The photograph above is our house taken in the Spring and the rest are a Mixed Bunch!!


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The 2007 Greek forest fires were a series of massive forest fires that broke out in several areas across Greece throughout the summer of 2007.

The most destructive and lethal infernos broke out on 23 August, expanded rapidly and raged out of control until 27 August, until they were put out in early September. The fires mainly affected western and southern Peloponnese as well as southern Euboea.

The death toll in August alone stood at 67 people. In total 84 people lost their lives because of the fires, including several fire fighters.

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Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis declared a state of emergency for the whole country and requested help from fellow members of the European Union. Multiple countries responded to the call and sent help - mainly fire planes.

A total of 2,700 square kilometers of forest, olive groves and farmland were destroyed in the fires and also 1,000 houses and 1,100 other buildings, with hundres more damaged.

Six people were reported to have been killed in the town of Areopoli. In Zacharo, one of the worst hit areas, more than 30 people were found dead by firefighters while searching burning cars and homes.

The last photograph was take near Zacharo in the Spring following the fires.

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We had been living in the Peloponnese for 2 weeks when the fire broke out. We were told in the morning that the fire was 20km away up the mountain to the side of the village. During that day we watched as the fire burnt down the mountain towards the village, the sky went very dark, the sun turned red and ash started falling. At 4.30pm we were told that the village was being evacuated and that we would have to leave. However, some of the villagers remained to fight the fires, some of them working for 36 hours non-stop.

We put our 5 dogs and our cat into the car and went to Kalamata near the beach. All night we watched the fires burning on the Taygetos Mountains above Kalamata. Next day we set off back to the village not knowing what we would find, however, the dry river bed had stopped the fire. We were lucky. It is believed that many of the fires were started by arsonists and I understand that there were court cases with regard to the fires around Zacharo.

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However, even more devastating in terms of lost of life was the fire at Mati, on the coast to the east of Athens in 2018 when 102 people died and non fatal injuries were 17, with more than 1,000 buildings destroyed or damaged.

One of the most harrowing photographs that I saw at the time were of so many people in the sea trying to avoid the smoke and flames from the fire. Some with their children, some with animals and others with precious possessions that they had been able to grab.

More than 4,000 people were affected buy the fires and Greece deployed its entire fleet of fire-fighting aircraft and more than 250 fire engines, as well as over 600 firefighters.

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Our village river in the winter looks like this when we have had plenty of rain. The photograph was taken in 2014, since we have lived here I have never seen it so full.

I believe that the river is called Rema Mavrozoumena, its source is in the mountains above the village, it is a tributary of the Pamisos River and comes out into the sea near Messini.

The river dries up in the summer and it was this river bed that stopped the fire reaching the village in 2007.

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The Vouraikos River flows between the east side of Mount Erimanthos and the west side of Mount Chelmos. This 40km long river has created a deep gorge.

According to Mythology, Hercules was in love with Voura, the daughter of Nefeligeretes and Eliki, who lived in the sea. He opened then this passage to reach the sea and meet her. The river was named after her.

The gorge starts at around 3 kilometers to the south of the village of Kato Zachlorou and extends between Diakofto and Kalavryta. Many streams enter Vouraikos River at various places and create numerous waterfalls in the process. The width of the gorge varies at different places. The gorge is highly important for the natural habitat of the region and has a variety of plants and animals.

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The Neda is a river in the western Peloponnese in Greece. It is 31 km long, and its drainage area is 278 km2. It is unique in the sense that it is the only river in Greece with a feminine name.

The river begins on the southern slope of Mount Lykaion, near the village of Neda in northern Messenia. It flows to the west through a varied landscape of barren rock and forests. From near Figaleia until its mouth it forms the border of Messenia and Elis.

There is a well known waterfall near the village Platania. The Neda flows into the Gulf of Kyparissia, a bay of the Ionian Sea, near the village Giannitsochori.

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The Mani Peninsular in the Peloponnese is famous for its towers. There are 3 kinds: the war tower, the tower house and the tower dwelling. On travels in the Mani many ruined towers can be seen.

As well as serving an obvious military purpose, the towers were an outward sign of clan strength and unity. The height, strength and armament of a tower was an open display of power.

The towers of Mani, around eight hundred in total, are amazing examples of the special architecture of Mani. Made of stone, they may reach 20 m in height and may be comprised of 3-5 floors. The use of local stone made the towers indistinguishable when seen from distance, protecting them mainly from pirates.

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The Monastery of Megalo Spilaio (Great Cave) is in the Kalavryta municipality of Achaea region, about 11 kilometres northeast of the city of Kalavryta. It is built atan alitutde of 940 metres, inside a natural cave of the Chelmos mountain.

