Friday, May 18, 2007

Greek Music and I

Tonight I get the chance to shake off my day wear, put on something snazzy and do something I love...sing. It's been a passion all my life, since I was part of the school chorus in various plays, since I would sleep and wake up with Radio 1 and its various DJs as a teenager, since my friends and I would sing along to The Carpenters whilst driving around the West Midlands, on sleepy summer days. It was how I enchanted my husband, singing along to a guitar at an all night beach party, here, at the village. It was something I felt I had to explore and discover as everything else in my life, so when I was given the opportunity to sing in a local band, I grabbed it with both hands and although I had little knowledge of Greek Music, I began with a small repertoire, and a lot of nerves, to sing in front of audiences in bars, at get- togethers, at weddings, and although I know I am no Maria Callas, The responses were great, and so I continued. The most difficult part of the job, was the hours...I would return home in the early hours of the morning, and have to wake up a few hours later to do the housework, look after the kids, prepare things for my day job. But I have never looked back. I slowly began to build up my song list, adding favourite songs, focusing genre, style, and generally learning more each day. I'm still learning although I have been singing on and off for 3 years now, I still have to build up my confidence, as I tend to have to look at the lyrics while I am singing....there is so much to remember...and I will continue, even if only for my own pleasure. There is nothing better than having people dance and sing along with songs that have left marks on their lives. I find myself looking up composers, artists, producers on the Internet, wanting to know more about music... I sing to my children, in the shower, while I'm driving, while I'm cleaning...I sing because songs are life, passion, dreams all rolled into's a shame you're all not closer...I would love to sing for you too.....

Thursday, May 17, 2007


One thing I remember as a child was that every time I came to Greece, or went to Cyprus (my mother's home) I would always leave in tears. Mum and Dad must have thought I was crazy, as the tears rolled down my cheeks and I stared out of the plane window, hoping that something would happen to give me one more day in, what I considered to be, paradise. Thinking back, I still have a knot in my stomach, and I presume that was one of the reasons I moved here after University. Everything seemed so different when I was young, the sounds, the smells, the fun, the people. It even took me days to recover from my holiday...sitting in my room overlooking Barry docks, the grey cloudy sky would only remind me that I did not fit in, that something was dreadfully wrong with the world, but deep inside I knew. I knew that my parents wanted something better for my brother and I. I knew that their hearts had broken, long before mine had even come to existence. I knew that they had given up their homes just to give us chances...but knowing just did not seem to make things any better. It just made the pain less intense. So the feeling just became a part of me. Fitting in has also become a part of me, but living in a country with so many problems, makes it so much harder. My Greek is still not as good as I want it to be, but I am considered a native speaker, although a slight difference in my accent sometimes gives me away. I like it though...I like being someone who has lived with a Tescos , M & S, McDonald's just around the corner. I like having gone to schools where the guiding hands of teachers seemed to bring out the best. I like having an air of "the outsider" but these things have also become past thoughts. Living here is like stepping back in time. Hypermarkets have just been discovered, monopolies are just beginning to lose ground, education has still to see the light of day, bribery is a part of everyday life, and "what you know" is a lesser desired attribute. However, I still feel the need to overcome anything put in my way, and face difficulties as they come, although forward thinking is a great weapon. Each day ideas come to mind, and challenges pop up, so life is less than boring. But waking up into a world where things are so laid back that even sunbeds seem to be working more than people, I do tend to this really where I am supposed to be....

