ATHENS: How to get to Athens city from Athens International Airport



If you are flying into Greece via Athens International Airport, your first port of call is likely to be the historic ancient city of Athens. But once you been through passport control and waited around to pick up your luggage there is very little information around to get you on your way.

To start with, the easiest way to get to Athens city center is by train so make your way to the airport exit.

Cross the road and turn left and walk along the pavement until you reach an elevator that will take you to a gantry - this will lead right to the railway station.

Keep an eye on the direction signs for the Railway station as at least one of them is pointing in the wrong direction!

Ticket prices are 7 Euros each when you are buying for two travellers, but don't get too confused when you are only presented with the one ticket - this is normal. The ticket will state on it that it is for two travellers

IMPORTANT: Make sure that you validate the ticket using the yellow validation machines before you get onto the train otherwise you may end up with a fine that will be the equivalent of 60 times your ticket price.

The train you will need wil be running on line 3 - not platform 3 as none of the platforms are numbered. Luckily this station is the end of the line and the middle track is the metroline which will lead you into central Athens. It takes just over 40 minutes to reach Omonia station. From there, the length and breadth of the Athens metroline is at your service. To find your destination acquire a suitable map or use a decent app from your smart phone.

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HOW TO GROW BULBS


Planting bulbs, corms and tubers is an easy way to ensure colourful displays in your garden, particularly in spring before the rest of the garden has woken from its winter dormancy. Bulbs can be planted in containers or borders, and look particularly effective when naturalised in grass.

There are bulbs, corms and tubers to suit all sites and soils. So if you are wondering how deep to plant daffodil bulbs, how to plant up begonia tubers or when to plant tulips, then take a look at the planting depth charts below and discover how easy growing bulbs can be!

What soil do bulbs prefer?

Different species will require different growing conditions and - as a rule - most will need a well drained soil that won’t sit waterlogged in winter which may cause them to rot.

Which way up should bulbs be planted?

Always plant bulbs with the pointed growing tip facing upwards. If it isn’t clear which is the top then try planting bulbs on their side. Some tuberous plants such as Begonias will be flatter than bulbs and don’t have an obvious growing point. Position them just below the compost surface with the indented side facing upwards.

Growing bulbs in containers

Planting bulbs in containers allows you to move your display into prime position while they are in full bloom. After flowering the containers can be moved out of view while the bulbs die back and become dormant. Use a good quality general purpose compost and mix in a handful of fine grit to improve drainage. Alternatively you can choose specially prepared bulb compost.

Water bulbs in containers regularly as they begin to grow, and continue throughout their flowering period. Once the foliage begins to die back you can gradually reduce watering as they enter their dormant period.

If squirrels and mice become a problem then protect your containers of bulbs by covering the top of the pot with a piece of chicken wire. Once the shoots appear you can remove it to allow the foliage and flowers space to grow.

How to plant bulbs in grass

Naturalising bulbs in grass can make an impressive display. They are best grown in informal areas of grass that can be left unmown while the bulb foliage dies back.

For a really natural look, gently scatter them across the planting area and plant each one where it lands. Use a sturdy trowel or bulb planter to dig a hole to the recommended bulb planting depth and drop the bulb into the hole, making sure that it is facing the right way up. Cover the bulb with soil and gently firm the earth around the bulbs to fill any pockets of air. Avoid treading the ground afterwards as this may damage the bulb growing tips as the soil settles.

If you are planting large numbers of bulbs then it may be simpler to lift an entire piece of turf with a spade and arranging the bulbs beneath it before relaying the turf.

Planting depths for bulbs and tubers

Bulb planting depths vary depending on their size and species; but as a rule of thumb, most bulbs can be planted at a depth of approximately 3 times their own height.

Some tubers, such as Begonias, are best started off indoors or in a frost free greenhouse before transplanting outdoors.

