Week 90

5th September, 2010

The Sifnos school yard is being swept; the windows are being opened to air the building. The Sifnos Secondary School is preparing for opening in one week. After a three and a half week holiday, they should be.


6th September, 2010

When we drive past the school yard today on our way to the supermarket, the teachers are sitting on the wall outside in the sunshine being addressed by a guest speaker. This is staff training Sifnos-style. Oh, the stess! When we talk to our friends on the island who have Secondary-age children, they are excited because of a new development. A new (on-line) curriculum is being introduced in Greece this September. It is an expensive development because each pupil will need a notebook/laptop and the country can’t afford them. England can’t afford that. Greece’s answer is to release it in just twenty areas of the country. Sifnos has been selected. The one problem is that, although the kids know how to use the machinery, the staff don’t.

Pauline went to the Post Office but our parcel still hasn’t arrive.

7th September, 2010

A bit windy today. We didn’t go swimming. We are still waiting for our parcel from London. It was posted twelve days ago and should have arrived after four days – maybe five. The UK postal service say our parcel is in Greece. The Greek postal service is in chaos.

8th September, 2010

I don’t think I told you what the parcel was we were waiting for. One of our lifelines throughout the six months away is a tyre inflator for the car. You plug it into the cigarette lighter and the engine powers the inflator. We have needed it three times in the past six months. It makes the difference between sitting around for hours waiting for assistance and spending five minutes sorting out your own problems and driving to a garage. In many remote spots on Sifnos, it could mean not waiting half a day for someone who doesn’t speak English. The other day, ours fell apart and we couldn’t repair it. Nothing was available on the island. We turned to the web and Argos. We found a upgrade for £40.00. Pauline’s niece in London bought it and forwarded it by Parcel Force.


9th September, 2010

Wonderfully warm and calm day today. We only have just over three weeks left so job completion is getting a bit more important. Mundane jobs like applying teak oil to the patio furniture, clearing the vegetable patch, giving the windows and doors their once-a-year treatment. Each year we go to the Woodman’s works where we meet Kostas, who speaks not a word of English, and his wife, Maria, who speaks English fluently. They give us – free of charge – a package containing a bottle of detergent and a bottle of oil. The two will do one treatment of all the woodwork and maintain our ten year warranty.

Had my INR (anti-coagulant) test today. The result was near perfect 2.3 so I phone Huddersfield Royal Infirmary with the good news. John, the doctor in the Path. Lab., says I don’t need another for five weeks so this time it will be on the NHS and free.

Swimming was fantastic today. The water was warm and crystal clear. The surface was like sheet glass. There was a handful of people on the beach. If it could only stay like this.

10th September, 2010

Cleaning the house this morning. Pauline got us up early. My job is change a light bulb, sweep and mop the patio and NOT use the family bathroom toilet after it has been cleaned. Why? Professor Ken Toyne and his wife, Jennifer are coming for coffee and it has to be spruce. I am walking round wearing a hang-dog, beaten expression to emphasise my subjegation. However, it is a beautiful day. 33C/91F is forecast. We will be swimmming this afternoon.

11th September, 2010

On Thursday, we went down to see Apostolis to buy some meat. We wanted beef. There was a bit of shuffling and then Apostolis’ wife and Stavros’ sister, Moshka phoned up to the farm a couple of kilometres away and Apostolis came haring down the mountain on his moped. Arriving at the shop breathless, Moshka said we wanted beef. It’s finished, he said. More in two days. He returned to his farm.

That night, as we sat drinking coffee on our patio, Apostolis open-topped lorry came back down the mountain. He tooted as he passed us with one huge, dead cow in the back. It was a magnificent and huge, brown and white beast lying on its side, distinctly DEAD. We watched the lorry slowly trundle into the valley and thread its way through the narrow tracks to Apostolis’ ‘slaughter building’. Our coffee ran cold as we contemplated the awful fact that our request had resulted in that death.

Today, with all such thoughts dismissed, we went in and bought a couple of kilos of magnificent, dark red beef. Slow cooking with onions, carrots and a litre of red wine, we will eat it with jacket potatoes. Sorry, Jane BG! Sorry brown cow!


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