Week 86

8th August, 2010

We have exactly eight weeks left on the island this year. The heatwave continues. A day without tilers, which is a relief, and we can go out shopping. Swimming was fantastic. Sorry to go on about this but the sea is so remarkable this year. It is as warm as a bath, calm because there is no meltemi and crystal clear. We spend just over an hour swimming each day at around 2.00 pm. Lunch in Greece is 3.00 pm. Until Friday, the beach has been fairly quiet but Friday night was Exodus Night when thousands of Greeks leave Athens, cram on to ferries at Piraeus bound for the islands.

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They stay for ten days and then return to Athens. Suddenly the island is flooded with cars and most sane islanders don’t drive far because the Athenians are maniacal. They are now on the beaches. Pauline and I don’t stay on the beach. We drive down from our house, which takes less than two minutes, park and swim. We walk out of the sea after an hour swimming each way across the bay – about a kilometre in total – get in the car and drive home. We shower outside on the patio to get the sand off and then again in the house before making lunch.

From the moment the tourists arrive the islanders can’t wait for them to leave but they know that a few weeks of torment will fund their lives until the same time next year so they hold their breaths and hold out their hands for the money.

9th August, 2010

The tilers arrived at 6.30 this morning. We think it will take about another four days for the outside to be completed before they begin the kitchen walls. After two hours we go ot to buy cheese pies or tyropitas  (τυρóπιτα) for their elevenses which are had at 9.30 am because of the early start. They have it with iced coffee which we also supply. I sometimes think it would be easier to do the tiling ourselves but I don’t really have all the skills. The τυρóπιτα is layers of filo parcel that contains either feta or yellow cheese baked in the oven. It is staple breakfast for many islanders.

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While the tilers had their elevenses at 9.30 am,  we were able to indulge our Monday morning pleasure of reading the Sunday papers and later listening to Test Match Special as England murder the Pakistanis.

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Decided to go to Athens on Wednesday and stay over night. We will buy some patio furniture for lounging about on. We leave on Wednesday by SpeedRunner at 12.30 pm and arrive in Piraeus at 3.30 pm. Taxi to Leroy Merlin – the French B&Q – and then on to our favourite Electra Hotel which has reduced its prices from €160.00 to €100.00 because of the recession. The ferry each way is €95.00 so the total travel is €190.00 or £160.00 plus £85.00 for the hotel. The furniture will have cost us £300.00 before we pay for it and then we will have to pay for delivery to the island.

10th August, 2010

So hot and humid this morning I’m sweating just reading The Times on-line. I don’t know how Pauline’s coping spring cleaning the settees and vacuuming all the floors. Looks like we’ve got a feast of football on television this weekend. On our Nova satellite channel we’ve got all these games live:

  • Spurs v Man City
  • Aston Villa v West Ham
  • Blackburn v Everton
  • Chelsea v W. Brom.
  • Liverpool v Arsenal

The Villa & Blackburn matches are on at the same time so I will be faced with a dilemma then but, otherwise, it is wall to wall football.

The Times front page article is suggesting that the housing market is faltering with supply far outstripping ability to buy. This is exactly what I was expecting as more bad economic news about job losses in the Public Sector with subsequent knock on effects in the Private Sector undermining confidence in the domestic housing market. We are hoping that a cash buyer in late autumn and over the winter will be able to drive a hard bargain when looking to purchase a new property.

11th August, 2010

Off to Athens this morning just as the heatwave intensifies and a heatwave on the island is an inferno with knobs on in Athens. We will flit from airconditioned boat to air conditioned shops to airconditioned hotel. I’ve decided not to take my laptop with me for one night so the Blog will continue tomorrow evening when we get home.

Lovely time in Athens but much too hot. We bought a few things fot the house including a new iron for Pauline. She gets all the best presents. We checked in at our favourite hotel, went for dinner in our favourite restaurant and returned to our airconditioned room to read the papers and watch tv.

12th August, 2010

This morning, after the best breakfast in Greece, we tried to go shopping. We walked for less than ten minutes before giving up and diving in to Marks & Spencers. This was not to shop, although Pauline was happy to check a few rails out, but to give me a chance to sit under the freezing airconditioning to dry my shirt out before continuing the last 200 metres to the hotel. The temperature at 10.00 am was 38C. By the time we got down to Piraeus on the train at 4.00 pm, it was a shattering 45C or 113F. This is the highest temperature we have knowingly experienced and it was hard to walk ten paces in it without diving for shade. In the old days – 30 years ago – we would be waiting on the quayside in the full sun for the ferry to arrive. A couple of years ago, the port authorities installed air conditioned waiting rooms. That’s where we sat until our air conditioned catamaran – High Speed 6 – arrived. When we first travelled to Sifnos in 1984, it took six hours by hot and noisy ferry. The new, chilled,  High Speed 6 took two and a half hours.

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13th August, 2010

This morning the temperature is forecast to stay at record levels for the whole weekend. Of course, it is always quite a bit cooler on an island because the water encourages breezes. It will be 35C throughout the weekend. The tilers were finishing off outside and putting on the kitchen tiles inside. Tomorrow they will finish by grouting. They are lovely lads with real skill and pride in their work. We have enjoyed having them here and the house looks a lot better for it.

Was on line tonight when up popped a request to speak to Ruth over the Skype phone. We had a lovely 10 minute chat by video phone. Unfortunately, I realised half way through that I was naked because it was so hot. Fortunately, Ruth didn’t complain.

14th August, 2010

The tilers came for a couple of hours this morning to finish off and tidy up. It is still just as hot but we had to shop. As well as food, we went up to see the gorgeous Flora in the electrical shop. We had ordered nine outside lights and a fan for one of the spare rooms. Outside lights are very important in Greece as people live most of their lives there. We have about twenty around our patios and now the tiles are finished, we want to highlight them at night. It’s called being pretentious with knobs on. Frangiskus, the electrician, will be round to fit them all for us.

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