The Great Walls of Kythera You can't have visited Kythera without having noticed the incredible stone walls in fields, along mountain ridges, in the old houses now in ruins... You might even have a few interesting photos of them in your albums - I know I do. How many thousands of hours were spent removing the stones from the fields and using them in walls to demarcate the boundaries or simply to create an enclosure for the precious animals almost all Kytherian families used to keep? They are as much a part of our Kytherian inheritance as the houses and olive trees. It might sound a bit far-fetched, but I think they have the potential to put Kythera on the cultural map (yet again) in the form of photographs in an exhibition and/or a book. So here's my offer: If we can get together at least one hundred high-class pictures of those beautiful walls over the next year, I will personally see to it that it is put together in a book called "The Great Walls of Kythera". If you're handy with a camera you've still got a year to take some great pictures of them, but perhaps you already have some. Or if one of your relatives dabbled in photography, go through their old slides and find The Walls. I've just created a new category in the Island Photography section of the site called "Great Walls", to which you can (easily) upload your pictures. After a year we'll see what we've got and contact those whose pictures we'd like to use for their permission (and for high-resolution versions of the pictures - the one's on the site won't do for the printed page). Everyone whose wall picture(s) appear in the book will receive a few free copies of the book. If you think I might have had too much sun in Greece this year and gone wall-nuts, then I can assure you that the walls have huge aesthetic potential. I've uploaded a few pictures to the site already and you can see for yourself what I mean: Great Walls. I look forward to seeing your pictures posted soon. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me at the email address below. >The Kythera Power-Tower-Dump Saga Continues 2010 will probably be the year when the government and authorities in Athens decide upon whether Kythera will become a giant industrial wind-power station or not. While the rest of Europe is discontinuing the subsidisation of electricity generated by wind because of its unreliability - see The Problems with Wind Power - the energy corporations are turning their attention to Greece where the penny still hasn't dropped and millions in subsidies are on offer. While it would be negligent not to persue alternatives to the current CO2 producing power plants, it would be foolhardy to replace one environmental problem with another - more about that below. One environmental group on the island is distributing posters and stickers opposing the proposals, others are preparing to mount a legal challenge if the regulatory body gives the go-ahead to the major corporations vying for the millions in subsidies on offer. At the same time a small group of us investigated the possibility of creating an energy company in Greece which would also utilise Kythera's ample wind and sun to produce electricity for Kythera on a scale appropriate to the size of the island - the previously mentioned industrial wind-farms would consist of upwards of two-hundred towers each more than 80 meters high while Kythera's own energy needs require only 5 towers of that size. Unfortunately the regulatory body (RAE) which decides who can put electricity into the grid, only allows the "big players" into the game. Small-scale environmentally sensible (for Kythera) utility companies are blocked out completely. When I left the island in December the RAE hadn't even put Kythera on the list of locations where private homeowners could put the energy from their solar-modules into the grid. Hopefully that will change one day soon but until then we have to remain vigilant that our island isn't turned into one big power-tower-dump. There are two pdfs to download which can help you become active in opposition, if you are so inclined. The first is a newsletter by the Kythera Action Group led by John Stathatos who plan to commission a study of migratory birds over Kythera, a study which they believe the most effective weapon against the whirling-circus corporations. So far they have raised more than half of the €6,000 (A$10,000, US$8,650) needed to complete the study. Your donation to the fund can make a real difference: only one hundred more donations of $50 will do the trick. Read more about their plans and how to donate in the KAG Newsletter . The second pdf is one which I have created which maps the 10 sites already under threat of "tower-dumping". It also lists the official RAE submission with a link to the original documents on the RAE website. For all those still in denial about the real threat to the island, those documents unfortunately verify the seriousness of the plans. Check it out here. We are also putting together a new info-site at SaveKythera.com on which we will gather all the information we have regarding the proposed industrial wind-farms. One of our aims is to analyse the "energy equation" and we need help with that. Experts in other countries have calculated that some wind-farms actually require more energy to construct and maintain than they ever produce in their life-times. For example it takes about 2 years before one wind-generator produces enough energy to cover what it took just to created the pieces in it - that doesn't include the transport, the huge amounts of concrete needed (each ton of concrete creates one ton of CO2!) in the foundation, the construction and materials to create new roads and even a new or modified port which can handle the 30-meter pieces of the wind-towers - imagine them trying to get something that long up the current roads from Diakofti or Pelagia to a mountain-top west of Logothetianika. Add to that the digging, the maintenance, the new cables to the central Peloponnese where the high-voltage electricity has to be delivered to go into the national grid, and, last but not least, the energy needed to clean up the mess when the towers are obsolete mammoth rusty hulks, and the "negative-energy" scenario might just apply to Kythera. Wouldn't that just be the icing on the cake: the island's skyline is desecrated in the name of green energy, and the whole fiasco actually produced more CO2 than it saves? You might wonder why the energy companies would even consider building ecologically inefficient wind-farms in the first place? I can only guess, but the answer might well be that they couldn't care less: they sell the energy produced at an exorbitant price subsided by the Greek tax-payer, and their initial costs are subsidised by the EU. The fat-cats at the top pocket their yearly bonuses (probably determined by how many towers they've managed to have constructed) and are long-gone when it's time to clean up the mess. So if any of you are adept at the calculation of such "equations" and are willing to crunch numbers with me, please let me know. And by the way, if you'd like to, we'd appreciate it if you would sign our SaveKythera Petition. >A Reminder Kythera-Family.net is all about linking-up and informing the Great International Kytherian Family. In case you've forgotten, the platform was designed to allow you all to easily upload your Kytherian-family-heritage material so your family and cousins - no matter how distant - can share in that heritage (and you of course can see their submissions). Pictures, stories, letters, family trees and much much more are on the site - 14,921 of them at last count - and in 2009 there were more than sixty-thousand visitors on the site who viewed just over a million pages of Kytherian heritage - see the stats sheet included below. If you have some material - even just a single group photo of Kytherians from the first 50 years of last century - putting it on the site could cause ripples of elation being felt across the globe. It's fast, easy and free and you can view the step-by-step guide right here. Once again, all of us at Kythera-Family.net wish you a wonderful year, James Prineas Team Leader Europe (currently in Australia) .._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _.._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _ >Kythera-Family.net Site Statistics for 2009 In 2009 more than one million (1, 083,611 to be precise) pages were viewed on the site, up by 20% over 2008. That's a lot of Kytherian information being disseminated, even if I do say so myself. You can see the other main statistics for 2009 below. .._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _.._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _ >The Future Skyline of Kythera? A photo-simulation of what the proposed 80m towers over the seaside village of Pelagia would look like. Corporations have applied to build forty-two megawatts - at least 21 towers - right there above the road leading up to Potamos. You can see many more photo simulations at SaveKythera.com on the "How Will it Look" page. .._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _.._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _ >Kythera Radio One of Kythera's favourite daughters (who likes to stay anonymous) has sent me two links which can take us all to Kythera via the (internet) radio: Tsirigo FM Site and Tsirigo FM. .._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _.._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _ >It Must be Made with Fresh Dill! by Gaye Hegeman Those words, repeated almost to the point of monotony, reached my ears after travelling with miraculous speed along a network of telecommunication cables between my mother at Hendra and me at Wavell Heights. Whenever we talk, my mother - who still cooks for herself - takes pleasure in describing the ingredients and methods she has used to prepare her main meal for the day. I could tell she was excited with the results of her broad bean stew when she told me she had set some aside for me to sample and followed with the advice, “it must be made with fresh dill.” As her words echo in my mind, I can picture my mother as a young woman