Week 137

31 July, 2011

So hot, so hot – 42C / 108F – activity is impossible. The only exception is in the sea where it is a little cooler. The day is spent reading the paper, listening to the Test Match and watching the Grand Prix. Well done Button.

1st August, 2011


Happy August.

I wrote last week about the Pitsos service man’s uncharacteristic efficiency. He phoned again today to quote us a price for the replacement motherboard for our oven. It will be €100.00. He has ordered it and should be available to fit it in about a week.

We went outside to clear a bit more land of weeds around the house but it was so hot – 35C/95F that one hour was all we could manage. We had a glorious hour swimming in the sea. Apart from that, I was listening to England destroying India in the Test Match. Well done Broad & Bresnan. I’ve got to wait until a week on Wednesday for the next Test. What will I do?


2nd August, 2011

Pauline’s sister, Phyllis, and her husband, Colin, are leaving today for Santorini. They are attending a wedding and it is their first time in Greece. We have been worried about them landing in a heatwave. If you can believe it, we have seen our first cloud for over two months today, the Meltemi has arrived and the temperatures have gone down by at least 3C. By coincidence, I received a text from Ruth asking about the Test Result. She is on holiday in Slovenia. Should be lovely and sunny and screaming hot but the area has been hit by an unseasonally static wet patch. How do these things happen on holidays. I believe blizzards are forecast for the Dolomites soon. Below is a picture of Sunny Scarborough.


3rd August, 2011

Because it was a little cooler, I worked so hard outside (I must have done an hour and a half) that I felt exhausted all day. We still did our full swim but little else. Well we did sit, riveted, like the Egyptian people, to see ex-Dictator and current con. man, Mubarak being arraigned in court. How low can he stoop to avoid conviction?

m1.jpg  m2.jpg

4th August, 2011

Decided to have a day off today. We went up to Apollonia to walk through the streets. Apollonia is the capital of Sifnos. I have not walked around it for several years. I was quite shocked to see so many unused shops and such a shortage of tourists. We are in August and it was quiet. We had a beer and a soda in a cafe, went to the Post Office to look for letters – there were none – and then went to the woodman. The woodman’s wife left us believing the work would be done soon. We gave her our email address but won’t hold our breath!

Something very strange has happened with our cats. They were very late arriving last night. They argued this morning and, tonight, they haven’t turned up at all. We rather miss them.

5th August, 2011

Cats are back and shouting for food this morning. Father is paying too much attention to Mother but she is trying hard to fend him off. I shouted at him this morning and Little Ginge seemed wide-eyed with amazement that anyone could speak to Father like that.

Must be getting fitter because we did two and a half continuous hours of hard labour outside. It was a little bit cooler but had reached 30C/88F. After a bowl of fresh fruit and a cup of coffee, we went for our swim. It was our 60th swim and the 40 minutes continuous swimming went by so quickly.

Something is happening to me. We were having roast leg of lamb with new potatoes for our meal. Pauline suggested a Rocket, Basil, Tomato and Parmesan Salad as a starter. By the time I’d finished the salad, I was full. Something is seriously going wrong.

6th August, 2011

Mother cat is definitely being stressed by Father’s attention and it is putting the family under strain. We have decided to drive Father off for a while to give Mother and kittens chance to fulfil their relationship. ………. You can see we’re getting too involved can’t you?

Week 136

24th July, 2011

We have just ten weeks left in Greece this year and eleven until we get back to Woking. I have enough wine left for four weeks so we are going to be struggling through on Greek. It is expensive and pretty raw. Unfortunately, they think it is designer and wonder why people buy French and Italian. We buy large bottles of inoffensive white wine and drink it with soda. It is palatable and thirst quenching.

