Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Last night's cooking...

So, K has discovered wierd meats from the gourmet adventures series of Kruijer Foods, and we get to cook wierd stuff every now and then. Been doing a whole lot of ostrich recently in various guises and it's pretty good meat. This time, I came home to a packet of crocodile fillet in the fridge and spent about a week chasing recipes. Finally, I found some good ones out on this site, which included text like: "Dust crocodile fillets with flour. Dip in egg wash (egg beaten with milk). Blend walnuts and breadcrumbs and coat crocodile. Fry in heated oil & butter. Serve with Tropical Fruit Sauce."

So, with 14 Euros worth of croc fillet and recipes like this, I figure you can't go very wrong.

The above pic shows the raw croc after I had cut it into stips.

This pic shows the croc after frying.

I am not so well versed in the art of frying, being more of an oven baked or grill man myself. I don't have any idea what the thing should look like, nor how tender or chewy the meat should be. Some of the pieces were really very soft and melt in the mouth others needed a whole lot of chewing and I have no idea whether this is a cut of meat thing or a cooking time / heat thing.

Whatever the outcome, I liked the idea for the batter being two parts breadcrumb to one part walnuts. I didn't actually use breadcrumbs, either, but shredded wholemeal rye rusks, which probably did a lot towards making the whole thing more exciting.

Taste-wise, I don't have all that much to say about the croc. It needs more research.


Monday, December 27, 2004

Hannibal Diesel?????

New York Daily News - Entertainment - Jack Mathews: Same old, same old: "Vin Diesel puts on a pair of third-century sandals for the starring role in 'Hannibal,' about the Carthaginian general who led his army and his elephants across the Alps to attack Rome."

Oh, great...

At least no one is going to do my swords and sandals idea before I can cobble a screenplay together.

I'm sorry, I can't display irony in ASCII format.

Christmas weekend

So Christmas, huh?

A pic of the fire at Neek's place. I don't have an awful lot to say about Christmas this year.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Like, elected office and all that jazz

So, like, after scraping into

moved to my caving blog

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Still not smoking

I have not smoked for two months, one week, six days and about 12 hours. That makes about 112 packets not smoked, saving myself about 301.92 Euro - pretty much about the right amount for a set of SRT gear.

I am not getting urges, which is good, but of course, I still miss it, which is bad.


News from Jockey...

Loose Grooves & Bastard Blues: Two strange things that happened to me on the tube yesterday: "Meeting her again made me even more confident that she'd be great to live with."

Your Blog host doesn't let me post comments, but I say go for it, and send me photos..

Interlude I: A brief history of my visits to Mycenae

Visits to Mycenae tend to clump and get blurred along various lines - the pre-uni, the uni and the post-uni lines are some, with the latter being further split into pre- and post-Simon visits.

Pre-uni visits
I have photographic evidence of my having visited at least once before 1988, the year with Cathy. I remember nothing about this visit at all, even though I have found photographs which I took of the lion gate and the treasury of Atreus. This visit was quite possibly as far back as 1981.

After this I went in the spring of 1988 with a school trip, and again in the spring of 1990 with a school trip and then again in the spring of 1991 by organised tour (hock ptooiee) with Big George. I had a camera with me in '88 (an automatic) and '90 (a proper SLR). Not sure about 1991. One thing that comes immediately to mind about these three visits is that I climbed out on top of the lion gate in 1988 and sat next to the lions for a photo opportunity, and did the same on the lintel of Atreus in 1990. We went down the cistern all three times, the last time burning end- and front-papers from the new prose translation of the Iliad with the Corinthian pot image on the front, in order to be able to see. On one of these visits, most probably the 1988 visit, the gates at the back end of the citadel were open, and I remember walking outside and then back in again, something not possible on later visits because of locks and / or silting up of the doorways.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

En-route to the new museum

The next morning we woke up slightly earlier and set off for a cooked breakfast in the main square (Syntagma Square) before setting off for the new Archaeological Museum of Mycenae. The link goes to the ministry of culture's verbose site about the new museum. They know how to publicise a good thing, oh yes!

