a day at the beach

Its great to be back on Paros. In my heart this place is where I want to spend the rest of my life. I’ve been dreaming of living here all year round for many years – part of the live in the country thing I have going. But with me its always been the mountain not the sea, hence Tasmania inland, not beachside. I like green: trees, rolling hills, dirt not rocks. And yet, this island is a huge part of me.

In an ideal world I’d have a place here and be able to spend summer on Paros every year. One day I might be able to move back to Greece and live on Paros, on a mountain side somewhere, less trees, more rocks, less dirt, and a view of the sea with another 3-4 islands in the distance. Till then I’ll live in Tasmania, another glorious island, and dream of the greek islands.

Friends and family in Athens listen to me talk about living on Paros and say things like ‘You won’t be able to stand it, its so quiet there in winter. Nothing goes on.’ To which I reply how could Paros in winter possibly have less to do than New Norfolk in Tasmania?

I mean really.

I have my grooming work. I have my workshop and my craft room where I create things. I have my painting. We have the dogs and the horses. I have TV, books and the internet. I have friends and I go out one evening a week for drinks or dinner, twice at most but not often. I go to the odd market if I’m not working. I have the occasional catch up with friends over coffee. Sometimes I even have brunch out. I do a show on the local radio.

I could have all that here, except the radio. Probably. I have family here too. Plus the beach. And the joys of greek civil servants, politicians, laws and traffic. What more could a person want?

Ok, the family thing is a bit of a double edged sword. Living half a world away means I never get involved in the small dramas that seem to plague our family. I’m switzerland. I flit in, hear the gossip and flit out. That’s the good thing. The bad thing is I live far from my family. I’ve been living far from them for so many years I almost never feel like I’m missing them, its just how my life has always been. I’m the long lost black sheep… though not looking so black any more. Which brings me to another point:

Seriously younger generation – all you nephews and nieces with your tattoos and piercings and alternative lifestyles. Who do you think did the groundwork so you could live your life without sneaking out of windows in the middle of the night?? Huh? Me, that’s who. I was the first in our family to get tatts, pierce my nose, make sieves out of my earlobes or dye my hair pink. I was the first to break curfew and rules and the first (and only, to this day) to get kicked out of the house.

So a thank you is way overdue. I’ll also accept cocktails in lieu of gratitude.

But back to the matter at hand… Paros vs Tasmania. Its something that comes up for me every time I come to Greece and its kinda depressing. I love my life in Tassie, yet I still have this yearning. What can I do about it?

Nothing right now. The economy in Greece still sucks though things are looking up a bit since my last trip 4 years ago. Moving here to start a grooming business or even get a job would be stupid. And I don’t actually have a house on Paros. That’s a bit of a fly in the ointment too. So I’ll go back home and work hard and maybe one day… who knows? I might end up being that crazy wrinkley poodle lady on the mountain overlooking the sea.

z

places in athens…

My days in Athens are over. I’m on my way to Paros finally. The last couple of days in Athens weren’t too bad, we had some rain the odd cool breeze. Thank goodness. I thought I was going to melt with the heat the last few days.

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Monastiraki Square with the Acropolis in the background.

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My brother returned from Paros and is probably already back home in Canberrra. Three weeks in Greece is just not enough. Its ironic that I see more of my brother in Greece than I ever do in Australia… Wierd huh?

I find myself in the same situation I was in while at home in Tasmania. Getting behind on my blog posts. So I thought I’d share some thoughts and adventures while I sit in a lounge on the ferry.

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A gorgeous whimsical street in Monatiraki where there are lightshades hanging as lighting in the street. I love it!

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Thats it. I want to do this at home!!!

Last time I was in Greece I noticed all the dogs. It seems everyone owns a dog in Athens now, and we’re not talking pocket sized dogs. Most of them are mid to large sizes. People are always out walking them… of course they have to cause they all live in apartments. And yet, I only saw one tiny dry bit of dog shit in 10 days walking the neigbhourhood streets. I see more uncollected dog poop on the streets in New Norfolk than I did in Athens. That’s saying something!

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Beautifully graffitied wall and shutters.

