Thursday, 31 July 2014

Long days, Hot nights ...

Its the last day of July ...

Its been 31 degrees again today, and at the moment there is 85% humidity. Three litres of water into the body, one small can of fizzy orange. One bottle of FIX that was vaporised this evening.

Its tough on mind body and spirit, today fun and games with Romanians, Serbians, Brits and the port police. A close encounter with the traffic jam, that emerges from the vast hold of Express Pegasus. Then the island duel up and down the island, with the huge conger like traffic jam.

Tonight I did a good deed. I was heading up the island, and had managed to pass the bus. It was full to the brim. Likewise many bus stops were completely full of expectant souls, trying to get into town, for the last 'Mythos waltz'

I was being franticaly flagged down by hitch hikers at a number of bus stops. Then I saw a family waiting patiently. I pulled over and asked them if they wanted a lift. Mum, and daughters in the back, Dad in the front, they had waited over an hour for the bus, each one passing by full.

I explained they were in for an even longer wait. Still they got a ride into town, to enjoy their last night ...

Tonight another sweaty one in store - Tomorrow its August, the craziest month of them all ...

Late news:

Weather forecast looks promising - Mostly cloudy and cooler. Precipitation possible within 12 hours, possibly heavy at times. Windy.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Serbian friends ...

I seem to have quite a few at the moment ...

A few days ago, I met a family from Serbia, I helped them out. Now they seem to return, almost on a daily basis. Quite the happiest family group you could ever meet. Serbians are Orthodox, like the Greek people, so linked by their beliefs as well as not being too distant from Greece.

In the process of helping the man one day, his wife's photo, slipped out from a hiding place in a document. His wife nearly fainted with excitement. She never knew he kept a photo of her there. In addition he has many photos of icons, religious pictures for all different causes. None of which I understand, but clearly very important to them all ...

Yesterday they brought me a gift of chocolate, along with 'three kisses' from each family member.

There have been a steady stream of Serbian people over the last few days, many very happy and seem to know me. Yesterday a young couple who laughed and chatted as if we had known each other for years. Even SWMBO who met them, said, you must have met them before. It seems the personal recommendations are going quite well at hotels up the road ...

They have been a shining light these last few days, which have been testing to say the least. Still the weather remains very warm, and very humid. Sapping energy as well as making your body act like a squeezed sponge. Water in and out, almost immediately again through the pores. That accompanied by the 'lovely feeling' of sweat running down your neck, when you least expect it ...

We must be building up for another thunderstorm soon, to clear the air if nothing else ...

17:00hrs - Cup of tea time

31.4 degrees and 75% humidity, down from the 90% this morning ...


SWMBO & Junior are off with friends to the beach, for an evening swim. Someone else is off on a sadder journey too, the funeral bell is ringing at Tries Hieraches ...

23:00hrs - Humidity now 85% and 27.4 degrees. A perfect excuse to drink beer, and crank up the aircon ....

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Graffiti ...

The urban youth, have arrived from the mainland ...

Some are here for the week, others for the weekend. They party hard on the beaches at Vromoliminos, and Banana. Certainly yesterday (Sat) afternoon there were crowds heading to and from the beaches late into the evening.

Most have a great time, however some like to leave their mark in other ways. This week has seen graffiti, and tags appearing on clean walls, all along the island.

References to football stadium gates, in Athens, Larissa and Volos. Along with spray painted tags and signatures.

The saddest sight, if the defacing of the statues and monuments, around the Bourtzi, the monument to Papadamatis, and the statue of Poseidon.

Form your own opinions about the people who do this kind of thing. It happens every year.

Victoria of Skiathos Books, has taken some photos of our new designer artwork, adorning our harbour. The photos are all her copyright, and shared here with her kind permission ...






Some of the walls have had the tags painted over again, later this morning. Others have been added to during the night. However others are going to take longer to clean up ...

Friday, 25 July 2014

If you go down, to the sea cave today ...

You may get a surprise ...

It's been widely reported here, that some tourists swam into a sea cave, over on Skopelos. Only to find out they were not alone. A Mediterranean Monk Seal, was in the cave.

Monachus Monachus, as he prefers to be known, defended his or her territory. This resulting in a fractured arm, and puncture wounds, from bites from the seal. The tourist will dine out on this experience, however thanks to a resolute defence, thankfully Monachus Monachus, did not ...

It's widely believed that Monachus Monachus, is just a resident of the marine park, north of Alonissos. However ask any local fisherman, and he will advise otherwise. I have seen them in the harbour, in both summer and winter ...


