A SCRUMPING WE WILLGO.......
One of the most important things living on the Kampos taught me was never to waste Mother Earth’s resources….
I was lucky enough to live next door to a wonderful woman called Pattie, who became a dear, dear friend over time. She had been born and raised in Belize and, what she didn’t know about gathering food from the wilds, was not worth knowing. We got into the habit of walking our dogs together, early in the morning before I went off to the bar to paint and she went off to cook and prepare food in one of the restaurants…….. We would walk for miles, before the sun was too hot and bit by bit she showed me round the various tracks of the Kampos. Many of the old farmers knew her and would nod their heads at her from atop their donkey, some would give her a few tomatoes or a lettuce or pepper if they had plenty to spare. Pattie taught me where to find the most succulent Mulberries, invariably we would gather them using only our t shirts as a bowl. This got very messy, as you can imagine. Mulberry juice is sticky and very deep red, but oh how gorgeous they taste. We picked blackberries as big as strawberries, wild raspberries big enough to make your eyes pop out of their head, some strange but very tasty long bean type things which I forget the name of and many, many more delicacies. There were oranges and lemons, almonds and cherries aplenty not to mention capers and wild herbs that grew by the side of the track for all to harvest. We collected vine leaves, gathered grapes, climbed trees for figs (my favourite) which taste divine straight from the tree. And in winter we gather walnuts by the bucket load. The trick was, to wait until the first frost had come and then, after a stormy night, gather the walnuts, still in their cases, from around the base of the tree… I am a little bit ashamed to tell you that, one night, very, very late, we crept along the track next to our house and collected a huge bucket full of potatoes that the farmer’s men had left behind on account of the fact that they were the wrong size for their liking. We staggered home, shushing each other like mad, but giggling like school girls at the same time. It was deliciously naughty and funny at the same time…..
Another favourite haunt of ours was the local rubbish tip. Yuck you might say and I grant you it was a strange afternoon out, but often yielded the perfect piece of furniture which a Greek farmer had discarded as being too old. It was amazing in that, what we would class as a very passable antique with a story to tell and years of use left in it, the old farmers would discard in favour of something plastic or aluminium – they absolutely love MDF and would rather have something new and shiny than a beautiful old hand crafted piece, which suited us down to the ground as we more or less furnished our little houses from that refuse site.
Unfortunately I have very few photographs of those times. The pictures are all in my head. However, I can share my memories with you bit by bit and perhaps the odd photograph I come across…. I do have a picture of a gourd that a farmer gave me, which grew on his plot. I painted and decorated many of them and sold them on my stall at the Buddha Bar by the sea, along with this little shoemaker's shoe that a friendly Greek Greengrocer gave me one day as he admired my work.