Am went down to Plaka and Monastiraki again. Man I love that area of Athens. Its so alive and colourful and there are so many gorgeous bars and cafes. This time I went down with my beloved cousin Zefi yes, there are three Zefis in the family. Give it time. There’ll be more once their kids start breeding…)

 

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We had a drink at a bar and art gallery called TAF which is located in the yard of King Othona’s stables. It was lovely. But then, I adore old stuff…

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We had an ice cream at the best gelato place in Athens, and they took me past a café of old floor lamps. So cute!

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Would you believe these are ice creams?

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YUM

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How cute are the lamps?

The best thing ever was the street with the pendant lights all over the road (see photos above) and a café called Little Kook. I’m having internet issues on and off so there’ll be more photos on my FB page.

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I’m in love with that place. Apparently they change the décor with the seasons. Right now it’s a pirate theme and their Christmas décor is over the top. It was like stepping into wonderland. I took tons of photos so enjoy.

z

the oldest parts of athens

 

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Crumbling old building in Plaka.

Last night was a trip down memory lane with my old boyfriend, aka Petro the Punk. I met Petro at an alternative night club in Athens called The Mad Club and we spent most of 3 years going there to listen to music and pogo all over the dance floor.

I met Petro at Syntagma Square and we walked through the oldest parts of Athens, undoubtedly the best parts. First to Monastiraki where we had a souvlaki at Thanasis, apparently the best souvlaki joint in Athens, and from there on to Plaka where the Mad used to be.

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Monastiraki at night with the Acropolis in the  background.

Its still there of course, a very old crumbling now, now an art studio for a couple of artists. We went in and it was amazing how small the place was, the dance floor was still there, the DJ booth, the bar.

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The old Mad Club.

What was even more amazing was that its located right at the feet of Acropolis. I spent three years going there at least one night a week and I never noticed the ruins on one side of the street or the Acropolis above. My goodness did we laugh at that… we just didn’t care. It was THERE, you know, nothing special, taken for granted and not worth noticing. Amazing huh?

 

We had a great night, we just walked and talked, around the base of the Acropolis, past the ancient theatre at the base, going back to Syntagma Square where we sat down for a few minutes to have an ice cream.

A few minutes during which Petro’s bag was stolen!!!

We sat alone on a bench next to the stage where they’re having a gay pride festival, and chatted, no one around us, and yet someone managed to go past unnoticed and take his backpack! Unbelievable. And he lives here, he’s aware of things like that. I’d had the fear of God put in my by my aunts and I had my bag slung messenger bag style around my neck and shoulder and had my hand on it the entire time. I’d even check my wallet was still in there every now and then.

Sheesh.

Kinda puts a damper on a great evening.

I took some photos but it was night time. Not the best but they’ll do. I didn’t bring a camera on this trip. Firstly cause my camera is big and heavy and I frankly have no desire to lug it all over the countryside, and secondly cause both the tablet and phone have decent cameras these days. I figured I’ll be taking the phone, tablet and kindle with me pretty much everytime I go out… that’s enough to carry!

Before I go, here’s a little joke my brother shared, from one of his favourite greek stand up comedians.

“People complain about the smog in Athens. Smog is no problem for me. In fact I like it. I like to see what I’m breathing!”

z

The local market

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Turns out I’m not spending enough time sitting in cafes to use their free wifi and as a result I’ve used up most of the data allowance on my greek SIM card in two days. 1GB in two days and all I did was check FB, messenger, write a post and reply to emails. I looked at data usage… turns out Google Playstore runs in the background constantly and its usage was off the charts.

So, for now I’m trying to (being forced to) not be online till I have access to wifi otherwise this will get very expensive.

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I’ve been busy and in some ways I’m already feeling like I’m getting used to Athens. After all, I did live here for 14 years solidly, then twice for one year each time, even if I’ve avoided it like the plague since then.

I worry about myself actually…

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Its not the same Athens I knew however. Crime is incredible now. Friends and relatives have been robbed, some more than once, and now most houses I know are locked up more securely than the most bank vaults. I have to use a key to get out of the house. I don’t just mean the front door… I mean the gate to the tiny space that passes as a front garden downstairs. My aunt, who lives on the ground floor here, has become the gate keeper and I’m getting too old to climb fences.

