Monday, 31 December 2012

Old years day ...

Its the last one of the year ...

Children are doing circuits of the town, on the second day of the season when they can sing you a carol, whilst playing a triangle.

Christmas carols - December 24th
New years carols - December 31st

The song is quite sweet, performed by two or three children, whilst beating the triangle to no apparent tune. Having witnessed this today a few times, I think its an annoying factor, to bang the funds from your purse or wallet.

The children seem to do quite well, the shopkeepers less so as they pay them to move on.

I found some traditional New year bread today, Its a sesame seed twist loaf, with a walnut set inside, Sadly the house bread vultures attacked it, before a photo could be taken, to show it in all its glory - But you get the general idea ...


Down at the Natvity in Tries Hieraches, the little ones have their eyes open ...


Thankfully the rain stopped overnight apart from the odd rogue shower that has passed over. The island has that cool damp feel to it, now we hope for some sunshine to dry and warm it once again. 

But the sunshine like the blog is all over for this year ...

Ευτυχισμενο το νεο έτος! Happy New Year wherever you are, and thank you for visiting, my little piece of 'a green island in the aegean' ...


Sunday, 30 December 2012

The monsoon season ...

... continues unabated here as the year draws to an end.

The rain continued overnight, and there must be a few problems with flooding here on the island. My wellies are impressing the local ladies - well most are around 80 years young ...

I have cleared the blocked storm drain three times in one day, under the eagle eye of the local ladies. Boots hat gloves and broom. But its the old Green Dunlop wellies that they like ...

Earlier this morning, I donned the wellies again, after an invite to cross town, from my friend Stamatis. Come for coffee, he said. What we had was ...

A great display by one of the best -Yorgos, who on arrival, had noticed that the Bazouki was resting on the sofa.


His eyes lit up and within seconds was treating us to a rendition of Greek songs from the sixties - Then he picked up a guitar, and knocked out a few Beatles numbers for the Englishman.


There was Music, dancing, laughter and after midday a glass of wine. Just a normal very wet Sunday morning, spent with friends ...

Back home, to cook lunch - All my own work ...


A check on the weather ...

(Non)-Accuweather: Skiathos = Showers
Actual weather: Hammering down and it was 2 inches deep roaring down the street.

John from 'Skopelosnews' kindly sent me a much more accurate version ...


However that has probably not helped the frequent fliers, from the islands who are tonight grounded at the airport. The Island flight is still in Athens, grounded by the poor weather here.

We have had around three inches of rain in 18 hours. So with low cloudbase, and the very wet runway - there seems little chance of the Dash coming here tonight. Lets hope those with flights tomorrow, foresaw the issue and made it down to the ferry port, by 17:45 ...

However looking at an earlier photo taken at Xanemos ...



Update - 18:30hrs The Island hopper has been cancelled due to bad weather at Skiathos ...

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Winds of change ...

Yesterday we were sitting on the paralia.

Friends were enjoying the sunshine having escaped the bad weather in the UK, for their annual new year get away from it all.

I do admire the winter traveller. It sets them out from the rest. Down to Athens then on the bus to Volos, a night in a hotel. A morning cruise on the Express Skiathos, and they are here.

This morning however a winter storm has blown in and its cool windy and occasionally very wet. The rain started at 5am and the weather is set to be rough for around 24 hours. Strong winds are forcast overnight.

They should be OK for celebrating new year, on one of the deserted beaches though.

Travellers bring germs to the island too. There are many coughs and sneezes here at the moment. The news of the norovirus and what it can do with a cruise liner. Imagine what it would do here with the same number of inhabitants, and stretched medical support.

So no rest for me. Off now to catch up on my jobs, despite aching limbs and stormy skies, to the nearby buzz of a chainsaw. As someone prepares to keep warm as the old year blows out in style ...

20:45pm Update

We have had around 16 hours, of stormy weather, its the force 7 winds that are shaking the island.
Poseidon forecast another 24-36 hours of rain as the storm develops.  ...


Thursday, 27 December 2012

Photo time ...

How about this for a lovely photo ...


