Tag Archives: INCO

Patsos, Home of Cretan Heroes

I belong to INCO, the International Community Association of Agios Nikolaos and the wider Lassithi Region, a Not For Profit Organisation providing the legal framework to support social, cultural, charitable and community activities. On 1st/2nd September I joined a group of fourteen INCO members for a weekend in Patsos, in the centre of the Rethymno prefecture, Crete.

dscn5593Our host was Vasilis of the Patsos Taverna, an ex paratrooper who is passionate about local Patsos history and environment. Vasilis ensured we all had accommodation in Patsos, provided wonderful food courtesy of his mama, Mrs Maria, and guided us for local excursions. 

Ill metPrior to the trip I re-read Ill Met By Moonlight, by W Stanley Moss, about a hazardous war-time mission in Nazi-occupied Crete.  A young British officer, Major Patrick Leigh Fermor, led the kidnap of General Kreipe, Commander of the Sevastopool Division, and narrowly escaped a German manhunt, to get the prisoner off the island – a major coup for British intelligence.

The reason behind my reading was our visit to the hideout where heroic Patsos folk kept the group fed and hidden for two days despite pressure from Nazis. The photo of our guide, Vasilis (above) shows him sitting in exactly the same spot as a photo of General Kriepe taken by W Stanley Moss and included in his book. A plaque on the cliff wall commemorates the event. Somehow the single red poppy left by the family of an AnZac soldier was more poignant.

During the early evening we explored the village before meeting up to chat the evening away…would you believe it, the evening ended with me as the raki waitress!!

The ruined church in Patsos has the remains of wonderful icons. They have been removed for restoration and will be returned to the village in due course. The small olive tree was recently planted as a memorial to the wartime efforts of Patsos villagers who maintained essential secrecy.

The next morning we visited a church dedicated to Saint Anthony nestling in the rock face. This church is reached by an easy path at the top of Patsos Gorge – then the hiking trail starts.

After a photo call on the bridge we enjoyed a downhill walk at a pace that allowed everyone time to enjoy the beauty of the rock formations, cliffs, river bed with a still tinkling stream and wonderful trees.

dscn5698After about 1.5 k we had a breather and then walked back up to the church. In theory we could have carried on walking until the gorge bottomed out at a reservoir. Instead we drove near to the reservoir to walk along a gentle path next to bubbling springs. The time and energy saved by the drive provided opportunity to visit a new local enterprise, a winery in its second year.

Yep, you’ve guessed it, not only did we follow the grapes journey from delivery to wine bottle we had a wine tasting lesson too. At present they make white and rose wine – mm, hard to choose, so I bought both.

Ooops, we spent rather too long over our wine tasting and Vasilis had a phone call from his mama asking where we were as lunch was waiting – the tastiest stuffed tomatoes ever. Also on the menu was a fab aubergine dip we’d enjoyed the previous day. Thankfully, Mrs Maria was not one of those cooks who keeps her recipes secret – I’ve made some since getting back to Kritsa.

After a very leisurely lunch some of the group stayed over for another night in Patsos, some headed home and others headed off to holiday in other parts of Crete. I shall certainly return to Patsos as I’d like to walk more of the gorge, and in a year’s time the winery will start selling red wine too, and I need to taste that for completeness.

If you spend time in East Crete and would like to learn more about INCO, you can use the contact form below.

To find out more about Patsos, the opportunity for accommodation guided tours you can visit Vasilis’ great website – https://patsosescape.com

And finally, here is the Aubergine Dip recipe…

Ingredients:

Two Aubergine together weighting 500g

1 large clove of garlic

40 ml mayonnaise – I used low calorie

Half a small lemon – juiced

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon wine vinegar

I tablespoon chopped parsley

Method:

Set oven to 200c

Prick aubergines all over and place in hot oven for 45 mins – turn over halfway through.

Let aubergines cool, then cut in half and scoop flesh into a food processor.

Add chopped garlic and lemon juice

Blend in 10 second bursts until there is a smooth paste – Tip, put a large handful of parsley leaves in with the final burst and then there is no need to chop it.

Scoop puree into a bowl

Add mayonnaise, olive oil and vinegar and stir briskly.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cover the dish of dip with cling film and let it rest in fridge overnight.

ENJOY

 

Agios Nikolaos Myths Debunked

Stand by for shock revelations…. the gem of Agios Nikolaos, Lake Voulismeni is NOT bottomless, and it has no link to the volcano in Santorini. DSCN3417.jpg

How do I know this?

I joined a dozen other members of INCO, (the local International Community association) for a walking tour of Agios Nikolaos, led by one of our fellow members, Tony Cross a keen geologist. Throughout our 5k walk Tony kept interest levels high pointing out the geological evidence to explain how the town is built on limestone, the exposed remains of underwater landslides, shaped by fault lines and water erosion.

