Monday, October 04, 2010

Monday morning funny

Saw this and couldn't stop laughing. Hope you guys find it funny, too.

Friday, October 01, 2010

I've been tagged!

I was tagged by Palm Tree Fanatic Tina last month, while I was on holiday. Due to being away and being all over the place for a couple of weeks after I got back, it's taken me a while to respond (sorry, Tina!) but here goes:

1. Why did you start blogging?
My friend Erica put me up to it. She used to have quite a popular blog at one time, but doesn't post any more.

2. If you could travel anywhere in the world with no restriction of costs, where would it be and why?
Hawaii. I've been interested in it since watching Hawaii 5-0 as a child. Later on I read Paradise News by David Lodge, which is set in Hawaii, and the idea stuck. And I have a thing for palm trees and blue seas. Plus Hawaii is sufficiently far away from my part of the world, I'll only ever visit if I have unlimited funds!

3. Did you have a teacher in school that had a great influ­ence on your life? If so, what?
I've been really lucky, I've had lots of excellent teachers, all the way from primary school through to college. Can't really say one stood out, because all of them were special in different ways. I still have a soft spot for my first teacher in primary school, she taught us for the first 3 years and she was awesome! She's the one who first taught me to work methodically.

4. If you could spend the day with a famous person, who would it be, and what would you do?
I'd like to meet Barack Obama, just to talk to him. He seems like someone with a GSOH, so I don't think we'll need extra entertainment - just a table, two comfy chairs, a coffee pot and two cups. If I'm lucky, perhaps he'll introduce me to the wife, too.

5. Toilet paper — over or under?
If this means what I think it means, over.

6. Name one thing in your life that you would do over if possible.
I'd stress less over the small things and even less over the bigger things.

7. Tell about your pets — if any.
No pets.

8. Do you live in a small town or a large town?
I live in a big city and I love it. I like being surrounded by people.

Apparently I can tag others to answer the same questions, but since the chain is well and truly broken now, please feel free to tag yourselves! Let me know if you do, as I'd love to read your answers.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday morning joke

A woman writes to IT technical support.....

Dear Tech Support,

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and I noticed a distinct slowdown in the overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewellery applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0.

In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5, and then installed undesirable programs such as News 5.0, Money 3.0 and Football 4.1.

Conversation 8.0 no longer runs, and Housecleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system.

Please note that I have tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail. What can I do?




Dear Madam,

Firstly, keep in mind that Boyfriend 5.0 is an entertainment package, while Husband 1.0 is an operating system.

Please enter command: I thoughtyoulovedme.html and try to download Tears 6.2 and do not forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update. If that application works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewellery 2.0 and Flowers 3.5.

However, remember that overuse of the above application can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Silence 2.5 or Beer 6.1.
Please note that Beer 6.1 is a very bad program that will download the Snoring Loudly Beta.

Whatever you do, DO NOT in any circumstances install Mother-In-Law 1.0 (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources.)

In addition, please do not attempt to reinstall the Boyfriend 5.0 program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband 1.0.

In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend: Cooking 3.0 and Good Looks 7.7.

Good Luck!

Tech Support

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Back to reality with a thump

Hey guys, apologies for the silence! I've been on holiday on and off for the last month and as a result my blogging has suffered somewhat. I've spent time in Corfu and Cyprus with intermediate stops in London and Athens, so it's been quite a whirlwind.

My latest destination was the sunny island of Cyprus. Returning to the miserable UK weather after 9 days of glorious sunshine and temperatures in the 30's hasn't been easy - I feel I've crashed back into reality. Really missing the sun, which I've not seen since 4:45 PM on Monday 13/9 when our plane took off from Larnaca airport. I've come back with the best tan I've had in ages, but there's not even a ray of sunshine to help maintain it, let alone top it up. It's depressing.

I think I'm suffering with post-holiday blues. Sigh.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What did I do this weekend?

I've been invited by Gattina to participate in this meme by telling you what I did this weekend. Well, strictly speaking it's not "this weekend" any more, but yesterday was a bank holiday, meaning we had a long weekend, therefore the week's only just started. Hence I can still play :-)

Saturday: Hubby was feeling a bit fluey (due to spending Friday night with his mates, watching movies and consuming alcohol) and didn't feel like going into town to buy new shoes, as per our original plan. So we just walked to a new cafe that's opened nearby and had a very nice brunch of freshly-prepared sandwiches and lentil salads, washed down with mugs of tea. We also had a breakfast tart to share. Spent the rest of the day doing errands, going to the post office, taking clothes to the drycleaner's, doing the weekly shop etc.