Can you see the entrance to Papadamatis street and the bridge over the entrance?

There were seven bridges in Papadamatis street. When there is a heavy storm, the water follows its route and the storm drains often cannot take the pressure. Then Papadamatis street becomes a river again.

In summer now when the Jet ferries dock, they force the water back up the stream and water appears out of the drains in Papadamatis street. One of the ferry docking points, remains closed due to the jet ferries - flooding Papadamatis street, two years ago.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas day ...

Καλά Χριστούγεννα και ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος από Σκιάθο ...


A beautiful Christmas day on Skiathos. A walk on the paralia in the sunshine before lunch ...

Saturday, 22 December 2012

What a day ...

Well that was quite a day ...

Its not every day you are '21 again' but it really was fun. I spent the day bumping into friends here on the island. One thing led to another as it always does when you do not plan anything.

The best present that I could have was that my lovely wife, was able to share the day with me too. She spent Thursday evening making me a birthday cake, despite not feeling well.


We spent the morning, in our favourite coffee shop, The Gerani with junior, and friends, before I was led astray ...

A couple of beers at Syraino, with Denis, where the mezes are always quite substantial. Nice and warm too, with a great view of the old harbour.


I went home, and found out that some friends were 'hiding out' at the Mouria hotel, enjoying a meze. So I rather cheekily popped down to say hello.

Alex Teo Tommy & Andrea
They tried hard to drown me in tsipouro, and generosity however I was on best behavior.The mezes at Mouria are really very good, and the welcome is as warm as the open fire.

Octopus in red wine, soft and succulent ...
There was some magic taking place here, under the watching eyes of Alexander Papadamatis. You turn your head and your glass refill's by itself, and food appears on your fork ...

Off to the Old Port cafe, for a coffee and a chat.


... oh and another meze - Yes I did say coffee.

I was enjoying my coffee, cannot speak for the others, however, as the wheels were slowly coming off the birthday express.Two of the ladies, headed off for the late night shopping experience, and returned empty handed a little while later.

So as you do - we went for an impromptu meal with friends. We decided to head for Gravisi, a lovely little pizza restaurant, hidden in the back streets of town. However we found it was closed for Christmas and the new year. Back to the Old Port to pick up Tom, who we do not think had noticed we had left.

Onward and into Pizza Vesuvio, where we were made very welcome indeed. Lovely salads and pizzas, some shared, as the bellies were getting full. I had the spaghetti carbonara, which was lovely, even Junior helped me out, as its a firm favourite.

Junior was getting tired so departed for home with mamma, and bed - not a bad decision as the Birthday express headed on to the next port of call.

I was kidnapped, bundled into the back of a former hire car and taken to a secret address. I was rather worried by the kidnappers, as they kept mentioning their incontinence problems and they needed to go for a wee.

After a spot of pole dancing on the ring road ...


I ended up ten pin playing bowling (Very badly) on a 'Wii game' and it was a lot of fun.

The Mayan people probably knew it was a special day - as well as being the shortest one, but in my case a long one spent with friends and family into the early hours ...

Friday, 21 December 2012

Sorry its quiet ...

Its the end of the world today ...

You see, in addition today is my


Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Wet Wet Wet ...

Not the pop group but us here ...

Friends with flooded rooms, water roaring down the street ankle deep. We have had a lot of rain, and its all making its way through the village into the sea. If you had an empty sterna yesterday it would be erupting like a geyser by now.

Either there are either 1000 ants on the roof with hobnail boots, or its torrential rain outside ...

We did have some sunshine for about twenty minutes earlier around lunchtime. But its rained mostly all night and all day and at times its been torrential. The trusty merrills were submerged on the way to the corner shop, but the waterproofing is holding out well.

SWMBO has returned from the mainland after another bureaucratic nightmare. There is 25% unemployment here in Greece, and i suggest around another 25% cannot be bothered to do their job correctly. Its high time they redressed the balance.

Nothing like an 11 hour round trip when you are not very well, for a pointless chat with a 'resting' archaeologist, who is marooned in admin - a shrug and a 'ti na kanoume' So thats two wasted appointments in two days, one with a fancy electronic appointment system, and a come back later when you get there.

