4th August, 2013
Went down to the Café for coffee this morning. Christos was kind, friendly and welcoming. The filter coffee was delicious. The view,on one side at least, was delightful. Unfortunately, wireless internet was off-line today. I can’t live without my Sunday Times so, half an hour later, we returned to Restaurant Kamaron where the internet feed was strong and every section of the paper was downloaded in under ten minutes. While we were there, the newspaper van went down to the dock to await the ferry with Saturday’s hard copy of The Times. So last century! We settled down to read the paper, listen to the test match and drink coffee at home when a car drew up at the gate. We’re getting used to that now because so many have stopped, got out and written the details down. We already know another Sifnos family is looking to come and view the property but I didn’t recognise these people. Far from reading the ‘For Sale’ sign, they shouted up and I invited them in to look round the house. Although, we didn’t know them, they made it clear they knew us. The viewing went well and they will liaise (negotiate) with the Notary now. I am absolutely amazed how many people on the island know us and our situation. This struck me yesterday when our neighbour, Apostolos, was with us. I was talking about the difficulty in getting a fixed-line telephone service where we are. He immediately phoned his friend at the OTE and referred to me as ‘Κυριε John’ and didn’t need to add anything extra. While we were chatting, his mobile went and it was his wife asking where he was. He just said, ‘I’m with Κυριε John‘ and she didn’t need further qualification. It was quite a shock.
5th August, 2013
Only warm – 26C/79F – cool for August in the Cyclades and very windy as it has been for more than two weeks now. It is not ideal weather to welcome tourists. My barometer is the car park. Often in August it is hard to find a parking space. Over the weekend and this morning I could have parked almost anywhere it was so empty.
Far too windy to swim comfortably today so I had to do jobs. Watering trees, cleaning the patio, re-varnishing garden furniture, all the fun jobs of life. Didn’t even have the Test Match to listen to. Rain stopped play which was finally abandoned and England were declared Ashes winners.
6th August, 2013
There is no discussion about which mobile phone company to choose our service from. EE (TMobile + Orange) is the only network with reasonable reception on our development. Often one sees visitors with other Network phones speaking urgently outside in the rain and cold, running out on to the street waving their mobiles in the air to see if they can get better reception. We are coming to the end of our contracts and, as always, they will entice us to stay with better, upgraded handsets not knowing that we would have stayed anyway. We get shiny, new mobiles and another two year contract. I wouldn’t mind but I don’t even like using phones. I like to look people in the eye when I’m talking to them. Nowadays, Pauline and I are rarely apart long enough to phone each other and then it’s from the room next door. Still, a modern man cannot be without his mobile to go with his Desktop computer, laptop and iPad.
Pauline and I have minimal contracts for our phones. We have free landline through Sky and each pay the huge, monthly price of £15.00 for 100 minutes talk + 100 texts which I never use + unlimited internet which I can hardly see on our, now, outdated smart phones. This afternoon, encouraged by gale-force winds outside, I have been checking out the next models that TMobile can offer us ‘for free’. I’m not going to pay for it even though I will sell our current phones on for £50.00 each. Looks like it’s going to be an ugrade of our current Samsung Galaxy Ace.
7th August, 2013
The winds persist and look like continuing for some time to come. Pauline did a little work outside varnishing one of the many benches we have around the outside of the house – we have so many, it looks like a minor Public School. I had a much more pressing problem to deal with. I was an early adopter for the internet (1994: 1440 baud dial-up & text-only presentation) and Broadband (1999/2000: 2Mbs download). I have been an early adopter for any technology I could get my hands on. I was in the pilot group for Internet Banking. I pioneered intranets and on-line Learning Platforms in my Local Authority. I’ve designed and built websites from the earliest days. Today, British Telecom, who were one of our earliest ISDN/Broadband providers, wrote to me to say Pauline & I were about to lose our email addresses because we hadn’t been their customers for the past three years.
