Friday, 31 January 2014

καλημέρα - Last day of January ...

A proper January morning  ...

Yesterday friends said Mount Athos was clearly visible. In winter its a good sign of bad weather to come. Well the Skiathian  bones say rain, and this morning it seems likely that is what will happen.

Grey leaden skies, and a cutting wind from the North West, across the new harbour. White waves slamming against the green hull of Flying Cat 5. Its chilly to say the least as the wind chill catches you in its grip ...

Two of the cafes have been closed by the noise police, for seven days. Does seem strange when during the summer, the whole place can reverberate with noise, and no action taken at all ...

Am thinking about making Rabbit stew with prunes, and black pudding tonight. Next stop - Vasilis the butcher ...

Gong Xi Fa Cai ! Gong Hey Fat Choy ! 恭禧發財!

The Chinese New Years day for 2014 is January 31 and marks the start of the Year of the Horse.

Legend has it that, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Only twelve came, so Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal's year, would have some of that animal's personality.

Anyone for a spring roll ...

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Tries Hieraches or The Three Hierarchs ...

Today is the name day of the main church in town ...

Pappa Yorgos reminded us, this morning at 6:30am with the call to church, on the cathederal bells.

The Three Hierachs were the great teachers of the church:

Ayios Vasilios the Great
Ayios Grigorious the Theologian
Ayios Ioannis Chrsostomos.

As its the name day of the teachers, its also a school holiday here on the island ...

One year ago it was snowing in the wind, however today its a glorious sunny morning.

Later update:
It was lovely to be in the sun this morning, high wispy cloud saving the skin from burning, during intermittent clear skies. Lovely views across to Evia, all the hills snow covered, and look like they have been dusted with icing sugar.
My high level co-respondents advise Mount Athos, has its snow covered hat on, and that Mount Olympus can also be seen in clear skies.

The barometer has climbed like a rocket, hows this for a noticeable change ...


However this afternoon the clear skies are giving way to a grey cloud drifting over from the mainland. Also Cummulo Nimbus formations were bubbling up - like something from a chemistry set over in the direction of Skopelos ...

The clouds are looking very heavy over the hills too, The barometer may say shine but the sky says rain ...

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Power cut ...

So Marco looked at the food and back at the contestant ...

Marco Pierre White ...
He said, 'I hope this tastes better than it looks' ...

Which in chef land is a very bad place to be, and so were we. That was the exact moment the power went off. A momentary flicker as a distant circuit breaker tried to restore power, and that was it ...

I wonder what happened next ...

For me, no more Masterchef Australia, and my eyes left trying to focus, In what was total pitch black darkness. Both inside the house, and outside too. Not that it did not stop someone with a scooter, and no lights themselves, to try and negotiate their way up the street.

I went for the torch, left by me where I know how to find it in the gloom, only to find out the SWMBO had tidied it away. Eventually we lit some tea lights, no point putting on the gas lanterns at a late hour.

One of the tea lights, was doing a good imitation of a sparkler. Spitting hot wax everywhere, swiftly it was extinguished, and a further clean up required this morning.

So we just waited it out, thoughts along the line of will it be an hour? Is it something serious? or has someone twanged a telegraph pole on the ring road, with their car on the way home again ...

What you do here when the lights go off, is unplug all items, regardless of whether they are protected by a surge protector. Power cuts and the restoration of supplies, can work out expensive. That fridge freezer can go bang, along with the microwave when supplies do return.

All plugs removed, and we waited, but in the end you go to bed. Within five minutes the lights are restored as was all power. The kitchen appliances and computer live to fight another day ...

Up this morning, clearly no point going at the correct time to office number three, after all last nights power cuts. Who knows what may have damaged the PC, the internet connection or even the alarm clock ...

Time to adopt GMT = 'Greek Maybe Time' +2hours, so at 11am rather than the required 9am ...

The return to Office number three - Day 2 - Visit 4 (11am):

No Person in charge, just the charming assistant who now 'did have authority' to give me my desired piece of A4. The 'door handle' has of course, still not been fixed ...