Its just not a waste of our time and money, its the hospitals too. At times its beyond the pale ...

You cannot book an appointment for next year (Thats when they want you to come back) as they do not have a diary. Its explained as we do not know what the days are, so maybe they are reliant on the Mayan calendar, which is due to expire on Friday or later (Greek style) depending on where you read all about it ...

There is a pause in the footsteps on the roof, send for more wine !


Nico Lazaridi - reduced to just €3 a bottle in Carrefour at the moment, an easy drinking red, but not a patch on the mighty Rapsani ...

Oops - Looks like I spoke too soon, the ants are back on the roof, glass of Nico and the woodburner it is then ...






Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Raindrops ...

Woke me at 3am ...

The weather pattern is still a little confused. I was at the play area yesterday with junior - The sun was out,  and I was burning. All the kids were trying to remove layers of clothing. Yet every once in a while a breeze appeared from the south, and distant Evia and the chill was there.

Currently the decent forecasts say 'Expect rainy weather late Tuesday night through Thursday morning' and that seems about right. Its just started again as the drips can be heard on the roof.

I have been thinking about the spirit of Christmas. There is not a lot of it around at the moment. We have our blue trees, the Galleon and the Dolphins. The illuminated Xronia Polla at Bourtzi, and in Papadamatis street, and that is it.

Tries Hieraches church has a nativity scene outside, within the scene there is a new nativity taking place. A local cat has given birth to kittens, and has set up home, in a most desireble warm location.

Photo © Victoria Sandels - Skiathosbooks

Lets hope they are all left alone to enjoy their first week in life.

The Christmas Bazaar really was a great day, and lovely to see the village enjoying the activities. I do enjoy the music being played, from the loudspeakers up Papadamatis street. Not quite sure if the locals know what is going on though, as Christmas is not as much of an event here - Its Easter which is 'the event'.

The post office is rammed full of parcels awaiting collection. Some are huge and must cost a fortune to send. However there are as always delays. I have a parcel yet to arrive from Amazon, I know it was in Athens a week ago. Another took exactly three weeks to get here. There was a big delivery yesterday, so maybe today's the day ...

Friends on the ex-pat side of the community here, are mentioning Mince pies and Turkeys, and getting together, whats good on TV at the moment etc.


There is the annual ex-pat bash up at the Final Step restaurant, on Christmas day. Where there will be a warm welcome and a Christmas lunch with all the trimmings.

SWMBO is over on the mainland this week. Reporting back that shelves are stuffed with Christmas goodies in Volos. Supermarkets with lots of price busting offers, and tempting Christmas goodies - after all it is supposed to be a feast, after a fasting period ...

Perhaps there will be a food parcel sent over from the mainland for our Christmas ...

Father Iosif at Evangelistra, has posted the invitation to celebrate Christmas Eve, with the midnight mass service. Here it is below ...


So with the pitter patter of raindrops, todays next event is a trip to the post office, or Yanis the postman with a note telling me to go to the post office ...

Greek Easter 2013: If you have not booked that summer holiday yet - 1st flights from UK are on May 3rd, and that is the day to be here, and the best weekend of the year on the island - Not to be missed ...

***11am update*** - Rainfall is of monsoonal type, raging river in the street, they type of rainfall that usually floods Papadamatis street - despite the storm drains. Now heading up to the roof of an adjoining property to prepare the ark ...

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Ding Dong ...

merrily on high ...

The sleighbells were ringing all the way up Papadamatis street this morning. The loudspeakers have been turned on and the music was playing all along the street.

Up at the gymnasium school, it was packed, as we were met by the second most famous reindeer on the island.

Photo - Victoria Sandels - Skiathos books
The souvelaki and gluhwein  being enjoyed by all and sundry. It must have been good, it affected one of our island friends eyesight so badly, he had no recollection of us being there at all.


The children put on a great dance routine, on the basketball court, watched by many of the children and proud parents alike.

