Week 237

30th June, 2013

It was the 40-day memorial for Evangelia, the lady we always knew as Mrs. Simos. We were down at the café opposite the church as many, many people from across the island came to pay their respects. Virtually every one we know on the island was there and many that we don’t. We were able to chat to quite a few which was nice.

After our outing to the café, we came back to continue work on clearing debris from our storm drain. There is something quite attractive about working outside in full sun clad in the most ridiculous gear and soaked in sweat. All the world and his wife wants to stop and chat. To each person we explain our position and how we arrived at it. They are always interested and express an opinion. Spiros who came with two JCBs and a team of men last year to transform our land and dig out for electricity cables made a special visit with his wife and brought us bags of freshly picked tomatoes from his garden. It was lovely to see him again. The couple who came and expressed keen interest in buying our property came back this morning for a quick chat. In all, at least ten people came past and acknowledged, in one way or another, what we were doing.

We worked for about two and a half hours and are now preparing for as swim – if only to get clean. Had a lovely, long talk to our amanuensis after we got home. Lots of interesting information about meetings that we need to address.

1st July, 2013


Happy July to all our readers.

In UK, the last day of June was the hottest of the year so far and a lot more is predicted to continue through the month of July. I’m afraid here the news just gets worse. Went up to the Hardware shop for a yard brush and they had nothing good enough to do the job. I filed a complaint. We bought black Hammerite paint for the gate and some brushes.


I have to admit. it’s not a job I enjoy at all. However, my wife says it has to be done, so it does!

2nd July, 2013

Decided to go out for the morning after reading the book by CRISTINAS TELEBANTOU, Acropolis at Aghios Andreas. It was lent to me by Rania. A fortification from Mycenaean period – almost 4000 years ago – has been gradually uncovered and highlighted with the aid of much E.U. money. Many locals have been involved in the work. We noticed that our friend, Spiros Gerontopoulos, worked on the project, for example. In the very nature of things and just like Kastro, this acropolis is on high ground and surrounded by huge stone walls. When Spiros helped to move stone over the last ten years, he used a JCB. How on earth did those men of 2000BC move them into position?

Of course, all that’s left is ancient stone but the views are just spectacular. Unfortunately, my skill with a camera is really not good enough to convey the beauty of the place.

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A lot of work and money has gone into this development. It is manned six days per week by two people which seemed excessive because we were 50% of the visitors this morning and we were only asked to pay €4.00 between us. This can’t be cost effective. Already, parts are beginning to look shabby. Beautiful stone seats have been created for tired walkers on the approach from the car park but they are unusable because they are surrounded by waist-high thistles as is the car park. A couple of hours with a mattock and all that could be changed. Instead, I notice that a worker has had time to cultivate a spectacular vegetable garden.

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The paths and sign posting are well done and informative. The views are refreshing and spectacular.

3rd July, 2013

This spectacular weather continues – Warm but not uncomfortably hot with light breeze not high winds and moderately cool in the evening/night. It is absolutely perfect.

Mother Cat was sleeping on one of our outdoor dining chairs this morning when we got up at 7.00 am and then she managed, for the first time to our knowledge, to get the kitten to breakfast on solid food with her. It was dried food pellets (Economy Loose) from the supermarket. They seemed to go down alright but the kitten did sit in the water bowl by accident. I will try to get a photograph when I have gained its confidence.

The British Government have announced that they will charge people for medical treatment – in fact to see a GP – if they’ve been living out of UK for more than 6 months, in other words, if they are not paying their taxes in Britain. If the EU really did provide reciprocal Health treatment, it would be different but I have no confidence that Greece will give me the treatment I expect in UK free at the point of delivery. This is why we make sure we are not out of UK for more than 6 months in any one year. We pay lots of taxes to the Greek Government but I still cannot get ‘free’ health care. I have to pay for insurance for health care.

