Monday, 29 November 2010

Nothing makes us more happy ...

... than when we are discussing the weather

Here its unseasonably warm, winds from the south, and occasionally there is sahara sand dusting the cars. Today its been cloudy but the wind has been blowing hard from the south. There is a phrase - 'cracking the flags' and it has been. The Greek flag by the submarine mermorial looked like it had been starched and waves were crashing against the harbour wall, sending spray on to the paralia and beyond.

I made my usual tour of town, popping into the water company to pay my bill. There i made my usual request to change the address, from a friends PO box to my house address. They photocopied the bill again, took the details, copied my electricity bill as proof of my address and said it would be done. Just as they have for the last five two monthly bills ...

A walk for a coffee, and opportunity to get out of the breeze. I did say hello to quite a few people who now seem to know me, even if i can not always place them. Its good to be in town in winter, its where the life is.

Its warm enough for me at the moment. Whilst i was sitting outside the coffee shop in shirtsleeves, my Greek neighbours were sitting inside with their coats on. Old ladies were covering their mouths with scarves, to keep out the wind from their lungs.

One thing everyone was talking about was the weather, its too warm. My contribution was that the strong breeze, had moved around 5 degrees. This brought some amazement, and i explained, I had sat out of the breeze, and was now in it. Nods of approval (Or he is crackers)

They asked what the weather was like in the UK, I told them it was cold and snowing. Winter had come earlier this year (by about two weeks) and it was the same in France, and also very cold in Spain

I headed off along the spray soaked Paralia, and bumped into Phil and his wife at Taverna O'Batis. We had a quick Tsipouro together, and were spoilt by the lovely Eleni, with an excellent meze that included Red Mullet, Huge Calamari, Beetroot salad, Zucchini and Cheese balls ...

What better way is there to enjoy lunch, on a warm windy day overlooking the harbour in Skiathos ...






Sunday, 28 November 2010

Its the season ...

... For things to go walkies

Things have a habit of vanishing here in town and usually overnight. Its dark early and despite our lovely new antique style sodium street lights. Things tend to go for a walk.

My neighbour has slowly lost all the plants from his planters. Most mornings i pick up his Yucca, which has been uprooted overnight, and cast aside - Its a cutting and was rooting. Maybe if they left it a while it would be worth pinching it.

Yesterday someone helped themselves to two orange boxes off my doorstep, they worked quickly as i only went to the shop and back, and they were gone. Orange boxes are like gold dust, broken up they make great kindling for your fire. Here today, gone two minutes later.

This morning, the nice old piece of rock, shaped like a wedge, that has held my kitchen window shutters closed overnight went to pastures new too. We live on a rock - so why steal a bit of it ? After all, its not as if there is not plenty to go around.

Strange that no one steals my rubbish bag, must be something there useful to someone ...

Great days are like this ...

A quick text message, and a meeting on the Paralia in the sun
Perhaps an Ouzo, a meze, a chat with friends and friendly waiters
Some children playing, Some milk spilt and accepted by the Guardian cats
Glasses raised and toasts accepted and returned, as discussions cross table

Thats what i like about passing a lazy Sunday afternoon, here in Skiathos in the November sunshine ...

Saturday, 27 November 2010

The knock on your door ...

Sometimes its quite interesting, However my grip of the Albanian vocabulary is somewhat limited. I can say Si jeni miku im (How are you my friend)
One day i will search for a Rosetta stone module and it will all become clearer.

Then when someone says, blerë këtë anglez qilim to me (Buy this rug Englishman)
I will be able to respond ...

Qen (Dog)
Mace (Cat)
Sharrë elektrike me zinxhir (Chainsaw)

Yes today i opened the door, and looked down (Our Albanian friends, are not always the tallest of people) and there was a guy trying to sell me a chainsaw.

Eureka !
Something i actually want !

