Week 132

26th June, 2011

Strong winds dominated the night and continue this morning. One of our bougainvilleas has blown down from its mooring on the pergola. No other damage. Swimming was out today and gardening wasn’t easy so it was a day of reading the Sunday paper and catching up on correspondence.

27th June, 2011

The wind is down but it is only about 74F/23C. We actually have one or two clouds at the back of the house. We went up to see the woodman about our new pergola but he is waiting for some new fastenings from Athens. This could last all Summer. We went on to the supermarket to buy cat food for our new friends because it is cheaper than prime ham & chicken. On to the Post Office to find a miracle had taken place. A new manager had been drafted in and he had totally reorganised the place. It was neat and tidy. There were no long queues. We were told that they had started deliveries to Kamares again. They are obviously preparing for privatisation.

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The Greek unions have announced their next General Strike will be Tuesday & Wednesday of this week. It will involve all Public Service workers so there will be no public health, education (although it is already school holidays), no Post Offices, no refuse collection, no museums or other tourist sites open. There will be electricity strikes, etc.. It will involve all transport workers so there will be no ferries or air travel, no trains or buses. Basically, Greece is closed for business. It really will continue like this until these services are sold off.

28th June, 2011

A quiet day – no ferries because of the strike – in which we tidied the garden, swam in a surprisingly cold sea, watched Wimbledon followed by acres of Greek television coverage of rioting in Athens. Actually, there were quite a few Trades Unions members protesting peacefully and a couple of hundred young anarchists tearing up the streets. As someone pointed out, unemployment amongst young people in Greece has reached 40%.

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We went to the pottery shop to buy cheap bowls for the cats. The cats responded by turning up late for tea. Typically Greek!

29th June, 2011

The penultimate day of June. A lovely morning although the raspberry jam is running out on the island and Pauline is preparing to make marmalde to substitute. This morning, we are going back to the electrical shop to see if the new fridge-freezers have come in. We will probably be told that the strike has held them up but we go in hope.

We return in triumph – well, having bought a new fridge-freezer. It will be delivered ……… today between 2.00 – 3.00 pm! Can you believe that? We didn’t but, at 3.15 pm, a lorry driver opened the gate and drove up to the steps. One man on his own tied rope around the middle of the fridge-freezer, looped the rope like a harness around his shoulders and waist and proceeded to lift this extremely heavy item off the lorry and then he climbed the eight stone steps – which I find bad enough with a bag of shopping – to the house. A few minutes later, he had loaded our old machine on to his back and taken it back down the steps to the lorry. We had to keep reminding ourselves that we were in Greece. Admittedly, this fairly modest appliance had just cost us €850.00 or just over £750.00 and the maker was someone called Pitsos but the speed of the process was amazing.

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The other irony of the day, of course, was sitting in our Greek home, watching Wimbledon, watching Federer lose to Tsonga and Murray-mint beat Lopez and then turning over to the Greek news and watching hooded thugs tearing up the streets of Athens and throwing the contents back at the police in Syndagma Square.

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30th June, 2011

A story in the Greek Press this morning illustrates the rituals being played out in Athens:

A stun grenade exploded in the hand of a Greek riot policeman, severing a finger. Police and demonstrators ceased combat and scoured the debris-strewn street, uniting in a frantic search for the missing digit. They found it. The finger was rushed off in a wet towel to a hospital, where doctors reattached it to the injured man.

After Greek News and breakfast, Radio 4’s Today Programme for an hour with a cup of coffee, we got outside by 10.30 am (8.30 am UK). We worked for four straight hours cleaning the tiled patio and, even then, only finished the front. Tomorrow will be the back. After a brief rest, we went swimming for an hour and returned at 4.00 pm.. We showered and made lunch/dinner. We only eat one, main meal each day and it is around this time. Usually, we would eat it outside but, with Wimbledon on, we have been eating inside for over a week with all the windows open and the fans on. We had new potatoes from the garden; courgettes from the garden deep fried in beer batter; Greek salad with rocket and olives from our garden. It was lovely. A bottle of chilled Rosso Conero made us fall asleep during the second semi-final.

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This lovely, ruby wine is made in Jesi just outside Ancona. It sells in America for $12.5; in UK for £8.50 and I bought 24 bottles in an Ancona supermarket for €2.50 each.

1st July, 2011

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Happy July.

A glorious morning. A light breeze and, at 8.00 am, just 27C (81F). We found the cats asleep on the patio furniture and had to shift them off. We will have to teach them some boundaries. We left England twelve weeks ago and will land back in thirteen more. This is the pivotal week of our time here. We had a much more relaxing day with a wonderful, long swim and then a bottle of wine and some nibbles while we watched Wimbledon.

Our cat family which plays and hunts and sleeps in the garden during the day, really comes to life in the evening. The sun goes down behind the mountain at 7.00 pm precisely although it is not dark until 9.00 pm. The hour and a half between these two events is played out against the theatrically back-lit light of sky and sea which gradually darkens from yellow to red, from crimson to violet to indigo and then black. The cats call for their food – We’ve given in and started buying cat food and extra milk already. – at about 8.00 pm. Mother cat is first. Three bowls are put out. Tinned cat food mixed with dry cat food in two bowls. The middle bowl is milk & water. Mother eats for a while and then disappears. The two little kittens appear – one at each bowl. When they have had enough, they turn to the milk and father appears for his share. Mother comes back and the whole family clean the bowls. There is no fighting or pushing. It is completely shared. The parents go off and snooze under a huge rosemary bush while the youngsters lark about. They have chosen our garage roof patio as their play ground and we are fighting a losing battle to keep them off the furniture.

I can show you a picture of the patio and the furniture but not the cats. They won’t stand still long enough.

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2nd July, 2011

Wonderful day. Hot and still. Swimming, gardening, lunch in the sun, Wimbledon. How lucky I am. I have been receiving emails and messages on Facebook all week from or about people from my old school who are being sacked, made redundant with years to go until an ever-diminishing retirement. As the government has pulled the funding from a project they insisted on in the first place, savage cuts are being made to staffing. Pauline & I are so grateful to have gone on our own terms.

The Euro Lottery was a roll over with a first prize of £135, 000,000.00. Pauline bought a ticket and we’ve just been emailed to tell us that we’ve won………………£4.75.