Friday, 29 April 2011

A friend in need ...

... and a neighbour too

The electricity company cut off the power this morning. There was an engineer high up the local telegraph pole working away, assorted vehicles in the street. So you shrug and get on with life.

An hour or so later, power was restored, another hour or so later we were out in the street. Our friends were replacing the light above the sign advertising their taverna. The English electrician was making fun of the Greek guy wobbling up on the ladder. We were all laughing at the antics.

Our neighbour appeared and asked when the power was being restored, thinking we were the culprits. We said it had been back for over an hour. Lots of exclamation and rolling eyes from the balcony - it seems they had a bigger problem.

An Englishman will never let a lady down, our electrician was from that mold and set to task. There were some extra cables around, and the test meter detected 400volts - which is far too much for a domestic supply. The circuit breaker had melted under the strain, the power surge had blown it apart.

A little while later, I had provided a relatively new circuit breaker, from my toolbox. Proof you should never throw anything away, when you have work done. Our electrician had replaced it and the buzz bar that had melted.

Total charge - Nil, a happy neighbour and thanks to her daughter in law. She had paid attention at school, learned English as a second language, and translated beautifully for us.

We do our best here to fit in, and are blessed with lovely neighbours here. Sometimes helping each other is a lot of fun too ...


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Χρόνια Πολλά! ...

Χρόνια Πολλά! - Wszystkiego Najlepszego! - Happy Birthday to the light of our lives ...

Today we were treated to an early start from Junior, and favourite past time - Wanting to watch TV.
So as a special treat, we watched the Magic Roundabout (Again) and i know it off by heart - But its a great film and i enjoy it too ...

In a moment of sheer madness, i have bought a wooden xylophone as a birthday present, and we are being treated to some very interesting tunes. Not only are the drumsticks in use on the instrument, but the glass table, cups, saucers and occasionally even my head ...

The weather is a bit grim, but hope to make it to the bouncy castle at the amaretto, for some fun and games. Then as much time on the swings as possible before some lovely little strawberry tarts, from the lovely patisserie here in town ...

When you're waiting for that little person to arrive, minutes turn into hours. But when they are here hours turn into minutes, and we plan to enjoy every minute today.


Monday, 25 April 2011

Skiathos Horse race ...

What may be the last Skiathos Horse race took place this morning.

The Mayor announced at the race today, the road round the lake is to be tarmaced, and they are looking for another location. Lets hope the search does not take too long, after all the island is only 12km long, and there is a mountain in the middle, and if you are Mayor you should know where to look.

Likewise why waste money and tarmac a road next to no-one uses, when the road to Asselinos looks like the Americans have bombed it. Craters everywhere but no collateral damage unless you disappear down one of the pot holes in your hire car ...

Its a tradition here that there is a horse race round the lake, on St Georges day - Yorgos name day in Greece. Except when it falls at Pasca, in which case its the Monday after = Today ...

It also tradition here that Flogger wins and he did so again in style today






Like all racehorses they take some stopping, here are two on their way back from town ...


Sunday, 24 April 2011

Surprises ...

Come in all shapes and sizes ...

We arrived a little late at Taverna Alexandros, to find our table waiting for us in the sun.

The lamb was cooking on the spit, wine swiftly on the table, and very soon a bowl of the traditional margiritsa soup was served ...


Now this falls quite clearly in the "Dont ask whats in it - just eat it variety" Actually i rather like it but appreciate its not every ones cup of Lapsong. So you can understand why we did not give any to Junior, who additionaly has a streaming cold.

I wonder in years to come we will be believed. Especially when we tell the story of how i found someone, helping themselves to mine and really enjoying it ...

It was a lovely afternoon, and one lamb was followed by another. Quite interesting when Magda said meze, i thought that is what we had had.
No the second lamb was the meze - Many hands make light work, and aided by the little helpers, we made light work of the second lamb ...


As you can see everyone got stuck in to the serious business of eating, and of course a glass of something - or two - or three - or ...

... and we carried on eating ...


Very enjoyable - tuck in they said so we did ...


Sometimes we were even being force fed by our lovely host ...


The mezes kept coming too, and the occasional glass of something, just to assist it all on its journey ...


Someone ordered thirds - so we had to help out - Greeks do not like to throw away food as Magda advised us.


The fork says it all EAT! So we did ...


We finally resorted to a doggy bag - fit to burst ...

