Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Day One - Olive Picking...

So today we were going with Crafty Jane and Olive Mark out to Peristerona to embark on our first ever go at olive picking.  So what does a discerning olive picker wear????  Sturdy boots, layers of clothes, sunglasses and a hat - just as John is doing here!!!  in the past Jane and Mark have picked with Wheelie Helen and Alistair so we felt we had quite an act to follow but we were well up for it!!!  We had arranged to meet at the Kritou Tera turning at 0800 hours armed with containers for the olives, packed lunches and gloves.  

We had no idea what to expect except that it was going to be hard work - hard work is something we are not afraid of and we were actually pretty chuffed to be included in a very typically Cypriot experience.  The promise of some olive oil that we could call our own was quite an incentive how many people can say that they have picked olives and had their own extra virgin pressed??  All we knew about today (and tomorrow) was that there were eleven olive trees at the property which were of various yields and types and that we would pick them and then take them to the pressing place, get them pressed and then bottled and then go home!!!

It was a glorious start to the day and we were at the Kritou Tera turning just before 0800 hours - surprise surprise - and we felt incredibly lucky as we sat there taking in our glorious surroundings.  We knew that our destination was up in the mountains opposite.  The Springates arrived loaded up and we followed them through Kritou Tera and on up to Peristerona and the villa which housed the eleven olives.  It was great to be able to have access to the villa so that we could boil a kettle for a cuppa or nip to the loo because it was going to be a long day!

Jane and Mark brought Wheelie Helen and Alistair's two dogs Rocky and Arni with them to keep us company whilst we were picking and so we were a right old motley crew!!!  Our first job, after having a coffee and some of Jane's scrummy chocolate chip and ginger cookies was to decide on the order in which we were to pick the olives.   This is obviously a man thing and Jane and I were just waiting for our instructions.  Obviously John and Mark were going to do the high ladder picking and Jane and I were doing the scrabbling on the floor picking but the object of the exercise was to get as many olives as possible - Mum had told us that the word on the street was that olives were not yielding as much oil as anticipated and John and I were determined not to let the side down and be pathetic pickers!

Can you imagine being in a more beautiful place?  Jane is sat at the end of a drive picking up the fallers and looking across a valley with views to die for. 

John is tackling the first tree - this is about 0830 in the morning hence the fact that he is still in multiple layers because it turned out to be a gloriously sunny day and we gradually had to remove the layers!

Tree one was a learning curve for us picking novices but after that we all fell into a pretty good routine.  We worked well together and there was plenty of friendly banter - the dogs were pretty well behaved although they kept eating fallen olives and getting in the way through curiosity!

This is our first full bucket - it is so satisfying when you get the first one filled because after that they begin to get filled thick and fast and it isn't so exciting.  We took the trouble to make sure that as far as possible we only put olives into the bucket and removed any crap.  This is because when you go to the pressing place they weigh your harvest olives, crap and all and charge you on the total weight so the more olives and the less crap you collect the better.  Crap sifting and under tree grovelling is clearly a girl's job, ladders and tree shaking is a boy's job!  Division of labour is the key!!!

We had a right old mix come the end with small green ones, big fat black ones, big fat green ones and the very very small traditional ones which are apparently the best for olive oil and by the end of day one we had managed to strip the best part of seven trees leaving us with just four to tackle the next day.  The dogs had run themselves ragged, got bored with barking at passing vehicles and eaten more than a couple of errant olives but on the whole been pretty well behaved.  The rest of us were hot, tired and grubby and looking forward to a hot shower and a well earned beer to celebrate our first successful day of picking.

We wrapped up our day at the villa, packing everything away ready for tomorrow and headed off down the hill to stop off at the little taverna/coffee shop in Steni for a beer and a debrief.  The coffee shop has enclosed some of the outside eating area so we were sheltered as the sun went down and the temperatures dropped.  It had been a good day all round with another to follow.

As we got home to Droushia the weather deteriorated and we had rain - we had fingers crossed for tomorrow because we were so close but yet so far... and to cap it all we were in the middle of cooking a well earned supper when we had a bloody power cut!

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