Week 177

6th May, 2012

Although it is Election Day here, the island seems very quiet. We were curious to find out why no children were at school last Friday. Had they called another Public Holiday without telling us? ‘Elections‘, we were told. ‘They take place in the school and they need time to get it ready.’ ‘Couldn’t they do that on Saturday?’ we asked. The smirk told it all. The schools are closed on Monday, as well, to get over Sunday. Happy Days for Teachers.

When we moved recently from a huge, 5-bedroomed house to a small, duplex apartment, we had the problem of what to do with about 40 large, framed prints from the walls. We thought one or two might go up in the apartment but immediately realised that they only emphasised its cramped dimensions. We had been collecting and displaying Pre-Raphaelite – Rossetti, Millais, Hunt, Burne-Jones and then moved on to later followers like Hughes and, particularly, Waterhouse. Latterly, we collected Alma-Tadema for his Mediterranean classical influences and we have found that these have worked particularly in our Greek House. The problem is how many 3 – 4 ft picture frames we can get in the car without compromising the wine purchase.

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7th May, 2012

A very hot and hard day. We were up early because we had a meeting with our Accountant and the Electricity Company. Yesterday, I had to speak to the architect of our house 6 or 7 years ago. The problems are these:

  1. The garage attached to our house was not on the plan and is, therefore, illegal.
  2. In order to authorise the electricity supply for a new house, the building has to be checked for its faithfulness to the approved plan.

Unfortunately, the Building Certificate has been lost between various Government Offices. To get a new one, we should have our house inspected again but we have an illegal garage. Fortunately, for a small payment, we can have the garage officially recognised and then the plans can be renewed and the electricity supply officially authorised.

This was the substance of the day. We took our new friend, the ex-European Union negotiator, Esmerelda, with us to help smooth the path. We will have to oil a few palms but the problem will, ultimately, be solved. I had to email the following photographs to the architect in his Athens office:

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By the time we got home, the temperature had reached 28C and we were exhausted. As the sun went down last evening, we griddled garlic chicken outside under the pergola and ate it with jacket potatoes and a bottle of red wine in sultry heat. The island was silent and magically lit by the last rays of the day and the first moonlight of the night. No one could have connected that with the political turmoil in Athens.

8th May, 2012

A little cooler 26C and hazier today. We may get a little gardening done today. First we had to go up to the garden shop for some plants and then on to the butchers, the Post Office, the supermarket and, finally, back home for coffee. I am already running out of espresso ESE pods for my coffee maker. I ordered 1000 pods from an Italian supplier for our machine in Surrey but then obviously didn’t bring anywhere near enough. We are going to ask Phyllis to get them from our apartment, box them up and post them to us.

After lunch, we are going to pot up our Geraniums – brilliant red flowers look fantastic against out white walls – and basil plants. I will sow some lettuce and rocket seeds for planting out in June. The pomegranates in our garden are already beginning to turn from flower to fruit as the fly on the top will tell you.

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The temperature reached an oppressive 29C. The gardening was abandoned. I did some writing and read The Times. Pauline baked bread. At 6.00 pm, we fed Mother Cat who was sleeping on the roof and went down to Panos & Rania’s restaurant. All preparations had been done and Greeks don’t eat Dinner until 10.oo pm so it was a quiet time. We talked over the Election result and what the permutations were. Suddenly it was 8.00 pm and we decided to share a pizza with a half litre of red wine. The pizza was wonderful – freshly made with parma ham and parmesan cheese amd fresh rocket from their garden sprinkled over the baked pizza.

9th May, 2012

Another glorious day reaching 26C. It is a really hard one today. We are potting up plants. The geraniums and basil from yesterday. First we will drive down to the beach to look around. I ought to walk really but the car needs the exercise. Everywhere is so quiet. The island is still going through the motions of getting ready but there are so few tourists. One of the reasons put forward by locals is the poor ferry timetable this year. Already we are in are almost in mid-May and we are bathed in tourist weather but those who turn up on spec at Piraeus find there are very few boats at very strange times and they are all very expensive. As you will see below, the beach is beautiful but deserted. Even so, Pauline tested the water temperature and pronounced it………….. cool.

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10th May, 2012

The air was cooler today with a little breeze.

We have been concerned for a while about our Greek codicil to our Will which we wrote almost ten years ago but haven’t reviewed until now. We met our new, best friend, Esmerelda,  the ex-eurocrat who knows every single person on the island and she made an immediate appointment for us to meet a Notary Public. She turned out to be a lovely lady who gave us about an hour of advice but refused to charge us.

As we left the Notary’s Office, with Esmerelda, we bumped into someone who we have referred to as The Windsurfer, a statuesque, grey haired lady we always saw down at the beach in the summer. It turned out that she is a retired lady who used to be the English voice of Greek Radio. Suddenly, our circle of acquaintances is expanding interestingly and rapidly. Unfortunately, this increase in acquaintances comes with a social cost. They insist that we go with them to the school Open Day on Saturday.

11th May, 2012

A cool 21C today and islanders are delighted to hear that there is still a possibility of a rain storm before Summer fully hits us. It will certainly save us watering plants. We have been changing our Greek Wills so that, in the event of our joint deaths (might happen – thunderbolt, car crash, rock fall, earthquake, ferry sinking, etc.), the proceeds of the sale of our Greek house will go to our next of kin in UK. We are choosing a new Notary who we met yesterday to organise this but first we had to go to the old one to tear up the codicil to our will. He charged an extravagant €100.00 to retrieve the papers from his file and cancel them. He will not be surprised when we leave him.

We had lunch out on the terrace and then frittered away the afternoon as only retired old codgers can afford to do.

12th May, 2012

Today was supposed to be cool, windy with a chance of rain. It turned out to be hot and settled, reaching 24-25C in the afternoon. We were supposed to be going in to a school for the first time since we retired. It is the island’s Junior Gymnasium which was having an Open Day and putting on a musical performance. We have sat through so many of these dire occasions in our professional lives that we really were not looking forward to it. While we were working, of course, we had little choice. Now, we can do what the hell we like, we’ve decided to go out for a pizza instead.

Before we left last October, we put all our potted pelargoniums in to the garden and dug them in. Six months later, they were flowering profusely. We’ve dug them up again, trimmed them back and repotted them. I grew a lot of them from cuttings. We also tidied up our Rocket plants and planted out some Sweet Basil plants which will flavour our meals over the next few months.

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