in conversation with her father in the kitchen at the back of their rented house at Craig Street, Red Hill. The worker’s cottage, built on a very steep hill, stood high above the ground on spindly legs, seeming to defy gravity. A quick glance through a side window revealed tantalising glimpses of distant hills. When my uncle, who eventually purchased the house, passed away, his beneficiaries sold it to someone who realising its potential gave it a total “make-over,” building a large deck and opening up the back section to reveal magnificent views. We attended an “open house” one Saturday when it was put up for sale again and marvelled at the transformation. My grandfather, an immigrant from the Greek island of Kythera, had trained as a fishmonger in his youth. He was a qualified cook with many years of experience in both large and small commercial kitchens. He knew how to prepare simple but delicious meal. A patient but determined man, he had sweated and toiled on the bare hillside alongside their house to establish a productive kitchen garden during the years of Great Depression. He turned the hard shale-like ground common in that part of Brisbane into rich soil with the regular addition of chicken manure and lots of water. A copy of a Yates Gardening guide was never far from his side. With the same kind of patience and love that her father bestowed upon her, my mother has endeavoured to pass onto me her eldest daughter the secret ingredients of her delicious cooking. On occasions, I had expressed impatience with the repetition of her stories, until one day I decided to write them down. Shamefully, I realised that she was only doing what came naturally, passing on her knowledge and finally I understood. And so it was, when I called around to pick up the Pyrex dish which contained the broad bean stew, I heard those words again “remember, it must be made with fresh dill.” I smiled, gratefully accepting her offering. The flavours were delectable and as I relished each mouthful, memories of my grandfather tumbled into my thoughts connecting me once more with the past. Gaye Hegeman .._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _.._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _ >A Journey to Kythera Here's an email sent to Kythera-Family.net co-founder George Poulos from a friend who had some great Kytherian experience. The author has given us permission to reprint it here (thanks Shane!) Hello George and family, Sorry it has taken a while to get back to you, but I will now tell you about our holiday to Greece and in particular Kythera. We stayed in Athens at the Plaka Hotel for 3 nights and enjoyed every minute! We were right in the centre of the Plaka district and it was the main tourist area as you would know with lots of shops, restaurants and of course the Acropolis which could be seen from the roof top bar of the hotel, this we visited every night just to look at this beautiful sight while sipping on ouzo. Just magic. After the first 2 nights in Athens we flew to Kythera for a 3 night visit which was just a taste of this beautiful island. We had a hire car ready at Kythera airport and then heading along the narrow winding roads to Agia Pelagia. We stayed at Vernardos in Agia Pelagia and were met by the owner who made us feel very welcome. Our room was on the 3rd floor and overlooked the sea and the village, this hotel is fantastic with a great breakfast in the morning. That night we had dinner in a lovely restaurant beside the beach-front. The next day we drove to Potamos and went to the records office which you had told me about. They were very helpful and after a short time I had a copy of my grandfather's birth certificate and the official document Pistopitiko - this was great to receive. We then walked around the village and noticed the Samios name above the doorways of 2 shops, went in to the first which was a flower shop, showed the owner the papers I had but he basically said we weren't related, so off the other shop which is a gift shop and although the owner could not speak any English he went out of his way to help us. He went and got someone to interpret for us and we spent some time trying to piece together the family history. I left him details of where we were staying in case he found out anything to help us. We then drove to Aloizianika as this is where my grandfather was born and had a look around but at this point I had no idea of whether his family house still stood or where it was - I didn't have an address. Off we headed to look at some villages including Paleopoli, Avlemonas - which is a beautiful place with a lovely beach. Also went to Chora, the records office at the castle was unfortunately closed. Went to Kapsali for lunch and after headed back past Milopotamos to Agia Pelagia. On day 3 we took off for Platia Ammos then back to Potamos for a coffee and then drove to Kaladi beach which was a bit hard to find but when we did it was well worth it. We had a late lunch back in Avlemonas, visited the bakery at Karavas and then back to the hotel. Too much driving on the wrong side of the road for that day! That night on our way to dinner we called into the tourist shop under Hotel Kytheria, and were told by the lady who was from Australia, that someone had been looking for us thinking we were Samios's. We told her where we would be and that she would contact these people to let them know. As we sat at the restaurant the lady from the shop walked in with the couple who she introduced to us as they could not speak English. This is when the highlight of the trip unfolded. The man's name is Christo Politis who had been contacted by the shop owner in Potamos who had told them about the birth certificate I had shown him. This man it turns out is my mother's cousin. His mother was my grandfather's sister who's name was Calliope Samios after whom my mother was named! Just fantastic but the best was yet to come. We arranged to meet with him and his wife the next day and it was then he asked us if we would like to see the original Samios house where my grandfather was born. I was stunned to think that the house was still in the family and we then drove to Aloizianika to have a look. What a surprise. Through his broken English Christo said the house was 300 years old and that the great grandfather had acquired it in about 1862 and this is where my grandfather and his siblings were born. The house is not lived in and the ground floor still has the dirt floor and is in very good condition but the first floor is run down with the roof long gone. The house - built of stone - has 3 main rooms downstairs including kitchen area, main room and bedroom. Another interesting thing is that Christo looks like my mum: similar facial features. And he also gave me a picture dated 1897 of my great grandfather. Later that day we flew back to Athens for one more night then the next day back to Australia. Only just 2 weeks ago I received copies of 2 documents from Christo which belonged to my great grandfather John Samios. I think they are visas as one is stamped from the Greek Consulate in Sydney. It turns out he visited Australia in 1919 to see his son. I also have a photo from my mum's collection which is of her father not long after arriving in Australia, and with a man sitting beside him whom she thought was his uncle. After looking at the photo from Christo and mum's photo, it turns out that "the uncle" is in fact my great grandfather. This is something my mother never knew: that her father's father had been to Australia twice! George let me say that it was a wonderful experience visiting Kythera, meeting my mums relative whom she never would have known about, and without your help and advice this might not have happened, and now some of the family tree is more complete thanks to you. Many thanks and I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and happy new year! Yasou Shane Kennedy .._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _.._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _ >LIFE IN KYTHERA - BACK IN THE DAY. by Maria of Lourandianika The island of Kythera, a small, idyllic island, gave its greatest gift of all: its children to other countries in the world, mainly America and Australia. Young men, leaving their families amongst many tears, saying good-bye to loved ones, as they set out to begin their new lives. Many married before leaving its shores, but, many returned for their brides, again returning to their country of choice, working long hours, as this was in their blood, knowing that all could be achieved, but only by hard work. As a child, my father would tell me the story which he and so many others were told, that the sidewalks were covered in precious stones and gold coins, waiting to be picked up. Many young men, having heard these stories, believed them, only to find this not to be true when they arrived. Culture was considered to be very important, and Kytherian families were known for their children to display their abilities to play a musical instrument, or to use their voices to be trained in singing. In my family, many hours were spent sitting at the baby grand rosewood piano, so many hours practising scales, before advancing to musical pieces. My sister showed an interest in singing, and she was encouraged to pursue her interest. My cousin, now departed, had such a beautiful singing voice also, and will always be remembered for this. Seeing photos even now, I see myself as a baby, held in my mothers arms, putting a flower to her face, as we were in the Botanical Gardens. The hours listening to music at The Sydney Town Hall, the Symphony Orchestra playing, so boring, but, as my parents believed, a necessary part of my upbringing, as my father felt strongly about culture and a good upbringing. Life was lived by Kytherian standards. Birthdays were not celebrated, but name days were of great importance. For me, The Panagia being an important day, and my father celebrating my mothers name day yearly by inviting so many of our Kytherian families to share in the celebrations in our home. My mother would cook for at least a week, preparing for the "Glendi" which became so famous amongst our fellow Kytherians. The