An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Saturday, June 30, 2007


Forty easy paces will take me from the new arch-topped door to the last full row of olive trees. How old are they? The green sides of the leaves are glossy now and some are full of fruit already. The heat of the past few days has yellowed patches of leaves on each and every tree. The bases have been stripped of suckers and brambles. A mat of vegetation carpets the grove, slowly rotting down to feed the trees.

Step (one) across the irrigation pipe and one more takes your breath away. Glance left and majestic Lav 1 stands mightily: the remnants of the 50 divers mother plants reaching up with spikes toward the bamboo. But stop, you will not glance left for there before you, taking your eye is Lav 2 - glorious. What takes which sense first? A purple glow wafts into your eyes, hits your retina and runs up to your brain. Does it register before the low busy hum registers from your ears? Bees are busy at their work flocking over a myriad of flowers, singing their songs of hums as they go. Or is it the heavenly scent that gently glows in your nose?

The physical presence of a lavender patch at late afternoon with the sun to your back and the lightest of breezes coming up from the river brings all of these sensations but ... But it is the essential harmony and rightness of the whole that gets you first. It is like standing in front of a Rothko painting, it hits you with its quiddity, its whatness before you perceive any of the components of it. It impresses itself upon you instantly. No thinking needed. It lavenders you.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ad hoc air conditioning unit

It is odd what comes to mind in times of stress. Yesterday afternoon when the day was at its very hottest and we had just been rolled over by the rolling blackouts that DEH uses to control demand it occurred to Shaun than all of the people with air conditioners would now suffer and that there was some poetic justice since it was their immoderate use of those A/C units was what forced DEH to implement rollong blackouts in the first place. Not content with this he sketched a jerry rigged air conditioner that Farmboy promptly rigged up for our delectation.

A small fan that once did service in a now defunct fan heater was plugged into our photovoltaic source - the sun was cranking out plenty of electricity for us - and the airflow was directed across a tray of ice cubes. In minutes we had a deliciously cool breeze that we all luxuriated in. And the knowledge that right then we were probably the only people in the area with aircon. Sweet.

This idea might have legs.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


There is a silence outside that is palpable: thick and deadening. A solitary cicada stopped rasping several minutes ago and the birds ceased long before that. Nothing is moving out there unless you count the blinding white light that is bouncing from every surface and the heat haze that ripples gently off the baked and bleached soil.

Indoor I can hear the blood pumping in my head and the fluids in my semi-circular canals lurching as I get up from the desk but nothig else. Power was cut, deliberately and possiby on a schedule unannounced, perhaps 40 minutes ago. A mist of sweat covers my forearms and upper lip. My hair is wet. A sweat rash itches at me.

A fly ventures in through the only open shutter. Closed against the heat, we routinely leave one shutter cracked to catch any passing breeze although today it has no work to do, no little air movement to catch and funnel. The tiny, heat exhausted, fly buzzes desultorily before collapsing onto the tiled floor in silence. The silence reigns again.

There is only hot air to breathe and cold water to drink. I sit before a dead computer, both of us completely still, while Gill stands at the table bunching lavender that she picked in the cooler section of the day (82º at 0600 hrs) and that is destined to dry, possibly in record time, on the rack in the bathroom.

And so life goes, on the heatwave days.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


The temperature was up at 98 (using ºf dates us we know) by 10 this morning and has continued to climb all day . On days like this you close all doors, windows, and shutters and stays indoors - at least if you have any sense you do. Or unless you're a dog and live outside. Luckily we have previously rigged up a shower system for the girls' run that cools down both the run itself and the kennel too. This system uses irrigation or farmers' water and can drop the localised temperature a couple of degrees and raise the humidity by 10s of percentage points within an hour.

As for us us we sit indoors in the darkened cool cellar that has one wall underground. Once the air temperature rises above blood heat fans are pointless and we resort to dampened and chilled scarves and cloths. We sit very still and listen to reports on Radio4 of horrid weather in the UK and disruptions to travel caused by rain.

It is hard to imagine anybody voluntarily prostrating themselves on the beach on days like this but we know it happens and imagine that beach bar takings do not suffer in the same way as the people do. Pity the poor staff. Especially the one collecting beach bed fees!

The latest forecast suggests that it might begin to cool by Thursday.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

We're having a heatwave

It isn't stopping us doing much but it sure is slowing us down. And it's set to continue. Perhaps for the entire summer.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Be not misled by shallow show

Despite the appearance here in recent days of both of the brothers Bovary be not misled into believing that we true twins have been idle. Be not misled by shallow show or in our case by a lack of show. Shaun and I have been burning intellectual oils well into the small hours with our own particular socratic dialogues despite you not having been made privvy to them (a tree or two fell in the forest when there was none there to hear them). In point of actual fact since we were introduced to 3quarks daily (there is a link in the sidebar) we have been daily provided with enough grist, mental, political, linguistic and cultural to keep many many mills on a 24 hour day. And we have never shirked our duty.

