Thursday, 30 November 2017

Its that time of year ...

St Andrews day to some ...

For others its time to work up a sweat down in the olive grove ...


Get bitten by mossies, get a stiff neck, and thrash trees with long sticks, in pursuit of the green fruits in the pursuit of the golden nectar.


One friend is after a couple of tons from his land, to transport over to the press at Glossa - Sadly Skiathos no longer has a press, why have a building sitting empty doing nothing for between two to four years at a time. Lets do something else with it instead ...

Another island tradition, disappearing in the pursuit of the tourist € ...

Another friend has resurrected and old unit from the shed, and plans to press their own olives into oil of different qualities. If its as good at their tsipouro, then well done to them !

I have a promise of a bowl of big fat olives for my salads. Fingers crossed that comes true, as I have a big weakness for them - They are so good for you. Last time I had some, he gave me a five litre drum of them. Yes we ate them all ...

Hats off, to the tree beaters, the weather has not exactly been kind, and its very hard work indeed. I am still enjoying some excellent oil from a friends 2013 vintage.


Its still got the bite that makes you cough when you have your teaspoon a day. Most though has been made into salad oil, with rosemary and garlic. Sadly it seems they will not be making any this year so this may be the last of their crop ...

Monday, 27 November 2017

Anniversaries ...

Strange how dates stick in the mind ...

Well eight years ago, that was a strange day ...

It seemed like a very long day, a long while coming, and on the day it seemed to pass very slowly indeed. Lots of friends popped in, genuine ones made over the years.

The phone was ringing constantly, text messages. Visitors, without appointments who made bizarre excuses to come and see me. The cards with such nice messages from peoples lives you had touched. and gifts which you just did not expect, at all.

One colleague, who crossed London to give me a bottle of Champagne, which SWMBO and me enjoyed one afternoon on tsougria beach with a picnic, whilst junior splashed around, and was up and down the beach bringing me anything, and everything from the shoreline that was of interest ...

We did get to tell her that story last year, she is one of the best ...

A glass or two of the Bubbly stuff - well why not. I like the sound of popping corks. Some cakes and a hypocritical visit from the boss (Quite the nastiest piece of work, I had met in my working life)

I took the team out for a leisurely, and expensive lunch, at a restaurant in Borough market.

Tasted even better knowing, the boss had tried to prevent it, but Ioannis won the day. Its good to know the good people, and to get to reward the nice people ...

Yes I did buy that lobster for the young lady, who had been treated so badly and asked if it was like a prawn. It was her last day and she had been badly let down. She was still working away trying to do things for the boss.

I did also pull the cable out of her PC, and empty her inbox into a black bag, and throw it in the confidential waste - She said 'I still have this to do for ... before I go' ...

Bless her, she did not quite get it, our serial numbers were deleted from the IT system at 5pm, and she was still there ...

Read the farewell e-mails, emptied the drawers, switched off and put the laptop away, sent off a very expensive claim to the hypocrite for lunch, Handed in the keys and the security pass, and left the house ...

That was it after 31 years, and a lot has happened since then ...

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Update on the Hotel Xenia (Update - 22/11/2017) ...

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, once again, and yesterday had a wander up to the Xenia hotel as it seems they are opening next summer.




The views from the terraces are excellent following some good work on the trees and the interior is looking very smart with one of the most important features coming along nicely (the bar!). 




Although the outside is still untidy, there are 2 new pools being built to one side (not likely to get much sun) and some small bits of landscaping have been done. 


Still not much sign of any work on the land behind the beach or any real clues as to the route of the access road to the hotel but it looks like the re-development will be a great success when it is completed.


Previous Blog: Day of the Panagia ...

Monday, 20 November 2017

Its the day of the Panagia ...

This morning the church bells at Tries Hieraches will be ringing ...