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Based on an article by http://www.thompson-morgan.com/how-to-grow-bulbs
Photo care of http://www.learn2grow.com/gardeningguides/bulbs/planting/ContainYourBulbs.aspx

LEFTOVER TURKEY RECIPE - Turkey and Broccoli Bake



Written by guest author - Kathleen Hubert

The Christmas holidays are right around the corner and for many families; this holiday season is a special time to gather for fun, fellowship and of course, food. Especially around the Christmas holidays, there is something so warm and inviting about sharing a nice, big turkey dinner together, complete with all the fixings. After the big meal, there are usually lots of leftovers, especially turkey.

However, leftover turkey does not have to be a dread or boring, there are many simple ways to make leftover turkey into a casual, healthy meal that can be enjoyed with your family while relaxing and watching T.V. for instance.

Below is an easy, healthy recipe that uses leftover turkey. This recipe can be easily modified to suite just about any taste and the ingredients are easy to find and very budget-friendly. Also, using unsalted butter and low-sodium broth for this dish will make it a low-sodium option for those who need to watch their salt intake. With only 320 calories per serving and a whopping 28 grams of protein, this dish is nutritious as well as delicious!

How to make Turkey-Broccoli bake

1-bag frozen broccoli (can use fresh --chopped if desired)
3-4 cups turkey cut into small pieces or shredded (warm slightly on the stove-top or microwave)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or 2 tablespoons of olive oil (salted butter is ok, if desired)
1 small onion (diced)
1 1/2 cups turkey broth
2 tablespoons dry sherry
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons heavy cream, milk or half &half
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sliced almonds

*optional: 1 small can of mushrooms, cauliflower instead of, or in addition to broccoli and shredded cheddar cheese instead of, or in addition to the Parmesan cheese.

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.

Cook the broccoli in the microwave or stove top for about five minutes, or until the broccoli is tender (not fully cooked) and lay on the bottom of a buttered 9 inch x 13 inch baking dish. Add the turkey on top of the broccoli.

How to prepare the sauce

Melt the butter in a large skillet and add onions (and mushrooms if you are using them). Saute onions over medium heat until they are golden brown. Add flour and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low or simmer and simmer for three to five minutes. Add wine and cook an additional one minute. Add milk or cream and half of the Parmesan cheese and simmer an additional minute.

Remove from heat and pour over the broccoli and turkey. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake at 350-degrees for 20-30 minutes.

This recipe is sure to please the entire family. The high protein content and delicious flavor will leave you and your family happy and satisfied. Additionally, this dish is a both simple and healthy way to prepare leftover turkey. Your family may even request this leftover Christmas turkey instead of moaning about "leftover turkey again".

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Based on an article from Health.com ( http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,10000001046789,00.html)
Kathleen Hubert is a blogger who writes on a variety of different sites. Check out more of her work at led tv.
Photo care of http://burninlovebbq.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/roast-turkey-risotto/ and http://corkscrewcuriosity.blogspot.com/2010/09/what-i-ate-last-week-is-turkey-broccoli.html

HOW TO TAKE CUTTINGS FROM ROSEMARY



Rosemary is one of those plants that not only smells good, it tastes good and looks good too. When I say taste, I mean as a flavoursome herb so don’t start chomping on a random stem and expect it to fill you with culinary delights – because it won’t!

Be that as it may, rosemary plants are fantastically popular and are often found in gardens as a specimen shrub or informal hedging. Its Latin name, Rosmarinus officinalis, means "dew of the sea" and while rosemary is most closely associated with Mediterranean cooking you don't need perfect sunshine, or a sea mist to successfully grow rosemary.

How to propagate Rosemary from cuttings

The best time to take cuttings from Rosemary is when the new shoots begin to emerge. Mid to late June is normally the best time. Select a healthy looking plant with lots of new growth on it. If you can, take your cuttings early in the day. Using a sterilised sharp blade or secateurs, snip off non-flowering sections of new growth 10cm - 15cm long. To reduce moisture loss, remove most of the lower leaves so you have a clean length of stem and place them in a plastic bag. Seal it and keep it in a shaded spot to prevent wilting until you are ready to root the cuttings.