young men in their suits and ties, and the women and girls in their best finery. Music and laughter filling our home, the garden lit with coloured lights, as the night was danced away in celebration of Fota. My father, a pillar of the community, was never seen without the badge he proudly wore always. His RSL badge. The Returned Soldiers League badge. This showed me that he was showing respect for his adopted country, but, never forgetting that he was a Kytherian Greek. In 1957, when we made the journey to Kythera, it was as if life had stood still. Everyone had their own garden. My mother, who had left as a young woman, resumed her own garden. Roads as we now know them did not exist, but were paths, and with the harsh weather conditions and heavy rain, there were times when difficulties were faced. One day, as we braved these conditions, to visit my grandparents in Upper Livadi, my mother, found herself with one leg knee deep in mud. I myself lost my shoe and sock, and my sister also became stuck in the muddy conditions. We had no choice but to continue, and to attempt some form of cleaning the mud, before returning home later in the day. The decision to move back to Louradianika from Upper Livadi for my grandparents, found us loading our belongings on to a donkey. Seeing the happiness on my grandparents faces was so rewarding, and the quiet lifestyle was not begrudged. Sacrifices had to be made, and for a young 15 year old, this was a challenge. I was constantly looking for some way to alleviate the boredom of Louradianika. I was told by my grandfather one day, that he was attending Agio Georgi to listen to confession. This frightened me, as I was not aware that this was part of our religion. How could I possibly tell my grandpa of all the mischief that I had managed to get into, some still not known. How relieved I was, when grandpa told me that I did not have to attend if I did not wish to. The celebrations of name days were of great importance. One day comes to mind: Agio Dimitriou, the day was celebrated by opening bottles of wine. The procession, led by the Archbishop, with young boys holding the treasured pieces from the church, with the locals following at a respectable distance, could not stop me from not indulging in the mischief I was so well known for. My beloved Aunt Katina, my father's sister, and my favourite aunt on my fathers side of the family, rode her donkey. Not being a young woman, it was difficult for her to walk. As the procession progressed towards Agio Georgi at Louradianika, I hit the donkey on its rump, and used the word for it to go faster "aha" and it listened for the first time, not ignoring me as it had so often in the past. How I laughed at my poor Aunts face, as she looked in horror as the donkey sped up its pace and passed the Archbishop. Gasps of shock from the locals, not knowing what to do or say. Such was life though. A 15 year old, slightly bored, and I could not resist the temptation. The lecture I received was worth it though, and Aunt Katina told me when we were alone one day, that secretly she had to hold back her laughter, after she recovered from her shock, but, she did not dare to laugh, after all, what I had done was unheard of. "Only Maria" the locals would say as they shook their heads, regaling the event, always finishing in laughter. Recently I was so moved, and reduced to tears, as I looked at photos which had been sent to me. They depicted 2 brothers, whom I love deeply, walking together down a sandy path, their hair now white, dressed in shorts and T-shirts. They had returned to their beloved Kythera, as they do each year, and as I looked at these 2 elderly gentlemen, remembering how they would have left as young men, and now, they walked side by side, the sun shining on their now white hair. Kythera had given its children when they were young men, and now, with so many years passed, they returned to the island which will forever hold their heart. I would like to thank the many Kytherians who contacted me, following my last article for 2009. Messages from around the world, touching me so deeply. I would now like to dedicate my first article for 2010, to my father, as this is the anniversary of his passing 28 years ago. God is a merciful God, and He chose to release my ntendi from his pain, which was torturing his fragile body. I wish to light a candle in a Church for my ntendi, acknowledging the day of his passing. I am unable to do this as my ill health prevents me from leaving my home. My grandfathers wise words to me, when I was a girl of 15, bring me much comfort. My grandfather, a priest of our Church, had explained to me that God would hear me, no matter where I may be, as long as I believed. I do not need to attend a Church, he told me. What comforting words as each year I light a candle in my bedroom, acknowledging the day when my ntendi was taken into God's care. Rest in peace ntendi mou, until we are reunited. The years may have passed, but your memory stays alive in the hearts of all who knew you and loved you, such an upstanding member of our Kytherian community. To my mother, sou evhome hronia polla Mami. ke evhome na ta ekatostis Maria (Marcellos) Whyte 4 Trinity Crescent., Sippy Downs 4556 Queensland. .._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _.._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _ About Kythera-Family.net Kythera-Family.net aims to preserve and reflect the rich heritage of a wonderful island. Members of the community are invited to submit their family collection of Kytherian stories, photographs, recipes, maps, oral histories, biographies, historical documents, songs and poems, home remedies etc. to the site. Uploading directly to the site is easy, but if you wish you can also send your collections to us by email or post and we will submit them for you. Thus we can help make available valuable and interesting material for current and future generations, and inspire young Kytherians to learn more about their fascinating heritage. .._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _' /> The Kythera Power-Tower-Dump Saga Continues 2010 will probably be the year when the government and authorities in Athens decide upon whether Kythera will become a giant industrial wind-power station or not. While the rest of Europe is discontinuing the subsidisation of electricity generated by wind because of its unreliability - see The Problems with Wind Power - the energy corporations are turning their attention to Greece where the penny still hasn't dropped and millions in subsidies are on offer. While it would be negligent not to persue alternatives to the current CO2 producing power plants, it would be foolhardy to replace one environmental problem with another - more about that below. One environmental group on the island is distributing posters and stickers opposing the proposals, others are preparing to mount a legal challenge if the regulatory body gives the go-ahead to the major corporations vying for the millions in subsidies on offer. At the same time a small group of us investigated the possibility of creating an energy company in Greece which would also utilise Kythera's ample wind and sun to produce electricity for Kythera on a scale appropriate to the size of the island - the previously mentioned industrial wind-farms would consist of upwards of two-hundred towers each more than 80 meters high while Kythera's own energy needs require only 5 towers of that size. Unfortunately the regulatory body (RAE) which decides who can put electricity into the grid, only allows the "big players" into the game. Small-scale environmentally sensible (for Kythera) utility companies are blocked out completely. When I left the island in December the RAE hadn't even put Kythera on the list of locations where private homeowners could put the energy from their solar-modules into the grid. Hopefully that will change one day soon but until then we have to remain vigilant that our island isn't turned into one big power-tower-dump. There are two pdfs to download which can help you become active in opposition, if you are so inclined. The first is a newsletter by the Kythera Action Group led by John Stathatos who plan to commission a study of migratory birds over Kythera, a study which they believe the most effective weapon against the whirling-circus corporations. So far they have raised more than half of the €6,000 (A$10,000, US$8,650) needed to complete the study. Your donation to the fund can make a real difference: only one hundred more donations of $50 will do the trick. Read more about their plans and how to donate in the KAG Newsletter . The second pdf is one which I have created which maps the 10 sites already under threat of "tower-dumping". It also lists the official RAE submission with a link to the original documents on the RAE website. For all those still in denial about the real threat to the island, those documents unfortunately verify the seriousness of the plans. Check it out here. We are also putting together a new info-site at SaveKythera.com on which we will gather all the information we have regarding the proposed industrial wind-farms. One of our aims is to analyse the "energy equation" and we need help with that. Experts in other countries have calculated that some wind-farms actually require more energy to construct and maintain than they ever produce in their life-times. For example it takes about 2 years before one wind-generator produces enough energy to cover what it took just to created the pieces in it - that doesn't include the transport, the huge amounts of concrete needed (each ton of concrete creates one ton of CO2!) in the foundation, the construction and materials to create new roads and even a new or modified port which can handle the 30-meter pieces of the wind-towers - imagine them trying to get something that long up the current roads from Diakofti or Pelagia to a mountain-top west of Logothetianika. Add to that the digging, the maintenance, the new cables to the central Peloponnese where the high-voltage electricity has to be delivered to go into the national grid, and, last but not least, the energy needed to clean up the mess when the