Saturday, 31 December 2011

New years eve ...

A sedate affair back on the rock ...

More Silent night, that sing 'a' long a Paralia. However around 10 minutes to midnight, (Greek Maybe Time) there will be a cacophony of noise, as shotguns are fired into the air.
Mainly by guys who can afford the cartridges, but who have trouble reading the watch after a few tsipouro's.

Here the fireworks being sold on the street are huge. Commonly available are rockets around 2m high, the warhead around the size of a magnum wine bottle. Roman candles and thunderflashes around 30cm high, and like the barrel of an anti aircraft gun.

If they had this artillery in 1939, I think Adolf may have taken a detour !

Off to fill sandbags, tape the windows and dust off the old tin hat for tonights aerial bombardment. Council defences active from 20.00hrs down by the river.

Have a Happy and safe New Year ...

Friday, 30 December 2011

Ethnos.gr article on logging at Mandraki ...

Ravage WOODS NEAR TO KOUKOUNARIES

Google Translation ...

They made the pine wood of Skiathos

Cleared Skiathos, cutting trees in a rare beauty in the woods south of the island in order to use as firewood in fireplaces and woodstoves.

It is estimated that 1 / 5 of the forest has been destroyed in accordance with the special needs many years to restore the previous state

It is estimated 1/5 of the foresthas been destroyed by special needs, and will take many years to recuperate.
Cleared Skiathos, cutting trees in a rare beauty in the woods south of the island in order to use as firewood in fireplaces and woodstoves. To make matters worse, cunning reached the point of cutting olives from groves fenced areas on the north side, and oaks from inaccessible places.
"It's terrible what happens. The forest Mandraki, which is a continuation of Koukounaries, cleared every day and now the situation has come to a head.We decided to set up teams of volunteers to guard the forests and will ask the municipality controlled crossing in the woods, the winter months, "said the" nation ", the chairman of the cultural association" Skiathos "Theodore Tzoumas.
Destruction of
Illegal logging has destroyed a large part in Mandraki. It is estimated that 1 / 5 of the forest has been destroyed in accordance with the special needs many years to restore the previous state.
Mantraki has characterized the woods, like many other Skiathos-A Presidential Decree of 1977 (GG 248 DI77, 13/06/1977) and is necessary to protect the flora, fauna and outstanding natural beauty of .
"In Skiathos of 48,000 acres, the 30,000 acres are forests and all forests are classified as aesthetically. We understand that there is an economic problem and tightness in the household, but the solution is not to be felled forests, "he said Tzoumas.
Information indicates that the island is not logger in previous years, the inhabitants procure wood from Volos. This year, however, is much less timber arrived, but the backyards of many homes and warehouses are filled with wood.

Still keeping an eye ...

On the broken toe ...

Still hobbling around but the swelling is going down. Have been perfecting handyman techniques between coughs and sneezes. Never had so many colds/flu like symptoms in such short succession.

Hope to get out and about in the next few days - fingers crossed ...

Monday, 26 December 2011

Boxing Day ...

Where in the UK you go shopping at 6am, to buy everything no-one else wants

Where in Skiathos the highlight is the Olympic Air flight, and watching football via Satelite TV

Its a sleepy day when nothing really seems to happen ...

Perhaps this is why I am having Wodka and Herrings, after a walk under grey skies, with many others who do not seem to have any idea what to do ...


Its Cherry Wodka, and very nice it is too ...

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Καλά Χριστούγεννα!

Happy Christmas - Wesołych świąt - Καλά Χριστούγεννα! 
to friends, and fans of the blog both near and far.

May this Christmas bring you happiness, not only now but in 2012 too ...

Friday, 23 December 2011

Its all about the weather ...

The winds have not abated it seemsHere are some quotes from friends on the island ...

Power dropped out,,, Arrrggghhhh

Skiathos is very cold,wet&windy.

The wind is unreal today!!

Can't believe the Athens plane landed & has taken off again in this weather ! well done that pilot !

They would never have landed a plane in that weather in the summer!!

Forecast for 30th & 31st is as bad but with snow thrown in for good measure and a wind chill of -8 c

Cold enough today mate, freezing actually .....

But in the face of adversity they said ...

Had a nice lunch, despite the freezing cold,wet & galeforce windy weather

I love the winter, logs at the ready, beer for the game later, lovely cosy house, Ahhh what more do you need ....

Well as a friend said to me once ...

 "Its foul here today, nothing to do but sling another log on the fire, and open up a bottle of red"

So that is probably what they will do again today ...


Thursday, 22 December 2011

The Big storm ...

Word reaches me from friends on Skiathos, that they are battened down behind shutters, as the big storm has arrived.

One of my Greek friends said, "Even the skies cry because you are getting older, the storm is upon us" which is slightly better than one message from another who wished me "Many years with white hair" ...

This week the storm has crossed Europe depositing huge amounts of snow on the alps. Now Greece is feeling the brunt of heavy rain and winds. Eyes will be cast across the water for signs of snow over on Evia.

Thats if they can see it today - White Christmas for Skiathos - I wonder ...

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Winter has arrived ...

Its the winter solstice ...