The final curtain was home made Tsipouro and honey, a sweet digestif, and the icing on what was a very enjoyable pasca cake ...


Feasting ...

The feasting takes place after the fasting ...

This morning, Junior found out it was a different day. Today it was ok to play with the shiny red eggs that we have had on the table.

Here they are with the carnations from the Epitaphos, and a traditional brioche Easter loaf, which was a gift from my lovely neighbour Maria


However it did not take long for junior to find out, that the one wrapped in foil is much more fun, and tastes somewhat better...

Its certainly not a good time to be a lamb or goat, they are all being spit roasted today. The aroma around the streets is quite amazing.


Agelos at Stamatis was exhausted after working 20 hours yesterday. Yet here he is looking after the spit on Sunday morning ready for the lunch guests


Next door Yorgos or Chicken George as he is known here, was working away too, he reopened for lunch after his annual week off. Still not smiling despite this being the best weekend of the year ...


I joined my friend Stamatis and his girlfriend at Slip Inn for a coffee, they called me in as i passed. It wins my award for the most stylish cafe in the harbour.
The outside lounge area has soft sofas, beautiful flowers, potted geraniums, and lovely soft embroidered cushions from Spain, which she said would be stolen pretty quickly in the UK. But as a member of the 'Met' - she would say that ...

Its little touches that make the difference, my cappuccino was served with a little truffle, and some roasted beans - Quality ...

Slip Inn: It was actually blown up by the Germans in 1944, as it was a munitions store.

We headed off in separate directions, with rumbling tummies and an appointment with an unfortunate lamb...

Christos Anesti ...

The flame arrives from Jerusalem via Athens ...


At Midnight - The priest sings Christos Anesti ...



A thousand answer ... Alithinos Anesti !



Xronia Polla apo Skiathos ...




Saturday, 23 April 2011

Epitaphos procession ...

The Ephitaphos emerges from Tries Hieraches into the square at 4am ...


1000 Candles burning bright, along the Paralia and into the night ...


Sharing the burden watched over by a waning moon ...


The script is read out by candlelight ...


At the top of Papadamatis street ...


Outside Panagia Limania church in the square ...


Down the narrow old steps to the port ...


The return to Tries Hieraches ...


The priest beats on the door and demands to be let in to the church ...


The Ephitaphos flowers are removed and taken home - its good luck ...




Friday, 22 April 2011

The Epitaphos ...

at Tries Hieraches this evening ...


Tonight i took junior to church ...

I wanted to share the unique experience and the atmosphere of the occasion. We were welcomed by our neighbours who were sitting in the pews. The old ladies ushered us forward to view the Epitaphos ...

Junior was quite interested in all the flowers, the colours in the church the gold and all the candles. Tries Hieraches really is a beautiful church.

However we did not want to get in the way, and left with a piece of fragrant rosemary - 'to ward off the odour of death' however it made junior sneeze what we both thought was fun at the time, but was the start of a cold ...

Outside two young lads were ringing the funeral bell, and very good they were too ...


Good Friday - Megali Paraskevi ...

The mourning bell has been ringing solemnly since 11am ...

Tries Hieraches church is very busy as smartly dressed locals, visit to view the decorated Epitaphos, which has been prepared for tonights candle lit procession.

The coffee shops and bars are full, and the tavernas are serving just fish and shellfish dishes. We are blessed with lovely warm sunshine too on this holy day...

Here in Skiathos they follow the old tradition, and its magic to be here with your neighbours, walking the town tonight at 4am ...

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Holy Thursday – Megali Pempti ...

Knock Knock - Who is there ?

Some delightful children with their hand made cross, after the communion service this morning.

Its been a lovely day - warm sunshine and the children touring the streets, gaining rewards for their efforts decorating the cross, with flowers representing the crucifixion.

On Holy Thursday the bright red dyed eggs that are symbolic of Easter in Greece are prepared. Tradition says that the Virgin Mother, Mary, dyed eggs this color to celebrated the Resurrection of Christ and to celebrate life. Every Greek family prepares these eggs as part of the Easter Sunday Resurrection Table.

However tonight the church square is packed and the funeral bell is sounding from 10pm. Its the start of the Pasca weekend ...

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Late news ...

Το Σκιαθίτ΄κο νο. 13 advises ...

