Friday, 29 January 2016

A cat's tale ...

Or was it tail ...


Summer is coming ...

I know you humans like giving me cat treats, but to be honest, we really don't know what them strange pellet things are.

To be honest, I prefer to rake through the bins, around 4am, with my mates. The scraps from the table and prawn heads, are OK for a snack - but my diet certainly needs a change - It all gets a bit repetitive, after a while.

I might pop down to Mylos for a Chicken Jalfrezi later ...

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Renovations at the Hotel Xenia (Update - 28/01) ...

Works are continuing ...

Thanks to 'Steve in Skiathos' and 'Skiathos Island News' for very kindly, allowing us to share the following update, and photos of the ongoing works ...

Steve has been out and about, with the camera, and advises 'Despite the recent bad weather, still plenty of work has been done on the Xenia Hotel. Photos were taken this afternoon (27th January) - access to Abelakia beach is getting a bit tricky now!















Thanks again Steve, and Skiathos Island News, for the shared info. Further photos to follow in due course ...

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

1969 ...

Lets take ourselves back to 1969 ...

Σκιαθος 1969
Διαφημιστικο βιντεο του 1969 για την Σκιαθο


When Skiathos was all the fashion, and colour was just 'Black and White' ...

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

New markets ...

I have been having a banter with friends on Skiathos about the tourist season. Steve in Skiathos has advised that the first tourist flight of the summer is now less than 100 days away.

The island tourist team, are still working hard at the tourist fairs, raising the profile of Skiathos in new markets

My humble offering, is the footprint of visitors to the blog, where once again. It seems we are still big in the Ukraine this week. Not sure whats going on down in South Korea, perhaps we got a mention on a balloon, or the loudspeakers crossing the demilitarized zone ...

Pageviews by Countries


EntryPageviews
United Kingdom
1154
Ukraine
981
United States
125
Germany
64
Greece
54
Russia
34
Norway
23
France
16
Australia
11
South Korea
9


Its been great to see some photos, and video of the snow from Skiathos, these last few days. Not least the football team sitting outside, at Mouragio celebrating their latest victory, with one of my island mates. 

Photo: Skiathos Life 
I appreciate its been quite tough dealing with the after effects, power cuts and the like. 

The snow causes a lot of issues, not just with the infrastructure. Trees not used to getting loaded with snow and ice break under the strain. Olive trees, that loose a limb, loose a few kilos of olives, although the fire wood will come in handy next year. 

Creaking roofs have been known to break, under the deluge. Up in the hills it has been quite a deluge too. It affects the roads and tracks, where many are seeing out the winter. Although the council does like to keep the road clear to the Monastery, others are not so fortunate.

Here I have been knocked out by a second bought of bronchitis. Its been quite a week, SWMBO having chemotherapy at the same time. Today I plan to venture out for the first time in four days. Coughing and wheezing on to the bus, the mobile tank of viruses.

Decent food makes you feel better, and it can be hard to find. However if you can find the recipe for Nigel Slater's Wafer-thin ribbons of courgette fries with homemade pesto, Then I can confirm its delicious, and should be on the late summer recipe list of any summer gardener, with a vegetable patch or in need of a healthy lift.

I do miss the butchers shop in Tries Hieraches, where Vasilis would toss any decent cut of meat into the mincer. Our local places follow the age old tradition, of last weeks meat is cubed for pies, later when the colour deteriorates, hits the mincer with a lump of fat.

When you find a decent butcher, you cherish the experience, so if all goes well later. Then I have a long bus ride on my hands to restock the fridge.

Junior has surfaced so its time to go, however the following request just caught my eye, So I thought I would share this one with you ...

'Hi can anyone recommend a good vet for castration on my dog. I don't mind where abouts. Thank you'

If anyone knows, of a different place on the body, 'where abouts' dogs get castrated, please let me know asap ...


Sunday, 24 January 2016

Skiathos winter landing ...


Ever wondered how Skiathos looks from the Olympic hopper, after the snow?

Well thanks to Nikos, from the Angeliki hotel, at Megali Amos - you can ...


Saturday, 23 January 2016

Snow days ...

Skiathos has snow again this morning ...