Which as the shortest day, happens to also be my Birthday. OK short days mean long nights, so I get to have a good nights sleep after celebrating. Trouble is I broke my toe today - Too much fun, and as a result sleep is proving a little difficult ...

However Cherry Vodka is a great painkiller - Like Tsipouro, I can recommend it ...

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Airport redevelopment - finance news ...

Seems the people at Andravida (Western Greece) are a little upset.  They were promised €29m for their airport, in 2011. However the projects were re-assessed. Skiathos still has its €19m to proceed, and Andravida misses out.
http://www.patrisnews.com/news_details.php?id=7178

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Travels with Junior ...

We had a smashing time today - After five days of colds we needed to get out and about. So we caught a bus, and with about 2km to go, so did the bus - taking out the rear of someone's car...

After a brisk 2km walk in the cold - Junior needed some fun, so we went to an indoor childrens playground - Skiathos take note - Something for kids.



Use of all toys and equipment, just €3 for the first hour, then €2 per hour thereafter. There was a childrens party area, Seating for adults, Tea and Coffee available and a large Plasma TV to keep Mum & Dad entertained.


We know of course, it will never happen ...

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Eye for a Bargain ...

Thomas Cook - Voted our worst airline (Even after Ryanair) have a sale on ...

£65.99 one way including taxes in August, book by midnight 16th December !

For that price who cares - Book it quick ...

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Coughs and Sneezes ,,,

Thats been us the last few days, as Junior caught the mother of all colds ...

This has duly been passed to Mum and me, and we have continued our trip (Sponsdored by Lemsip) as best we can. Now in the cold lands, its relatively warm for the time of year, and rain is forecast.

The mornings start sunny, then cloud up by 10am. However in the UK its snowing, which is what we expected to find here.

Off to clear the head with a bracing walk in the woods, which will clear the head but probably not the chest ...

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Still travelling ...

New experiences on our travels including the first sight of Snow, for junior ...

Travels going well, however a virulent cold bug, has laid both the girls low. This may affect our plans for the next few days.

 However 'back on the rock', its sunny and warm. A partial eclipse of the moon was seen last night, (Second one this year) Friends in Kolios reported frost in the valley yesterday morning, and -2 degrees later the temperature was a pleasant 17 degrees ...

Latest news: Some works have started at the airport, drainage pipes are being laid. Hopefully there will be extra parking spaces for aircraft in time for the new season.

An additional winter flight from January 3rd, by Olympic Air, every Tuesday from Athens to Skiathos. Departure from Athens at 12.10 and Expected departure from Skiathos at 13.10.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

On Holiday ...

I am in the grey lands, sadly lacking in foraging opportunities ...

However back on the rock, I hear the island is blessed with glorious sunshine.
Here I am blessed with the mother of all colds, and 1001 things to do in a short space of time.

Its home from home, but a long way from the little rock in the aegean, we are lucky to call home ...

Friday, 25 November 2011

Taking a break ...


Time for a break, and a short holiday away, from the small rock in the Aegean we call home ...

“We shall not cease from exploration.  And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

T.S. Elliot
Little Gidding


Back soon ...




Monday, 21 November 2011

Panagia Kounistra update ...

Yesterday it was the Panagia Kounistra, here on Skiathos ...

It was a great afternoon, i returned without any blisters, but a sprain to the Achilles is proving to be a right pain ! That's what you get, if you are standing on twisty rocky paths - trying to take photos ...

To see my photos of the event, taken as I crossed the hills yesterday - Click here

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Panagia Kounistra ...

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 ... 


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.

Most of the village will be walking just after noon, heading up to Acropolis - this year minus the band due to the austerity cuts, we have no bandmaster.
Young and Old alike, many of the old ladies will be 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 on special buses. Many will stay overnight with the Icon, then return in the morning over the hills to Tries Hieraches at first light.

I will be one of them ...

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Congratulations ...

To the visitor from the USA, who has read 77 pages on the blog today.

Thank you for visiting ...

Noisy neighbourhood ...

Not only just me ...

My neighbours are undertaking renovations, the street reverberates to the sound of the kango hammer. This morning i joined in for an hour with the chainsaw.

One hour later  the chansaw was rather warm - so too was i ...

However i now have a large box of manageable logs, and a box of kindling for the mighty woodburner to consume. There is a nice bag of sawdust too, for anyone with a hamster.

Tomorrow is Panagia Kounistra, the announciation of the icon, wnen it makes its annual pilgrimage over the mountains from Tries Hieraches with the village.

A great excuse for a sunday afternoon walk ...

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Bubbly in the yard ...

Nothing like a glass of fizz is there ...

This evening I joined friends here in town, to celebrate their new house. Its an old house that will soon become an exciting renovation project. Hopefully one of many, as the old houses in town that have left to go to ruins, suddenly become a source of capital in these tough times for our Greek neighbours.

We had fun whilst toasting their new adventure (As it will be) with friends and neighbours, in their yard. Lit by tea lights, visited by local cats and kittens, looking for scraps. They shared their ideas and plans with us for their new home.

After sharing experiences, laughter and a glass or two, they closed the door, and we wandered through the lanes. I pointed out houses that I liked, and had gained inspiration from, during my own adventure some years ago.