Late news:

Tonight is the last friday in July, the chapel, at Aghia Pareskevi, is celebrating its annual festival. The celebration of Agrinipra, who gave all her wealth , to the poor, and to the church. She is said to be the protector of the eyes, and saint of the blind ...

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

More Crazy days ...

It started off well ...

On the way to work the fruit and veg caught my eye, as it often does ...

Fresh as the day ...



Excellent local produce, picked this morning ...


Hang on a minute - what's that on the top shelf ...

It looks familiar, yes its freshly dried Oregano. Nothing to do with me I might add, its a local entrepaneur. Clearly noting a whole in the market and exploiting a local commodity ...


Now is it better to pick it, and use it, or just have someone strim it from the face of the olive groves during summer and go to waste ? ...

Tonight the humidity gave way to thickening clouds. However as convectional raindrops fell, it was nice to be out in the evening air. Lovely meal at Gravisi Pizzeria tonight, a power cut, and now Zeus has arrived, to serve up an impressive encore ...

Looks like an interesting night ahead ...

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Sweaty ...

It seemed very warm again today ...

The humidity also assists the uncomfortable feel. Cold water taken into the body, and steam erupts from the pores. Water at room temperature seems to cause you to sweat less. Better to keep the water in your body rather than out of it ...

I have crossed the island North to South, and East to West today, its been a crazy day. Have attempted to assist a number of visitors, who do not know what to do, how or when. Then in the time honoured phrase head off into the wilderness lands 'to think about it' ...

Only to emerge a day or so later, to discover their window of opportunity to - do something - has evaporated, like cold water in the Skiathian body. I am always amazed at the reaction - John McEnroe would be proud of some of them ...

Home tonight after a discussion about negotiating skills, with a chap from Serbia, eager to bargain at low season prices in the mid season peak. A conversation as fruitless as my balcony tomato plant - However I live in hope, of the plant meeting its end of season objective ...

Tonight, at FIX o'clock, the chilled FIX erupted through the pores, like a volcano spouting lava. Perhaps the vapours will merge to form a cloud, to drench this 'small rock in the aegean' some time soon ...




Monday, 21 July 2014

The oregano files (2) ...

There has been a huge response to the Oregano post on the blog, I am not sure if there will be enough on Skiathos to meet all the demand :)



Its been great fun getting up early and rummaging the olive groves. Its amazing to be there in the early morning light, as you can see here. I have also seen wild thyme, although not in great enough numbers to collect so far.

Lots of interest from the 'Mainland Greeks' at my drying room, One even took some oregano down, and popped it in her handbag - Austerity woes ...

The plan is to dry it, strip it, then whizz it in a liquidiser to make it finer - for sprinkling etc
I will keep you updated via the blog on what happens next via 'the oregano files' ...

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The oregano files (1) ...

Somewhere on Skiathos island 07:30am ...

Deep in someone's olive grove, rays of sunlight are filtering through the green leaves of the trees. There hard at work below, the oregano pickers are harvesting the mornings crop before the sun gets too warm.



The white flowers give away the location of the crop, however following a scent trail, the sought after herb is easy to locate. Tough fingers break the shoots above the root - preserving the crop for next year. The roots are sacred, they must be protected ...



A goat bays nearby tethered to a tree, whilst the harvest continues. Fragrant wild mint - also in abundance nearby is saved for later.

Skiathian uses a knife, English hands are untrained for this work, however this mornings harvest is plentiful.The next stage will be the drying process ...



Photos to follow later ...

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Oregano fans ...

That special Mediterranean aroma ...

The ultimate, Mediterranean spice with rich aroma, full flavour and antioxidant properties. A perfect addition to red sauces, Greek salads, bruschetta, pizza and pasta - and even better on hand made chips.

Skiathos Oregano is strong stuff, not like the dust that you find in packets, on the supermarket shelves. Its hand picked from wild plants, that grow here on the island - by 'you know who' ...

I appreciate some of you have had your holidays and may have missed out on this experience.

So - If you want some get in touch - I am drying some at the moment, if I have more than i need, 'which is likely' then I would be happy to ship you some. That's if you desire a taste of summer - all winter long ...

If the requirement is there then I will go and get a lot more, however the window to collect it is a small one.

You can contact me, via the contact the Skiathian link on the page, top right ...

Late news just in: The latest influx from the mainland have arrived. They are squeezing their cars into the tiniest of spaces. 5mm from the next vehicle should be enough, for him or her to extracate themselves from. Then examine each panel for scratches and dust.