Really enjoyed Test Match Special on the Internet Radio and F1 Motor Racing on Greek television today. We had a long and tiring swim but a sunny Sunday with sport is ideal. Lovely to find England grinding the Indians down and Lewis Hamilton behaving like a grown-up for once.

kp.jpg  lh.jpg

25th July, 2011

I have struggled with my weight since the early 1970s. Leaving school, giving up athletics and rugby led to me putting on the pounds. Since then, I have had spells of being slim but only by not eating. In 1976-7 I lost 7 stones by not eating for two months and running five miles a day. By 1981, the weight was beginning to come back and I ended up heavier than I’d started. I gave up smoking in 1985 and the weight ratchetted up again. Another massive starvation got the weight down again but, over the next three or four years it came back with interest so that I was at my heaviest ever. Over the past twenty years, I’ve rather tended to accept my weight. I was working very hard and ignoring other things. During this period, my weight has drifted up but not massively. I blamed my work for my weight problem and not being able to address it. It was made even harder by my wife being so slim and beautiful and really not having to try too hard to stay that way. To add to that, she is a brilliant cook.

Because of my weight, I have been unable to face my family. I even found it hard letting Mum see me. I tried to compensate by phoning her all the time. However much I tried to push the problem to the back of my mind, it was always there. I have felt as if I am trapped within my body. Of course it has led to my being diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I take more pills than food these days. I know people who don’t have and have never had this problem think I am lazy and greedy and self indulgent. All of that may be true but in forty years, I have never solved the problem for any length of time. As I say, I have always tended to link my weight problem to my work so, now I am retired, I should be able to deal with it. After being in Greece for just over three months and, without any attempt at dieting at all, I have lost two stones in weight.

I must have lost even more weight today. It was too hot to eat and I bowled every ball in England’s thrashing of India.

26th July, 2011

Nice cartoon in the paper today. Old fashioned but, sometimes, the old ones are the best ones:


The heatwave continues here. We are going to try doing a bit of work outside before it gets too hot.

27th July, 2011

Wednesday already. This week seems to be flying past. Today is one for business.

  • Three months ago, we went up to Kostas, the woodman, to ask him to replace the temporary, cane covering for our patio pergola with a solid, waterproof covering. It is not a massive job but it will bring him €1000.00 which, in these days, is not to be sneezed at. When we went up to see him at the beginning of May, he was in his workshop and so was his wife, Maria. This was lucky because Kostas speaks no English and Maria speaks it perfectly. We had gone up at around 1.00 pm and within minutes, Kostas had whipped out a paper packing which he opened on his dusty bench to reveal a big hunk of cheese. He cut it up and gave us some to try. It was made by his family and delicious. He sent his son out to buy a loaf, got a bottle of ouzo out of his bag and a carton of taramasalata. Soon he was urging us to eat a full lunch from amid the shavings of his bench. It was all typically Greek. We left with our heads fuzzy from the ouzo and Maria’s words ringing in our ears. The work will be done in ten days.

It is all typically Greek. Ten days has stretched to three months. Inspite of us going to see them at least once a week, the work doesn’t seem much nearer being done. Kostas was ‘upset’ when the wood he ordered for us from Athens didn’t arrive. He was ‘frustrated’ that he couldn’t do the job. Eventually, two weeks ago, the wood arrived on Sifnos by ferry but we heard nothing more. Each time we went up for a progress report, no one was there. Today, we will try again.

  • This process might seem frustrating but it is mirrored by a much more intransigent one. As I have written before, when one is building a house, one is provided with ‘building electricity’ which is good enough to run building equipment but can become overloaded if one is running a full house of machinery. The cost is slightly cheaper too when building. Our house was finished six years ago and the paperwork submitted to the office in Milos for the electricity supply being formalised. We are still waiting. Last year, our accountant went to Milos to investigate and returned to report that our paperwork was ‘near the top of the pile’. Twelve months later, we have heard nothing.

