Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Winter warmth ...

After a cold day, and braving the blizzards - what to do ...

Take two large Greek sausages (Somewhat like herbed frankfurters) chopped up and fried. Then add an onion, two red peppers - halved and sliced, a can of chopped tomatoes, and 1.5 litres of bouillion. Reduce the mixture down until it becomes a sticky consistency. Set aside, and leave to cool.

Reheat when required and serve with mashed potatoes, or over a jacket potato with fresh broccoli.

Then take the logs that are too big for the woodburner, and add to the fireplace. Enjoy your supper in the warmth provided with scented olive wood.


Later when the logs have been reduced to a nice glow, enjoy the firelight with a glass of red wine, or a Metaxa 5* if you are lucky to have a bottle to hand ...

Snow here in town ...

Weather at Skiathos Airport at 09.50am
Snow Showers Temperature: 1
°
Feels Like: -6°
Barometer: 1023.0 hPa 
Dewpoint: -1°
Humidity: 86.4%
Visibility: 7 km

Monday, 30 January 2012

Tries Hieraches ...

Its the feast day at Tries Hieraches ...


Not the best of days, but the priest has been going at the church bell since 6.30am despite the snow flurries and biting wind.

The children are attending the church today, and seem reluctant to depart (Probably warmer than school) The Three Patriarchs are Basil Gregory and John. They all have their own name days, but as seen as patrons of learning and education, so celebrate together an additional day today.

The church is decorated with cyprus, and may need a new set of flags if the wind keeps up ...

Weather update ...

Very windy this morning, here on the rock.

There is a force 6 blowing from the north, low grey clouds skirting the hills, but so far no snow.
However if you check the poseidon weather_forecast link

Select snowfall from the first drop down menu, then
Select animation from the first drop down menu

The forecast tells a very different story for the next few days ...

Update: Just been advised by friends up in the hills, that it is snowing. Skopolosnews also advise snow too ...

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Sitting by the fire ..

In the undertakers office ...

Thats where I found myself this afternoon, enjoying a cup of mountain tea. I am pretty sure it was just the two of us there, as the woodburner was roaring away around 'Woodmark 6' and was being stoked at regular intervals.

After a chat about taxes, the troika, work, and the problems of living on a small island, I noticed that he had two large wine boxes set up on a table, by the door - A final toast perhaps ?

Later, we were hurtling along, a rather damp Evangelistra street over the cobbles, and splashing through puddles, in search of a woodman. We encountered a huge pile of beautiful olive wood, The colours of the split trunks were amazing.
Sadly however, they were destined for someone's fireplace, rather than a fine coffee table.

The woodman advised that the logs were spoken for, and the land soaked, so no deliveries for at least three more days. Only the next three days are expected to be very cold, and with a biting windchill. Tonight we expect -3. and on an island that is cold.

This evening the 'mighty woodburner did not want to play ball. It took ages to get going, it must be something to do with the air pressure (and lack of a breeze). However we were finally rewarded, with some sublime (Slow cooked) jacket potatoes, that were cooked within its furnace of a firebox.

Now it sits creaking in the corner, as the metal contracts, and the orange embers turn to ash. However it will probably be well in use over the next few days, as outside temperatures dip, and we - and our island neighbours, try to keep a few rooms warm ...

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Brrrr ...

Not only is it cold, its very wet too ...

Raining since yesterday evening, and at times really drumming down. The sound of the rain on the roof, woke me twice overnight. Still there are some benefits, it keeps the stray cats out of the rubbish bins, and the dog up the street quiet. At least last night we had a brief respite from the vicious cat fights, that occur nightly.

The street is nice and clean, however, I do but wonder, If a "dog is mans best friend" why would you leave it out in the yard, to howl, and bark at the cats and passers by - all night?

Up in the hills they have had hailstones this morning, will we get some snow - I wonder ...

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Wild wet and windy ...

Been one of those days ...