I had not been in this part of town, for a while. It soon became very apparent, that a number of the old houses, are being renovated. I recognised some that had been on the market for quite some time.

Whether they are being renovated to be sold, or had been recently, I do not know. But the renovation works, signal investment taking place, and that cannot be a bad thing at all.

In tough times, it seems, bricks and mortar are the place to be ...

Fair weather at last ...

These last few days its been more like January than November, and its been icy cold here.

However overnight, the skies have cleared - Its milder this morning, the winds have died down, it looks much more promising for the day ahead.

This mornings early morning sortie was to bring supplies to the house. Fresh water, and dry kindling as we had used all our supply up yesterday. Three Ikea bags returned and stored, containing small branches. I also recovered a cauliflower box, an orange box, and a wooden wine crate for primary kindling too.

Looking out of the window, its blue skies, and there are passing footsteps in the street - Not a bad start to the day ...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Out for Lunch ...

... and very nice it was too ...

Winter still has its icy fingers gripped around our little green island.  Braced against the winds we headed out for a lovely lunch, and a glass of Rapsani ...

As Greek wines go, this is a good one, and well worth the extra few euro's. We were treated to a lovely Vegetable soup, Chicken and Briam, (Great Briam recipe here) and Panacotta. Truly spoilt on a really cold day.

Junior also enjoyed the excursion, depositing different balls to all corners of the olive grove, and the much more fun option of the pool. Our friends cats and dog were also reduced to nervous wrecks, by the attention of being stroked and patted in rather a rough manner, but seemed to take it well.

It was all too soon to drag ourselves away, as grey skies threatened, and a sleepless afternoon, started to take effect on us all - most noticeably the little one.

Now relaxing in the afterglow of a lovely day, fire on around woodmark 5, and the 2nd Olive log just loaded ...

Monday, 14 November 2011

Ferry free day ...

No boats today according to the ferry office.

Too windy it seems, Some rain this morning, but nowhere near enough for the island -

It's winter  ...

Austerity ...

Seems the rubbish collections on a weekend have now stopped ...

The bins are overflowing, aided by the local obsession of leaving waste by the bin rather than in it. Then the cats and dogs, assist it being distributed down the street, aided by the winds.

Waste truck just arrived and its now completely full - just like summer ...

Footnote: One bag of cold fire ash, deposited into the centre of the truck, from first floor window. Direct hit - I should have been in the RAF.

Strange noise on the roof - Rain - lots of it ...

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Cold draught ...

... from the Russian steppes

Yes we are feeling the cold down here on the rock. Autumn has turned to winter and we like the rest of Greece is feeling the chill. Cold winds from the north, have sent temperatures plummeting, and decreased the woodpiles, as we burn our firewood to keep warm.

The weather is set to remain cool and windy, all through Sunday night and Monday, before the breeze calms later on Monday yet remaining cold this week.

Sunday wood index - Fire on at 1pm, six branch logs and two olive logs consumed to ash. Temperature indoors nice and warm.

One glass of mulled wine consumed - I was not offered a drop ...

Saturday, 12 November 2011

In the kitchen tonight ...

Pan roasted Chicken breast, stuffed with prunes.
This had been poached, and the prunes had been marinaded in Metaxa 3*

Poached pears a' la Propogos kokkino

The poaching stock, which was aided by a couple of cloves and a cinnamon stick - with a touch of sugar, made a lovely post dinner digestif treat to keep out the cold.

Better feed the mighty woodburner, or will need to make some more ...

Tad breezy ...

Seems as if winter storm is approaching ...

For days people have been preparing, and there is not a piece of wood to be found, anywhere on the paralia. Overnight discarded pallets have been spirited away, as if by magic.

Its very breezy this morning and more than a hint of rain in the air. The temperature has dropped, and there is a distinct chill in the house. This will be remedied later.

My early morning excursion was 'fruitful' - as i recovered 6 orange boxes, for primary kindling in the mighty woodburner. Fresh bread from the bakery, and an indulgent chocolate croissant for me as reward.

However life in the port goes on. Flying cat 6 is due in, despite the weather and the huge fuel tanker EKO1 has arrived.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Remembrancetide ...

At 11.00am this morning, forty two friends gathered at the submarine memorial, to observe the two minute silence for those who died in wars

Afterwards the following words were read by Alan ...

"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 an emotive poem, written by a serving member of the forces serving in Afghanistan ...


Photos © Sally and Beccy

A lineup of digits at 11 minutes past the 11th hour, on 11.11.11 marks a moment that won't repeat for 100 years ...

I will be on the paralia, after we pause to remember ...


Thursday, 10 November 2011

Music to my ears ...

No not my neighbour Christos ...

Who has returned for a short break from Athens, and who is serenading me daily from his balcony.

He decided he needed a break from his lovely wife and has popped up for some decent food with his stepmother. The debate in the front room is decidedly louder, each evening as he seems to get the old ladies going, with laughter and singing.

However this morning the town was alive to the music of the chainsaw, so if you cannot beat them join them ...

Once again, I was sawing up parts of my neighbours house, the last of the door frames and some ancient joists, that were riddled with woodworm, and hard as rock.

When i made the delivery, i was asked in to the house, shown where to store the wood under the stairs. and a photo of an elderly gentleman above the fireplace. I assume her husband or a relation that built the house.