4th July, 2013

Well, you couldn’t make it up. Yesterday turned out to be a strange one. When we got up, the world was normal. We had simple things on our agenda for the day. A nice chat with our amanuensis, a swim, some plant watering, some tennis. Suddenly, serenity was shattered. The phone went and the Notary said that another couple urgently wanted to come and view the house. They would telephone and make an appointment themselves because they could speak some English.

Better tidy the house! Pauline walked straight in to the Laundry to put the dirty clothes into the washing machine and suddenly realised that the floor was wet. One of the water boilers had sprung a leak. At that very moment, the phone went. It was the couple wanting to visit. Could they come today. No! Tomorrow morning at the earliest. That was agreed.

A quick phone call to the Plumber. When could he come? 1.00 pm.  From previous experience, we were going to have to source a new boiler and then the plumber would have to fit it. This is a job of around a couple of hours. Could it be done today before the couple come tomorrow? The plumber came right on time, looked at the boiler, smiled and said, No Problem. We thought, Yes there is. It’s leaking. He said he would be back in the evening. When he returned, he took out the heating element which was accompanied by huge amounts of calcified deposits – probably half a bucketful – zipped in a new element, mopped the Laundry floor, smiled and said, OK.


Crisis over. The couple arrived this morning. They were looking for a ‘big’ house and said our house was just the right size. They asked the price (although I suspect they knew in advance) and didn’t balk when I told them. They had been to see a cheaper one yesterday but found the build quality terrible. They were impressed with ours. They have gone to think and contact the Notary. We can do no more than that.

The sea was quite chilly for our swim today. We only managed 40 mins.. Wimbledon was quite enjoyable on Women’s semi-final day. Mother Cat’s kitten was the star of the evening. After being painstakingly coaxed out of her bush to share a meal of tinned meat, she proceeded to sit in the water bowl. Children! Who’d have them?

5th July, 2013

A blustery but warm day is following a lovely, cool night. We set ourselves jobs to do and then cancelled them and relaxed instead. That’s why retirement is so much fun. Pauline shopped at Moshka’s supermarket for oranges and cheese and chatted to Margarita for the first time for a while. Because she’s trying hard to maintain her weight, she bought fresh bread and a sweet pie. We drove home and had fresh, Arabica coffee and read the paper while we listened to the Today programme outside under the pergola. Today is ‘Payday’. Teachers pensions are quaintly paid the day before the date of one’s birth. Pauline was born on the 5th and I was born on the 6th. Our pensions are paid on the 4th and the 5th. Pauline also gets her State pension on the 28th of each month. What fun!

Once again the sea was a little chilly but we managed 40 minutes solid swimming and then home for showers and our meal. Today, we had the most delightful salad of mixed leaves picked from the garden.


I think I read someone on a Greek Blog writing that it was impossible to grow salad in the summer. Well, our leaves seem to be thriving. Our gardeners sited them under the shade of a large, conifer tree and they seem to appreciate it.

Exciting Wimbledon Semi-Finals this afternoon. Murray is 2-1 sets up as I write this at 11.00 pm. In the first, brilliant match, Djokovic beat Del Potro in the fifth set.


6th July, 2013

Supermarket shopping this morning. Flora has promised to bring a bag of oranges from her father’s trees in Apollonia for us to collect next Saturday. Her supermarket has switched to selling commercial fruit and the sweetness is distinctly missing. We are eating so little that our shopping is very small and extremely cheap each week now.

When we got home, Olga phoned to check we were alright. She is working hard now that the season is getting going. I must admit that, in spite of newspaper reports of tourism in Greece about to reach record levels, the island still looks fairly quiet. The beach here is not very busy. The campsite is virtually empty and the restaurants are distinctly underwhelming. Maybe it will pick up soon.

We’ve got a busy day of reading The Times, watching the Wimbledon Women’s Final, Pauline cooking biscuits (for herself) and me catching up with correspondence.


The wind is quite blustery today so we may give swimming a miss.