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Not that I wouldn’t try if I had to, but lets hope it doesn’t come to that. A broken bone wouldn’t look good with my bathing suit. Ok, a bathing suit won’t be improved with a cast, its going to be bad enough exposing my pasty flesh as it is…

So, what have I done since I last posted? I’ve caught up with some cousins and a few friends. Once I went to school with in 4th grade. I feel so old…

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I’ve had a souvlaki and found I couldn’t finish it. Interesting. I remember them being smaller…

I went to the local market. That was great fun. Growing up here there was a market every Thursday and it was basically a farmers market with some homeware stalls. You know, doily type tablecloths, colanders, rugs, etc. Cheap stuff. Back then it ran for the length of a street parallel to the main road through our suburb, from the ‘town center’.
Its now fanned out from that one road like an octupus, encompassing many more neighbourhoods. Mom said it comes almost as far up as our house now. That’s 3 bus stops up the main road. Needless to say I didn’t explore that far. I was only there looking for some lightweight, cool (need I even say sleeveless) tops so I wouldn’t feel like I’m dressed for winter.

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Naturally you can buy almost anything there now – and every stall has canopies over it and they even put tarps over the middle of the road so the entire market is now covered. It was amazing! I loved it.

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What on earth was I thinking when I packed? Seriously. Its not like this is my first trip here! I packed 4 pretty blouses I’d bought for my trip – all with ¾ to full sleeves and none of them particularly lightweight. Cotton, but wow…

At the last minute I added a black tshirt cause, well… you always need one of those, and after all, I’ll need something to sleep in, and the only lightweight cheesecloth type of fabric top I had which I brought along to throw over my bathing suit. Demis Rousos would feel comfortable in it. And yes, it has three quarter sleeves. But its light. I’m living in it.

At least now I have choices!

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On the plus side, I brought two demin pants with me, one just under the knee short one and one capri. I hadn’t worn either of those for years… they fit! Woohoo.
We’ll discuss the fear of flab at another time as I discover that my body has been one size (round) for too long to suddenly find it has curves that aren’t all convex… I dread learning just how elastic my skin is…

But that’s another subject for another time… hopefully one I’ll avoid facing… I wonder if swimming will help tone…

Anyway, lets not dwell…

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I’ll be in Athens till next Wednesday, that’s another 5 days and I’m already feeling like I wont have time to catch up with everyone I’d like to, let alone should. Am I being selfish when I think that ‘hey, I made the effort to come from the other side of the world and I’m only in the city for 10 days (that’s way more than usual)… I know you work but, hey, make an effort to see ME somewhere I can get to easily. Don’t expect me to find my way around a city I haven’t lived in for over 20 years.’

Perhaps I’m just a lazy bitch. I can live with that.

The market was great and tonight my favourite ex-boyfriend (the one I left behind when I decided to move back to Australia many years ago and the one I felt I really grew up with) is going to take me to Plaka in the oldest part of Athens to revisit our haunts and the site of the old Mad Club where we spent so much of our misspent youth. Back when we were punks. I’m very excited about that! I don’t even want to think about how long its been since I was down there…

Things are good right and I’ve even stopped clenching my jaw in my sleep!

z

another day in Athens

Ok, its more than a day. I’ll be here another week in fact. But despite my historic dislike of the place and the heat, I’m enjoying catching up with some old school friends and family.

When I say old school friends I mean old as in junior school! That was quite a long time ago. Isn’t Facebook great sometimes?

As for family, I moved away from my home and family and have lived a ‘separate’ life for many years. I’m used to not having any family around in my daily life. But when I come to Greece and spend time with my cousins and people I pretty much grew up with I realise just how much I miss seeing them.

Its the never ending dilema of a person who grows up in two countries – compounded by the fact that they’re on opposite sides of the globe. Life would have been so much easier if dad had chosen to emigrate to England…

Anyway, I just wanted to touch base to let you know I’m alive and well, haven’t been run over by a bus cause I was walking on the road and looked the wrong way and I still haven’t given in to temptation. I did have a souvlaki tonight but still no sweets or sugar so that’s success in my book.