Sunday: Weather windy and wet so we stayed indoors all day long. I'd left the window open in the bedroom and went in mid-morning to find it'd been raining on the bed, which by the way is positioned a couple of feet away from the wall. Our windows are sash, so they open up-down. This one was open just 30 cm at the top and the rain still got in. Drank too much tea to keep warm, and almost made soup for lunch. I kept thinking of our local drycleaner, who was getting married on Sunday. I hope the wedding was in the afternoon, as the rain stopped around 5 PM and we had glorious blue skies all evening.

Monday: Weather was much improved, so we went to the Notting Hill Carnival, a big celebration talking place over the bank holiday weekend. Watching the parade in the sunshine, you could almost imagine you were in Rio. Almost, not quite. Had lunch at a Greek restaurant, then got home and had a snooze in our sun-lit living room, one sofa each. Spent the evening watching rubbish on TV (hubby) and reading guide books (me).

Anyone else would like to play? What did YOU do this weekend?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Memory loss

Yesterday was our 7th wedding anniversary. Both my husband and I failed to remember it. I even wished my cousin a Happy Birthday (prompted by Facebook) and I know my cousin's birthday falls on the same day as my wedding anniversary, of course I do, but the significance of the date just didn't hit me.

I only know it was our wedding anniversary yesterday because my dad called me a minute ago with belated wishes. Shocking or what?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Driving through London - part 2 - Camberwell

Having spent the best part of an hour crawling through Peckham, we finally reached Camberwell, another inner south London suburb low on charm, but lively nonetheless. I don't have as many photos to show you because traffic conditions improved considerably (seems that every car going through the area was stuck in or around Peckham) and we picked up some speed, so it wasn't as easy to take photos. Here's a selection of the best ones.

I don't know what this building is, can't even tell if it's an office block or residential accommodation, but I thought it looked nice.

Finally, some empty roads!

Coming up to Camberwell Green, the hub of Camberwell where all the restaurants and bars are.

Check out "Noodels City". You may have to enlarge the photo to see the sign.

Continuing towards Kennington, it's getting a bit busier on the roads, but still moving at a steady speed.

Another example of terraced housing - this time Victorian/Edwardian (I think).

Made by Cows - a popular ad campaign by Anchor Butter.

The empty road happiness wasn't meant to last. Soon we come across more roadworks and more cones, and we're back to single lane traffic.

Still, slow speeds are good for photography. I really shouldn't complain.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Driving through London - part 1 - Peckham

OK. Here's the deal. There are 212 photos in my "London" folder from last weekend's roadtrip from hell. There is absolutely no way I can show you even a quarter of them without creating a mega photo-sharing post or a slide show, and I have an aversion to both. So I thought I'd bundle the photos according to area and show you a few out of each group instead.

To start, I give you Peckham (pronounced as Peck-uhm, not Peck-ham). Not one of the most salubrious areas of London, but I did warn you it's the London the tourists don't see. Ahem. Keep in mind that I took these pictures from the car while we were moving (admittedly at crawling speed) along the A202, so the photos aren't terribly well-framed. I guess what I'm saying is, cut me some slack, OK.

I've no idea what this is (other than a building that's been boarded up after a fire) but I like the art. I spotted it in New Cross, a run-down but very hip neighbourhoood, just before Peckham proper.

In case you're still wondering why it took us 40 minutes to drive 4.5 miles, here's the answer: roadworks!

This is a typical terrace, a row of identical or mirror-image houses sharing side walls - either Victorian or mock Victorian, I can't tell.

Did I mention the traffic? Notice the cars are perfectly stationery although the light is green.

A pub and two shops with funky names...

A typical neighbourhood mini market - sells everything and anything.

A messy picture, but I like it because you can see Manze's traditional pie and mash shop and catch a glimpse of the top of the futuristically designed Peckham Library.

A typical high street: Rye Lane and the Aylesham Shopping Centre.

I like this photo because of the scooter. You don't often see scooters on London roads. Also because the sun's shining and the sky's looking interesting.

The Harris Academy at Peckham promoting themselves.

And finally, the back of a London bus!

These are the best of my Peckham photos, plus a bonus one here. So, tell me, how closely do they match what you expected to see?