I have been looking for one and basically they cost an arm and a leg here. (What doesn't ?) Buy the wrong one, and not use it properly you can actually loose an arm and a leg too.

Does it work ? (E bën këtë punë?)
OK showing off - and he started it there in the street to show me.

Engine works - but what about the saw ? I said ...

Blank look (sy Blank)

So i looked at my driftwood, by the fire, and picked up a log.

He got the idea, and in a shower of sawdust, the log became two, then four.
Then another log slightly thicker, then an old fence post i had ...

After four he laughed, and so did I. He realised he had been done, and that i now had a nice pile of firewood.

Now the Albanian guys are not the type of people you really want to upset. So i gave him some Euros for the petrol and I asked how much.
I am English so he rolled his eyes back as far as acropolis like a fuel gauge as he did the numbers.

We could not agree, so he may come back if he cannot get a better deal. Otherwise i will resort to the great god Amazon.co.uk who delivers within a week. The Albanian door to door Amazon was last seen at the harbour, hopefully he did not saw down the lovely plane tree for an enquiring customer ...

Translate any language (Within reason) at http://free-translation.imtranslator.net/

Footnote:

The door to door sales here are really a good service. Mainly they are undertaken by gypsy ladies selling clothes and rugs, all items that are needed here on the island by people who cannot get to the mainland to buy them.
I have not needed anything so to date have not bought anything, but many of my neighbours do and i have seen the haggling taking place on the doorsteps.
You do get people trying to sell you goods that are probably black market or fallen off the back of a donkey.
One guy had pre-painted lengths of roof guttering - aluminium, and i was tempted, but did not purchase.


Friday, 26 November 2010

Don't do it ...

Dont do it - but they did ...

Tonight, they celebrated the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau. Rejoice in the first wine of 2010 they said ...

Quite why you would want to dine in one one of the better restaurants in town, and drink that wine defies all known logic. Whats more they want €15 a bottle for the somewhat dubious opportunity.

You can still get a decent bottle of red here for under €5 in one of the supermarkets. Much to my surprise there is a decent 2008 Merlot on sale at just €2.75 - and it has a cork stopper ! If you want to make a stew, with some robust wine for cooking, it will cost €2 for 1.5 litres and you still retain your eyesight afterwards.

As for the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau and it being the first wine of 2010, Well I am afraid that is not true. The 2010 vintage Skiathos wine, in 1.5 litre bottles, has been available for a few weeks. Its pretty rough, just like the celebrated Beaujolais. It packs a punch but whereas Beaujolais gives you the hangover from hell, the Skiathos Nouveau does not.

Some years ago i was introduced to the 'Skiathos Nouveau' one November evening. I was very wary as it was being decanted, from what seemed to be, a second hand diesel Jerrycan.

Tasting notes: 'Skiathos Nouveau' 2007

I held it up to the light, and thanks to the use of a halogen bulb, I could detect some rose hue'd colour in the swirling mists.
I took in the aroma, the 'nose' i remember was interesting, it felt like all my sinuses had been cleared, back as far as London.
The taste on the palate was hard to define, as there was not any to be had that i could detect through the numbing sensation.
So i closed my eyes, and savoured the moment, I wished I was not there ...

"Its good i said" - Mistake, they poured me another, then another, then it got a bit blurry, there was music, there was dancing ...............

The following morning, i woke, gripped the bed, pulled myself upright focused ...

'YES I CAN STILL SEE'
But no hangover, I was amazed, I thought its going to be a creeper, you know the one that creeps up on you at 11am and leaves you groggy all afternoon - But no much to my surprise, nothing at all.

That night i went back to the scene of the previous nights entertainment, and all was well. My party pals should have still been in bed, as they were rocking when i arrived, the night before.
Yet they seemed none the worse for wear. Better still no sign of the diesel decanter, which apparently we had emptied around 4am.

'4AM' I was up at eight ...

