A short walk brought us to Room 7 and after the young woman pressed a button, Aunt Win’s Welsh companion answered, confirmed admission and the door opened automatically. Upon entering, dad and I paused in the entrance vestibule, shell-shocked by what was indeed a spacious fully furnished apartment
Aunt Winifred was barely visible at the far side of the room next to a panoramic window overlooking the rolling Sussex countryside and the Parish church nestling among lofty trees with their cavorting rooks... read more
Perhaps Dr Pickle’s throwaway remark about going to school in my father’s academic robes had gone deep inside my sub-consciousness. I admired my father and tolerated his personal idiosyncrasies but was determined to make my own way in life, with no hint of nepotism.
I am not quite sure how my father had been drawn into sailing...read more
Following the BBC programme, Trust Me, I'm a Doctor, shown on Wednesday 14th February, I thought I would re-post my recipe for Beetroot Leaves and Stalks Soup. In the programme, recent research has shown that nitrate-rich vegetables and particularly beetroot help reduce blood pressure and make physical exertion easier.
Those of you that have read my Cretan cooking blogs before will know that I love to twist Greek terms to something in English. I do this all the time to help me remember difficult Greek words. This time it has a connection with my novel, Discrete Reversal, because the Greek word for beetroot, παντζáρι, is pronounced 'pants Harry'. I leave it to you to decide whether 'pants' is a noun or a verb!
Unless you have an allotment or a farmers’ market where you live, you might be a bit stymied with this recipe because beetroot is mostly sold without the ‘tops’. However, as with much Cretan village cuisine, ‘waste not want not’ is a central theme. It is said that in wartime, Cretans survived on snails and horta, which is basically a dish of weeds much like dandelions. Here our markets and many ‘supermarkets’, sell beetroot complete with leaves and stalks and you pay by the kilo for the privilege. Nearly every week I buy eight small beetroot (I prefer the small ones for roasting whole) and of the 2kg total, more than half is leaves and stalks, much too valuable as a food and vitamin source to be thrown away.
This recipe is not a well-publicised Cretan dish in the usual sense of the term, but is more an adaptation of the principle of being frugal, something that modern society might wish to rediscover.
A word of advice (well, several words): A recipe gives the basics but the chef makes the meal taste good. Once you have the basic soup it is for you to add spices and seasoning until it is superb. Now to me, good food is a ‘whole tongue’ experience…all of it ideally should be involved, because without that balance, some ‘je ne sais quoi’ will be missing’. I am NOT a chef, but I am a glutton, so I add things until my glutton’s tongue is happy. Do not be afraid to add a little sugar, honey, lemon, or Worcester sauce for instance, until you like what you have made. If this frightens you, put a little in a bowl and try your additives. My Beetroot Leaves and Stalks Soup won’t be exactly like yours, but so what?
Apart from the new Head’s rapid erosion of school traditions, which once enveloped us in a unifying feeling of warmth, camaraderie and security, my education continued largely unchanged towards A-levels. However, apart from the rule-breaking lure of smoking, there was now a novel and truly compelling reason to spend much of our free time behind the bicycle sheds. For this and this alone, I was extremely grateful to the Head for admitting girls to the school, especially Samantha Hughes....read more
I was over the moon when I read the school’s prospectus, which said it was adhering to the high standards achieved as a long-established Grammar School. I read up all about such schools and excitedly asked my dad if I was really going there. He confessed he had planned to send me to boarding school, but changed his mind because he liked having me around. This sounded suspect, seeing we spent very little time doing anything together. Whatever the real reason might have been, he was happy I was pleased with his choice....read more
I asked Mum why she had her own room and she said Dad snored too much. This was true—he sometimes woke me in the next room, even with both doors between us closed. Their choice of separate rooms added to my strange sense of being an unwelcome child in a broken family. Of course, there was always a plausible answer like when I asked Mum why she always went on holiday on her own. And they never did anything together, except shopping...read more
He’d kept a watchful eye on the bookshop for months so far, even though there was little of intrinsic value inside. There were very few rare items, most but not everything was replaceable. Yet he knew many pages on the familiar shelves contained valuable secrets.
Experience told him where the lady proprietor often tucked away the gems and unseen he would direct determined hunters to acquire them.
The last time he ventured inside he saw only potential but now he knew lady luck waited amongst the many volumes. One day he’d benefit from his endless vigil and she’d smile on him again.
This piece was entered in the Flash Fiction Competition at Eklektos Bookshop, Elounda on Sunday 17th September.
I began to wonder if she might be the spinster on my birth certificate hiding behind a different name. One day I asked her outright if she was my real mother.
She laughed at the notion, but she must have sensed the need to comfort me, “No Niko, I have no children, but if I did, I would be proud to have a boy as handsome and clever as you.”...read more
Even at five, I’d questioned how Santa could read a note that caught fire as it rose inside the chimney. My dad said it was magic because the writing still showed and Santa had a special way to read the notes. I remember dad wrote my name on a piece of paper, then burnt it and showed me it could still be read. That pacified me for a while, but because the burnt paper was so fragile it soon had me asking questions again...read more
Discrete Reversal has won the voting and Harry the Louse has now been renamed. Here is the new cover and thank you to everyone for their input.
'Discrete Reversal' looks at two mature professional women’s quest for some latter-day romance in a tourist hotspot where, apparently by coincidence, they meet Harry a plausible Cretan businessman. Unknown to them Harry, who has been driven to the brink by the Greek debt crisis, has targeted them as part of his desperate summer activity to find and sweet talk a well-heeled ‘soft-touch’ woman out of her nest egg. The two women play-down their true occupations and Harry reckons either one of them could be the answer to his prayers. Yet has he bitten off more than he can chew?
Visit here to read more about the the book including extracts and pictures of the beautiful island of Crete
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