Week 284

1st June, 2014

Welcome to the new month. Hope it brings us all good luck – well most of us!


Ruth emailed me at 11.00 pm on Saturday night from Britain to say that I had posted this too early and was wishing my days away. I am rather guilty of that but, on this occasion, she was writing at 1.oo am Sunday in Greece. How time flies!

2nd June, 2014

Beautiful start to the day – warm and sunny but not too hot (23C/73F). We were out by 9.00 am working in the garden and we were absolutely shattered by 12.00 pm. I am really enjoying the exercise. I don’t think Pauline is as enthusiastic but, when I suggests she sits in the shade with her book, she says she daren’t leave me because I push myself too hard and she needs to be able to make sure I’m still breathing. That’s real dedication.

This afternoon, the weather rather clouded over. It was still warm. We ate our miniscule meal of fish and salad outside but, as the afternoon developed, it began to look as if we might get a bit of rain. Let’s hope so!

3rd June, 2014

Fascinating day. We woke up to heavy skies and 19C/66F. It had rained lightly over night exactly as the BBC had forecast. We went shopping and then came back to do some more land clearing. Just as we finished it began to rain although lightly and intermittently. Pauline cooked delicious fillet steaks in a mustard sauce with onions, mushrooms and tomatoes. Just as we finished cooking outside, it threw it down.


The ridiculous thing was that two filet steaks cost €3.80 (£3.00). Must get some more of those!

The cat wasn’t happy. She came for her meal very early in order to avoid the rain but she was on constant alert because of the thunder over head.

4th June, 2014

Wonderfully strange day. We woke up to leaden skies, thunder and dampness (no more) in the air. You would have guessed that it would rain. It didn’t.

Mother cat turned her nose up at the new dried cat food from Arades supermarket and promptly left. She returned at 11.00 am and had the same dried food mixed with her Italian salmon in beef gravy. She ate the lot and scarpered. You can’t beat real class in a cat!

I had my haircut. You’ve got to keep up appearances you know. We went out and did a couple of hours of physical labour in the garden. We should finish in the next three days and will only be a week behind the professionals last year. Pauline cooked pork chops accompanied by apple and onion compôte and cauliflower with a blue cheese and tomato topping. She is brilliant.

5th June, 2014

Woke up to cloud over the mountains.


Another busy day. The Lottery contacted us to say we had won again. We expected £10.00 in our account but got overwhelmed with £25.00. The Notary phoned to say she urgently needed to see us and then our architect told us he would call tomorrow. We can’t cope with all this attention.

I haven’t got round to posting the ferry timetables so here are last week and this week:

5 6

Later the Notary phoned again. We will probably have another meeting tomorrow in her beautiful new office where the phones never stop ringing. We’ve been out and blown our Lottery win on special food for Mother Cat. I might try it myself.

6th June, 2014

Well, it just shows that one can have predictable days in Greece just as anywhere else. Today we did two early hours slog in the garden. It will be finished by Monday. Just as I predicted and as he promised, the architect turned up around mid day. He was very helpful and reassuring. He told us that the price we are asking for the house was exactly right in today’s market. He gave us lots of tips to tell potential buyers. He also offered ‘free’ help in the selling process. He said our house was in exactly the right position and on the favoured side of Kamares now. It should attract a premium because people want property on ‘the sunny side’ now. It was a very positive half hour. He left after giving us a new topographic chart which shows we have a bit more land than we thought.

As soon as the architect had gone, the Notary phoned and we went up to meet her at her office, taking our new paperwork with us. She is a really impressive worker and has already worked wonders for us. We agreed on one or two things and then went off to Café Prago for a frappe because it had really turned quite warm – 25C/77F. We spent the afternoon tidying the house of unwanted clutter and will reward ourselves with Dinner out tonight.

7th June, 2014

Had a lovely meal last night with Panos & Rania. Quite a warm night. We got up at 6.30 am and, after breakfast, took out five bags of rubbish. How we generate so much I don’t know. When we got back, we cleaned the car in the cool of the pre-sun morning and then settled down to fresh coffee and the newspapers for about half an hour. Out shopping at the supermarket and then back again after getting home because I forgot to pick up two big bags of oranges and onions.

