Week 124

1st May, 2011

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Happy May. Grey morning that got better as the day developed. Not warm – maximum 70F/21C. After breakfast of hot porridge, we did garden clearing until lunchtime. Not that lunch was anything more than a Greek Salad but I knew that the afternoon would be dominated by football. The seed potatoes and onions will have to go in over the next couple of days so that is the first task to clear for. The plants I bought – peppers, courgetttes and aubergines – and potted up are developing strongly. They will have to go out very soon to get the full growing season.

Although the day developed into a pleasantly warm and sunny one, I watched three or four football matches from Birmingham, from Liverpool, from Manchester City and from Arsenal and the weather looked wonderful with lovely, striped pitches bathed in strong sunlight surrounded by shirt sleeved crowds. I was reading in the paper that April has been the warmest in UK since 1765 and very nearly the driest. Here, it has been an exceptionally cold, wet Easter compared with at least the last ten.

2nd May, 2011

Up early to a lovely sunny day. Now we know why the Royal Honeymoon has been cancelled. A mission to get Bin Laden was announced this morning as having been successful. Amazing to see crowds screaming with delight about a wedding one day and about a death two days later. Neither will impact my life much. Got Mum on my mind quite a bit at the moment.I’ve got to get on with life. More garden clearing this morning and then off to the Post Office to see if we have any letters.

The Post Office in Sifnos – Taxidromeo – is the most pathetic in the known world. Nothing is sorted, nothing is delivered. Everything is piled up for people to queue up and go through themselves. You could take anyone’s post and they wouldn’t know. We asked a week ago if they had our back mail for the last six months. They went to the back of a dirty, untidy, old office and, within five minutes, came back to say Ochi/No. Today we tried again. This time we wrote cue cards with our address on. After twenty minutes, the girl came back with a pile of post, including a Christmas card from my friend, Caroline, in Saddleworth. We had confirmation of electricity bills which we have paid automatically by our Greek Bank. They are remarkably low considering everything we do uses electricity except for our log burning stove. The heating is electrical, underfloor. We have electricity for cooling through fans and air conditioning, cooking is electric and we dry clothes with a tumble dryer. €500.00 for six months seems quite good. The only piece of post we didn’t have was our house tax. This is newly introduced and costs us about €125.00 per year. Unfortunately, the form you have to submit is so complicated that we need an accountant to do it. We are going to get a visit from Stavros’ accountant who will submit the form for us.

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3rd May

Summer has really arrived here. This is the second day that we don’t need the central heating. The daytime peak is 75F/24C but what is different about Greece, the night time temperature doesn’t now fall below 70F/21C. We have a small diurnal range, as they say. Our water pump has been sounding iffy so we sent for the plumber. We have a blocked tap and another that has come loose so we thought he could do everything in one go. The plumber is a massive man who is known as the strongest man on Sifnos but he seems to be able to curl his massive frame under toilets and into kitchen cabinets without trouble. He doesn’t speak a word of English so, when he arrived at lunchtime (2.00 pm), he looked at the job and mimed he would be back at 5.00 pm or around there, as he fluttered his hand from side to side. We did a couple of hours garden clearing and waited for the plumber. At 6.00 pm he appeared and within an hour had done all of the jobs. He didn’t want to be paid but we gave him €20.00 he went off happily.

Will Mourinho end up in jail again tonight like in the first leg? We’ll see.

Well, it was quite a good game but the result was predictable. I think United will be hard pushed to beat them.

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Got a wonderful text from Ruth tonight. She called me a ‘Chump’ which is a lovely word that I haven’t heard for about 50 years but she’s probably right.

4th May, 2011

Off to the hardware shop this morning to buy a small piece of fine mesh wire netting. It is bird nesting time and last year  a little bird fell down our log burning stove chimney while investigating holes. We need to cover it temporarily because we can’t face the trauma of releasing little birds into our living room.The rest of the day will be spent gardening and sowing seeds. United’s match tonight should be a formality. Sunday is the big one. The hardware shop was busy but we managed to get a snippet of mesh to put over our stove pipe. We did some supermarket shopping = enough white fish for six meals, enough fresh chicken for about six meals and some fresh vegetables – broccoli, cauiflower, Cyprus potatoes. You learn when the ferries are in and when the new produce will be put out and to buy stuff in bulk and freeze it. We are expecting a General Strike soon that could affect everything. Talking about everything, we are expecting rolling petrol supply strikes soon which should be fun but could save us money because we are paying £1.57 per litre.

Man. Utd completely out played Shalke and now have to plot a way to beat Barcelona at Wembley. I don’t really fancy their chances.

5th May, 2011

Today has been a nice, warm, quiet day. We put in seed potatoes, seed onions and shallots.

We check our bank account regularly on the internet and today was pension day. While Teachers’ pay has been frozen since we left, our Teachers’ Pension has been rising with inflation. The increase is not great but it is better than working. Today our pension had risen by just over 3% which may only keep pace with inflation but is better then any working teacher is getting.

Thought you might like to see a picture of Sifnos in the Spring taken by my friend, Martin.

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6th May, 2011

Woken up this morning and the weather has gone back to winter. It feels really cold and there are grey clouds above. The weather forecaster says it is a “phenomenon” and the bad weather is rolling round and round the Greek Islands not being able to escape. I know the feeling.

We’ve just heard that the threatened petrol strike is off. The Government ruled that it was ‘illegal’ and so everyone has continued to work. Simples.

7th May, 2011

The BBC is reporting today a rumour that Greece has floated the idea of leaving the Euro. It is the one thing that could really hurt us financially when we sell this property. It is hard to believe that the rest of Europe really want that because of the threats it would increase on Ireland, Portugal and Spain going the same way leading to the collapse of the great, European project.

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