Week 236

23rd June, 2013

Up reasonably early this morning and out to the café for coffee. As we went down to the garage, we noticed some documents in a plastic wallet tucked under the rear windscreen wiper of our car. They were some important documents relating to our land which were being prepared by the architect. He must have come past after we had gone to bed last night. We were shattered and went to bed around 11.00 pm. We certainly didn’t hear him.

At the café, I downloaded The Sunday Times while chatting to Christos about the world of Greek Island politics. He works very hard and long hours. He looks very tired at 9.00 am. He has asked if he can come over to our house for coffee. We have told him that he is very welcome at any time.

The temperature reached 31C/89F this afternoon. Note to Skiathan Man – not only sleeping on top of the sheets but shutters now closed in the afternoon to keep the house cool. We won’t need the outside lights on tonight. It will be naturally illuminated by the midsummer solstice super full moon. For young lovers a time to dream. We ‘oldies’ just enjoy the view.

24th June, 2013

A hot, almost sultry, still day. The strong winds that came have just as suddenly disappeared. My job is patio cleaning this morning. Later, we will go swimming. I am ashamed to admit, this will be our first swim in the sea this year. In fact, our last swim was on March 31st at the Health Club in Surrey. We are looking forward to it. Let’s hope the sea is refreshing after a morning’s work.

One of the noticeable differences this year has been the absence of little birds all around the property, leaving droppings on the walls and patio tiles. We don’t think it is the cat because she is getting to well fed to be bothered chasing them. It could be the owl that constantly guards our property. The one thing I have actually seen it catch is a small bird. It had the tail feathers sticking out of its mouth as it flew off to devour it on some post. In the last few days, however, we have had a family of pied wagtails pecking for seeds on the dry earth and enjoying dust baths in loose soil. They seem a little bigger than pied wagtails in England but just as quick.


We have ordered a sign for the sale of our property. It will be delivered soon.


25th June, 2013

Pure, Greek Summer day today. Blue, cloudless skies. Hot and still. Cicadas singing in the pomegranate trees. I’m immersed in emails from Surrey from the Steering Committee of our apartment development. Major matters like the electric gates, the codes for them. Getting the gardeners and cleaners to do their jobs properly, etc.. It all seems so far away. Mind you, I wouldn’t mind a walk through the rain and a trip round Waitrose but that’s a minor whim.

As we drove down to the beach, the car showed 32C/90F in the garage. The beach was nicely quiet with not too many tourists yet. The sea was delicious. We watched Speedrunner3 dock and then did half an hour of non-stop swimming.


Drove home and cooked our meal for the day – Griddled chicken & griddled vegetables (courgettes & peppers from the garden).

26th June, 2013

Can the days get any more beautiful. Up at 7.00 am. for fresh orange and Yorkshire tea. Mother Cat had obviously slept under a bush nearby, heard us get up and was still stretching outside the back door as we walked past. She got fresh water and dried food. She and I had a long talk and then she went off a-catting.

Our day will be split between reading the paper (Pauline’s doing a bit of ironing.), gardening and swimming followed by watching a bit of tennis.

The sea in Kamares Bay was wonderfully refreshing. We swam for an hour. Haven’t felt so clean for years. Closed the shutters at the front this afternoon to shut out the afternoon heat while we watched matches from Wimbledon. Now, as I water my plants at 8.00 pm, the temperature is at a sticky 33C/92F.

27th June, 2013

Mother Cat never ceases to surprise us. She has given no physical signs until now that anything untoward was happening. Today, as we drive back into the garage, she pops out and begins to call in a strange, rather strangled way. As we drink coffee on the patio, out sneaks a (quite mature) kitten. As soon as it sees us looking, it shoots back in to hide and no amount of calling and coaxing from Mother will get it back out. Minutes later, an e-card arrives from Viv & Richard announcing the birth of their latest Grandson.  Grandparenthood is catching!

