traditional Alonissos Wedding Dish came out, Goat and Spaghetti. Paul had spotted them cooking this on the drive down, they had taken over an empty lot behind the taverna. Huge vats cooking over open fires. It tasted fabulous as all the flavour of the goat had gone into the spaghetti... for those who haven't had goat it is a gamier version of lamb... YUM!

Then the dancing started! Frieda and Paniotis had had the first dance to a Non Greek tune of which none of us can remember. Then the Greek dancing was opened by Frieda and her father starting the traditional greek circle dance, they were soon joined by all the family and Yiannis was in the middle offering whisky to all and sundry!

We left at 12.40 when Clara started to get grouchy (Phoebe had fallen asleep in the pushchair about half an hour after arriving). Dad and Jane being adopted members of Frieda's family stayed longer, they think they left at around 3.30 - 4am. We have reports of some people not leaving until 8.30am! Now that is stamina!

Frieda and Paniotis have flown off on their honeymoon to Amsterdam (they didn't pick where they were going until they got to the airport, how is that for last minute?!) and I wish them well. It was a truly fabulous wedding and, so I am told, the most lavish the island has ever seen!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Now I know why Greek Coffee is so strong!

Yesterday my Stepmum, Jane, and I went to the first part of Frieda's wedding. The Bed Making Ceremony. This is where 4 maidens make up the marital bed for the first time, then the married women of the family decorate it with coloured rice, sugared almonds and money!

We arrived for the start at 5pm but, as is usual in Greece, things didn't kick off until an hour later when Frieda arrived looking gorgeous in a green satin dress. She took the bedding upstairs:

Then the mother of the bride tied the 4 corners of the sheet in a knot with some coloured rice in each knot.

Then the 4 maidens make the bed up:

3 times as the groom and his best man (Koumbara) toss the sheet off saying it isn't made properly. At Frieda's ceremony it happened several more times with much laughing from everyone:
Then they make up the rest of the bed with gorgeous linens and a hand crocheted blanket from Frieda's Yia Yia:

Then the young children are encouraged to roll on it to bless it with fertility:

Then a tray is laid on it with more coloured rice, sugared almonds and sugar knots. I think the tray is meant to represent the bed with the four knots.

Religious icons are pinned to the pillows of the bride and groom and then money is put on the tray to start the couple out in riches.

The whole ceremony took about 40 minutes in total with a lot of laughing and making sure the bed was just perfect. Loads of delicious sweets were given out too, sugared almonds, baclava and what I can only describe as a sweet pistachio samosa:

Jane and I then went for a sneaky Pina Colada at the port (seeing as it is was still before bedtime for the girls and I had already said goodnight, well we didn't want to confuse them now did we!). At 11pm (yup you read that right) Jane, Dad and I got ready to go out to Frieda's Hen Party. Paul had volunteered to look after the girls at home. We met up with the wedding party at a local restaurant and then went onto a club where there was drinking, laughing and dancing! In honor of the Hen Party Experience that Jane had told Frieda about Wings, Halos, Devil horns, a Bride To be flashing Sash and chocolate willies were purchased from an english purveyor of such things and, by the skin of their teeth, arrived in time for the ladies to doll up and parade through town complete with sparklers. Alonissos has never seen the like before!

We got home at 2am although when we saw someone else who was there this morning and she didn't get back to bed until 5am!

The wedding is on Saturday and I can't wait... should be so much fun!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The Greek Birthday Party Experience.

Last night we went to a friend's house to help celebrate her daughter, Dimitra's, 4th Birthday. We had a fabulous time and the girls got on and played as if there was no language barrier at all! The only moment of slight confusion for them was when everyone gathered to sing to Dimitra with her rather spectacular cake. Instead of the English "Happy Birthday to you" that the girls were expecting they launched into a poem:

Greek TextPronunciationEnglish Translation
*na zIsis thanAsi* (Long) may you live Thanasis
*k'e khrOn'a polA* and (may you live) many years
*meghAlos na gh'Inis* may you grow old
*me Aspra mal'A* with white (gray) hair
*pandU na skorpIzis* (May you) spread out everywhere
*tis ghnOsis to fOs* the light of knowledge
*k'e Oli na lEne* and may everybody say
*na Enas sofOs* there, (he is) a wise man

If you want listen it then you can go to the website I (well, actually Dad) found it on:

Of course it changes when they are singing about a small girl called Dimitra and not a man called Thanasis however it is way too complicated for me to fathom as I have only a little brain that seems to shrink even more when faced with the Greek Language!

I was also witness truly the most spectacular tantrum I have ever seen (and as a mother of 2 girls with a lot of mummy friends, that is really saying something). Dimitra wasn't keen on sharing the noise makers or decorative tiaras and was happy to let the entire island know! I am told this is not a rare occurrence either. I think she is going to be set for the stage as a Prima Donna as she is a gorgeous little girl with a fiesty personality, she won't let anyone stand the way of her goals!

Clara, of course, charmed everyone with her cuteness, the Greeks appear to be totally enamoured of her cheeks (which are very cherub like). She totally fell in love with Dimitra's Daddy Yiannis (iAn-iss) who fell in love with her too and spent a lot of time feeding her Honey Balls (insanely delicious, choux pastry deep fried in a light batter and then covered with honey and cinnamon... yuuum) and cuddling her. I am told by my parents that he is not her only love on the Island after having charmed the local builder Yiorgo on her first day... something tells me I am going to be in trouble when they are teenagers!

Here are a few pictures from the Grand Occasion.

The Cake:

Dimitra blowing out her candles:

Phoebe enjoying the party biscuits

Clara enjoying the party Blowers:

Clara and her new best friend Yiannis

Today we went to a more english birthday party for a friend of my Stepmum's on the Island, also called Jane. We went to a beach with a taverna on it and had a lovely meal. Her husband, Chris, runs painting lessons on the island and Jane helps. His students wanted to help celebrate so clubbed together and bought her a fabulous Tirimisu Birthday Cake from the local bakers (incidentally run by the Godmother of my Stepmum!). We had loads of lovely Greek food like meatballs, Tzatziki, Greek Salad, Calamari, fish, stuffed peppers... it was delicious and topped off with this wonderful cake. Then we all had a swim in the sea and came home. The sea was less wooshy at this beach so even Clara came in, although I would have preferred her to wear her bathing suit she was more than happy skinny dipping! Phoebe was able to show off her swimming skills much easier and impressed everyone with them!

Clara did a bit too but as she was starkers, well... it isn't fair to parade her like that on the t'interweb.

Here is my favourite picture of the day:

These Crocs rock on stony beaches oh and YAY for underwater cameras! The other good pictures are on the big camera so I will get those off later... nearly bedtime for the girls and they have started trying to hug the cats... this rarely goes well!