Our very best friend on the island phoned to check we were ok and tell us about a play we should go and see. At 11.00am, it was 26C/79F but we ventured out into the garden. We did a couple of hours’ clearing. Two more tomorrow and it will be finished. What will I do for exercise then? Anna told me last night that I can move on to hers. It’s not going to happen but nice try. Our meal today was very frugal. Pauline made Waldorf Salad and cold pork.


Three mouthsful and I was full.

Week 283

25th May, 2014

The last week in May, 2014 and the Mediterranean has arrived on Sifnos. Well, it is warm to a noticeable degree. I’ve taken to having the Living Room windows open all day to get some air through. I’m wearing short-sleeved shirts and the quilt has disappeared from the bed. A single sheet cover is enough. It happened a couple of weeks earlier last year but we are not complaining. Garden clearing was much tougher today in strong sun.

We have been here six weeks and out of Surrey for seven. Pauline cooked half a pig today. It was delicious with braised celery and onion.

26th May, 2014

A hot 29C/84F today but feels hotter. It is actually uncomfortable. We listened to the BBC Today programme at 8.00 am (Greece) / 6.00 am (UK) to hear about the Mad Men of Europe escaping (temporarily) from the asylum. All across the Continent balmy far-right wingers and just as balmy far-left wingers have posted protest votes. Right, Left, they don’t realise that they are part of a continuous circle united and meeting in madness.  Little good will it do them ultimately but they can strut, goose step and salute their bonkers flags for now.

Because of the heat, we were out working on the land by 9.00 am and finished by 12.30 pm – exhausted and wet with sweat. We have just completed another level and, interestingly, a number of people – friends, taxi drivers, local farmers, lorry drivers all stopped to compliment us on our work. It makes no real difference but it was nice.

Cold pig for lunch. The pork had developed a wonderful flavour over night. Pauline knocked up a quick pear & onion compôte with cinnamon and ginger to go with it. How wonderful! She is so clever. We are also gorging on white-fleshed peaches at the moment.


I’m sure we’ll soon get tired of them.

27th May, 2014

So hot out in the garden today. We could only cope with three hours work as the temperature reached 27C / 81F by 11.00 am. Still, we worked, made a difference and lost a lot of sweat. Chicken and onions with beans for our meal today.

28th May, 2014

A hot and humid start to the day. We began garden clearing at 9.00 am and managed about 3 hrs. The two, old pensioners we employed last year managed double that every day for eight days.  We were dripping with sweat throughout. We are really making an impact and have nearly cleared two of the three first levels around the house. It is enjoyable and really impacting my weight loss. I have lost over a stone (6 kilos) since we got here six and a half weeks ago. Pauline bought clothes for my new shape when we were leaving Surrey and they are already beginning to feel big.

I’m never hungry now. I am eating so little that I’m not surprised I’m losing weight. I thought that was the cause of my blacking out spells but, when one happened today, Pauline tested my blood pressure and it was very low as was my pulse. We think that, since I’ve lost weight, I don’t need the same quantity of tablets for high blood pressure. That will be something to address when we get home in October.

29th May, 2014

According to newspaper reports today of a study published in the Lancet, British girls have become the fattest in Europe – mind you, they are only followed marginally behind by Greek girls. How could they let themselves go like this? It is such a crime to be obese! According to the survey, 29.2% of girls under 19 are obese compared with 29.1% in Greece.


The difference is that the UK NHS is going to be given funding to address the issue by sending the overweight on slimming courses at the Nation’s expense. I bet that doesn’t happen in Greece. I’m pleased to say that I have lost a stone since I got back to Greece and it has been largely by forcing myself to do physical labour. It’s wonderful to be holier than thou!

The weather has changed in the blink of an eye and gale force winds with fairly heavy rain has hit us although it is still 23C/71F. It is quite exciting to see the ground we’ve cleared turn dark with moisture. Good job we brought gallons of heavy duty weed killer with us because there are going to be a lot of weed seedlings in the next couple of weeks after this.