There was much discussion (One sided) and pointing to the chimney - I assume she wants me to clean it ...

Back home, I sawed up some large logs into more manageable pieces, and had quite a sweat on - its mild and the juices were flowing. So was well pleased when the phone rang, and was invited for a coffee on the paralia.

We had both been active with a chainsaw, and coffee was foresaken for a well earned beer in the sun ...

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Grey skies ...

... for the last few days

We have a promise of rain over the next few days, it will be welcome - If only just to dampen the ardour of the bonfire setters across the island.

There was a great get together the other day, by the Green Fox group. They held a bazaar and exhibition in front of the Bourtzi, The ladies have collected thousands of plastic bottles and sent them for recycling on the mainland, rather than the island landfill.
However whilst we were celebrating their success, someone stole the collection bins, from seven of the island bus stops. Somehow I think they are being used to collect olives somewhere on the island - lets hope they are found or returned soon.

I hear over on Skopolos, wood piles are relocating overnight - times are hard ...

Tonight some more psarithas were enjoyed, perhaps tomorrow some prawns from the trawler. As a special treat we had a slice of cake from Ioannis cake shop here in town - simple pleasures are the best.

Time to throw another log in the mighty woodburner, friends on their way tomorrow ...

Monday, 7 November 2011

Still hard at it ...

... cutting wood this morning

It amazing the difference a sharpened chainsaw blade makes. This morning i motored through the door frames, whilst dodging nails and ancient hinges. I delivered the wood, and there was some indication that there may be more to come. The old ladies of the street, seem to approve of my actions, 'zesty' warm work, nods and smiles ...

We had an invitation out for lunch, this was spent running up and down the paralia, with junior. However we managed to get a few words in, with our friends in split shifts.

When we returned home hanging on the door was a carrier bag, and something in tinfoil. I just opened the bag whilst making a cup of tea. Inside was an assortment of sweets.

I wonder who left them, but as the smoke rises from her ancient chimney - I think i know who ...

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Distractions ...

I was on my way back from the chainsaw shop ...

I should have been going shopping, but it had already been a busy morning. A trip up to the taxiacharis spring, where I collected four bags of firewood kindling, from my mountain store. A coffee with friends, whilst watching the sunlight rays dancing on the sea between the islands. A tour of an olive grove, and preparations for their next years wood store.

I was shown some lovely Olive wood trunk cuttings, that when polished, will grace someone's table, as a bread board or Lemon board. Bought petrol for the chainsaw and returned home.

And that was all before 8am ...

However cutting up door frames and ancient wood had severely blunted the chainsaw - it had to be sharpened. The man at the chainsaw shop does this in minutes for the princely sum of €2 - a bargain.

On the way back, popped in to see my friends new 'soupa' or wood burner.

He seemed very pleased to see me, as he was having a few problems, as the soot on the windows signified. I had given him the details of the shop in Athens (Bruce are you reading this) and being a man usually careful with his Euro's - had compared prices with here on Skiathos.

Having compared prices, he had purchased the Rolls Royce of Wood burners. It stood around a metre tall, metre wide and around 40cm deep. It also had an oven, where presumably he was going to bake bread. Luckily he knew someone with a crane, they had lifted the beast and two pallets of wood up to the first floor where it was now sited - still on top of a pallet - as he could not lift it to fit the legs ...

From the top, the chimney climbed then wandered like a snake, with all the same twists and coils, across the room before exiting through the wall.

To support the weight of this impressive structure, wires were used, notably from a curtain rail, to take the weight. Silver duct tape being applied to keep all the 'umbilical like' plumbing together.

In the grate some kitchen towel was smouldering, under some plywood which was being used as kindling. When you opened the door you choked on the fumes. I looked out of the window and up, the chimney 'structure' rose through a lighting well, around 10 metres, and was leaning against the roof. It was however supported by some plastic fibre packing tape, secured by a wall nail.

He is a very good friend, so I had to word things carefully ...

Can I suggest something ... ?

Luckily he is open minded for a Greek, and seemed happy to take on board the suggestions. Within five minutes we had straight lines, a vertical chimney, and the beast still minus its feet (we need some trolley jacks to lift it) had been moved 4/5 cm  (it took the two of us to shift it) and everything was more or less right within the house.

From the upper terrace, I suggested that he needed to brace the external chimney at least twice, and clamp it. Then increase the height by at least another metre, to clear the pitch of the roof.

We returned to the first floor, where painting had been in progress recently, two sheets of an old Ta Nea, were screwed up, placed under the plywood, and within minutes there was an inferno within the beast - and no leaks from the chimney.

The mobile signified i had to return to base, with my friend promising a glass of something - by the beast with something cooked from within its mighty oven ...

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Breaking News - Flying Cat ...


This morning's Flying Cat to Volos was stopped in its tracks over on Skopelos, when a large piece of floating plastic was sucked into the engine. The crew is trying to remove the plastic and we've heard that a diver has been called in to assess the situation below the waterline.


The flying cat is our only connection to the mainland today  ... 


Update: 20.30pm
Flying cat 6 is on its way back to Skopolos, running around four hours late after repairs 



Friday, 4 November 2011

Old ladies ...

with a glint in their eye ...