When our ‘full electricity is approved, it could mean disconnection, a new meter, re-connection whether we are on Sifnos or not. We know young man who works for the electricity company, ΔΗΜΟΣΙΑ ΕΠΙΧΕΙΡΗΣΗ ΗΛΕΚΤΡΙΣΜΟΥ Α.Ε

Today, we are going to see the Accountant and the Woodman but, because we are becoming Greek ourselves, we will first go to the cafe in Apollonia for a drink and to watch the world. At 11.00 am, I order a Frappé for me and a Soda for Pauline. We spend a delightful half hour chatting and listening to the goings-on. It is hot and we are sitting under the bougainvillea covered roof. Then off to the Accountant. One of his many assistants is running the office. She speaks good English. She is able to explain that we have taken one step forward and two back. The form sent off is intended for Greek Nationals not other EU members. They have a totally different application form. Someone from the Office would be going to Milos soon to sort it all out. We feel a little more clear but we won’t hold our breath. We have to call again in a couple of weeks. On to the Woodman. No one other than his son is there. He doesn’t speak English but we manage enough in Greek to understand that he has gone to the island of Folegandros. We will be back on tomorrow.

28th July, 2011

We bought a built in cooker, a ceramic hob and a dishwasher from Adonis Karavos Electrical Equipment shop. We chose that shop because it is well stocked and because the serving girl, Flora, speaks perfect English. The make of the kitchen equipment was Pitsos. It sounds fairly dodgy but it is excellent. It was founded in Greece in the 1880s but eventually sold out and is part of a group including Bosch, Gaggenau & Neff. Pitsos is rebadged Bosch. Just over a month ago, we replaced our little fridge-freezer with a large Pitsos one. The digital clock on the cooker went haywire a year ago. It doesn’t affect the cooking but it is a bit annoying flashing in your face. We had little belief that it would ever get fixed so we have put up with it but Pauline has been a little concerned about the vacuum on the door of the new freezer so she is going up to see Flora today. While we are in Apollonia, we will call on the Woodman again.

Pauline leaves me in the cafe with a Frappé again. She comes back with unbelievable news. There is a Pitsos service engineer on Sifnos and he will phone us TOMORROW to make an appointment to visit.

I then go on for my blood test. The reading has gone wildly out of kilter. So wild, the clinician runs the test twice. When I phone the result through to Huddersfield Royal (a hospital I have no connection with anymore) they take it in their stride and advise me of my revised dosage of warfarin.

29th July, 2011

Actually remembered to send Jane BG birthday greetings this morning. I don’t know if she is on holiday. We went outside to do a bit of work but it was so hot, we only managed an hour. We had a rest and gallons of iced water. Pauline read and I listened to Test Match Special. We went for our 54th sea swim of the year and then returned for more TMS and our meal. Pauline had made a delicious ham, onion and tomato pizza. She had used Italian flour to make the pizza base and it tasted wonderful.

5.00 pm – Pauline’s mobile goes and it is the Pitsos service engineer looking for our house. We are amazed when his van drives into our grounds a few minutes later. He starts to take the motherboard out of the oven. That’s where the problem is, he says in perfect English. His name is Adonis which he pronounces as Anthony. Why? I ask. My best friend in Athens is Welsh, he says, as if that explains everything. He looks at the fridge-freezer and he pronounces it in perfect working order. He will order a new motherboard for the oven clock. It will take a week. We are still pinching ourselves at this most un-Greek-like service. We will see.

30th July, 2011

A very hot day again – 36C/97F – which saps the will to complete any task. We have declared it a rest day. I am doing my Blog and web pages while listening to Test Match Special. Pauline is making bread, doing some cleaning and reading her book. At 2.00 pm., we go down for a swim. Our friends are there to meet us as soon as we walk in to the warm water. The more cultured of you will know about the fish treatment – in which people have the dead skin sucked from them by little fish. Particularly, people have their feet descaled in this way.


Known as Piranha Pedicure, it costs about £30.00 for half an hour. In the Kamares sea we get the therapy for free. The most beautiful metallic silver fish with orange underbellies and black heads suck the dead skin from our bodies as we stand in the crystal, clear sea. After our Piranha Pedicure, we did our 40 min. swim across the bay and back and then came home to cook roast ribs of lamb with fresh mint dipping sauce, home grown roast potatoes and a fresh salad.