Last year i was back there, when in walked one of the gang, saw me turned round and went back out. Feeling a little uncomfortable i watched as he returned with something from the back of his pick up truck, in a bag.

"There you go - "Xronia Polla" It was Christmas eve, and he had given me another 1.5 Litres of the 'Skiathos Nouveau' this time the 2009 vintage. (For tasting notes - see 2007 vintage above)

I must admit the emotion of the moment brought a tear to my eye, and he smiled as he brought a glass so we could share one, which became two together. Luckily for me, i was staying out of town, so sadly the party could not be repeated.

One day a few weeks later, a friend asked what did you use on the sink, there was a stain that we could not remove. Did you scrub it, what did you use ...

Then i remember the last resting place of the 2009 vintage, its pretty good at cleaning sinks, just like the Beaujolais ...

So rejoice in the first wine of 2010, and if your enamel needs cleaning, don't hesitate just give me a call ...

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Friends of the Island ...

I have spoken of friends on the Island, but not of 'Friends of the Island' ...

Today i met Phil, or phillippos as he is more commonly known.
We have been conversing on the net occasionally for about three years. We share a love for the island, and a restaurant we both know down in Aghia Pareskevi.

I knew he was arriving today, and when the ramp of the Express Skiathos was lowered, this guy came down the ramp and was embraced by locals.

It just had to be him, and we eventualy met and had a quick few words.

An hour or so later as i walked along the paralia, i was beckoned over to his table and we shared a glass, and a bite to eat.

Life is like that here in Skiathos, you meet some lovely people, and a few words becomes a lovely lunch, sitting in the sun ...

Airborne ...

Yes i had to leave the Test match commentary to go to the airport ...

A lovely morning and here is OA069 departing runway 20 for Athens at 08.28am


We are very busy in the winter, we get two flights a week from Athens!

Thursday
Depart Athens 07.10
Arrive Skiathos 07:55 OA068

Depart Skiathos 08:20
Arrive Athens 09:00 OA069

Sunday
Depart Athens 14.05
Arrive Skiathos 14:50 OA068

Depart Skiathos 15:15
Arrive Athens 16:00 OA069


The airport is a great place to see who is coming and going.
If you want to know whats going on, this is the place to be ...

The Ashes ...

No, I am not cleaning the fireplace at 5am ...

I am watching the Ashes cricket live from the Gabba in Queensland.
Only this morning, i was thinking there must be a way to watch the cricket, after all the wonders of the internet allow you to download anything seconds after its released anywhere in the world.

Like most people in Greece, I have TV, and a large Paella dish (Conveniently located on Someone else's roof) I have had some use and its not been good, the slightest breeze and the signal goes, and the only thing i seem to get is astral static and raindrops that obscure the signal.

However i live in hope, and i am still waiting for a freeview card from the UK to operate the thing properly. Its only been six months ...

At the moment, i was contemplating the sound of leather on willow - well Australian skull actually - Ding "You have mail" and my island mate appeared in the inbox "try this for the ashes" he said ...

So i did ...

And via somewhere in an Indian takeaway, probably via an old Fray Bentos dish, a bent coat hanger, and some flex ...

The Ashes live from the Gabba (Via the sub continent)

Ok there is Indian adverts and pop ups, and Australian commentary, Its Shane Warne and Tony Greig, not Blowers and CMJ, and there is an absence of cream cakes.

The facists at the Beeb do not allow us to receive TMS live streaming, as we are not in the UK, It is not permmited in your country etc. Its the Licence thing - I paid one for 20 years - Yes i was the one !!!

I am currently trying to get the TMS feed via the British forces in Afghanistan, it must be possible ...

So lets hope we stuff the Kangaroo, and this is the only time Ponting gets his hands on the famous Urn ...



What was that ? Sorry, Bill Lawrie is commentating with Tony Greig, who is talking about the archive they have - 'its full of .... of .... er ..., of ....old things about ashes cricket' ...........

Sadly a wicket has just fallen ...

