Week 182

10th June, 2012

I have learned over the years things about myself, as most of us do, some of which I like and some I don’t. Whatever, I have learned it is sensible to be honest with myself and with others about them. I have known, for many years, that I have an addictive personality. I remember, in my early 20s, becoming addicted to Coca Cola & Pepsi. Goodness knows how because I couldn’t drink it at all now. In a similar way, I can be hideously hidebound by routines and traditions.  I have to constantly fight against this to avoid being narrow in my thoughts and actions. Of course, it can also be a force for good. I am seriously becoming addicted to fresh fruit. Few would consider that a bad thing. I am also absolutely hooked on Blogging and quite determined to never miss a week. Occasionally, I go a few days without posting but I always ensure it is put up by the end of the week. Good or Bad? Who knows. Maybe Kevin will tell me. We started swimming on June 1st and it is now almost a badge of honour not to miss a day. Today is hot – 27/28C – and a swim is essential.

11th June, 2012

Our house looks down upon the port. One of the reasons we chose to build in Kamares rather than further in to the island was the movement. Everyone who comes to Sifnos arrives by ferry in Kamares. All commodities that are brought to Sifnos from the mainland enter by ferry through Kamares. There is no airport here nor will there likely be because of the mountainous terrain. There is a heliport which is used almost exclusively used for emergencies. There are other, smaller, fishing ports but all that happens on Sifnos starts in Kamares. Comings and goings of the port fuel the cafes, restaurants, hoteliers, taxis, buses and observers.

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For years we’ve had to go on to the internet each day to know what boats to expect. There is a particularly good site which is the digital equivalent of the Greek travel agent’s gazette – Greek Travel Pages – but it is not terribly user-friendly. The weekly timetable is also published in the display cabinet of the most prominent travel agency – Aegean Thesaurus. We must walk past this notice most days and try to memorise the ins and outs of traffic but, by the time we get back to the house, it is gone. Now, with the iPad, I go down on a Monday morning and take a photo and it is there with me throughout the week.

Thirty years ago, when we first started coming here, there were days in mid-June when there was no ferry at all. Worse still, of course, that meant no newspaper either. The economic crisis here has seen a return to poor service but not that poor. Certainly, in the past couple of weeks, the traffic has increased but if you look at today, there is only one boat and that is to Piraeus.

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We considered Paros to be a hub of the Cyclades and we used to have a small vessel which we called ‘Every day to Paros’ because that was the sign on the side of the boat but that has gone now so we feel even more isolated (or exclusive).

12th June, 2012

Because we knew in advance that we would have quite a lot of administrative things to get through this year, we decided not to take vegetable gardening too seriously. One thing we have done, however, is to persist with our herbs. We are growing three different types of Basil this year in the ground we are growing the large leaf Sweet Basil. In pots we are growing two different sorts of small leaf Basil. We also have Sage, Mint, Rosemary and, of course, Thyme.

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13th June, 2012

I don’t know if you’ve been watching the football but I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed it so far. The first match – which the Greeks really should have won – was absorbing. The Polish comeback against Russia was great and gives Greece a sniff of a chance to stay in. I enjoyed Denmark’s fight against Portugal but the performance of Holland against Germany was abject.

14th June, 2012

The temperature is rather warm today – 33/34C. We have abandoned jobs. I’ve chosen to update my Blog having got badly behind. Pauline is cleaning and making fresh pasta. We are having Lasagne for our evening meal. It doesn’t take long and we have our pasta machine with us to roll it out.

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Tonight, I will open a bottle of Italian red and watch their national team beaten by Croatia, hopefully. Unless they’ve fixed the result already.

If you have ever been involved in Education Management, you will know that professional duties are accompanied by professional rights. For example, Management can’t just decide, at the drop of a hat, to change the working hours, the holiday dates, the after school requirements, etc.. In other words, all teachers – just as all pupils – are entitled to a personal life which is not compromised by the demands of their job. Usually in UK schools, the calendar of activities is published twelve months ahead so that staff can make arrangements, book holidays, etc.. Parents’ Evenings , etc,. are calendared so teachers can reasonably order their own lives in advance.

This morning we met the plumber, Giannis and his wife, Poppi and their three little children all going off to school for the last day Assembly. Greek schools were supposed to finish on Friday but, because of the second election, the smaller children finish today and the older ones go on until Wednesday. This is because, the school is used for voting on Sunday and, traditionally, it is closed on the Friday before for setting up and the Monday after for tidying up. So staff who booked their holidays for Saturday have to cancel their arrangements and turn up for work on Tuesday and Wednesday. To make matters worse, some young teachers desperate for a job have been sent to teach in Sifnos, away from their own area. In order to vote, they have to return to their own area. Then they have to come back to Sifnos for two days. The final twist is that travel for the purposes of voting used to be subsidised by the Government. Now it is not. Teachers who have had their pay cut now have to pay hundreds of Euros and lots of their spare time travelling home to vote and then the same again in three days time. May be the election turn out will be lower this time.

At 5.00 pm tonight, we ventured out for a swim. The temperature outside was 35C. The water was gorgeous.

15th June, 2012

The temperatures have been moderated a little by freshening breezes which have been forecast to strengthen over the next few days. Force 8 Beaufort, which can threaten ferry travel, has been forecast for Saturday – Tuesday. This, in itself, could affect election travel services. Already Kathimerini is warning of transport disruption because of essential workers having to go back to their home areas to vote.

It feels as if the election is on a knife edge. I believe that it could be one of the defining moments in Greek History. There again, it could all have been decided already and the election could just be the rubber stamp on Greece leaving Europe. What I don’t think many people here understand is that the effect of the loss of the Euro will be absolutely catastrophic. Just one example would suffice to illustrate this. Petrol.

We take it for granted but the moment it is threatened, we realise its essential nature. A few months ago in Surrey, Tanker drivers were threatening strike. The whole country went on panic buy and petrol stations ran out. Suddenly we were faced with not being able to get to shops for food; shops running out of food because of no deliveries; essential services like fire and ambulance not having fuel; power generating services not having fuel. Modern life as we know it was likely to grind to a halt. Petrol on our island is selling at a ridiculous €1.92 per litre. It is shipped in and tankered up to the three petrol stations on the island. As I understand it, Greece currently has one month’s supply of petrol. Leaving the Euro will have two effects: firstly, the petrol which Greece buys in will more than double in price over night. Secondly, the country will have no credit standing and no country will supply without up front payment which Greece cannot afford. The immediate knock on of no petrol will be fighting, looting, rioting, starvation, complete societal break down. Greeks vote to leave the Euro at their peril!

16th June, 2012

I joked last week about my sister, Jane, being inducted into the CBeebies. It was a version of the truth because it wasn’t for official publication until today. Jane has been awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her role as Chief Executive of  the Independent Police Complaints Commission and services to Justice & Policing. Below are two photos of Jane. The first is taken from the IPCC website and the second is taken from a video clip on the BBC website of her giving evidence to the Leveson Enquiry.

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