Using porous terracotta pots fill with a good quality cutting compost such as John Innes ‘Seed and Cutting’. However, I would recommend improving the drainage by mixing in horticultural grit or perlite at a ratio of 2:1 compost to drainage improver.

Once again, using a sharp sterilised knife, take 7.5cm (3in) cuttings from young shoots either just below a leaf joint or torn off at the stem. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting in order to help reduce water loss.

At this point you can dip the stem ends in hormone rooting powder to speed up the rooting process, but this isn't really necessary. The rosemary cuttings can now be inserted around the edge of the pot – if the pot is big enough – leaving a 1 ½ inch gap between each cutting. Alternatively – if your pots are on the small side – plant the cuttings individually.

Water the cuttings from below and allow the compost to settle around their stems. Place pots in a cold frame in a sheltered, shaded area, indoors in a propagator or simply cover with a plastic bag to retain the moisture. Just make sure that the sides of the bag are not touching any of the plant material.

After a few weeks, gently invert pots and check for signs of root development. Mist over foliage and ensure the compost stays on the moist side. Once new growth begins to appear all covers can be removed. Allow the soil to dry out between watering but don’t allow the compost to stay dry for extended periods and do not allow the compost to become waterlogged.

Once the rosemary cuttings have a good root system, gently tease the cuttings apart and pot up individually into a loam-based compost, such as John Innes No. 2.

Keep plants watered and pot them on again as they get larger and the roots fill their container. They should be big enough to plant out in the following spring.

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HOW TO OVERWINTER STRAWBERRIES



Strawberries are not only one of the most popular fruits to eat, they are also one of the easiest to grow. However, with so many different varieties available - and availability often being sporadic -  once you have managed to get hold of your perfectly flavoured strawberry (mine is the 'Cambridge Favourite') you are going to want to keep it.

The problem with strawberries is that while they grow best in the ground, they can be suseptable to pest damage which is why growing them in containers is becoming evermore popular. Unfortunately this give rise to a further problem. Growing strawberry plants in containers makes the strawberry plants rootball more exposed to cold damage during the winter and in extreme temperatures can kill off the plant.

Whether grown in pots or outdoor beds, suitable winter care of strawberries is essential. Strawberry plants need to be protected from both cold temperatures and wind in order for them to reproduce each year. Therefore, you’ll need to know how to care for your outdoor bed or strawberry plant pot in winter.

One of the most common questions pertaining to strawberry plants is “can you keep strawberries in a strawberry pot over winter?” The answer is no, not unless you plan on keeping them indoors, well away from any freezing temperatures. For instance, you can move pots to an unheated garage for winterizing potted strawberry plants until the return of spring; however, more often than not they are put in the ground instead.

While normally these plants are quite hardy, especially those planted in the ground, keeping them in strawberry pots (or jars) outdoors over winter is not recommended. Most strawberry jars are made of clay or terracotta. These are not suitable for winter weather as they absorb moisture easily which leads to freezing and makes them more prone to cracking and breaking. This is detrimental to the plants.

Plastic pots, on the other hand, withstand the elements better, especially when sunken into the ground. For this reason, strawberry plants are usually removed from their clay containers, after the first initial frost, and re-potted into plastic ones that are at least six inches deep.

These are then placed in the ground about 5 ½ inches, leaving the rim sticking up from the soil rather than flush with it. Cover the plants with about three to four inches of straw mulch. Remove the mulch once the plants show signs

Mulch is all you need for winterizing strawberries in beds. The timing for this depends on your location but usually takes place after the first frost in your area. Generally, straw mulch is preferable, though hay or grass can also be used. However, these types of mulch usually contain weed seeds.

You’ll need to apply anywhere from three to four inches of mulch over the plants, with raised beds receiving somewhat more for additional protection. Once the plants begin growth in early spring, the mulch can be cleared away.

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WHEN DO YOU HARVEST POTATOES?