The icon ...
Today its Panagia Kounistra, the islands festival day when the townsfolk return the miraculous icon, to the monastery at Kounistra, in a pilgramage across the hills on the old paths. The icon which was found in a tree, where the monastery at Kounistria, was built, is going home ...

Most of the village will be walking just after noon, heading up to Acropolis, carrying torches and picnic baskets. Young and Old alike, many of the old ladies will be barefoot. They will be met at Acropolis by men with guns who serenade with a volley of gunfire as the icon and the villagers pass by below. Then climbing up on the old paths to Katsarou, then over the hills, visiting shrines and finally up to Kounistra.

Once at Kounistra there will be a service and the villagers will rest and take Coffee, Tsipouro or make the return to town on the special buses, laid on for the event. Many will stay overnight with the Icon, then return in the morning over the hills to Tries Hieraches at first light.

The Skiathos Calendar by Betsy Barnard mentions ... 

21st Panayia Kounistra (The presentation of the mother of god in the temple, 
i.e. when she was taken to serve in the temple as a child aged about 12) 
On the morning of the 20th the miraculous icon is brought up to the top 
church and taken out of the town about 2.30. The bells ring in town at about 
1.00. People follow on foot on the old road to Kounistra. At the monastery 
of Kounistra an evening service, all night vigil, bonfires food, much 
feasting. Buses run to the monastery all evening. 
Early next morning, about 5am the icon is taken back along the old road to 
town, people following on foot. To Ayia Triada about 8am, down the old paved 
road to the Kalo Pigadi and along the main road to the Tries Hieraches. 
Service 9 - 10.30 ... 

Buses will operate from Terminus and Acropolis to the Monastery from 14:00hrs until 23:00hrs

This event is one of the 'must do' events for any true Skiathos Lovers ...

Previous Blog: Panagia Kounistria

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Panagia Kounistria ...

Xronia Polla!

On Sunday, 19 November 2017 at 16:45, the miracle image of the lady of from the metropolitan temple of the three leaders at the birth temple. The will be held and then the mystery of the holy oil with the occasion of the two-day celebration of the of the immaculate conception and polioúcho of our island.

The icon is taken from Tries Hieraches to the top church, Panagia Limania, where it rests overnight

On the 20th the original icon of the Virgin Mary located in the church of Tries Hieraches is removed, and taken to the Kounistra monastery by foot via the mountain route. Along the way a gun salute honours the removal of the icon at Acropolis (by bus stop no. 4). Most of the village will take part in the procession.

Once the icon reaches the monastery prayers are said all night, and a vigil takes place. There will be socialising, coffee annd tsipouro, and for those who cannot stay overnight, buses will return to the village at regular intervals.

On the 21st November Kounistra Monastery celebrates the Presentation of Virgin Mary and at dawn  the icon is returned to Tries Hieraches church in town, along the same route.

The shops will be closed Monday afternoon and all day Tuesday as its an island holiday ...

Previous blog: Hey Baby ...

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Hey Baby ...

 It's cold outside ❄️ ...


Just Good friends ...
Its been a little damp too ...

Meanwhile the Medicane approaches Greece

Midday photo - Severe Weather Greece

Whats a Medicane? Its a Mediterranean cyclone, bordering on becoming a Cat 1 Hurricane.
Mediterranean + Hurricane = a Medicane ...

Previous blog: http://skiathian.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/polytechneio.html

Friday, 17 November 2017

Polytechneio ...

Today is Polytechneio day in Greece ...

Students, both young and not so young across Greece, will remember the Students uprising, and actions of the military junta in 1973.



Do read the link to 'A Gael in Greece' here it explained a lot more to me ...

On this day, the children in schools in Skiathos, take red carnations to school. The younger children draw or paint them, and take them home to their parents.

This is in memory of Nikos Beloyannis, A Greek resistance leader, sentenced to death for crimes against the state ...

Previous Blog: Rain Rain Rain ...

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Rain Rain Rain ...

All across Greece ...