Monday, August 09, 2010

It's a long, long way to everywhere

Last weekend we went to the West Country for a family reunion. The West Country is an area in SW England, approx. 130 miles (209 kms) west of London. We drove out on Saturday and drove back on Sunday. It took us 5 hrs 30 mins on the way out, 4 hrs 20 mins on the way back. That's an average speed of 23.6 miles outbound, and not much more than that on the return. It took us 40 mins to cover the first 4.5 miles out of south London, compliments of roadworks every half a mile, broken down buses every mile and a couple of minor accidents to add to the bedlam.

We thought that it was a pitiful attempt at using a car to get from A to B until we learned that a friend had also tried to leave London on the Friday to visit his folks up north, only to give up and return home after taking 3 hours to cover a distance of 1 mile. In a car, not on all fours, I hasten to add. Thankfully, he had better luck on Saturday morning.

The only good thing that has come out of this driving ordeal is that, as the speeds we achieved were exceptionally slow, I was able to take plenty of photos en route. I now have an impressive selection of 391 photos of London neighbourhoods, streets, shops, junctions, buildings, parks, rivers, countryside, petrol stations, more pubs than you can shake a stick at, traffic jams, fields, sunsets, a pig farm and even Stonehenge, the famous prehistoric monument. If anyone is interested in (any of) them, let me know and I'll post some tomorrow.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Houmous, falafel and the Cyclades

Marks & Spencer (aka M&S) is a major British retailer, with over 895 stores in more than 40 territories around the world. It is the largest clothing retailer in the UK, as well as being an upmarket food retailer, and as of 2008, the 43rd largest retailer in the world. Despite its huge and undoubtable success, M&S is unable to recruit even one person with knowledge of the Eastern Mediterranean into their Product Development department.

Which would be fine, and not at all a concern for anyone, if only M&S weren't so keen to develop the "World Flavours" lunchtime food range allowing you to take an appetizing international journey of taste without even leaving your desk. Problem is, this journey is so unpredictable, you don't always end up where you planned when you bought your food pack. In particular, you never end up in Greece.

The good bods at M&S, however, are blissfully unaware of this little detail. According to the press release, you can imagine yourself lunching on a sun soaked Greek island with "A taste of Greece" - a feta-style salad with houmous, falafel and sun-dried tomato breadsticks. Which is all well and good, only there's no such thing as feta-style salad, houmous and falafel are unknown in Greece, and sun-dried tomato breadsticks, although not exactly unheard of, are unlikely to be found on any sun soaked Greek island taverna, except for the really pretentious ones.

In any case, feta-style salad and fancy breadsticks I can accept. Houmous and falafel though? That's like putting together a "taste of USA" pack made up of Ploughman's sandwiches and Cornish pasties.

At first, I thought perhaps they're getting Greece mixed up with Cyprus (it wouldn't be the first time) but my Cypriot friends confirmed that, although houmous is indeed known in Cyprus, falafel is something that one would expect to find in Egypt, Lebanon or other Middle Eastern countries.

This begs the question: what is the purpose to taking two products that are nothing to do with Greece and putting them in Greek packaging, complete with Cycladic church? Surely anyone who likes houmous and falafel will eat them even if M&S calls them "houmous and falafel"? Not to mention anyone who's been to Greece is no more likely to associate the country with houmous and falafel than they are to associate it with chorizo and mozzarella.

Am I perhaps missing a great marketing strategy here? Is it a ploy to bring the Levant closer to Europe via the British taste bud? The mind boggles.

Last Saturday my friends and I went to the local M&S to search for this wonder product. Sure enough the Greece-in-Lebanon packs exist! We only found the mini-pack (sans feta-style salad and breadsticks) but our trip wasn't wasted. While looking around the shelves, we spotted another equally mind-blowing product: olives from Halkadiki.

What's wrong with that? I hear you ask. Well, what's wrong with it is that there's no such area called Halkadiki. The name is Halkidiki. And there are no alternative spellings either. Calling Halkidiki Halkadiki is like calling London Londin, or New York New Yark, or Sydney Sydnay. It's a huge, massive, stupid spelling mistake. We thought it was so funny that they'd misspelled the name of the product, we took a photo of the jar. The reason the photo is a bit blurred is because we couldn't stop laughing.