It is one of the oldest monasteries of Greece, if not the oldest. It was built in 362 by two brother monks, Symeon and Theodore, and is dedicated to Panagia (the Mother of God). It hosts an icon of Panagia, said to be miraculous, called "Panagia Megalospilaiotissa", of the Great Cave.

In 840 A.C. the Mega Spileo was burnt down, it was rebuilt in 1285, by Andronikos Paleologos. From then on, this monastery became one of the richest in the country. The fire destroyed several relics, but the miraculous image was saved.

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The monastery went through another two fires, in 1400 and in 1600, at which point the church was burnt down along with the precious library containing rare manuscripts. In 1934, the monastery went through yet another fire during which invaluable relics were destroyed.

In 1936, the monastery was rebuilt but suffered severe destruction in December 1943 at the hands of German troops. Many of the monks and other staff members were either shot or were thrown over a cliff. Some managed to survive, hidden in nearby caves, taking with them some rare icons and relics. The monastery is eight storeys tall, dug into the forbidding rock.

The monastery holds a large number of treasures of untold historical and religious value, such as artefacts of the Revolution of 1821, a Byzantine banner depicting three Emperors, sigils, old books and even a cross with part of the Holy Cross; its most valuable treasure is the miraculous image of Panagia Megalospilaiotissa. The icon was painted by the Apostle Luke and is said to be a gift to the ruler of Achaea called Theofilo, along with the Gospels and the Acts. The ruler passed the image on to his descendants, who hid it in the cave to protect it from the persecution that Christians were facing.

The image was found centuries later by Agia Efrosyni. It is made in relief, its width three centimeters, and is made by mastic and wax. It bears painted and golden diagrams. The fires that burned the monastery have tarnished its surface. It depicts Mary holding the Child Jesus in her right hand while He touches His left hand on her own, and in His right holding the Gospel.

The monastery is open to visitors every day, and closes for an hour, at 12:00 to 13:00 during the winter and 13:00 to 14:00 during the summer.

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Neromylos Watermill and Taverna near Agia Theodora

Under the foundations of the Church of Agia Theodora, the water of the source of the Pamisos River flows. The river goes under the road and there is a beautiful pathway that goes alongside and you reach the Taverna called Nero Mylos.

The origial watermill has been beautifully renovated and the owners are happy to show you the mill working, grinding flour from wheat with which they make their own bread.

They also grind corn and a very old type of seed which I believe is a type of barley.

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March 25th is Greek Independence Day, when the whole country remembers and celebrates the start of the liberation of Greece in 1821 from nearly 400 years of Turkish occupation.

The celebration in our local town involves all the schoolchildren, from little ones to seniors, dressed in traditional costumes. The larger towns have far larger parades with military etc.

It begins with a march down the street and into the main square where wreaths are laid at the memorial by various dignitaries. Then there are speeches from many of the children and finally Greek dancing.

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Just out of the village of Vasiliko heading towards Kyparissia there is a turning to the left. The newly built road snakes up the mountain until you come to a plateau where stands a huge bronze statue of Theodoros Kolokotronis on his horse. He was a Greek general and the pre-eminent leader of the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire.

There is a big celebration there at the beginning of April. I believe that this was when he was born. After the parade and lots of speech, riders in costume on horse-back entered the area after riding up the hill.

There is also the small church of Agios Stefanos. Locals say that Kolokotronis was born near this site and was baptised on a font made of stone (the whereabouts of which is unknown). There is also a picnic area with wooden tables placed in the shadow of plane and mulberry trees.

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The Battle of Meligalas

The Battle took place at Meligalas in Messenia in southwestern Greece, on 13-15 September 1944, between the Greek Resistance forces of the Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS) and the Axis collaborationist Security Battalions. The site marks one of the darkest pages in Greece's history.

During the Axis occupation of Greece, ELAS partisan forces began operating in the Peloponnese from 1942, and in 1943 began to establish their control over the area. To confront them, the German occupation authorities formed the Security Battalions, which took part not only in anti-guerrilla operations but also in mass reprisals against the local civilian population. With the liberation of Greece drawing near in 1944, the Security Battalions were increasingly targeted by ELAS.

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Following the withdrawal of German forces from the Peloponnese in September 1944, a part of the collaborationist forces in Kalamata withdrew to Meligalas, where a force of about 1,000 Battalionists gathered.

The Battalionists installed a heavy machine gun in the clock tower of the main church in Meligalas, Agios Ilias, and distributed the 50 light machine guns they possessed in houses around the church and in semi-circular ramparts around the paddock of Meligalas.