Due to bad weather conditions on the 17th of April the ferry “Panagia Parou” rammed the dock of the harbour. The ferry was damaged and had to abort its landing procedure so that many of the passengers and cars couldn’t debark. The ferry went back to Skopelos where it is going to stay until all repairs are done.



Nel lines new ferry services ,,,

The Panagia Parou is operating
Ag. Konstantinos - Skiathos - Skopelos - Alonnisos


This is the timetable: http://www.nel.gr/routes/dromologia/en/agkonstantinos-skiathos-skopelos-alonnisos_en.html

The Alkyoni s operating
Volos to Skiathos Skopolos Alonnisos and Thessaloniki:






Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Big Tuesday ...

Its getting busy again, Tourists arriving by Ferry, and the Hydrofoil and Flying Cat - twice a day. The shops in Papadamatis street opening for business, and staying open until 9pm this week.

Tablecloths are out on the tables, fresh paint and smiling waiiters, Happy faces as owners cash registers start working after the long break.

Seven yachts have arrived today, the start of the flotillas. Argo has put his advert board in place and is moored in his usual spot. The Nikolaos has moved into the Old harbour, sporting a fresh coat of paint - nearby is a glass bottom boat - will it stay for summer ?

Mrs Socks on the ring road is doing a roaring trade selling fresh bedding plants, pelargoniums and geraniums

Just heard guys singing in the street, actually someone should hire them, they are better than the twanging electronic bazouki we normally hear from down the road.

The church is really busy as its the big week, just a few days to get everything clean and fresh for Pasca and summer.

Now as raindrops fall on the roof all we need is some good weather to go with it ...

Monday, 18 April 2011

Chemistry - take 2 ...

It had to be done ...

Its Pasca week and as we are visiting friends on Sunday, I want to take along an appropriate gift

I picked some lovely oranges to make marmalade a few weeks ago. The tree remains laden with unwanted fruit, that just drops to the floor. My friendly street cleaner then has to sweep them up.

So to help my friend out, and armed with a rolled umbrella, i popped out this morning to get some more ...

Yes i know its been raining - and its tipping it down at the moment - but the hook end of an umbrella is without doubt, the most efficient orange picking device on the island.

You can hook branches with it, and the ripe fruits too. I am getting quite adept at hooking the fruit, and catching it in my hessian bag in one swift move.

This mornings excursion, has brought me a return of 4kg of lovely scented ripe oranges ...

Now the reason no-one wants them appears to be that they are full of seeds - two heaped hands full from the batch, but when pressed they release lovely sharp juice.

So once pressed and chopped along with 1.5 litres of Taxiacharis spring water, as you can see you do not have a lot of room left, in the saucepan for anything else.


Add a lovely fresh thick skinned Vromoliminos lemon - about the size of a big fist.


This one returned 170ml of lemon juice, then slice the lemon finely, and add to the saucepan.


Bring it all up to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. I promise you at this point, the house will smell amazing as it does right now ...

.
Now leave the saucepan, nip out to the bakery, and come back in two hours .................................................

Sunday, 17 April 2011

ΤΑΒΕΡΝΑ ΣΤΑΜΑΤΗΣ since 1967 ...

Opening day for 2011 ...

On a cold wet and breezy day Mr Stamatis, and his sons Agelos & Vangelis opened for business for 2011.

The taverna is freshly painted, and spotless. The waiters Christos and Yannis as laid back as ever, and the welcome warm and friendly.

We raised a glass to their good health and the season, a Tsipouro to keep out the chill, and a meze of beetroot, skorthalia and fish.

Its good to see our friends taverna back open as we head towards summer, but the chill wind and rain showers indicate its still some way to go ...


Saturday, 16 April 2011

Petunias Geraniums or Pelargoniums ???

Its a tough choice, but it has to be made ...

The balcony pots need to be replanted, ready for Pasca - What to do ?

Last year the petunias were fantastic, but the watering regime was missed one day, and they were incinerated. The geraniums and pelargoniums are doing OK but the sunny side pots are rather stunted, where as the shady side are in full bloom and all their glory.

I need something that can take full sun and the roots can last a day without water ...

I popped up to Mrs Socks, on the ring road. She has a wonderful display of fresh plants ready for summer. The temptation to buy something of everything is strong, but this year i want to get it right.

But first, I have to make the pots attractive, and their contents able to last the summer ...

I have settled on a trailing geranium, for a hook outside the door, this will be connected to a PIR linked to a laser should anyone try to steal it.

