Friday 11 September 2015

Great day

A great day out today with lots of laughs. I was interviewed by Heidi Fuller-Love for the World Service - the programme should air in about a month's time - watch this space. Seven of us met at Elounda Krini hotel car park for a trip into the mountains to have lunch with Yiannis at his great mountain tavern. We found some lovely Sea Squill, a tiny Lactuca alpestris and a variety of thistles. We went to see if the wild peaony had any ripe seeds. We did find a few that had escaped the goats, but they were safe behind a high chain link fence. We had a walk on some Minoan steps, saw an eagle and a vulture, had coffee at the lovely little taverna behind Panagia Kera church, where the ladies had a little unexpected retail therapy. We finished the day with a glorious chip omelette and Greek salad. The weather was lovely - a cool breeze in the mountains which was very welcome. Two photos of our happy group today and a photo of 'dog' onions - sea squill bulbs (Charybdis maritimum)- so-called by Cretans because although they look like large onions, they are not edible.

German World Service

Today I am being interviewed for the German World Service Radio, about the work that I do on Crete and the naming of the Bellevalia juliana in my honour. The reporter Heidi Fuller-Love will come with us on a trip into the mountains to search for autumn flowering bulbs and the visit places of interest along the route. Our trip will take us to a medieval church to admire the ancient frescoes, to a deep cave that was once used for Goddess worship by the Minoans, then a chance to walk on a fragment of a Minoan pack route with its stone steps still visible. Higher into the mountains we will stop to search for autumn crocus, scilla, colchicum and much more. We will scan the skies for birds of prey such as eagles, buzzards and vultures before arriving at my friend Yianni's taverna on a remote plateau. After a lunch of omelette and salad, we will off-road to discover one of the world's rarest trees and to wonder at the breath taking scenery all around us. Should be a good day!

Thursday 10 September 2015

Pancratium maritimum

Had a wonderful day out today on the north coast to photographing Pancratium maritimum - the sea daffodil. These stunningly beautiful flowers bloom at the back of the beach from August through to October. They have a wonderful fragrance and it is just mind-blowing to think the this plant was known to the Minoan civilisation on Crete in pre-Christian times and the perfume we enjoyed today, is the same as they would have loved. Pancratium maritimum can be seen on Minoan pottery and on their wall frescoes on Crete and Santorini. We called at my friends taverna in Pachia Ammos for the best horta pies, flavoured with cumin, that I have eaten anywhere. Then back to Elounda for another delicious lunch at Vachus. Lovely, lovely day.

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Am back home now on Crete and my Botanic Painting Course on Autumn Bulbs started yesterday. Tomorrow we are going to the beach to photograph and draw the flowers and bulbs of Pancratium maritimum. They will take some time to paint, but it will be a good exercise. The weather is very hot and humid, so it is fairly testing. My ladies are staying at Elounda Krini Hotel, which seems fine. It is very clean and quiet and we are able to sit in the shade by the pool to paint. We had a lovely meze lunch at Vachus restaurant and then a trip around the local jewellers. A day full of contrasts.

Sunday 6 September 2015

Botanic Books

How come all the books I have here in the UK that are concerned with flowers weigh so much? With regret I am having to leave my Dorling Kindersley book on herbs behind until I come over again for Christmas.

Saturday 5 September 2015

Back to Crete

Almost packed and ready to fly back to Crete for 10 weeks tomorrow, after a lovely stay in the UK. I have bought Orchids of Greece by Antonis Alibertis and didn't realise how heavy it is. I will have to take it in my hand luggage, as my hold luggage is, as usual, well over-weight. It's all the Asian spices and oils that I can't get in Greece. As well as some of my paintings which have been on exhibition in the UK and a large amount of quilting fabric. I never learn!

Bellevalia juliana

Since last writing anything on my blog, I have received the enormous honour of having a rare Cretan endemic named after me - Bellevalia juliana. I cannot say how proud I am and totally thrilled. I have drawn this plant, which I found around ten years ago in a field near where I live, in all it's stage, and I am planning to paint it when I get home. Eventually I hope to have some prints and greeting cards available, but that may take some time. Will post a photo soon.

I'm back :-)

I can only blame pressure of work for my long, long silence. However, I am now back on track and hoping to get this blog up and running with interesting posts and photos. I am in the UK at the moment, but am flying back to Crete tomorrow in time for me to host a Botanic Art Watercolour course in Elounda for two weeks starting on Tuesday. Two of the ladies are returning guests, so I am really looking forward to sharing time with them and my new guest.