30th May, 2014

Well, it was some evening/night. The rain was stronger and more prolonged than anticipated and some of the gusts of wind were very forceful, leading to us moving furniture off the patio. Our job today was to move a haystack of cleared vegetation down to the lower level. Instead, the wind had done it for us and we were clearing the gate. At least we weren’t feeling as fed up as this owl also caught in a violent storm in North Yorkshire yesterday and featured in The Times.


Coffee at the café and a meeting with the Notary this morning then back to read the paper and clear the patio of last night’s debris. There’s nothing like living life in the fast lane …. and this is nothing like it either.

Interesting late afternoon second meeting with the Notary has left us with decisions to make over the weekend. We know what to do! Opened a bottle of wine and Pauline cooked sweet & our prawn balls. Wonderful!

31st May, 2014

Well, say goodbye to May 2014 for ever. You will never see it again. Actually, it has turned out to be a lovely, lovely day today with warm sunshine – only 24C/75F – with a light breeze. After shopping and filling up with petrol, we did a three hour stint in the garden which felt good. Actually, we have been on the island for seven weeks and this is only our second tank of petrol. It cost €90.00 to fill up. We always go to the Elinoil garage which currently has a sticker on its pumps advertising the longevity of the company’s establishment. 1954 – 2014 it trumpets.


The garage owner was keen to point out he was of the same vintage. Bet I know who is richer!


Week 282

18th May, 2014

Did absolutely no work today at all. It felt great. Downloaded the Sunday papers. Pauline cooked a wonderful leg of lamb that she had marinated in (our garden’s) lemon and rosemary for 24 hrs. It was absolutely gorgeous just like her. Because Greek television was dominated by local elections until the early hours, I broke the tradition of a lifetime and watched a film. I hate films but I quite enjoyed this one. It was Julia Roberts, Clive Owen and Jude Law in Closer. It demanded a bit of brainwork to keep up. Of course, I was watching it a decade late but that felt so much better!


19th May, 2014

Back to work today – well, garden clearing. If only Phyllis was here. She could be helping! Perfect day for it – cool and overcast. Actually, large spots of rain began to appear around 12.00 pm and turned into consistent rain by 12.30 pm. Now 3.00 pm and still raining. We can hear it draining from the roof into our Sterna. The only person not happy about it is Mother Cat who arrived bedraggled and complaining loudly. We pacified her with cold lamb which she appeared to love.


Nikos was the first to spot the deliberate mistake. He is awarded the honour of five more years under the Troika Government for his vigilance.

20th May, 2014

Later yesterday after a reasonable amount of rain for mid-May, we found the cat curled up and sleeping on MY outdoor dining chair. If there could be any doubt, the evidence exhibited below was photographed this morning.


Mother Cat is GUILTY!

Did another hard morning of garden clearing and retired at around 1.00 pm for a well deserved rest. Meant to keep the ferry schedule up to date so here are the last two:

12_5_14 19_5_14

It’s not to bad at the moment.

21st May, 2014

You will not be surprised to learn that we adopted a cat with taste. Her favourite food is Italian salmon and today she totally rejected a huge bowl of lamb bits – probably because the garlic flavour was too strong.

Another productive day land clearing only interrupted by a call from Athens from our architect who has been asked to do a job for us. We will meet him soon.

22nd May, 2014

Another good day. Windy but quite warm at 24C. We just did a bit of early shopping and then back to the garden clearing. We are really beginning to see a difference which is spurring us on. The additional benefit is the expenditure of energy aka calories. I hit a new milestone today – a weight that I haven’t seen since 1990. It spurs me on.

23rd May, 2014

Will you still love me when I’m 65? You are and I still do. Happy Birthday, Ruth.


It always feels good that you are so much older than me. Have a lovely day. It is a little blustery here but getting hotter.

We went up to the National Bank of Greece to take an official document from our architect, had coffee at Prago Coffee Shop and then come home to do a hard morning’s garden clearing. We live so frugally these days. We hardly ever spend any money. We buy petrol once a month, fresh fruit and vegetables once a week and at least two of our meals out of seven consist of salad and tinned oily fish – kippers or mackerel – which we brought from UK. Apart from fresh orange juice for Breakfast followed by Yorkshire tea and fresh Italian coffee, I only eat one meal around 3.00 pm. Any wine we drink, I brought from France and Italy. Our biggest outlay is on cat food. Mother Cat is insatiable but I can deny her nothing.