Onwards to Yorgos at the stationery shop, for yet more photocopies ...

The return to Office number one - Day 2 - Visit 2:

So back across town we went, on another chilly morning, clutching more of the paper trail. Today office number one, had lights all electricity for PC's, and full access to its database. Quite surprising really, more so as we were first in the queue, as everyone else in Skiathos had adopted GMT like us, and seemed to storm in after us too.

Papers filed in a sweltering office, running three wall mounted dimplex heaters, one plug in heater, and two aircon units on full blast. The lovely lady who is the only civil servant, in the true meaning here on Skiathos, still wearing her coat, to keep out the chill ...

Job done, its taken three days or so, walked across town countless kilometres, and on two occasions like today, the rain has caused a leak from the boots. Trench foot factor 3 ...

On to Carrefour, slip sliding in the aisles, where they were stocking the shelves after the delivery. Must say the quality of goods is steadily improving, they actually have some things worth buying. 

I know many of you think its endless summer here, but really it is not. In winter here you really see the locals wrapped up. These last few days they are fully wrapped in winter clothing, often holding handkerchiefs across the mouth, to help keep the cold air out of the lungs. Seems strange but it really does work. 

My hands are feeling the cold, one younger neighbour was also feeling the chill. We had fun whilst I showed her, the skiers trick, of throwing the blood out from your body, to circulate chilled fingers.

Back home, and as daylight slips back into the gloom before night, The woodburner is prepared, and ready to go. The spell of wet weather has really cooled everything down. There is a very noticeable nip in the air, and you really appreciate the heat, that the fire will bring ...

Later: Woodburner on Woodmark 5 - Lovely. Sadly no Marco Pierre White tonight either, far too windy outside again ...

Monday, 27 January 2014

The telephone bill - Take (2) ...

My diary of pointless adventures continues ...

After unloading some spare change with Yorgos in the photocopy shop, we left with half a tree of nice new photocopies in our carrier bag. File of copies and papers in bag number two.

Office number one:

Had lights but no electricity for PC's or access to its database. We did learn that two other offices that supplied papers, had supplied the wrong ones - Pretty impressive, so back across town we went, on the paper trail.

Office number two:

Scowling person in charge, charming assistant who replaced that paperwork. Floor to ceiling fog of cigarette smoke. Temperature in the high 80s from the Aircon and a floor heater.

Office number three:

No person in charge, charming assistant who sadly did not have any authority, moderate cigarette fumes, a floor heater on full blast. Come back at 5pm

Office number four:

The telephone bill was presented along with my file of copies, The passport was asked for, and went into Greek hands once again. My mobile number was required. Quite why we will never ever know. I had to sign a form, the details appeared to have been changed on screen.

He never once asked for sight of my tax number, and he was the Supervisor who said 'nothing could be done without it' ...

So my file of copies returned to the bag, and we left, moderately triumphant ...

The return to Office number three (5pm):

No person in charge, No charming assistant who 'did or did not have authority'. In fact there was no one there at all ...

The return to Office number three (6pm):

Person in charge, sadly no charming assistant who 'did or did not have authority'. Moderate to heavy cigarette fog. The person in charge said they were too busy, to fill in the paper by hand and apply the stamp, come back tomorrow. The door handle has still not been fixed ...

So we will ...




Sunday, 26 January 2014

Wild weather ...

The howling wind outside against the shutters, at 5am raised me from my sleep ...

Wind speed peaked at 5am at 45 kph
Currently around 35 kph gusting more ...
Persistent rain showers
Barometer has fallen to 996mlb
Humidity up to 92%
Temperature yesterday at 13:00 was 16 degrees
Temperature today at 13:00 was 7 degrees
Windchill yesterday at 13:00 was 16 degrees
Windchill today at 13:00 was 2 degrees
Cloudbase is down on the hill.

The EKO 5 fuel tanker is sheltering in Megali Amos bay, from the rough weather.
A friend in Florina - Northern Greece, has posted photos of the snow in the town.

