Week 32

26th July, 2009

I will not tell you again but the day is cloudless and super hot. At the zenith of the day, the temperature reached 37⁰C. In the concrete of Athens it was 42⁰C. I got up this morning knowing that there would be no Breakfast apart from a glass of fresh orange juice and a cup of tea. Usually, at work, I would get through the day on that. In retirement, I am doing less and eating more. Breakfast has come to mean toast of Pauline’s bread liberally spread with Pauline’s homemade jam all washed down with a cup of freshly brewed coffee and a copy of The Times. It cannot go on. I will get even fatter if it is possible. The diet starts today and I will keep you informed of its progress.

After no Breakfast, I went up to Apollonia to the internet cafe to post the remainder of last week’s Blog. As we stepped out of the front door we realised that it was ‘Wasp Emergence Day’. These wasps are not your normal, waspish wasps but long, thin, rather benign beasts that would probably only give you a sting if you insisted. As soon as we got back from the internet cafe, we set about putting up our new wasp-pots that we had bought through the ‘Temps’ catalogue. They are beautiful, multi-coloured glass creations which one fills with a sugar and water solution and then hang up. If you want to avoid catching bees, you add a little vinegar as well. As you will see from the photo, we hung ours from the rafters of our new pergola.

pergola1.jpg pergola2.jpg pergola3.jpg

wasp1.jpg wasp2.jpg

It was so hot today that we didn’t feel like doing much other than swimming. I did manage to sow my seeds, finally. I had brought peat pots from England and a bag of sowing compost from the island’s plant shop. I sowed 36 peat pots with:

Italian Rocket
Wild Rocket
Mixed Salad Leaves
Sweet Basil
Italian Flat-leafed Parsley

This was a token gesture because we now have less than three months between sowing and harvesting. It will, however, give me some idea about growing conditions when I plant them out.

27th July, 2009

Day two of the diet and I am already used to orange juice and tea. At least in this heat I don’t have to go to the toilet much. Monday is my favourite day of the week in Greece. I get the Sunday papers. Mind you, they are not cheap. The Sunday Times & The Telegraph cost €10.20 or £9.10 but they are well worth it. I get almost two days full reading and thinking out of them. While I was reading, I was doing Man’s work. I was filling the water tank.

Most Greeks on islands – which have a tendency to be dry – have water tanks. We also have our own 35 metre deep well which supplies us with constant clean water even when the island sends out for water ships. A pump at the bottom of the well sends it up to the water tank above which our house is built. A pump in the water tank pulls it through the filtration unit in our garage which then pumps it on demand into the house. It sounds all very complicated and Heath Robinson but it works wonderfully and is the envy of people like Stavros who have to pay a fortune for their water. It also means that we can water all our fruit trees and plants as often as we want. We can clean our car even in the summer – something frowned on by islanders as a waste of a scarce, natural resource.

The water tank needs to be topped up once a week by opening a valve and reading the Sunday papers. Since time immemorial, this has been assigned as Men’s work.

28th July, 2009

Off to the Medical Testing Centre (manned by the island’s Baker) this morning. I have to have my blood anticoagulant quality tested because of the warfarin I take to treat my occasional atrial fibrillation. I am given an INR number (hopefully between 2 – 3) and I have to phone a technician at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary with that result so he can tell me the warfarin dosage to take over the next month or so. As my blood is almost always neat claret, I can tell you that the INR of Bordeaux Rouge is about 2.3.

The Baker has a roomful of patients this morning. Pauline makes an appointment for me on Friday. Meanwhile, at the internet cafe, I find an email from Ruth which is lovely and one from Jane B.G.. Jane’s tells me that she has added me to her friends list on Facebook. I’ve joined Facebook but never contributed. However, this week alone, I have been added to the ‘Friends’ list of four separate people so I had better take it seriously. Currently, Pauline & I are picking up our emails through live.co.uk.

On the seed sowing front, Mixed Salad Leaves and Courgettes are already through. I have to pay careful attention to watering and shading in this climate.

29th July, 2009

Pauline looked at my face today and was really annoyed. She said I had no wrinkles which, for a man of 58, was just plain wrong. She is obsessed with wrinkles which she is developing from her nose to her bottom. When she called at the Farmakia (chemist’s shop) today, she was delighted to be offered a free, anti-wrinkle cream. I pointed out that it was only free because it was useless but she will try it all the same. The seedlings up now include Mixed Salad Leaves and Courgettes, Italian Basil and Italian Rocket. The peat pots have been moved outside to stop the seedlings getting leggy.

As you probably know, I read the The Times avidly. In Greece and in Retirement I have the time to read it much more closely than before. I wouldn’t normally read *******’s column because she annoys me so much but we must be of the same ilk because I couldn’t help laughing at our similar reactions to ‘texting’ on our phones. Like me, she cannot bring herself to ‘text’ in anything other than perfect sentences. That is exactly how I feel. The punctuation and the grammar both have to be right.

30th July, 2009

As we got out of the sea today, Pauline said, It’s a bit cool today, isn’t it? I agreed. We walked back to the car and it told us that the temperature was 33⁰C / 91⁰F but it felt cool. We have been here for ten days and yet we are so acclimatised that 91⁰F feels cool. I was a bit frustrated this morning that our satellite TV service, Nova, hadn’t bought the Test Cricket from Sky until the BBC News told me it was rained off. I was just going to text Ruth for the score. I had to water all the trees instead and tomorrow we will clear and prepare a bit of ground for the courgettes, etc

31st July, 2009

Up at 7.00 am today and off to the Blood Testing Lab.. It was surprisingly modern and well equipped. I had to give an armful of blood as opposed to a finger-full in Huddersfield but the result came out alright. For aficionados, my INR was 2.6. It should be in the range of 2 – 3 so that’s ok.. The diet is hard but being stuck to. I haven’t had any alcohol for a week. By October Jane BG and I will be barely distinguishable. I weigh myself on Sunday so I will record the up to date position then although it probably won’t go on-line until Wednesday.

The germination of seeds is a little disappointing. Courgettes are powering away and should be planted out in the next few days. Some Mixed Salad Leaves and Sweet Basil seedlings are up but still tiny. Only three or four Rocket seedlings are through and the Parsley, which is notorious for slow germination, is not showing at all. Having cleared all the weeds and competing rubbish away from our young citrus trees, we do at least have some fruit ripening.

1st August, 2009

White Rabbit!

So tired this morning we slept until 9.00 am. Even when we got up, we were too tired to do much when we got up. Lots of cups of tea, BBC News and finishing two day old ‘Times’ later, we went out shopping to the windmill supermarket up in Apollonia. You wouldn’t call it a supermarket. Nowadays it does stock most of the products we need to survive but it will never be more than a good, corner shop. Pick up Friday’s ‘Times’ on the way home. It’s always available about 11.00 am because the hydrofoil service – Aegean Speedlines – arrives about 10.30 am in the summer months when it’s not too windy.

Back home for coffee. BBC tells me that the Test has been delayed because of rain. Pauline and I put big hats on to go out and water the Fruit trees. We have young peaches, apricots, pears, lemons, oranges and tangerines plus three fig trees. We also water the young olive trees. It takes about two hours to do all that. I get back to find my seedlings in their peat pots are rapidly drying out and are in need of emergency watering. That done, we collapse.

One of the lessons Ruth has been urging me to learn is that Retirement is all about pacing yourself. I think I’m learning it

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