It started earlier as a gorgeous morning. Before long however,  the clouds started to build and showers were visible skirting the islands. Skopelos was partially hidden by a large rain cloud, as i viewed from the spring at Taxiacharis.

Later a trip to the health centre, to see the paediatrician, with junior.  Clearly he is a very busy man, spending a lot of time commuting between the islands, but always has time for the children of all nationalities. One of the best ...

Some Albanian neighbours were helping one of the old ladies, cleaning her chimney. It reminded me to do the same this afternoon, in readiness for the bad weather that seemed to be skirting the island. However judging by the log deliveries today in the neighbourhood, the weather forecast is believed to be true ...

This evening, despite nearly being tun down by a van with a huge load of firewood, I visited the supermarket which had noticeably more empty shelves than of late. Returning from what is becoming a regular late afternoon 'volta' the rain was in the wind and clouds down the hillside.

Tonight its flickering lights and the sound of the wind blowing in the street, with a nice warm fire ...

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Oh dear ...

Seems the weather is going downhill fast ...

Today we have had a few showers, its cooler and the clouds are low down on the mountains. Friends are all commenting on the weather, with personal forecasts - with varying degrees of certainty, are valid for the next 'two weeks' ...

Ta Nea advises the following


Gradual deterioration will present today the weather in the country, characterized by strong rains and thunderstorms will occur in western Greece, the islands of the eastern Aegean and Dodecanese under the extraordinary statement issued by CMH tomorrow weather will prevail gradually throughout the country. Heavy rains and thunderstorms will occur mainly in the west, north, the islands of the northern and eastern Aegean and the Dodecanese. Snow will fall in all mountainous and hilly, and in the evening in the lowlands of the northern country. The winds in seas from the afternoon will be strengthened and the Ionian Sea the winds will reach 8 and possibly 9 Beaufort. The temperature will show a gradual fall. On Thursday, the weather will continue throughout the first place, but mostly in the eastern and southern regions. The showers will occur in central and eastern Macedonia and Thrace is dense. Gradual decline of the phenomena will be observed from the northwest. The northern winds in seas will reach 8 and 9 the local Beaufort. The temperature will show a further decline. On Friday, the phenomena will be limited to the east and south island nation and weaken. The northerly winds in the Aegean will reach 7 to 8 Beaufort. Temperatures will remain low.


Better batten down the hatches ...

Monday, 23 January 2012

Scorchio ...

Ventured along the paralia earlier and it was very warm.

The tavernas and bars facing the sea had a busy day, even some of the locals sitting out in the sun. Some of the northern europeans, clearly enjoying topping up the 'Vitamin D' were turning a nice shade of 'Lobster red' Most of the locals did remain inside the heated tents, where the temperature was boiling, however it was nice to see, they did remove their coats for a change.

I managed a coffee at the Mythos bar, between shifts of running after junior - a great game if often rather one sided. However there was another round of 'Where have you been, and When did you get back' from friends and aquaintances, before we strolled back towards the bright afternoon sun.

Tonight its rather chilly again and the forecast as everyone keeps telling me - Is for more bad weather. The breeze has turned from the south to the north, and the chill is back. Still we have enjoyed the 'micros kalokeri' or 'little summer' of the last few days.

Lets see what happens in the next few days ...

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Sunny sunday afternoon ...

Plakes in the afternoon sun ...

Megali Amos ...

Sadly just out of reach ...

The paralia ...

Distant snow capped Evia ...

No fishing this afternoon ...

Cool winter salad in the sun ...

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Sawdust and salads ...

Saturday dawned damp with passing showers ...

Not the best of days to catch up with jobs, but it has to be done. So after breakfast i was out in the street with the chainsaw, reducing my logs in size for the 'mighty woodburner'
Naturally as soon as the chainsaw bursts into life all matter of interest was bestowed upon me.

Where have you been? When did you get back? The saw needs sharpening (Yes i know) If you love it it will love you - Strange, I like to keep the beast at arms length - Must be a Greek thing ...