Then we looked at the lid. Which is supposed to say "olives with sun dried tomatoes" in Greek. Unfortunately it doesn't say that at all. It says "olives with sun wharmied tomatoes" - i.e. not only using the wrong word for "sun dried" but forming it wrongly too, against all grammatical and spelling rules. It's not just an unfortunate translation, it's a word that doesn't exist and couldn't ever exist. My guess is that it was made up by someone who'd studied Ancient Greek at college and had WAY TOO MUCH confidence in their ability to create new words in modern Greek.

Honestly, I can't decide which of these blunders I find more offensive: the Taste of Greece pack that seems to confuse Greece with Lebanon, the Halkadiki-spellchecker-fail olives jar, or the make-a-Greek-word lid! That M&S managed to make all three in just two products is so shocking one has to wonder if it was done on purpose.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A study of Greek salads

A little while ago, I did a post about the perfect (most authentic) Greek salad. During my recent sojourn in Greece, I took photos of all the Greek salads I had, so that I could show you the real thing. Keep in mind that these aren't homemade salads, but they're what you'll be served at a taverna or restaurant.

Salad served at a (non-touristy) restaurant - look how it's swimming in olive oil:

Tourist-trap salad - we know this because the cucumber isn't peeled:

Salad served at a neighbourhood taverna:

Salad served at a fancy taverna - notice the funky salad bowl, plus use of capers:

Salad at a traditional fish taverna - this is the one that looks the most like a homemade one, although they've skimped on the olive oil and herbs:

Finally, here's a variation: it's what I call a party salad, because you only get the feta cubed like that when the salad is served as part of a buffet. This one was served at a Greek restaurant in London - hence the cucumber isn't peeled and there's chopped parsley all over.

Next time I hope to show you some homemade varieties.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I love the weatherman

This is such a fab summer, and it's set to continue the same way. Look at what the mid-range forecast says:

There are indications that many places should continue the trend towards generally drier and sunnier conditions during the period. Rainfall should be near to slightly below average, with northern parts of the UK retaining the greatest chance of rain or showers and generally more changeable conditions. Temperatures should remain around or above normal for most, but possibly very warm in southern England.

Finally, a very warm summer for us in NW Europe! What's the weather like where you are?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Futurama truths

Just heard this line on animated science fiction sitcom (apparently you can't call them cartoons any more) Futurama, which hubby is watching on TV.

In your universe, you are many. In my universe, I am one.

Anyone have any doubt that the writer who came up with this line is a man?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Scary thought of the day

It is possible to put on a pair of shorts inside-out, zip them up and fasten the top button, without realising anything's amiss.

I know because I've just done it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Two weeks after I arrived in Greece, the finger has healed beautifully, the bandages are off and I've spent two glorious days on the beach and several evenings strolling through Athens, meeting friends, watching outdoor performances and eating way too much for someone who's supposed to be on a diet (ahem). Hence I've not had time to post or visit your blogs. But I will be back as soon as I return to the UK, I promise!

This was my view yesterday morning. Can you blame me for not wanting to spend time in front of the PC?

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Tuesday afternoon I arrived in Athens. Wednesday morning I broke a glass while washing up and cut my finger. It was quite a deep cut but I managed to stop the blood and apply a plaster (thank God for mini first aid kits).

My friend Kathy came round to pick me up so we could go swimming, and I asked her to drive past the chemist's so they could take a look at my little injury. Bad idea, as the chemist promptly advised me to have it checked by a doctor and directed us to the nearest Emergency Department.

To be honest, I was very tempted to just skip the hospital and take my chances, but Kathy drove us to the local hospital despite my vague attempts to convince her I'd probably be fine. I'm really not overly fond of hospitals. Up until last Wednesday, I'd never been treated in a hospital and was rather hoping to keep it that way.

Anyway, it wasn't meant to be. Despite my injury looking pitifully unimprotant covered by a regular (albeit very tightly applied) plaster, I was fast-tracked through and had a nurse examining my finger within 10 minutes of setting foot in the Emergency Room.

The nurse seemed to think that the cut didn't need stitches, but the Cute Doctor who came to take a look disagreed. I'd had stitches when I had my wisdom teeth taken out (and let me say here that I'm the only person I know who hasn't got a tale of woe to tell about their wisdom teeth, in fact, that was the quickest and most painless 400€ I've ever spent) but still I wasn't too keen to repeat the experience - even if it meant spending longer with the Cute Doctor. I must admit I had a short moment of doubt, but as soon as I saw the tray with the needles and other implements, I immediately decided the nurse knew better.