Pietersen ct Ponting B Siddle 39
Cook 43 NO

England 117 -3

Latest Greig'y quote, 'the sun has come out - there is spin, its turning 5 degrees, that equates to 51cm'
Mmm maybe i should get him up on the roof, i might get a decent signal ...

Sadly another English wicket just fallen ...

Collingwood ct North B Siddle 4
Cook 43 NO

England 125 -4

Richie Benaud is in the commentary box Aaahhhh .....

Footnote:

260 all out was not in the earlier forecast, and neither was 6 wickets and, a hat trick for Birthday boy, Peter Siddle. Lets see if England come out fighting ...

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Goldfish ...

You do not find many Goldfish on a Greek Island ...

But in the last 24 hours, i have seen quite a few. Out last night i passed the pet shop, near the ring road. There in a large tank, by the window were some fancy goldfish.

This morning we went for coffee - at Goldfish bar, there swimming round in clockwise circles - two goldfish. As i sat outside i remembered where i had seen some more ...

Up at Taxiacharis is a fresh water spring, where many of us collect water, this stream feeds a sterna. In the sterna earlier in the summer, much to my surprise were around 20 fan tailed goldfish.

One morning, when i was up there along came a man in a truck, he lowered a pipe into the sterna. He started a pump and filled a tank on the back of his pick up truck with water. Now he got a bit twitchy, as i had a camera - so his activities may not be exactly legal ...

When i looked on Sunday, there were noticeably less fish swimming in the sterna. So this morning as i sipped my cappuchino in the sun, i contemplated the following.

Did the fan tails make it to the pet shop, or has anyone turned on the cold tap from their freshly topped up sterna, and recieved a fantail in their washing up ...

Monday, 22 November 2010

Eikonistra ...

The icon returned today to Tries Hieraches from Kounistra ...

I mentioned in a previous post that the icon was taken on a pilgramage from the top church Panagia i Limia, to the monastery at Kounistra. Its a very important religious event here on the island and much celebrated by the townsfolk.

Today it made the return journey to Panagia i Limia, its arrival heralded by the ringing of the church bells across the village. At 11am the congregation left the church at Tries Hieraches, and led by the Skiathos band, and ladies in traditional island dress, made their way up to Panagia i Limia to collect the Icon and return it to its home at Tries Hieraches.

The icon, is then paraded on the town as it is returned home to Tries Hieraches, again led by the band. Here they are on the Paralia ...


On up the seven steps ...


Once back at the church the bells rang out, and the crowd was blessed by the senior Papa

and the icon returned home again to Tries Hieraches ...


Sunday, 21 November 2010

Weary Travellers ...

Two weary travellers arrived this afternoon, for a very special Birthday, after travelling halfway round the world to get here ...


Just in time to see a sunset - this one.



Eleanore and Paul MacDonald http://www.kammmac.com/

Sunny Sunday morning ...

Its another Sunny Sunday morning here in Skiathos.

I managed to see two sunrises today, one up at Taxiacharis, and another one down on the Paralia ...


Here us the one from the Paralia, this morning ...


Its going to be a warm day, and a good excuse to get out in the sunshine - As if we need it.

As its also Maria name day, the ladies are attending church in their finest - χρόνια πολλά! to anyone called Maria ...

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Panagia Kounistra ...

Its a sunny morning here and the church bells at Tries Hieraches are ringing ...

Today its Panagia Kounistra, the days when the townsfolk return the icon to the monastery at Kounistra in a pilgramage across the hills on the old paths.

The Kounistra walk

The Skiathos Calendar by Betsy Barnard mentions ...