The outside pots have some nice sharp yucca's guaranteed to cause injury if manhandled. The cats will need to relocate their toilet facilities unless they can shift the top layer of rock ballast, protecting the soil underneath, and retaining the natural moisture for the plants.

I am advised that two lengths of stripped copper wire, connected to a car battery terminal - Does put a stop to the human watering systems that take place, on the way home from the bars in summer - usually accompanied by a blood curdling scream.

Summer is nearly here, local preparations are at an advanced stage, of being made for the crazy times ahead ...


Friday, 15 April 2011

For whom the bell tolls ...

At 5pm the funeral bell rang ...

The passing of an island resident goes round the village like wildfire. We heard the news last night, it went from one to another - the topic of conversation.

A pillar of the community, much respected island name, a lady and only 40 ...

Known to so many through her work, her passing touched many people, she leaves a husband and two young sons ...

Many people were heading to the church, some in tears, as they passed the house this afternoon. At times like this life is put into perspective, and not for all the right reasons ...


Thursday, 14 April 2011

Eyes cast upwards ...

"Leonardo da Vinci was right: 'For once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been... and there you will long to return'."

However we were looking up at seagulls and at my new guttering ...

I have a team fitting gutters to the house. Their approach to work is good, their timekeeping somewhere GMT+1

I have been meaning to fit gutters to the house for some time. I have been offered many types over the years and at different prices. Yesterday the quote was quite extortionate, but am well versed at the art of negotiation. It was quite interesting when they said the outside was 40 metres, and i said 25.5 metres.
We measured it using a 1metre galvanised gutter piece. Going 'round' the bougainvillea's it came in at 26 metres even after a recount.

The price was reduced by 50% when i picked up my bucket and walked away, and seems a fair price according to the neighbours. The only people cheesed off are a local expat, who said i should employ one of his mates. "The expats do a better job and are more reliable than the Albanians, Bulgarians, Chinese" etc.

I had news for him, I know from experience, and am no longer waiting for the reliable expat to call round for work. I listened patiently to the alcohol laced lecture, sorely tempted to remind him of the electrician, who nearly burned his friends house down ...

I rather like my approach to competitive tendering, and i cannot afford the expat approach (I have had a drink, am a bit busy at the moment) or stop for tea or beer breaks ...

The usual brief on working at height took place, they seemed surprised, when i wanted them to use a scala (Ladder) to access the roof. They preferred the use of an open window, and a climb over the balcony pergola, and razor sharpe thorns of the bougainvillia.

Similarity between the ex pat and the local (ish) tradesman:

Worker: I need a ladder, lend me yours
Me: I dont have one ...
Worker: How am i getting up there then ?

One expat said i needed to buy some steps, I said I did not need them - they did for their job. If they wanted to get paid, then they better go and get some - They did and i sourced another tradesman ...

So we used a ladder, naturally it was too short for the roof, but it made it onto a vacant neighbours balcony. Then from there across the street onto the roof. Not ideal, but better than the ladder on top of the ground floor pergola which was their first thought ...

I would say the eldest guy is a tinsmith, he was using tin snips to shape the metal, and soldered the joints by hand with a blow lamp torch. I can see he knows his craft.

The youngsters one is a son, both he and father sporting an impressive mop of curly hair. The other clearly a bit of a wide boy, they fetch and carry and manhandle the sections to the upper level. There is a Gypsy type woman around too, this must be the wife and mother ...

My neighbour was interested, and came to see what was going on. When they saw us talking and said they thought she was my wife. She ticked them off, saying we were just good friends and blushed ...

The roar of a blow lamp announced their return from their lunch break, and the downpipes being created from scratch from the sheet metal. Shortly followed by footsteps on terracotta tiles, up on the roof, just as junior went for a nap ...

An afternoon of banging crashing as hammer came into contact with metal ensued. Metal was shaped, crimped, joined and fastened to the wall with hand made metal straps. Not before some fun and games about how the pipes would be finished, and in my mind made aesthetically pleasing to the eye ...

Reinforcements arrived and visions of a 007 movie, where the mob made their influences felt came to the fore. However the work came swiftly to an end with a really good attempt to up the price, and extract some money for beer.

After a couple of minutes they gave up, and we all shook hands and that was it - job done.

I am pleased with the result but will view again with fresh eyes in the morning ...


Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Pole ...