I had been back to the dentist for a final instalment in a root canal treatment. Excellent work by the lady dentist, who has a surgery, that would be at home in either Athens or London.

Last night, just as the anaesthesia was wearing off, I heard the rattle of knuckles on the front door. There she was around 4 feet tall, and launched into a dialogue, that was way above me. My speech still being an issue she may have thought, I had had a glass of something (however on the seventh day of antibiotics) she gripped my hand and off she went ...

Only to return, a few minutes later with a length of timber, complete with bent rusty six inch nails. 'Soupa' she said, which means woodburner, and showed me where she wanted it cut. I picked up the saw, and she said 'avrio' which means later or  tomorrow, many times. I was rather confused, but she headed off into the night. A few minutes later, the lights went off - she had gone to bed ...

This morning, I opened the door to a large pile of wood - frames from the old windows on her house. These were replaced earlier this year.

A friend in need ...

Her door opened and over she came for another chat, the size was explained to me again, and we went back to her house. I was invited into her kitchen, thankfully nice and warm, and offered coffee from her 'beke' on top of her ancient, but rather warm small woodburner.

No petrol in the chainsaw, so an afternoon with a hand saw, making them just the right size. Then delivering the first supplies to my lovely neighbour ...

Thursday, 3 November 2011

If a picture told a thousand words ...



... Oh dear, someone is on the naughty step


As someone said to me recently "I am off to the bank, to transfer my money to a special no interest, but secure 'under the mattress' account"

"So around half a percent less than what you would get from your bank anyway" I replied ...

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Watching the TV this morning was an education ...


Four Greeks all talking over each other at the same time on the crisis. Over on the satellite channel some very interesting reporting from across europe, as the story changed during the day

Online the English Daily Mail had this headline (Much vevised) ...

A cout d'etat ?

I looked out of the window, and there was some cooing from a feather footed pigeon on a neighbouring roof. 

True there was some machine gun fire - then i realised it was a kango hammer, from a neighbours house, as he made a new apartment.

Shock. there was a tank on the corner of the street, but the Dimos are rather lax at picking up discarded water heater tanks it seems, of late. 

Yes - Some of the younger men are dressed in combats, but they had probably taken them home, at the end of their national service ...

Nothing like hysterical reporting to make more of a Crisis out of a Drama, being played on a national stage. 

A cout d'etat ? You could not make it up could you ? 

But it was on the front page of the DM - I checked the date - but they did get that right ...

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Bonfire day ...

No I have not wound the clocks forward five days ...

Its the 1st November - the greeting is Kalo Mina (Good Month) and the island is covered in low cloud. Actually its smoke from the bonfires being lit all over the island. Today is the first day of the bonfire season, and also the hunting season.

There is a pretty good chance you can get some '12 gauge' in the rear. If some hunter stalks you in the bonfire smoky mists, when you are out walking, whilst he is after small birds.

As my friend up in Kalivia said earlier - why do they all have to light them at once ...

Monday, 31 October 2011

The Greek word for ...

... disaster is referendum

Halloween - a good day for bad news, after all its 1.11.11 tomorrow, so a good place to start.

Seems the EU rescue package will now be put to the people, rather than the parliament elected by them.

Better get out early in the morning, I need to buy a new rucksack. I think I will need it for all those Drachmas next year, when we go shopping at the new Supermarket.

Word on the street is that the new Drachma, will be in a tear off strip format. Rather like a loo roll - wonder which will have more value ...


Sunday, 30 October 2011

Comfort food ...

Its cool, rather grey and gloomy outside.

This morning, I have read 11 childrens books, some of them twice, and gingerly finished last nights, abandoned Spaghetti Carbonara (The ultimate in comfort food) for lunch. Junior, then called 'dada' and pointed towards the little ones room - So that told me 'Time for bed said zebedee' ...

This would be the perfect time for a glass of red wine, a bar of chocolate, and a good book.

Maybe next week ...

Clocks went back at 4am ...

However my body clock still woke at 5am - the old 6am like normal.

Wide awake, I thought of painkiller, and antibiotics. All required, one hour earlier for the troublesome tooth. This had let me know last night, that it was still there sleeping under the medical influence.

Only when the influence wore off ...

I busied myself, and did all the fun jobs. The rubbish, cleaning the mighty woodburner, and sorting out the woodpile.

Outside people were up and about early, denoted by footsteps in the street. Down on the harbour, the priest was looking out to sea, on his way to Tries Hieraches. I watched as small fishing boats departed, but not the trawlers - Its their day off. There were some men fishing, with hand lines, others walking on the Paralia at 6am.

I made my way up the mountain, a good opportunity to visit the spring at Taxiacharis, and to visit my mountain woodstore. Then coffee with my good friend, we watched as the rainclouds hovered over Skopolos in the pre dawn light.

Water, firewood and kindling all obtained, and returned to the house, and i swept the street outside - all by 8am. The start of another gloomy looking day, here 'on a rock in the aegean' ...

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Dentist fun ...

There is never a good day to have toothache ...

Especially when it occurs on a bank holiday, as I found to my cost yesterday. Pain from my jaw that throbbed, and could not be dulled by medication. In the end I had to seek help, whatever the cost.