28th June, 2013

What fun you can have when you’ve nothing better to do. Today we were taking advantage of a slightly overcast morning for clearing out the storm drain that goes in front of our drive gate. Every winter, the rains bring silt down and clog it up. Every year, we grudgingly put aside an hour or two to clear it out. This year, we are combining that annual delight with the joy of repainting the gate. We haven’t done it since 2007. I know you all now feel terribly jealous. No need. If you pop over with a brush, you can join in.


29th June, 2013

Talking about brushes. Could you pop over with one because ours has completely lost all its bristles sweeping out the storm drain.


By the time it gave out, it was 1.30 pm.. The Hardware shops close at 2.00 pm on Saturdays and, as we drove up to Apollonia, we got caught up with a ‘large load’ Electricity Company convoy led by our friend, Apostelos in his huge pickup. By the time we got to the Hardware shop, it had closed. We have had to make do with a supermarket brush until Monday. All World Headlines here. You heard them here first!

This morning we collected the For sale sign for our house. Three hours later, a couple dropped in because they heard we were selling and, after a quick tour round, a glass of wine and a chat, told us immediately they wanted to buy it. How strange life is. We will see what unfolds.

Week 235

16th June, 2013

Every morning I drink a full glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. In England, it is two, Spanish oranges from Tesco. In Greece, it is Cretan oranges from Mario’s. The differences are stark. Firstly, Tesco’s finest are all the same size. We know it will take exactly two oranges to fill a glass. They will be beautiful, perfectly formed, identical fruits. They will cost around 30p/€0.35 each depending on special offers.. For a week, I know I will need exactly 14 at a cost of £4.20. Mario’s come in a crate and are different sizes and of variable appearance. The are covered in creases and bruises and blemishes. A British supermarket would just reject them for imperfection and lack of uniformity. It is impossible to predict how many are needed to fill my glass because some are small and some are huge. This week, I bought 17 to make sure I had enough. The total price was €3.30/£2.80 or 30% less than England. The real difference is that Cretan oranges are absolutely fabulous. The flavour is incredible compared with Spanish ones that have been stored in Tesco’s warehouse. And the blemishes on the outside are irrelevant!


17th June, 2013

Lovely start to the week. Meeting with the Notary, struggling with the first day of the school holidays, and coffee at Prego. Both were really enjoyable. The Notary is a lovely, kind and thoughtful person. It is so pleasant to deal with an intelligent human being. At the café, Pauline had soda and a Bougatsa while I just had a coffee.


We have been losing weight since January 1st. In that time, I have lost 5 stones or 32Kilos. Pauline has lost just over a stone or 7 – 8 Kilos. She has been doing it to support me but has now got dangerously thin. I am having to force-feed to keep her weight up. She is not allowed out in the morning without having eaten two slices of bread. She is not allowed to go to a café without ordering a cake. She has to integrate a little bit of pasta with her food during the day. Even so, she is fighting to maintain her weight. My medication ensures that I am still fighting to lose mine. I have another year of no carbohydrates in front of me.

18th June, 2013

Normal service is resumed for the weather if not for ERT (NERIT). Today is hot – 30C/86F with blustery winds. We had almost forgotten that such weather existed in the Greek Islands. As for the national broadcasting company, the courts have ruled that it was not illegal to close it down but that it should broadcast transitionally until a replacement can be put in place. This seems to save face for all concerned in the Coalition.

Going out to eat at Olga’s tonight. We haven’t seen her for a week or two. Looking forward to it. Not only are we sleeping on top of the bed sheets but the ceiling fans are suddenly remembering why they are here. We only use air conditioning in extremis.

We got to their restaurant about 8.00 pm. it looked closed. We had deliberately chosen a quiet time so we could talk.


