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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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