Dentist 1 - Highly recommended, I visited and the number was on the door, I called and was cut off.

Dentist 2 - The telephone numbers outside the office are illegible, and are covered in peeling sellotape.

... It was not looking good.

I found over lunch, that Tsipouro really does kill the pain, that was until junior head butted me, and it returned with a vengeance. There was no choice, so that evening I called once again

Dentist 1 - The response was call back Monday, as they "Had no sterile equipment - I finished for the weekend yesterday" then "Perhaps tomorrow i can help if I sterilize the tools" and "call back on Saturday"

Quite why the tools do not go in the machine at close of business, I do not know, Perhaps it was a good lunch. So in desperation, I called my friend Stamatis, who has never let me down ...

He suggested Dentist 1 then Dentist 2, then Dentist 3 ...

I called and was very pleasantly surprised, eagerness to help, a diagnosis over the phone. I was sent to a pharmacy, where the pharmacist was instructed what to prescribe. Then there was an apology that on the basis of what was said over the phone, I needed antibiotics and strong painkillers before the surgical inspection.

So the business to be in here is dentistry, as Dentist 1, and 2 do not to undertake any urgent work to pay the bills. I wonder what will happen next ...

Friday, 28 October 2011

News reaches me that all is not well ...


on the European front ...


Here on Oxi day, I read that all is not well in Greece with regard to our German brothers.

Since the deal was done at 5am yesterday morning, some of our friends from the financiers of europe, are said to have been getting a rough time.

The english newspaper, the Daily mail reports this in depth here

However here in Skiathos that is not the case, and our German friends are as welcome as ever, in my favourite taverna. Especially now that the Greeks write off 50% of their bill and pass it to the German table to settle the rest. Naturally us Brits not being part of the deal, and outsiders in Europe, are expected to pay our own bill in full ...

My friend Colin Hilton produced this ditty, which i repeat here with some minor amendments, to explain to readers across the world, the view of the crisis from us here on the inside ...


Captain Mainwaring parleys Mrs Merkels representative

As life in Greece grinds on in the face of a crisis on the continent of Europe ~ with our people going about their daily business and our children upholding its timeless traditions ~ a coded intercept received indicates that Germany is prepared to sue for peace. At first sight of this I ordered my representative to Brussels, where he met with Herr Merkel over English Tea, in order to discuss terms.

It was I think Churchill who said “In cyberwar, resolution. In defeat, defiance. In victory, magnanimity" and for our part we wish to bring this beastly business to a timely end, in order that we can all return to our lives in Downton Abbey. I intend therefore to see to it that the return of currency as Greece's assets benefits a wider world, and the Home Secretary will be announcing details of a "New Deal" for charities in Europe shortly.

In no wise do we seek reparations, though our 175mm feta howitzers will not fall silent upon the Western Front until such time as Greece expects no longer. Until then "...we shall fight them in the ouzeria, we shall fight them on the paralia, we shall fight them in the olive groves and in the coffee shops, we shall fight them in the hills; we shall never surrender..."

In order to raise morale, I have prevailed upon Mr Noel Coward to come up with a suitable ditty, which goes like this:

Who do you think you are kidding Mr Sarkozy,
 If you think we're on the run?
We are the boys who will stop your little game,
 We are the boys who will make you think again.
'Cause who do you think you are kidding Mrs Merkel,
 If you think old Greece's done?

Mr Papandreo goes off to town in a BMW321,
But he comes home each evening and he's ready with his gun.
So watch out Mrs Merkel, you've met your match in us.
If you think you'll crush us we're afraid you've missed the bus.
So who do you think you are kidding Mr Cameron,
If you think old Greece's done?

Can I ask that this afternoon, before you gather around the radio in your homes and offices, that you print the lyrics and join the refrain by using the Hyper Link below?

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Oxi “No” day tomorrow the 28th of October ...

October 28th, is Ochi Day, also called "Oxi Day", the anniversary of General Ioannis Metaxas' flat denial to the Italians' request for free passage to invade Greece.

In October, 1940, Italy, backed by Hitler, wanted to occupy Greece; Metaxas simply responded "Ochi!" - "No!" in Greek. It was a "No!" that brought Greece into the war on the Allied side; for a time, Greece was Britain's only ally against Hitler.

Greece not only did not give Mussolini's forces free passage, they seized the offensive and drove them back through most of Albania.

Had Metaxas not said "No!", World War II might well have lasted considerably longer. One theory suggests that had Greece agreed to surrender without resistance, Hitler would have been able to invade Russia in spring, rather than making his disastrous attempt to take it in winter. Western nations, always happy to credit ancient Greece with the development of democracy, may owe modern Greece an equal but usually unrecognized debt for helping to preserve democracy against its enemies.

Some historians credit the Greeks' fierce resistance to the later German paratrooper landings on the island of Crete with convincing Hitler that such attacks cost too many German lives. The from-the-air invasion of Crete was the last attempt by the Nazis to use this technique, and the extra resources required to subdue Greece drained and distracted the Third Reich from its efforts on other fronts.

From about 11.00 hours and after that, schoolchildren together with the scouts will walk along the harbour front in a small parade. Wreaths will be put near the monument at the beginning of the harbour and some speeches will probably be made from the rostrum on the harbour front.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Autumn warmers ...

