Week 40

20th September, 2009

There can be only one item – Man. United 4 – 3 Man. City. I felt sorry for City but only a little.

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21st September, 2009

This is officially the last day of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere and, right on cue, the weather got cooler. Today it was only 26C and, as the sun went down, so did the temperature. Of course, being Monday, today is Sunday so we spent the day reading the papers. This is how the day ended over Kamares:

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22nd September, 2009

I have cleared 402m of virgin land for cultivation next Spring. I will cover it with weed-suppressant fabric to keep it weed clear over the Winter. If I don’t do that, it will be carpeted with flowers by the time we return in March/April time and Pauline will make me leave them until they have finished flowering. I am still watering the fruit trees because of the hot sun during the day. Today, the first official day of Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, we picked our first peaches. We have six this year all on one tree and we ate the first one straight from the tree. It was a delicate, scented, sweet flavour that I have never tasted before. Of course, one’s own children are always the most gifted, aren’t they?

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23rd September, 2009

Pauline has spent the last two days minutely cleaning and the oiling every window and door in the property. When we first had it built, now over five years ago, Stavros said that we had a big decision to make about the windows and doors. We could have Sifnos windows and doors made by the woodman and costing about £5,000.00. They would need painting every year because of the intense sun and would rapidly shrink allowing the wind and rain through the gaps. Alternatively, we could have industrially made windows and doors which would have none of these problems. The downside was they would cost £25,000.00. We gulped but chose the latter.

The windows and doors were ordered from an industrial producer in Northern Greece called Sylor. They are unitary items with three parts – hard wood, double glazed window/door that opens normally or on a tilt and incorporates an insect net that pulls down like a roller blind and, on the outside, a shutter which pins back to the wall when open and locks when closed. It is a fantastic piece of kit that was well worth the money. The warranty is for 10 years and they are guaranteed not to need painting in that time. This is unheard of in Sifnos where the paint is peeling off ordinary objects after one summer of hot sun. The shelf above the window is typical of Sifnos architecture. It is intended to deflect rain. We don’t really know if it works. Every door or window has an external light above it. Not only do we look like a power station with them all on, we need a power station to keep them running.

After five years, everything is perfect and Pauline intends that they stay this way. The manufacturers give us each year a free bottle of detergent and a free bottle of oil to clean and treat our casements. Pauline, true to character, does this painstakingly and methodically every year. I know this because I watch her while I am reading the paper.

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24th September, 2009

The swimming over the past two days has been wonderful. The beach and the bay have been virtually deserted. Everyone seems to have gone back to work or to school. Pauline and I spend an hour swimming from one side of the bay to the other each day. I remember being absolutely knackered the first time we did it three months ago. Now I am just warming up. I made the mistake of taunting Pauline that she just wasn’t fit enough and suggested we double the swim. We did and I couldn’t walk the next day.

Now that the tourist season is over, the ferry service is severely cut back. Tomorrow, for example, the only one comes in at 9.00 pm. I think we are nearly the only foreigners left on the island. It was a lovely morning this morning – about 73F. We decided to go out for a drive. We went to Kastro. This is one of the oldest settlements on the island. It is the castle hill where a fortress was built to provide safety for the islanders against invaders – notably Venetians and Turks. It doesn’t look particularly secure now but it is full of dark passages and hidden doorways.

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26th September, 2009

Courgettes appear on Greek menus a lot. In the English version they are called Zuchini and in Greek they are called colochqaci. Robert kindly sent me a recipe cooking courgettes with feta cheese. It sounds very healthy. Catherine sent me an email telling me she had been growing them in England. Courgettes are clearly headline news at the moment. I’ve grown them in England many years ago and the danger is having a glut at the end of the season. Growing them in Greece is a different thing altogether and I wouldn’t say I have been brilliantly successful. At least I’ve got some.

Of course, my memories have always put me off eating courgettes. I don’t know how many of you remember ‘stuffed marrow’. I remember it as the most awful, retch-inducing thing I have ever been forced to eat in my life. The disgusting, sloppy-wet texture of cold, baked marrow stuffed with minced meat will stay with me for ever as will Dad’s intention that I sat at the table until I had eaten it. I have long had a horror of courgettes for that reason. I once came back from a holiday to find a courgette plant had to continue to ‘fruit’ and they had developed into marrows. I had to get Pauline to dispose of it I was so scared.

Unfortunately, I seem to find that the vegetables I least enjoy are the ones that I grow most successfully. I have never been particularly fond of cabbage but I can grow them for fun. Similarly courgette. However, the Greeks have taught me to love it although the healthy eaters among you (Jane BG) will almost certainly not approve. Thinly sliced, dipped in egg and flower or light batter and deep fried is my favourite way of eating courgette or aubergine (another sloppy-textured vegetable).

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Interesting football today. Came back from a long swim to watch Chelsea lose to Wigan, Man U. win at Stoke and Everton beat poor old Portsmouth. Tomorrow I will be able to watch the F1 race with Hamilton on pole but hoping Jensen Button came get enough points and follow that by watching Sunderland – Wolves. On Monday we’ve got Man. City West Ham and on Tuesday Fiorentina – Liverpool. It’s going to be a busy week!

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