I am now painting the outside of the house ...

To avoid wipping out the gross national debt of Greece, I am continuing with my new learned DIY skills. The easiest way to paint the house is with a long aluminium pole, they come in 3M 4M 6M lengths and the 6M one costs just €15.

Add 10 litres paint which is €50, total consumables cost €65 - quite why someone thought six times as much would be acceptable beats me.

I risk assessed the work, I knew the IOSH course and those years reading numerous dubious Risk assessments and Method Statements, would eventually come in useful ...

I reasoned its quite hard to fall off a pole, but with a ladder it is quite easy to break your neck.
The roller too can detach from the pole, and do serious damage to the cranium, so i taped it on with duct tape. Complete with my goggles (yes i have a pair) as paint drops in the eye are not a good idea, when the nearest casualty department of worth is 60 miles and one ferry trip away.

This in the land, where they do welding, over a packed cafe, using sunglasses to protect their eyesight. Wearing my PPE I set to work ...

I was soon stopped by a neighbour, who came out to ask what i was doing waving a pole near her washing, wearing what seemed to be diving goggles, that were clearly misting up.
Another neighbour came to see, Why i had moved her plants, from outside my house. The taverna owner, tried to ride his scooter through the paint tray, whilst carrying a 3 litre pot of Helmans mayonnaise. One lady made three trips. 'stylishly' through the carnage, offering apologies and a smile.

I was advised to use the brush this way, that way, and even how to sweep up. by one of the lovely elderly ladies dressed in black.

However white paint being applied on a wall, on a sunny day does hurt your eyes. Looking up all the time you start to feel muscles, in your back that you did not know were there.

It was whilst looking up at the roller, and endless blue sky that i saw the hovering seagull looking down at me just above the roof.
Its a close call who was the more concerned, him looking down at me with a paint laden pole, or me looking up at him, and saying dont you dare ...

Monday, 11 April 2011

Lady ...

There is a dog shelter here on Skiathos ...

It provides a home, food and shelter for many stray and unwanted dogs here on the island. The shelter is run by a great team of willing helpers at Kounistra up in the hills above Asselinos, led by Helen Bozas. They work with vets and homing organisations, both here and overseas finding new homes for them, in many instances.

The Skiathos Dog shelter is supported mainly by donations, and Greek Animal Rescue, a UK based charity. You can read about the work of the team, and fund raising activities on their website. Please take a look, and if you are on Facebook - Join their page.

Caring for animals is hardwork, and sometimes misunderstood, which is what makes the following story - in my mind - disturbing, but with apologies to Donna and Helen, i recount it here ...

On the night of the 31st March Lady was stolen from the shelter, she is an old female, diabetic and on medication. She is almost blind and missing many teeth. She had been sterilised and was microchipped. She was wearing a pink collar with a pink and white banadana attached. and had lived at the shelter for many months after being dumped with a male dog, who was missing her very much and who would not eat now she had gone.
The team appealed for information, asking 'if you have got her please leave her back at the shelter so we can give her the medication she needs. We know 100% that she has been stolen, there is no way that she could have escaped at all'

Despite their efforts and the concerns of friends across europe, the trail went cold - until yesterday morning, and 10 days later ...

This morning Helen had a call from Galini (the lady that has the deli) to say she found a dog in the bin at Katsarou, she was wearing a pink collar with a bandana. Helen and our wonderful volunteer Elina went to get the dog and it was lady!!!!!!!!! She is ok, she was very scared at first but recognised Helens voice, and she had quite a few ticks and has lost a little weight (but she was a little porky before) but generally she is ok.
Emotional day for all of us at the shelter, we are so happy to have her home and so his her best friend Lester



Now can anyone tell me, Why someone would break into the dogs home, steal a dog, and then put it in the rubbish bin 10 days later ?


Sunday, 10 April 2011

Sunday afternoon ...

The morning soon passed, and lunchtime was spent with a coffee in the sun with junior ...

Fascinated watching a Goldfish doing circuits in a bowl, we then wandered the Paralia, passing time with friends. Who were enjoying lunch in the glorious spring sunshine.

Uncle Michael was back in his usual position, casting into the harbour, in search of the elusive Tsipora. I thought he had caught one, as there was a commotion, and eyes looking down into the water.
However the landing net was in use to retrieve a packet of hooks, that he had dropped and were bobbing away by the harbour wall. Eventually after our late morning excursion, we made it back to the house.

