Aegina Home & Living - Living in Aegina





What is it REALLY like to live in Aegina?



                                                                                           October 2007



I have decided that as far as housework is concerned, I am a slut.

When I lived in England, I thought that my standards of cleanliness were quite high, perhaps because I had the services of an excellent Portuguese cleaner who, on a weekly basis would sterilise my home and if there was time to spare, she’d start to tidy drawers or clean shoes.

Fatima would be extremely proud of the Greek women who live in Aegina.

Aegina woman gets up at 6 am, packs her husband’s lunchbox and then does the same for the children.

Once the little ones are at school, she returns to the house via the bakery where she will collect a loaf of freshly baked bread topped with sesame seeds.

At home, the war on dust and bacteria begins.

She dons her housecoat, rolls up her sleeves and refuses any invitations for coffee as she has to ‘get on’.

Crockery from breakfast has to be washed in hot soapy water and then rinsed in clear.

Bedding is whisked off the mattresses and hung outside to bask in the sunlight; this not only airs it but allows the sunrays to zap any microscopic low-life attempting to colonise bedding seams or stuffing.

All above floor surfaces are firstly washed with dilute disinfectant fluid and water; this includes window sills, doors and shutters. Wooden furniture is then polished with sweet smelling lavender or beeswax polish until it functions as a mirror.

Floors are swept, edge to centre and the debris aggressively coaxed into the dustpan until the time comes to fling it into the bin with all the other smelly unwanted muck lying limply like untouchables in a ghetto.

I am able to function as far as the edge to the centre but I can never seem to find my dustpan, so I end up sweeping it into a corner, usually with rhythmic broom strokes, in tune to Dido or David Grey. I then hide the grey pile by propping my broom handle in the corner, leaving the brush to conceal the multitude of sins. Why is dust always grey? This is the thought which occurs to me as I add to the collection on a daily basis until Saturday, when I pay my youngest child a euro to find the pan and sweep it up.

Cleaning the stairs fetches 5 euro, a bargain for me as it takes at least an hour if done properly. This entails sweeping, washing and then nourishing the wood with liberal quantities of wood oil.

In Greek households, once swept, the floors are vigorously mopped with boiling hot soapy water and all this whilst lunch is cooking in the oven.

Outside, the garden receives the same systematic treatment as the interior.

Paths, patios and verandas are energetically swept and then hosed with copious waterfalls of water which in turn stream into the road.

Aegina woman would easily put any local authority employed street cleaner to shame in England, so high are her standards.

Spring cleaning is when regular cleaning goes into 4th gear. This is the time for rugs to be snatched up and beaten mercilessly, to be doused in soap solution and beaten into a lather, then rinsed until they squeak. Once dried in the sunshine, they are wrapped in laundered sheets and tied with pouches of lavender to keep them sweet smelling and free from predatory bugs whilst stored until November in the loft or apotheke.

Walls are washed, curtains deftly unhooked and sent to the dry-cleaners, ovens yanked out to reveal dusty pipes and sticky unforgotten residues which are immediately eradicated by the chemical erosion of cleaning fluids. All cupboards suffer the same fate…unless that is they are mine.

I actually believe that a little dirt is a good thing and my view is backed up by some historical research which suggests that it is this very exposure to dirt which primes us and prepares our immune systems to build up a bank of antibodies as defence against all sorts of microbes.

I do believe that when in Rome we should do as the Romans do which is why, if one was to pass my house early on a weekday morning, I might be spotted wielding a  broom, clearing away the rubbish from outside my garden but I won’t be wearing a housecoat as I prefer to clean in my pyjamas!!

 Alison Lorentzos          copyright  2007