Week 135

17th July, 2011

The Greek media is obsessed by the Heatwave hitting us. In Athens unprecedented innovations are being introduced. Around the capital, state-sponsored Cool Refuges are being set up so that poor people who can’t afford to have or run air conditioning can go to get respite from the 40C – 44C. It is truly debilitating and the heat can lead to many deaths amongst the elderly. Help!

Really enjoyed watching the British Open today and I was genuinely delighted to see Darren Clarke come out on top. I’ve no idea why. I don’t particularly like golf and I’ve never met Darren Clarke.


18th July, 2011

We have had a strangely, unsatisfactory day. Yesterday I fell headlong while clearing some rough land. I scraped my elbow, nothing worse but, this morning, my sciatica was back with a vengeance and I couldn’t walk never mind work. At times like this, one understands the true vulnerability of living in a foreign country. Pauline was all for selling up and returning ‘home’ although neither of us knows where ‘home’ is. We held anguished conversations for an hour or two but, by the middle of the afternoon, my pain was diminishing, we ate lunch with a nice bottle of wine and all was back on an even keel.

19th July, 2011

The Greeks are really beginning to shoot themselves in the foot. In previous years, they have been careful not to allow strikes to affect tourism – much. Now, they are just letting go completely. One of the tasks the Greek Government is trying to achieve is to open up ‘closed’ shop professions to free up the market and increase competition. Taxi services is one of those ‘professions’. Taxi drivers are furious. Not only now are they being forced to declare their earnings and to pay tax on it but, having paid tens of thousands of euros for a licence to run a taxi and passed it on through their family, they now see outsiders potentially coming in and taking business away from them.

The taxi drivers are on strike in tourist season. They have blockaded Piraeus, the airport and areas of Athens, seriously inconveniencing tourists.

taxis1.jpg  taxis2.jpg

We watched about six or seven hours of live coverage of the Parliamentary Committee grilling the Murdochs this afternoon/evening. Rupert did a brilliant job of pretending to be gaga. James did a less impressive job of looking as if he is on top of the situation. Plucky little Rebekah had to wait all afternoon but then put in an excellent performance in the evening. Star of the show, of course, was Murdoch’s wife, Wendy Deng, giving some joker a real slap while a British Bobby tiptoed across the screen to apprehend him. What sort of security was that? It makes us a laughing stock across the world.


20th July, 2011

This heatwave is really sapping our energy. We really have come to a standstill. Essential jobs are done grudgingly. Inessential jobs are left undone. Yesterday, we went down for our swim and a French lady who we have seen on the beach with her young son for a couple of weeks walked in to the sea obviously quite intent on speaking to us. We struck up a conversation and it turned out that she spoke perfect English having done a Business Degree in Sheffield. She lives and works as Marketing Director of a software company in Bordeaux. I immediately asked for a job but it wasn’t forthcoming. It turned out, she wants to be us. She and her husband have come to Sifnos for two weeks every year for ten or so years and long to build a house here. I was tempted to offer a house swap but it didn’t seem appropriate as we’d only just met and were standing in the sea.

21st July, 2011

We have really got to enjoy our adopted cat family and have been amazed by their intense togetherness. They have started to chide us by 7.00 pm (just after the sun has gone down around our house), if we haven’t begun to move on the evening meal. Usually, Mother comes and shouts through the back door or Dad, the boldest, might sit on the window sill looking in. Occasionally, they send Little Ginge because they know she is the most appealing. Little Tabs is rarely around in time for the start of evening meal. Pauline fills two bowls with a mixture of tinned and dried cat food and a third bowl with a mixture of milk and water. She puts the bowls out and does her customary call ‘Pu-uss’ to alert them. This is wholly unnecessary for all but Little Tabs. The other three faces have already appeared eagerly from under the rosemary bush although they don’t venture out until Pauline has gone.