The beach trip was postponed earlier, so it was a trip out for lunch on the cards. I have told everyone who would listen, that I am only going to Kabourelia, once a month this year.

Thankfully we are in a new month (Its August - check your calendar - It is!) So we luckily found a free table in the sun, and enjoyed a nice glass of white wine, Tzatziki, some lovely Calamaris in a light batter, and a spicy cheese dip in a very busy taverna.

Looking out to sea, shielding the eyes from the bright spring sunlight - The Express Skiathos appeared on the horizon. Resplendent in a fresh coat of paint, and by the sound of things a new tannoy system, She was soon swiftly arriving in the harbour. Its nice to see the old girl back after four months in dry dock for repairs ...

Standing by the Express Skiathos watching the lorries being loaded, you could smell the fresh paint, along with the diesel exhausts.

Back on the Paralia, some friends who had been enjoying a lazy meze lunch, laughed when i wished them Bon Apetit, as it was transforming itself into an evening meal. I admire their stamina, and efforts towards recycling little glass bottles ...

We are now only three weeks away from the start of the tourist season, but it feels like summer is here.

The islands time of rest, and lazy lunches is nearly over, the waiters are smiling - Its Kalokeri once again ...


Anemos ...

Its really breezy this morning ...

Currently it seems someone turns the wind machine on around 2am, and it increases in strength during the early hours. Before calming down again by lunchtime. Its a pattern i seem to remember from last year too.

Southerly winds bring warm airs, and big seas into the old harbour. Sending the fishing boats scurrying for cover behind the sea wall, in the ferry harbour. If not they are smashed against the harbour wall and will sink beneath the waves.

Today as the wind is blowing down the side of the house, its a south westerly. It must be draughty in Tries Hieraches square, as the priest is really being insistent, with the Sunday morning 'Come to church' bells.

However the sky is a vivid clear blue, there is great temptation to head down to Vromolimnos, and an afternoon sheltered from the wind on a sandy beach ...

But first there are always jobs that have to be done, however the house is freshly painted and clean. The flower posts on the balcony will need to be tidied.

Yesterday i noticed the bougainvillea which is stripped of its leaves in winter, has burst open little buds, and tiny leaves are emerging into the spring sunshine.
The geraniums and pelargoniums are in flower, but only on the shady side of the balcony. The sunny side is sadly missing their vivid colours ...

My thoughts turn to starting painting the outside of the house, the old balcony and the flower pots. Then the shutters will need to be oiled, to feed them and protect them, from the power of the summer sun.

Living in Greece is fun, but its hard work at times, the attraction is the sunshine, good food and quality of life. Now that raises an issue for later today - Do we have lunch in the sun, or go to the beach ?

I will ponder that thought, whilst listening to 'Kalee Mera' greetings in the street, and the shrieks of Swallows calling over the house ...


Saturday, 9 April 2011

Is it really them ...

That's what i said on Wednesday ...

I heard them calling in the morning, and again yesterday very near the house. This morning is the same, its a sound not unlike a screech. I can hear it again now, and quite loud as i type.

The first swallows have arrived after their long trip up from South Africa. They are calling, whilst performing their pirouettes, and airborne acrobatics over the rooftops here in town. Before long they will be swooping down in the street for a low level visit.

Last year one flew through the windows around the room and out again. An experience to rival the bat in the bathroom, and the Eagle owl up on the roof.

One swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy. So notably said the Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle.



However i feel blessed and happy that they have returned, and it seems appropriate too as again today we have warm winds from Africa.

Friday was warm and for the first time, in the evening you noticed it was warmer outside, than in the house. Standing in the street a noticeable warmth was present in the air.

Only one man admits to being upset by the current good weather, Its our friend 'Uncle Michael ...

He cannot fish from the harbour in a southerly breeze. To say he was disappointed yesterday, was an understatement, clear skies, a warm breeze, and snow still visible over on Mt Dirphys on Evia.

But the wind was in the wrong direction, so he made do and headed off to Milos, and to someones birthday party instead ...

Overnight we have had banging shutters in the street, and the rubbish being distributed by the breeze. However today when we usually have no collection - it seems we do.

The dustcart just weaved its way through the scooters, and the cats banquet has come to an end.

It must be Kalokeri or summer after all ...


Friday, 8 April 2011

The return to paint ...

