Thursday, 31 March 2011

Water Water everywhere ...

I was just going to head out to the paint store ...

I heard a few drips of rain on the roof and it stopped. When i opened the door the heavens opened. It is raining so hard water is roaring down the street six inches deep. Pouring off the roofs like mini rivers, the noise is unbelievable - but as yet no Thunder or Lighting.

To say its tipping it down is a vast understatement ...

Its a real deluge, somehow the priest at Tries Hieraches is ringing the church bells outside.

Our San Francisco based 'rotating weather wotsit' says Mostly cloudy, light rain PM.
I respectfully suggest it takes a look outside ...

Painting Start delayed - Rain ...


Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Back up the ladder ...

Someone said the other day its not that hard is it ...

It seems i have been painting for weeks, but i have a few hours each day to undertake painting duties. Early in the morning or late at night, when junior is asleep.

The trouble is that every once in a while, i need to catch up on some sleep too ...

However junior likes to make sure everything is tidy, when moving through the work zone. Picking up brushes or rollers, moving pots - anything that is just in reach. This evening Dada! was accompanied by an out stretched white hand, confirming that the paint was still wet and a smile ...

After yesterdays exertions on Tsougria, climbing over rocks and through the undergrowth. I am feeling the fact that I have been using different muscles. Some clearly have not been used for some time.

Today i was back to the task, brush and roller on top of a ladder over the stairs. Not my top 10 favourite places to be. Especially when you run out of paint ...

The house walls are drinking the paint, even with a dilution, it seems that i am sealing the walls then the second coat adds the finishing touch. Then there is the preparation of the surfaces, Taking down and cleaning the lights and reinstalling them, and cleaning everything when you finish.

My friends reminded me over a post beach clean up Tsipouro yesterday, that they did their house in a couple of days - I reminded them its all white, except the floor which is tiled, and no wooden beams to paint around or floors to drip on. It seems that i will have painted this house twice, and in some areas three times, by the time i have finished.

We now have colour, I must admit, that i was not keen at first, but I was wrong. The house has visual warmth that was missing in winter, to go with the heat from the mighty woodburner.

To be honest - I am quite pleased with progress so far. I could not have done it though, without the help today from my friends at Stamatis taverna. The brothers lent me their long ladder this afternoon, whilst they had a siesta. They are preparing the taverna and advise it will take 10 days to paint and prepare for opening. Roll on Pasca and the meze to die for ...

Vangelis who's name day it was the other day gave me a bottle of Tsipouro to enjoy, when i have finished to wish him a belated 'xronia polla' ...

... or was it to clean the brushes ?

No that is Raki ...

So its back to the grind, just coffee and a packet of Papadopolou digestive biscuits, to keep me going. Now where did junior leave the long brush ...


Tuesday, 29 March 2011

A rubbish day out ...

But a great day ...

Today i was up and about early on my familiar water run up to Taxiacharis, to collect water from the spring. The skies were grey amd milky with mist, and reflections however distant Alonnissos was visible across the sea.

I gazed over towards Tsougria and reminded myself, that it was today the beach cleaning team were visiting the island. I had things to do today and on the drive home wondered if they could be postponed.

Returning to base with 58 litres of water, i made my mind up - Painting !!!

One hour later i was on the Calypso with the beach cleaning team, on my way to Tsougria. We landed at Lalaria, not to be confused with Lalaria, the pebbled cove on the north of Skiathos island.

This beach being relatively clean, we headed over to the main beach via the church of Agios Floros to start work.


Soon Tsougria's main beach was in view as we tried not to tread on flowering lillies, whilst climbing over slippery algae covered rocks. A heady scent of flowering heather, wild rosemary, sage accompanied us.

We were dusted with pine pollen as we made our way down to the beach, where the hard graft began in earnest ...


Bottles, cans, lighters, bags, bottle tops, oil cans and even a tent were recovered. Along with a bikini a pair of shoes and beach towel. Sack after sack of rubbish and flotsam was bagged and removed from the beaches by the Calypso tourist boat.

I even managed to find a rusted two ring gas burner dumped in the undergrowth. Together with Thassos from the art gallery, together we somehow retrieved a 80 litre barrel from the lagoon, at the rear of the beach - without falling into the swamp.

I can report that the tiger Mosquitos are as fierce as ever - and very hungry. It makes you wonder why "The Beatles" wanted to buy the island all those years ago, but the beaches are beautiful and the water crystal clear ...

Here is an example of how much rubbish we removed after a few hours work ...


Skiathos beaches are beautiful, please enjoy them, but take your rubbish home with you at the end of the day ...