I think its fair to say that sums it up, and the weather has changed for the time being ...

Later:

A brief respite from the rain this afternoon, allowed the local cat population to storm the bins. However that rain has returned, to save the street. Its been very windy all day, enough of a chill to make us light the woodburner, earlier than usual. A toasty glow indoors whilst the weather did its worst outside.

Seems we have another day or so of the wet weather, before the sun returns. Probably to reveal snow on the mountains over on Evia.

They will have other things on their mind over in Cephalonia this evening. They suffered a mag 5.8 Earthquake this afternoon. Details here ...

Saturday, 25 January 2014

The telephone bill ...

An everyday tale of life on a green island in the aegean ...

(S) Can you change the name on the bill for me ?

Yes but Why ?

(S) That's not my name ...

How long have you had the number ?

(S) Four Years ...

Why have you not changed it before?

(S) No-one has the technical ability. The office, the call centre or anyone I have met - but you are new here ...

I can do this no problem.

(S) Great lets give it a try ...

Six screens later, there is the offending screen ready to be changed ...

Can I have your passport ?

(S) There you go ...

Can I have your tax number ?

(S) There it is its on the bill ...

No I need your official tax number.

(S) Why ? its there on the bill that I just paid, and is in your hand ...

I need your ID.

(S) You have my brand new passport there in your hand, Actually - Its been in more Greek hands, than my own countrymen.

But I need your tax number as ID, as you want me to change the bill into your name.

(S) Yes as ID for the bill thats in your hand, paid for by the person who actually wants their name on the bill!

Supervisor: The Tax number is the most official number in Greece, you cannot do anything without it.

(S) You just accessed my full account details, actually someone else who could be me - for the last few years. I have also been able to view them - Just because I paid the bill, and had a piece of paper in my hand.

Supervisor: Who set this account up!

(S) I told him ...

Supervisor: How long has it been like this?

(S) Four years and about a month, and around another ten minutes or so ...

He laughs out loud, as we all do ...

(S) OK Back later say I, with lots of papers for you to play with.

(S) By the way I say, can you stop sending me (Namesakes) bill

Supervisor: Why do you get that bill ?

(S) Because their name is spelt correctly, and despite them moving twice, in the last four years or so, the postman thinks its me ...

An excellent example, of how you have to deal with any office, on this video here ...

The journey continues ...


Friday, 24 January 2014

Mayoral elections ...

Have been out tonight to a open evening, and discussion by Sakis Zlatoudis, who is one of the candidates for Mayor of Skiathos...

Sakis Zlatoudis
Quite an interesting presentation, detailing his vision for Skiathos. Unique in that he spoke in his second language English, to the people on the island not fully conversant with Greek.

Hats off to him for taking the time to speak to everyone, and answer questions from the floor. We learned a lot on the workings of the municipality, central government, and the plans for the future.

Up to those at the meeting now, and those that were not, to go and register to vote. There is no point complaining on the outcome, if you do not taken part in the process ...

Grey now - Rain later ...

Good morning from a rather grey Skiathos.

Grey all over ...
Rain on the way, a little later it seems ..

Friends advised yesterday that from up at Taxiacharis, you could see the the Halkidiki peninsular very clearly, and Mount Athos too. This traditionally is a sign of bad weather, and the next few days don't look all that great.

This is the view across to Evia this morning, Mount Dirphys has hardly any snow on top, after our recent warm spell. However that may change shortly.

Dirphys in the centre ...
The weather forecast was confirmed to me by Teo, one of the characters of the village. A former Merchant navy officer, we were chatting earlier, and he forecasts rain this evening. This from the pain he feels in his back and bones. Must admit the site of my once broken leg, and the brittle bones in my feet seem to say the same.

Umbrellas and wellies, are all ready, by the door ...

16:12pm: Its raining - relief at last for the dustbin, from the local cats ...

All content, including Photographs, graphics, text, © The Skiathian 2010-2014. All rights reserved

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Longer days ...

Shorter nights ...

