Thursday, March 29, 2012


Who are the Kantounistas, you may ask.
A group, obviously. But what kind of group?

A happy group, it would seem. But what’s with the rakes and shovels and rubbish bags, the rubber gloves and the green tee-shirts?

The Kantounistas is the name of a group of Corfu residents, dedicated to doing as many as possible of those tasks that other people wait to have done for them, if ever, by the elusive Them/They brigade.
You’ve heard the moans – why doesn’t someone clear up the rubbish in Sanroko Square, why don’t they clean the town beach, why doesn’t someone do something about all the graffiti?
The members of the Kantounistas group of Corfu asked the same questions, and more – and then decided, towards the end of 2010, to make the first move and DO something about these problems.

One of their first projects was to demonstrate against the thoughtless and inconsiderate parking of cars on pedestrian crossings and on the then-newly established bicycle lanes. This well-meant effort received a mixed reception naturally, but the Kantounistas are nothing if not thick-skinned!

February 2011 saw the group clearing a massive amount of the casual, careless and criminal amount of rubbish dumped on the public beach at the end of what we call ‘Disco Strip’ on the edge of Corfu town. Everything from old fridges to abandoned lavatory basins to prams and bikes and oh-so-many plastic  bags and bottles – the detritus of humankind. 

The municipal rubbish collectors had quite a surprise next morning!

Subsequent projects included the cleaning and painting of the children’s playground in the gardens at Garitsa, clearing the footpath to the beauty spot at Kardaki, removing graffiti from buildings and monuments (which also provoked some unfavourable reactions, presumably from ‘artists’ who resented the removal of their handiwork!) and the cleaning of road and direction signs along Alexandras Avenue. The group has also taken part in the collection and distribution of clothing, food and supplies for those in need.

 Clearing the path to Kardaki and the well.

Cutting back the Kardaki 'jungle'

Cleaning the road signs in Alexandras Avenue
Cleaning off graffiti  and re-painting wall in approved colour!
Cleaning up the Eptanisa monument in the Upper Square

This pedestrian crossing in Garitsa had been obliterated over the years and never renewed - the Kantounistas saw an opportunity for a repair job with a dash of humour!

2012 has so far seen the planting of trees on a deforested section of Mt Pantocrator near Loutses, seed-bombing (wild flowers) and filling in the derelict and often dangerous holes where trees have been deliberately killed with chlorine and then cut down for the benefit of shops and parking  in parts of Corfu Town, and more cleaning of graffiti.

Little Kantounistas helping mummy to plant little trees

Tree cut down illegally

Similar, replaced with a flower bed

The latest activity took place on Saturday 24th March, a truly beautiful day of sunshine that motivated everyone involved, The project?

To make the schoolyard at Kontokali a place of fun and inspiration for the children attending the school.
The group was out in force, with families and friends, teachers and pupils and university students, all wielding paintbrushes.

The results were stunning. Colourful and imaginative and a definite improvement on plain grey cocrete walls.

First task - to paint grey walls white
Work in progress

Helpers at work
Team effort
A more cheerful school

The Kantounistas  have willingly given up their free time to carry out their projects and for the most part have provided their own materials.
I am proud to say I played my own small part by dashing off the stencils, at very short notice, for the school murals, 

That went something like this: Daughter: “Come on Mum finish up your meal quickly. Now – “ she dumped pieces of cardboard cut from packaging in front of me together with felt tip pens.  Me: ‘But –“  Too late. Have you ever tried to draw even lines and shapes on that kind of cardboard, a sandwich of smooth and corrugated card? It is not conducive to showing off artistic talent. But eventually, recognizable birds, butterflies and even a desert island emerged. I drew a train but it got left behind – no great loss for how many Kontokali children have actually been on a real train?

Here is proof, then, that ‘They’ may not always make the first move, but they are willing to follow if you make the first move!

Let’s see a show of hands for the Kantounistas!

Hands-on decoration at the school!

For more information, check out the Kantounistas page on Facebook or follow their blog at
Why not join them!

It was pointed out to me that in my previous blog I displayed a photo of a cafeneion in Lakones instead of the one I intended to show that is situated at Nissaki.
I apologise – this was entirely unintentional.
The old village cafeneions do tend to look very similar, and the old boys who are regular patrons likewise!
That’s my excuse anyway.

It sometimes gets a bit difficult to balance the laptop and the stick at the same time, and mistakes happen. And the girls will keep butting in with their own ideas.

(Not my photo but oh how appropriate!) 

Just signing off, with a flash of my beloved purple! Ah, the beauty of Spring in Corfu!


  1. Hi,
    What a brilliant idea. Love your blogs. Annie x

  2. What a wonderful and inspiring story. And I love everything you have accomplished. Beautiful!

    God bless the Kantounistas.

  3. Oh well done you lot - how fabulous the school yard looked after the Kantounistas had done their stuff. Truly inspirational.

  4. Brilliant, both you and The Kantounistas!!

  5. I bet the kids love their new cool school! Well done x
    Jackie x

  6. After commenting just some days ago...i got back to your wonderful blog today and read through most of it! rainy Athens was a good excuse to spend time on reading!!! :)
    I laughed, remembered (first came to Corfu in 1970...) , smiled, was moved to tears...and thoroughly enjoyed your stories! Please, keep going!!!! Kindest Greetings, Anne ( Ps. i just HAD to copy the picture with the "grandmas and the pc"...i hope you don't mind? ) Let me know -really!!- i would love to tell about your blog on mine!!!


Feedback welcome-at least I'll know somebody's reading this!