Still painting - well restarted painting ...

I have had a streaming cold these last few days, the last chill of winters grip - aided by a bug going through the house. I remember thinking when Junior sneezed in my face, I am going to get this now - and i did.

It was a good one, heavy streaming eyes, coughing sneezing, I even took honey and lemon - despite me not having a sweet tooth and it helped the sore throat. A friend said to me yesterday, i did not think you could get colds in Skiathos. Well i live on a rock in the aegean - not Fantasy island.

Its 06.30am, i am surrounded by the mess created when you have to relocate furniture to paint. Step ladder, paint pots, trays brushes and rollers. Its not organised chaos - it is chaos. There is just enough room to sit down, a cup of coffee, contemplate the day whilst the priest at Tries Hieraches rings the bells with the "Come to church" message - Only three times this morning ...

I have two walls to repaint this morning, then relocate the furniture, reassemble and clean the chimney, remove masking tapes before moving on to the next room. Nothing will happen there until the house awakens. In the mean time a return to the paint shop for more paint, bringing the total to 34 litres.

Through the windows i can see daylight is breaking and the sky is now visible over the white houses as an indigo colour, and lightening fast, so I had better get my act together ...

It will be a warm day today, the windows will be open and a further opportunity, to sweat out this cold out and clear the wheezing chest.

Have a great day wherever you are ...


Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The buses ...

They are an island institution ...

Never has it been possible to cram so many people, into such a small space, and charge for the experience.

British railways tried for a number of years, before they were privatised and then someone thought it was a good idea, to give people some room, and seats ...

They also took the slam doors off the trains, replaced them with sliding doors - It was no longer acceptable in summer to have people leaning out of the windows trying to breathe. The new operators then had trains ordered by BR that had no aircon, so roasted the passengers in summer, and froze them in winter instead.

Now in the era after privatisation, trains are leased to the operating companies, and have air-conditioning, services run to time with pleasant staff. Only London underground operates services in the time old fashion ...

Now in an effort to reduce the financial shortfall here on the island, It seems that three of the island buses are being offered for tender, for the rights to operate the service this summer. Tenders are to be submitted within 20 days, from 21st March

Privatisation comes to a small rock in the Aegean ...

This offers all kinds of opportunities, Could we see buses racing each other to pick up passengers, like they did in Manchester. What about competitive hiring of the crews ? The early evening exodus by bus from Banana beach, sponsored by the 'BBC club' The midnight 'sing a long' bus sponsored by the Rock and Roll bar ?

The famous driver 'Sean Connery' can name his price if the Barfly bus is up for auction.

Now i know someone, who reads this blog, who knows someone - who can get us a bus or buses - Cheap ...

He knows the logistics, He knows the right people, We discussed a business plan, and how we would do it, It needs a little investment.

We may even be able to get a formidable former Conservative prime minister to support our bid.

Our prospectus will be issued very shortly ...

Ed if you are reading this - I think our time has come ...


Monday, 4 April 2011

Feeling creative ...

It must be the new moon ...

These last few weeks i have been feeling creative, this has been expressed with the spring clean to the house. Walls painted, cleaning of light fittings and equipment. I know we are not the only residents of the house, as the painting has disturbed sleepy ants to investigate what i am up to.

Pupas and sticky insect eggs have been removed from hiddy holes, tucked out of sight, in the corners of wooden beams. My thoughts are with the stone walls, which hide all manners of hidden neighbours. They tend to emerge around Pasca which is just a few weeks away.

One year i returned here to find thousands of aphid wings, laying on the floor in the kitchen. They had been born, had taken to the wing, loved and died all in that room. This all in the space of eight weeks. I never thought, I would have to sweep up a pile of tiny wings, into a pile some centimetres high. No bodies though, our friends the ants must have tidied them away.

I still await to see if 'Gordon the Gheko" emerges from his warm lair, beneath the stairs ...

Unable to sleep this morning, I have been up and about early once again. It was when i was having some of the much diminished supply of Vromolimnos marmalade, that i started to feel the creative urge again. Time to make some more ...

... only i used up all the Vromolimnos supplies previously.

Then like the grey light of the breaking dawn, it came back to me where i had seen some more in abundant, and unwanted supply. So under cover of darkness, I headed out in search of fresh supplies. Maria from the bakery spotted me as I passed by, and called out 'Kalee Mera' over the roar of the petrol oven, as i crossed the church square.