towers are obsolete mammoth rusty hulks, and the "negative-energy" scenario might just apply to Kythera. Wouldn't that just be the icing on the cake: the island's skyline is desecrated in the name of green energy, and the whole fiasco actually produced more CO2 than it saves? You might wonder why the energy companies would even consider building ecologically inefficient wind-farms in the first place? I can only guess, but the answer might well be that they couldn't care less: they sell the energy produced at an exorbitant price subsided by the Greek tax-payer, and their initial costs are subsidised by the EU. The fat-cats at the top pocket their yearly bonuses (probably determined by how many towers they've managed to have constructed) and are long-gone when it's time to clean up the mess. So if any of you are adept at the calculation of such "equations" and are willing to crunch numbers with me, please let me know. And by the way, if you'd like to, we'd appreciate it if you would sign our SaveKythera Petition. >A Reminder Kythera-Family.net is all about linking-up and informing the Great International Kytherian Family. In case you've forgotten, the platform was designed to allow you all to easily upload your Kytherian-family-heritage material so your family and cousins - no matter how distant - can share in that heritage (and you of course can see their submissions). Pictures, stories, letters, family trees and much much more are on the site - 14,921 of them at last count - and in 2009 there were more than sixty-thousand visitors on the site who viewed just over a million pages of Kytherian heritage - see the stats sheet included below. If you have some material - even just a single group photo of Kytherians from the first 50 years of last century - putting it on the site could cause ripples of elation being felt across the globe. It's fast, easy and free and you can view the step-by-step guide right here. Once again, all of us at Kythera-Family.net wish you a wonderful year, James Prineas Team Leader Europe (currently in Australia) .._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _.._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _ >Kythera-Family.net Site Statistics for 2009 In 2009 more than one million (1, 083,611 to be precise) pages were viewed on the site, up by 20% over 2008. That's a lot of Kytherian information being disseminated, even if I do say so myself. You can see the other main statistics for 2009 below. .._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _.._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _ >The Future Skyline of Kythera? A photo-simulation of what the proposed 80m towers over the seaside village of Pelagia would look like. Corporations have applied to build forty-two megawatts - at least 21 towers - right there above the road leading up to Potamos. You can see many more photo simulations at SaveKythera.com on the "How Will it Look" page. .._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _.._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _ >Kythera Radio One of Kythera's favourite daughters (who likes to stay anonymous) has sent me two links which can take us all to Kythera via the (internet) radio: Tsirigo FM Site and Tsirigo FM. .._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _.._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _ >It Must be Made with Fresh Dill! by Gaye Hegeman Those words, repeated almost to the point of monotony, reached my ears after travelling with miraculous speed along a network of telecommunication cables between my mother at Hendra and me at Wavell Heights. Whenever we talk, my mother - who still cooks for herself - takes pleasure in describing the ingredients and methods she has used to prepare her main meal for the day. I could tell she was excited with the results of her broad bean stew when she told me she had set some aside for me to sample and followed with the advice, “it must be made with fresh dill.” As her words echo in my mind, I can picture my mother as a young woman in conversation with her father in the kitchen at the back of their rented house at Craig Street, Red Hill. The worker’s cottage, built on a very steep hill, stood high above the ground on spindly legs, seeming to defy gravity. A quick glance through a side window revealed tantalising glimpses of distant hills. When my uncle, who eventually purchased the house, passed away, his beneficiaries sold it to someone who realising its potential gave it a total “make-over,” building a large deck and opening up the back section to reveal magnificent views. We attended an “open house” one Saturday when it was put up for sale again and marvelled at the transformation. My grandfather, an immigrant from the Greek island of Kythera, had trained as a fishmonger in his youth. He was a qualified cook with many years of experience in both large and small commercial kitchens. He knew how to prepare simple but delicious meal. A patient but determined man, he had sweated and toiled on the bare hillside alongside their house to establish a productive kitchen garden during the years of Great Depression. He turned the hard shale-like ground common in that part of Brisbane into rich soil with the regular addition of chicken manure and lots of water. A copy of a Yates Gardening guide was never far from his side. With the same kind of patience and love that her father bestowed upon her, my mother has endeavoured to pass onto me her eldest daughter the secret ingredients of her delicious cooking. On occasions, I had expressed impatience with the repetition of her stories, until one day I decided to write them down. Shamefully, I realised that she was only doing what came naturally, passing on her knowledge and finally I understood. And so it was, when I called around to pick up the Pyrex dish which contained the broad bean stew, I heard those words again “remember, it must be made with fresh dill.” I smiled, gratefully accepting her offering. The flavours were delectable and as I relished each mouthful, memories of my grandfather tumbled into my thoughts connecting me once more with the past. Gaye Hegeman .._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _.._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _ >A Journey to Kythera Here's an email sent to Kythera-Family.net co-founder George Poulos from a friend who had some great Kytherian experience. The author has given us permission to reprint it here (thanks Shane!) Hello George and family, Sorry it has taken a while to get back to you, but I will now tell you about our holiday to Greece and in particular Kythera. We stayed in Athens at the Plaka Hotel for 3 nights and enjoyed every minute! We were right in the centre of the Plaka district and it was the main tourist area as you would know with lots of shops, restaurants and of course the Acropolis which could be seen from the roof top bar of the hotel, this we visited every night just to look at this beautiful sight while sipping on ouzo. Just magic. After the first 2 nights in Athens we flew to Kythera for a 3 night visit which was just a taste of this beautiful island. We had a hire car ready at Kythera airport and then heading along the narrow winding roads to Agia Pelagia. We stayed at Vernardos in Agia Pelagia and were met by the owner who made us feel very welcome. Our room was on the 3rd floor and overlooked the sea and the village, this hotel is fantastic with a great breakfast in the morning. That night we had dinner in a lovely restaurant beside the beach-front. The next day we drove to Potamos and went to the records office which you had told me about. They were very helpful and after a short time I had a copy of my grandfather's birth certificate and the official document Pistopitiko - this was great to receive. We then walked around the village and noticed the Samios name above the doorways of 2 shops, went in to the first which was a flower shop, showed the owner the papers I had but he basically said we weren't related, so off the other shop which is a gift shop and although the owner could not speak any English he went out of his way to help us. He went and got someone to interpret for us and we spent some time trying to piece together the family history. I left him details of where we were staying in case he found out anything to help us. We then drove to Aloizianika as this is where my grandfather was born and had a look around but at this point I had no idea of whether his family house still stood or where it was - I didn't have an address. Off we headed to look at some villages including Paleopoli, Avlemonas - which is a beautiful place with a lovely beach. Also went to Chora, the records office at the castle was unfortunately closed. Went to Kapsali for lunch and after headed back past Milopotamos to Agia Pelagia. On day 3 we took off for Platia Ammos then back to Potamos for a coffee and then drove to Kaladi beach which was a bit hard to find but when we did it was well worth it. We had a late lunch back in Avlemonas, visited the bakery at Karavas and then back to the hotel. Too much driving on the wrong side of the road for that day! That night on our way to dinner we called into the tourist shop under Hotel Kytheria, and were told by the lady who was from Australia, that someone had been looking for us thinking we were Samios's. We told her where we would be and that she would contact these people to let them know. As we sat at the restaurant the lady from the shop walked in with the couple who she introduced to us as they could not speak English. This is when the highlight of the trip unfolded. The man's name is Christo Politis who had been contacted by the shop owner in Potamos who had told them about the birth certificate I had shown him. This man it turns out is my mother's cousin. His mother was my grandfather's sister who's name was Calliope Samios after whom my mother was named! Just fantastic but the best was yet to come. We arranged to meet with him and his wife the next day and it was then he asked us if we would like to see the original Samios house where my grandfather was born. I was stunned to think that the house was still in the family and we then drove