The next few minutes are spent programming the security features, and walking backwards to see how far away you can lock and unlock the doors, this with all the beeps and associated flashing lights on the vehicle.

Luckily this is happening before nightfall. Otherwise the bats would be flying upside down, due to the radiowave signals being concentrated, in such a small space.

How do you know they are from the mainland? This ritual happens every week, tomorrow the same will occur for de-securitization of the vehicles. No doubt someone will be boxed in too ...

The island is only 12x8 if it were stolen, it would not take long to find it ...

Friday, 18 July 2014

English Friday ...

Delays at the airport, flights from the UK again ...

The trouble is the rest of Europe gets up one or two hours earlier. They are on the way when Blighty passengers are having breakfast.

The office has been converted into a drying room for my Oregano harvest. When dried I should have around half a kilo for the Greek Salads, and to sprinkle on chips. Considering its retailing at €4 a small bunch in town and costs nothing, but your time to collect. I had better keep the doors locked to protect my investment ...

Fans of the bus are enduring horrendous delays, the bus is full leaving Koukounaries from late afternoon through the evening. The clubbers from Banana beach, and sunbathers filling it to bursting point.

Thanks to Donna and Simon, for giving SWMBO & Junior a lift back to town last night.

Hello to Steve from Chiswick, great to chat these last few days. Hope to see you back here in September. Another Steve, this one the "great sage" the Townboy, has slipped quietly out via the airport to Blighty. Likewise hello to Andrea and Viktor, from Portsmouth, via Canada and Hungary. Keep smiling guys ...

Weather still sunny, warm, some clouds around and a gentle breeze. Grapes are swelling on the vines,  Cicadas are in full voice, my friendly sparrows a few inches away, are looking me in the eye, and are demanding food.

Just another English Friday afternoon, here on a rock in the Aegean ...


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Blessing ...

.. of our new fire engine

I was invited to this event last night- sadly the work commitment, meant that I missed it. Still the Skiathian's roving reporter (SWMBO) was out and about, and soon on the case, along with the reporter from the kids section (Junior) ...

Here are the photos, fill in the gaps with your own creative ideas as to what was going on ...

There were speeches, Pappa Yorgos was there, probably the Kounistra icon too. If you need to see the unit close up, then visit the fire station, or in an emergency call 112 ...





Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Red sky this morning ...

Shepherds warning ...

Someone yesterday said it was going to rain, The Skiathos weather station is forecasting 'Mostly cloudy and cooler. Precipitation possible within 12 hours, possibly heavy at times. Windy'

Rain would be very welcome, the island is as dry as a bone, the fire 'risk level' is 1 - the highest.

Well its definitely very humid this morning, quite a sweat on and its not even 7am ...


I just read that on this day 30 yrs ago, West Indian legend Malcolm Marshall, batted with one hand vs England to get Larry Gomes to 100, then took 7/53!


A blast from the past, I wonder if I watched it, if like me you cannot remember click here ...

9am: A thunderstorm is over the hills, towering clouds all around, we are in for a stormy day ...

11am: Thats the first thunderstorm of July over and done with. It was quite a storm and now everyone is appearing blinking at the sky, and asking what 'we have done' with the weather. Pacamacs are out in force and the bus packed heading into town.

My friends over on Skopelosnews are reporting on the rain here ...

16:00 its all dry now, but apparently Thessaloniki has had a lot of rain. Waterspouts reported nearby over on Pelion. The streets have had a good wash, hope the rain has come in time to save the olives ...

Monday, 14 July 2014

Lemon free zone ...

The local fresh lemons are coming to the end of availability ...

Last night the tree we shook only a few dropped. They were soft and heading towards being overipe. I despatched some to some waste ground, one day there may be a lemon forest where the fruit exploded.

The tree spiked me in the head, lemon trees have thorns, and exact punishing revenge. The fountain of claret was spectacular - even for such a short duration. I looked like a famous English footballer of years gone by.

It seems the world cup passed me by, I never saw one game. Is this a record I wonder, however the following record is quite impressive ...


Lately I have been feeding some sparrows.  Tonight, I am sharing my sandwich with one cheeky male version. He shrieks at me, flies up and sits around six inches away from me. Not quite eating from my hand yet. Perhaps soon he will, tonight we are having cheese and pickle.

'Julie' after five years in a Branston free zone, it's really tasty stuff. Margaret from New York is a convert, although she baulks at Marmite ...

Sue and Tommy - Thank you, Junior loved the gift it was in use within minutes. We were amazed at what you read into the comments on the blog. Next year home grown chillies it is, and perhaps a few other things besides ...