Monday, 28 March 2011

Warm today ...

Sunny skies, and a warm breeze, made a lovely springtime afternoon here in Skiathos ...

The return of sunshine and southerly air, has brought warmth and humidity back to the streets. There is a white light about the place, as sun is reflected off white painted buildings warming the streets, stirring plants into bud and bloom and cats searching for shade.

Then there was fresh paint being applied, to the sound of bees humming visiting flowering geraniums.

The windows were open and along with all matters of winged visitors, a startled black cat. I don't know who was more shocked him or me, but if you meet a black cat this summer, with white vinyl silk paws you will know who he is.

Then there were neighbours popping their heads in, literally to see what you are up too - I often wonder what would happen, if i did not see them, or if the brush slipped ...

I had been painting all morning and Junior being full of life, i was quite happy to down tools. We headed off for a stroll along the Paralia, stopping to speak to friends on the way. It was only at the coffee shop that i realised Junior had no shoes ...

After a brisk walk in the sun back to base to collect the missing footwear (Removed or discarded just inside the front door) and on my return a Frappe to die for sitting outside in the fresh air.

The school teachers made a fuss of Junior as they departed the coffee shop. I wonder if they will do so when in class in a few years time. However we headed off ourselves to the playground by the fishing harbour.

We had the place to ourselves and whilst Junior was enjoying the swings, Flying Cat 5 arrived on a turquoise sea, framed by the snow capped mountains over on Evia.

There are times when you can really kick yourself for not having a camera ready to hand ...

PS The first two days of the beach clean have gone well.
  • The stream to Lehouni was cleared yesterday by the walking club, this filled a van with bagged waste.
  • A tractor was used to clear away the rubbish from Mandraki this morning. The tractor driver being the licensee of the taverna who is also owner of the islands most famous racehorse.
Tuesday - Its Tsougria next for the beach clean team

Sunday, 27 March 2011

All Hands on Deck ...

Which is a request from the cultural association for volunteers to clean the beaches in readiness for summer ...

The appeal is directed at residents to assist, and they are keen to attract ex-pats with time on their hands to help out.

However like last year all the posters are printed in Greek to assist in the recruitment drive. As i have pointed out to the team, Greek is a lovely but difficult language to learn, however the second language of the world is English.
Even people who do not speak it can say "No speak English" so as usual there are no token posters to attract the residents, who find Greek difficult to master.

However there are plenty of people who like to leave litter on the beaches, even in winter for someone else to clear up. Later will be the usual 'Why did the English not come to help us clean the beaches' questions from the team ...

The cleaning of the beaches will be undertaken this week as follows

Monday: Mandraki, Mandraki Elias, Krifi Ammos
Tuesday: Tsougrias Island
Wednesday: Agia Eleni
Thursday: Lehouni, Kalivia area
Friday: Kolios, Achladies, Plakes area
Saturday: Aselinos, Kehria
Sunday: Koukounaries, Agios Georgios lake

Every little bit helps, I have been cleaning them of wood, bottles and discarded fishing nets all winter. Its amazing what gets washed up on our golden sands.

However with the southerly winds today, they will have their work cut out ...

Saturday, 26 March 2011

The mobile phone ...

An alien piece of equipment as far as i am concerned ...

Some people are married to theirs, life is fully dependent on it. It stores numbers that represent people. It sends and receives messages, for those that do not want to talk.

I cannot get over that someone, can send an essay by text, yet not call to ask the same question. My problem is that i do not allways know where it is, Junior is pretty efficient at locating it. Once found it is used for random texts and silent calls to friends across the world. Incoming calls and messages are often intercepted on my behalf, with a mixture of results.

The trouble is with all the communication systems in the world - They cannot be forsaken if you just talk ...


Much to my surprise this morning, it was in my locality when it sprung into life. I was invited out for coffee on the Paralia.

Painting or Paralia - Tough decision, but it had to be made ...

A lovely sunny morning, a fresh warm southerly breeze and many people out enjoying the fresh air.

Wrong decision it seems. Junior however was not impressed, and grizzled all the time we were out in the sunshine - apart from when we visited the playground.

However we toured Papadamatis street, where plants were being planted by the Skiathos clean team, a voluntary group who this week will be cleaning the beaches of waste and detritus in preparation for summer.

On the harbour the Calypso tourist boat, was being prepared for summer trips. Rust being removed in readiness for painting. Little summer here on a spring day, with snow on the mountains in the distance on Evia.

So back at base now and contemplating further actions with the paintbrush.

I know it makes sense ...