A short conference followed, the Cute Doctor argued his case, the nurse and I argued ours, the nurse and I won. I left hospital 20 minutes later with a well-bandaged finger, a prescription for antibiotics and instructions to refrain from swimming and housework for 10 days, as I mustn't get the bandages wet AT ALL. I don't mind the no swimming rule or the no housework (as if!), but having to wear latex gloves for washing is yucky. Still, I left hospital without a single stitch, which is the best news. Latex I'll cope with (but why, oh why do latex gloves smell so awful?).

This is the glass that attacked me. Let's just say it will do no more damage. Hehe.

It's been 4 days and counting since my little accident. Another 6 days to go before I have my finger back. At least I can still type.

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Girl Who...

If you have read the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest) and especially if you've seen the respective movies, you may find this tongue-in-cheek article funny: The Girl Who Fixed The Umlaut by Nora Ephron.

Many thanks to Pamsie for twitting about this! I'm still quietly chuckling to myself :-)

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Let's go to Hawaii!

We've had some beautiful weather in the UK recently, and I'm totally in the mood for summer. Summer is a season that often bypasses us in rainy NW Europe, so this prolonged spell of loveliness (15 days and counting) makes me think of Greece.

I've been posting Greek summer songs on my FB account and this one has had the most interest, so I thought I'd share it with you. It's just a silly song (don't expect any meaningful lyrics) but the beat is nice, the video is funny and the lady who sings it has an amazing voice. It's actually a cover of reggae song It's a Pity, sang by Tanya Stephens. The title of the Greek version is "Pame Havai" or Let's go to Hawaii.

A friend asked me to translate the lyrics for her, so here they are, alongside "phonetic" Greek:

Well come, ride the bike / lipon ela sti mixani aneva
let's go to Hawaii with one tyre / pame Havai me mia roda
If you are at home, get ready for Hawaii / an ise spiti tote etimasou gia Ηavai
let's go somewhere we've never been before / pame kapou pou den exoume pai
let's not stay home any longer / mono min katsoume allo spiti

If you are at home, get ready for Hawaii / an ise spiti tote etimasou gia Ηavai
let's go somewhere we've never been before / pame kapou pou den exoume pai
let's not stay home any longer / mono mi minoume allo spiti

Errands, bills, work / treksimo logariasmoi kai doulia
stress, inflation, loans, borrowed money / anhos,akrivia,hrei,danika
the tram is always crowded / pantote sinostismos mes to tram
and the mobile ringing all the time / ke panta eki to kinito htipa
Cooking in the morning / na magirepsis to proi
hanging out the washing / naplosis oti exi plithi
ironing, tidying up, hoovering before he gets home / na siderosis,na mazepsis,na skoupisis prin na 'rthi
then we go to the market, off to pay the bills, phone, water, electricity / meta na pame sti laiki ki epita OTE, nero, DEI gia na pliroso
Give me a break! (sung in English)

If you are at home, get ready for Hawaii / an ise spiti tote etimasou gia Ηavai
let's go somewhere we've never been before / pame kapou pou den exoume pai
let's not stay home any longer / mono min katsoume allo spiti
If you are at home, get ready for Hawaii / an ise spiti tote etimasou gia Ηavai
let's go somewhere we've never been before / pame kapou pou den exoume pai
let's not stay home any longer / mono mi minoume allo spiti

I want walks, travel, sweets and nice food / thelo voltes, taksidia, glika, fagita
I want to lie face down on the sand / na ksaplosoume mproumita stin ammoudia
I want to light a fire on the beach / thelo sti paralia na anapso fotia
I want to swim for hours in shallow or deep waters / kolimbi oron sta rhxa i sta vathia
I want to tan and stay tanned forever / thelo na mavriso ke na mino etsi panta
I want to dance the lambada with Enrique Inglesias / me ton Enrique Inglesias na horepso labamba
I want to grab the microphone from a music band / n' arpakso to mikrofono apo mia mpanta
and scream "God, Amen" / ke na fonakso Thee mou Amin

Well come, hop on the bike / lipon ela sti mixani aneva
let's go to Hawaii with one tyre / pame Havai me mia roda