Photo: Father Iosif Katsouras, Evagelistria Monastery  
(Source / source: Stavros Dafis & Metar. En)

Photo: Giorgos Diolettas - Platanos Skiathos
Photo: Sakis Zlatoudis - Achladies Skiathos

Six years ago, (almost to the day) it snowed like this, the power went off for a couple of days. The power lines collapsed over on the Pilio, the islands went offline.

We lived in one room, I fed the woodburner day and night to keep SWMBO & Junior warm. We had Junior tucked up in the moses basket, It was surreal but great fun. I was warming up milk bottles in a pan,on the woodburner.

I had food in the freezer ready for the event, which we heated up on top of the woodburner. Candles everywhere, to navigate the house. Our first winter, The best of times, great winter days spent on the island ...

Friday, 22 January 2016

1973 ...

Lets take ourselves back to 1973 ...

Σκιαθος 1973
Διαφημιστικο βιντεο του 1973 για την Σκιαθο

Monday, 18 January 2016

It's snowing ...

Wait a minute ...

That's not an excuse to say, what the weather is doing somewhere else ...

Photo: Lazos Manolis via Μetar.gr
However the electrons are glowing with reports, of the winter wrapping it's chilly fingers around the islands. Skopelos News reporting this morning, the Vice Mayor of Glossa asking residents to stay indoors. Sensible stuff, avoid the ouzeria, less chance of a slip trip or fall, and an unnecessary visit to Volos. Glossa photos here

I have been enjoying the weekend posts on the forums, many getting very random - probably as the booze kicks in.

The brides have appeared, almost en-masse, and are asking questions, and ignoring the answers as usual. The new 'All inclusive bookers v all those who know better'

A post of the stormy Skiathos weather, deluged with, it's better there than here, snow listings from all over. Today it will be sunshine posts, from summer days, and polarized filters. Comments like only another five months and I will be there.

Only they won't be standing on a wobbly rock, taking a stunning photo. They will be on a sun bed dribbling mythos. Its amazing how many Skiathos property experts, there are resident in the UK.

Who will be there first? Their calendar the one that starts in May. Please let it be me, and long before that :) ...

Meanwhile back on the rock,  the cafes will have a few locals sipping their coffee, sheltering from the weather. Keeping warm on the cafe owners heating. Looking out towards tsougria, and dreaming of summer, when the flying cashpoints arrive, out of the distant blue yonder.

Must have been a hell of a shock when the Ryanair arrived the other week. Extra cushions and chairs quickly placed outside, for tourists that did not come ...

As you all love a photo, here is one from five years ago today. 18th January 2011. Aghia Pareskevi where the picture is slightly squiffy, due to Junior at the time pulling on the camera straps. That was a great afternoon, spent fishing, eating sandwiches and trying to catch junior, crawling in the sand on a deserted beach...


The star around the sun, unique and something special to Skiathos. It was a brand new camera, and everyone in UK said nice star filter. Only I did not at that time own one, but you know best ...

However now five years on to the day, as its turned cold, I am thinking distant thoughts too.

I am thinking about some little old ladies, in old houses with little if any insulation. They will be huddled round the heat, from their ancient woodburner, chatting and sharing a lunchtime meal. One will head off down the street, to take a covered plate to one, who sadly cannot get out any more.

I hope they have found someone to chop, and swap their wood supplies with this year ...

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Beer anyone?

No not that Mythos that you all love ...

Over on the mainland (Where is that?) Our local city is Volos. Its the capital of Thessaly, and where the ferries go to.

Greek legend has it home of Jason, and the Argonauts. If you visit in summer you will see a replica of Argo, his vessel moored on the waterfront.

Not only is Volos a great place to visit, with a vibrant cafe culture. I have just discovered it has a Microbrewery. Its brewing ale, something many of you like to enjoy - even in Greece.

Microbrewery of Thessaly

Website: Click here

Facebook page: Click here

Photographs shared with the kind permission & © Microbrewery of Thessaly





Now if Argo Golden ale, were on sale in Skiathos, bet our summer ale loving tourists, would give the beer a try. Not least our island expat ale lovers too.

So next time I am in the big city, I will be looking this place up, and relocating some bottles to a place, where they will be better appreciated ...

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Renovations at the Hotel Xenia (12/01) ...

Works are continuing ...

Thanks to 'Steve in Skiathos' & 'Skiathos Island News' for very kindly, allowing us to share the following photos of the ongoing works ...