Manolis was lurking in the kitchen. He phoned Olga and she shot down from their house in her car. She was nursing a huge bruise to her arm from an earlier fall. She is a lovely woman with a great sense of humour. She brought out a jug of wine and Manolis cooked huge mounds of mezedes. I wasn’t supposed to be eating it all but it seemed rude to refuse. We were then served with the most delicious Pork Loin garnished with an onion & grape chutney. Just when we thought we wouldn’t be able to walk to the car, Olga brought out a wonderful sweet. Olga talked about her daughter of whom she is so proud. We talked about London where they had lived for so many years – Manolis for twenty years. They often did the drive to Greece and back to London years before we ever thought of it. I can’t imagine what it was like driving across Europe in a 1970s car with no air conditioning, automatic gears, anti-lock brakes and, particularly, no satellite navigation. I remember the plastic covers on the thin seats in those days. How lucky are we.

Around 11.00 pm we left and they wouldn’t let us pay for our meal. We felt very bad about that but we will go back when they are busier and pay extra. The drive home through the darkness of a Sifnos night was delightful. We don’t often do it. It was especially nice to arrive at our house with all the lights on.


We had coffee and talked about our plans for tomorrow. I was still up at 2.30 am and really quite shocked to see how many vehicles are still moving in Kamares at that time. How do they manage work in the morning? Not my problem!

19th June, 2013

Up at 7.00 am, tired and still feeling full from last night. Still hot but blustery. (Not me, the weather!) We are spending some time doing accounts this morning, checking our English and Greek bank accounts, our credit card account and Euro Currency Funds. We like to keep on top of it. Fortunately, all the news is good news.

Tree/bush/plant watering is the order of the morning plus a little bit of reading/writing. Pauline is doing some cooking although neither of us can really think about food.

20th June, 2013

Hot and blustery. Not pleasant working outside. Wrote letters and emails. Talked through future planning with Pauline.

Got a call to say our burglar alarm was going off in Surrey. It turned out to be nothing. Phyllis & Colin had been round to check the post and had a problem resetting the alarm on leaving. Reassuringly, two neighbours took action and contacted us.

Looks like the ERT problem could be growing in to a full blown crisis by tearing the Coalition apart. Samaras will have to be especially careful now.

21st June, 2013

The wind continues and probably won’t abate until Sunday. I, for one, will be glad of some respite. I do find this constant meltemi-type wind disturbing/tiring.

Drove up to Apollonia to have some letters weighed for posting and then coffee at Prego café, a quick word with the Notary and back home for 11.00 am. After the alarm alert yesterday, Pauline spoke to her (very old) sister who had, kindly, collected our post. We were expecting a bill for our Surrey property from the Management Company, Chamonix. Because we live in a Duplex Apartment, all our heating and hot water is supplied centrally. We are supplied with an energy-efficient, heat exchange system. This means very low bills. The year just gone included one of the coldest winters on record. Our bill for all our hot water and our central heating amounted £110.00. Regular readers of this Blog know that I’m a bit of an ‘anorak’ about such things but, you’ll have to agree, it is impressive.

Our amanuensis phoned this morning to ask if we were alright. She has been talking Italian for a week so we’ve left her to it. We’ll meet up next week to renew our plan of campaign. Roast pork from Nikos for Dinner with our first, home-grown peppers of the season and fresh sage from the garden. Delicious!


22nd June, 2013

Pleasant morning. Looking forward to a happy Saturday. Shopping, reading the newspaper, sitting around and chatting with my wife but there is a problem with a blockage in the sewer pipe leading from the en suite bathroom. Who to blame? Certainly, we will both have to sort it out. Hope you’re not eating your breakfast while reading this. I’ll keep you informed.

Well, I got my tool boxes out – What’s a man without an 18″ tool box? –


and then got my wife to do it. Well, she’s smaller than me and can get into tighter spaces.


Actually, the ‘blockage’ had gone before she attempted anything but we did find some insidious weed roots starting to fill one of the five pipes. A trowel and a wife are all the tools one needs, dear Reader. Job done (if you’ll pardon the expression).