As you will see from the photographs, the kittens have grown quickly. I’m not surprised with all the food they’re getting. We think Little Tabs is a boy and Little Ginge is a girl. In the last few days, we have caught both still feeding from Mum but we think they are largely going through the motions. The kittens are spending most of the day away from Mum now. She sleeps in the garage or behind the house most of the day. Little Ginge is back with Mum long before we feed them and Father, who spends most of his time away (out at work probably) is usually on time for food but Little Tabs has really started to assert his independence and comes back very late – often missing the evening meal.

The cats all eat together and there is no fighting or hogging the food. They are incredibly careful that all get enough. Children happily eat from the same bowl as Father. Mother is happy to sit back and let the kids eat before eating her own meal. When Little Tabs came home half an hour after the food had all been eaten, the other three members of the family set up a demand for food, which we eventually gave in to, and then they didn’t touch it until Tabs had eaten his fill. On another occasion when he was late back, Mother marched him round to the bowls which had a few morcels left and made him eat them and, then when Pauline put out more, she sat and ensured that he ate it before helping herself.

There are a few sparks between Dad & Mum. Dad has tried to mate with Mum but she soon fended him off. After supper, they all go on the field. Mother and Father doze while the kids do toy fighting or stalk moths and beetles. Occasionally, Little Ginge attacks Mum’s tail and she indulges it. Occasionally Little Ginge gets carried away and attacks Dad’s tail. He gets annoyed and takes a swipe at Little Ginge at which point Mother really gives Father what for and he slinks off in to the night not to be seen again for a while. Sometimes he will be at breakfast but, more often than not, he doesn’t reappear until the next evening.

When we get up in the morning, Mum, Little Tabs & Little Ginge can be found asleep on the outdoor dining chairs. They would sleep on the cushions so Pauline has sewn ties on the cushion tops to tie them up at night. When they hear us get up, they start to stretch and wonder about breakfast. It is not an elaborate affair – cat biscuits and watery milk but it seems enough and the kids are soon off learning to be cats while Mum dreams of times when she didn’t have such responsibilities.

mother.jpg  3.jpg  3_2.jpg  cush.jpg

22nd July, 2011

Incredibly hot and windless today. The road surface is melting outside. Pauline is reading a book under the pergola. I’m writing up the Blog, listening to England v India on Test Match Special while thinking about upgrading my website. I am aware that it doesn’t appear as well in some Browsers as it does in mine and I want to establish a little more control. During the winter, I want take a course in CSS design to improve everything I do. I will be looking around the Woking area for something like that.

Meanwhile the Greeks are saying to each other, I told you so. It was all a game. They were bound to give us the money in the end. The taxi drivers haven’t blinked. They’ve carried on blocking airports and ports in support of retaining their closed shop practice. I wonder why there are so few tourists?

I have just stood and applauded Pieterson’s Century against India. It’s 4.50 pm and we are just about to eat Lunch-Dinner. Ian Bell has just been caught behind taking us to 270 for 4 wickets.


23rd July, 2011

It is so hot we have got in to a strange ritual. Tea and toast for Breakfast at 7.30 am. We listen to the BBC Today programme for an hour or so while reading The Telegraph on-line with a cup of coffee. We then try to get a bit of physical work done. Today, we are cleaning the patio tiles which get filthy easily with mountain dust, insects, flying birds and general traffic. It is a huge job. The tiling surrounds the house completely and it takes us about four hours to do together. We do it about once a month and spend a couple of hours on Saturday and the same on Sunday. I use a pressure washer and Pauline follows up with a mop. By mid day, we have a huge bowl of fruit salad – peaches, nectarines, plums, grapes, strawberries (now available on the island) and pears.

