Aegina Home & Living - Living in Aegina

 

 

 


LIVING IN AEGINA

What is it REALLY like to live in Aegina?

 

                                                           LIVING
 

HAPPY ?   CHRISTMAS   2010

 

Here we are in 2010 and in the midst of a terrible recession which I doubt we have seen the worst of yet.

So this year, before setting off on my usual journey to England, I decided to make gifts for my family and to show to my children how true presents come from the heart and needn’t be expensive, that during a recession we should be creators, not  big consumers

I bought cardboard bowls from Sklavenitis which cost 64 cents each and come in gold, silver and other metallic colours. Then I bought a pack of natural coloured shredded tissue paper and sheets of cellophane from a shop in Piraeus specializing in wrapping and packaging and finally, a reel of aubergine coloured raffia for tying the cellophane.  Finally, I needed to buy screw top tins and spice jars.  I bought the spice jars from IKEA a long time ago but if I had had time, I would have collected and used small jars.  To my delight, I found screw top tins (very attractive made from silver aluminium with glass tops) from one of those little shops in Piraeus which have piles of plates and multi coloured metal carafes hanging from their exterior…and I felt so virtuous to have taken my custom to a smaller trader who no doubt finds it difficult to survive during these difficult times.

The following weekend, I picked 36 lemons from our tree, cleaned and dried them then set about positioning them on top of nest of paper in each of the bowls. During the summer, I had picked loads of oregano from the garden which I’d hung in the kitchen. Once ground in the blender, this aromatic herb was divided between 6 spice jars. My daughter was then assigned the task of baking 150 of her exquisite Christmas biscuits, in lemon, ginger and cinnamon flavours and these were wrapped in cellophane and placed in the screw top tins which then joined company with the lemons in the cardboard bowl. Finally, the bowl was wrapped in a sheet of cellophane which was secured with a length of aubergine raffia and though I say it myself, they looked really lovely.

That was the easy part! Getting to England was much more challenging as there was a boat strike. The weather was awful the day before I was due to fly and I couldn’t stomach the idea of bouncing along in a tiny taxi boat for which I’d have to pay 40 Euro. Fortunately, my heroic husband chatted nicely to the captain of the Chinese tourist boat and I found myself a welcome guest among a crowd of Chinese people who spent their voyage learning how to Greek dance and sing Greek karaoke.

We disembarked in Megara at 6pm where I struggled to drag my 2 suitcases full of gifts up the steep steps to the coaches which were waiting to take people to different areas of Athens. Avery nice Chinese lady helped me all the way up to the coach destined for Piraeus, the second part of my journey  to which I was a welcomed hitch-hiker.

We ended up in a dark, lonely commercial port, full of humming refrigerated lorries trying to protect their edible cargoes from decomposition. People piled into their private cars which were parked in the port and this left me totally alone in the dark with 2 suitcases as company and the threat of death by the jaws of ferociously barking dogs. I was momentarily terrified that if they were guard dogs and loose, no one would hear my blood curdling screams as I was ripped to pieces limb by limb and I knew that I would never be able to tempt them with a basket full of lemons and oregano so I decided to phone Mr. L…he would know what to do…but he was busily chatting on the other phone and yelled to my daughter to tell me he’d phone back soon!

And there IS a god… he is Greek and drives a yellow taxi and he appeared out of nowhere to rescue me from my undignified death…AND …he didn’t cheat me!!! He only charged the fare which was written on the meter.

The next day, the buses were running and I arrived at the airport in good time; all seemed to be going well until the pilot tried to land; it was impossible due to the thick snow that had settled in Gatwick. We were directed to Luton which also closed and finally we were permitted to land in Stanstead. Ground staff was scarce and we had to wait an hour but during this time, we the passengers began to bond. My group of new friends consisted of a jolly English girl who trains reps for Thomas Cooke, a young Greek traffic policeman and two elderly women, one from Lamia and the other from Athens, both of whom were going to visit their children.

By the time the stairs were brought to allow us to get off the aeroplane, we were on first name terms and lending each other mobile phones.

Easyjet said they’d find us all a hotel for the night but we knew they were lying and I am now waiting to see if they really will reimburse me my Gatwick express train fare and the refreshments I bought at Stanstead airport…watch this space!

We enjoyed our hot cappuccinos and beef burgers at 02.00 hours during which time, I discovered that the lady from Lamia was carrying 20 kilos of meat in her suitcase. I explained to her that British lamb in my opinion is far superior to the pathetic scrawny fat stuff that is raised in Greece but she ignored me and so we spent the next hour exchanging 101 different ways of cooking lamb. We parted company with the jolly rep girl whose mother eventually reached Stanstead to pick her up, which left me in charge of the Greek group. I suggested we took a coach at 4am from Stanstead to Victoria as this was the key station for all of us and the trains would run from 06.00 hours. We slept for that gorgeous hour and a half in the oven warmth of the coach and reluctantly left it when it decanted us at Victoria.

We kept warm and awake by drinking yet more coffee at Victoria until the time came to get on our separate trains to different areas of England. We exchanged home and business telephone numbers and promised we’d meet each other at our different home s in Greece…but. I know we won’t!

My family loved their gifts and raved over the aesthetic attractiveness, the usefulness and above all, the effort that had gone into making them.

I would like to wish anyone reading this piece, a happy, stress-free Christmas and a healthy new year!

 


Alison Lorentzos                                                               copyright 2010



 

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