Still despite the numerous interruptions from friends and neighbours, I managed to get a box of firewood together. This despite one chap on a motorbike insisting on shaking my hand, not easy to do when its holding a chainsaw. The strengthening wind moving the sawdust around the street, as i tried to gather it in one place.

I had just stowed the box and swept up, when there was a knock on the door. My learned friend from up in the hills, with a bag of lovely fresh lemons and a loan of a book - on the old days in Skiathos - More on that later ...

This afternoon two trips to the ring road for supplies, walking rather than driving. On the second trip returning with four huge beetroots, a bag of spinach and some creamy feta.

Tonight the 'mighty woodburner' played host oven to our jacket potatoes, they are amazing when cooked in the furnace. Soft interiors and crisped skin despite the double layer of tinfoil. A salad of wilted spinach with butter, Boiled beetroot and a sauce made with the boiling liquour with Balsamic vinegar, and warmed feta drizzled with Olive oil and oregano.

It tasted sublime, enough to turn you vegetarian - at least until tomorrow ...



Friday, 20 January 2012

Early bird ...

Regular readers will know that I am up and about early ...

Today was no different, however i am struggling to get back into the swing of things. Despite being blessed with glorious sunshine - it freezing cold, especially at night. Friends in the know on the island - the lucky ones with pools are waking to frozen landscapes, frost and a blanket of ice over the pool. One Greek friend advised me up in the hills it was -5 when he awoke, and surveyed the dawn.

There is not a piece of wood to be had anywhere on the island - it seems clean of anything that is possible to recycle as firewood. Apparently the forestry police are on the island, after the illegal loggers at Mandraki. I hear numerous reports of Olive trees that were, but are no more ...

Someone reported they sawed up a tree stump, then someone made off with their hard work ! There are many stories like this - Some i would love to share but its best not spoken here.

Saddest for me was to see a little old lady, feeding her 'soupa' with just fragmnents of orange boxes - thats all she has to keep warm. I cannot find even an old pallet, to saw up to relieve her burden and help keep her warm ...

I am down to the last few bags of kindling, from the mountain store, if the cold continues then i will have to buy some - disaster ! Will the woodpile last the winter - I wonder, its looking rather doubtful. Yet each evening when the 'soupa' (Mighty woodburner) is lit, a glow encompasses the room and of course us inside.

Warm weather is said to be on the way - Monday they say - Lets hope so ...

This morning at Asteras they had some lovely Romano peppers - just €2.94 a kilo - They cost around a £1 each in a well known UK supermarket. Bell peppers those ones that seem always to come, wrapped in plastic from Holland were an eye watering €5.24 a kilo.

One kilo of the Romanos (9 large ones) one can of chopped tomatoes, an onion, some herbs from the freezer, some olive oil and a litre of stock - We now have a very tasty Red Pepper soup, at least for the next two days ...

Half a kilo of mince has this afternoon, been made into a bolognaise, its still bubbling away on the cooker. Tonight we will have it, perhaps with large potatoes, baked in the mighty woodburner - Who says us men cannot multitask - This will be followed by a delicious Dutch apple cake, a delightful gift from friends here on the island ...

Until then I am off to watch the sunset with Junior ...

Later ...

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Chill wind ...

That strips the Bougainvillea of leaves and distributes them along the street ...

First thing this morning, more than a crispness in the air and Bougainvillea leaves underfoot. There was a glowing red sky out over the sea, just to the right of the pounta headland. Walking ever brisker along the paralia in the pre dawn gloom, attired in hat and gloves to keep out the cold.

The water was bursting out of the spring at Taxiacharis, again i winced in readiness for cold water on the fingers. Again surprised that the water was in fact much warmer than the air. Condensation forming on the bottles in the cold morning air.