One learned reporter, and friend of the blog advises 'Definite sounds of some serious demolition coming from the Xenia Hotel yesterday' ...

Steve advises 'Looks like they have taken out all the non supporting walls now - they were on the roof with a jackhammer' ...

Thanks again Steve and Skiathos Island News, for the shared info. Further photos to follow in due course ...

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Koukounaries ...

One of my favourite beaches on the island ...

This is the most famous beach of Skiathos. It has fine white sand, and shallow warm waters. and is bordered by fragrant pine trees from which the beach takes its name. Its considered to be one of the beaches that has the clearest water in Greece.

Its always been a great place enjoyed by the locals, long before the onset of tourism.

An enterprising gentleman by the name of Babis, opened a taverna on the beach there in the 1950's, The photos date from around 1956.




These postcards, are probably from an earlier time, but show the natural beauty of the area in all its glory ...



This photo dating from the 1970's shows the area, before tourist development. It has the one hotel at the west end of the bay. Its the Hotel Xenia which later fell into decay, and dereliction.


You can see the Xenia had an unrivaled location and view, The good news is that the old hotel, has been purchased by a consortium, and work has started to renovate the hotel, adding new suites, and infrastructure. Once completed it will be a stunning hotel once again, and probably the most sought after location to stay on the island once again ...

The biosphere which is a nature reserve, and later briefly to become a pitch and putt golf course, in all its beauty. No hotels, located around the main road, and the photo even pre-dates the Hotel Caravos rooms. Which was the first tourist accommodation, in the area for the intrepid traveller.

Even now in winter you can have this beach all to yourself, its shallow water means it warms quickly and you can swim if you wish.

Koukounaries, a small piece of heaven on earth ...

All content, including Photographs, graphics, text, © The Skiathian 2010-2016. All rights reserved
Όλο το περιεχόμενο, συμπεριλαμβανομένων φωτογραφιών, γραφικά, κείμενο, © 2010-2016 The Σκιαθίτη. Όλα τα δικαιώματα διατηρούνται 

Friday, 8 January 2016

Meanwhile down at the airport...

A jet arrived and set everyone's heart racing ...

Photograph © Alan Wigmore 2016

Sadly it was not the forerunner, to the start of cheap flights to the Sporades. However for a few hours it sent us sent us searching the schedules for good news.

However we now understand it was a private charter ...

Great photo by Alan, who has captured something that may be unique, in the airports history - A budget airline on the ground at JSI ...


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

θεοφανια - Take 2 - or was it 3 ? ...

θεοφανια ...

Today was the celebration of Theofania or Epiphany in Skiathos
A good day for a bracing swim, for a few brave souls ...

Stratos Tsikoúnas retrieved the cross, for the 3rd consecutive year ...

Here is a photo being circulated of Stratos surfacing with the cross. Its a pretty good photo, and I complimented the host on it ...



Then I thought ...

Hang on a minute ...

Looks familiar ...

It appeared 'here' last year.

Which reminded me of a lengthy reply, on FB. That I had read earlier, Yes you have guessed it, A copy and paste from here from 2011 ...

None of the copy and pastes include the bit at the bottom of the page

All content, including Photographs, graphics, text, © The Skiathian 2010-2016. All rights reserved

Please if you want to use content from the blog, there is a 'Contact the Skiathian' link on the right hand side of the page ...


Monday, 4 January 2016

Ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος ...

Happy New Year ...

How are you all, do you still visit the blog, some clearly do. Its been a year since I made the decision to close down, and return to the UK. It was a tough decision, but my wife's health had to come first. It was the right decision ...

Yes the rug was pulled from beneath us, SWMBO worried that the faltering Greek health system, and its chronic lack of doctors and equipment were failing her. I returned 'to the rock' and had a few days to gather our lives into a suitcase, argue with doctors and return swiftly to the UK.

A lot has happened in that year, we have found out who our friends are. We have met many great people, and a few who, no longer deserve any mention at all. The Christmas card list became shorter, but in many ways richer by the experience.

We lived out of a suitcase for a few months before, we had to find new digs. We met people who had two faces, and some who were fraudulent. We met people happy to rent us, a shed in the garden, with Wifi that was a cable looped up the garden. 