Week 234

9th June, 2013

Out this morning at 8.30 am and down to the Café for coffee. Ordered some pork joints and fresh cheese from Moshka to be picked up tomorrow. Back to read the Sunday Times and then cleaning. Every year the windows and doors get treated with a special solution to maintain the paintwork and stop the wood drying out. Usually we do it at the end of the summer and they are at their best when we leave. This year we have done it early so we actually get the best of gleaming, rejuvenated woodwork. We’re getting a bit worried about Mother Cat. She came and ate three, huge meals today and yet she is really skinny. She appeared so hungry that she began to take an interest in my tomatoes. We are eating our first, ‘cherry’ tomatoes already and very sweet they are too. TOMS

We should be picking courgettes in another week. The green, bell peppers won’t be long either.

10th June, 2013

If there is a cleaner, tidier house than ours in Greece, I’d like to see it. The grounds have been cleared and raked rubbish removed. The patio, walls, windows and doors have been washed and treated and polished. The inside has been relentlessly mopped and dusted. I think we’ll give it a rest for a while. We were supposed to start swimming today but, after four solid hours of cleaning, we both felt shattered and collapsed with our newspaper and book.

11th June, 2013

Down to the post this morning. Two letters – Cosmote (Internet Bill) and Nova (Satellite Bill). Both were completely in Greek. I knew what both said almost immediately. The first told me that my monthly bill for 10Gbs was €30.00 which is excellent. The speed is so good that I don’t notice the difference from my Broadband service in Surrey. The Nova wasn’t a bill at all but an enticement to take a new, HD box. I have an HD Television and I have HD in Surrey but it really doesn’t seem worth it here. Although I got the general drift of the letter, I put some bits into Google Translate to find that they were offering the inducement of 6 months free service. Even that didn’t do it for me.

I can’t believe I’m writing this especially as we approach the middle of June but rain is forecast for the next three days. Last night, there was some lightning over the port. Even though Sakis (ET3) and the BBC (Met. Office) are in agreement, ever the sceptic, I am starting my next round of plant garden watering this morning.

It is 8.00 pm and I’m beginning to doubt my own scepticism. This is the view from our patio looking out over Kamares harbour.


12th June, 2013

Oh, Sakis. Just as we were getting to know each other, just as we were becoming nightly friends, they abolish you. They say you were too extravagant and far too expensive. Maybe it is true but it was nice while it lasted. May be I am in the minority but I mourn the passing of Et3 and its meteorologist, Sakis Arnaoutoglou. Last night the state broadcasting company was summarily closed, ending the life of Net, ET1 & ET3 television channels and a number of radio channels including ERA, Voice of Greece & Kosmos. Where now will I go for detailed and thoughtful weather forecasts? The BBC?


13th June, 2013

I’m going absolutely ‘BATS’. I suddenly realised I was once again trying to revert to 2012. Whatever the year, it really isn’t looking like any rain will bless us. Still, we should be careful what we wish for. Skiathos & Skopelos seem to be getting everybody’s rain. My garden would welcome a bit but not a streetful and, particularly, not all at once.

It is hard to believe that Samaras didn’t consider the effects of his actions in closing down the entire Public Broadcasting Network – ERT – but is he surprised at the international condemnation of it this morning? Even the employees admit it was over-bloated and corrupt and the government had been negotiating with unions for a year unsuccessfully. However, they will have to get on with a replacement quickly or the accusation of censorship of the press will stick.

All day the dark clouds bubbled and passed, bubbled and passed. Rain? – No rain. By 5.00 pm, we decide to do some watering. An hour later, watering finished, the sun comes out and ………. it begins to rain. Not heavy, earth wetting, Skiathan rain. Just light and gentle moistening. Well it is mid-June in the Cyclades.

14th June, 2013

The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed-
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.

Mercy visited us in buckets over night. The middle of June. I don’t remember such a merciful visitation in June for a long time.