Storms lashing Greece causing immense difficulties for the infrastructure, loss of life and damage to property.

At least 15 people have died, six are missing and 23 are injured following the disaster caused by extensive flooding in western Attica on Wednesday.

Firemen and other emergency services worked non-stop throughout the night to clear the water and the mud that covered streets, houses and businesses mainly in the towns of Mandra, Nea Peramos and Magoula.

The Attica prefecture, the administrative district for the towns, said it would seek assistance from the EU Solidarity Fund, set up to respond to natural disasters.

A state of emergency was declared in the region and PM Alexis Tsipras declared three-day national mourning.

Its another very dark wet amd stormy day on Skiathos, with more bad weather on the way.

Mediteranean cyclone - A Medicane ...

The National Meteorological Services (EMY) have issued an emergency bulletin warning of more extreme weather conditions over the next days.

Lightning 16:50 local time ...
According to the report, heavy rainfall and storms will continue, while strong winds and hail storms are also forecast.

If friends on the island are quiet, they may well have lost their internet in the storm ...

Previous blog: Ένα πρωί του Οκτωβρίου ...

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Ένα πρωί του Οκτωβρίου ...

One morning in October ...


The throbbing sound of the diesel engines, as it comes into view. Skimming across the golden sea as the sun rises beyond the Pounta.

For me its the only way to travel, one day soon you will blink, and this piece of history will be gone forever ...

Actually if you want to get to the mainland in the morning, this really is 'the only way to travel' this winter. Now that Hellenic have put the Cats to bed for winter.

Previous blog: Remembrance ...


Saturday, 11 November 2017

Remembrance ...

My fathers cousin ...

Albert Branch DFM Flight Sergeant (Flight Engineer) 962835, 83 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Died 20/10/1943. Age 21.


DFM Flight Sergeant (Flight Engineer) 962835, 83 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Died 20/10/1943. Age 21. Son of Charles William and Ruby Florence Branch of Aldeburgh. Buried at Assen Southern General Cemetery.



Notes: 1.The Cemetery at Assen, Drenthe, Netherlands, contains the graves of the crew of Flt Sgt Branch’s Lancaster Bomber. At the time of Flt Sgt Branch’s death, 83 Squadron were part of the Pathfinder Force.


The Memorial: Click here


Lest we forget, Wear your poppy with pride ...


At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them ...

Later Update:
As a result of this blog, a relative who I have never met read it, and got in touch. I have now received a photo of my father in wartime, from Alberts niece ...

Friday, 10 November 2017

A message from Steve in Skiathos ...

Remembrancetide ...

We will be holding our usual 2 minute silence on Saturday November 11th;
11am at the submarine memorial, all welcome.

Skiathian remains under the weather with the sweats, shivers and shakes.


One of the mums at school coughed and sneezed all over me, You know that moment when they are coughing and spluttering, so you try to keep a distance. Then they stand behind you then sneeze over you. Yes that was me ...

It could have been the sneeze across the table, which of course is denied. But I thought three days to go, it was four,

Sweating like a jockey in a sauna ...

Three years ago today, I was sitting in a cafe in Athens whilst SWMBO was in surgery. That was a very long day indeed.

Thanks to the lovely Anastasia, who came and kept me company, and we hit the caffeine hard.

It was her mothers birthday, and yet she came to see me, and keep me company outside a cafe, whilst the top man in Greece performed his art ...

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Bad Weather ...

There is a weather alert in place ...

See Severe Weather Greece site - Click here

Lightning strikes 09:43am >10:43am
'November decides to show us his real face with strong rains and intense in the west to the north and east Aegean in the next few days.

The intense phenomena have already begun in Corfu to the east, from tonight the phenomena will expand to the east and will affect the other areas.

The winds in the Ionian Sea will reach 8 beauforts. In the Aegean, 5-6 beaufort. The temperature at normal levels for the time. On the maps, we see the storms at that time in the fairly large line of snow that is open to the Ionian islands.