to Aloizianika to have a look. What a surprise. Through his broken English Christo said the house was 300 years old and that the great grandfather had acquired it in about 1862 and this is where my grandfather and his siblings were born. The house is not lived in and the ground floor still has the dirt floor and is in very good condition but the first floor is run down with the roof long gone. The house - built of stone - has 3 main rooms downstairs including kitchen area, main room and bedroom. Another interesting thing is that Christo looks like my mum: similar facial features. And he also gave me a picture dated 1897 of my great grandfather. Later that day we flew back to Athens for one more night then the next day back to Australia. Only just 2 weeks ago I received copies of 2 documents from Christo which belonged to my great grandfather John Samios. I think they are visas as one is stamped from the Greek Consulate in Sydney. It turns out he visited Australia in 1919 to see his son. I also have a photo from my mum's collection which is of her father not long after arriving in Australia, and with a man sitting beside him whom she thought was his uncle. After looking at the photo from Christo and mum's photo, it turns out that "the uncle" is in fact my great grandfather. This is something my mother never knew: that her father's father had been to Australia twice! George let me say that it was a wonderful experience visiting Kythera, meeting my mums relative whom she never would have known about, and without your help and advice this might not have happened, and now some of the family tree is more complete thanks to you. Many thanks and I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and happy new year! Yasou Shane Kennedy .._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _.._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _ >LIFE IN KYTHERA - BACK IN THE DAY. by Maria of Lourandianika The island of Kythera, a small, idyllic island, gave its greatest gift of all: its children to other countries in the world, mainly America and Australia. Young men, leaving their families amongst many tears, saying good-bye to loved ones, as they set out to begin their new lives. Many married before leaving its shores, but, many returned for their brides, again returning to their country of choice, working long hours, as this was in their blood, knowing that all could be achieved, but only by hard work. As a child, my father would tell me the story which he and so many others were told, that the sidewalks were covered in precious stones and gold coins, waiting to be picked up. Many young men, having heard these stories, believed them, only to find this not to be true when they arrived. Culture was considered to be very important, and Kytherian families were known for their children to display their abilities to play a musical instrument, or to use their voices to be trained in singing. In my family, many hours were spent sitting at the baby grand rosewood piano, so many hours practising scales, before advancing to musical pieces. My sister showed an interest in singing, and she was encouraged to pursue her interest. My cousin, now departed, had such a beautiful singing voice also, and will always be remembered for this. Seeing photos even now, I see myself as a baby, held in my mothers arms, putting a flower to her face, as we were in the Botanical Gardens. The hours listening to music at The Sydney Town Hall, the Symphony Orchestra playing, so boring, but, as my parents believed, a necessary part of my upbringing, as my father felt strongly about culture and a good upbringing. Life was lived by Kytherian standards. Birthdays were not celebrated, but name days were of great importance. For me, The Panagia being an important day, and my father celebrating my mothers name day yearly by inviting so many of our Kytherian families to share in the celebrations in our home. My mother would cook for at least a week, preparing for the "Glendi" which became so famous amongst our fellow Kytherians. The young men in their suits and ties, and the women and girls in their best finery. Music and laughter filling our home, the garden lit with coloured lights, as the night was danced away in celebration of Fota. My father, a pillar of the community, was never seen without the badge he proudly wore always. His RSL badge. The Returned Soldiers League badge. This showed me that he was showing respect for his adopted country, but, never forgetting that he was a Kytherian Greek. In 1957, when we made the journey to Kythera, it was as if life had stood still. Everyone had their own garden. My mother, who had left as a young woman, resumed her own garden. Roads as we now know them did not exist, but were paths, and with the harsh weather conditions and heavy rain, there were times when difficulties were faced. One day, as we braved these conditions, to visit my grandparents in Upper Livadi, my mother, found herself with one leg knee deep in mud. I myself lost my shoe and sock, and my sister also became stuck in the muddy conditions. We had no choice but to continue, and to attempt some form of cleaning the mud, before returning home later in the day. The decision to move back to Louradianika from Upper Livadi for my grandparents, found us loading our belongings on to a donkey. Seeing the happiness on my grandparents faces was so rewarding, and the quiet lifestyle was not begrudged. Sacrifices had to be made, and for a young 15 year old, this was a challenge. I was constantly looking for some way to alleviate the boredom of Louradianika. I was told by my grandfather one day, that he was attending Agio Georgi to listen to confession. This frightened me, as I was not aware that this was part of our religion. How could I possibly tell my grandpa of all the mischief that I had managed to get into, some still not known. How relieved I was, when grandpa told me that I did not have to attend if I did not wish to. The celebrations of name days were of great importance. One day comes to mind: Agio Dimitriou, the day was celebrated by opening bottles of wine. The procession, led by the Archbishop, with young boys holding the treasured pieces from the church, with the locals following at a respectable distance, could not stop me from not indulging in the mischief I was so well known for. My beloved Aunt Katina, my father's sister, and my favourite aunt on my fathers side of the family, rode her donkey. Not being a young woman, it was difficult for her to walk. As the procession progressed towards Agio Georgi at Louradianika, I hit the donkey on its rump, and used the word for it to go faster "aha" and it listened for the first time, not ignoring me as it had so often in the past. How I laughed at my poor Aunts face, as she looked in horror as the donkey sped up its pace and passed the Archbishop. Gasps of shock from the locals, not knowing what to do or say. Such was life though. A 15 year old, slightly bored, and I could not resist the temptation. The lecture I received was worth it though, and Aunt Katina told me when we were alone one day, that secretly she had to hold back her laughter, after she recovered from her shock, but, she did not dare to laugh, after all, what I had done was unheard of. "Only Maria" the locals would say as they shook their heads, regaling the event, always finishing in laughter. Recently I was so moved, and reduced to tears, as I looked at photos which had been sent to me. They depicted 2 brothers, whom I love deeply, walking together down a sandy path, their hair now white, dressed in shorts and T-shirts. They had returned to their beloved Kythera, as they do each year, and as I looked at these 2 elderly gentlemen, remembering how they would have left as young men, and now, they walked side by side, the sun shining on their now white hair. Kythera had given its children when they were young men, and now, with so many years passed, they returned to the island which will forever hold their heart. I would like to thank the many Kytherians who contacted me, following my last article for 2009. Messages from around the world, touching me so deeply. I would now like to dedicate my first article for 2010, to my father, as this is the anniversary of his passing 28 years ago. God is a merciful God, and He chose to release my ntendi from his pain, which was torturing his fragile body. I wish to light a candle in a Church for my ntendi, acknowledging the day of his passing. I am unable to do this as my ill health prevents me from leaving my home. My grandfathers wise words to me, when I was a girl of 15, bring me much comfort. My grandfather, a priest of our Church, had explained to me that God would hear me, no matter where I may be, as long as I believed. I do not need to attend a Church, he told me. What comforting words as each year I light a candle in my bedroom, acknowledging the day when my ntendi was taken into God's care. Rest in peace ntendi mou, until we are reunited. The years may have passed, but your memory stays alive in the hearts of all who knew you and loved you, such an upstanding member of our Kytherian community. To my mother, sou evhome hronia polla Mami. ke evhome na ta ekatostis Maria (Marcellos) Whyte 4 Trinity Crescent., Sippy Downs 4556 Queensland. .._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _.._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _ About Kythera-Family.net Kythera-Family.net aims to preserve and reflect the rich heritage of a wonderful island. Members of the community are invited to submit their family collection of Kytherian stories, photographs, recipes, maps, oral histories, biographies, historical documents, songs and poems, home remedies etc. to the site. Uploading directly to the site is easy, but if you wish you can also send your collections to us by email or post and we will submit them for you. Thus we can help make available valuable and interesting material for current and future generations, and inspire young Kytherians to learn more about their fascinating heritage. .._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _..._ _ _" />
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Newsletter Archive