Today, I have been allowed time to do my web pages and complete my Blog with a cup of coffee and Test Match Special. Just before 3.00 pm, we think about swimming but, before we go out, we ask each other, What shall we eat today? Usually, we agree on that quite easily but the heatwave has made it an impossible question. Neither of us can even think about food. Maybe later.

Great swim. An hour in crystal clear water. We swim solidly from side to side of the bay for 45 mins and then tiredly back to the car just off the beach and back up to the house. The temperature has come in this afternoon at 38C – just under 100F but the air conditioned atmosphere of the car has persuaded us to choose pork chops with potatoes, onions and green beans from the garden. Greek white wine moderated with Club Soda will oil the wheels.

Week 134

10th July, 2011

We were woken at 6.30 am by a bleeping noise of the ceiling fan being switched on automatically. As the fan had been left on all night, that was strange. The answer was that we had had a power cut while we slept and as it was switched on, so was the fan. Power is provided on Sifnos by a rickety, old power plant which was designed to supply the homes of the 2000 permanent residents. Of course, in the summer, the demands increase as visitors arrive and, with the increasing proliferation of air-conditioning, the demand for electricity increases exponentially. When demand exceeds supply, the power plant just shuts down. Islanders take it for granted. Unfortunately, as more sophisticated electronic instruments, computers, televisions, satellite boxes, fridge-freezers, etc., are introduced, the sharp stop-start of power supplies can be very damaging. Fortunately, the power generating unit has been improved and power cuts reduced. This is our first this year.

We got up a little earlier than usual because of this but went through our normal routine. The windows are opened and insect nets pulled down while the kettle is boiling. The television is switched on for BBC News because it is too early for Radio 4’s Today programme. Not today. The television switched on but the satellite box produced gobbledy-gook in Greek. We’d had strong winds over night so we went out and checked the satellite dish. Still there. The Nova card was taken out, wiped for static, the box disconnected and reconnected with the card reinserted. Nothing. The last time this happened we waited a week for someone to be bothered to come and look at the system. I had visions of a week without television. I tried the menu button. It gave me: Wipe – reinstall factory defaults. I gritted my teeth and did it. The box searched, found and reinstalled all the channels. Up popped BBC News and Pauline delivered the toast with homemade marmalade. I preened myself.

11th July, 2011

We are going through a blustery but very hot period. We went outside to do land clearing but it was too hot. We decided to go swimming. There are a few signs of arriving tourists now but it is still very low key. We have increased our swim so that it now takes nearly one hour to complete. The day after the first session of this new swim I could hardly walk. Today, it was much easier. We eat our main meal at about 4.30 pm. Today it was a lovely Greek Salad made by Pauline followed by chicken, home grown potatoes and onions cooked by me along with our first home grown green beans. Delicious.

My only concern is that we have 82 days left on the island and only 42 bottles of wine left. I will have start buying Greek wine. What we will do – with all this very hot weather – is to buy very basic, Greek white wine and drink it as spritzer with soda. We have a particularly nice soda here marketed by Tuborg. It is softer on the palette than the one we can normally buy in England and is very refreshing.

apelia.jpg  soda.jpg

Is it only me or are others captivated by the gorgeous, pre-Raphaelite, Rebekah Brooks?


12th July, 2011

Strong winds today helped to moderate the very hot temperatures. It allowed us to go outside and get on with land clearance.  We worked for about three hours by which time Pauline looked like a beetroot. We called it a day. I watered the olive trees and we prepared for a swim. The water was warm, crystal clear and wonderful. We swam for 45 minutes and then drove back to the house to prepare our meal. Pauline prepared ham & green pepper pizza plus a tomato, rocket and basil salad.

13th July, 2011

We didn’t sleep well because of the booming winds. Pauline had bought another Euro Lottery ticket last night for the roll over of £166 million. Once again we won but only £2.90 this time. At least we have a 100% record – 2 plays & 2 wins. Not life changing amounts but we weren’t looking to change our lives. We are told we have a major heatwave coming at the end of the week – 40C/104F – so we are girding our loins for the onslaught.