Several topics spring to mind to share with you but the one that repeatedly bubbles to the top of the brew. Time and again we think back to a bizzare radio piece we heard recently where the estimable Christopher Hitchens, whose latest work "God is not Good" has recently been released, was confronted live on air by his ignoramus, fascistic, less reasonable brother Peter. The topic, was ostensibly to be a discussion as to whether CH, as he opines in his new book, is correct in his assertion that religion and religious thinking has regularly done the world and culture serious harm as opposed to the good that its adherents and priesthood regularly and vociferously claim. PH, you see is a card carrying, right wing, coercive supernatural religious "beleiver". What might have been an interesting discussion came to nothing for no better reason than the massive mismatch in intellectual wherewithal between the siblings. Where CH was reasonable and rational PH was bullying and loud. Where CH made his case with evidence and reason PH made assertion after unsubstantiated assertion growing only louder and more hectoring as he repeated himself over and over whilst frequently claiming "higher authority".

The fascinating part of the discussion, for us as brothers at least, was how two brother could have grown up in such similar circumstances within a few years of each other could have come to such very different personal states of being. Shaun argued that PH's unpleasantly coercive manner was typical of religious thought through time and that it was his coming to God that had influenced him whereas my own view was that an immanent coercive streak in his makeup had in contrast brought him to religion. But perhaps it was neither. Or perhaps both are true. It is not possible to safely attach an arrow of causality to this development and perhaps it is not necessary but it is an interesting theme to pursue. We continue to explore the possibilities of finding some core data that might support either direction of causality.

In a nice synchronicity another piece on 3quarks later that day which reported a tussle in the field of linguistics reported on an isolated tribe whose language shows no sign of recursion, no names for colours, and no number, have as one of their basic precepts, their guiding principle if you like, "no coercion". No missionary group has ever been able to interest them in any flavour of Xtianity because of this. And many have tried over many years. Indeed the linguist who is studying their language originally went there as a missionary (of some fundamentalist stripe or another) and he himself lost his religious faith when it was put under the scrutiny of their supposedly primitive gaze.

That's one of the things we all love about 3quarks. That and the fact that it mirrors one of our online sigs and honours the illustious JAJ.

Sparrow invasion

Those of you who have been with us since the start will doubtless recall the incident of the owl in the bathroom when a barn owl took up residence in our top floor bathroom. Well yesterday we found, and you'll have to trust me on this because we didn't think to take photos, a sparrow nest in one of our interior light fittings.

During the summer months, and the winter months too to some extent, we spend most of the daylight hours at field level using the middle and top floors for the evening hours and relaxing. In summer though, we tend to leave windows and shutters open to promote air circulation and generally freshen the place up.

This last few months have seen frantic nesting activity among our ornithological population. Nest building began as early as January and by late spring every nook and cranny was under development: every gutter; all of the space in the carage; infeasible spaces in Gill's potting shed; every tree and shrub; the house full signs should have gone up around the end of May. But they clearly didn't more and more birds poured into the area. Sparrows, wrens, chaffinches, and even Dartford warblers continued to move in until nest material could be found everywhere.

And so it appears that we left enough space that a pair of little feathered friends, forced out of the housing market, decided that the light fitting in the stairwell was both safe and accessible. How we missed it is another matter but yesterday and more in sorrow than in anger, we evicted our little squatters. From here on in we will V the shutters rather than throwing them wide.

Monday, June 18, 2007


1500 milligrams of amoxicilin, 375 milligrams of clavulanic acid, 1600 milligrams of Ibuprofen , mind jarring amounts of caffeine and nicotine, is this any way to live? Is this a diet worth having? What is it with the Guv'nor pouring this amount of chemicals down his neck day in and day out? By my reckoning he's taken more pharmaceuticals since Staurday than in the previous 5 years.

OK so the guy has an abcess under one of his front bottom incisors but so what? That tooth has been all but useless since the olive accident 3 years ago. Surley he should have had the thing taken out before things got to this pass? He and G traipsed off to Xania this am and good old Nikos extracted the tooth in question, drained some of the obscene pus and told him to keep taking the tablets. Maybe good old Nikos should have extracted the top incisor that was damaged at the same time? Or do we all have to live through another bear with a sore head session in a few months time? Might be the best thing all round but for now let's just hope that when the feeling comes back the Guv'nor is in less pain and can knock off the ibuprofen popping, and that the Augmentin kicks in to kill off the infection.

He does look odd with that new and gappy smile of his, yes he has raised a smile since coming home, and although we are all trying not to laugh and show our complete dentitions I doubt it can last.