The Greek Union of News Journalists (ESIEA) has, wrongly in my opinion, decided to extend the total news blackout until next Tuesday. By then a week will have elapsed without proper national discussion of the closure of ERT. This is a mistake. They should be out there, making the case not muttering behind their hands. The Coalition meet on Monday to hammer out a compromise. It is being stressed that this issue is not a Coalition breaker. There will be no early elections. Things in the economy are too serious for that.

14th June, 2013

Hold the front page: Weather Returns to Normal. The garden continues to show the benefit of the recent rain but the day has opened with clear blue skies and sunshine. The temperature is 25C/77F and rising and there is a light breeze. What more could one want?

Well, if you were living in Surrey on this fine Saturday, you could look forward to 13C/55C for your barbecue. On the bright side, however, you’re living in the right area because the recession since 2008 has exacerbated existing inequalities because the divide between the North and the South and it is growing faster than at any point since the Second World War, according to The Times.

We are becoming egg-bound. Pauline returned Kiki’s basket which she had, so kindly, given to us filled to the brim with fresh eggs. Kiki asked if we liked them and when we confirmed that we did, she immediately promised another basketful. We are not complaining. They are absolutely wonderful and she is so kind. It’s just that, an hour later, we were up at Elinoil buying petrol and we weren’t allowed to leave until we had taken another gift of fresh eggs. What lovely people! We are going to Olga’s for Dinner but it will be omelette for lunch.


Week 233

2nd June, 2013

Woken at 2.30 am by the drumbeat of rain on the roof. It lasted less than five minutes and again at 3.30 am for an even shorter time. The effect was worse than useless. The garden this morning was bone dry but the windows, patio and outdoor furniture were covered in Saharan sand as the weatherman had forecast. When we got up at 6.30 am, the power was off and, unusually, stayed off for about three hours. Tea had to wait. Mother Cat, obviously in ‘the know’, didn’t turn up for breakfast.

We were told to expect Giorgos with his truck at 9.00 am. In fact, it was nearer 10.30 by the time he arrived. When he did, it was obvious that it would take three trips to clear everything. Nowadays, it is not a simple trip up to the Rubbish Tip. New rules dictate that our rubbish had to be taken to the old quarry on the Heronisos Road. By 11.30 am, it had all gone although Giorgos was eyeing up an old patio table and three remaining chairs and I suspect they never made it to the quarry.

In the afternoon, we went down to the café for a Frappé and a chat with Christos. He had plenty of interesting gossip. Back home for our one meal of the day. Pauline cooked Calamari and we ate it with salad. We watered and fed the vegetable plants which are growing at an incredible rate and then settled down to the Greek News. Actually, it was about the unrest in Turkey. Protests about the curbing of free speech and the creeping islamisation of the state is clearly and rightly angering much of the population, particularly the young. They are revolting as all young people are.


3rd June, 2013

Up early – quite a chilly morning although it soon heated up and reached 27C/81F. We were out first thing at the Garden shop. Lime for the tomatoes & peppers. No, they don’t sell it. Of course, you must go to the Agricultural Store which is open tomorrow. Back home for coffee and then watering all the trees and bushes. This took two hours. I have been flooding them once a week. Now I will up that to twice. All my cuttings are now well rooted – geranium and an evergreen climbing plant we spotted and liked – and ready for potting up. My pepper and salad seedlings are ready for planting out.

We spent the afternoon setting in a structure of canes to support the tomatoes through strong wind. We will do the same for the peppers tomorrow. Throughout the day the owl has been with us. From talking to friends, we now know it is a species common to Greece


It’s particular trait is that it sits on posts and wires in broad daylight. Plus it is absolutely delightful.

4th June, 2013

Up early again – a quite magically beautiful morning. Still, bright and warm. Off and out to collect the post. Nothing for us today but we collected it for friends. After that, we set off for the agricultural store in Apollonia. A bit early, we had coffee at Prego and then went down to buy our potion. Friends had told us to dust tomato plants with Sulphur or θειάφι using a sock. At the store, a couple of kilos cost €0.50. While we were there, we were amazed to see so many people flowing through who we already knew. Olga’s husband arrived to buy chicken feed. Giannis and his wife (ex of Boomerang News Agency) were there buying plant food. Huge bags of material were being humped on to wagons. Our little bag looked pathetic. Let’s hope it does the trick. It is said to add flavour to tomatoes and peppers.