24th May, 2014
Lovely end to the week – warm (26F/79F) and calm. We went out to do the weekly shop and have our regular banter with Flora and Mario. We also went to the butchers and bought half a pig. Well, it felt like it as I carried it to the car. Actually, 3.5 kilos or nearly 8lb of pork leg along with 5 pork chops for which we paid €35.00 or £28.00. We  decided to not do any work in the garden today but laze around reading the papers and listening to the radio discussions about local and European elections in Britain. This is heaven for me.

Our meal was a tin of kippers and tomato & cucumber salad with anchovies and blue cheese. This is also heaven for me. I haven’t allowed myself cheese for months and I love it! Looking forward to the Madrid v Madrid final tonight. Unfortunately, it kicks off at 9.45pm Greek time which is late for a little lad like me.

Week 281

11th May, 2014

Doesn’t time fly when one’s enjoying oneself? I may be finding garden clearing hardwork but it is certainly doing me good and making me feel better – when I stop. My only problem is that I have a constantly recurring propensity to black out briefly when I am working hard. Everything goes black in my sight and gongy in my ears. I feel like I am going to pass out and fall over. Pauline panics, understandably. It happens so often now that I’ve learned to cope with it.

At least I am showing positive results in my weight loss challenge. Since I started sixteen months ago, I have lost 9 stones or 57 kilos. This is rather more than my wife weighs in her entirety. No wonder I’m passing out!

Liverpool couldn’t do it, could they? Even my friend, Giannis, who is an ardent Liverpool fan, doesn’t believe it any more but no one I know wants City to do it. We’ll see this afternoon.

12th May, 2014

Lots of garden clearing today. We are very tired and aching after it. Received a phone call from London from our underfloor heating company, Warmup. They want to know if we would like to upgrade our installation in Greece.

13th May, 2014

I’m sorry the Blog is even more boring than usual. We have hardly left our grounds for days. We are still working on clearing weeds and will be for quite some days yet. At least this year our lemon trees have fruited well. We are picking them as and when we need them. Unlike apples and pears, they seem to hold perfectly on the trees for a long time.


I will try to do something more interesting than photograph lemons in the next few days so as not to bore my readers any more!

14th May, 2014

I was wrong about boring. Our house was inundated with visitors in the afternoon. I will tell you more if and when I can. It was tiring and stressful. For four weeks we live a quiet life and then the world turns up. I don’t know about you but I find that tiring and stressful.

We decided to go out to eat and went to Absinthe Restaurant.


It majors on Greek Smyrneian cuisine and makes a welcome change from traditional island fare.

Today, we still felt full from eating too much. We worked in the garden and then started sorting things out inside the house. It’s nice to get rid of some old stuff at times. It’s also nice to reminisce through papers of the past.

15th May,2014

A chilly start to the morning on a calm and, eventually, reasonably warm (23C) day. We haven’t been out. Garden clearing was the morning’s focus. There is something reassuring about the small world relationships of a tiny, Greek island. We were clearing down near our boundary wall along the roadside. While we were working, Moshka’s husband, Apostolis, came down from the farm on his motorbike and stopped to say ‘Yassas’ and ask if we were ‘Kala?. His son, Nikos, came by on his bike and gave a cheery wave. Papa Boulis brought his brother down in the Hotel van, driving the flock of sheep before them. They stopped to admire our land clearance and to ask how we were. The farmer who we call ‘Smiler’ for obvious reasons, tooted and waved and our friend, the taxi driver, tooted twice as he went up and again as he went down the hill. These are superficial but life-informing contacts.

I tested my INR this morning and recorded a near perfect 2.6. It really is great to be in charge of my own destiny by testing and self-prescribing and it’s all free on the wonderful NHS!

16th May,2014

How can we have got past the half way mark in may already? Feeling the strain of daily garden activity. My arms and fingers ache, my legs are cramping. I’m finding it hard to hold the mattock straight today. Press on!

Only managed a couple of hours work today although the weather was ideal – a cool 23C/71F. Resorted to reading the newspaper and snoozing. It’s one of those things you can do when you’re retired. Lovely story in The Times of a sign outside a Health Club:

Fat and Ugly? Join our Gym and just be ugly.