We met more corrupt landlords, than you can shake your fist at, and a few that we did. They even knew they were dealing with someone, very sick with cancer, on chemotherapy, and with a young child. 

The NHS has many critics, It also has so many good people, It has a excellent doctors and nurses working within its system, Notably in our case, the excellent Greek doctors, who we have found along the way ... 

So what is so different? Well chemotherapy in Greece, you sit on a hard backed chair whilst the drugs are infused, sometimes over many hours - If they have them. CT and MRI scanners of ancient age, and serviceability. The UK version is 5* in comparison, and although subject to system failures. It has finance, funds for repairs, and access to drugs, and technology on demand. 

We met some great people in the Greek health system, I genuinely believe they care, because they are still there practicing their profession, against all the odds. We are indebted to two great friends, who banged on doors, and twisted arms on our behalf, in Greece - for records, and proof. Had it not been for them, then the hideous Hellenic bureaucracy, and miles distant would have beat us.

Yes its been a very tough year, Moving house, rooms, countries, doctors, surgeons, oncologists, dentists, GP's, eye tests, even access to the humble flu jab. At times, mentally as well as physically exhausted, by the experience. It has been quite a challenge, supporting SWMBO & Junior through it all ... 

What do I miss, friends obviously, and my Greek neighbours, who became such an important part of my life. The diet in Greece is so much healthier, and I struggle here despite often best intentions. I have to try to feed SWMBO, as best as we can through the chemotherapy regime. She has admitted she misses the meze, and fresh food, from just a few miles distant.

Junior misses friends, the sunshine and a summer that is a real summer. However it also means long days at school, compared to reduced hours if a teacher is available, 'back on the rock' ...

There are some benefits to going to the supermarket in winter, and finding empty shelves, then only buying what you need. Rather than seven days a week, mass produced everything on demand of the UK.

We set out to have a good family Christmas, between chemo treatments, and that is what we did. Junior had a great time and we did spoil her rotten - Why not? Its the first Christmas where Santa was all important. 

I even made out that he could not get down our closed chimney, unlike back on the rock. 

Yes at 5am on Christmas morning, had our neighbour, looked out. He would have seen me carving sleigh runner grooves, and reindeer hoof prints in the garden grass. Snowflake ice cubes scattered across the grass. Luckily Santa had kindly left the presents in the shed ...

Christmas lunch spent with friends, a decent glass or two of claret, Strangely here, its again been followed, by my almost annual 'pre new year' chest cold, that again just would not shift.

Morale was lifted by a visit from Skiathos friends. The occasional Skype call from friends 'back on the rock' and watching junior once having fun again with distant friends. 
Friends we know have left the island for pastures new, Some are stuck there, and would love to leave. Some others are doing battle, with the bureaucracy, poor health, and the post summer blues. 

New faces arrive as the annual migration, of new ex-pats to replace old, takes place. Some if not all are chasing their own version of the dream. One that probably starts, and will end, over a Mythos. Good luck to all of them ...

So here we are at the start of the year. SWMBO just about to start the 17th course of chemotherapy. Very shortly it will also be, the start of her 4th year fighting cancer, albeit at times unknowingly.

We have been though the system, and been, lucky enough to see the best doctors in the country - the top of the tree. Now we find the finance rug has been pulled, on the drug she needs. So we are back to square one, with the UK post code lottery of healthcare funding. One that many of you know so well.

Looks like this will be the last course with the superdrug. They now have to find something else, or one that will probably incapacitate SWMBO for around ten days, out of every fourteen again ...

In the time I have been writing this update, whilst listening to the South African fight back, in the test match from Cape Town. Its been sunny, cloudy, and rained heavily. I am home alone, (SWMBO at the hospital) so have the heating off, and wearing shorts - yes old habits die hard. It feels just as cold as the Skiathos house, where right now its approaching 'Wood burner - o'clock' 

No olive wood scented and ant nest filled logs here, and as many of you know - Gas central heating, is expensive to run. However we do have nightly visits from an inquisitive fox, and a squirrel looking in the window, from on top of the shed from time to time ...

I am not one for new year resolutions, after all the future is uncertain. However I need to get the brain back in gear, and do what I like to do - to write. If you remain interested in what happens next, then perhaps you would like to continue to watch this space...

The journey continues, thank you once again, for reading ...