Wednesday, 20 August 2014

My holiday in Rethymon Crete 1-14th August

Nicos Siragas is a world famous wood turner who lives with his English wife Frances in Rethymon; where he has a shop in a busy area of the old town. He visits England in the winter and is demonstrating in November this year – see his website for details.

He has demonstrated at our woodturning club a few years ago.

He is an artist; he carves many of his turnings and was doing so long before many others.

He has also designed tools for Hamlet. He has a woodturning club and runs courses in the winter from his beautiful house overlooking the town.

Visit to the home of Manolis Brokos  in the village of Zenia.

I had read an article on the web about this amazing spoon maker who was still working at 102! And decided it was worth a three hour drive into the mountains to find his home. Sadly he died last year at 106 and his wife soon afterwards. He used olive wood which is abundant (the Cretans farm at least 6,000,000 olive trees).


I was given access by his grandson to his workshop and his tools. I was asked to add labels in English.

The home-made hook knife was made from scrap materials.

The view from his house in the mountains was stunning.


This was his living area, a sofa bed and a wood burning stove.

He also made some local musical instruments. Most of his work has gone and these were just re remnants. 

Eleni wife of Manolis was asked as to the secret of their longevity  - ‘There is no secret. For as far as I remember, we eat what is in season given to us by the earth and our clothes and utensils are made from natural products. ‘And the young Cretans today’? She sorrowfully shakes her head and holds up a pale yellow fruit. ‘People eat their food from plastic and poison their food with Chemistry. This deprives the body its power’

The food on Crete is amazing and all home grown. I enquired as to the source of their bread flour. It is now imported but used to be Home grown Emmer. The following I copied from Wikipedia
‘In 1906, Aaron Aaronsohn's discovery of wild emmer wheat growing in Rosh Pinna (now in Israel) created a stir in the botanical world.[5]Emmer wheat has been found in archaeological excavations and ancient tombs. Grains of wild emmer discovered at Ohalo II had a radiocarbon dating of 17,000 BC,[6] and at the Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) site of Netiv Hagdud are 10,000-9,400 years old.
DNA studies on emmer wheat have shown its place of domestication to be near Şanlıurfa, in southeast Turkey.[6] Domesticated emmer first appears at Pre-Pottery Neolithic sites in the Fertile Crescent, either in the PPNA period (9800-8800 cal BC) or the early-mid PPNB (8800-7500 cal BC). Small quantities of emmer are present during Period 1 at Mehrgharh on the Indian subcontinent, showing that emmer was already cultivated there by 7000-5000 BC.[7]

On the way to a beach in the south of Crete we passed this stick maker  at the roadside.

He made his sticks from two species of Oak and bends them wet with a blow-
lamp and a jig set up in the back of his truck.

It was a pity his English was no better than my Greek: I was therefore unable to get any more detail.


This was the jig, two acrows to hold the bent handle in place along with binding wire after using the bending jig at the bottom.

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