Pat myself on the back…

I have photos to share and I have some small projects I finished before I left to share too so the blog doesn’t turn into a total trip and diet thing. Don’t despair.

z

in transit and still being good

If there’s one thing you can say about international airports is that they’re not good for the ‘no sugar’ thing.

They’re full of duty free chocolate shops… or maybe its just me that sees chocolate everywhere…

I have to confess, I haven’t been 100% good. Yesterday I woke up feeling fluey and spent almost the entire day in bed. As a result of feeling sick and needing to nip it in the bud I’ve had more sugar than I’d like – in my throat lozenges, in the hot toddie’s I got Wayne to make me (honey, not sugar) and in the vitamin C gummies I’ve been chewing on since Wayne came down with the flu a week ago. (Thanks Wayne!)

Thank goodness it seems my flu shot paid off – I am better!

So, although I haven’t been GREAT, I’ve still been GOOD.

For instance I haven’t had a single sweet or chocolate. I didn’t touch my airplane dessert lamington and haven’t had sugar in my coffee or tea.

Ok, so I had one iced coffee… no cream but with a dash of caramel… I’m only human!

I think I’ll allow myself that small indulgence given all the other temptations I’ve let go by.

Other than that, the trip has been good so far. The first hop from Hobart to Melbourne was lovely and brief. The jump from there to Singapore not so much… three and a half movies later we had an an hour and a half to kill in Singapore walking up and down the gate lounge to get circulation back in my legs.

I can’t sleep on planes… times like this I wish I was a five year old again, able to curl up in the tiniest space… sigh.

Almost five hours in Dubai and honestly, there really isn’t that much duty free shopping one can do. Two coffees, two lovely chats with women from other parts of the world, and we’ll soon be boarding for the last leg to Athens.

By now I just want to BE somewhere. No longer on the go. This is such a long trip…

z

a quick and easy quirky pouch

You know what its like… you’re flat out busy, you have a To Do list a mile long and the phone never stops ringing.

And yet, suddenly, you feel the urge to make something.

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This little pouch wasn’t on my list, that’s for sure. I was thinking I needed a small ‘something’ to put some thread, needles, scissors and bits so that I could take them with me to places just in case I got the urge to create.

You know how that is, right? Its not just me?

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So, there I was, in the office/craft room/hive of creativity thinking “I have enough time to whip something up”.

I grabbed an offcut of blue fabric with white stars and worked out how to make a pouch out of it utilising the odd shape of the fabric as a feature. I thought the red with white dots would look great with it, so I added that. Added buttons and an elastic hair tie as a closer and voila!

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A cute, handy little carry pouch for small embroidery type supplies for that downtime when you get the urge to do something with your hands.

And a quirky shape to boot!

z

the post gets touched up

Remember the post that Wayne and I put in to stop people running into our retaining wall? Here it is after Wayne added his artist touch to it.

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Well… it wasn’t really visible, what with the grey post and the light blue paint… so I added a my own touch to it.

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What do you think? Is anyone going to hit it now?

z

still on the wagon

 

Coffee without sugar?

yuck

Yuck.

I’m told I’ll get used to it. In about 6 months or six years. Not sure which. But right now I’m wondering if I need caffeine that much… yuck.

I’m pretty proud of myself this week. I haven’t eaten any sweets, even though Wayne got into the chocolate biscuits and left an open packet with two mint slice bikkies on the kitchen table, just staring at me. I left them there for two days till they disappeared into someone else’s mouth.

hehehe.

Zefi 1 – Wayne 0

I haven’t had a single teaspoon of sugar in anything, not a single lolly has crossed my lips. I’ve eaten some plain crackers and sourdough wholemeal bread… I was really good till last night when we went to a quiz night and I ate 1.5 white bread sandwiches. Not too bad… I drank disgusting unsweetened coffee instead of coke and when Wayne won a box of chocolates I didn’t have a single ONE.

