Week 174

15th April, 2012

Big Sunday – Greek Easter – dawned with blustery blue skies. Today, the temperature is forecast to reach 22C and tomorrow 23-24C. It is a lovely day. Our house looks pristine white in the sunshine. The garden is a beautiful, contrasting green with lots of yellow, mauve and red wild flowers amassed across it. Goats and sheep that escaped the Easter cull are munching on wild thyme and oregano on the hillsides and all is well with the world. I read the paper on my iPad while Pauline prepared the lamb for slow cooking and to be eaten tonight.

Later, we went out for a drive up and over the mountain behind our house, past the Monastery – Aghios Simeon – through the isolated village of Troulaki, on to Artemonas and the capital, Apollonia, before descending to the sea and Kamares Port and on to our house. Below is picture of the side of our house as it nestles into the mountainside. After that is a view of the valley from up above our house.

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16th April, 2012

I think we can drop the adjective ‘Big’ now. It’s Easter Monday and some shops and offices are open. There are three ferries to Piraeus today which signals that festivities are over.

Having been here for a week, our new work and food regime kick in. We went down to Moshca to buy porridge. It was a bit of a long shot but, when Pauline asked if she had it, her face lit up in recognition and she said, ‘Ah, quacker.’ Pauline was delighted to find she meant Quaker Oats but Moshca insisted she was right.

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I’ve had my oats and the day has trundled on. Just received a message on Facebook to say that our island – Sifnos in the Cyclades – has been named as one of the Top Ten List of ‘Islands Under the Sun’ in National Geographic Magazine and in Forbes Magazine. Sifnos is characterized as one of the quietest and least discovered islands but simultaneously one of the most chic ones for 2012. Let’s hope they boost the property prices.

The most wonderful thing has happened tonight. I went outside on to the terrace to see a ferry docking and I couldn’t believe my eyes. A cat walked in front of me.  Not strange, you might think, but we recognised each other instantly. It was ‘Mother’ cat who adopted us last summer and who we abandoned to her fate last October. She looked alright. Maybe not as sleek as when we left her but she was obviously a survivor. She had come back. I called Pauline who had saved a tin of tuna just in case. She got out the cats’ bowls, opened the tuna and poured some water. By the time it was ready, Mother cat was in the place we used to feed her. After she gobbled a full tin of tuna in minutes and drank almost all of the water, she sat on the wall and eyed us up as if accusing us of desertion. She had every right of course although we had no choice.

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I finished the day by watching Wigan win at Arsenal. It was great and the fitting end of a wonderful day.

17th April, 2012

A delightfully warm day which just got better as it went on.

We went to the sub-Post Office that has recently been established in the port where we live. Because the island can’t afford a Postman, permanent residents are being given their own post box at the back of a sub-Post Office in the village. We are not permanent residents and don’t get a lot of post so don’t merit our own box. We are going to have to share a box with a permanent resident. Our mail address must have the post box number as a prefix or it will be returned to Athens.  A nice lady called Esmereldaa has offered to let us share her box qT 725. So that’s sorted out.

We went to the Clinic to have my blood test. Next we went to our Accountant to enquire where our house status/electricity supply formalisation was up to. The news was fantastic. After six years in the house, after six years of asking, it was now down to one piece of missing paper which we had to go to the Notary’s office to have prepared. We went there immediately and the Notary took ten minutes typing up the form which he photocopied, stamped in fifteen places after we had signed it three times each and then charged us €60.00 for. Nice work if you can get it. We took the paper straight to the accountant’s office. An assistant will take the paper to Milos on Monday next week. We could be fully legal soon. We went to the cafe to celebrate with coffee.

Next we went to the supermarket to buy cat food – dry and meat/fish. We drove home feeling very happy. The sun was shining, the temperature was a lovely 22C and all was well with the world. We broke our diet immediately with a celebratory lunch outside – country pate from France, fish pate made by Pauline, rocket salad, thin toast and a bottle of Italian red. All around us was warm and beautiful countryside. It was good to be alive.

18th April, 2012

Woke up to wild winds and warm (21C) rain.  There are supposed to be three boats in and out to day. There will be none. They are all tied up. We decided to settle for a tucked-up day but, after reading the paper for a while, found the views of the crashing sea too enticing. A tourist sailing yacht has been tied up in Kamares for two or three days. It was clearly going nowhere today. Below is one of my first scenic shots from my iPad followed by shots from my Canon EOS.

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Pauline is cooking chicken breasts in cream of tarragon sauce with fresh asparagus and then I’m going to enjoy watching Chelsea being taken apart tonight.

19th April, 2012

None stop sun from start to finish today. We got up with plans to do so many things and ended up completing none of them. We read The Times together, tried to complete the crossword which is even more enjoyable to do digitally on the iPad than it ever was on the newspaper, sat out in the sun with peanuts and red wine and talked about the jobs we would have done if we could be bothered. Pauline phoned her sister who has been round to our flat and picked up lots of mail already. We’ve been away for 16 days so I can imagine that there’s quite a bit.

We are heading for lovely warm, sunny days but rather chilly nights according to our latest forecast. The next five days are sunny and 22C/70F. The UK papers seem to be touting visions of a very wet April followed by an unusually cold May – maybe the coldest ever recorded with plenty of snow in the UK. Oh, what a pity to miss it. This evening, it is so clear that I tried to go outside and photograph the stars which were so filling the night sky. I failed miserably but, while I had my tripod outside, I took this shot of the harbour. You can just see the lights and smoke of ferryboat Adamas Korais coming into dock on the extreme right.

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20th April, 2012

The reasons that made us decide to return to Sifnos after our first visit in 2004 – beautiful scenery, wonderful food and restaurants, lovely people – have all been recognised in a recent report. The ‘National Geographic’ listed Sifnos in its ‘Top Ten of ‘Islands Under the Sun’. According to the magazine, Sifnos is one of the ten most charming and exotic islands and is included in the list with destinations such as Bahamas, Seychelles, French Polynesia, the Netherlands Antilles, etc..They say, Sifnos has a balance of beautiful beaches, nightlife, white Cycladic villages, low-impact tourism and maybe the best food in the Cyclades. They go on to say, ..it’s just a spot on the ocean that someone could hardly notice on a map. Yet if you find yourselves there, you’ll know there’s no other place of equal beauty in the whole world. In addition, Forbes magazine recently published an article titled “The best of Greece – But should you go?” in which Sifnos is characterized as one of the quietest and least discovered islands but simultaneously one of the most chic ones for 2012. The Forbes journalist can’t help remarking that Sifnos is one of his favourite islands in Greece, while he points out that riots often occurring in big Greek cities are extremely unlikely to take place in Sifnos and other similar peaceful Greek islands.

21st April, 2012

Glorious day with a stiff breeze that has brought the temperature down to 19C. Breakfast of porridge or ‘Quackers’ (Quaker) as it’s known here. Downloaded The Times to my iPad and then got on with the day. I have three matches today:

  • Arsenal v Chelsea – 14.45
  • Newcastle v Stoke – 17.00
  • QPR v Spurs – 19.30

I’m going to be so fit after all that. Also, this weekend, I have to get the presssure washer out of hibernation and clean all the patio tiles of six months of winter dust blown down from the mountains or just dropped by birds. I have to help Pauline clean the windows for the same reason. After that, we will alternate between painting and gardening. It’s going to be fun.

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