So, how can you tell when potatoes are ready to harvest? A tricky question when your crop is obscured by a foot or two of your best soil. Without the benefit of ground penetrating radar, the most obvious method appears to be digging up the crop and having a look! Unfortunately, this action can cause unnecessary damage to the potato tubers, and - if they are not yet of a suitable size - lifting them is only going to damage the existing root structure and severely delay any future growth!

Of course there is a far easier and much less damaging way to tell when your potatoes are ready for harvesting, and it is just a matter of waiting for mother nature to show her hand.


Within a few weeks of planting your seed potatoes, fine root hairs will be produced. As these grow larger, nodules form along the roots which - in turn - will form tiny juvenile potato tubers.

These juvenile tubers will continue to swell and grow right up until the time the potato plant proper begins to produce its flowers. As soon as this occurs, the energy from the plant will be diverted away from the production of tubers and over to the production of flowers, and the subsequent formation of its fruit and seeds.

You can consider removing any flowering heads as they form to encourage further tuber developement, but with a large crop of potatoes this may be an unrealistic challenge.

So, just when do you harvest potatoes?
.
As soon as they come into flower, because it is unlikely that your plants will produce and more - or any bigger - potatoes after this point.

Note. If you allow potato seeds heads to form and mature, next year you will be inundated with potato seedlings. Don't forget that these seedlings will NOT grow true to the parent plants and should be removed when seen.

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WHEN DO YOU HARVEST ONIONS?



You cannot beat the flavour of home grown onions so the last thing you will want is to lose the crop to rot once you have harvested them. You need to pick them at the right time and you need to dry them off thoroughly. It is all about time, but how do you know when it is the right time for harvesting onions?

When growing onions, it is important to give them as long a growing season as possible in order to allow the 'bulbs' to reach their maximum size.

In general, main crop onions should be ready for harvesting any time between August to September, but this will depend on both the weather and individual varieties.

The onion bulb will be mature when the foliage turns yellow and begins to tip over, but from this point you will need to leave them for another couple of weeks before lifting.

Most of the onion tops fall over by themselves, but any that don't can be bent over by hand.

Try to avoid leaving the onions in the ground for longer than a couple of weeks after the tops have died back as they become open to organisms that can cause rot in storage - or they might even start growing again!.

Choose a dry, sunny day and if the onions are fully ripe they will lift easily from the ground by hand, any problems and you can carefully ease them out of the soil with a gardening fork.

Weather permitting, let the onions sit in the sun for another day or so to dry further - in hot climates this usually takes just a few hours. This drying kills the root system at the bottom of each bulb.

They will now need to be dried and depending on the weather or the size of your onions it will take approximately 2-4 weeks for them to properly cure.

Some people cut the tops off the onions before curing, but that's not strictly necessary. However, if you do trim the top leaves, don't cut them any closer than one inch from the bulb otherwise the neck won't dry out, and the onion could rot in storage.

One of the best ways to cure  onions is to spread them out in warm, airy place out of the sun, such as on a porch.

However, if you live in an area prone to rainfall then consider curing onions in an airy shed or garage. Turn the bulbs a couple of times to promote even drying.

They are now ready for the kitchen.

If any of your onions have developed thick 'necks' over the growing season, use these ones straight away as they will not store well and are prone to neck rot.

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WHEN DO YOU HARVEST CORN?




It is going to be difficult to know when sweetcorn is ready to pick, especially if you have never grown them before. Why? Because the entire cob is hidden by layer after layer of thick, fibrous husk. The trouble is that you need to get the timing right – pick too early and you have just wasted an ear, pick too late and the corn has lost all of its delicious, sweet flavour.

All things considered, you can expect your corn to be ready for harvest at the end of the summer, but to pick it at its optimum quality will require a bit more information and experience. The ripening of the cob will of course depend on the weather, however you can expect it to be ready for harvesting any time from 17 to 25 days after the time the first silks have appeared - but you are going to have to keep a close eye on it. A good indicator for this time would be when the silks have turned very dark brown to black. Of course sweetcorn will mature more quickly in hot weather and slower in cool weather.

