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.

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

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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!

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