In European photography we see the low swirl in Italy.

Severe Weather across the country for the next 5 days, except Thursday. Intense thunderstorms are affecting already western Greece now, moving slowly to the east by the end of Wednesday'

Pop the Olive nets out quick, the winds may pick them from the trees for you ...

Previous blog: Fishing ...

Monday, 6 November 2017

Fishing ...

The important business, at this time of the year is catching Octopus ...

Best attempted by hand line from the harbour or Jetty wall.


The idea is you have three or four small fish as bait, on short lines, all within a foot of each other.

Mr Octopus is greedy, and is lured from his lair, taking the bait (all of it) and then helped ashore, after a tug of war, and into the net.

It seems very successful, undersized versions are thrown back to return as lunch, another day ...

Which is just how Junior likes to have her favourite lunch ...


Previous blog: Cats and Dogs ...

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Cats and Dogs ...

It was raining like that yesterday ...

Remember Remember ...


However today its the first jumble sale at Milos, in aid of the Cats and Dogs, Its the first of the winters island rummage sales, and becomes a scrummage when the doors open, and the transient locals storm in.

Good luck to all those involved, may the sales go well, and they manage to hold on to all the goods for payment.

Man the barricades, lets hope you can see whats going on, without the aid of the electric light ...

Later update:

The siege of Milos, thanks to Victoria Sandels for the photo ...


How many ex-pat Brits can you name? Basil tasked me. I spotted six, there are more ...

No reported injuries but some tug of war regarding rights to purchase items ...

Saturday, 4 November 2017

On a damp cold day ...

Its a good time to review a meze or two ...

These are from Bakaliko, where its great to while away an hour or two, with the locals. Some friendly banter and a tsipouro to go with the meze ...



Or is it a meze or two to go with the tsipouro. Anyway I cant remember. so will have to go back and find out ...

Watch this space for some Volos tsiporakia soon ...

Hunters Moon tonight 14% larger and 30% brighter, if you are lucky enough to see it ....

Watch this space for details of Flying Cat 6 next year: Flying Cat 6 seems to have arrived at the port of Piraeus, so that means that it has finally stopped services for the winter season, its route from Volos to the islands of Northern Sporades.

Skiathos residents, put the kettle on early in the morning. Remember the power is going off at 7am ...

Previous Blog: Καλημέρα - των αλιέων από το Βόλο ...

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Καλημέρα - των αλιέων από το Βόλο ...

Good morning - from the fishermen of Volos ...


The fish harbour is alive every morning, the light at this time of the year can be amazing. When in Volos you will find a vibrant city full of life. A buzzing cafe culture, shops and the finest tsiporakia. It just has to be done, and best when with Greek friends ...

One of my favourite places to wander in Greece ...

Previous Blog: Kalo Mina - Νοέμβριος ..

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Kalo Mina - Νοέμβριος ..

Καλημέρα και Καλό μήνα σε όλους ...

Good Morning, and Good Month, to the fans of the blog,

Or if you prefer, only 54 more days until Christmas ...

Now November is here, and the days are cooling, the bonfire smoke will be rising this morning, as the summer ban on lighting fires is lifted. Across the island lit matches will be applied to all those heaps of twigs branches and accumulated piles of rubbish.

The fire brigade will still be ready to attend, but the ticket book for the application of fines, will stay in the fire engine glove compartment until next May.

In addition the Electric company will be joining the party by turning off the power on Sunday morning ...

A General Power cut in the islands of Northern Sporades will take place this Sunday, November 5, from 07.00 am to 13.00 am. This is a planned interruption for the maintenance of the 150KV Y / S Volos II - L / C line to ensure the electricity supply of N. Pelion and especially the islands of the Northern Sporades

Meanwhile he Olives are ripening, and will soon be ready to pick ...


As long as the bonfires stay under control, and the wind lets them stay on the trees ...

Previous blog: Halloween ...