We scooted up the new road to the turning for Mycenae, you know the Dervenakia to Merbaka express route which ends unceremoniously in an orchard after some manic skidding and sliding trying to slow down from the 130 kph you were doing to something less likely to have you doing cartwheels through the orange trees.

The site looked very white and bleached in the distance as we got closer. First spot on the route in of course remains the horrible concrete structure erected on the original site of, and still bearing the name of, the "Belle Helene" inn where everyone who is anyone in the archaeology of Mycenae has slept, at least until post war times when better was built in the area.

Next spot in the causeway across the little ravine thing on the right hand side a little after the cemetery turning, followed closely by the third mile cemetery on the left of the road before the fencing for Atreus.

The two tholoi inside the fencing can be seen before the parking area making it a good start for a drive-by tour of the tholos tombs of Mycenae. We parked and entered the site past the grumpy woman on the gate. I was criticised by K for trying to have a discussion with the sort of misanthrope the ministry of culture is saddled with for the manning of their sites at weekends. The woman did not want to talk, apparently.

Walking down to the museum I had a sneaking suspicion that apart from putting little bits of string around the grave circle, someone had done something to the bit of perimeter wall opposite the ticket booth - maybe my idea… but it needs follow-up visits.

Something that does not need a follow-up visit to be sure about is that just as in the past at some point the citadel perimeter was expanded to enclose the grave circle discovered by Schliemann, so too now the fencing had been expanded beyond the loos, to enclose the museum also, and with it the Tholos tomb of the Lions, which used to be open to the public at all times of day and night.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Nafplio - and 3,000 years of architecture

The Hotel Kapodistrias was not a bad choice at all in the end. OK - so it's an old building renovated in a way that would probably make Marky’s hair curl, but it's still retained a lot of its old look, to the point of looking authentic were it not for all the plastic paints used. I have a feeling that the hotel is located on narrow street leading up to the rooms we used to rent, which means it was renovated in the last few years. There was nothing looking like this on the way up to the rooms we used to rent.

Needless to say, both days we started late... The first day we just grabbed an overpriced tyropita and headed off for Lerna via the Nea Kios road, which I had never been on in the past and wanted to see. Hmm. Not much to see, really. At Lerna, the same old guy who’s been there every single time was there to greet us, and the orange trees around were all heavily laden with their fruits, some of which had already fallen to the soil. Twenty cents is all the farmers are getting for the oranges - terrible, it’s more worth their while to leave them on the tree. Couple that with the fact that it hadn't rained yet this year, so the oranges will be more sour than sweet due to lack of water and it’s not looking good for the agriculturalists of the Argolid.

The old man was fun to talk to about how the site is going but when he got on to what the new government is going to do, I decided that that was enough small talk and it was time to change the subject. This was not so much a function of being with K, but I am no longer all geared up for telling local people that the new government is great and what have you, I am no longer that naïve. They are all the same shit. It is just a case of whose faces one can bear to see in the windows on telly every day.

I walked K round the fortifications, we passed the Neolithic house of Lerna II and went on through to the herringbone masonry with the mudbricks at the back of the site. I learnt the Greek for herringbone masonry, but I'll be buggered if I can remember it now. We then walked over to the successive MH apsidal houses, and round the house of tiles past the better preserved part of the tumulus, doing my little "and right here is where building BG is!!" bit on the way. Then into the shelter and walk round the hose of tiles explaining why it is so called, etc. Nice spotting of the imprinted reeds on the roof clays, I have photographed them in the past, but had forgotten about them that day.

So... I haven’t been to Lerna ever in the winter and I haven’t been to Lerna for probably five years or more. The site is looking a little worse for wear in strange way. Some of it is I am sure connected to the season, but other bits are most probably connected to the conservation choices made originally, straight after the excavation.

In many places, most noticeably around the MH apsidal buildings out by the east end of the site, the cement used to keep all the bits in place has been undercut by rainwater and is now floating in the air in places. Looks really shitty. The mudbricks under the (modern) ceramic tiles have lost their definition - I remember they were all very well defined little rectangles, but now on some bits of wall, you cannot tell they are bricks at all: they look like a mud-massif structure. What’s happening at the MH apsidal houses is also the case for the bits of the tumulus as well. It made me sad - so I did not photograph any of this. Moving on - inside, the house of tiles looked a little battered compared to my mind's eye remembrance. I have even downloaded some excavation photos from the relevant part of the Dartmouth site just to check. There is no easy explanation for me as to how it could have become dog-eared under the shelter. It may have been the lighting or something else - it just seemed shabbier to me. I have no way of checking on this, though. Not unless I get old pictures out and start comparing, and all.

