Week 33

2nd August 2009

Absolutely exhausted today. Got up early – 7.00 am – to go to the Internet Cafe before the World started to move. Home for coffee and newspaper followed by gardening and swimming. Ruth very kindly sent me the Test Match score. The text arrived about 9.30 pm which was about the time we decided to crawl off to bed. Oh, by the way, at the weigh-in this morning I was 15.25lbs lighter. (Yes, you read it right.) Pauline, almost unbelievably for such a skinny whippet, has lost 6.25lbs. The fight goes on.

3rd August 2009

Interesting day. It was my appointment at Huddersfield Royal infirmary. I did it by mobile phone. I’d had my blood INR tested on the island on Friday. Today at 17.30 (Greek), 3.30 pm (UK) time I had to phone the hospital with the results so that they could prescribe the warfarin (anti-coagulant) level for me to take. Everything was decided to be fine and my medication remains unchanged but it left me feeling very humbled after receiving such a wonderful service. People talk the NHS down but who could receive better treatment than being on a Greek island but getting consultation in Huddersfield? To console myself for failing to win the Test Match and, as it is Monday, I get the Sunday papers.

4th August 2009

Got up early to water the fruit trees. Last year we had one lemon from two trees. This year we have four. We have one orange tree and one tangerine but they are not fruiting yet.On the next level up the field we have about a dozen olive trees and on the level above that we have six peach trees, four apricots and three pears. On the level above that we have another dozen olive trees.Because we only visited eight weeks per year and Stavros is busy most of the time, they have been on an automatic drip-watering system. This has only really kept them alive and not promoted healthy growth and fruiting. We have some peaches and apricots this year but they needed real watering early in the season to full develop. They will get that next season because we will be here from March. The courgettes are ready to be planted out. Stavros thinks we will cut courgettes before we leave in ten weeks time. If we don’t, he will. The Basil, Rocket and Salad Leaves are still too small. The Parsley hasn’t germinated at all.We have employed a little man (an Albanian – pronounced Alvanian by Greeks) to help us clear the weeds from the fruit trees. He works in the Souvlaki Bar from 3.00 pm so he is coming to us at 7.00 am. We really will have to be up early. He will do an eight hour day for us for €55.00 or £49.00 for the day. That’s more than the Minimum Wage.

5th August 2009

Woke at 6.00 am and weighed myself. I have now lost 20.5 lbs. Waited for the Alvanian to arrive. By 8.30 am he hadn’t showed and it was a beautiful morning so we went out to the Internet Cafe to post the first half of the week’s Blog. Got lovely emails from Cal, Liz and Ruth. They made me feel happy. When we got home, the man had been, done half the job and left.

It is a very hot (35/36⁰C), still day. It is not one for doing a lot of work. We decide to relax, read the paper and do extra time swimming. The sea is so warm but, in this heat, still cooling.

Ten years or so ago, I advertised for an Attendance Officer – someone who would visit homes of children who failed to attend school. In the old days when we were at school they were calIed ‘School Board’ men. In modern education they work inside school as well as out, persuading parents and children of the fiction – education is essential to life chances. On this occasion, I appointed an ex-policeman, Brian Robinson. He had spent 30 years in the Murder and Drugs Squads. It seemed a perfect background for counselling errant school children.

Brian Robinson turned out to be the most wonderful man I had ever met. If you ever wanted to rely on one person for your life, Brian would be that person. He was absolutely dependable. We became firm, personal friends and I don’t do that easily. While we were building our Greek home, Brian was buying a run down cottage in the Dordogne. It came with a field which he was always trying to persuade me to build on. I must admit, I was tempted but it was a step too far.

Although about seven years older than me, Brian has retired at exactly the same time and in the week that we retired he finally plucked up the courage to go to the doctor about his ‘waterworks’ problem. An initial x-ray showed his prostate to be twice its normal size. A biopsy was ordered just as we were going away. Cancer was the fear. I phoned him today as he got his results. A urinary infection the fool. He has had it since March but daren’t go to the doctor. At least he’s alright.

6th August 2009

Up early this morning. Heard digging outside. It was the Alvanian. He was clearing another part of the land around the fruit trees. The sun hadn’t quite got up but it would be impossibly hot out there so I took him a large bottle of iced water. He was a youngish lad dressed in shorts and t-shirt. He had no socks and was wearing sandals. He bent down and lifted up a huge, dead snake. It was about two feet long and sandy coloured. It had run through his legs and he had stamped on its head to kill it. He held it proudly aloft. I don’t know if he realised but a bite from that snake would have made him seriously ill. Stavros confirmed for me that it was poisonous and that he had been trying to trap it only weeks before.All the scorched vegetation here is sandy brown just like the snake. In future, Pauline and I will wear wellington boots to garden.

7th August 2009

I looked at Pauline today. She is wonderful. I adore her. It is 31 years this summer that Pauline arrived in her battered, old, white Mini, knocked on the door of my flat and said, “Let’s get your things together. You’re coming to live with me.” I’ve been obeying her ever since. It’s interesting, now I think about it, that everything I owned would fit in a Mini but it did. We have come a long way in the last 31 years. Literally, we have come a long way to a small dot of rock in the Aegean.

My Courgette seedlings and Salad Leaves have been potted up and are romping away. The Rocket and Basil is still too small to move. Suddenly, after two weeks, the Parsley has germinated. I am using this as a learning process. Everything has to be shaded and watered at least three times a day. I’m really enjoying learning this all over again.

8th August 2009

Saturday should be a day of rest but, when you’re retired, you just have to push yourself on. I have to water the fruit trees, weed round the Bougainvillea (We have two just ready to climb up the new pergola. One is a pale peach flower and the other is a double graft of white flowering and crimson flowering. ) I then have to water all my plants and help Pauline clean the windows. The Test Match is going badly and, trust Yorkshire, the weather is fine. Ruth has texted me to give me the score and to tell me she is off on her swimming holiday tomorrow. Only this week, The Times reported a woman dying when she was opening or closing a lock gate. She fell in, hitting her head and drowned, (in Stoke, off all places.) Is this the sort of holiday a pensioner should be going on?