14th July, 2011

One of the huge differences in our lives between UK and Greece is our use of the car. Usually, in UK, we would use a full tank of petrol each week and the cost of refilling had risen to nearly £60.00. Here, on Sifnos, nowhere is very far away. In thirteen weeks on the island, I’ve filled the tank up three times – less than once a month – and I’ve still got 200 miles left in the tank. I smiled to myself this morning when I sprayed the windscreen from the car’s reservoir bottle because I was using water that had come from the Shoebox in Huddersfield.

The front of the house is shady in the morning. We took advantage of that to clean the car for only the second time since arriving in Greece. In the UK, I would go to a car wash at least once a week. The car looked as good as new when we’d finished but we were shattered. We then had to go for our long swim.

15th July, 2011

Felt quite lost today with no BBC Today programme. The Greek media is dominated by the coming five days of Heatwave – Saturday to Wednesday. We went back up to see the Woodman but without much hope. Miraculously, we were told that the materials for our pergola roof will leave Piraeus for Sifnos on Monday. They didn’t say which Monday. Anyway, we are inching towards a solution. Unfortunately, I came away very depressed. The woodman has fields of vegetables around his shop. He grows tomatoes, beans, aubergines, cucumbers, melons, etc. and he does it brilliantly successfully. I have been so pleased with mine but he makes me look amateur. We went on to the butchers for pork chops (the size of houses), a pork joint, and minced beef for making Bolognese. On to the Post Office but no mail.

As we drove to Apollonia, a journey of five kilometres, we had a horrible experience when a young lad pulled off in his car, out on us, without looking and almost forced us into a wall. Only incredible driving skill by me saved us from disaster. On the way home, two young tourists in a hire car belted round a bend, both pointing to something they had seen up the mountain and only just saw us at the last minute and swerved to avoid us. This is exactly what happens as the tourist season hots up. It is better to avoid the roads apart from early in the morning while they are sleeping off their late nights.

16th July, 2011

The heatwave will get under way in earnest today. We may need two swims. We are not planning too much work. The Open Golf, on the other hand, is expecting heavy rain. Oh, to be in England!

Week 133

3rd July, 2011

The temperatures are rising. We may be on our way to the first heatwave of the season. This is the time when you wake up wet from sweat, fall into a refreshing shower but, before you manage to get dry, you need another shower. Long, cooling dips in the sea assuage the feeling temporarily but its effects are soon forgotten. Evenings on the terrace with cool drinks provide welcome interludes but sleeping in bed is fitful. The quilt has long since been stored in a cupboard until next April but now I can’t even bear a top sheet over me.

At least the evening skies at this time are magical:


4th July, 2011

It was too hot to work today. We did a bit of shopping, had an extra long swim and relaxed. You can see why Greeks come across as lazy. They want to work but it’s just too hot!

Took some more Posterity Pictures of Pauline:

p1.jpg  p2.jpg

5th July, 2011

For weeks I have been suffering with a trapped sciatic nerve which I have suffered from for an hour or so in the morning almost immediately after I get up. The pain starts at the base of my spine which feels like I’ve been hit in the back by a sledge hammer, travels as a sharp pain through my right buttock and goes down to the area behind my right knee, leaving my right leg numb. Sometimes the pain is so acute that it is impossible to live with. It is screamingly painful. I can’t sit, stand or lie. I can’t think, read, eat or drink. I feel sick and start to sweat. I try not to take painkillers but I’ve had to today. It has been so excruciating. It will stop at some time this morning (if it fits the pattern) but I can’t wait.

By 3.0o pm the pain is like a nagging toothache in my right leg. We go down for a long swim and by the time we set off home, the pain has gone completely. A pain free evening is followed by an experiment. I think the problem is caused by my sleeping position so I decide to try to sleep on my back. I have a very fitful night, regularly waking up and reisting the urge to turn on my side.