Newsletter Archive > January 2010

17079: Newsletter Archive

submitted by James Victor Prineas on 16.01.2010

January 2010

Dear Friends of Kythera,

first of all I'd like to wish you all a wonderful 2010 - I hope it's started well and that you and your families are as optimistic as I am that the year will be full of opportunities.

We didn't manage to get the redesign of Kythera-Family.net ready for Christmas - sorry about that. Our chief programmer in Berlin came down with a giant flu mid-December and that set back his team considerably. We're just cleaning up the final details and testing. The site will be off-line for a few hours later this month when we upload the finished product. I'll send out a special news-flash when it's online. As you may have noticed, we did manage to set up our new html-newsletter system so we can include pictures and more with our newsletter.

>The Great Walls of Kythera

You can't have visited Kythera without having noticed the incredible stone walls in fields, along mountain ridges, in the old houses now in ruins... You might even have a few interesting photos of them in your albums - I know I do. How many thousands of hours were spent removing the stones from the fields and using them in walls to demarcate the boundaries or simply to create an enclosure for the precious animals almost all Kytherian families used to keep? They are as much a part of our Kytherian inheritance as the houses and olive trees. It might sound a bit far-fetched, but I think they have the potential to put Kythera on the cultural map (yet again) in the form of photographs in an exhibition and/or a book. So here's my offer: If we can get together at least one hundred high-class pictures of those beautiful walls over the next year, I will personally see to it that it is put together in a book called "The Great Walls of Kythera". If you're handy with a camera you've still got a year to take some great pictures of them, but perhaps you already have some. Or if one of your relatives dabbled in photography, go through their old slides and find The Walls. I've just created a new category in the Island Photography section of the site called "Great Walls", to which you can (easily) upload your pictures. After a year we'll see what we've got and contact those whose pictures we'd like to use for their permission (and for high-resolution versions of the pictures - the one's on the site won't do for the printed page). Everyone whose wall picture(s) appear in the book will receive a few free copies of the book. If you think I might have had too much sun in Greece this year and gone wall-nuts, then I can assure you that the walls have huge aesthetic potential. I've uploaded a few pictures to the site already and you can see for yourself what I mean: Great Walls. I look forward to seeing your pictures posted soon. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me at the email address below.

>The Kythera Power-Tower-Dump Saga Continues
2010 will probably be the year when the government and authorities in Athens decide upon whether Kythera will become a giant industrial wind-power station or not. While the rest of Europe is discontinuing the subsidisation of electricity generated by wind because of its unreliability - see The Problems with Wind Power - the energy corporations are turning their attention to Greece where the penny still hasn't dropped and millions in subsidies are on offer. While it would be negligent not to persue alternatives to the current CO2 producing power plants, it would be foolhardy to replace one environmental problem with another - more about that below.

One environmental group on the island is distributing posters and stickers opposing the proposals, others are preparing to mount a legal challenge if the regulatory body gives the go-ahead to the major corporations vying for the millions in subsidies on offer. At the same time a small group of us investigated the possibility of creating an energy company in Greece which would also utilise Kythera's ample wind and sun to produce electricity for Kythera on a scale appropriate to the size of the island - the previously mentioned industrial wind-farms would consist of upwards of two-hundred towers each more than 80 meters high while Kythera's own energy needs require only 5 towers of that size. Unfortunately the regulatory body (RAE) which decides who can put electricity into the grid, only allows the "big players" into the game. Small-scale environmentally sensible (for Kythera) utility companies are blocked out completely. When I left the island in December the RAE hadn't even put Kythera on the list of locations where private homeowners could put the energy from their solar-modules into the grid. Hopefully that will change one day soon but until then we have to remain vigilant that our island isn't turned into one big power-tower-dump.

There are two pdfs to download which can help you become active in opposition, if you are so inclined. The first is a newsletter by the Kythera Action Group led by John Stathatos who plan to commission a study of migratory birds over Kythera, a study which they believe the most effective weapon against the whirling-circus corporations. So far they have raised more than half of the €6,000 (A$10,000, US$8,650) needed to complete the study. Your donation to the fund can make a real difference: only one hundred more donations of $50 will do the trick. Read more about their plans and how to donate in the KAG Newsletter .
The second pdf is one which I have created which maps the 10 sites already under threat of "tower-dumping". It also lists the official RAE submission with a link to the original documents on the RAE website. For all those still in denial about the real threat to the island, those documents unfortunately verify the seriousness of the plans. Check it out here.

We are also putting together a new info-site at SaveKythera.com on which we will gather all the information we have regarding the proposed industrial wind-farms. One of our aims is to analyse the "energy equation" and we need help with that. Experts in other countries have calculated that some wind-farms actually require more energy to construct and maintain than they ever produce in their life-times. For example it takes about 2 years before one wind-generator produces enough energy to cover what it took just to created the pieces in it - that doesn't include the transport, the huge amounts of concrete needed (each ton of concrete creates one ton of CO2!) in the foundation, the construction and materials to create new roads and even a new or modified port which can handle the 30-meter pieces of the wind-towers - imagine them trying to get something that long up the current roads from Diakofti or Pelagia to a mountain-top west of Logothetianika. Add to that the digging, the maintenance, the new cables to the central Peloponnese where the high-voltage electricity has to be delivered to go into the national grid, and, last but not least, the energy needed to clean up the mess when the towers are obsolete mammoth rusty hulks, and the "negative-energy" scenario might just apply to Kythera. Wouldn't that just be the icing on the cake: the island's skyline is desecrated in the name of green energy, and the whole fiasco actually produced more CO2 than it saves? You might wonder why the energy companies would even consider building ecologically inefficient wind-farms in the first place? I can only guess, but the answer might well be that they couldn't care less: they sell the energy produced at an exorbitant price subsided by the Greek tax-payer, and their initial costs are subsidised by the EU. The fat-cats at the top pocket their yearly bonuses (probably determined by how many towers they've managed to have constructed) and are long-gone when it's time to clean up the mess. So if any of you are adept at the calculation of such "equations" and are willing to crunch numbers with me, please let me know. And by the way, if you'd like to, we'd appreciate it if you would sign our SaveKythera Petition.