PS - My 200th post an achievement in itself, Thank you for visiting.


Friday, 25 March 2011

The band played on ...

Like a dinner mint, until "After Eight" tonight ...

Its been a lovely day on the Paralia, a day for eating and drinking - In moderation of course. There have been Sea urchins and assorted shellfish being consumed in the sunshine - after all its still officially fasting time here - its lent ...

The church bells have been ringing all day as celebrations are made for Greek Independence day. Then there were the celebrations for the name day of Evangelistra, and Vangelis.

Its been a busy day with everyone dressed up nice, many in traditional clothing. The children looked lovely - apologies for no photos - but you understand why.

Tonight the Skiathos Band, led the Mayor and the townsfolk in a Candlelit procession from Tries Hieraches church up to Panayia Limna

What a lovely way to end the day ...


Independence day ...

Tries Hieraches church this morning ...

Independence day dawned with the church bells ringing at 6.30am. The Skiathos band were up and about early too, playing on the Paralia from 8am.

It i a lovely day here today, a great day for a celebration, to get dressed up in your best clothes. Take a walk along the Paaralia, and see the young children beautifully turned out, in their pretty national dress costumes ...

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Spring into Summer ...

If still a bit cool ...

However i am not feeling the cold. Even though its only just spring, the rush for summer is on, and its time to drag yourself out from the winter lethargy.

I have been making friends down at the paint shop, where i am this weeks best customer. Over the last few days i have been painting inside the house, and have been really busy. I have made a number of trips along the paralia laden down with supplies. Watched by the locals and friends enjoying lunch or a Tsipouro, at Kabourelia.

Its been a bit of struggle as Junior needs attention, so i have been preparing the walls during quiet hours, and painting late at night.

This evening, I can see locals looking in through the door thinking - He is crazy. But there is a method in my madness. When its dark outside, the electric light is constant inside, and you can better see what you are doing.

I aim to finish half the house by Thursday evening as Friday is Independence day here in Greece. Its a public holiday, flags and banners have been put up on the church, and in the square bunting hangs from the lamposts. Here in the street, named after the day, there will be a large Greek flag hanging on the house from the balcony.

It seems the weather is set to be good, and there will be a parade, the band will be playing and i want to be there too. So i had better get back to play with those paint brushes, and rollers whilst the house is sleeping ...


Monday, 21 March 2011

Countdown ...

No not the tv programme ...

Today is the first day of spring, but sadly we are not blessed with spring sunshine. Its still grey and a touch chilly. It is also six weeks until the start of the tourist season, when the masses invade, and we listen, to lousy live taverna music for five months. Rain in summer is sometimes a blessing, in disguise.

Friends tell me they will be preparing their taverna shortly, and that it will take 10 days to paint and prepare the kitchens. I like them and they are great neighbours, come Pasca we will have a meze, and perhaps a glass or two, and wish them well for the year.

Preparations are quite different though, from place to place it seems. Last year one guy got off the ferry and opened his restaurant that night. I think he must have had deep freezers that were well stocked.

So that i am not left out, from the preparations for summer, I spent the morning bashing a hole in the wall for an electric socket. I am branching out into DIY it seems. However i stopped at 1.30pm to avoid any issues with neighbours, as we approached the afternoon sleepy times ...

Time for a walk and some fresh air, if only to remove the dust from the lungs ...


Sunday, 20 March 2011

The home front ...

Watching the news is grim reading ...

Colonel Gaddafi has threatened to make the Mediterranean a sea of fire. Currently he is hosting the latest round of "Shock and Awe" sponsored by the Americans supported by the British and rather surprisingly the French.

You watch the news when these issues arise, and its quite entertaining watching the US Navy putting on a firework display as they launch their Tommahawk's. For the last month or so the Arab world has been revolting - Nothing new there, but they have something we want - Oil. We have something they don't want - A no fly zone and 112 Tommahawk cruise missiles.

I reckon we are around 600 miles north of the conflict, or about 1 hour 15 minutes by cruise missile. Thoughts of friendly fire and all that. I was thinking this evening, what were the Greeks doing to support the UN embargo and resolution against Libya.

We did send our second favourite ferry the Express Santorini there to rescue Greek Citizens. In part exchange Colonel Gaddafi sent us the Express Pegasus - He must have laughed all his way back to the tent on that one. Paralysing ferry timetables throughout the Sporades in one swift - or in the case of Pegasus - Not so swift move.

Defence forces locally have been mobilised in the last few days ...

