A Beautiful Autumn Day in Greece

Loutraki beach
Loutraki beach

The last day of September, and what a beautiful day, it is too.

The previous week, Autumn had hit Greece with a bang, totally unexpected, black clouds gathered, the wind howled and we had rain, temperatures dropped from around thirty degrees centigrade to the low twenties.

We scuttled indoors when evening fell, the wind made it too uncomfortable to sit in the garden, as I closed all the windows, the first time since late Spring, I was overcome by a great sadness, is this it then, the end of  summer?

The end of lazy, boozy evenings with friends and family in the garden?

Are we going to have to be indoors from now on?

It's too early!

This usually happens around the beginning of November, I should have known better, It was just the odd week of bad weather.

Today dawned sunny and calm, still a bit chilly early morning, but things soon warmed up, I grabbed my beach gear and headed seawards.

The track to the beach
The track to the beach

I only have to cross the road from our house and I'm on a narrow, rough  track which will take me to the beach.

It's rare that I ever meet anyone, the odd car sometimes comes along, causing me to jump into the undergrowth at the edge.

 I worry about snakes when this happens, quite a few have slithered across my path down here, especially in the spring.

I stroll along taking in the scenery, a few olive trees here and there, and tall cypress trees standing to attention in the distance, all against a backdrop of the Gerania mountains.

Gerania mountains
Gerania mountains

Olive trees and the Gerania mountains.

Cypress trees in the distance
Cypress trees in the distance

Houses are few and far between, one I sometimes stop to  admire is well kept, spic and span, painted sparkling white with bright blue shutters.

Greek house Loutraki
Greek house Loutraki

I do love this house but I'm not sure if it it isn't out of character with its surroundings, I think,  maybe it's more suited to one of the Greek Islands.

Once I reach the end of the track the sea awaits me, no matter how often I see the sea, which is every day, that first glimpse of it takes my breath away.

My heart soars!

The first glimpse of the sea
The first glimpse of the sea

Loutraki beach
Loutraki beach

I had the place to myself, just as I like it, people ask me if I become bored, do I take a book with me?

No to both questions.

I sit and look at the sea, what's in there? what's out there? Do we really know?

It is so peaceful and calming.

I just sit and think and reflect on life.

Feeling the sun on your face, the breeze on your skin, the silkiness of the water once you are in the sea, for me it's heaven!

A peace of heaven
A peace of heaven

At the very end of the tiny outcrop of land, just visible in the centre of the picture, is the Heraion (Melagavi) lighthouse, at night, from my bedroom balcony, I can see the light blinking, keeping sailors safe.

Heraion, Melagavi lighthouse
Heraion, Melagavi lighthouse

The Gerania mountains, are to my right, as I sit on the beach, the Acroplois of Ancient Corinth, is to my left.

The large Mountain in the middle is Ancient Korinth.

At the top of the Mountain are the remains of an ancient fortress, at the foot, many ancient ruins, and a splendid museum.

I hear the church bells of Saint Marina in Loutraki ringing, which means  it's one o clock, they only ring at one o clock, what the significance of this is, I don't know, anyway, time for one last dip in the sea, dry off and head for home and lunch.

Home in sight
Home in sight

Back to where I started from, our house in sight.

My shorts seemed to be getting rather snug, so yesterday, I weighed myself, first time for months!

Austerity measures are in order, hence the light lunch, of salad and scrambled eggs.

A light lunch
A light lunch

  Sea fever
John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking,
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

Hungry Greeks. Youlbassi.


Youlbassi(Γκιούλμπασι) is lamb wrapped into a parcel with greaseproof paper and tied up with string.
It is then slowly cooked in the oven.

Lamb is very popular with the Greeks and is also a favourite of mine.
They cook it in so many different ways in Greece but if I buy lamb this is usually the way that I cook it.

Apart from the meat becoming so tender that it just falls off the bone and melts in your mouth, it is so easy to make.
It is best to use lamb in the Spring or early Summer.

A frequent sight here is the shepherd taking his sheep to find any bit of green vegetation that they are able to eat,
Grass being quite scarce.

It's not unusual to see cars stopping for them when they cross roads, in fact I see this nearly everyday in Spring as a shepherd brings his flock down a little road that passes by my kitchen window.

Sorry all to all you darling little Greek lambs but I do prefer English lamb.
I'm not saying that it's better but it has a very different flavour to Greek lamb,
Probably it is what they eat, if you are not careful when buying Greek lamb it can be rather tough

Happy little English lambs.

Of course the  main celebration when the Greeks go overboard with the lamb is Easter.
Every family has it's lamb cooking on the spit very early on Easter Sunday morning.
We are no exception.

My Granddaughter Melina was very interested in it!

