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A new Greek lockdown, even Lovely Eleni has had enough

Tom Winnifrith
Wednesday 14 July 2021

I have yet to update you all on the dynamics of the, now four, eateries that surround the small square in the centre of Kambos, the village closest to the Greek Hovel. As Greece implements new laws to make life for all four of them that much harder, it is topical.

The accursed creperie did, as predicted, bite the dust and so it has been replaced by a store selling cakes and ice cream. It is part of a small chain from Kalamata and I have yet to darken its doors, in part because I always try to support independents against chains and in part because it would send my sweet-toothed son Joshua into a frenzy of demands. Lovely Eleni’s Kourounis taverna is unchanged as is what was Miranda’s but is now run by another Eleni. I shall not call her unlovely Eleni as she is most kind to both Joshua and me but nobody could be as lovely as lovely Eleni.

What was the hardware store on the creperie side has moved over the road and this is now also a restaurant run by the grandson of the original Miranda. He trained as a chef in England, speaks good English and is a charming man. His tables are covered with starched white sheets and I gather that his cooking can be “experimental”. And thus I am sticking with the simple, cheap but great food of the not quite as lovely Eleni. In winter, I huddle in the warmth of the small restaurant old Mirandas, packed with maybe 15 fellow harvesters ignoring the smoking ban with the smell of ouzo hanging thick in the air. I need my winter retreat to survive.  

Our friends, the Guardian-reading loons L&G, appear to have found cause to row with all three of the main eateries but, are overlooking one row, and tend to have their lunchtime drinks at the new Miranda’s grandson’s place. I have rowed with nobody. Daughter Olaf notes, with real surprise, how folks here seem to like me and puts this down to them not understanding what I say. I put it down to the fact that, out here, I am an easy going fellow with charming kids and who tips generously and mucks in at olive harvest time in a way that few foreigners do. I stand my ground with my friends here and in falling off my motorbike in the main street and in my struggles with snakes I also provide a source of easy humour. Yesterday, the great bear of a man Vangelis who speaks no English consoled me with two words “Italia, Mafia.” Those were words of friendship. He thinks the Italians suck too, while Olaf thinks of them as fellow Europeans.

L&G argue that in having four eateries, Kambos may become some sort of “hub” here in the non seaside villages and that all four will win. I am not so sure and so I support the oldest two establishments with my custom hope that they, at least, will survive.

In the initial lockdown of last year, lovely Eleni stuck to the rules. Her staff all worse masks and she wore one of those ludicrous plastic vizors. She is essentially a law-abiding sort of person. But even she has had enough.

The square is clearly far less empty this summer than it has been in any year that I can remember. I am told that folks from Athens have yet to arrive and, for obvious reasons, we Brits are not here in any numbers. That is not going to get much better. There has been a rise in covid cases here in Greece with the Delta/Indian variant now on the scene. Its vaccination programme has been better than in many EU nations although not as good as in Brexit Britain. And thus, as of now, bars, restaurants and other public places have been told not to admit anyone who has not been fully jabbed. I rather fear that other, equally pointless, measures will follow.

Eleni is furious, viewing this as a hammer blow. Why can’t individual bars make their own decision she asks. Quite. The Kourounis taverna is also one of the two general stores in Kambos and that trade means that it will survive come what may. The old Mirandas has such low overheads that it too will survive. But the other two? Time will tell. That the Government here has managed to enrage lovely Eleni is quite some feat. We battle on.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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