Now one month after the winter solstice, the earth has wobbled back in the other direction - The one that leans towards summer. We now have an extra two minutes of daylight, and what great daylight it is. Brilliant sunshine once again this morning, and a breeze which has a slight nip to it.

The school run completed, under a daylight moon, when the streets, and alleyways still had that cool damp feel. After days of dire warnings from the barometer of rain to come, the needle has lifted in the last 24 hours to 1015mbs. Which is much more relevant, to the lovely weather that we have had.

Apparently rain is forecast for the weekend, so watch this space. It will be welcome, for a short time if only to wash the streets, of the 'ever present pungent waft of cat pee' wherever you go.

It seems there is a new record for the delay receiving a parcel from the UK. One friend here on the island reported the arrival yesterday of a parcel, only posted at the beginning of October. Not bad, four months - Hope remains for an Easter, that will be just like Christmas ...

Time to head out again, this time on the 'Thursday bureaucracy run' So keep your fingers crossed, I need this  paper within the next seven days. (Two hopes and one of them is Bob) ...

Later update:

Having crossed town twice, we returned with our piece of paper. A celebratory tsipouro was in order. Only to find ourself on the adjoining table, to a mayoral election meeting. Then a drive by from another candidate, watching what was going on. The plot thickens ...

Why is it whenever I am watching Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on TV, I then have a sudden urge to make a rabbit pie ...

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Sunshine and a breeze ...

That's the way it is here this morning ...

A breeze from the south and it started around 6am - almost a summer breeze, one that is sending spray over the old harbour wall. The barometer dropped another 10 milibars overnight. It now says rain, (1010Mbs) but has risen slightly since breakfast.

The barometer was a Christmas present, its taken as many weeks to calibrate, as it did to get here from the UK. I think its working just about right when referenced against Nikos weather station

Off to do battle with Bureacracy once again - On this day in 1976, the supersonic era of civil aviation was launched with Concorde - Proof that miracles are possible in any partnership, wish me luck ...

Monday, 20 January 2014

καλημέρα & καλή εβδομάδα ...

On an absolutely lovely morning here in Skiathos ...

καλή εβδομάδα

A stunning day in prospect once again it seems ...

Later update: Thats the way it was today a real lovely day and warm temperatures. Tonight the Barometer is falling, its dropped 10 milibars in the last 24 hours. Again the humidity is increasing, its 85% at the moment and has been hitting 97% most nights.

All content, including Photographs, graphics, text, © The Skiathian 2010-2014. All rights reserved

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Lemons ...

I had borrowed a mates ladder ...

So on the way to return it, I thought about the old lady and the lemon tree. I walked around the corner, ladder in hand, and out of her house she appeared, like magic. I looked at her and laughed, she looked at me with the ladder, and then up at the tree.

It was a done deal, and up into the tree, I went. A little later than planned, Stamatis got his ladder back, from a distinctly lemon scented Skiathian ...

Here is my reward ...



At this time of the year there are lemons everywhere. I love them but you have to think carefully what to do with them, after all there is only so much Gin and Tonic you can drink. We have in the past made traditional lemonade, limoncello, Delicious lemon tarts that are full of zing, and of course the ever popular Lemon Madeira cake.

If anyone on the island needs further ideas, see this link some of them actually do work ...

All content, including Photographs, graphics, text, © The Skiathian 2010-2014. All rights reserved

Friday, 17 January 2014

Cobbled streets and Stone walls ...

On my travels I have been taking more notice of these ...

Teo Tzoumas as president of the Cultural Association here on the island, has been documenting the history of the cobbled streets."According to data recently collected by volunteers from Skiathos, most streets of their island were laid in the period 1906-1930"

The design of some of them is quite interesting to me, and here are some examples that I strolled over yesterday ...


Herringbone ...
Like a railway junction ...

Outside the town hall ...
If you are ever lost in Skiathos old town, its always a fair bet that these lead downhill, and in the direction of the port. A little piece of history that I hope will be around for another hundred years ...

