Growing In A Pandemic – End Of Season

Taking a Break - A Postcard

Could Almost Be Welsh
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

I’d intended to have a little rant about the continuing brouhaha surrounding “vaccines”, “vaccine passports” and such matters, as it seems pretty clear to me that those who we employ to govern us have spent the last 12 months or so lying to us about their implementation, whilst continuing to make ready their introduction into our lives sooner rather than later. It’s been done to death, I know and the time for concerted action to be taken, by both “vaccinated” and “un-vaccinated” who believe in bodily autonomy & freedom of choice is not yet upon us, though it probably fast approaches. I’ve long thought passive withdrawal of support for the economy would be the quickest way to make a point, but I’m now not so sure, given that governments seem able to borrow their way out of any given situation and, I have no doubt, would quite willingly see us starve before giving up their “love in” with The New Authoritarianism.

Instead my interest in matters political has been piqued by the murder, on Friday 15th October, of Southend MP Sir David Amess. By many accounts Mr. Amess was a rare thing amongst the political classes, a truly hard working, honourable man with a deep interest in the lives and tribulations of both his constituents and the wider citizenry. Nothing about his killing makes sense, especially if you look at it through the prism of just another “random” Islamic Jihadi attack. The murderer, who has family connections with the Somali government, travelled from his London home to Leigh-On-Sea, passing up any number of opportunities, one would suppose, to kill and maim “infidels”. He aroused no suspicions about his intentions once he arrived at the church where Mr Amess was holding his weekly surgery.  Once he got the opportunity he stabbed Mr Amess as many as 17 times before (apparently) taking a seat and waiting to be arrested.

These are not the actions of a Jihadi and the reactions have been far from typical. Terrorist atrocities are NEVER called out as terrorist before a long litany of hackneyed phrases; “Lone Wolf”, Mentally Ill”, Bullied At School”, “Couldn’t Get A Job” etc.  have been paraded in the media to try and deflect the public from the realities of appeasing radical Islam. The police called this as a terrorist attack on the day it happened.  

Mr Amess had close connections with the Qatari government, It’s alleged that Qatari money influenced Somalian elections in both 2012 & 2017, I have no idea if it’s the case, but was the killers father (a one time advisor to the Somali government) adversely affected by Qatari influence?

Mr Amess was both a “proper conservative” and an outspoken critic of some (if not all) of the governments ongoing assault on our freedoms as a result of Covid Emergency Powers . I’m not for one second suggesting this was the reason for his killing, but given the levels of suspicion following the lies, half truths and downright scaremongering, it’s no wonder there are rumblings all across social media which allude to this possibly being the case.         

Something is rotten here and questions remain unanswered, Mr Ali could disappear into the system, after either being declared mentally unfit to stand trial OR tried “in camera” and we’d never know his fate. I truly hope the whole truth comes out, but I won’t be holding my breath.

A Bit Fancier Than I’m Used To
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

On to more mundane matters, having cancelled a weeks holiday on Zakynthos in 2020 we recently made it back there. Travelling by plane is little more onerous than it was pre “pandemic” but not so onerous that I wouldn’t do it again. The destination more than compensated for the minor inconveniences. EasyJet did send out an e mail telling us that all those using Liverpool Airport would, unless carrying written confirmation from a doctor, have to wear masks for the duration of both their time in the airport and the flight. Maybe 40-50% didn’t comply and there was no pressure to make them do so.  I suppose we could get into the hoops one has to jump through, with tests, proof of medical status etc. and I know there’ll be those who think to travel is to comply with the diktat, but I’m thinking that’s a different conversation.