Aided by the light of a distant street light, leaning out from a stone wall, watched over by some rather scared, and puzzled taverna cats ...

The fruits of my early morning labour



What i hope will become the next batch of Marmalade, a little later today.

Its a great shame the blog does not have the ability to transmit the aroma from these oranges. They are really ripe and fell from the tree if i touched them. No tugging required for these beauties, they wilfully dropped into my palm. The citrus scent was all around me, as i picked them. Even as you see above they are bursting with colour and heady sweetness.

Action plan for the day is in progress ...

Its now daylight outside, and the seagulls are calling. There must be a fishing boat arriving down in the harbour. Time for a coffee, to start the day, and as i learned just the other day

'Coffee's a great way to fool yourself into believing you're going to have a productive day'

I think i will be pruductive today though ...


Sunday, 3 April 2011

Who do i know in ...

I have been viewing my regular silent visitors, on feedjit ...

So who do i know in the following locations

Hawarden, Flintshire = Near Chester mmm ?
Bath, Somerset = I have a new idea ? and will be watching out for the postman
Middlesborough = My learned friend and antiques expert ...
Eton & Windsor Is Steve - The one and only sage, and Times crossword king.
San Francisco = Margaret fondly known as Margarita
Grass Valley, California is Eleanore - Please visit her lovely new blog
City of London = Is it you, the well dressed one
Honolulu, Hawaii = The spiritual one, and my crazy neighbour

Just wondering who you all are ...

Greek Wine ...

I have spoken about the island bargain ...

Well here it is from the Lafazanis winery in Nemea



So if you are here on holiday and wander up to Asteras, this is what to look for.

Tonight we had a glass of the white with a mushroom rissoto, and very good it was too. The wine was pretty good as well ...

PS One month today tourism returns to the rock, I hope the paint will be dry by then ...


Saturday, 2 April 2011

Back to normal ...

As if by magic the monsoon stopped at around 10.30am ...

It has been a very wet few days, slowly the clouds lifted and by the afternoon the sun was breaking through. From my vantage point on top of a pair of steps, i could see the street below - outside through the window was drying and soon sunshine. The clinking of the roof tiles above my head, indicated that the promised warmth had returned.

Painting continues indoors unabated and another room has been completed. 19 litres added to the walls and ceilings, so far. I think another six litres should see me home. The next few days offer better weather opportunities and thoughts of exterior painting to come ...

This evening the skies were clear again, and a pink hue sunset in the sky over the rooftops here in town.

Tonight a bowl of home made fasolada - or posh baked beans if you prefer minus the toast ...


Crash Bang Wallop ...

07.45am and yes its still raining ...

However despite the weather, the boys from the Dimos are splashing their way around out in the street. The little dust cart reverses up our narrow street, wheels slipping on the wet cobbles. You can hear the fan from the overheating radiator, from the bottom of the street as it arrives.

They only have a couple of bags to collect, but the noise they make going about their work is unbelievable. Chatting shouting and once the bags are loaded a call of PAME, which roughly translated means - Lets Go.

In summer time when there is lots of waste from the tavernas, thats the words you want to hear most of all ...

I opened the shutters and its a grey very wet misty morning, the cloud is very low on the hills. It looks set for a grim day.

My young Albanian neighbour is waving off her equally young husband, who roars off up the alley on the noisiest motorbike in town.

If you were not awake after the Dimos, then you will be now.

Still jobs to be done. I may go for a paddle to the paint shop ...


Friday, 1 April 2011

Rain Rain Rain ...

Its been a tad wet ...

Pouring down day and night and as i type - its stopped ...

The mighty woodburner is clinking away in the corner of the room as the cast iron contracts after its duties this evening. March is said to be the month when you think winter is behind you, and burn your fence posts to keep warm, when the winter catches you and your log pile runs out.

But its April 1st - All fools day, and no joke we lit the fire again this evening. Pasca is a few weeks away, Swallows and House matins should be here screeching over the rooftops in just a few weeks to herald summer. I think they are in for a cool arrival ...

On the plus side (On a cool damp spring night)I went shopping tonight in the deluge. I was delighted to find that Asteras is still selling Red @€2.94 & Rose/White @€2.75 (a palatable bargain) - Now there is an excuse to toast the arrival of Summer by the glowing embers in the mighty woodburner.

Kalo Nikta apo Skiatho ...