Just behind the church a cockerel was in full voice. Skopelos backlit by an amber glow, as the sun struggled its way above a distant horizon.Nearby a blackbird started a shrill alarm signal, I looked up but could not see it in the tree.
The alarm call became more persistent - enough to make me stop and look around. Behind me was a big tortoise shell cat. It was stalking me to see if i had any food. Only having an offer of affection, and it clearly being very well fed, it departed and the alarm call from above receded.

Down the hill past grazing sheep, in the olive groves. Past the terrier that sits motionless, and oblivious in the middle of the road. Shielding my eyes from the bright dawn sunlight.

Further down the island io renew aquaintances with my favourite lemon tree. This winter like the the orange tree before it, stripped of fruit. It seems someone has been before me. However I still managed to gain four fresh lemons from upper branches. It was only later that I realised we would have met each other last year, when they were just flowers, and I helped myself to the last of their fruiting neighbours.

Back along the island and into one of the bakeries, the lady welcoming me back and wishing me 'xronia polla' as I surveyed the shelves stacked with warm fresh bread. I like to think they know I have been away, but really I think they are just being polite ...

Home again to a still sleeping house, still cold but with warm bread and fresh lemons - and last but not least 58 litres of spring water ...

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Scratching my head ? ...

I could have sworn that i had cleaned the chimney ...

However the draw on the fire was bad, and some smoke puffed from the exit flue. A few minutes later the carbon monoxide alarm went into action. Its the first time that this has activated and is like a smoke detector, but less inconspicuous. Its shrill alarm signal would hopefully wake anyone sleeping.

Carbon Monoxide is known as the 'silent killer' - you go to sleep and are intoxicated - you wake up dead ...

I ventilated the house quickly and bashed the chimney with a piece of wood. The flame became yellow in the burner and intensified. Leaving the door open keeping the supply of air fresh to the room.

When i checked the chimney it was indeed full of soot, I removed a half carrier bag from the exit pipe. Still scratching my head 'It was confirmed that i had cleaned the pipe' before we had left for our holiday.

However it has dawned on me ...

The satelite signal has been interupted. The dish has been moved in a storm. It seems so has our external chimney pipe dislodging soot from the vertical reducing the exit flue.

Top tip - always have a Carbon Monoxide alarm, they are not just for Gas appliances ...

Monday, 16 January 2012

Misconceptions ...

There are quite a few - feel free to add to the list ...

1. Its warm here all the time:
Actually its rather cold at the moment. Here in the house it was 12C/52F degrees this morning. Concrete houses are much colder. The fire has been lit and its lovely and warm now, Juniors room is warm, with an electric radiator keeping off the chill. I visited friends today wearing layers and a hat indoors.

2. Its cheap to live all year round:
A litre of milk is €1.24 a carton, its price rose last week from €1.09 Petrol is €1.89 a litre. I spent this evening contemplating how prices on our greek island are now more than Vienna - Noted as one of the most expensive cities in Europe.

3. The shops are empty:
They are very well stocked when i checked. Both Supermarkets had abundant supplies of fresh produce and milk etc. One retailer had been keen on a sale, undercutting a price on Volos, even with the shipping costs (Not before time) Supermarket trollies were well stacked when i stood at the till and in use by both Greek and Albanian residents. Whisky purchases still popular with Greek friends it seems.

4. No-one can afford to go out:
Plenty of evidence of parties taking place, and locals really enjoying their winter break. At least two of the winter clubs are open. Ouzerias, Pizza places and Gyros are open, and doing well, apart from those that have taken January off as holiday.

5. The fuel price means most people cannot travel.
Despite the cost the ferry and fast cat are well used, by people from the islands. However the Express Skiathos only operates to Glossa on certain days of the week. Other days it does the trip to Skopelos town and Patiri. This looks like an example of cost saving by the operator.

So people travelling around, bargains to be had, locals eating well and enjoying themselves. Still roaring around on scooters and 4x4's. Not a lot of change from what i can see so far ...

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Winter arrival ...

The island hopper has always been hit and miss ...