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Greek Wedding

Weddings in Greece are a lively affair. Although these days more and more people are choosing a less boisterous affair, I still like to take part in all the activities that go on. Firstly, families are always involved in the wedding of a relative, and if you live in a village, most of the residents become involved too. In the past, weddings were held with more than 800 guests, so as you can imagine, they were hold over the summer months, and usually in the streets. The women would spend the week before the wedding preparing various delicacies that would be eaten by guests popping in and out of an open house all week. The men would bring in the shopping, set out tables and chairs in the gardens, on the streets, and generally work a little and drink a lot while the did their bit. Although there are know halls available for great numbers of people, preparing for the big day has generally not changed...lots of eating and drinking, and generally being merry. The Wednesday before the wedding is the day the bride invites her relatives to get the dowry ready. For those of you who do not know about dowries, basically they are made up of the linen for the new couple's home, which the bride's mother has collected over the years, while waiting for her daughter to marry. The bride's sisters, friends and cousins separate the linen and tie it up in small parcels with colourful ribbons and again people arrive to gaze upon the beautiful bedding, the handmade tablecloths, the colourful towels, the expensive carpets that are all set up in one room for all to see. On Thursday, the groom's family arrive and collect the dowry. Now this is not the same in all regions, but in this part of the country, the dowry is taken from the bride's home (where tradition calls for various other things to be discreetly taken also) to the new couple's home where everything is put into place. The bed is made by single girls, who strip the bedding which the groom's mother placed, and make it with the bride's new set. Then rice and money are thrown onto the bed, and a young child is usually placed on the bed so that the couple may quickly bear their first child. Then there is more ....eating and drinking. Friday is usually the day the groom's family arrange to take the wedding to the bride. It is usually the groom's best friend who carries the dress through the streets to the bride's home, where he and other members of the family dance with the wedding dress, before handing it over to the bride. He is also responsible for taking the bride's underwear, make up and shoes to her on the day of the wedding, placing the shoes on her feet before she leaves for the church. The merriment continues on the night before the wedding, and as most weddings take place on Saturday here, both families usually have a dinner party for their guests after the handing over of the dress. The day of the wedding is chaotic (not that the other days are less of a panic) More people in and out of the house all see the groom see the bride getting ready...generally to take part in the couple's happy day. Hairdresser's, make up artists, friends, parents, relatives hover around the soon to be couple and as the deadline approaches, more and more people arrive. The groom awaits his bride at the church steps, and a local tradition is for the bride to ascend, showing her groom that she accepts her position as the one who will follow and not lead....(nowadays the groom usually meets her halfway). The holy ceremony comprises of the best man uniting the couple by witnessing and aiding their joining together, and when they ceremony is over, the couple and their immediate families stand in line as all the guests congratulate them. As you can imagine, if there are hundreds of guests, this can be very time consuming. After all this, the party starts, and everyone gathers to dance traditional dances, depending on where they are from, and generally eat and drink to the health of the newlyweds.

Although I have described a typical Greek village wedding, maybe you would like to get married in a Greek church, of course without all the traditions we have, but with my help...if you are interested please contact me at

May in Greece of the hottest Mays we have seen in years, and as the temperatures rise, so does the need to hit the beaches, get tanned and fit. Every year, at this time, as the summer clothes are pulled out of their dark winter storage boxes, I always seen to wake up with the feeling that something is about to happen. I don't know if you ever get the feeling that you were born to be doing something other than what you are doing, but I wake up with that feeling every day. Walking along the roads in the village, the warm breeze drifting slowly past, I feel optimistic today. I don't know why; maybe it's the bright colourful flowers blooming in all gardens, maybe it's the view of the coast from high above, or maybe it's just being thankful for what I have, which apart from my family, is not that much, but I definitely do feel optimistic. A couple of travellers have just come riding in, on their bikes, from a nearby resort, Sivota. They are British, and as I accidentally eavesdrop n their conversation, I am overwhelmed with a feeling of wanting to go and answer their questions, but I hesitate, as I think, let them discover, let them talk to the local people, and get into that Greek feeling. Then my thoughts wander as I see them ride away, and hope they will have fun.

The temperatures are set to hit the mid thirties, and I must say that although I do moan about Greece, and living here, it is a great place to visit. This area is filled with lots of different holiday spots. Places to go with a family, as a couple, alone, you will always find something to do or see. 7 different beaches await people to fill them, all with something different to offer. What are you looking for? Nightlife, sun, tradition, good food, well organised hotels, you can find everything here, and not only that but we are so close to so many other places. Corfu is now only two hours away. Parga and Sivota, both holiday resorts are a fifteen minute drive in opposite directions. The archeology in the area is renowned, with Nekromanteio, the gateway to Hades, an hour away. It really is wonderful. So, do you want to visit?? Send me an e-mail. Post a comment. Let me show you more of why I love summer in Greece....

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Perdika... the name of the village I live in. It's my father's village, and one of the most picturesque places I have seen. My grandparents were both refugees from Ponto, or Asia Minor, and during the mass Greek exodus from the west coast of Turkey, in the early 1900's, they travelled to find new lives in Greece, their homeland- a story I will come back to. The actual village was formerly a "Turkish Village", and its residents actually all came here at about the same time. The cultural diversity here is one thing that makes it an interesting place to live, as each person's roots lie in a different part of the land. Here are some of the places they came from -
Popovo - a region near the town of Paramythia about 40 km away.
Ithaki - an Aegean island off the coast of Turkey.
Asia Minor - Greek territory on the west coast of Turkey
Northern Epirus
Shepherds from Central and Northern Greece

Over the last twenty years we have seen this community change, with people joining, not only from other parts of Greece, but from other parts of the world, becoming what I like to call a "global" village. Germans, British, Italians, French, Americans have become a part of this community, leaving their mark but also leaving a distinct lack of unity.

But anyway, it's really a beautiful place, which words cannot really describe, but I will write more about the beauty another time...