21st Panayia Kounistra (The presentation of the mother of god in the temple,
i.e. when she was taken to serve in the temple as a child aged about 12)

On the morning of the 20th the miraculous icon is brought up to the top
church and taken out of the town about 2.30. The bells ring in town at about
1.00. People follow on foot on the old road to Kounistra. At the monastery
of Kounistra an evening service, all night vigil, bonfires food, much
feasting. Buses run to the monastery all evening.
Early next morning, about 5am the icon is taken back along the old road to
town, people following on foot. To Ayia Triada about 8am, down the old paved
road to the Kalo Pigadi and along the main road to the Tries Hieraches.
Service 9 - 10.30 ...

Most of the village will be walking just after noon, heading up to Acropolis with the band. Young and Old alike, many of the old ladies barefoot. They will be met at Acropolis by men with guns who serenade with a volley of gunfire as the icon passes. Then climbing up on the old paths to Katsarou, then over the hills, visiting shrines and finally up to Kounistra.

Once at Kounistra there will be a service and the villagers will rest and take Coffee, Tsipouro or make the return to town. Many will stay overnight with the Icon, then return in the morning over the hills to Tries Hieraches at first light ...

Old habits ...


Friday afternoon on the Paralia, and some habits do not change ...

A leisurely lunch, a sundowner or two, and Michael fishing on the Paralia. I did not take part in the first two, but never tire of a chat with Michael.

Michael is a gentleman, and one of the islands nice guys, a fervent West Ham fan, and intrepid fisherman - So lets leave the run of bad luck there ...


He has been lucky and unlucky this autumn. He has landed a couple of Tsipoura (Fish) on the Paralia and the odd Tsipouro (Drink) to keep out the cold. He lost one the other night to a taverna cat as he landed it, and the taverna cats as you know, never miss an opportunity ...

There he was this afternoon, with family and friends, outside Syrano fishing away, telling me the full moon would help. It was around 4pm and nothing would bite until 5.30pm onwards - yet a few metres away young lads were catching small fish and returning them.

I gave him a bag of fresh satsumas, the first of the winter crop. I had been given a carrier bag full myself and passed some to him. We shared the seasons free spoils, he promises me a Tsipoura - just like he did last year, I still wait to taste the fruits of the sea ...


Thursday, 18 November 2010

Storms ...

The weather has finally broken after two weeks of lovely sunshine.

This afternoon the skies darkened, and the unfamiliar sight and sound of raindrops on the pavement, sent eyes up-cast towards gloomy skies. Not to be outdone the raindrops were accompanied by the distant rumble of thunder.

Just in time, i made it home, the washing came in, and the shutters were closed.

Now there is the sound of rain on the roof instead of seagulls, and the splash of running water running in the street ...

Monday, 15 November 2010

The morning after ...

Its been business as usual here today.

Just a few sore heads, and the cafes on the Old harbour very busy once again as the locals discuss the election result over coffee.

Deals have been done, that will have to be honoured. Some people will be very happy, some have shown their true side, and some have done the dirty, but hope they have got away with it.

There are lies, and damned lies, and there is politics. Its been fascinating to observe these last few weeks, and its not over yet ...

Nikolaos Plomaritis is returned as Mayor ...


9.56pm They are ringing the church bells at Tries Hieraches, It seems we have a new Mayor ...

Nikolaos Plomaritis is returned as Mayor of Skiathos
All the Church bells are ringing, car horns and scooter horns being sounded in town

The post election party in Papadiamantis street, and a very happy re-elected Mayor ...

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The last supper of the Mayoral election campaign ...

Its early here and shortly the run off elections take place across all over Greece.

There has not been the carnival atmosphere this week, its been very quiet. The two loosing candidates closed their campaign offices, in one case very swiftly, and its now down to the final two in the race to be Mayor of Skiathos. The polls open at sunrise at the school by the Alkyon hotel, Then after voting the electorate will hit the coffee shops. Many people returned to the island to vote, and some are still here from last week. The Flying dolphin runs later this afternoon instead of the morning to take people back from the islands to the mainland.