While this would seem eminently reasonable, it would be a nightmare for us. The only way of avoiding it would be to migrate back to BT Broadband by September 16th. Impossible because we will still be in Greece. Actually, my current Broadband speed is only 8Mb download. I am going back to BT at the end of October when we get back. Their fibre optic service will give me 76 Mb download – almost 10 times as fast. Until then, I have to phone their customer service desk and pay a small fee to retain our email addresses. And that’s where the trouble starts – Call Centre/ many operators’ voices mixing with horrible music / Asian operative who is unfamiliar with UK address system and a lack of workers on duty. Half an hour on hold and half an hour to go through multiple security & fact gathering exercises. An hour on the phone to keep two email addresses. Thank goodness for Skype.
8th August, 2013
From out of the darkness of the road came the call again last night: Kyrios John, Kyrios John. It was the Apostelos who I always address as Apostoli (Nikos!) with another huge bag of massive tomatoes from his garden. I certainly know what’s for lunch. Our amanuensis and her husband, who phoned this morning, eat cheese salad for breakfast when they are not eating toast with our marmalade. That is one Mediterranean tradition I couldn’t embrace – cheese salad for breakfast would be sacrilege!
The wind is down a bit today and, after a bit of actual work outside, we intend to go swimming. I’m keen to see the tourist state of the beach after the car park test again today suggests visitor numbers down. Kathimerini reports Government statistics of a 9% rise in arrivals at regional/island airports but a 0.5% fall in arrivals at Athens airport this year. Maybe the bigger islands with airports are doing better. They are also forecasting a 60% fall in olive oil production this year, blaming it on dry Spring weather. Pauline usually buys lots of bottles of specialist olive oil in Italy on our way home but, this year, she’s bought 15 ltrs of Greek oil because we really like it and it is so cheap at €19.50 for 5 Ltrs.
They sell this exact product in China at €58.00 and €33.00 on Amazon. I’m persuading Pauline to buy it all and corner the market!
9th August, 2013
It almost feels like September weather. Mornings and evenings are cool – almost very cool – and the day time temperature has not really risen above 29C/84F. This is comparatively Arctic. This same week over the past three years has brought heatwaves of 36C/97F – 40C/104F. I’m really enjoying this weather.
My appetite is disappearing again. Orange juice for breakfast, a banana mid-morning, a sliced tomato with basil leaves and half a can of tuna and I am stuffed. I can’t eat for the rest of the day. It must be nerves on the first day of the Durham Test that are killing my hunger.
Today, after a bit of shopping, Pauline painted the verandah railings while I did some gardening. It was hot enough to make us sweat but not too hot to work in. We went swimming at 2.00 pm and the water was freezing. Blackpool couldn’t have been colder although, I must admit, I have never swum there.
Sat outside this evening in beautiful, cool breeze as the natural light faded and the electric lights of Kamares came up:
10th August, 2013
August weather is thinking of arriving but not whole heartedly. The wind is down and we are left with a pleasant, light cooling breeze. The temperature only reached 29C/84F which is lovely but somewhat less than we normally expect at this time. We love it. We have air conditioning all around the house but haven’t felt the need for it once this year. When we were having our power supply normalised with two, new meters installed outside last year, the man at the electricity shop laughed and said we were heavy power users. We don’t think we are and our bills are very low compared to those in Surrey but we do use a tumble dryer which few Greeks would even consider. We bought it in England for £90.00. The same machine was in Kotsovolos (owned by Dixons) in Athens for €500.00.
Every Sunday, instead of going to church, Pauline reads and I record on my spreadsheet our meter readings. I’m not sure why but I love having my life tabulated and recorded. It seems to give me a little more control over it and understanding of it. We’ve been in the house about five months now and paid out €182.84 (£157.62). It is peanuts. Our next bill, probably while we are away, will be even smaller. It is paid automatically through the Greek Bank. I have internet banking so I can see and record the payment.
Pauline & I are inveterate planners. We hate leaving things to chance or until the last minute. We booked everything for our return journey weeks ago. This evening, We sat out in the cool air planning out a four day trip to Yorkshire in November when we get back. We pencilled in another four day break to Bologna in November. We will have at least two and, possibly, three shopping trips to France and then we worked on the dates for returning to Greece next year. We more or less know where we will be and when over the next fourteen months. Exciting or what?