Week 188

22nd July, 2012

Winds down – Temperature up. Hard to know which is best/worst by now. Recovering from a long week and preparing for the next round. We are expecting a registered mail from Syros on Monday/Tuesday. It goes to Podotas and we collect it from him.

Read The Sunday Times and had a lovely swim today. We dropped off a large bag of basil leaves for Panos to use for making pesto. Plus, Pauline had made a Beetroot, Apple & Onion Chutney so we took down a jar of it and a print of a picture from Martin. These are just ‘thank-yous’ for their help, advice and friendship.

Now the wind is down, it is cooler to dispense with the air conditioning and open windows with mosquito nets down. It gave us one of our best night’s sleep for a couple of weeks.

23rd July, 2012

A very strange day. We went to the Electricity Company who said we had to pay €930.00 which wasn’t a problem but it had to be done electronically. We have internet banking but for a Savings Account which doesn’t allow us to pay bills just monitor our account. We could, of course, go to a branch of The ATE Agricultural Bank of Greece. There isn’t one on the island. In the end, we had to ask a friend to pay it for us and we transferred the funds into their account. What a nonsense that just sums Greek infrastructure up. After this, we had to drive with our amanuensis up to Artemonas to look at interesting things.

Today the sea was warm on the surface and icy cold underneath. The tide had turned and I think replenished the sun-warmed water with fresh. Still, it was 34C/93F at 5.00 pm as we headed home. Have to be up early tomorrow. The next contingent of workmen are coming. We are expecting stone wallers to arrive about 7.00 am.

24th July, 2012

We were up at 6.00 am to find the stone wallers were on the job already. It was only just light but wonderfully cool which is why they were so early. They were blocking up a gateway to stop trespassers coming on to our land. Two very nice lads were doing the work. We are expecting about six or eight tomorrow.

It has been so enlightening. Since our so-called-friend severed ties, we have been forced to go out and fend for ourselves, getting to know so many new people, making so many new friends. So many of them cannot believe how badly we had been left in the lurch. Of course, most of them are looking for employment and payment but why shouldn’t they. They have skills that we require. But they are basically decent people and are ashamed of fellow Greeks who haven’t lived up to that standard. It is nice to set the record straight.

Had to go up to the Medical Testing Centre again. It was packed. Full of pregnant women on serial diabetes tests. We went off to the coffee shop, Prego for an hour to drink Frappes and read the newspaper. Going back an hour later, it was still packed. My INR is up again to 4.3 which is as high as it has ever been in the past three years. It should be circa 2.5. Eating less because of the hot weather and drinking more wine are the principal reasons.

25th July, 2012

Up at 5.30 am in readiness for a big day. Showers, breakfast, check emails, listen to news and then progressively start to turn off and unplug all electrics. By 7.00 am the electrician and son, assistant, had arrived and started to lay the new conduits for the new mains cable. By 8.00 am, two men from the Electricity Company arrive and the power went off. One fitted the new meters while the other shinned up the pole like a monkey to connect the new cable. By 9.00 am, the wallers had arrived to do the concreting of the ducts, The whole thing was brilliantly integrated, slick and professional – in fact, so un-Greek. By 11.00 am, the electricians had gone, the wallers were finishing off and the Iron Man was summoned. He arrived and measured up the stone casing which houses the electrical switches for the pump. He promises to return on Sunday to fit the door so we can lock the thieves out. Somehow, I really do believe that he will be back on Sunday.

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What is interesting is how many of these workmen – skilled craftsmen – had already heard on the grapevine about how we had been so badly treated by our ‘friendly Greek’. They think it is scandalous and are only too keen to help us out. It is really lovely and life-affirming.

Went down to Podotas office to collect the legal papers that were delivered on Aqua Jewel from Syros by Courier. I will spend this afternoon translating them. First a wonderful swim. The air temperature is only 32C/90F but the wind is low and the humidity is high which makes it feel uncomfortable. After a swim of about an hour, we feel fresh and cool. After the day’s events, it is extremely relaxing.

