Week 73

9th May, 2010 

Glorious day in spite of the results. Got up early and we gardened for three hours or so. Lunch was salad with garlic mayonnaise and griddled pork strips all washed down with a glass or two of Italian white wine. Delicious! We ate this outside under the cover of the pergola. Sunday in Kamares is quite a busy time because weekenders from Athens go back on the ferry. We watched the activity as we had our lunch.

After lunch I had a snooze as I pretended to watch the Motor Racing just waking in time to see Hamilton crashing out on his penultimate lap. In that time, Pauline made marmalade.


Then I had to watch the football while Pauline made king prawn risotto for our evening meal. It really is a hard life. After dinner, the sultry evening led us outside under a ceiling of stars. We had our coffee under the stars listening to the owls.

10th May, 2010

Set out for the great metropolis this morning. I have to have my blood coagulation tested and the medical testing centre (The Baker and a chair) is up in the capital city – Apollonia. Below are two photographs of the busy hub of Apollonia:

lakis.jpg  fish_vans.jpg

The second shows men sitting on the wall waiting for the 9.30 am bus and the fish vans plying their morning trade. It used to be local fishermen selling last night’s catch. Nowadays, it is ex-fishermen selling fish they have brought in from Athens and which was probably primarily sourced from the fish farms of Igoumenitsa on the Peloponnese.  There is little fish to be caught around Sifnos these days.  The first picture is of Lakis coffee and sweet things shop. That is what the sign says. It has remained in this traditional style with the vine topped pergola and the metal sliding doors since the first day we arrived on Sifnos in July 1985. Could you take the pressure of surviving in this bustling city jungle?

11th May, 2010

The weather is getting hotter here. Yesterday it was 28⁰C, today 29⁰C and tomorrow is forecast 30⁰C. Cruel, I know, but someone has to live through it. Went out early to get the result of my blood test and pay my €16.00 then home to read the Sunday papers. It is Tuesday, I know but I got these yesterday and will have to make them last all week. The Sunday Times and The Sunday Telegraph cost me £10.00. You have to get your money’s worth. When I’ve finished reading them, they will be turned into fuel for the log burning stove with my latest contraption.


Will the weather ever be cold enough to allow me to burn them? April – October is not looking promising. Mind you, neither is Nick Clegg.!

The house sale is with solicitors now. We have sent a pricelist of house contents for sale – almost everything because we want a fresh start. The buyers are going round to look at it on Saturday. We will fly back to UK as soon as the solicitor advises. We have told him we will try to do a month – three weeks before the sale and a week afterwards. We will hire a car for a month and look for an unfurnished apartment for six months which will probably take us to the end of the year. We would hope to have found somewhere to buy by Christmas.

12th May, 2010

The temperature continues to climb and I’m not talking about the Lib-Con stitch up. Wasn’t it nauseating to see Cameron & Clegg kissing on the Downing Street steps? The 30⁰C prediction was achieved. It was just too warm for gardening. Anyway, we had an email from our solicitor saying we have 6-8 weeks until completion date so we booked flights home. I had 65,000 air miles points through our Private Nat. West account and it took 63,000 of them for our flights from Athens to Manchester on June 2nd. We will leave the island on May 31st and spend two nights in Athens shopping. Having our car in our garage in Greece, we will have to hire one when we get to Manchester. We will need it for about a month. Anybody got a spare car for the month of June?

What are your feelings about ‘Danish Blue’? I remember Dad used to eat it with crackers and a bottle of red diamond pale ale for his supper in the Front Room with Mum after we had been sent to bed. I thought, eating Danish Blue was a sign of manhood. I longed to try it. When I did, I was nearly sick but I didn’t give up. For years now I have been celebrating my manhood with Danish Blue. (Well, I have occasionally cheated and bought Gorgonzola or Dolcelatte.) As a sign of the times on Sifnos, we can now buy Danish Blue in our supermarket. Today we had it for lunch with a green salad and it was wonderful.