I look amazing. I’ve lost hundreds of kilos and millions of inches….

As if.

I look no different, though I may have felt what might be, possibly, the outline of my ribs when I lay down yesterday. But I could be mistaken. It has been a while…

I’m hanging out till the day before I leave for Greece to try on clothes (and swimsuits) I’ll be taking with me in the hopes that maybe I can fit into my thin person jeans.

As if 3 or 4 weeks of eating healthy will make up for 10 years of not. Ha.

But its good to have dreams.

And really, it hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. Except the coffee. That IS hard. Its almost like something clicked over in my brain and I have the willpower to say no. But its not that even. It doesn’t feel like willpower…

To me willpower would be to look at sweets and really really want one but say no.

I’m not feeling that. I look at them, and I can look at them and even think they look nice and know they’d taste nice, but I just don’t want them. I turn away and its not a struggle…

I can’t describe this feeling, it really is like I finally found the off switch. Which is why I think I’m staying away from all sweet things (except fruit) in case the switch goes on again and I can’t turn it back off.

Maybe the doctor was right and she ‘scared me straight’… maybe it was just time. Whatever, I wish I’d found this switch years ago.

z

no sugar

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Hello. My name is Zefi and I’m a sugar addict.

I’m the poster child for sweet teeth, forget sweet tooth!

There have been days in my life where not only did I eat sweets, but I ate only sweets. In fact, there have been plenty of times I’ve disgusted myself.

I know that diabetes runs in my family, and yet I chose to live with my head in the sand. Like Tom Hanks (I love Tom Hanks!), I lived like life was a party and there was no tomorrow.

My last two few visits to the doctor went something like this: “You have high blood pressure. Not too high, but a bit of concern. You need to lose weight and exercise more. You’re healthy and all, but you need to lose weight and exercise more. You’re insulin levels are fine, at the moment, but you’re not exactly metabolising sugar really well, which is a precursor to diabetes… you need to lose weight and exercise more. Stop eating sweets and carbs. You need to lose weight and exercise more. ”

You get the picture.

The visit before last I began to walk. I’d take the boys for a 1 hour walk most mornings (a real walk, not an amble). But like most things, life got in the way. How do I make time to walk daily and still be able home on time groom? I need to work.

Last visit I thought ok, I really need to do something. Really.

So I decided to cut down on sugar.

Like, stop eating sweets. Like not stop sugar in my coffee, but not eat sweets. I can do that. Surely…

Then I realised that I actually have to be a bit more proactive than that. The problem is I’m so lazy when it comes to thinking about what I should and shouldn’t eat. I’ve always worked on the “I’m hungry, I’ll grab something to eat” principle. And if what I grab is a ‘healthy’ sugar-filled muesli bar, or a slab of chocolate cake, well, I ate something

I always disliked all those ‘my body is my temple’ people who bore everyone to death about their diets and that, somehow, always seem to be sick…

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I don’t want to be one of those boring people: a ‘born again’ healthy person.

And yet, here I am. Working my way towards a holier than thou position if I succeed.

Its been almost a week with minimal sugar. I’ve resisted the licorice bullets on the table and the chocolate biscuits in the cupboard. I let Wayne finish the chocolates. Today I had coffee without sugar for the first time. I’ve been having tea without sugar for 2 days. I’ve snacked on cheese and crisp bread, I ate one slice of toast with my eggs instead of two, I ate one jelly snake and I had ice cream three times. (Ice cream doesn’t count…)

Ok. I’m not perfect! Its a work in progress!

Thing is, I don’t know how long I can keep this up or if I can even. So far it hasn’t been that hard, no bad withdrawals… but when it comes to reading labels at the supermarket and putting things back “cause that has sugar in it” … hm… and how do I live without bread and pasta?

The theory is that if I can get myself under control now, I won’t actually get diabetes and won’t ever have to deny myself sweets forever more. Right? Please tell me that’s right. I can still have an ice cream now and then if I don’t have ice cream 5 nights a week, plus 6 chocolate bars, 3 bags of lollies, a slice or two of cheesecake and 2 packets of biscuits…

Right?

Surely.

I hope.

z