>A Reminder
Kythera-Family.net is all about linking-up and informing the Great International Kytherian Family. In case you've forgotten, the platform was designed to allow you all to easily upload your Kytherian-family-heritage material so your family and cousins - no matter how distant - can share in that heritage (and you of course can see their submissions). Pictures, stories, letters, family trees and much much more are on the site - 14,921 of them at last count - and in 2009 there were more than sixty-thousand visitors on the site who viewed just over a million pages of Kytherian heritage - see the stats sheet included below. If you have some material - even just a single group photo of Kytherians from the first 50 years of last century - putting it on the site could cause ripples of elation being felt across the globe. It's fast, easy and free and you can view the step-by-step guide right here.


Once again, all of us at Kythera-Family.net wish you a wonderful year,

James Prineas
Team Leader Europe (currently in Australia)

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>Kythera-Family.net Site Statistics for 2009

In 2009 more than one million (1, 083,611 to be precise) pages were viewed on the site, up by 20% over 2008. That's a lot of Kytherian information being disseminated, even if I do say so myself. You can see the other main statistics for 2009 below.


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>The Future Skyline of Kythera?

A photo-simulation of what the proposed 80m towers over the seaside village of Pelagia would look like. Corporations have applied to build forty-two megawatts - at least 21 towers - right there above the road leading up to Potamos. You can see many more photo simulations at SaveKythera.com on the "How Will it Look" page.

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>Kythera Radio
One of Kythera's favourite daughters (who likes to stay anonymous) has sent me two links which can take us all to Kythera via the (internet) radio: Tsirigo FM Site and Tsirigo FM.

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>It Must be Made with Fresh Dill!
by Gaye Hegeman

Those words, repeated almost to the point of monotony, reached my ears after travelling with miraculous speed along a network of telecommunication cables between my mother at Hendra and me at Wavell Heights. Whenever we talk, my mother - who still cooks for herself - takes pleasure in describing the ingredients and methods she has used to prepare her main meal for the day. I could tell she was excited with the results of her broad bean stew when she told me she had set some aside for me to sample and followed with the advice, “it must be made with fresh dill.”

As her words echo in my mind, I can picture my mother as a young woman in conversation with her father in the kitchen at the back of their rented house at Craig Street, Red Hill. The worker’s cottage, built on a very steep hill, stood high above the ground on spindly legs, seeming to defy gravity. A quick glance through a side window revealed tantalising glimpses of distant hills. When my uncle, who eventually purchased the house, passed away, his beneficiaries sold it to someone who realising its potential gave it a total “make-over,” building a large deck and opening up the back section to reveal magnificent views. We attended an “open house” one Saturday when it was put up for sale again and marvelled at the transformation.

My grandfather, an immigrant from the Greek island of Kythera, had trained as a fishmonger in his youth. He was a qualified cook with many years of experience in both large and small commercial kitchens. He knew how to prepare simple but delicious meal. A patient but determined man, he had sweated and toiled on the bare hillside alongside their house to establish a productive kitchen garden during the years of Great Depression. He turned the hard shale-like ground common in that part of Brisbane into rich soil with the regular addition of chicken manure and lots of water. A copy of a Yates Gardening guide was never far from his side.

With the same kind of patience and love that her father bestowed upon her, my mother has endeavoured to pass onto me her eldest daughter the secret ingredients of her delicious cooking. On occasions, I had expressed impatience with the repetition of her stories, until one day I decided to write them down. Shamefully, I realised that she was only doing what came naturally, passing on her knowledge and finally I understood.

And so it was, when I called around to pick up the Pyrex dish which contained the broad bean stew, I heard those words again “remember, it must be made with fresh dill.” I smiled, gratefully accepting her offering. The flavours were delectable and as I relished each mouthful, memories of my grandfather tumbled into my thoughts connecting me once more with the past.

Gaye Hegeman

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>A Journey to Kythera

Here's an email sent to Kythera-Family.net co-founder George Poulos from a friend who had some great Kytherian experience. The author has given us permission to reprint it here (thanks Shane!)

Hello George and family,

Sorry it has taken a while to get back to you, but I will now tell you about our holiday to Greece and in particular Kythera.

We stayed in Athens at the Plaka Hotel for 3 nights and enjoyed every minute! We were right in the centre of the Plaka district and it was the main tourist area as you would know with lots of shops, restaurants and of course the Acropolis which could be seen from the roof top bar of the hotel, this we visited every night just to look at this beautiful sight while sipping on ouzo. Just magic.

After the first 2 nights in Athens we flew to Kythera for a 3 night visit which was just a taste of this beautiful island. We had a hire car ready at Kythera airport and then heading along the narrow winding roads to Agia Pelagia.
We stayed at Vernardos in Agia Pelagia and were met by the owner who made us feel very welcome. Our room was on the 3rd floor and overlooked the sea and the village, this hotel is fantastic with a great breakfast in the morning. That night we had dinner in a lovely restaurant beside the beach-front.

The next day we drove to Potamos and went to the records office which you had told me about. They were very helpful and after a short time I had a copy of my grandfather's birth certificate and the official document Pistopitiko - this was great to receive. We then walked around the village and noticed the Samios name above the doorways of 2 shops, went in to the first which was a flower shop, showed the owner the papers I had but he basically said we weren't related, so off the other shop which is a gift shop and although the owner could not speak any English he went out of his way to help us. He went and got someone to interpret for us and we spent some time trying to piece together the family history. I left him details of where we were staying in case he found out anything to help us.

We then drove to Aloizianika as this is where my grandfather was born and had a look around but at this point I had no idea of whether his family house still stood or where it was - I didn't have an address. Off we headed to look at some villages including Paleopoli, Avlemonas - which is a beautiful place with a lovely beach. Also went to Chora, the records office at the castle was unfortunately closed. Went to Kapsali for lunch and after headed back past Milopotamos to Agia Pelagia.

On day 3 we took off for Platia Ammos then back to Potamos for a coffee and then drove to Kaladi beach which was a bit hard to find but when we did it was well worth it. We had a late lunch back in Avlemonas, visited the bakery at Karavas and then back to the hotel. Too much driving on the wrong side of the road for that day! That night on our way to dinner we called into the tourist shop under Hotel Kytheria, and were told by the lady who was from Australia, that someone had been looking for us thinking we were Samios's. We told her where we would be and that she would contact these people to let them know.

As we sat at the restaurant the lady from the shop walked in with the couple who she introduced to us as they could not speak English. This is when the highlight of the trip unfolded. The man's name is Christo Politis who had been contacted by the shop owner in Potamos who had told them about the birth certificate I had shown him. This man it turns out is my mother's cousin. His mother was my grandfather's sister who's name was Calliope Samios after whom my mother was named! Just fantastic but the best was yet to come. We arranged to meet with him and his wife the next day and it was then he asked us if we would like to see the original Samios house where my grandfather was born. I was stunned to think that the house was still in the family and we then drove to Aloizianika to have a look.

What a surprise. Through his broken English Christo said the house was 300 years old and that the great grandfather had acquired it in about 1862 and this is where my grandfather and his siblings were born. The house is not lived in and the ground floor still has the dirt floor and is in very good condition but the first floor is run down with the roof long gone. The house - built of stone - has 3 main rooms downstairs including kitchen area, main room and bedroom. Another interesting thing is that Christo looks like my mum: similar facial features. And he also gave me a picture dated 1897 of my great grandfather. Later that day we flew back to Athens for one more night then the next day back to Australia.