Great activities for the smaller children, where they were rewarded for completing a course of activities. Junior did not quite get the hang of it, the sweets clearly very nice distracted attention. Face painting - (Well done Christina) craft and decorative presents on sale in the classrooms.

There were some excellent cakes and pastries being passed around. Many more for sale, and outstanding quality too. The chocolate truffles again this year were a 10/10.

It was very well supported this year by the locals, and the cool weather helped, rather than the freezing weather of previous years. For me its a must do event, and a great shame its not as well supported by the islands ex-pat communities.

So a very well done to all concerned, the Ladies club and Green Fox, for putting on a great show, and getting the townsfolk together for the event.

Cool December ...

Its the Christmas Bazaar today so will be off shortly to support the event ...

There is a rather watery sunlight view, this morning on the paralia. ...



Saturday, 15 December 2012

Christmas bazaar ...

Its the annual Christmas bazaar at the Gymnasium school on Sunday from 11.30am.
Funds raised to support the Green Fox recycling team ...


Friday, 14 December 2012

Keep out the chill ...

Cold here yesterday despite the lovely sunshine ...

This morning real winter clouds, dark and threatening, and looking full of ice and snow.

Last night, I spent the evening with my friend Stamatis. Over a glass of Rapsani watching the Greek TV explaining the latest EU fiscal bail out. However it was great to be, by the warmth of his 'even mightier' woodburner ...

Stamatis woodburner doubles as a stove, and has remained lit day and night, for a month. He has been collecting and eating the local mushrooms for twenty days, yes free food for that long, and served with couscous. a glass of the wine, cashews and rewarded later with amazing dreams last night.

Walking back clear skies and the stars very clear overhead. The temperature near freezing, and when I arrived home the mighty woodburner, was still glowing a dull red from the interior of the furnace. Within minutes it was roaring again, and I fed the beast with a large lump of Mulberry wood, that sizzled, spat and  then burned.

Valves then closed to a minimum, the fire was still warm this morning, so we have fed the beast again, and continued with the heat on this morning.

I have some huge logs that are too big for the woodburner, yet the open fire is such a waste of good firewood, and heat and money up the chimney.

I have been exploring using a Eco Hot heat exchanger, on the open fire, to exploit the heat from the open fire itself. This is the new must have kit on the island ...


I have been lent one, thanks to having good Greek friends here on the rock. However at the moment am not convinced, that its the right thing for me. The open fire looks good, but for the same price it seems that I can get another woodburner, just like that that I already own. It will give me a minimum 4.5kw heat without the requirement of electricity to propel it at me.

It seems a no brainer, but subject to availability - watch this space ...

A brisk walk after the school run, up Papadamatis street, returning with fresh bread and some huge broccoli destined for a lunchtime soup. 

The fish man had prawns that were still flipping, and twitching. local codfish and some lovely sized John Dory, but at €14 a kilo it must be. Sadly fresh fish is off the radar for at least a couple of months yet ...

Hints of blue sky through the clouds above, and after a trip to souless Asteras yesterday its a Carrefour day today. But first the post office ...



Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Kali Mera apo Skiatho ...

Here we are with this morning's view to Evia ...


Not as cold this morning, in fact mild in comparison to recent days - but a bracing southerly breeze, as the flying cat departed for Volos ...


... and headed out to sea.







Monday, 10 December 2012

Monday Lunch ...

After a trip to the school, Then you need something warming on a day like this ...



Broccoli & blue cheese soup Fitted the bill nicely. Unfortunately no Stilton here on Skiathos, So we had to make do with Danish Blue, which passes for Blue Cheese in this part of the world ...

Monday Morning ...

Again its rather draughty, here this morning ...

The wind has been rattling the street all night along with a passing shower or two. It rather cool, enough to make you wrap up warm, and if you are a local to cover your mouth with a scarf, to avoid letting cool air into your lungs.

Its the type of cold air that makes you back ache, soon after getting up. Relief comes in the form of hot water, when you have a shower. Just enough to get you going at the start of the day.