Ask anyone who they think will win, and there is much sucking of teeth and eyes cast upwards, along with the shrug of the shoulders. Down in Papadamatis street, the campaign offices are around 100 metres apart. It's quite interesting to see who is supporting who as you pass by.

Last night i was with a good friend on the final night of his holiday. We spent most of yesterday with good friends, in different locations, and last night were in one of the tavernas. We had been discussing what would happen today. When very late on, in comes one of the candidates and sits down for a meal with friends. As we watched, some of the people who had been in opposing camps, and whose votes are up for grabs, that were dining in the taverna just left immediately. Others shook him by the hand and wished him well.

Its a funny old game politics, especially on an Island, where everyone knows everyone. Deals have been done and some old scores seem unsettled.
As Sir Alan Sugar would say in the final, there can only be one winner today, and one of you is going to get fired, and one is going to get hired.

Prevenzanos v Plomaritis, it will all happen in the next few hours ...

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Rememberancetide ...

At 11.00am, twenty friends gathered in a circle at the submarine mermorial, to observe the two minute silence for those who died in wars

Afterwards Steve from 'Kazbar' read the following words ...

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them"

Then he read an emotive poem, written by a serving member of the forces serving in Afghanistan ...

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Sahara sandstorms ...

To say its been windy here is an understatement, the southerly winds have been battering the harbour for three days now and again this afternoon are increasing again.

Its blowing a good force 6, and the flagpoles are bending in the breeze, and the Greek flags look like they have been ironed with starch, as they are cracking in the wind.

With the breeze has come Sahara sand, it gives the appearance of fog, as the tiny grains are whipped through the air reflecting the sunlight as they go.

Its warm at 22 degrees at 9am in the morning, no need for a jacket today ...

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Anemos ...

Today is a very windy day down on the port, the wind has turned to the south and is cracking the flags and bending the flagpoles.

This is the weather that brings warm air, and sends the little boats running for shelter behind the harbour wall, or to the bottom.

Only one little caique is braving the stormy winds, its just in the shelter of the rock behind Jimmys bar. A nervous time for the owner who is probably watching from somewhere nearby ...

Monday, 8 November 2010

Life in the street ...

One thing you must do when you live in town, is help keep the street tidy ...

Now its not that easy, and you need some training, and after a few years, i think i now feel qualified to comment. The trick is not to live at the bottom of the hill, and have a neighbour.

Now i am lucky, i live on a hill and have neighbours ...
  • You sweep the street in a downhill direction (Your side only)
  • The swept items are left on your neighbours area (Downhill)
  • You wash with copious buckets of water, and sweep downhill to your neighbour
If you sweep the neighbours side this is an insult, as they are not doing it properly. This will result in them appearing and standing hands on hips and inspecting their side of the street.

When you are new at this they will appear and stand hands on hips inspecting your side of the street and will tell you clearly what you are doing wrong.

You know you are doing it right when, no-one appears and they watch from the window.

Your street credibility rises considerably when as a man you
  • Sweep the street in view of the public and neighbours
  • You wash the windows
  • No longer need the guidance of the elderly ladies in the error of your ways

I recently watched a neighbour sweep the street around 30 metres, and round a corner, to deposit the sweepings outside a neighbours doorstep. The lady sweeping was probably in her 30's and she left it outside an elderly neighbours doorstep. The lady owner well into her 80's presumably moved it round the corner later that day ...

However after five years, i have still not qualified or am trusted to assist with the delivery of firewood to my elderly lady neighbours ...

Skiathos Mayoral Election result 2010 ...

And the winner is ...

Now there are two from four - Its a split decision ...

There will be a run off next Sunday, and its between The Old and New ...

Prebanzanos the Old Mayor, and Plomartis the Current Mayor. Big turnout and as i thought its between these two.

Clear choices this time - Its going to be another great week, and lets hope the carnival atmosphere continues for the poll next Sunday, just like it did this Sunday.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Lifelines - The plane ....


Living on an island we have our lifelines.

