Week 72

2nd May, 2010

Gloriously hot and sunny day today with a slight breeze. We spent it gardening in the morning and watching football in the afternoon. All across the valley in front of us we could hear cultivators chugging through Spring-warmed soil as islanders plant out their tomato, cucumber and melon plants. It gets very hot as you garden here and we take plenty of coffee and water breaks. With no real rain for two months already, the soil is bone dry. It is also covered with dying wild flowers. In order to clear them and fork over the soil, it is necessary to wet it first. I put the sprinkler system on for half an hour prior to working on the area. We are some of the very few people who can afford to do that here. Most people pay for metered water. We have our own, limitless supply. Another couple of days work and we will be sowing and planting.

We are continuing to work on our diet and it seems so much easier here. I am only drinking wine at weekends. Salads and cold, white wine are the order of the day. Today it is oktopothi salata or octopus salad. This is a piece of octopus boiled for half an hour, allowed to go cold and then chunky sliced with oil and vinegar. It tastes like fishy pork. It is wonderful. It is accompanied by olives from our own trees cured by Pauline over the winter.


Pity about the football. Bit of an anti-climax!

3rd May, 2010

A day that started warm and became hottish at 26⁰C made gardening hard. By 11.00 am, after two hours of solid work, we were shattered. We drank a litre of water and then took a phone call from our estate agent. The second viewer decided there were just too many steps up to the house for their 84 year Mother who lives with them. The first viewer will present their mortgage credentials on Friday. They are also interested in buying some or all of our furniture & white goods. This is exactly what we want. We want a clean start in a new apartment with new furniture. There is nothing worse than old people trying to cram old and treasured furniture into new and smaller surroundings. Our pictures and our bed will go with us. We started immediately to do an inventory of the house contents.

It was such a lovely day and so hot that, after lunch we went for a drive to Faros, a small fishing village on the other side of the island. Went for a drive – it only takes 20 minutes if you drive slowly. We walked on the shoreline for a while and took some photos:

faros.jpg  faros1.jpg

4th  May, 2010

We decided to be sociable today and went down into the port village to have coffee at Cafe Stavros (which is owned by Stavros but rented out) run by Kristos. Kristos is just 30 years old. He was 5 when we first went to Sifnos. He recently got married to Eleni who owns and runs the Germanos outlet that sold us our Broadband dongle. Kristos has bought land to build a house.

kamares.jpg  kamares_1.jpg

The photographs above show the busy, Kamares High Street and Moshka’s white, delivery pantechnikon parked outside the ‘supermarket’. The photographs below were taken from inside Cafe Stavros looking to the roadside and the ‘supermarket’s blue doors and high-tec display areas and Stavros Travel Agency all below Hotel Stavros. You may be beginning to understand that Stavros has some influence here.

kamares_2.jpg  kamares_3.jpg

This afternoon Pauline has slow-cooked the shoulder of lamb on a bed of Apostoli’s onions and garlic mixed with thyme and rosemary from our garden and a bottle of red wine. Served with Dauphinoise potatoes, it was magical. Some of the left over lamb will be wrapped in phyllo pastry with slivers of feta cheese and baked in the oven. I can’t wait.

5th  May, 2010

A day of total strike paralysis in Athens was marked by complete indifference on the island. Not only did they not strike but they were largely unaware of the rioting in Athens, of the attempt to storm the Parliament buildings and of the fire bombing of the Marfin Bank and the death of three bank workers. They were unaware because television journalists were on strike and there was little news on Greek television. Fortunately, we were able to watch the BBC news.


The mainstay of the Greek economy is tourism. Who knows what effect these scenes will have on the industry. Anyway, to more important things. I’m watching City v Spurs tonight.

6th  May, 2010

An uncomfortably hot and humid day – 28⁰C at early afternoon – is not a day to do gardening. What did we choose to do – gardening. We have never been here in May before and we have been amazed that an area we cleared last September/October is now completely covered in wild flowers. They are wilting badly under the hot sun and lack of rain but even the dead material has to be cleared. We have been working away at it for a few days now and had enough clear ground to sow broadbeans, French beans, carrots, lettuces and radishes.

garden1.jpg  garden2.jpg

We have onion sets and seed potatoes to put in so more ground to clear and peppers and tomatoes in a week or so.

Stayed up just late enough to here the Election Exit Poll on Radio 4’s Election Night programme. It might be ten o’clock in UK but it is Midnight in Greece. As I fall in to bed, I excitedly tell Pauline the potential result. She tells me to shut up.

7th  May, 2010

Soon after 7.00 am we are up to find that the BBC TV service has a full election results and analysis still going. With a cup of breakfast tea we sit and watch the results coming in. It is only 5.30 am in UK and everyone looks vaguely tired and jaded. We sit transfixed by the results until 3.00 pm only breaking off to griddle some chicken to have with salad for lunch. I am so glad we brought a bigger, wide screen television with us. We no longer have to strain for all the tickertape information going across the screen with the election coverage


8th  May, 2010

A very hot but humid day today. At least 28C in the afternoon. We went to the seaside resort of Platy Gialos which is thronging with holiday makers in the Summer. Now it is deserted. It still has the sign welcoming us and the sunbed is waiting.

platy_gialos.jpg  summer_tree1.jpg

It was nice to get an email from Liz:

Hope you are all ok and safe despite the riots and the happenings in Greece
Looks like a revolution looming
Will the finance collapse affect you there ?
Hope you enjoy the elections from your sunny spot
Lv and best wishes to you and Pauline x Liz

Boulis, seen below herding his sheep down past our house for milking. He will die in the field with his sheep – probably aged 108.


We are not at all worried about the value of our property in Greece. We have had it valued at more than double what it cost to build already and a new law coming in about building on beautiful islands like ours means that people will need so much land to build a simple house, few people will be able to do it. The idea is to prevent density and over building.We have already had two people express interest in our house but a year or two will put considerable premium on it.

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