Unlike a house near to me which is being taken down. The large hand chiselled stones are being loaded into a truck to be dumped somewhere. Its probably going to be replaced with something concrete. Instead of someone's hard work from a hundred years ago, being made a visual spectacle once again ...

An example of something renovated and pleasing to my eye ...



Then there is this wall, a project in progress, but look what they found ...


This house has had the outside renovated over the last few months. The exterior was pretty grim, but now it looks very good. Note the old turning corner, where they made a feature of the section of good stone wall ...


Its amazing what you find here when you take the time to look closer ...

All content, including Photographs, graphics, text, © The Skiathian 2010-2014. All rights reserved

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Today was an Alkyonides meres or Halcyon day ...

After some more bureaucracy, some more stamps and more signatures ...

Tony the ex Paros'ian wrote to me yesterday with this advice ...

'It generally took five visits on separate days to any official office to achieve anything.
When you did, the sheer joy, the exhilaration of it all needed a quick visit to the nearest taverna for a good ouzo or two.
Fortitude, persistence and perseverance are the required strengths at ALL times'

However we went for a coffee in the sun, feeling triumphant.

All the more especially enjoyable after last nights rain. The air was clear, the sky an azure blue, and once again lovely and warm. Feeling refreshed this afternoon, with a spring in my step, it was time for some travels with my camera ...

Warning: Now these photos may leave some people feeling depressed ...


The winter yet to come ...
Palio Limani ...
Faded Bougainvillea ...

The menu of the day - four months ago ...
Onward and upward ...
Love this house ...
Fat Cat ...
Aegean Blue ...
Great light ...
Fancy a swim ...
Faded and weather beaten ...
Another Fat Cat ...
Winter Blue ...
Skiathos turquoise ...
And as all the internet surfers will know, 'There is nothing of archaeological or of historical importance to be found on Skiathos' ...


All content, including Photographs, graphics, text, © The Skiathian 2010-2014. All rights reserved

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Papers Papers ...

Yes its Bureacracy time again ...

After no less than nine trips to one office, over three days. I finally got to see the right person. Luckily the planets were lined up yesterday, and they were in the office. Actually at the time their colleagues said they would be.

The moon was nearly full on the waxing, and not waning side. The official had consumed the statutory seven cups of coffee, and there was an ancient take away version on their desk.

There was no queue, in fact no one in there at all apart from us ...

One of those moments frozen in history, that make you feel great to be alive.

Αυτό θέλετε τώρα?
You want this now?

Ναι παρακαλώ
Yes please ...

Looks at the paper, looks at me, looks at PC screen (Probably checking Facebook) Looks at the paper - Looks up at me, and says ...

Πέμπτη μετά τις 10 π.μ.!
Thursday after 10am !

I am not sure which Thursday but will try tomorrow ...

On to office number 2 ...

I have a document in Greek, from a public office, detailing what I need to do, and who to see.

Καλημέρα!
Good Morning!

Totally ignored, both me and my greeting, carries on shuffling papers, lights cigarette, sips at empty coffee cup. Looks up.

I am still there ...

Τι θέλεις?
What do you want?

I hand over the paper ...

Ποιος σας έδωσε αυτό
Who gave you this?

Surely the large logo gave the game away ...

Αυτό θέλετε τώρα?
You want this now?

Ναι παρακαλώ
Yes please ...

Δεν είστε Ελλήνων ...
You are not Greek ...

Thinks out loud (No I am a European citizen same as you) ...

Δίνω έξω αυτό το χαρτί το Μάιο
I give out this paper in May

Συγγνώμη αλλά χρειάζομαι τώρα ...
Sorry but I need it now ...

Τι γίνεται αν αλλάζει η νομοθεσία ?
What if the law changes ?

Θα έρθει πίσω και να πάρει άλλο ένα ...
I will come back and get another one ...

Clutching my two pieces of paper (No double sided printing here), held together by the last remaining staple in the office. The stapler itself in long overdue need of a refit.  I go to leave ...


Ευχαριστούμε ...
Thank you ...

