Archives for posts with tag: AUTUMN

Matthew knows the small village streets on our GREEK ISLAND HOME like the back of his hand and I think he has now become familiar with every flowering rose bush too. I don’t know how people manage to grow fabulous roses but it seems we are the only people in the village incapable of it. Apparently they just grow there is nothing special we need to do and of course everyone has these flowering beauties in their garden. Everyone but us! But I need not fret as I am lucky enough to have  roses picked for me from someone else’s abundnt crop. We do have a small amount of fruit trees providing us with seasonal delights. A quince tree is the first tree growing as you enter our small garden and although our annual crop seems to be far less than others in the village there is still something that can be used in a chicken staffado . There is also a small plum tree, set in the middle of our yard and an olive, fig and an almond tree too. These were not planted by us and were well established when we arrived probably planted by the wife of the last inhabitant, a priest. She was said to have had green fingers. There is an abundance seasonal fruit and veggies in the village and we are very lucky to receive bags of goodies which we usually find hanging from our front gate. This is always tricky as you don’t know which one of our many generous village friends has left it. Recently we received a bag filled to the brim with persimmons a fruit I must admit to never have eaten before. I really enjoyed this fleshy fruit and found myself unable to stop eating them once I started. I also used them in salads a delicious addition, they taste divine and add wonderful colour. We still have not worked out who left this gift but we are once again truly greatful.

FLOWERS Beautiful delicate pink roses from someone else’s garden copyright CLAIRE LLOYD

FRUIT Persimmons a gift from a village friend copyright CLAIRE LLOYD

I woke early this morning to the most beautiful day here on My Greek Island Home. I was excited as I had been invited to join my friend Stratis on an expedition to pick mushrooms. It was  perfect mushroom picking weather, well perfect weather at least for this would be my first mushroom picking experience. Stratis would  show me how to identify  the edible ones. I wouldn’t trust myself  to choose, I’d choose the prettiest and probably end up having to have my stomach pumped or worse, dead. Anyway I was in safe hands with Stratis. My rescue dog Nellie and I met Stratis and his friend and we headed off into the pine forest. Stratis asked if  I had brought a knife and a plastic bag. Of course not but I had my camera. I found a stick to act as my knife and with a keen eye quickly picked up how to recognise them. The forest floor was covered in pine needles and the mushrooms hide underneath. I loved discovering them and getting my hands dirty pulling them out. It was wonderful being in nature and this city girl didn’t need a knife and a bag, she made use of a stick and her shawl. Can’t wait to go again only draw back is I have a mountain of mushrooms waiting for me in my kitchen to clean.                                                                                                                             MUSHROOM PICKING Stratis in the pine forest, I love the dappled light. Photographs copyright Claire Lloyd

MUSHROOM PICKING2 I am completely on love with the underside of the mushrooms, nature is the artist.  Photographs copyright Claire Lloyd

MUSHROOM PICKING3 Pine needles on the forest floor cover the mushrooms making them difficult to spot immediately.  Photographs copyright Claire Lloyd

MUSHROOM PICKING4 I can understand how mushrooms have inspired fashion designer Issey Miyake. Photographs copyright Claire Lloyd

MUSHROOM PICKING5 My rescue dog Nellie, not a big help, but enjoyed her morning in the pine forest. Photographs copyright Claire Lloyd

MUSHROOM PICKING6 This mushroom couldn’t keep hiding under the pine needles it was reaching for the light and easily spotted. Photographs copyright Claire Lloyd

MUSHROOM PICKING Stratis cuts the bottom of the stem, checking no small insects have made their way inside.  Photographs copyright Claire Lloyd

Removing the flesh from around the nut

A growing pile of the disgarded outter flesh.

A walnut tree against the piercing blue autum skies of Lesvos.

Our dog Nellie watches on.

My Australian bestie, Mary Lou loved picking the walnuts from the tree.

The ground is dry after a long Greek Island summer.

There is still wonerful splashes of colour to brighten up the dry earth.

Me and my shadow, Mary Lou.

Matthew and Effie doing the dirty work.

The hands of the workers, Matthew and Effie.

A pile of freshly picked walnuts.

Trixie and Teddie help out.

On a beautiful autumn Sunday morning, Matthew, Mary lou, four dogs, our neighbour Effie and I set out from MY GREEK ISLAND HOME to pick walnuts. Effie has a farm outside of the village which we visit with her this time every year, it’s a ritual. Under piercing blue skies we followed her along the rocky track to her land. There has been little rain this year  and the ground is dry and dusty. We were disappointed to find no fruit on the fruit trees and fewer walnuts than usual. When we arrived Mary lou and I began hand picking the nuts on the lower branches, then Mary lou found a stick to knock the higher ones to the ground. Matthew and Effie meanwhile sat down and began the much dirtier task of removing the flesh that encases the shell. This job is done by hitting the walnuts with rocks and tearing away the flesh. The flesh of the walnuts can be used as clothes dye or dye for hair, it is almost black in colour. Matthew and Effie’s stained hands reveal their mornings work. We spend about two hours and gatthered a large bag of walnuts which Effie will remove from their shells and dry, storing them for the winter months ahead. Walking back along the rocky track home with my dogs and friends I felt so connected to nature, a reminder of why I love it here on My Greek Island Home.

 

 

I have learnt many things living in a Greek village. One thing you realise especially at this time of year, late Autumn, is that food is seasonal. Seasonal food is so easy to forget in a big city because supermarkets stock their shelves with produce from far away places. While it’s great to have choice the real nutritional value of food comes from seasonal freshness. We learned quickly about seasonal food in our Greek village when we asked in the local taverna for a tomato salad in November! The locals thought us mad.

Fruit and vegetable grown in the summer however can be preserved and dried for the winter months. The winter can be as extreme as the summer and where we live there is always the chance of snow and ice. It’s great to have these delicious preserved and dried foods to add variety  to the winter meals. The figs above were picked in the summer by our neighbour, Ralitza. She is very creative, I would go as far as to say she makes an art form with whatever she is creating. I saw these figs she was drying in the summer sun in her garden, how beautiful. They look just like flowers.

Documenting the beauty of the island of Lesvos through the lens of my camera has been my project for the last few years, so it’s great to see Lesvos documented in a different medium through the eyes of Matthew Usmar Lauder. Matthew’s captured the island in autumn light beautifully with broad brush strokes. The landscape paintings he has just completed are wonderful. Here is just one of his stunning paintings.matthewusmarlauder.com

I am now in sunny Sydney and the publicity for new book, My Greek Island Home has begun. Today first thing is a pre recorded interview with Julie McCrossin for Qantas in flight radio. This interview will be aired in December across all national and international flights, exciting! Then to the airport for a flight to Brisbane where I will be in conversation with Phil Brown at 6pm tonight at the Avid Reader book shop in West End. I will also be signing books. If your in the area drop by. At 9pm the last stop of the day is at 612 ABC radio for a live interview with Rebecca Livingston. The evening will be crowned by relaxing with my friend Rob for a good catch up and a glass of something cold! Thanks everyone for the enthusiasm you’ve shown in my new book, My Greek Island Home. October in Greece means one of my favourite fruits, pomegranate. I leave you with an explosion of pomegranates in the palm of a hand.

The morning and evening air is cooling, people are fewer, it feels like autumn. Where has the summer gone, where have the people who came from far away, Canada, America and Australia gone, surely it’s not time for them to return. The children have disappeared too.  Is that it, is it the end of summer, there is still warmth in the midday sun and the sea is warm. I miss it already all of it!

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