After lunch, we went out for a drive to Chrysopigi. It is a beautiful little bay with a church built out on a promontory. Tonight, this church will be the centre of celebrations for the island faithful and then tomorrow will be a general holiday on the island. In the background of this photograph is the island of Kimolos. If you ask Sifniots what they think of Kimolos, the will say they have never heard of it and, almost certainly, few will have actually set foot on it. And yet, you can see it’s so close.


13th May, 2010

An unbearable hot and humid day today. It feels like something will explode it is that close. We only went out today down to the harbour travel agency – Aegean Thesaurus (pronounced Agin Thesoorus) – to book our ferry tickets back to Athens.


We will leave the island on Monday, May 31st to go to Piraeus and Athens on the Speed Runner, a fast catamaran service that will get us there in just over three hours. We will go to the Electra Hotel and spend two nights. While there we will shop for garden furniture and outdoor floor tiles to have sent back to the island while we are away. On Tuesday afternoon, we will get the tube to Athens Airport and fly to Manchester.

Managed to watch England thrash Sri Lanka tonight. It was really enjoyable.


14th May, 2010

Hot, sticky and uncomfortable today. Rain is forecast for tomorrow. For the second morning running we have gone into the lounge and heard noises in the log burning stove. On closer inspection, a gorgeous little bird with a bright yellow breast was pecking at the glass door and asking to be let out. Yesterday we panicked and went through all sorts of preparations – rubber gloves on, black plastic sacks in hand, etc, before we dared to open the door and Pauline grabbed it and released it chirpingly to freedom. Today we nonchalantly opened the windows and allowed it to fly straight out. I don’t think it was the same bird but, if it happens tomorrow, I will be interrogating it.

It is ironic that we leave the island in a fortnight for up to a month and our garden is growing so well. Lettuces, radishes, broadbeans, dwarf beans, carrots, onions, garlic and courgettes are all doing well. I’ve been up to the hardware store to buy another hosepipe and a timer to fit to the tap so that the garden will be watered six times per day for ten minutes each time. Now the potatoes are growing and the lettuces need planting out, I’m off to buy yet another timer.

15th May, 2010

Although I don’t feel it much, it can be rather isolating and insulating living on a Greek island. In fact, the medical implications of that are too frightening to think about often. As someone in the cafe said the other day, We feel justified in not paying taxes and cheating the Government in every way because here we live on the edge. There is no hospital and only a couple of junior doctors. If you are seriously ill in the winter, you could have to wait three days for a ferry to Athens and, when it comes, it will take five or six hours. A heart attack means you die. If you can afford €1000.00 you might get there on time by helicopter if one is available but often it isn’t. Our compensation for our isolation is not ignore Athens.

Information & Communication Technology is changing things. This week I received emails from Ruth:

WAtching KP  in Twenty 20 Brill.! Election What Election.   Do not like the Sun newspaper but love the front page today …….I like our little chats on Skype.love to you both x 

and fron Jane (1):

Hi John – good to hear all well with you. The house sale sounds promising – hope it progresses well.

It’s been a fascinating weekend as you’ll have seen if you’ve been following BBC News 24. I remember 1974 as it was the 1st time I voted – I was at  university and had to go back to Repton. Easier now to manage my life as I vote by post.

Of course then we had to rely on the newspapers with limited updates from D Dimbleby – some things don’t change. Events like this emphasise the value – and downsides – of constant “news” since there is so much interest but so little to report. Somehow I find myself glued to it even though it was clear nothing was going to happen quickly. 2 of my friends are among the senior civil servants working with the party leaders to see if they can make a deal and they’re not optimistic.

Glad we went to Athens in March not May  we had several drinks in Syntagma Sq. Hopefully the volcano won’t prevent us going to New York in early June – but BA cabin crew may. We are going for a few luxurious days in the Waldorf, to go to opera at the Met, art at MOMA and shop on 5th Ave. I also plan to run in Central Park. So hopefully we’ll be able to go BA or get an alternative flight.

Have a wonderful time in your Sifnos house and hope you sell Meltham.


All other emails will be gratefully received. Poor old Portsmouth. They tried so hard.


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