Another warm cloud free evening, and at least a demanding feathered friend, by my side for company ...

Late News just in: Happy Bastille day to my French readers, there are not too many of you - There is probably a good reason for that  ...

Sunday, 13 July 2014

League of Nations ...

High summer is here ...

Ferries are discouraging their contents every few hours, on to this 12x8 rock in the Aegean. The main road now resembles a Grand Prix circuit. The taxi drivers fighting for pole position, even overtaking, an overtaking vehicle yesterday.

Plenty of fresh rubber being put down, on sun glazed tarmac that is making tyres, squeal even in normal conditions.

This morning, as a representative of a founder member of the League of Nations, I was called in to intervene in a parking dispute. Greece v Romania, battered van v luxury skoda (looked like a top end BMW)

Battered van man, had boxed in luxury Skoda man, as the twin luxury Skodas from Romania, had taken the van man's, time honoured parking space.

Where were the owners, demanded the guys from Romania, the writing on the van quite a clue. Why have they done this in quite a rant. I suggested, perhaps he had parked in someone's spot, making it difficult for the owner of the van. Seemed fairly obvious to me, and just about everyone else.

The neighbours were now asking why the Romanians were shouting, about something that was their own fault. I looked at the car and the gaps, 'Look if you can't get out of there, and take your lovely ladies to the beach - then you stay here, and I will instead' I said ...

A few minutes later and the Romanian girls were in the car, and heading to the beach. Not before grumpy driver said, I had to speak to the van owner about what he, had done.

Fight your own battles my response, as the electronic window closed, and the supercharged aircon took over.

A moderate success for shuttle car diplomacy ...

PS: Hello to Sue and Tommy (subu57) friends of the blog, and TA who successfully intercepted the Skiathian in town last night ...

Janet and John the cheddar hit the spot :) Cape Town'ers Junior loved the gift, thank you - Lots of fun ...

Later update: Romania declined to approach Greece over the territorial dispute ...


Saturday, 12 July 2014

Fruits of the sun...

Well vegetables really ...

I am no artist, but sorting out this bag of fresh summer vegetables - donated from a friends garden. I thought not bad - they rather reminded me of an artists palette ...


Hopefully later they will be transformed into something tasty ...

Sunday update: Those green beans were lovely

Ingredients
green beans, ends trimmed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Blanch green beans in a large stock pot of well salted boiling water until bright green in color and tender crisp, roughly 2 minutes. Drain and shock in a bowl of ice water to stop from cooking.

Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and the butter. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beans and continue to saute until coated in the butter and heated through, about 5 minutes. Add lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Another warm one ...

Another blue sky day ...

I did see some clouds yesterday morning, but they soon vaporized away. My friendly sparrows are becoming more insistent for food. Tame enough to sit beside, me with their mouths open when not shrieking for my attention.

We have been suffering power cuts, across the island, these last few days. Including one during the football last night. The madness of summer continues ...

There was a strike yesterday so no rubbish collections, so festering piles of stinking rubbish left out in residential streets, by the tavernas, is always good for future island business.

I fancy a swim, maybe later perhaps, when it's cooler ...

Well no swim, but a lot of fun on the phone with the guys from Cape Town. We still did not meet up, but junior loved getting a gift from her South African friends.

Hope the second bottle of red, was as good as the first ...



Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Congratulations ...

It's always great to get good news ...

Sifnos man my friend on 'another rock in the Aegean' who is a shadow of his former self, after shedding over 50 kilos, has done the deed. Their lovely house has been sold. Best wishes to John and, Pauline, as they embark on their next adventure ...

Latest news:

Good to see the 'great sage' townboy the other night, thanks once again for your great company. Likewise SWMBO advises that Junior, has come up with a number of cunning plans, to access her gift, whilst Junior is maintaining strict protection of own supplies.

It seems they hit the spot perfectly - certainly a direct hit, as far as Junior is concerned ...

Janet and John, have been along for a chat, thank you too for the supplies. We are indebted to your thoughtfulness.

Welcome back to Donna and Simon, who successfully intercepted the Skiathian yesterday on his 'frappe and sugar dip' run ...

Farewell to Kay and Keith, hope the travel went well, and hope to see you both back here soon.

Another cloudless, and very warm day here on the rock, but you knew that already didn't you ..

23:51 - World Cup semi final update:

Last time Germany shot like that, It was over seventy years ago ...
.

Monday, 7 July 2014

It should not happen to an ex-pat ...

Sunday lunchtime (6th July) ...