Transport is one of them, and we have two choices, the ferry service or the plane.

Now that it is winter we have two planes a week on or off the island. The service is provided (Subsidised by the government) by OlympicAir. Its fondly known here as 'The puddle jumper' and the sound of the propellors droning over the town announces its arrival, as it dives down onto the short runway.

Today i was meeting my friend Malcolm, and waited outside the amaretto, to watch the plane land.

OlympicAir OA068 an ATR-4 this afternoon on final approach to runway 02


Having travelled with OlympicAir quite a lot recently, its a great improvement on the old Olympic Airways. The customer service is excellent, and the aircraft are clean and more often than not - on time.


Election day ...

Its election day here on Skiathos. Its like summer again, another glorious sunny warm day, and town is very busy. The cafes and bars are full, the voters are discussing the poll after casting their votes at the ballot box.

I saw Mr Prebanzanos sitting, open necked shirt, taking a coffee, all alone. Elections are cruel days, there will be only one winner - well two if its a close call, and we have a run off next week.

Acceptance and rejection, Jubilation and disappointment, it will all take place in just a few hours time. One thing is sure they will be back in the cafe's tomorrow discussing the result ...

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Little summer and the Mayoral election 2010 ...



Kale Mera apo Skiathos, or Good Morning from Skiathos

Its another beautiful sunny day here in the Aegean, and after the recent rains the island is green, and full of autumn colours. Olives are ripening and being picked. Its a bumper year and the press at Kalivia is very busy.

The good weather is known locally as little summer, and that is as true an expression of this time as any of how it is here. However its hard trying to stay away from the lure of the beautiful empty beaches and cool sea, and some hardy souls are still swimming.

Well maybe not quite deserted, someone has been on the beach before us, it seems ...

... and more than a passing interest in what was going on, from one of the locals

On Vromliminos yesterday there was an impromptu swimming race, and here is the result of the photo finish, which was won by Diamantis by about a length ...


On Friday evening the Mayoral candidates were given a stage at the Bourtzi, to address the people of Skiathos with their plans and aspirations for the island, for the next four years.

As an interested observer, i was able to gauge the mood of popular support, as sadly i do not understand the speeches with my limited Greek. However Mr Plomartis the current Mayor did permit a brief paraphrase of his speech in English, for the many islanders who are not Greek but registered to vote.

What i found interesting is the Mayoral candidates introduced their team of prospective councillors on the stage. They stood as a team whilst the Mayor candidates outlined their proposals for the Island to the attentive audience.

Mr Plomaritis Mayor of Skiathos, takes his turn, and was the last candidate at the rostrum ...

This event took place, below the statue of the islands most famous son Alexandros Papadiamantis, an author of many short stories, and serialised novels. I wondered as i watched if he would have approved of the scripted speeches that were being conveyed to the masses just a few feet away.

Tomorrow - Sunday is Election day, and its going to be another glorious sunny day. Little summer continues unabated (We hope) and its off to the beach again.

The answer to the question - Who will be Mayor? will be known later that night.

The polls close at Sunset, then the count begins ...

Friday, 5 November 2010

Return to the rock ...

Despite the tube strike in London, I made it to terminal four in very good time for the flight to Athens. This was entirely due to my brother Adrian who drove me there all the way from Aldeburgh.

Sat in Cafe Rouge eating a baguette, after checking in my substantial luggage commitment. (Thank you to the Greek god on Mount Olympus - who arranges the blind eye to the excess) Suddenly felt very tired.

I love travel but at the point of starting, i start yawning - not good if you are in conversation - or have just driven someone 150 miles to the airport, and have yet to get home.

A last wave as i went through departures and security into the bright lights of the shopping experience of pre-boarding. Simple text message to Kamila, do you want anything ? The reply get this for me, that for you.

I got 'that for her' and that was it, that made three things i had to carry for the next eight hours, and i was not up for it ...