We have air cover: We do get a fly by from the Greek airforce most days. Pilots from Volos whizzing over the island in the morning and afternoons, after popping over to Turkey for a jolly, whilst they wait to join Olympic Air and a guaranteed pension.

Ground forces: They arrived in town from the hills, and are currently eating anything and everything. The sheep have arrived not knowing, they can enjoy all the brambles and Horta, they like. Its a one way trip as we are now half way to Pasca.

Sea defences: Forces have also been put on standby, Lights have been dimmed in the harbour. Three of the lamp standards have disappeared from the Paralia during the blackout last week. We are not sure if they have been melted down, or were used as mooring points by a Tsipouro laced fisherman.

Rumours abound, that they will appear around a swimming pool out of town, in the not too far distant future ...

Latest news from your correspondent, embedded on the sofa, on a green island in the Aegean ...

Cold and damp ...

Sunday morning and its cold and damp ...

The wind was blowing and a distinct chill in the air. I went to dump some rubbish in the harbour communal bins. I do not prescribe to the dump it outside, for the cats to redistribute theory like my neighbours.

Swinging the bag into the bin out came some frightened cats. Best ideas as do not always work as well as planned.

Into Church Square and outside the church is a guy from Slovakia. He assures me he is an IT engineer. However today he is selling fresh eggs from a basket, from the corner shop. On week days he sells fresh vegetables in Papadamatis street, with Nikos from the riding centre at Koukounaries.

I bought some bread and purchased some eggs. Its a cold day and i am a sucker for the guy who is down on his luck. When i was in London, I used to talk every morning with a seller of the Big issue. He was always dancing, shadow boxing and very polite. This guy is a little strange but who isn't living on an island ...

Later i was in the kitchen, making a Lasagne, only to find i had no tomato paste. A quick nip round the shop and bumped into him again. This time he was in the shop with a mute greek guy who was plaiting bracelets. He explained that the guy could not speak, but made great bracelets. They were colourful and he seemed happy to show me his creations, which everyone was wearing.

As i left my Slovak friend, jumped in front of me, he had to ask me a question - my view on Bulgarian politics, cash for Japan and why the people north of the border were trying to steal Greek history.

I made my excuses from the worst case of island fever encountered this winter

I am not worthy ...

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Paint obtained ...

I have been under pressure to buy some paint ...

Juniors bedroom needs to be prepared and a subtle shade of pink has been obtained. In fact maybe a too subtle shade as in some light, its hard to differentiate from the white.

Returning from the paint shop, i laid out the brush, roller and filler ready to start. It slowly dawned on me that the tray for the roller is still in the shop ...

Listening to the rain beating on the roof, i came out with a one liner - "Start delayed due to rain"

It was not all my fault, my neighbours had left their ladder at the farm - How inconvenient, they know i need to use it ...

Next attempt - Monday - Ladder and tray permitting ...

Friday, 18 March 2011

Red Nose Day ...

In the UK its Comic relief day ...

A day when you wear a red nose for charity and raise money for Comic relief.

A trip to the paint shop, I had returned empty handed except with a colour chart. I wandered along the harbour, and bumped into the lady who cuts my hair, out walking a neighbours dog.

A lifelong pet lover, not only does she walk her own beloved dog, she took a neighbour to task over theirs. Tied up all day on a short lead outside. In all weather, just sitting on a piece of cardboard, and being thrown pasta to eat.

Now this dog, is two years old, she has fed it walked it twice daily, de-flea'd and wormed it. It was playing around her feet, and i swear it was smiling. It a shame it has to go back each day, to its former life.

We wandered along to Kabourelia, where we decided to partake in an Ouzo, (I was dragged in kicking and screaming) whilst she told me the story. I enjoyed a Tsipouro with a meze, that included Anchovies, Sardines, Taromosolata, Tirokafteri,
Spetzofai and chips ...

An example of a rambling ouzo conversation ...

What day is it love ?
Friday ...
Really - Are you sure ?
There was a plane yesterday so that must be Thursday, and the flying dolphin is just leaving in the afternoon- must be Friday ...

Lunch over, and three Tsipouro's later i headed home. An Italian friend tried to drag me in for a coffee, but i declined politely. You see I do enjoy my late afternoon - post Tsipouro induced nap.

Awoken by the returning household, I wandered downstairs, looking in the mirror - I could see it was Red nose day here in Skiathos too ...

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Lets open ...

The rain started before 8am, and it came in torrents ...

I abandoned my excursion to the car, and stayed in the dry. Lights on due to the gloom in the room. By 10am the streets were dry, and the air was warm as i headed out to the ring road. Clouds were still hanging on the hills, and the ever present treat of a rain shower.