5th June, 2013

Oh the joys of Retirement. Unbelievably, we have entered our fifth year of lazing around and being paid to do it. Today has been a gardening one. One of my greatest hopes about spending half the year in Greece was that I would learn to grow vegetables outside that I couldn’t in England. This year, after struggling and only partly succeeding in previous years, I have cheated and employed two gardeners. The Pensioners did all the heavy work. I bought some plants from the garden shop – tomatoes, peppers and basils. I grew some plants from seed – courgettes, mixed peppers and more basils plus parsley. The Pensioners planted the tomatoes, the peppers and the courgettes and all are doing well. Pauline and I spent the day planting out what we had grown from seed. For the first time, everything seems to be doing well. We will pick our first Cherry Tomatoes at the end of this week.


We are using just a small patch at the back of the house at the moment, hoping to use some of the shade from the edging trees. Those Pensioners will have to come back next year. Every tree and bush has been ‘lifted’ to let in light and cleared around but my favourite is this Yukatan Palm at the front gate. It is quite common, I know, but is becoming a real feature.


6th June, 2013

Why is Skiathan Man so lucky? Rain threatens and he gets rain. Here promises go unfulfilled. We’d love a thunder storm, lightning, half an hour of strong rain. All we get is promises. For quite some time now, we have been avid followers of Sakis Arnaoutoglou, the ET3 weather forecaster but he has been off the boil recently.

sakis2 natali

Even the trolley dollies of Mega have beaten him in short term accuracy. Sakis has a chance to redeem himself this weekend. He is forecasting rain for Sifnos. A lot is riding on this, Sakis. You’re not the most beautiful you know!

Anyway, car and patio cleaning day today in spite of a Saharan sand storm prediction again over the next few days. Before that, my first blood test of the Greek residency. The last one was a perfect 2.5 INR in Surrey on April 11th. I am looking for another good one today. If it’s good today, my next one won’t be until August 1st.

Actually, the test turned out so well, I don’t need another until August 15th. Seems a long time off to me but that is the collective wisdom of the Woking Haematology Centre. My concern is that it is a cost-saving long term. I might have an earlier one for my own peace of mind. It was lovely to see our friend, the blood tester, this morning. He had deliberately displayed our Christmas card above his desk. A robin in thick snow looked rather incongruous this morning.

Sakis brought the Saturday rain forward to tonight and tomorrow morning. We’ll see, Sakis!

7th June, 2013

No rain over night. This morning the clouds are grey but high overhead. I think he’s going to be wrong again. I’m going to do my usual watering round.

Do ten big spots make him right? NO THEY DON’T! I’ve spent four hours watering everything in sight.

8th June, 2013

Out early this morning. Rania had somebody else painting white lines on her restaurant floor this morning. It was a member of that infamous crew – The Ladies of Artemon. She obviously wasn’t satisfied with her own efforts last year. We will have dinner there tonight – if the paint is dry. Off up to what we call the Windmill Supermarket in Exambela. It is really called Arades but old names stick. This is what it used to look like until today.

sm1 sp2 sp3

This is old, Greek-style supermarket (corner shop) as we have known it for quite some years. We remember an even older style, all-purpose shop that these emporiums replaced about 30 years ago but, now, the change is taking place once again. I don’t have photos yet but Arades has transmogrified into a modern supermarket like Sainsburys – well perhaps that’s going a little far – with built-in chiller cabinets, fresh veg. picture splashbacks, swipe/blip barcode reading and proper carparking with white lines. Apparently, they had been up all night moving things from one building to another. Life will never be the same again.