Only just 2 weeks ago I received copies of 2 documents from Christo which belonged to my great grandfather John Samios. I think they are visas as one is stamped from the Greek Consulate in Sydney. It turns out he visited Australia in 1919 to see his son. I also have a photo from my mum's collection which is of her father not long after arriving in Australia, and with a man sitting beside him whom she thought was his uncle. After looking at the photo from Christo and mum's photo, it turns out that "the uncle" is in fact my great grandfather. This is something my mother never knew: that her father's father had been to Australia twice!

George let me say that it was a wonderful experience visiting Kythera, meeting my mums relative whom she never would have known about, and without your help and advice this might not have happened, and now some of the family tree is more complete thanks to you.

Many thanks and I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and happy new year!
Yasou
Shane Kennedy

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>LIFE IN KYTHERA - BACK IN THE DAY.
by Maria of Lourandianika

The island of Kythera, a small, idyllic island, gave its greatest gift of all: its children to other countries in the world, mainly America and Australia. Young men, leaving their families amongst many tears, saying good-bye to loved ones, as they set out to begin their new lives. Many married before leaving its shores, but, many returned for their brides, again returning to their country of choice, working long hours, as this was in their blood, knowing that all could be achieved, but only by hard work.

As a child, my father would tell me the story which he and so many others were told, that the sidewalks were covered in precious stones and gold coins, waiting to be picked up. Many young men, having heard these stories, believed them, only to find this not to be true when they arrived.

Culture was considered to be very important, and Kytherian families were known for their children to display their abilities to play a musical instrument, or to use their voices to be trained in singing. In my family, many hours were spent sitting at the baby grand rosewood piano, so many hours practising scales, before advancing to musical pieces. My sister showed an interest in singing, and she was encouraged to pursue her interest. My cousin, now departed, had such a beautiful singing voice also, and will always be remembered for this.

Seeing photos even now, I see myself as a baby, held in my mothers arms, putting a flower to her face, as we were in the Botanical Gardens. The hours listening to music at The Sydney Town Hall, the Symphony Orchestra playing, so boring, but, as my parents believed, a necessary part of my upbringing, as my father felt strongly about culture and a good upbringing.

Life was lived by Kytherian standards. Birthdays were not celebrated, but name days were of great importance. For me, The Panagia being an important day, and my father celebrating my mothers name day yearly by inviting so many of our Kytherian families to share in the celebrations in our home. My mother would cook for at least a week, preparing for the "Glendi" which became so famous amongst our fellow Kytherians. The young men in their suits and ties, and the women and girls in their best finery. Music and laughter filling our home, the garden lit with coloured lights, as the night was danced away in celebration of Fota.

My father, a pillar of the community, was never seen without the badge he proudly wore always. His RSL badge. The Returned Soldiers League badge. This showed me that he was showing respect for his adopted country, but, never forgetting that he was a Kytherian Greek.

In 1957, when we made the journey to Kythera, it was as if life had stood still. Everyone had their own garden. My mother, who had left as a young woman, resumed her own garden. Roads as we now know them did not exist, but were paths, and with the harsh weather conditions and heavy rain, there were times when difficulties were faced. One day, as we braved these conditions, to visit my grandparents in Upper Livadi, my mother, found herself with one leg knee deep in mud. I myself lost my shoe and sock, and my sister also became stuck in the muddy conditions. We had no choice but to continue, and to attempt some form of cleaning the mud, before returning home later in the day.

The decision to move back to Louradianika from Upper Livadi for my grandparents, found us loading our belongings on to a donkey. Seeing the happiness on my grandparents faces was so rewarding, and the quiet lifestyle was not begrudged. Sacrifices had to be made, and for a young 15 year old, this was a challenge. I was constantly looking for some way to alleviate the boredom of Louradianika.

I was told by my grandfather one day, that he was attending Agio Georgi to listen to confession. This frightened me, as I was not aware that this was part of our religion. How could I possibly tell my grandpa of all the mischief that I had managed to get into, some still not known. How relieved I was, when grandpa told me that I did not have to attend if I did not wish to.

The celebrations of name days were of great importance. One day comes to mind: Agio Dimitriou, the day was celebrated by opening bottles of wine. The procession, led by the Archbishop, with young boys holding the treasured pieces from the church, with the locals following at a respectable distance, could not stop me from not indulging in the mischief I was so well known for.

My beloved Aunt Katina, my father's sister, and my favourite aunt on my fathers side of the family, rode her donkey. Not being a young woman, it was difficult for her to walk. As the procession progressed towards Agio Georgi at Louradianika, I hit the donkey on its rump, and used the word for it to go faster "aha" and it listened for the first time, not ignoring me as it had so often in the past. How I laughed at my poor Aunts face, as she looked in horror as the donkey sped up its pace and passed the Archbishop. Gasps of shock from the locals, not knowing what to do or say.

Such was life though. A 15 year old, slightly bored, and I could not resist the temptation. The lecture I received was worth it though, and Aunt Katina told me when we were alone one day, that secretly she had to hold back her laughter, after she recovered from her shock, but, she did not dare to laugh, after all, what I had done was unheard of. "Only Maria" the locals would say as they shook their heads, regaling the event, always finishing in laughter.

Recently I was so moved, and reduced to tears, as I looked at photos which had been sent to me. They depicted 2 brothers, whom I love deeply, walking together down a sandy path, their hair now white, dressed in shorts and T-shirts. They had returned to their beloved Kythera, as they do each year, and as I looked at these 2 elderly gentlemen, remembering how they would have left as young men, and now, they walked side by side, the sun shining on their now white hair.

Kythera had given its children when they were young men, and now, with so many years passed, they returned to the island which will forever hold their heart.

I would like to thank the many Kytherians who contacted me, following my last article for 2009. Messages from around the world, touching me so deeply.

I would now like to dedicate my first article for 2010, to my father, as this is the anniversary of his passing 28 years ago. God is a merciful God, and He chose to release my ntendi from his pain, which was torturing his fragile body. I wish to light a candle in a Church for my ntendi, acknowledging the day of his passing. I am unable to do this as my ill health prevents me from leaving my home.

My grandfathers wise words to me, when I was a girl of 15, bring me much comfort. My grandfather, a priest of our Church, had explained to me that God would hear me, no matter where I may be, as long as I believed. I do not need to attend a Church, he told me. What comforting words as each year I light a candle in my bedroom, acknowledging the day when my ntendi was taken into God's care.

Rest in peace ntendi mou, until we are reunited. The years may have passed, but your memory stays alive in the hearts of all who knew you and loved you, such an upstanding member of our Kytherian community.

To my mother, sou evhome hronia polla Mami. ke evhome na ta ekatostis

Maria (Marcellos) Whyte

4 Trinity Crescent.,
Sippy Downs 4556
Queensland.

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About Kythera-Family.net
Kythera-Family.net aims to preserve and reflect the rich heritage of a wonderful island. Members of the community are invited to submit their family collection of Kytherian stories, photographs, recipes, maps, oral histories, biographies, historical documents, songs and poems, home remedies etc. to the site. Uploading directly to the site is easy, but if you wish you can also send your collections to us by email or post and we will submit them for you. Thus we can help make available valuable and interesting material for current and future generations, and inspire young Kytherians to learn more about their fascinating heritage.

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