I have exercised with a trip after the school run, up to the ring road. Carrefour seems to have finished with Christmas, and is now on New Year cakes and pastries. Not much sign of Christmas fare here, except the tree of course. However the €26 packet of Parma ham, strangely still remains plentiful and unloved on the shelf. Someone is clearly enjoying the leg of Parma Ham in the deli fridge, some has been sold over the weekend to a gastronomic customer.

Thanks to Simon, for the recipe for a Christmas Pudding minus the suet. Looks a good one, so will let you know what happens next. That is if I can stop SWMBO eating the dried fruit ingredients first, and Deutche Post DHL, turn up with the pudding kit by Christmas.

All the fun of 'Living on a green island in the Aegean' ...

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Busy bee ...

Up early this morning, the weather reports are not brilliant for the next few days ...

Lovely early visit to the spring at Taxiacharis, before dawn the lights at Glossa and Loutraki were very clear - almost twinkling like Christmas lights. Said hello to the church cats, well they did to me, thinking that I was the bearer of gifts - food ...

On the way back along the Paralia, dawn was just breaking, a pink hue to the south of the Pounta. A sign that the sun is now rising to the south of Skopelos, over the sea.

Second coffee of the day, back at base camp, and then a trip down to the Ferry port before 8am to meet a friend en-route to the mainland for supplies. Whats more it was an expedition to IKEA, so very kindly agreed to pick up some lamps and an extension lead on promise of Tsipouro ...

The sun was now up, here is this mornings sunrise ...



Then after watching a few people boarding the Flying Cat, One passenger clutching my shopping list. I am advised the locals are boycotting the Flying Cat - Its called a 'White strike' - to try and get the fares reduced. Not a bad idea, but one doomed to failure, after all it runs on Kerosene (Jet Fuel) 

Heating oil is €1.41 a litre here at the moment. One friend said, he uses three litres an hour heating his flat - So it does not take much working out why its currently €75 return, to Volos on FC6.

 So it was time to return via the bakery in Papadamatis street, to home, and my favourite job.

Cleaning the chimney ...

Burning some soft wood - Mulberry creates a different kind of ash and soot. A medium heavy bag deposited into the bin, from a range of around five metres, underarm and no cats exiting from within - It had just been emptied.

Its got progressively windier during the day, as my cross town travels have noted, and a comment that I was now returning to my 'U-Boat captain look' of last winter, roll neck jumper, coat, boots and the faded cap.

For some reason late afternoon is a mystery, and I awoke cold - Hence tonight the winter rugs have been laid, to keep the chill off the floor at a minimum. The mighty woodburner is roaring, as you would expect after its service an MOT this morning

Perhaps a glass of FIX dark and a warm by the fire and a film, behind closed shutters, and the late news 'just in' that it is tipping it down in Volos, as is my friend enjoying a tsipouro, shuttered against the wind ...






Thursday, 6 December 2012

Days like this ...

Just have to be enjoyed ...


Today was no different, after the school run, the post office and a trip to the stationery shop. Must say Yorgos is the nicest of the local shopkeepers, always there to help.

I bumped into a friend and we had a coffee - Looking at the view and the sun definitely turning the skin a shade darker in the warm December sunlight ...

Great days are made of this but the weather is going to turn cooler very soon ...

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Blue skies and crisp air ...

Yes there is a chill in the air, and winter is on its way ...

This mornings forage resulted in firewood, and kindling being returned go the wood store. Summer shoots from the Mulberry tree were becoming an eyesore, and where slowly being stripped of leaves. So I broke them down into kindling. The larger branches, which would have made great tickling sticks for Olives, were moved so that they do not catch any more damp from the rain, and will be sawn up at a later date.

An hour spent crushing boxes for kindling soon raised the internal temperature within The Skiathian, if not within the house. Allthough tonight all is warm and cosy.

Tonight's medium long lob of a bag of a small bag of rubbish, 'into the bin' (Note neighbours) and my amazing accuracy, sent five cats scurrying from within the bin for safety. The locals moggies are getting hungry it seems. Sadly have never seen a trap locally, from any of the island cat people, to stop them going forth and multiplying ...