I must say though, as tasty as roast lamb on a spit is, I enjoy it much more cooked as youlbassi.

So does my friend R, who visits us every year, again as with the moussaka, he puts his order in by 'phone before he arrives!

(see my post on moussaka here)

R brings the mint sauce with him!
I used to be able to buy it here in Greece but I haven't seen it in the supermarket for a few years now.

I have made my own very successfully with fresh mint from my garden.
I chop it up in the blender, add vinegar and sugar to taste.
 put it in a screw-top jar, give it a shake  and leave overnight in the fridge.

R wants Colman's though!

Here is a recipe for making youlbassi

You will notice foil is used here instead of greaseproof paper, I did used to do it the traditional way but it is just as good, and easier with foil.
Also your house doesn't fill up with the smell of burning paper!

This recipe is how it should be made.
Mine is not like this!!!

We do not like so much garlic and I don't like cheese added to it.
MGG doesn't want any herbs added.

So, I just buy two legs of lamb, season with salt & pepper, drizzle over a little olive oil, wrap in foil and put it in the oven.

I put it on a lower heat, around 180c, and cook for around four hours.
This way, it just drops off the bone!

Instead of the mint sauce, Greeks always accompany lamb with tzatziki.

I can never understand why people buy the ready made, bland, watery tzatziki  when it is so easy to make.
I use a kilo container of Fage Total Greek yoghurt.

Finely chop two large cucumbers, skin left on, squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the cucumber, I do this by pressing it down in a sieve over a pan.

For a one kilo of yoghurt I crush four large cloves of garlic in my mortar and pestle, with about a quarter of a teaspoon of coarse sea salt.
I bash and pound until it becomes a paste.

I haven't found a better way than the mortar and pestle for the garlic.

Add the cucumber and the garlic to the yoghurt, salt and pepper to taste and a drizzle of olive oil, give it a good mix and that's it!

Here's R

 He gobbled it up so quickly that I didn't have chance to take a picture of it!

Philotimo / Filotimo. The Most Esteemed Virtue of Greeks; Lost in Translation

Proud Greeks
Proud Greeks

Philotimo, a Greek word, that since the time of the ancient Greek Philosophers, has remained untranslatable.

This doesn't mean that the word can't be explained or that the feeling of it, the essence of it can't be described.

Philotimo is a noun and translates literally as "A friend of honour" or a "Lover of honour"

Broken into two parts it is:

"Philos"- Friend and "Timi"- Honour.


Philotimo, the highest of Greek virtues, is an amalgam of virtues;

Honor, Integrity, Duty, Pride, Dignity, Courage.


Dionysios Solomos
 The author of the Greek national  anthem.
Ύμνος εις την ελευθερίαν Hymn to Liberty or Hymn to Freedom

In ancient Greece the worst thing that could happen to a man, was to lose his honesty, his honor, his philotimo.

 Any man accused of this, was judged by six thousand Athenians, if the six thousand voted
 a man dishonorable, he was thrown out of Athens, out of societyand lost all his civic rights.

It was far worse, than being accused of theft, or murder!

Today, in Greece, if someone acts inappropriately, they are likely to be asked;

"How could you act that way, Have you lost your philotimo?"

Philotomo was used profusely in Hellenistic literature.

 In early writings, it was actually given a negative sense, by the philosopher, Plato, in his work;

Plato Greek philosopher
Greek philosopher

Plato used the word philotimo ironically, insinuating, that the love of honor and pride, or distinction vigor, strength and ambition, was akin to being prodigal, lavish and conceited.

Since the emergence of Christianity, philotimo has been known as a good, positive word, which appears at least three times in the New Testament, written by Apostle Paul, a native Greek speaker, well educated in Greek literature.

Greek Courage Greek revolution . War of Independence. 1821
Greek Courage
Greek revolution . War of Independence. 1821

The most prominent of Greek phliosophers, have written about philotimo;


"If a man lacked most virtues but had unconditional courage, he will be saved"


"You will never do anything in this world without courage.It is the greatest thing next to honour"


"All the gold which is under or upon the Earth is not enough to give in exchange for virtue

Maybe the philosopher Thales of Miletus, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher from Miletus, in Asia Minor, and one of the Seven Sages of Greece, best describes, what philotimo means;

"Philotimo is part of the essence of being Greek. “Philotimo to the Greek is like breathing. A Greek is not a Greek without it. He might as well not be alive.”

Pride. Greek man from Crete, in traditional Greek Cretan costume.
Greek man from Crete, in traditional Greek Cretan costume.

Philotimo is not only a trait to be admired, It is expected, it is an ideal, a concept, a lifestyle
Philotimo is pride in oneself, family and the community. 

Philotimo is respecting others, helping others, not because there might be something in it for you, but because you have a duty to do the right thing.

