Week 91

12th September, 2010

Just three weeks left on the island this year. We bought our ferry ticket to Piraeus this morning €137.00 one way for two adults plus a car. Then the most wonderful thing happened. It rained. It was our first rain for six months. The heavens absolutely opened and it poured for an hour. Within twenty minutes of it stopping, the hot sun had completely dried the patio and we were sitting outside in an atmosphere perfumed with herbs – oregano, thyme and rosemary.


13th September, 2010

Today is ‘Back-to-School Day’ right across Greece. There is nothing regional about education here. It is centrally directed and intimately interwoven with Church & State. The curriculum is centralised and every school should be teaching the same thing at the same time on the same day right across the Mainland and the islands. Today all schools open for about an hour. Priests, Politicians and Teachers attended. After that, they are told who their class teacher will be for the year and will be given a clear plastic bag containing all their exercise books. Then they go home for the rest of the day and lessons start on Tuesday.

Pauline & I couldn’t resist first day celebrations and followed Stavros with his three children – Nikos, aged 13, Markos, aged 10 and Ellie, aged 6 – as they attended the First Day speeches. It took place in the school yard. On the platform were four Greek Orthodox priests, the island’s President, leaders of PASOK and NEA DEMOKRATIA, the Headteacher of the Secondary School and the Head of the Primary School.

Everybody, including the teachers, dressed as if they had just come of the beach. The idea of a uniform is a non-starter although Nikos chose to wear the national costume coat for the special occasion.

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14th September, 2010

Wonderful rain storm with thunder. We got up at 3.30 am to watch it. I wanted to dance naked on the patio but Pauline wouldn’t let me. She said I would look gross and would offend the goats. This morning, after breakfast of Assam tea, homemade bread toasted with cherry jam, we decided to drive across the island to see what effects the rain had brought. As we drove two hundred metres from our house, up over the first incline, near Apostolis farm, the road was covered with partridges adult and young. The young ones didn’t want to move. Later, when we got back, we looked them up on the internet. They were red legged partridges delighting in the puddles. I bet they taste nice.


Driving on we found a huge herd of goats blocking the road. They were desperate for all the fresh vegetation that springs up with the first taste of water since February.

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There is a bulb, the size of a large hyacinth which throws up a large, white stick flower all over the island – a bit like liatris. This is cultivated liatris.


This is the wild, Sifnos plant.

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Driving on over the highest point in the centre of the island, we see all the neighbouring islands in the clearer air. This is Serifos:


and this is Folegandros:


15th September, 2010

A work day today. Pauline was using the annual supply we get from our window and door manufacturers, Sylor. They give us a pack containing a bottle of detergent and a bottle of oil. To maintain our ten year warranty, we clean and all the windows and doors each year. While Pauline is doing that, I clear the garden. Eventually, I will lime it before we leave so that the winter rains can wash the lime into the soil in readiness for next year.

16th September, 2010

I was using wonderful, ratcheted loppers that I found in the local hardware store. There is an invasive and prickly bush which spreads quickly across the land here. It looks and feels a bit like hawthorn. I bought the loppers especially to cut it back. I was happily hacking away on the hillside behind the house; the sun was hot – reaching low 30Cs/90Fs – at 11.00am and I had my big, floppy  hat on and thick, gardening gloves. One minute I was manfully slashing and burning and the next minute I was flat on my back with my head down a hole. Every time I tried to turn a push myself up, the further my arms and head went down the hole. I felt like a beetle, flipped on its back and unable to escape. After a few minutes of hollering, my little helper appeared and I was pulled out of the hole and comforted with coffee and biscuits which made the whole experience worthwhile although, being a warfarin-user, there is a worry about internal bleeding. I easily cover my body with huge, purple bruise marks and cuts refuse to stop. On this occasion, only my pride is bruised.

In the afternoon, we had a wonderful swim. We still go every day for an hour. The water temperature is a little cooler – it has an edge to it – but it is easy to get in and so crystal clear. We do our swim and then straight back to the house for lunch which tends to be ham and rocket sandwiches. The bread is homemade. The rocket is from the garden and the ham is from the windmill supermarket.

18th September, 2010

Saturday brings shopping, swimming and football. The temperature today was 33C/92F but felt hotter. The sea was gorgeous and warm. We had a wonderful swim and I didn’t want to get out but Pauline was going (more) wrinkly and the first football match was about to start. Today the matches available were:

Stoke 1 v West Ham 1 – quite a good game, I thought
Everton 0 v Newcastle 1 – a fantastic game & I really enjoyed it
Spurs 3 v Wolves 1 – on at the same time as above
Sunderland 1 v Arsenal 1 – wonderful


Salmon en Croute for dinner this evening with a bottle of claret – one of my last fifteen bottles. I have managed them well because we only have fourteen nights left on the island. Pauline capped the day today by falling through the bottom of a third canvas sun chair. We bought them from B&Q fifteen years ago so I can’t complain but Pauline can. Not only has she felt a bit embarrassed but she badly bruised her back on one and scraped the backs of her legs on another. Fortunately, this time she only made me laugh.


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