I bought a lilo and another couple of swimsuits / pira thalassio stroma, dio-tria magio akoma
Armbands and beach towels in beautiful colours / bratsakia ke petsetes me oraio xroma
I've even bought flippers / ama thes eho ke vatrahopedila akoma
and high factor sunscreen / me trianta dikti prostasias krema gia to soma
I don't know what else I need to buy / de ksero akrivos ti allo tha prepi na paro
but I've run out of cash / afou emeina me adia tsepi
I go to the ATM to see if I can get money out / stamato kai sti trapeza na do an ehi lefta
but I don't have the PIN number / ma ksehasa to pin
Thoma, are you there? I'm calling (your mobile) but it's engaged / Thoma ise spiti? giati se perno kai milai
If we go to Hawaii after all / an telika tha pame sti Havai
you need to bring money with you / tote pare lefta ap'to spiti

Thoma, are you there? I'm calling (your mobile) but it's engaged / Thoma ise spiti? giati se perno kai milai
If we go to Hawaii after all / an telika tha pame sti Havai
you need to bring money with you / pare ki esi lefta ap'to spiti

Hawaii is considered the top exotic destination for Greek people of my generation: it's got long sandy beaches and palm trees and is far enough to remain a dream for most of us. Personally I blame Hawaii 5-0 for this. It's the first American show I watched and it's certainly left its mark.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the song. If not the lyrics, at least the music!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Parthenon lit by lightning

A bolt of lightning illuminates the sky around the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple, high on the Acropolis during a heavy rainfall in Athens early yesterday morning. Fortunately, the temple is believed to have escaped any damage.

In a reversal of the norm, the skies over Greece were heavy with the threat of more storms, and the temperatures dropping overnight to 21°C (70°F). Meanwhile the usually overcast and cool skies over Britain have been startlingly clear, with temperates set to break heat records this week.

For once, I'm delighted to be in London rather than Athens!

Read more here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thought of the day

"Do not keep anything in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful" - William Morris, founder of the English Arts and Crafts Movement.

This is my new mantra.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Authentic Greek salad

I remember a while back having a discussion with Karen about how to prepare a Greek salad. It's something that people often ask me about, especially after they've tried to recreate this very simple dish at home, only to find it tastes nothing like what they had on holiday.

I've been wanting to do a post about Greek salads for sometime. Luckily, we've had some nice, warm weather recently and I've been inspired to cook Greek, so I took a picture of one of my (hastily prepared) Greek salads to show you what the real thing looks like. You can improve on the looks by chopping and arranging the ingredients more carefully, but this is the basic idea.

First, some things you might not know about Greek salads.

Greek salad or village/rustic salad (horiatiki in Greek) is a summer dish. In Greece, you'd never serve a Greek salad in winter time, the reason being that its ingredients are only in season in the summer, and Greek cuisine is very much seasonal. It has to be, because it relies very heavily on the natural taste of the primary ingredients, since herbs, sauces and spices are rarely and sparingly used.

Greek salad isn't made with lettuce. Ever. Lettuce is in season during winter, so by definition (if you're cooking with seasonal ingredients) you can't have fresh lettuce and fresh tomato in the same dish. Either your tomatoes are grown in a greenhouse and fertilized to within an inch of their lives, or your lettuce has been imported from South Africa. If you see lettuce in your Greek salad, it's because lettuce is cheaper than tomatoes.

Greek salad isn't an appetiser or a main course. It's meant to be eaten as a side dish, shared amongst a group of people.

You need the following ingredients to make an authentic Greek salad for 3-4 people:

2-3 Beef tomatoes - organic, cut in wedges
half a cucumber - peeled and sliced
1 green pepper - sliced
half a white onion - sliced
a handful of black olives
a slice of feta cheese - the best quality you can afford, made with sheep's and goat's milk, not cow's milk
a generous sprinkling of dried oregano
some extra virgin olive oil - best quality

Optional ingredients: capers, lemon juice or vinegar, a tiny amount of fresh parsley.

The most important ingredients are the tomatoes, the feta and the olive oil. If these don't taste like they should, your salad will never taste right.

Prepare the ingredients as outlined above and place them in a big bowl in order: first the tomatoes, then the cucumber, then the pepper and onion, the olives, finally the slab of feta cheese. Sprinkle oregano all over and season with salt, if using. Finally, drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Once the salad is at the table, you can break the feta up with a fork. Bon appetit!