The Meandros Boutique Hotel & Spa in Kalamaki, where we stayed for the first 3 nights of our holiday is lovely & very well situated. Far enough from the strip to retain a feel of exclusivity but close enough to be a short walk from decent bars & very good restaurants, it has a great pool too. On the down side, this was the only establishment we patronised that paid more than lip service to the Greek mask policies. They did accept my self declared exemption though. Maybe I looked ill. All in all an excellent base to relax into the holiday. The three restaurants we ate in, Pandesia, The Zakanthi & Ellies Place were all good in their own way, the fish, bream at Pandesia & sardines at Zakanthi were both advertised as catch of the day and were obviously fresh. The rabbit in red sauce, a Zakynthian speciality, which I ate at Ellies Place was a fabulous very reasonably priced dish. I’ve never actually stayed in a luxury hotel as part of a holiday before, I like to do my own thing so invariably self cater, but I’d recommend Meandros for a short stay if you like that sort of thing.

Alykes, Every Morning
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

From Kalamaki we drove up the island to Alykes, on the west coast. We’d stayed here in 2019 and this was another first for me. I’ve never previously returned to a resort, preferring instead to try new places, but Greece seems to suit me (apart from the mosquitoes) and it was nice to be back and have a feel for the place. The apartment was small, but it has a spacious balcony and a garden area that leads directly onto a stony beach and then into the sea. I photographed the sunrise every morning, a bit pointless really, as it never differed that much, but this picture offers a taste of the place.

Fishermen, Chewing The Fat; All Greek To Me
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

It wasn’t all about lazing about in hammocks, eating fish, imbibing Mythos, sipping dry white wine and cooling off in the Med though. We took a bus trip into Zakynthos town, me being under the impression that there’d be a bustling fishing harbour, ringed with bars & tavernas selling the freshest of fish. It isn’t quite like that, but the fishermen are there selling direct from their boats and to the fishmongers. As with everywhere else progress has a foothold, but it’s good to see that some people hold onto their own ways, whatever the challenges of modern life.  The town itself is nice enough but I wouldn’t recommend it as a base for a holiday.

Zakynthos Harbour Fishmonger
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

The only really bad experience we had throughout the whole holiday, was at The Alektor Restaurant, situated in “Platia Solomou”, the main plaza of Zakynthos. I don’t know whether it was naivety, drink or holiday spirit that got to me, but I ordered fish for two (Red Snapper) without first checking the price and also allowed the very personable waiter to talk me into substituting a litre of house white (12 euros) for a bottle of Skiros, which we drank and reordered as it was very good. The food was great, the snapper especially so. I’d expected us to pay around 30 euros for the fish and maybe 30 euros for the two bottle of wine, taking the total bill for a large lunch for four, to around 110 euros. Not to be, the fish was 64 euros and the wine 30 euros a bottle, total bill 170 euros. I couldn’t argue, but I’ll know next time (if there is a next time). Memo to self, ALWAYS ask the price before you buy.

The Son Of The Old Man & The Sea
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

Every morning of our stay in Alykes this guy, sometimes accompanied by a much older man who turned out to be his father, walked the length of the beach to the breakwater and back, “long lining”.  The bag over his shoulder is there to hold the catch and the weighted net in his right hand is a rudimentary form of landing net. Although they always passed the time of day I didn’t actually see them catch anything. One morning the old man was out alone and I spoke to him. He must be in his 80’s but although his face is weather beaten his gap toothed smile was infectious. Surprisingly his English is very good and we had a brief conversation. He was sanguine about his lot, he’d been a fisherman all his life and wanted to carry on the tradition but he is also a realist. His son, he told me, now fished for the pleasure of it & had a small farm, he himself was now retired. “The sea is empty” were his parting words. I wish I’d have asked him to let me take his photograph, I have a feeling he’s one of the last of his kind.

Greek Fish Supper; Sardines & Squid
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

The apartment where we stayed, Mare Nostrum, is north of the small town itself, about 300 yards from it is the family run Apollo Taverna, where we ate a couple of times, the food is good, fresh, simply presented and reasonably priced with a two course meal for four, with wine, coming in at less than 80 euros. One thing we did notice, the traditional “shot” following a meal isn’t as prevalent as it was the last time we visited, probably a result of  “Brexit” or something. Talking of food (something I do quite a bit) I have to mention the To Paradosiako Taverna, where I had the finest tuna steak I can ever remember eating. I’d learned from getting my fingers burned at Alektor and, as the tuna was the listed “catch of the day” and sold by weight, I checked the price; 50 euros a kilo. The steaks were around 280 grams, making my main course 14 euros. We returned later in the week and had the roast lamb which was also excellent.