Only a few days to go until the clocks go back ...

Chillier evenings and darker skies, signify that its very autumnal. Huge sweet chestnuts are on sale everywhere, harvested from the Pelion.

Today the rain clouds skirted the island, and we had a hint of rain in the air. Its been a little breezy down on the paralia too. Soon it will be winter once again.

Tonight again the fire is lit, and the mighty woodburner, is roaring away in the corner of the room. Its around wood mark 5 in here, I am more than warm enough, but the rest of the house say its 'just right'.

I was slaving over a hot stove again, this evening. What to cook on a night like this ?

Well after watching the trawlers arrive, I decided it was to be the first fish pie of autumn, and the bowl has been emptied. The fish, was something like cod, perhaps it was Ling - which is very popular here 'salted' however this was frozen from the supermarket.

However with the addition of a nice glass of chilled white Propogos - I must admit, it went down very well indeed.

Now all that leaves, is the washing up ...

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Strange conversations ...

... in the bathroom

That's what we did last night, when i joined some friends from the United States for Supper. Arriving empty handed, (and embarrassed) after a confusing mix up, thinking we were heading out to the Paralia.

However it seems I was forgiven, and after some excellent stuffed calamari, and a glass or two (Cough) of red. We discovered as members of the nations of the special relationship, seperated by birth 'across the pond' - we have something very much in common.

We have a love of renovating old houses, and a shared dislike of our host nations ability, to undertake essential plumbing correctly. Hence during my guided tour, of a great renovation project, we found ourselves in the bathroom, sharing experiences ...

So if ever you need some advice on Greek bathrooms, what to do and not to do, Well there may be some 'experts' here on a green island in the aegean - able to offer advice ...

Monday, 24 October 2011

Ouch ...

Every once in a while, we all do something silly. Just the other day it was my turn. Up on top of the wardrobe was a case - and we needed it down. The case caught on something, so needed to be encouraged to shift.

Once encouraged it descended, under Newtons law of gravity ...

where:
  • F is the force between the masses,
  • G is the gravitational constant,
  • m1 is the first mass,
  • m2 is the second mass, and
  • r is the distance between the masses.


Add to this the inert object just below, and the result is ...


Still, I managed to avoid a trip to the medical centre, despite Junior noticing that Dada had a new addition on the forehead. Naturally it looked like a doorbell so was promptly pressed ...

As Tom would say AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH !

That will get better, however the right ear is making a strange noise, like water going down the sink. Just to be on the safe side, I sought learned opinion from someone who knows about these things, here on the Island ...

'Have you been swimming?'
'No' I said ...
'Leave it a couple of days it will go away'
'OK but this is the fourth' I said ...
'Leave it another few - it needs a week'

Pardon ..............................?

I was also advised not to put anything in it.

Locally they advise that a light application of Tsipouro, cures most things. Coughs, colds, rashes, abrassions etc. Ok so if I can't put it in my ear, or on the bump on my head then, maybe its best applied internally ?

Going out for some medicine later, wish me well - Yammas !

Sunday, 23 October 2011

What to do with ...

... these beauties


The lovely quince, and its all free to pick ...

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Greek Wedding ...

Another excuse for a lovely few hours with friends ...

Tries Hieraches, and a happy couple, embarking on life together


We wish them much happiness ...

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Strike day 2 ...

Its a national strike - of sorts again ...

Taxis, Post office are on strike.

However

Alpha and Emporiki banks and the Schools are open and the Flying Dolphin, and the Flying Cat 6 are running again.

Looks like everyone will be sitting in the sun in the cafes or at the Ouzerie again later today ...

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The age of romance ...

There is nothing like listening to a young man, (Slightly tipsy) declaring his love for a young lady in the street. However Matoula, the subject of the affection is around eighty years old. Her suitor perhaps older and possibly a little tipsy after a few glasses of something.

He was not shy in declaring his affection, banging on the window with his hands, and shouting to her. Matoula though was sitting with her friends in the front room, by the warmth of their woodburner. I could see her waving at him, but not gesturing to go away.

He was blowing her many filakias (Kisses) and telling her (and the street) too. He is not alone though, another young man of similar vintage, beats the window with his walking stick, also declaring his affections. So far the windows have stood up to the daily onslaught.

It seems in her day Matoula was quite a catch ...

Strike day 1 ...

Its a national strike - of sorts

Details posted on the Athens News site detail the plans, however its a bit hit and miss, as far as we are concerned.

Taxis, National Bank, Schoolteachers, petrol stations and the Post office are on strike.

However

Alpha and Emporiki banks are open. Flying Dolphin, and the Flying Cat 6 are running.

There are huge riots in Athens, which we see on TV, and we get texts and calls from family and friends enquiring after our welfare. Yet here the sun is shining, in fact its like a public holiday, or a very busy Sunday  Everyone is sitting in the sun in the cafes enjoying a coffee - or at the Ouzerie enjoying something a little stronger.

Rest assured, there are no petrol bombs at the price they charge here ...

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Dawn chorus ...

At this time of the year its coughing ...