It is philotimo, which kept the close-knit Greek community, strong for thousands of years.

The Greek Secret

Take the time to watch this fifteen minute video, of Greeks talking about philotomo,
It's a great insight into its meaning.

During WWII, strong bonds were formed, which still exist.

 Locals risked their own lives, without expecting anything in return, sheltering Australian and British soldiers, in Nazi-occupied Crete.

What the world thinks about Greeks
What the world thinks about Greeks

Here are my thoughts on philotimo:

It is the pride of the Greek man, I do think that this is more of a male trait, the pride in his country, the love for his country, the pride in himself.

His hospitality, to help people, to open his house to people.
He will fight to the death for his family, for Greece.

Strength Gerard Butler "300"
Gerard Butler "300"

I remember touring Crete with my Father.

On a quiet country road, an elderly gentleman, waved us down with his walking stick.

We stopped the car, he approached and asked the time, yes, he stopped us just to ask the time, but then he told us he lived near by, would we like to come and have lunch with him and his family.

Sadly, we had to decline this impromptu invitation, from this wonderful Cretan character, we were on a tight schedule, but had we accepted, he would have made us feel like members of his family.

It was his duty, his honor to do this.

This is philotimo.

A word from Crete: Kopiaste, is known all over Greece.

It means sit down, when said by the Greeks it means, welcome, come in, join us, have something to eat!

I was a stranger here in Greece thirty seven years ago, but, I was accepted, I was looked after.

After being here for only a few months, my husband went to do his national service.

I was a bit worried about being on my own, with not much understanding of the Greek language.

I shouldn't have worried, I never had a minute to myself.

I was invited out for meals, for coffee, into peoples homes.

Any of them that had relatives or friends over from America, Canada and Australia, came to

 find me, so that I could meet them, speak my own language, they didn't want me to feel alone.

They did it for me, but mostly, I think they did it for my husband, they were showing their

 philotimo to him, as his friends and family, it was their duty.

Duty Greek Evzone, Tsolias, guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Athens
Greek Evzone, Tsolias, guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

When trying to define Philotimo, there is something more,something with no name, 

something magical.

Sophocles the philosopher said:

 "The meaning of philotimo remains a mystery"

Melina Mercouri said:

"Enthusiasm is a wonderful thing. In South America they throw flowers to you.
In Greece the Greeks throw themselves "

Melina Mercuri Greek actress and politition
Melina Mercuri
Greek actress and politition

So, what is philotimo?

Philotimo is Greekness.

Greekness is unique.

It is what makes a Greek a Greek.

Have you ever thought " Is there a word for that?" or, are you fascinated by how different

 cultures express themselves? 

The novelist Salman Rushdie, wrote in his novel "Shame";

 “To unlock a society, look at its untranslatable words.” 

This little treasure of a book;

does exactly that!

More Wonderful Greek words:


Made in Greece.Korres.


Korres is a Greek cosmetic company, with products made from natural ingredients, for both men and women.
The company was founded in Athens in 1996 by Georgos Korres, a pharmacist from Naxos.
He was a pioneer In Greece in this field.

Read all about the Korres company and their wonderful products at the above link.

Georgos Korres
Georgos Korres

The products are amazing, the variety, the fragrances, the colours.
There is anything that you would every need , bath and shower gels, body lotions, face creams, makeup and perfume.
They have the every day necessities such as toothpaste, hand creams and soaps.

sweet almond liquid soap Korres
 Sweet almond liquid soap

This sweet almond liquid soap smells heavenly and comes in a good sized bottle, 400ml, always nice to have a large size when it is something that you use daily.

When you are faced with the Korres products, you just don't know what to try first, the smells, oh the smells, there is not a single one that I don't like. The names sound just as good as they smell!
Santorini vine, water lily, vanilla cinnamon, basil lemon.

Korres basil lemon
Korres basil lemon.

Of course, because of my love for lemons, I always come back to this one, basil lemon.

Both MGG and I have used the fragrances,
I go for vetiver.

Korres vetiver fragrance
Korres vetiver fragrance

MGG goes for mountain pepper, it says it is for men but I also use this one.

Korres mountain pepper fragrance
Korres mountain pepper fragrance

I like that their products are accompanied by a list, stating what is and what isn't in the ingredients,

Korres formula facts
Korres formula facts

The makeup is wonderful too with colours to suit all complexions.
These sweet little lip balms with a hint of colour, really do look like macarons, as they were shown in one advert.

Korres lip balm
Korres lip balm

How sweet they look!

Korress lips
Korress lips

and even sweeter here!

