22nd May, 2011
We are experiencing some lovely weather at the moment. It is warm = 23-4C / 72-3F – but not oppressive. Today we actually got round to cleaning the car for the first time since we arrived. I used to rely on Stavros’ car cleaner or pay to go to the petrol station and have the owner’s family clean it but last year I bought a pressure washer and now can do it at home.
After that, it was Sunday papers, lunch on the patio and then the Premiership relegation battle. Nova Satellite TV showed six matches all at the same time. I watched Man. Utd. for a little while but it was soon clear that Blackpool were out of their depth. I wanted Wolves to stay up after waiting so long to get up. I watched them for a while and was shocked as they went 3-0 down. I had a quick look at West Ham but I wanted them to go down anyway. I switched to Birmingham who I never thought deserved to go down this season and I am sorry that they have. I looked at Wigan who I thought probably deserved to go down. The other match shown was the Liverpool one but that didn’t have any importance.
23rd May, 2011
Overcast but warm today. We had to go to the Bank and Georgis, one of the clerks who I have known since we first went to Sifnos, 26 years ago, took photocopies of our new passports. Nothing can be done in Greece without your Identity Number if you are Greek or passport if you are not. That means everything from taking out a broadband contract, paying for satellite TV or buying tiles for your patio. The other thing you must do is call yourself something you are not. I am John Richard Eric Sanders and Pauline is Pauline Philip Sanders. Then Georgis reached under the counter and produced a copied of a book which, essentially, is a Greek language History of Sifnos. He hadn’t written it but he and his brother had paid for it to be published.
The National Bank of Greece illustrates all that is wrong with Greece at the moment. We went in to withdraw some cash – for that you go to Mikailis. He noted that our passport had changed since last October – for that we had to go to Georgis to update on their records. We also wanted to update our automatic payment threshold for the Electricity Company to draw on our Bank Account. For that we had to go to a young girl we hadn’t met before to update that record. Her name was Chrissopigi and when we gave her our papers, she said, “I remember now, SANDERS JOHN.” My husband, Nikos, was your electrician when your house was built.”
24th May, 2011
A gorgeous, sunny morning but rain is forecast over the next two or three days. The garden is really coming on well. It is at the maintenance stage. We are now up to cleaning the walls and tiled exterior, windows and shutters from the ravages of the winter, the red, mountain dust and the rain. The pressure washer has come in handy again for cleaning the tiled patio. Pauline is cleaning windows and shutters. There is a real pleasure in maintaining our property and having the time to keep it looking good.
25th May, 2011
Woke up before 7.00 am to the sounds of thunder. Opened the shutters to flashes of lightning.The time between the two got increasingly short until the inevitable happened. Joyous rain began to fall. No garden watering today. The rain became increasingly heavy on the flat roof and we could hear it gurgling down into our massive water storage chamber under the house. Everywhere was dark and grey as you can see from the photograph below.
The storm continued to rumble round the mountains for most of the morning. One minute the sun was out and the next, heavy clouds fell over the peaks announced by thunder and lightning and followed by strong bursts of rain.The garden screamed, ‘Thank you’. The water tank screamed, ‘Thank you’. I screamed, ‘Thank you’. Pauline screamed, ‘Get off my clean windows’.
We resolved to do indoor things this morning. Pauline is making bread. I am replying to emails and writing a couple of letters. This afternoon, we hope to go out to tour the island’s potteries – of which there are about ten – to buy a big pot to complete our patio set. We are looking for one like this:
By lunchtime, the skies are pure blue and the sun is giving us 25C/77F. We decided to drive down to the Blackpool of Sifnos – Platis Gialos (pronounced Plattiss Yalos). We call it Blackpool because it shamelessly caters for tourists with lots of Rooms to Rent, Restaurants and nothing else. We parked our car under the palm trees and walked on to the beach. We were surprised to see some people in the sea. They were mainly children but a white haired Granny like Ruth ventured in and seemed to cope so there might be hope for me. Pauline tested the water with her hands and declared it ready so swimming officially starts on Monday – depending on the weather.
26th May, 2011
Lovely morning. After breakfast, we do a few jobs outside, continuing to clean the red, mountain dust from the white, patio tiles and from the window frames and shutters. You have to pace yourselves when you’re retired, as Ruth will attest. As we were working, the island ambulance rushed to the port and then back up to the capital, Apollonia. This is not an everyday event and we were left wondering what had happened.
Found some old friends from College days by accident while on the internet. Julie and Nigel Folds were Art students while I was doing English but I found myself in Digs with Nigel who introduced me to the delights of red wine and Leonard Cohen. I borrowed Nigel’s bike to cycle to Harrogate Station from Ripon, some 14 miles wearing my suit at 5.00 am in July 1972 to get to Ruth’s wedding. I hadn’t ridden a bike for ten years before and I never rode one again. Nigel and Julie went to teach in Rochester and then Bingley. They split up shortly after that and Nigel became a Budhist monk somewhere in North Yorkshire. That is the last I heard of them until someone told me Julie had a facebook page. I found it and her living in Bridlington. She was exhibiting photographs. Then I found Nigel, also living in Bridlington, exhibiting paintings. Obviously, back together. Nigel & Julie are pictured below:
27th May, 2011
I took Pauline up to the Post Office this morning. As she got out of the car, I shouted, “Have you got your umbrella?” She looked at me as If I was bonkers. Two minutes later, she was running back to the car in pouring rain. Later, the woodman, Kostas, and his wife called. We had asked him to measure up for a solid roof for our pergola over the dining room patio. He brought his wife because she speaks perfect English and Kostas doesn’t speak any. We shared a glass of wine. They brought their 15 year old son, Giannis, who looked about 10 year’s old. We are told that we should go and look at the wood choices tomorrow at his wood store.
28th May, 2011
Today, we have been up to the woodman’s shop to finalise the arrangements. It will be done in about two weeks. We don’t know how much it will cost. As usual in Greece, you don’t get an estimate, which is why you choose honest tradespeople. As soon we arrived in the workshop, Kostas reached into a little fridge and brought out a bottle of raki and some goats cheese. He sent his son out for a fresh loaf of bread at the local shop. Soon he has cutting up bread, cheese and pouring raki. He found some taramasalata and we were standing around the wood shavings eating an early lunch. This is how they get away without providing an estimate!
Pauline spoke to her sister, Phyllis, who has been wonderful in supervising the ‘snagging list’ for our new flat. Phyllis and Colin went round the other day to check and said most things had been done. She also said the gardens and general environs were looking lovely and being well managed. This made us feel good because we really haven’t had time to properly assess our position. This afternoon, we will finish cleaning the patio and the windows before settling down for the Big Match.