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Our group met in a cafe by the marina and hadn’t walked far before Tony pointed out the first evidence of underwater landslides.

Lucy the dog enjoyed her walk but showed no interest in the rock formations.

 

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So, in summary, and I hope I listened carefully, the nearly 50m deep lake is not a volcanic crater as many suppose. It was once an underground cave, formed when water from a spring created mist to dissolve the rock above. When the cave roof collapsed it left a sinkhole. The tall cliff  at the rear of the lake is the scarp slope of a fault line. Although once a freshwater lake, it became stagnant when an earthquake cut off the water supply and blocked the outlet.  During the 1860s French forces stationed in the town dug the canal making it a saltwater lake.

INCO logoIf you spend time in and around the Agios Nikolaos area and would like to know more about INCO, the local International Community organisation you can use the contact form below to request details.

I thoroughly enjoyed the morning looking at Agios Nikolaos through different eyes, thank you Tony.

Visit Eklektos, Elounda’s Bookshop

Beryl Darby chatting to INCO members
Beryl Darby chatting to INCO members

On the way to the centre of Elounda, Crete, just by the post office is Eklektos, a gem of a bookshop. The owner, Lynne McDonald is a font of local knowledge and acts as an unofficial tourist information centre.

From personal experience, I know Lynne loves to support authors of books set locally and I’m proud to say you can find Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa on her shelves. After a busy day out (click here to read Beryl Darby meets Kazanis) Beryl Darby and I were pleased to spend the next day participating in Lynne’s first ABC event – Authors, Books & Conversation. Held in September, the bookshop gave several author’s the opportunity to meet readers over drinks and nibbles.

In addition to local advertising, INCO – the international residents association, supported the event by sending details to their members. The shop and shady veranda buzzed with chat and laughter from the outset, and I know Lynne was delighted so many people came to meet the authors.

 

An invitation to participate in a Flash Fiction competition brought excellent entries. The one hundred word story could be about anything as long as it included the word, Bookshop. Clever writers covered a wide gamut of topics, funny, sad, eerie, mythological, and romantic. To read the winning entry by Vanessa Westwell, on the Eklektos website, CLICK HERE. As a prize, best selling author, Patricia Wilson presented Vanessa with a copy of her novel,  Island of Secrets in audio form. Some people commented afterwards they’d have liked the opportunity to read the entries on the day. Perhaps this is something Lynne will build in if the event it repeated in 2018.

At the end of the afternoon an accordion player made an unexpected, but delightful appearance to round off the event. Here author Richard Stevens dances with his better half, Kay. Writing under the pen name Argy Stevens, Richard’s book is called Discrete Reversal and it’s on my ‘must read’ pile for Summer 2018.

As well as providing a great venue for a chat, a cuppa and local knowledge, Lynne also runs a webpage called Bookshop in Crete and a fun Facebook page, Eklektos Books. If you feel you’re missing out as Elounda is too far away for you to drop in, Lynne will send books by post – just visit her blog and select the tag labelled SHOP.

INCO logoPreviously in this post I mentioned INCO, the Foreign Residents Association for Agios Nikolaos and East Crete. This Not For Profit Organisation supports social, cultural, charitable and community activities. Some members enjoy the gardening club, camera club, gentle walking, weekly coffee and natter sessions, ad hoc days out, quizzes, and fund raising among other activities. Each member participates in as much or as little as they wish. If you are unfortunate enough to need time in hospital then the INCO network can answer questions and allay fears. Members don’t need to live full time in Crete.

JOIN INCO – for a subscription of just €10 per year you get a warm welcome with lots of contact information and emailed activity updates. There are members to take your details and subscription in many places including Elounda, Limnes, Kritsa and Agios Nikolaos. If you’d like to know more you can email incocrete@yahoo.com or ask Lynne in Eklektos bookshop.

I’m well aware this has been a tough year for Lynne, and as well as thanking her for supporting me as an author, I like to take the opportunity of wishing her and the fabulous Eklektos Bookshop a great season in 2018.

Perhaps this is a good time to draw up my must read list in 2018 – easier to stick to than resolutions! In no particular order my list includes Monica – Beryl Darby, Discrete Reversal – Argy Stevens, Seraphina’s Song – Kathryn Gauci, Villa of Secrets – Patrica Wilson, The Ariadne Objective – Wes Davis. I’ll add another two books when John Manuel publishes his next novel and Richard Clark publishes his guide to East Crete. Oh what a surprise… my ‘to read’ list is full of books set in Crete. What about you? What’s on your must read in 2018 list?

Finally, Happy New Year!