The houses are close together, almost dickensian in nature. You hear laughter, tears, the occasional sneeze and of course the coughing. The love of cigarettes in this part of the world, may have something to do with it. Either that of the chimney needs sweeping now fires are lit.

This morning was no different, I felt the urge to stretch the legs and get out of the house. After last nights warmth, from our first lit fire fire of the winter - this mornings 8 degrees came as a welcome brace, to the system.

It also made me think, despite having half a ton of firewood in the house, my kindling is under plastic half way up the mountain. Still I managed to find four orange boxes on my travels. Made from thin slivers of wood - almost like Balsa they are the most efficient of kindling tools.

Rewarded additionally by lovely clear skies and distant Evia, purple in colour in the early morning light ...

Monday, 17 October 2011

Monsoon then heat ...

After a very wet weekend -  things are looking up. Its still rather cold, but the rain has stopped (around 5am) it had been torrential for three days give or take an hour on sunday afternoon.

The forecast is a little more optimistic. We now have clear blue skies so that will put the spring back in everyones step again.

However this morning, I become closely acquainted with 1/2 ton of winter firewood. My back is complaining, but the girls will be happy with my efforts later today - Somehow I have a feeling the mighty woodburner may be fired up this evening.

I buy my wood from Yorgos, he owns the ancient three wheeler Mazda van - Ideal for negotiating the lanes here in town, I have had my eye out for him, but although i have seen him, its been hard to catch him to place my order. 

This morning I heard the familiar sound of his van reversing up the street. 
Hi Yorgo, I said, as I lean in the window, we shake hands, he nearly crushes mine, the skin on his hands. like the texture of that of an elephant, and with the same strength. 

I need logs for my fire, so big. when? 'Tetarti' (Wednesday) he said, this became 'Avrio' (Tomorrow) same price as last year he said - and the deal was done. I looked at my watch, it was 10.30am.

Two hours later - I return to find 1/2 ton of olivewood outside my front door - now thats what you call service - Now all I have to do is find him, to pay him ...

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Soaked ...

... Thats the island, not me

Its been raining heavily for around 12 hours, for those who have sterna water tanks its been very good indeed. I collected some water yesterday from one of my downpipes. 5 litres/1 Gallon took 3 minutes. Thats 100 litres an hour of free water - going down the street and into the harbour, just from one downpipe.

Example = 100 litres in 1 hour x 12 hours = 1200 litres x 4 pipes = 4800 litres

Right now i wish i had a very large sterna tank, friends out of town will be hearing theirs fill with a smile on their face as they look at darkened skies, listening to rain on the roof.

Meanwhile at the airport STU3502 - the last flight of the season, is still on the ground from Friday, after not being able to land due to the low cloud and poor visibility.

We have an old fashioned airport, one where pilots - sorry the captain has to see the runway to land on it. Not too much electrical wizardary here - we have runway lights and a flashing light on top of the control tower, and red/green lights on the runway to show which end to use in the dark.

Well yesterday the captain could not see it so had to land at Thessaloniki instead. However the passengers could not be taken there (Having by that time missed the afternoon boat to Volos) so he missed out on a 4* night with the crew in Thessaloniki. The passengers also missed out on a cruise, and a six hour transfer by sea and coach.

The weather window cleared, just enough to bring the aircraft down from Thessaloniki, within the crew hours permitted - but not enough to get out and back up to Thessaloniki - where they could all be put up in comfort ...

Last night, Olympic reps were working hard, to find beds, and a taverna that could take 180 tired holidaymakers, on the night when most had closed up and gone home.

Its been quite a night ...

The weather right now - - No way to describe the weather at the moment other than foul, as you can see from the Poseidon rain forecast below

Friday, 14 October 2011

Last day ...

officially of the season, last flights are later today, and its tipping it down ...

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Blue Flag beach ...

The great sandcastle tour, continued this afternoon ...

A stunning day and a trip to Agia Pareskevi, where the sky was as blue as the flag that flies there.

Interesting cloud formations ...
The beach was somewhat deserted, except for a few Robinson Crusoe footprints ...

Water lapping on a sandy shore ...
But after all we are in ...


And on a sunny day, the view is not all that bad ...

An almost private beach ...

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Stormy skies ...

... over Skopolos in the pre dawn light



And the result was 36 hours of rain. It cooled things down considerably, and there is more to come this weekend if the forecasts are to be believed.

However we have had a nice interlude of sunny weather. The skies this morning cleared to reveal a gorgeous blue and a blast of October warmth. This was best viewed over my cappuchino, across an almost empty harbour.

However junior helped herself to the top of my cappuchino, and the fresh biscuits, but that did not dampen the enjoyment of the occasion.

If the weather holds out for another day, then I may have to put the paint pots on hold, and go to the beach.

All around me preparations for winter abound. Deliveries of firewood to houses in the street. Shutters being adjusted, repaired and some sealed with plastic to keep out the worst of the winter weather.

Many businesses are closed up now for winter, windows covered in paper to keep out the sun, AirCon units wrapped in plastic and tapped up like christmas parcels. The owners apparently have fled to the mainland or elsewhere for the winter.

Maybe they all know something, and its not just the ongoing crisis that concerns them. This winter may be one of the harder ones to endure, both with the weather and the economy ...