Watching the screens intently OA266 Will board at Gate 2 was enough to get me to the gate for the next wait to board the aircraft. Finally when I was in my seat, luggage in the locker, then i could relax with my usual flight plan.

Seat just rear of the port wing, I can see the operation of the flaps and airbrakes and view down - in this case concrete - Good
Stretch legs - Plenty of room - Good
Book in the seat back pocket - Done

Plan ahead:

Free newspaper - International Herald and Tribune - So So
Dinner - Usual Chicken Meat balls - OK
Glass of red wine - Peloponessos Agiorgitko - Good
Sleep for an hour or two - No Chance!

Plan crashed and burned ...

At that moment around 40 Greek schoolchildren boarded, all excited. I realised the spare seats would all be taken, and the chance of catching up on a few hours sleep were gone. Two people swiftly changed seats on the plane, but no way was i going to fight my way down the aisle with a rucksack, box and bottles. So settled down with the kids, and a spare seat between me and another lady passenger.

After take off, and as soon as you could move around, two lads spent most of their time in the aisle chatting up the girl in seat A in front of me. She was getting lots of attention, however from my point of view the goddess of the row, was in seat B and was into her studies.

To be fair the kids were very well behaved, and the flight was uneventful. Great service and a lovely landing down in Athens. Swiftly off the aircraft and though the formalities. I watched all the bags come off and the conveyor stop. My bags not being there, great they were checked all the way to Skiathos.

Three hours to kill, in an airport that you spent seven hours a few days ago. What shall i do first? Went outside, Brrrrr a bit cool, came back in after a few minutes in the smokers haze. Free Internet machine would not let me open mail - damn (Why ? laptop at home in a few hours)

A Coffee at Ritatza - My boss used to call it the 'distress purchase from Eurest' only used when in dire need on a railway station.
I have always found it to be ok, better than the awful Starbucks option. The lady recognised me and we joked as i scrambled around with Sterling and Euro coins to give her the correct money. A friendly soul, but looking tired as the airport came to life at 5am and everyone wanted coffee, and probably all she wanted was sleep ...

There is something about the people of the night, those who work in the sureal world after dark, and sleep by day. Why do they do it ? I have worked nights, and you do not really do it by choice. Its for better money, or to make use of the daytime hours, as you seldom sleep properly. Working nights is like flying to Australia, you turn your body clock backwards and forwards. By the end of the week you are exhausted, you eventually sleep, have a day off then do it all again.

Off to the gate, B22 for the last hour, and further fun and games at security, as the bags are inspected and x-rayed and the man from Group4 asks me 'what is this' as he looks at my daughters new books, and a dundee cake - now that took some explaining ...

Gate 22 populated by strangers and a few faces that i recognised. Looked busy as people traveling home for the elections, to vote. Counted 32 on the bus including Michaelis from Taverna Alexandros.

Fought my way up the steps with my assorted luggage, and stowed away and seat in 3A before occupant of 3B arrived. Occupant of 3B large and female, I bounced up when she bounced down. No words exchanged

Seat under the port wing, slightly behind propellor and clear view down - in this case again concrete - Good
Stretch legs - Hardly any room - Grrr
Book in the seat back pocket - No in one of the bags
Pretty stewardess - Good

In flight service - I had coca cola and great views of the clouds, the coast of Evia and the island and landing. My neighbour saw off the 'Greek Deli' biscuits with hers, and mine were stowed in my pocket for home.

Off the carousel last came my bag and box, on to the trolley, then the rucksack, box and bottles. Into the lounge where Tommy and Andrea were waiting.

I am indebted to Tommy and Andrea, they always offer to pick me up after my travels. Great friends, and Tommy sporting the start of a beard ...

Home again to an empty house, the girls were still asleep as Tommy and Andrea helped me unload my bags into the house from the harbour.

A beautiful sunny day, and then when i thought about it later, i had been up for most of it ...