The crates with the bones in them has gone - the friendly guy on the ticket box told me the archaeologists had taken them away - about bloody time, if you ask me.

After Lerna we scooted off to the newly named Aghia Triada, formerly called Merbakas, to have a look at the sweet and funky church of the dormition of the BVM, which has Gothic influences in its architecture. After a nice argument with K about whether or not it does have gothic influences, neither of us managing to convince the other, we called it quits and were happy just to circumambulate the building a few times, each time noticing something more exciting in the way the church had been built or decorated.

After Merbakas we went off to Tiryns to show K the two tholoi there, which she had not seen. She liked these more than all the fallen in ones we had chased back in March 2003. Quite right too. The Tiryns Tholos brought back memories of Charlie - and that day we had all run up to the top of the chamber and had our photo session. Seems just like no time ago at all, but Charlie’s been gone for about four and a half years now.

And after Tiryns, and a mutual agreement to do the dam some other day, we returned for some shopping and food to Nafplio.

The second day, will be described later...

Friday, December 10, 2004

Not forgetting Lygourio

I forgot Lygourio - what a great idea... Got to slip in some time to go hunting in Lygourio...

Weekend in Napoli di Romania

It's one of those we'll do something together weekends, to counterbalance my caving weekends...

Booked in to a nice little place in town which I'll write about when I am back.

I have certainly "done" this part of the world in the past, and it becomes increasingly difficult to find new things to see here, but we'll give it a go. The museum in the old Venetian Loggia is currently closed for some undefined reason, but apparently the famously closed Mycenae site museum has now opened. It must be spring.

We might go to Lerna, which K has not seen, and is one of my favourite places - possibly because of the very much self contained nature of the place. Lerna's got the house of tiles and the EHIII apsidal houses and those funky fortifications. I have a panorama (hmm) of the place from a trip quite a few years ago, taken from the corner furthest away from the House of Tiles.

It's a nice little view of the site, with the fortification wall going back away from us on the left and the two U shaped tower bases visible. The roof tiles are there to protect the mudbricks from the elements. I think some herringbone masonry is visible in this part of the picture, too. House of tiles is off to the right under the concrete shelter, and the tumulus is visible, sticking out of the left side of the shelter about half way down. What isn’t in the picture is all the apsidal stuff over to the left, beginning in that white patch.

So, might go to Lerna - where I went for the first time in early October 1993 after leaving Ali and Jess on the beach. Went in 1995 with Charlie and Simon and maybe in 1994 alone, and went again with Simon and Alex in 1997 or 1998. The self-abbreviated Dim Bekas did a lot of business out of me. Oh yes. His rent rooms are nice and cheap and the communal bathroom's clean enough. He put in central heating, too, so he’s now working all winter. Not sure if I have been again since that time with Simon and Alex... Must have done since getting my own car - can’t have been ignoring the place so many years. I think I went again and did some panoramics in the house of tiles.

Beyond that - and on to "new" things we could try to find the Tiryns Chamber tombs which should be on the other side of the hill from the tholos tombs, we could go walk up to prof. Ilias above Mycenae (and since we'll be looking at the new museum, this seems likely). We could go have a look at the gothic influences on that church in the former Merbakas, current Aghia Triada. We could go walk around the unexcavated Kazarma, or even the hill at Midea, which I have only ever done little bits of. Bollocks - I just thought of the bits I have done with all the pink cement and then thought of the bad bad bad condition of the shaft graves (not only in B, in A also) last time I was there. May go check that out while visiting the museum.

Whatever, it should be fun.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Ankara Panorama

Yeah, so I'm in Ankara and playing with the old cameraphone, ain't I? Nice colours in the sky, but having a tough time to get the clouds to look natural in the bits between the images.