Sweetcorn are ready to harvest when the kernels are in the 'milk' stage, and there is a simple test that you can do to check this. When the fluid inside each kernel is still liquid and the skin of the kernel is still tender then the cob is ready for picking so puncture a kernel with your thumbnail to make sure. If a clear liquid appears, then the corn is immature. If the liquid is milky, then the corn is ready, and if no liquid appears then the corn is over-ripe.

Once the cobs have been picked they can turn very quickly as the sugar within the kernels will rapidly turn to starch. Even when stored properly they can be past their best within a couple of days, however there are steps you can take to make the most of this short harvesting period.

Try to harvest sweetcorn in the morning before you get a build up of field heat but if this is unavoidable submerge the cobs in cold water for a minute or so to let them cool down. Then – as soon as you can – they need to be refrigerated with a mind to being eaten over the next couple of days. There is an old wives tale saying that the pot should be boiling when the corn is picked and although that is a slight exaggeration it does convey the importance of speed when it comes to picking and eating corn at its best.

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WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A RAT AND A MOUSE?



Ok, before we start I need to clear something up. The names 'Rat' and 'mouse' are only common names and as such are used to discribe many different rodents from unrelated family groups. Therefore they are NOT scientific classifications. In fact the words 'rat and mouse' are just common names to group together rodents which look alike to the casual eye.

For example, the name 'Rat' is used to describe medium-sized rodents with long thin tails, and to confuse matters more, there are many species of rodent that are called rats:

Kangaroo rats
Cotton rats
Norway rats - otherwise known as the Brown rat
Black rats
African pouched rats
Naked mole rats
Wood rats
Pack rats - not to be confused with Rat packs which have no relation to actual rats whether they can sing or not!
Polynesian rats, and many others besides.

The name 'Mouse' is used to describe tiny, sparrow-sized rodents with long thin tails. As with rats, there are many species of rodents called mice which may or may not be closely related to each other:

House mice
Field mice
Deer mice
Smoky mice
Spiny mice
Dormice - a popular dish with the Romans when roasted in clay

So, which rats and mice are you talking about? Generally, people are referring to the domestic or pest rats and mice, which means Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus), black rats (Rattus rattus), and house mice (Mus musculus).

So, just what is the difference between a rat and a mouse?

Norway rats and house mice may belong to different species, but if you go back far enough in time they do descend from a common ancestor. How long ago is currently under debate, with estimates ranging from 8 to 41 million years ago.

Be that as it may, the descendants of that common ancestor diverged into different species, among which are Norway rats and house mice.

Norway rats and house mice now have many genetic, reproductive, developmental, morphological and anatomical differences. The list below is not exhaustive, but for those with a casual interest it should get you started:

Genetic differences

Norway rats have 22 chromosome pairs, house mice have 20. Norway rats have 2.75 million base pairs while mice have 2.6 million (humans have 2.9). About 90% of rat genes have counterparts in the mouse and human genomes.

Growth differences

In general, Norway rats develop more slowly than house mice. For example, Norway rat gestation is slightly longer (21-24 days) than house mouse gestation (19-20 days). Norway rats lactate for about 3 weeks, house mice for 2 weeks. Both species are born naked and blind, but Norway rats open their eyes at 6 days, they are fully furred at 15 days. House mice open their eyes at 3 days, have fur at 10 days (etc.).

Anatomical differences

Norway rats have 6 pairs of nipples, house mice have 5 pairs.

Morphological differences

Norway rats are larger, heavier and longer than house mice (Norway rat: 350-650 grams, 9-11 inch bodies and 7-9 inch tails; house mice: 30-90 grams, 3-4 inch bodies and 3-4 inch tails).

Correlated with this larger size, Norway rat body parts are larger than those of the house mouse -- rats have larger ears, feet etc. The heads of Norway rats are heavy, blunt and chunky, house mouse heads are small and sharply triangular with pointed muzzles. Note, however, that Norway rats have smaller ears relative to their heads than house mice.