6th July, 2011

Just after 7.00 am, I get out of bed. There is no pain. I clean my teeth, go into the lounge and sit down for a cup of tea and I am immediately hit by excruciating pain. It is unbearable. I take two Paracetamol. For one and a half hours, I walk the house trying to get relief. I’ve tried sitting down on every different chair in the house without success. Even the table has proved impossible. By 9.00 am, exhausted and sweating with the pain, I go and lie down on the bed. It is the only way to relieve the pain – stretching out. I take two more Paracetamol. I fall asleep for two hours.

When I wake, the pain is still there but controlled enough to be able to sit in the car and drive down to the beach. We have a good swim but this time it doesn’t remove the pain. I take two more Paracetamol. I have now had six and the problem with that is that it impacts on the effects of the Warfarin I am taking. I phone the Path. Lab. at Huddersfield Royal and ask advice. I’m told to go for an earlier Anti-Coag. test if it continues.

7th July, 2011

Woke up in agony but found a sitting position that was tolerable. My back relaxed and, over a two hour period, I was able to get up and move around. I walked round the house shouting to Pauline, “Look, I’m doing normal things. Look I’m sitting at the computer.” Eventually, I was able to go out and water the vegetables. My green beans are almost ready to pick as are the salad onions. I have beautiful, glossy purple aubergines forming. I can’t believe that something I find so hard to eat could look so beautiful. The flowers are beautiful but the fruits are gorgeous.


Pauline had a phone call with Phyllis this evening and told her about my trapped sciatic nerve. Of course, Phyllis, being as old as she is, has had experience of most afflictions from flu to scrofula so she had suffered from sciatica. One of the solutions she found successful was to sleep with a pillow between her legs to keep the posture right. I plan to try it.

8th July, 2011

Tried the pillow test and have got up feeling much better today. I have twinges but have been able to go out and garden this morning. We worked for two hours but it is so hot – about 32C/90F – that it was difficult to go on and Pauline ended up red as a beetroot. After a shower, we are going up to see the woodman and then on to a fishing village, called Vathi, for lunch.


Vathy was delightful. We went to Ockeanida (The Wave) and sat by the shore as the sea gently lapped within feet of our feet. We first went there twenty five years ago and the girl who came to serve us was the daughter of the owner. She told us that she was nineteen and that she was home from College in Athens where she is doing a ‘Tourism’ course. Most 18+ teenagers do a ‘Tourism’ course in Athens for two or three years after Senior School. It is something of a Right of Passage. They then come back to their homes on islands where they serve their apprenticeship in the restaurant kitchen or the rooms, the hotel, the car hire business, etc. until it is their turn to take over. What is interesting is that nothing much changes as a result of these courses. What they do is occupy the children of the Greek middle classes at a time when youth unemployment is standing at more than 40%.

I’ve lost a stone and a half because we have not been eating a lot recently and, although we ordered a fairly understated Greek meal, we struggled to eat it:

  • RevithiaKeftedes – Chickpea Balls
  • Kotopoulo Kroketts – Chicken Croquettes
  • Skordalia – Garlic Sauce
  • Kaneli Fournos – Roast Rabbit in tomato sauce
  • Psomi – Bread
  • Kilo Krassi Aspro – Litre White Wine

The whole thing came to just £30.00. I would have paid that for the view alone.

9th July, 2011

The weekend and beyond is forecast to become hot – near heatwave but not quite – at 35C/95F. This little spell could go on until Wednesday or Thursday next week. It may persuade some Athenians that it is worth paying the extortionate ferry prices to leave the city and holiday on a cooler island.

The cat family who have adopted us have been giving us lots of enjoyment recently. The kittens must be two months old or more now and are becoming quite brave. They have graduated from stalking the flapping cushion ties on our outdoor dining chairs to considering taking on the guinea fowl that roam around the area. More worryingly, it looks like Mother and Father are already moving on from just kissing and some loud squawking has been heard from under the patio furniture. Perhaps we are feeding them too well.