The (In)Famous Shipwreck Beach
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

On the Thursday morning I got up, went for my swim, walked to the bakery for fresh rolls and had a leisurely breakfast on the balcony, all before 9am. I could hear the girls talking quietly with their mum but there’s nothing unusual in that, I’m more of a morning person than the rest of the family and don’t mind breakfasting alone. As I finished eating the eldest came out and told me to get my camera sorted as we were going out for the day. I know better than to argue so I got my gear & towel and asked where we were off to. Much grinning and “wait and see-ing” ensued before a decent sized speedboat weighed its small anchor in the shallows and the girls pointed down to it. This was to be my 70th (early) birthday gift. I won’t bore you to death with every detail but we travelled along the west coast of the island, stopping first at Navagio beach, where in 1980 a ship, possibly being used to smuggle arms and drugs, ran aground. The story is fascinating, but being long is probably best left for another time, but the wreck is something to see. I did swim ashore in very choppy water to get a closer look, which took some doing, but I’m glad I did.

St. Nicholas Harbour
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

We carried on to the top of the island before swinging around and retracing our journey. We entered several caves (known as The Blue Caves) and swam in a couple of them, although the sea was still choppy, we also visited the sulphur beach and cove before reaching the relative calm of the fishing & ferry port of St Nicholas, where we stopped for a longish swim and snorkeling session before having a late (light) lunch at Madrakia Taverna. A real highlight of the holiday. I’m not too sure of the cost of this excursion (it was a treat), but it was great fun & well worth the time spent. The rest of the holiday was taken at a much more leisurely pace, the girls left on the Saturday leaving us “oldies” to lounge around for the last four days. I don’t know if I’ll ever return to Greece and I’d like to see a little more of it if I do, but Zakynthos has much to offer as a holiday destination, IMHO.

The Grapes, Jellified
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

On my return all that was really left to do in the greenhouse, after fighting my way along the overgrown path to the door, was to harvest most of the produce (there are still a couple of things growing on, including a nice climbing bean) and set about using them. First job, grape juice and grape jelly, which, as you can see, has been a roaring success (for the first time in years). I finally gave into the idea of liquid pectin which, although it has slightly compromised the clarity of the finished product has given me a nice firm set. The juice itself, which I’ve just finished, is a great drink, grapes in a bottle, no sugar added.

Picked Pan Of Peppers (And Onions)
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

The pepper and chili “farm” has been a qualified success and I’m expecting an improvement in yield next year although, I can’t really say I’m at all disappointed with this first effort. There’s something pretty special (although I say so myself) about creating a dish where all the ingredients are home grown. A mix of peppers, chilies, red onions and oregano to accompany baked chicken tasted just as good as it looks.

Canteloupe, In Cumbria, The Very Idea
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

I’d planted the cantaloupe seeds more in hope than expectation and, although I won’t be trying again, what little ripe fruit I did get (if you ignore the little bit of mould where one melon had been laying on damp ground) was both sweet and succulent. Not really a northern crop though. Bring on this fabled global warming, I say.

The Chili Jam; All My Own Work
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

The main reason for the chili/pepper experiment was to produce my own chili jam. I’d count it a success at 8 jars and I’m hoping I’ll get another small batch, although the long red peppers, which give it its vibrant colour are just about finished. Back to the drawing board for a little tweak, I think.

Any fight we may have coming along the road, where “vaccine passports” are concerned, isn’t a fight between “vaccinated” and “unvaccinated”, it’s a fight between those who believe in liberty, personal bodily autonomy and the right to choose versus those who’d give those things up for fear (government, medical establishment and media generated) of something that, at least statistically, offers them little or no real threat. “They” want us at each others throats, we know that.

Just Saying.

© Colin Cross 2021
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