26th July, 2012

Up early again because we are back to painting again today. By tomorrow we will have completed the whole of the front of the house. We’ve got work going on next week so that will hold us up for a while but the back of the house gets so hot in the morning that we either have to be up at 5.00 am when I’m not at my best or we need to snatch twilight hours when the sun goes down which it does by 7.00 pm.  We use an expensive, plastic paint for the outside of the house and it really works well. We are pleased with the way our house is now looking. Today some people came round and were extremely complimentary about it and the way it is furnished. They said it was ‘footballers’ which quite surprised us.

Another hot day with the temperature reaching 33C/91F with little breeze but less humidity. Around the patio pergola we have two bougainvillea which are not of the common, stark magenta which ones sees everywhere in Greece. One is white crossed with red and produces beautifully blush coloured racmes of petals. The other, featured below, seems to be a cross between orange and pink and creates a lovely, peachy effect.

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Went out to eat at Panos & Rania’s restaurant. It was very hot and humid-sweaty. The restaurant was busy but our meal was wonderful. They don’t compromise on quality.

27th July, 2012

Almost the end of July already. Pauline did some more painting today but I couldn’t face it. It is extremely hot again and rather humid. We went down to the cafe for a frappe and a chat. Then we walked back to see Panos & Rania. They are such lovely people. Particularly, they are intelligent and when one is on a Greek island for some length of time, one craves intelligent conversation not small minded tittle tattle that seems to dominate island life. Rania is a philosopher. She has a degree in philosophy and reads advidly. Panos is incredibly fast thinking, well read, has a huge love of History but is able to ally that to immense practical skills for furniture making and house design.

Their greatest strength is that they are people people. If you sit in the restaurant for one evening, you will see the numbers of returning customers being greeted like long lost brothers. They come back for the food, of course, which is excellent but just as much for the humanity of the hosts. They have been extremely kind to us – inviting us for meals at their home, accompanying us to meetings as translators, advising us in the ways of Greek and island life. They are just good people.

I use Cosmote for my internet connection. I have done for the past few years. We don’t have a fixed telephone line because the OTE say we are too far away from the exchange. It is nonsense but we have easily learned to live with it. At least we don’t have to pay charges for the months we are in England. When we first started, four years ago, the dongle signal strength was weak and connection was hit and miss. Now the whole thing is fantastic and I never have a problem even uploading huge graphics. I have a 10Gb per month contract which allows me to have BBC radio 4 on all day without a problem. I relay it from my Study to the rest of the house and outside with wireless speakers. I love it. The one downside is, of course, I can’t create a wireless network which I need for my iPad. Each morning, I need this to download my newspaper. Panos & Rania very generously allow me to go down to their restaurant to use their wireless connection. It is perfect and so are they. Below is an old photo of them outside their restaurant that I was sent by a friend.

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28th July, 2012

Hard getting up this morning after staying up until 3.00 am watching the Olympics Opening Ceremony. It was a performance I had a mixed reaction to. Danny Boyle’s Left Wing credentials came through and Working Class culture certainly figured highly. I appreciated the History but I found it hard to identify with all the Rock/Pop, with Mr Bean and with James Bond and the Queen leaping from an aircraft.  It was good to see Sir Tim Berners-Lee featured and Shami Chakrabarti but I could have done without the Arctic Monkeys.

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Weekly shop at two supermarkets after downloading the Saturday Times and then a trip to the butchers in Apollonia for lots of meat.

Hot and sticky again although there is a bit more breeze today. We are having a relaxing day – reading, swimming, cooking, writing – because we have another week of workers invading our peace coming up. The Iron Man is coming tomorrow. You thought it was a work of fiction by Ted Hughes. Actually, it is a Greek who has made and will come to fit a lockable security door on to our water pump and well to keep the burglars at bay. The wallers are coming back to do some paving and other things. The earth mover will come and do some landscaping  and one or two tidying up jobs. If you can believe it, a ‘previous friend’  – although you can judge for yourself how friendly he was – dumped all the rubbish from his hotel on our garden during the winter and burned it but failed to remove the debris. We found the springs from burned down mattresses and all sorts of stuff. He didn’t care but we’ve saved the evidence and he may pay for it soon.

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