Friday, June 04, 2010


It's been almost a week since this year's Eurovision final took place, so this is old news, but I couldn't not have a post dedicated to the winning song. The title is Satellite and it was sang by Lena Meyer-Landrut for Germany. The last time Germany came first was in 1982 and the last time they finished in the top 10 was in 2004, so it was a much awaited win.

Lena seems pretty crazy, but I like the song. It's got a great beat and a catchy refrain. I'm sure it will be a big hit in the summer clubs all over Europe. It's already on my iPod playlists.

Of the countries I mentioned in last week's Eurovision post, Armenia finished in 7th place with 141 points, Greece finished 8th with 140 points, and the UK sadly finished 25th with just 10 points.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Yes, it's Eurovision time again. I've not been paying much attention this year, mainly because I've been working for the last couple of weeks and I've also had a couple of busy weekends with guests, which have meant more cleaning, cooking and going out than usual. So this post is more of a reminder for me than anything else, but I also thought you might want to see the Greek song being performed - it's a scream!

The countries that are competing in tonight's final are:

Bosnia & Herzegovina
United Kingdom

The competition is taking place in Oslo, as Norway were last year's winners.

The UK will be represented by a fairly nondescript song called That Sounds Good To Me (wishful thinking or simply aspirational?) performed by a boy barely out of school - or perhaps I'm getting older. Anyway, this is the video for anyone who's interested.

Greece's song couldn't be more different. Like it or not, nondescript it ain't. Plus the singer is my age, so I don't feel like a granny when I sing along to it.

I have no idea who's the favourite to win (personally, I favour France's Allez Olla Olé) but my prize for weirdest lyrics goes to Armenia's Apricot Stone.

I have more guests arriving tonight, so not sure when I'll next get time to post. In the meantime, enjoy the music and share the moment!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wordless Wednesday 92

Click on the photo to enlarge it and read the note...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Speechless Thursday

Meet Wenlock and Mandeville, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic mascots. Words fail me.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Catch up

Since my last post, it seems our parliament has unhung itself and the weather has improved marginally, so things are looking up.

I've not done much blogging in the last few days, as I've been busy with other fun things. Yesterday, I spent all day watching old "24" episodes with my friend Pamela. We had a marathon session with twelve episodes back-to-back, a real treat!

Earlier today I went to Heathrow airport to meet my friend Kostas who was transitting through London on his way to Dubai via Athens, Hungary and Croatia. Kostas is a jet-setter. He also enjoys good food and wine, and I've shared many an excellent meal with him. We spent three happy hours at Carluccio's at Terminal 5, having lovely food, great wine and lively conversation. Apologies to the people sitting closest to us, I know we were quite animated but we hadn't seen each other for over a year and we had lots of catching up to do. Plus we're Greek, so we're loud. It's in our DNA.

Later I went for a walk by the Thames in Greenwich. It was 9 PM by then and it was still light, so I took some photos for my other blog. I love the longer days we get in summer, and can't wait for them to grow even longer.

The tide was out, so the Thames foreshore was exposed. Not very inspiring as beaches go, but it's the best we have. It can be pretty good on a warm summer day, not that we're getting many of those at the moment, but there's no harm in dreaming.

All in all, this has been a good week, and here's hoping for an even better weekend!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Pray, pray, pray

You may have heard that there is a lot of political activity in the UK at the moment, as no one party achieved an absolute majority of seats following last week's election so we have ended up with a "hung parliament". I won't bore you with the details, suffice to say that every newspaper, every news report on the TV, every "top story" on the BBC website is about the election and the formation of the new government. I had to smile when I saw this poster outside a Baptist church yesterday. It seems to me that praying for the men and women at Westminster is an excellent idea in the circumstances.

In case you don't know, Westminster Palace, aka the Houses of Parliament, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom - the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The Clock Tower of Westminster Palace, commonly known as Big Ben, is one of London's most famous landmarks. In reality, Big Ben is the name of its main bell (weighing 13.8 tonnes) - the official name of the clock tower is St Stephen's Tower.

Earlier tonight, I checked the long-range Met Office forecast for the UK. This is what the weather appears to have in store for us later this month:

A northwesterly weather type is expected to bring some spells of unsettled weather with temperatures starting normal for the time of year but becoming relatively cold again as we move into June. There are indications of above average rainfall amounts during the period, firstly over parts of northern UK but later southwestern and central parts appear to be the wettest. Otherwise rainfall amounts will be near normal.

To be honest, I think we really ought to be praying for drought....