A couple walk into my friends bar. They speak to him and said

'It says outside you are showing the Wimbledon tennis final, and World Cup football live. So why are you showing the tennis at 4pm'?

He replies 'we are two hours in advance so its on at 4pm'

The man turns to is wife and says, 'The final is at 2pm if its two hours in advance, as he says it would be midday. Pointless watching a recording here at 4pm, the kids will have texted us the result by then' ...

Too much sun ....................................

Later update:

The last few evenings have been picking wild plums, they are smaller than the normal ones - but just as nice. A lady asked me what they were, as I was picking them. So I offered her some ...

She said "I would not eat them if I were you, you don't know where they have been" ...

Freshly picked 'Wild plums' from Skiathos ...

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Icons and Opera ...

Today is super sunday ...

This morning is the celebration of the discovery of the 'miraculous icon' of Kounistra, Its a very important event here on Skiathos. The Icon will be paraded around the village after church service this morning.

Pappa Yorgos is broadcasting on the loudspeakers, the church bells are ringing all over town right now at 08:20am ...




Around the port the clubbers were enjoying a breakfast of crepes loaded with Nutella, as Proteus slipped into port, disturbing what was a glass like sea ...





Tonight at 9pm in summer theatre Mpourtzi will be the Symposium organized by the National Opera House to mark the new opera "Slayer."


In the context of the Symposium will be presented in a world premiere presentation, excerpts of  the famous work of Skiathiti senior writer Alexander Papadiamanti "Murderess."
This symposium is organized in collaboration with the Cultural Association 'Skiathos' and the support of the Municipality of Skiathos. Admission is Free.

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

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Crazy days of Summer ...

Its getting very busy ...

Nipped out for a quick beer last night with, my man at Billingsgate - Mr JH & Rainey. I am rather taken by his designer leisure wear, he even laughed when I said he looked like a deckchair.

Great fun down at Mythos bar, ordering FIX and watching some seriously colourful cocktails, as they trashed the spirit cabinet once again. Two great friends, and thank you once again for the gift for junior.

The Cape Town gang are here on the rock, Welcome back Marise, David, Andrea and Catherine - Hope to catch up soon. Apologies to Alan and friends, have not seen you at Main Street in passing.

Tomorrow the 'Great sage' is due back on the rock, along with my childhood favourites 'Janet & John'

But before that is another busy 'English Friday' and it will be another busy day at work.
Strong winds forecast tonight as the shutters are due a 'Meltemi' rattle.

Time for bed said zebedee ...

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Dawn of a new day ...

Early start today - Taxiacharis at 5:30am ...

A quick pit stop for water from the spring, notably lower water pressure, from the source itself. The lack of winter rain seemingly apparent, and it seems this is affecting fruit trees across the island. Not good news as its an olive year. Now July is here, the meltemi winds will soon start, and further assist the fruit fall from the trees as well.

Many trees are dropping unripe figs apple and pears. Huge lemons are dropping from the trees, with an earthy thud as they reach terra firma. I have been enjoying sun warmed apricots, and should be able to 'obtain' some wild plums later if all goes well ...

The sea was a pinkish grey, and some small clouds skirting Skopelos, and departed very quickly as the sun rose and burned off the early morning mist.

I managed to enjoy the daybreak again, this time across the old harbour ...


 The old fish market stalls have undergone a transformation.


One of the old fish market stalls has been converted into a trendy bar. The result of which 'Psardika' the fish taverna, has had to give up some of its table space. The tables have been relocated directly in front of one of the old fish market stalls.

Right in the middle, and now with four lovely blue chequered tablecloth tables, is the fish market stall. Which I understand will be back in full use at the end of the summer season ...

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

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Kalo Mina - Ιούλιος ...

Kalo Mina - Good month to our Greek friends ...

... and those who read the blog, from across the world.

The church is busy this morning, with the locals taking glasses of holy water back to their homes. You sprinkle the water on the floor, around the house, shop or business and let it dry naturally.

Its makeover is nearing completion, for the next big event on the church diary ...

This weekend is the celebration of the discovery of the 'miraculous icon' an important event here on Skiathos. The Icon will be paraded around the village after church service on Sunday morning.

On the harbour all the boats will salute the miraculous icon, with blasts from their horns, as the icon passes by as it returns to Tries Hieraches ...

This event usually takes a few tourists by surprise as the village folk, approach down Papadamatis street in a somber procession. One minute you are looking at postcards, or getting into a 'full english' and then the village pass by in their Sunday best.

Not quite sure what the lady on the icon thinks, of the often somewhat bare flesh, or tattoos on display as she passes by either ...