Mani in mid May

The Mani is spectacular from pine forests in the mountains down through the long, deep gorges to the olive groves and stony coast. The summits of the Taygetos remain snow covered and often drowned in heavy grey cloud; the plants will be at their best in another month or so. The high tops and vertical…

Muddy puddles and red-rumped swallows

The puddles outside Agios Dimitrios are wet mud; perfect for swallows, red-rumped swallows and house martins to gather material for their nests. The energy and tenacity of pairs is relentless; it is a small theatre of iridescent blue until the plump house sparrows come down to drink.

Beyond Lagkada

On Good Friday (26th April) the villages come alive in the evening, everybody is in the street or eating on the terrace. In Lagkada opposite the cafe, young people light Chinese lanterns that wobble into the air and float dangerously over the stone houses. At Agios Nikolaos, after long months of winter sleep, the car…

Eleochorio

The hill village of Eleochorio perches on the edge of a wooded ravine; most of the houses are empty, some crumbling away and others just used by visiting families. On the cliffs below at least two pairs of kestrels and a raven nest; the red-rumped swallows fly around the church and houses at the top…

Below Kastania

This side of the Mani peninsula is a narrow belt of land between mountains and sea, untamed where the slopes are too steep to create terraces. The narrow road between the hill villages of Kastania and Saidona runs along narrow ridge through rocky maquis where swathes of pink and white cistus are flowering as well…

Eagles and tigers

The short-toed eagles or short-toed snake eagles continue to be very noisy, circling low with outstretched wings and dangling feet and sometimes some talon grappling. From the wonderful but empty amphitheatre at Platsos, having avoided the barking sheepdogs, we watch a bird hunt the olive groves and maquis that run down to the coast. The…

Beachcombers and fish hawkers

The beach is wind blown under a grey sky. Usually it is empty, but the season brings an assortment of wheatears, little egrets, yellow wagtails and common sandpipers; all are foraging after a day of torrential rain. Two fishermen at the water’s edge sit, hunched like herons, over long rods. The harbour wall at Agios…

Areopolis to Cape Tenaro

Saturday is market day in Areopolis and the fruit and vegetable stalls at the back of the car park are busy. One woman sniffs the proffered jars of Mani honey as though they were fine wine. A white van at the entrance displays wire crates full of live chickens, ducks and rabbits. In the large…

Early April on the Mani

There are days of blue sky and cool winds and others where the land is drenched by great thunderstorms or smothered by blankets of grey cloud that creep over the mountains to slowly suffocate the coast. The sea is often blue glass and sunsets a simple wash of orange; under grey skies there is often…