On this evenings rather crisp walk along the paralia, I noted that the Christmas decorations are being set up, The Xronia Polla, the Galleon, and the Dolphins are all in situ, and lit up. A seasonal glow to help keep out the noteable chill ...

Monday, 3 December 2012

Back in the Kitchen ...

Very breezy again today, and the temperature, has started to drop ...

Reports too that winter is about to extend its icy fingers further south from Europe.

So after an afternoon scrumping oranges recently, it was time to convert them into something edible and nutritious for those winter breakfasts. Now I have already had some good news on the winter breakfast front. My lovely neighbour has very kindly dispatched winter supplies of Porridge, from the frozen wastes of the North of the UK to me here on the rock.

A bag of scrumped Oranges, cut ready for pressing ...


Then squeezed to extract the juice and numerous pips ...


Much slicing and subsequent sharpening of the knife (Blistering the hands) ...

On the heat ...


Two hours later, Sugar is added and the heat increased. The boiling bitter marmalade then starts to sweeten and set ...

Voila - 5 litres of Winter marmalade - Done !


The one thing about making Marmalade in the kitchen in the evening, it warms up the house fairly quickly. Stiring a pot of boiling Marmalade, soon gets the muscles working, and a glistening sweat on the brow too ...

This evening the house is perfumed with the orange aroma, as are my hands from the bitter orange oil. It sprays from the oranges, when you cut them, and which are far too bitter and seedy to consume. Its only after the chemistry (Heat agitation and effervescence) that they are edible in any form. The extracted pectin, must be one of the slipperiest substance's known to man or woman.

Outside the wind is rattling the street, distributing bottles and cans from lazy neighbour's rubbish bags, up and down the street. A strange affliction, where they cannot be put into the bin, but are left alongside it for some bizarre reason.

Fire on and shutters closed keeping the house warm tonight, and the street perfumed. Well why not - you know it makes sense. Anyone with a recipe for Christmas pudding without suet ?

Friends at Florina in the north of Greece, have had their first snowfall this evening ...

Still Missing - José Maria Benito Sánchez (Update) ...

Internet news agencies, here in Greece are reporting the news, that Jose has been located in Belgium on Friday - safe and well ...

This is incorrect - We've been contacted by Jose Benito Sanchez's family who report that, sadly, he is still missing, and that media reports of his discovery are erroneous. We and other websites, numerous Facebook pages and our friends at SkopelosNews, shared the 'news links' in good faith, quoting the news sites listed below, which still carry incorrect information ...

http://skiathos-news.blogspot.gr/2012/12/blog-post_6636.html

http://www.newsnow.gr/article/293238/lythike-to-mystirio-tis-exafanisis-ispanou-stin-skiatho.html

http://www.newsbomb.gr/koinwnia/story/258376/apisteytoexafanistike-sti-skiatho--ton-vrikan-sto-velgio#ixzz2DvC9aRyi

http://www.taxydromos.gr/article.php?id=66383&cat=1

Hendrik Bamps, Brother in law of Eric advises: None of the local (Belgian) police-services has heard anything like that. He is still as missing as before... The problem  is that police filed this case as 'closed', since there is no news coming from Greek police, and no actions are going on in Belgium, because it did not happened in Belgium'

Quite where the detailed quotes, relating to Interpol came from remains a mystery ...

Real-life "The Terminal"...

A Greek family escape austerity, and are stuck in Munich airport

Picking up where Tom Hanks left off, but this is not fiction ...

Story here ...

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Kalo Mina - Dekemvrios ...

Kalo Mina - Good Month - Dekemvrios - December ...

Not a good start to the month, The local bakery in Tries Hieraches church square closed its doors yesterday. The big Bread oven has been fired up for the last time. The equipment is up for sale, another victim of the austerity process here in Greece.

When the price of bread drops in price, and the local supermarkets sell it 10cents cheaper, sourced from a rival bakery you have your back to the wall.

The simple economics are that if the landlords agreed to lower the rent, the business could still operate, and taxes and rents would be paid. Here in Skiathos that is not an acceptable option, so another business closes, another empty shop, and another landlord wondering what to do next.

Another coffee shop perhaps ...