Sign differences

Due to their larger body size, rat feces are larger than mouse feces

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Based on an article by http://www.ratbehavior.org/RatsMice.htm
Photo care of http://www.doyourownpestcontrol.com/rodents.htm and http://www.guardianpestcontrol.co.uk/the_house_mouse.html

WHAT DO BLUE WHALES EAT?




The blue whale The blue whale - Balaenoptera musculus is a marine mammal belonging to the suborder of baleen whales called Mysticetiis arguably the most impressive creature to live or have ever lived on this planet! At 30 metres (98 ft) in length and 180 metric tons  or more in weight, it is in fact the largest animal ever known to have existed!

Long and slender, the blue whale's body can be various shades of bluish-grey dorsally and somewhat lighter underneath.

There are at least three distinct subspecies: B. m. musculus of the North Atlantic and North Pacific, B. m. intermedia of the Southern Ocean and B. m. brevicauda (also known as the pygmy blue whale) found in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean. B. m. indica, found in the Indian Ocean, may be another subspecies.

So, just what does a Blue Whale eat?

Blue whales feed almost exclusively on krill, though they also take small numbers of copepods. Copepods - meaning 'oar-feet' - are a group of small oceanic crustaceans, but they are also found in nearly every freshwater habitat. The species eaten by blue whales are planktonic (drifting in sea waters), although there are some benthic species (living on the ocean floor).

The species of copepod zooplankton eaten by blue whales will vary from ocean to ocean. In the North Atlantic, Meganyctiphanes norvegica, Thysanoessa raschii, Thysanoessa inermis and Thysanoessa longicaudata are the usual food, while in the North Pacific, Euphausia pacifica, Thysanoessa inermis, Thysanoessa longipes, Thysanoessa spinifera, Nyctiphanes symplex and Nematoscelis megalops are takenn. Then, in the Antarctic, blue whales eat Euphausia superba, Euphausia crystallorophias and Euphausia valentin.

Blue Whales and Krill

An adult blue whale can eat up to 40 million krill in a day. The whales always feed in the areas with the highest concentration of krill, sometimes eating up to 3,600 kilograms (7,900 lb) of krill in a single day. This daily requirement of an adult blue whale is in the region of 1.5 million kilocalories.

Because krill move through the ocean levels, blue whales typically feed at depths of more than 100 metres (330 ft) during the day and only surface-feed at night. Dive times are typically 10 minutes when feeding, though dives of up to 20 minutes are common. The longest recorded dive is 36 minutes.

The blue whale feeds by lunging forward at groups of krill, taking the animals and a large quantity of water into its mouth. The water is then squeezed out through the baleen plates by pressure from the ventral pouch and tongue. Once the mouth is clear of water, the remaining krill, unable to pass through the plates, are swallowed. The blue whale also incidentally consumes small fish, crustaceans and squid caught up with krill.

The Future for Blue Whales

Blue whales were abundant in nearly all the oceans on Earth until the beginning of the twentieth century. Unfortunately, for over a century now they were hunted almost to extinction by whalers until they were protected by the international community in 1966.

A 2002 report estimated there were 5,000 to 12,000 blue whales worldwide, located in at least five groups. More recent research into the Pygmy subspecies suggests this may be an underestimate. Before whaling, the largest population was in the Antarctic, numbering approximately 239,000 (range 202,000 to 311,000). There remain only much smaller (around 2,000) concentrations in each of the North-East Pacific, Antarctic, and Indian Ocean groups. There are two more groups in the North Atlantic, and at least two in the Southern Hemisphere.

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Photo care of http://www.pubarticles.com/article-blue-whales-return-for-the-first-time-in-40-years-1242720370.html and http://www.theozonehole.com/antarcticwildlife.htm and http://www.namibian.org/travel/marine-life/whales/blue-whale.html
Based on an article by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_whale