There they were quickly surrounded by ELAS detachments, some 1,200 strong. After a three-day battle, the ELAS partisans broke through the fortifications and entered the town.

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A partisan court martial was set up in the town, headed by the lawyers Vasilis Bravos and Ioannis Karamouzis. This court summarily condemned not only the 60 officers and other leaders of the Battalions but also many others, including for reasons having more to do with personal differences rather than any crime committed.

The executions took place at an abandoned well outside the town.

Hundreds of prisoners were summarily tried and executed as the guerrillas looted and burned the village of Meligalas. There are 787 names in the memorial wall, although other sources cite that 1,144 or more men and women of all ages were killed in a field outside the village, their bodies thrown in the well.

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The executions were performed by members of EAM-ELAS brought in from other regions of Greece according to custom, while the leaders and the remaining local guerillas made their way back to Kalamata with about 60 captured leading members of the Security Battalions.

Along the way, several prisoners were beaten or knifed by local villagers, and as soon as they arrive at the central square of Kalamata, an angry mob broke through the guerilla ranks and killed the rest, beating them to death or hanging them from the square's lamp posts.

In 1945, 708 bodies are exhumed at the site, but the current memorial mentions 787 names from 61 villages.

Today, a massive concrete cross marks the location of the executions, and the well where the bodies were thrown can still be seen.

At the site is the monument, ossuary, chapel, memorial wall, and the field with hundreds of crosses bearing the names and ages of the dead.

They commemorate this atrocity that marked the opening stages of the Greek Civil War and which, decades later, still divides politics and public opinion in Greece.

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Animals and Wildlife

We saw this huge herd of goats just outside the village of Tseria on the Mani. There are many such herds, but I have not seen one as large. There are also big flocks of sheep, which I understand are all milked by hand!!

Feta, mizithra and anthotyros cheeses are traditionally made from a mixture of goat's and sheep's milk. There are many other Greek cheeses, many of them have Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Feta was given this in 2002.

This is interesting. Visit The Greek Cheese Page!

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A foal on the day it was born - such an amazing sight, so fragile and wobbly in those first couple of hours. The horse belongs to our neighbour and it was wonderful watching the little one grow, following its mother everywhere!!

The mare was very protective of her baby and it was difficult to get good photographs!!

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From extreme camouflage to sexual cannibalism, these pious-looking carnivores are as exquisite as they are fearsome. This one was camouflaged on a wall in my garden

The European mantis (Mantis religiosa) is a large hemimetabolic insect in the family of the Mantidae (mantids), which is the largest family of the order Mantodea (mantises)

Their common name praying mantis is derived from the distinctive posture of the first pair of legs that can be observed in animals in repose. It resembles a praying attitude. Both males and females have elongated bodies with two pairs of wings.

The most striking features that all Mantodea share are a very mobile, triangular head with large compound eyes and their first pair of legs (the 'raptorial legs') which is highly modified for the efficient capture and restraint of fast moving or flying prey

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These two little visitors spent a few weeks sleeping every day under our veranda roof.

The common pipistrelle is one of the most common bat species. It is a small bat which is found in a wide range of habitats including farmland, woodlands and suburban and urban habitats. It often roosts in crevices around the outside of houses and buildings.

It is insectivorous, preying on flies, caddisflies, lacewings, and mayflies.[16] Mosquitoes, midges, and gnats are particularly favored prey items.[

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Early one morning this heron was perched across the road from our house on our neighbours chimney.

The grey heron (Ardea cinerea) is the largest heron in Europe.

It has a long neck, a strong, dagger-like bill and long yellow legs. In flight, the neck is folded back, and the wings are bowed.

In adults, the forehead, sides of the head and the centre of the crown are white, whereas in juveniles these are greyish.

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Here we have the largest moth I have ever seen - it must have been 15cm across its wings.

Saturnia pyri, the Giant Peacock Moth, is a Saturniid moth which is native to Europe. It is the largest European Moth and is also called as the Great Peacock Moth, Giant Emperor Moth or Viennese Emperor.

This one spent a whole afternoon in an orange tree in our garden. It was such a wonderful sight - and we have had another one!! Although not quite as big!!

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These five swallow chicks were hatched in our shed in spring this year (2019). By the time they were ready to fledge there was barely enough room in the nest for them all.

The parent birds would fly in so quickly that you wondered why they didn't collide with anything!!

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On the road from Megalopoli to Karitena (on the left hand side) you will see a bird/animal sanctuary called Papakia Farm.

The site has many animals and birds and also very nice taverna and separate cafe.

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm: Saturday & Sunday: 11:00 am - 12: 00pm