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 ...

Monday, 10 October 2011

On a stormy morning ...


My good friend ADNAMS MAN has vanished, he has not been seen since the news broke that Zebekis the electrical store is closing. He was last seen clearing the shelves, and carrying boxes to a cave laughing. (Perhaps he is drawing up plans for the windmill i suggested to him - Great idea) 


The Cafe has closed, strangely since i closed my office opposite or was it that the teacake and black pudding supply had dried up.

If it re-opens we will sit in there all winter keeping warm, not buying anything, reading ADNAMS MAN's huge summer collection of back issues of the Daily Mail (Crosswords already completed)

I was heading up to Taxiacharis this morning, but the Island is being lashed by force 9 winds and rain at the moment. Somehow I think a water run when more than enough water is coming down the hill, is not a good idea.

Good News - Not so far today, but as a learned friend said yesterday, its all the fun of living on an island - And he is right ...


PS - The weather ? This should give you some idea

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Today in the Ouzeria ...

The sun is shining, and you get an invite out for a quiet Tsipouro. 

At last - I thought, but junior had other ideas, so the event was severely curtailed
Its been a long summer and its your first Saturday off. 

Yet within a few minutes you meet everyone you have not seen for months - Who all have the same great idea ... 

Its the place to meet everyone and catch up,
local news, gossip and scandal is exchanged over an Ouzo, or Tsipouro meze. The scandal - really good - but i dare not repeat it here ...

Friday, 7 October 2011

Times are a changing ...

The tourists are still here, enjoying the sun and the beaches. Today a boat arrived from Platanias loaded with people who were having whats best described, as one hell of a party.

However Skiathos - for all intence and circumstances is closed, shut up and the businesses have gone home. The party boat was watched in awe by old men sipping tsipouro, chatting and playing backgammon.

However El Greco did a roaring trade serving lunch to a boat load of people, they must have known they were coming.

Many of the tourists are now coming to Greece from Eastern European countries ...

They're all welcome as Skiathos needs every tourist Euro it can get. In fact many of the Eastern Europeans would be more than happy to be giving their trade to the local businesses - If they were still open ...

Some of the restaurants advertise their menus and price lists in Polish. Romanian, Serbian, Slovenian, Russian, and a few other languages in addition to the more traditional English and Italian.

The menus are reflecting the rise in their nations fortunes and the decline in the traditional British and Italian ones that we are used too.

Times are a changing ...

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Today at the beach ...

Yes - I went to the beach ...

Now with time off between jobs we sneaked off to the beach. The sunny weather and lack of tourists made Vromoliminos an almost private affair. Note the evident lack of sunbeds, and a beach where they used to be ...



So after a couple of hours here with Junior, I was getting quite a tan. However Junior was having a great time.


 So all too soon, we headed off home and back to the shade. Not before seeing a windsurfer, and one who actually knew what he was doing ...

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Households to pay 30 pct more for power in 2012 ...

Katheremini on 4/10 wrote:
Households to pay 30 pct more for power in 2012

Electricity bills will rise by an average rate of 18 to 19 percent next year, with households in particular forced to shoulder a hike of more than 30 percent.

This unprecedented rise is due to the country’s commitment to its international creditors for the upgrade of electricity charges to levels that reflect the real cost of power production.

Next year will see the second stage of that rate adjustment, with the third set to follow in 2013. Next year’s rise in rates will affect all consumers, both domestic and commercial, as the tax hike on fuel has seen the cost of electricity production soar to the extent that any cuts to commercial rates have evaporated.

The process for this adjustment began on Tuesday with the Public Power Corporation submitting its updated cost data to the Regulatory Authority for Energy, according to estimates included in the PPC budget for 2012.

Now I know why I bought all those economy light bulbs at IKEA ...