But this evening the Olympic was full of friends returning from a trade fair in Athens. Climbing through the evening clouds to see a sunset, like hot coals as it lit the top of the clouds.

Evia was sprinkled with snow like icing sugar, the sea a darkening grey green below.

Earlier I had looked down on Skiathos from 35000 feet, the island no bigger than a finger nail as we overflew it. The runway clearly visible bisecting the island. The only other scar on the island the municipal dump. Amazing from that height, that you could see the white caps on the waves ...

Dropping down through the clouds, the dark Pelion was soon in view, then a seemingly dark Island. A friend behind remarked - 'Not another power cut' however lights on Kalamaki, came into view. Then the twinkling lights of Megali Amos, and Skiathos town below, as we dived over the departing Express Skiathos - Its bow and stern wakes clear from above as they reflected the lights of the island beyond.

We landed with a heartening thump, the propellers idled and we coasted up the runway to a near halt. A quick U turn, and the sight of familiar faces at the terminal windows.

Hugs and kisses, a welcome and a warm fire tonight  - Its good to be back home ...

Friday, 13 January 2012

Friday 13th ...

Better take it easy today ...

Still nursing a dodgy toe, I need to keep going despite the intermittent pain - must say the nurofen are the best for the pain and reducing swelling of the digit.

Word from the island is that people are preparing for a return to the drachma. That will be interesting if a run on the banks takes place - Those Euros many have stashed under the beds will not be very useful.

My friend Vasilis Korallis reports the island is trying to do something about the illegal logging.

"Last night I went to a formal meeting in regards to the problem we have here concerning the plight of our forests.
I am on the committee for the protection of the natural environment of Skiathos.  Over 25 people showed up and the meeting lasted over 2 hours.
The powers that be here are well aware of what is happening.  Solving this problem is VERY, VERY COMPLICATED.  There lots of issues.  I can't get into it all here but suffice to say that the Skiathos police, the Skiathos politicians, and ordinary citizens (like myself) are working on some kind of solution.  The bureacratic problems are ENORMOUS.  Policing the major areas where the plundering is happening is insanely complicated.  Noone really knows who is doing this (whether they are locals, poor foreign immigrants or just greedy individuals who are selling the wood to make money).......how do you police this kind of siutation?....how would anyone know where and at what time this illegal rape of our forests will occur in order to have the police there to make an arrest??????  The police are only allowed to police certain areas ONLY.  They would have to catch the culprit while he was in the act of cutting the wood.  Someone brought up the moral issue of the poor here needing wood to keep their family warm.  I could go on and on and on.....SUFFICE TO SAY that this Committee for the Preservation of the Natural Forests of Skiathos is most definitely working on SOME kind of solution.  We are already preparing teams of volunteers for a RE-FORESTING PROJECT.  Hundreds of trees will be planted where they are needed.  Something IS being done"

Anyone for some tasty greek fudge ?

Friday, 6 January 2012

Festival of lights - Epiphany ...

Today is the day of the early bath ...

A freezing cold dip in the harbour to retrieve a silver cross, despatched to the deep by the priest from Tries Hieraches.There were a good turn out despite the harsh weather conditions.

There are some great photos, posted by Andrea on the Bulletin Board. To see them, follow the link below ...

http://iqeal.com/skiathos/skiathos-about9410.html

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

No Bailout - No Euro - Greek Government quote ...


(AP) ATHENS, Greece — Greece's government warned Tuesday that the debt-crippled country will have to ditch the euro if it fails to finalize the details of its second, euro130 billion ($169 billion) international bailout and that more austerity measures may need to be implemented.  

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505245_162-57351186/greece-no-second-bailout-no-euro/ 


Sunday, 1 January 2012

Its 2012

Happy 2012 • Καλή Χρονιά & Kουράγιο • Feliz Año Nuevo • Bonne Année • Gott Nytt År • Gelukkig Nieuwjaar


and it came in with a bang here in my part of the world ...