Week 140

21st August, 2011

Thought it had all been going too well. Got up in the middle of the night to find the floor of the en suite bathroom soaking wet. The water boiler had sprung a leak. We had been warned that they only had about a five year life span because of the hardness of the water but one normally dismisses those things until they happen. Unfortunately, the second boiler is in the laundry room so we will be expecting that to go now. We have turned the water off to the boiler and the electricity. It is still dripping a little but we can cope with that and we have the main bathroom for showers, etc. It would happen on a Sunday but we have gone down to our nearest neighbour to see if he can help us get a plumber. We have been told that one will arrive in a couple of hours but we haven’t been told which day.

22nd August, 2011

Mum would have been 88 today. Happy Birthday, Mum. I am away as usual.


A man did arrive and said he was a plumber but he was rubbish. Things went from bad to worse and now we have no pump to send water around the house. We bought a new water boiler from the electrical shop for €137.00.


The rubbish plumber who was an Albanian called Thomas and didn’t speak any English, turned the water off but forgot to turn the pump off. Consequently, the pump’s chamber ran dry and now needs a proper plumber to reprime it. We are fetching well water in buckets to flush toilets and heat up for washing. We are drinking just bottled water at the moment. Stavros has phoned the real plumber to see if he can come out on emergency but he hasn’t turned up.

23rd August, 2011

We went to bed stressed. Woke up in the middle of the night with cramp in my leg, shot up and the base of the bed collapsed. We put the light on, looked at each other and thought, Can this really get any worse? Our lovely, big, pine bed that we had had expensively made in Huddersfield six years ago had suddenly failed us. The runner that held the planks of mattress support had obviously dried out in the Greek weather over the past six years. It had been glued and screwed but the glue had flaked, the wood had cracked at the screw points and, with Pauline’s weight, it had given way. Sometimes even a fantastic England cricket performance and an imperious Man. U. destruction of Spurs can’t raise the spirits. It would be fair to say that we are a little down today.

24th August, 2011

To just add to our misery last night, the cats turned up at 7.00 pm for their evening meal and Little Tabs – the male (teenage) kitten – had an unrecognisable face. It was hugely swollen. Wasps do plague them when they eat so we thought it might be reaction to a sting but he was so swollen, we believe he had been bitten by a snake. When the cats didn’t arrive for breakfast at 7.00 this morning, we thought the worst. Fortunately, they all arrived an hour late without explanation and Little Tabs’ face had returned to normal.

Nice pictures in the paper this morning. The first is from Greece. The second is not:

advert.jpg  adver2t.jpg

We went up to the Accountant’s Office to ask about our electricity account. They had heard nothing about it but they had a ‘special’ bill for us to pay. One of the Greek Government’s austerity measures is to levy a one-off tax on property-owning non-Greeks. Between us, Pauline & I had to pay €700.00 or just over £600.00. It wasn’t desperate but it was money we could have used elsewhere. We went to the café for a Frappé and a Bougatsa (sweet pie).

bougatsa.jpg  frappe.jpg

And then, with one bound, we were free:

We went to the Bank to pay the tax bill and then on to the Medical Testing Centre to have my INR anti coagulation test. Last month it had suddenly doubled inexplicably. Today it was entirely back to normal. One problem solved.

We went on to the woodman to talk about Pauline collapsing our bed. No problem, he said. Bring the two sides in and I will repair it immediately. We did exactly that and will collect them tomorrow. Two problems solved.

For weeks now we have been looking for Luciana & Nikos, a Romanian couple we befriended when they arrived in Sifnos in 1994 looking for work. We want them to look after our land while we are away in the winter and we want Nikos to supervise a team to build about 40 metres of walling in front of our property. As we drove home, we spotted Luciana and asked her to bring Nikos to our house. He came up at 5.00 pm and agreed to do the work. The wall – all 40 metres including digger hire, cement and stone plus labour will only cost €4000.00. I was amazed. He will do it in November while we are away. Three problems solved.

For three days now we have been washing and flushing toilets with buckets from our water drill. We haven’t enjoyed it and it has felt like a life time. We haven’t been able to use the dishwasher or the washing machine. Yesterday, the plumber said he would have to send the pump to Athens to be repaired. It would take about a week. He obviously saw our faces at that news because he arrived at 6.00 pm this evening with a brand new pump. It took twenty minutes to fit. Ok the cost of the pump was another €700.00 but who cares. We have water. Four problems solved.

Little Tabs came for his tea tonight and his face was beautiful and normal. His coat gleams with health. He could feature in a TV advert. He ate all his food and drank his milk and then went off to play.

Life is so wonderful. We are walking on air.

25th August, 2011

Picked up the repaired sides of our bed. We don’t have to sleep in the spare room tonight. The woodman said, No Charge. We bought him a bottle of wine.

We’ve paid out a lot of money, unexpectedly, recently so we had to phone our Bank in UK to send more funds. Of course, the £/€ exchange immediately weakened against us but it always does.

26th August, 2011

Went out to find the plumber’s house to pay his bill. We found his apartment where his wife, Poppy, and his two little girls, Irini and Katerina were in the kitchen. Poppy and the girls invited us in, sat us down and immediately started offering us coffee, cake, anything they had on the table. These are the genuine Greek people.

27th August, 2011

When Pauline & I took redundancy two and a half years ago, we had been working with our third Headteacher in as many years. It had been incredibly stressful and we were glad to be out of it. The Government’s solution to the racial divide in Oldham was to socially engineer through creation of an Academy. Weeks after we left, a fourth Headteacher was appointed and resigned within ten months. This week came the news that the fifth Headteacher had resigned, 25% more staff had been made redundant and the rest had had to reapply for their own jobs, some up to three times. And against this backdrop, they were expected to teach, perform miracles and obtain the best exam results ever. We are happy coping with water shortages, bust beds and cat’s faces.

Today would be Pauline’s Mum’s 97th Birthday and we miss her dreadfully. Happy Birthday.


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