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.

Turk

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

loog

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.

GARD1

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.

GARD2

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.

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