Monday, 13 May 2013

Gather ye rigani while ye may

The time to gather rigani, or oregano, is when the white flowers come out, I've learned - that's when it's at its most pungent. So this week, we gather our rigani while we may - armfuls of the stuff, within a few minutes' walk from home - and hang it from the rafters of the empty building next door. 

We couldn't resist gathering a last batch of capers, now filling two huge pans in the kitchen and giving off a strong smell. Thankfully, Stelios has been informed by a veteran caper-gatherer that picking it does the caper bushes good, like pruning a tree. We're already eating our first jar and it's well worth the effort.

The weather this month has been heavenly, and the sea warm enough for swimming. I've taking Lisa to a beach every day. She's as much of a beach bum as I am - she loves the sea.

Easter felt so different this year, because it was early May rather than April; the evenings going up to the church weren't dark and cold. On Easter Sunday we ate with Stelios' relatives - a wonderful feast including roast kid with delicious rice and liver stuffing, flavoured with plenty of fresh herbs.

The priest was at lunch with us, and invited me to read out the evangelio in English that afternoon in the Sunday service, as it should be read in different languages. I immediately curbed my wine intake at lunch. 

Very proud to be part of Megalo Horio's celebrations, I braved the vomves or firecrackers exploding outside like a war going on; so loud the plaster started falling from the lovely ceiling of the church, which is painted with stars. The noise drowned out the resonant words about the disciples who saw Jesus come back from the cross, and Thomas who didn't, and said he wouldn't believe until he felt the wounds with his own hands. I tried to learn about the firecrackers, but Stelios and Vicky simply said 'it's a tradition' - like the burning of the Judas.

Our chickens are growing, though they seem to have developed a habit of hiding behind the coop when I arrive to feed them. This left-over spaghetti made them overcome their shyness, though.

And the tomatoes are ripening.

And while ye may, go marry... It's a perfect time of year for a wedding, and this Saturday was the wedding of Yota, the smiling face in the bakery, to her man from Crete - and what a spectacular evening it was up at Panayia Politissa, high on a hill overlooking Livadia bay. 

As we queued up to congratulate the newly wedded bride and groom, I suddenly forgot what it is you're supposed to say, and asked Stelios.
'Na zeeseteh,' he said, and I repeated it to remember, 'Na zeeseteh' - meaning something like 'May you live long.' 
'Keh tou chronou,' he continued, and again I repeated, 'Keh tou - hang on a minute!' I don't think so...
He grinned. He was trying to get me to tell them, 'And do the same next year!' 

My lovely friend Eleftheria from Megalo Horio supermarket was giving out sugared almonds and heart-shaped melekounia, sweets made from sesame seeds and honey and orange.

Locals, residents and regular visitors were all invited to share the food and drinks and of course the music and dancing later. Occasions like these are a great opportunity to socialise. 

Children ran around in their best clothes throwing rose petals and moving to the music. As it got darker, the atmosphere was magical, with the rugged hilltops all around us, and the smooth still bay far below, with the lights of the village in the distance.

We joined in a few dances, but had to leave before midnight. As we rode the motorbike back across the island, the sky above was filled with millions of stars.

Oh, and a crazy puppy was waiting for us at home. 


  1. Hi Jen!
    Great to see a pic of Pananiota and Stavros. She's the sister of our host Michalis at Anna Studios where we always stay, so we feel extremely happy for the whole Panidis family and I thought you might be going to the wedding, since Yota has "a place" in your great book, which I finished reading last weekend. What a fascinating story you tell, mostly about your journey within - most impressive resilience Jennifer :-) and also lovely scenes from Tilos and its people. I think I recognised them all, haha, all but "Manolis" ;-).
    Wishing you a great continued month of May. On June 21 our stay in Tilos begins. Hope to get a glimpse of you busy at the cantina maybe, and just say hi!

    1. Glad you enjoyed seeing the photos - and really glad you enjoyed the book! 'Manolis' didn't even want me to disguise him but I thought it would be better since he didn't want to read the book until it was published.
      We had a huge thunderstorm here last night with loads of rain, but it's all good for the land, and the day was brilliantly sunny again. I hope you will say hi when you're here!

  2. Panayota married! Excellent!
    Luck to both of them!
    Andrey (Moscow)

  3. Hi Jennifer!
    My name is Andrew, I live in Moscow. More precisely, my body in Moscow, and the soul on Tilos:) I was very pleased to find your blog about life on Tilos. Beginning in 2007, all of their vacation time I use for trips to the island. I'm very interested in any information about life on the island. In your blog is constantly updated and it is very good. In particular, I was interested to find out about the wedding Yota. Yota a very nice woman. May God grant them happiness. It is a pity that the photo could not see her husband. Could you please send more photos from the wedding? E-mail:
    Best regards.