A quick sprint round Asteras, and on to Carrefour, and as i made it to the tills ready to pay the lights dipped. So did the power to the tills knocking them out. A longer queue than what i had in mind but that is island life.

The power keeps dipping and its becoming a nuisance, rather than an inconvenience. Twice this morning i have had to reset the microwave and cooker clocks and restore the fridge freezer settings. Its getting worse, best keep the candles ready ...

Walking back along the Paralia, it was decidedly warm around the collar. Carrying four bags of shopping, My own temperature was rising too.

Express Pegasus sailed into view, arriving sedately and its customary 15 minutes late. Its twin bow anchors swinging a few metres above the water. When it stopped the noise from the engine as the propellers engaged reverse, was like a car gearstick grinding when its not engaged correctly. I think the Pegasus may need a new gearbox sooner rather than later ...

On the Paralia tables and chairs were being unloaded, from an overloaded flat back van. Dusted down and put in place. Preparations for summer are taking place in earnest. This year it seems opening is the key action.
Its like watching your neighbour, only this time its not cutting the grass or washing the car. Its get cash in the till to get some money. Strangely each cafe that is open has a few patrons, except one.

The Old Port is having its latest facelift, and resembles a building site, without much activity. We await to see what the latest re-incarnation looks like, and if the old twisted loo doors survive for another season. Will it be like last year, and they are not open on Independence day, due to the plumbing - We wait and wonder ...

The Ivy and Bougainvillea lays on the floor, in a heap outside Vasilis jewellers shop where it is being trimmed. Vasilis was down at Achladies trying to sell a house from his vantage point on the road, when i passed him earlier.

Its warm, still not quite spring, but the Paralia is preparing for a long hot summer. Will the tills be ringing their tune shortly - it appears so ...



Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Early on the Paralia ...

Out and about in the morning sun

I brought some kindling wood up to the house, on the way back to the car, I paused to look for the first signs of spring. Well if you look really hard enough, yes 'Spring is all around' the Paralia ...

First leaves budding out on the trees ...


Almond Blossom flowers ...


The water in the harbour was like a sheet of glass, and the sunlight had me reaching for my sunglasses to shield my eyes from the fierce glare.

One of the fishing caiques and distant Bourtzi ...


I love the colours in the morning, everything seems bright and fresh. Even more so now the paint brushes are out. Some of the furniture that was painted yesterday was in use this morning. The preparations for summer have begun in earnest.

Palio Limani in the morning sunshine ...


Spring sunlight and the amazing clarity of the morning light over the new harbour ...


Milky sunlight reflections on the water ...


Arko and distant Tsougria, over a calm sea ...


Flying cat 5 increases power, and starts off on the sprint over to Volos ...



The spring colours of Skiathos have returned once again ...

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Time for reflection ...

I should have been in the UK this afternoon, however there are times when you have to stay at home. The family gathered in Ipswich to say farewell to my cousin Trevor.

We lit a candle at the church and went for a walk with junior. Then we sat on the beach looking out to sea.

Later we had lunch at Kabourelia sitting in the sun. The boss went off to order some fish, i asked her what she ordered, and after some discussion it transpired that it was a Red Snapper. I picked myself up off the floor and we enjoyed our meal.

I even got to try some of the fish - despite me making do with fried anchovies.

A great afternoon, on a sad day but one that will be remembered too, for a lovely meal in the sun ...


Fatal attraction ...

She is Greek ...

There is a glint in her eye, a spring in her step, she follows my every move. I have done nothing to warrant the attention she gives me.

I caught her this morning watching me as i opened the shutters. When i came back from the bakers i noticed something different about her.

She was wearing pink slippers ...

This is the first time, i have seen her in anything other than black.

She was beating the rugs, against the wall, waved and blew me a kiss and laughed. I guess she is in her eighties, but fit as a fiddle. Come rain or shine she keeps an eye on me. I even found her one morning out on the ring road resting at 6am. She would not accept a lift back into town.

A day ago she gave me a bag of fresh eggs, for junior. I saw the hand as she hung them on the door grille and scampered away up the street.

I can hear her now, Uralea a lovely lady, who i blow a silent kiss too ...


Who are you all ...

It seems someone is out there ...

Reading the blog, and know a little about me, and life on a green island in the aegean

Well OK - Time to share, well it seems i know a little about you too - although you are a little more less forthcoming than me ...

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I am hungry, there has been a waft of the smell of fresh bread through the open window. The sun is out and the skies are blue. I am off to the bakers, for something to go with my coffee.

Have a great day everyone ...