There are both powder and cream blushers, I prefer to use a cream blush and love this one that can also be used on the lips.
Korres blush
Korres blush

The face creams cover all ages, I have used the black pine face cream, now my skin is beyond help, too much sun and too many cigarettes but I swear I saw a bit of improvement while using this!
Korres black pine antiwrinkle & firming day cream
Korres black pine antiwrinkle & firming day cream

I want to show you every thing, I love this brand so much but it would take all day!
So have a look at the link at the beginning of the post.

Korres can now be found all over the world.

Not only is it environment friendly, it is pocket friendly too!
Very reasonably priced.

Days like this.

There was no indication last night of what the weather would be like today, nor had I seen a weather forecast.
So when I awoke this morning to a dull grey sky, looking like it could rain at any moment, my reaction was....

A cloudy day
A cloudy day
8.00 am today
Jobs were piling up, the floors were feeling gritty under foot, washing needed doing, the sheets would be crawling off of the beds on their own soon.
MGG had run out of clean underwear.
Things like this happen because of the beach, there are other causes but mostly the beach.
 I can't keep away.
So when I saw the cloudy sky, it was a chance to stay at home and do the dreaded housework, without feeling guilty about not being on the beach, normal people would feel guilty about not doing the housework!
Out comes the vacuum cleaner, out comes the sticky tape, I have wrecked it by pulling at it when it gets stuck round corners.
It has fallen all the way down the stairs, more than once and the hose is much shorter than it was originally as MGG has had to keep cutting bits off to stick it back in position, because of me tugging it about.

Old vacuum cleaner
Old vacuum cleaner
It has to be stuck up every time I use it for any length of time, the heat from the motor does something to the tape.
I class myself as quite a calm person, it takes a lot for me to lose my temper but when the vacuum gets lodged under things, or the the wire snagged up,
I just wrench and rive.
Rive: a word my Father used, mainly when speaking to me.
It means to rend or tear apart.
He would say:
 "Don't rive at it our Susie, don't rive"
I once got him really worked up while driving to London with him.
I had bought some sandwiches at a service station, not long after leaving Leeds.
You know the sort, three sandwiches in a plastic triangle, I think I managed to get into them around Watford Gap!
The "don't rive at it Susie" was slowly gaining volume!
So you see...I rive!
Hence the tape.
On with the i pod to ease things along but of course it has no power, I forgot to charge it up.
Put on two radios, one upstairs, one down, all the better to hear you my dear.
Don't you just love it when your favourite songs come on in a row?
Today was one of those days.
"Moi Lolita, Alize", "Somebody that I used to know" Gotye and "Africa" by Toto.
One after another.
Moi Lolita
I got started, what a great feeling seeing those clumps of dog hairs disappearing, as if by magic, up the vacuum cleaner.
 The Swiffer dusters really are magic for those difficult fiddly places.
Before I discovered the Swiffer, I didn't get around to cleaning things like this radiator until they looked like they were wearing fur coats.
Swiffer duster

By the time the vacuuming was done the washing machine had finished,
I hung out the bed sheets, what better sight than seeing them hung across the garden, blowing in the breeze?

Bed sheets blowing in the wind
Bed sheets blowing in the wind
I dusted, I polished, I mopped, things were going well until about 12.30 am, there was a ray of sunshine.
Oh please Mr. Sun, don't come out now, I'll only drop everything and go to the beach!
I carried on and tried not to look outside.
Of course I couldn't help it, I had to look.
Clear blue skies, bright sunshine, not a leaf moving.
I practised self-control.
Clear blue skies
Clear blue skies
All enthusiasm for the job at hand is gone now, I do things half-heartedly.
The bathroom gets only a lick and a promise but as Bamber Gascoigne would say: "I've started so I'll finish"
Anyone too young to know this....look it up!
I wiped away Melina's fingerprints and peeled her stickers off the floors.
At about 2.30 pm my friend H 'phones.
To tell me how beautiful the sea was, like glass and was I going to the beach?
I faltered, I nearly downed tools, I had a big think...no just finish, anyway by this time I was shattered, I was hungry....and I had forgotten all about lunch!
MGG knows better than to interrupt these cleaning events.
H. kindly said that she would send me a 'photo of the sea.
I made a measly lunch.
Toasted sandwiches
Toasted sandwiches
I finished off what little was left to do.
I look at my toenails, they are getting long, the same with my finger nails, One of my pet hates is long nails.
How did I let this happen?
Better do manicure, pedicure before I start to look like those Indian men who grow their nails to ridiculous lengths.
The beach has a lot to answer for!
Extra long nails
Extra long nails
I'm jiggered, was it worth it?
Yes, looking at my clean shiny house, yes.
I will be sleeping in fresh, clean, crisp sheets tonight, one of my favourite things.
Tomorrow, come what may, I am going to the beach!
Oh...and MGG will be wearing underwear!

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