Blogged with Flock

P.S. I know I'm just an old country boy but could one of you prescribers out there please explain to me how a guy who only eats once in a day is supposed to take antibiotics three times a day after meals? Beats me and if'n you could hear the Guv'nor retching first thing in the am after his first meds it'd bother you too.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


We, me and Ceddie, were working the fields again today its been a busy time lately in the fields. He was cutting sukkers from the olive trees and any new groath going into the middle of the tree (gotta keep themopen so's the sunlite can get in) they haven't been done proply since Panderlise did them the other year and he only did harf of them and I was dragging all the cutaways down to the river bank what got washed away last year before the wedding and weevig them into a kinda fence. It was hot as all stink out there as Ceddie would say and we was sweating like pigs (do pigs sweat?) there was salt water dripping into my eyes and down the inside of my sunglasses but we got thru about half the trees and added to the brushcuttering that we did yesterday and the day before it was all starting to look v neat. Sos the last thihng Ceddie did was to cut a hole big bow off that was all growing to one side - bloody ginormous it was - and making the tree lopsided - so I cut all the little branches off and weeved them in the fence and then the two of us dragged the big ole mother up to the garage to log it.  We dont use the chainsaw if we can avoid it and so it was today we did it all with them little jap saws that the boss gets us.

Anyway the point was is we got the smaller stuff off and we was down to the main trunk what was pretty bloody big and Ceddie kept getting the blade jammed as the trunk closed on it and cos there was a lot of of sap in it. And then he had this harmonius idea - he stepped over to one of the shelves where the boss stores bits and bobs and grabbed a coupla fine olive wedges that he'd made before then he got the little mallit made of olive that Shaun designed and Ceddie made in winter then he slipped a wedge into the cut he'd made and tapped it with the little mallit - that'll hold the sawcut open he said and as he swaed he just tapped the wedge a little now and then and suddenly he was thru. It was beautiful!

Blogged with Flock

Friday, June 15, 2007

The crew mutiny

So there I was this morning minding my own business, checking emails, and catching up on things online: the cellar chores were done and G was out in the fields in her tatterdemalion gathering the first gleanings of the early lavender harvest when there came a knock at the door.

I turned my head leftward some 80 degrees or so and there was Shem framed in the stable doorway, the top half of which was open already. "Can I have a word please guv'nor? It is quite important. At least it is important to us." Over his shoulder I could see Farmboy and Eddie, and a little farther off Shaun skulked. "Come on in Shem - come on in all of you". Shem stepped inside nervously and the rest of them loitered without refusing my invistation.

"Is this some kind of delegation Shem? Takes me back to my old trades union days. Spit it out lad - what is it?". "The rest of the boys elected me as spokesperson stroke shop steward, they're all, wee're all. feeling a bit, well, to be frank, we're all feeling a bit neglected, it's become almost as if we'd all left home. We're afraid that the blog readers will all be thinking we're not pulling our weight around the farm. And that's just not so - as you well know. We do appreciate what a shitty time you've been having of late with all this legal shite and that's why or partly why we've not spoken up before but now that you've got all that behind you and trust me we're all really pleased that you have got that behind you or rather behind us - we thought it was about time we got a mention again. Maybe even an entry or two of our own?"

Of course he was right - they all were - how could I have been so remiss? I got up, pushed the chair back, and hugged him close to me.  I guided him to the door and embraced each of the boys separately. "I'm so sorry boys, trust me, I am so sorry, I apologise unreservedly." There was a profound, group silence that I broke with a grin and a smile - "OK kids, we start tonight - let's get this show back on the rails! The lavender crew ride again!" Slowly but surely four faces beside mine lit up.

And so, tomorrow we start over.



Blogged with Flock

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The gorgon's head

The gorgon's head

as I understand

is the only thing in all the land

that can turn around the evil wishes

of nasty gits and evil bitches

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Home and dry

The 6 to 4 shot romped home today on a tight rein at 10 past 2. Won by a distance.

Let joy be unconfined.

Monday, June 04, 2007


The local bookies Drakos and Tsilli are offering 6 to 4 tomorrow, 6 to 4 on before the end of the week, and 50 to 1 on by the next public holiday.

If and when the horses cross the line we'll let you know but in the meantime this will have to suffice.

For those of you who have no idea what the stakes are all we can say is - stay tuned and all will one day be revealed.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

15 days

15 days without a DS. 16 tomorrow. Our mechanic is popping back and forth to Athens as his health is in a sorry way and so he cannot dedicate much time to fixing her. We have begun to suspect that her problem may be beyond his considerable skills as well as being beyond his current availability.

Living without a car in the countryside is tough but walking back and forth to the shops is getting us both pretty fit and even my arthritic hip/spine/pelvis is benefitting. I wouldn't do it from choice but it is probably good for my cardio-vascular system too. Traipsing up the hill with two fully laden bags between us in the pissing rain is hardly enjoyable but it is edifying. We now know every wild flower between here and the strip. We know which fruits have set. We know how the tomatoes and potatoes are coming along as well as the grapes and the chicory. We've even struck up a new acquaintanceship with an elderly German couple whose house we pass on the route down to the strip by the wiggly road.

Yesterday we crumbled and hired a car - a very ugly car I must add - a Suzuki Wagon R - from Yasser at Alianthos and caught up on some bulky cupboard stuffing - water from Mathes, wine and beer from Lidls, coffee and dog food from Rethymnon. We shall probably have to continue hiring a car once evry week or ten days until Betty comes home but outside of that we intend to cntinue adjusting to life without easy access to a car. It's just another challenge and we always rise to challenges.

Besides - as the old Turkish proverb says "No journey is long when you travel with a friend".