The door handle to the office comes off in my hand, the bar flies out and disappears under the secretary's desk. There are still no screws holding the mechanism in the door. Nothing has changed nor a repair made since the last time I was there, three months previous.

No one took any notice, they just light up another cigarette ...

On to office number three ...

Τι είναι το προσωπικό σας αριθμό?
What is your personal number?

I deliver my file of copies to the desk, and ask which one they need ...

Διαβατήριο
Passport ...

I hand it over

Πού είναι το προσωπικό σας αριθμό
Where is your personal number?

I point at the Passport number ...

Δεν σας προσωπικό αριθμό
No your personal number ...

Δεν είστε Ελλήνων ...
You are not Greek ...

Thinks out loud again (No I am a European citizen same as you) and they do have my passport in their hand at this moment  ...

So after much discussion, it appears that some European states, their citizens have a personal number from birth. This is documented on their passports. Those from GB/UK do not, Neither do I have a certificate of family tree, however Greece and Serbia do ...

I have another paper to pick up, but as I am not Greek, and today is a full moon ...

Ryanair ...

Ryanair have announced today, they will be operating a service, from their new hub in Athens to London Stansted . The service will commence wef 1st April 2014. They already operate a service from Thessaloniki to London Stansted ...

On the subject of Airports: Skiathos Airport expansion update (5) - Is the biggest hit ever on this blog ...


Sunday, 12 January 2014

Skiathos Airport expansion update (5) ...

Here are the latest photos from the Skiathian's Paparazzi activities this morning ...

My activities did not go unnoticed, so was able to chat to some of the people affected, and involved. I as an island resident, have an interest. So hope the photos will give a better understanding to those near and far - Of what is going on as works proceed.

The view of the work from the airport fence, seen from below the control tower ...


North East of the airport, near Xanemos, an example of the waste soil from the airport being put to good use, and landscaped. This area at least one metre higher than previous. Huge amounts of soil from the airport have been put to use, all over the island.

Earth being landscaped ...

Then  at Xanemos, the view of the end of the runway. This will extend another 110 metres towards the beach. Clearly a lot of earth will be used to raise the level of the runway. I estimate the end of the hill is around 100 metres distant, from the perimeter fence.

The top of the current Runway 20 ...

Trucks are removing earth, from the west side of the airport. This is taken via the service road, down to the south of the runway, then up the east of the runway to Xanemos. There are trucks passing every five minutes or so, making the circuit. The work is operating seven days a week.

Truck passing Xanemos taverna ...

A view from above Xanemos, towards the land clearance at the end of the runway ...

North of Runway 20 ...

Not a good photo - sunlight against me. This is the hill of earth to the North West of the airport. As far as I can understand this is being stored for future use ...

Earth mound and tipper truck ...

Empty truck returning ...

View from Xanemos towards runway 20 ...

View from Xanemos beach taverna ...
View from the west side of the airport fence towards runway 20. Just behind there has been some large clearance, so assume there will be a large turning/holding point located here ...


Further along is the large clearance, seen as distant in the first photo. So two separate areas of engineering work to the west side of the airport. Not all the land to the west of the airport.

Earth works on the west side of the runway near the terminal building. Here there will be additional aircraft stands, to accommodate up to 10 aircraft ...






 View towards Xanemos, as another truck completes the circuit, and arrives to be filled again ...


The expanse looking towards the North West ...


The expanse looking south, the terminal area off shot to the left ...

Aircraft will park here ...

Eating away at the hill ...

Tiffany's cafe is right adjacent to the construction works, the exit from the construction area passes the door and has been cleared to the rear. Sadly it is isolated almost like a traffic island at present ...


Looking North adjacent to the terminal building ...


The civil engineering project is huge, and to see it first hand it makes it easier to visualise. 

Work locations ...

I was surprised to see that not all the buildings had been cleared, to the west of the airport, as has been mentioned elsewhere. Some are remaining, and are currently being lived in. They clearly are not part of the plan, or surely would have gone.

Further updates to follow in due course .... 

All content, including Photographs, graphics, text, © The Skiathian 2010-2014. All rights reserved

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