This was counteracted by the shocking but predictable report of:

Research which heaped doubt on the rate of global warming was deliberately suppressed by scientists because it was “less than helpful” to their cause..

It’s standard stuff from the Climate Religion these days.

17th May,2014

It is a delightful, warm (23C) summer’s day. Out of the sun and, when the breeze is there,  there can be a slightly chilly cutting edge. We ache from days of garden clearing and have decided to rest. We did our shopping in Apolonia and came home for coffee and the papers.

We have been so busy in the five weeks since we got here that we haven’t seen much of the island at all. We drove down to Platys Gialos. It was very enjoyable. The resort has been much smartened up since we were last there. Took these photographs en route:


We came back and prepared meal of cold, smoked fish and salad – delicious and very healthy. The only downside today is that Greek TV has not bought the FA Cup Final from ITV/BT Sport. Pity!

Week 280

4th May, 2014

We couldn’t sleep so got up around 6.30 am. We even went out to the Café early – 8.30 am – to download The Sunday Times and gossip over coffee. Back home, we got the pressure washer out for the first time this year and cleaned the car. We must have English suburbia ingrained. Sunday Morning/Clean the car.

Didn’t eat much today. We weren’t hungry. We had tomato & cucumber salad with kipper fillets. Watched a couple of poor football matches this afternoon which confirmed that Chelsea are out of the race. Early night. We must get some physical work done tomorrow.

Just going to bed at 10.30 pm and Mother Cat turns up at the back door looking sweet and starving. Pauline opened a new tin of her favourite Italian Salmon. Well, it looks and smells vaguely like salmon but also contains beef and lamb. She loves it and came back for seconds tonight. I can deny her nothing!

5th May, 2014

Wonderful day – warm but not too hot. Spent the morning gardening and the afternoon sorting through clothes. This house is stuffed full of HUGE t-shirts, trousers, shorts, swimming trunks that I will no longer wear or need. We have filled three, enormous bin bags with them ready for them to go to the charity shop (or similar). Our special friend has told us of a church organisation who will receive them and redistribute – if they can find desperate, very large men who want to look ‘cool’ (not!).

Mother Cat was waiting at 7.00 am and was fed. She was back at 4.00 pm and was fed. She came back for another helping but we had run out. Of to the Notary’s office tomorrow along with shopping so she might get some more in the evening.

We have booked the hotel for our break in Athens. Interestingly, it was cheaper through Booking.com than by doing it direct with the hotel. Strange!

6th May, 2014

Went to bed late last night after watching Liverpool go 3-0 up with half an hour to go. Couldn’t believe it this morning when the BBC reported that they had drawn the match. It looks like it was all a step to far for this season. Pity. Busy day so up early and out. Another meeting with the Notary amongst other things and disposal of five/ heavy bin bags of clothes which we sorted out yesterday. The amount of money that has been piled into these things is embarrassing.

Posted Ruth’s Birthday card today. It must be difficult to be so old. Being so much younger, we went out for Lunch at Captain Andreas’ Taverna. Later in the evening, I watched the Manchester United team’s swansong as they beat Hull 3-1.

7th May, 2014

A blustery and chilly (19C) morning. We are spending the day gardening which should generate some heat.

The Notary has asked us to meet her again tomorrow morning. I am watching the City v Villa match tonight. City only need a point to be virtually sure of the Championship. It may not take long tonight. Walked round outside this evening. The air is distinctly nippy. Inside the house is wonderfully warm. The assessor said we have one of the most energy efficient houses on the island.

8th May, 2014

It is incredible that we left our Surrey home almost five weeks ago and have been living in our Greek home for a month. We have almost forgotten what it is like to go out to a supermarket and find, not only what we want but so much more to tempt us. It might cost more but it is there to tempt us. We have been in Greece for a month and I haven’t seen one Health Club. How strange the world is!

As the Geek from Hell, I catalogue everything. I know exactly how much I have in my Greek Bank account, my UK Bank Account, my Investment Bank Account, my ISA accounts. I know how much electricity, water, etc. that I use each week in my Greek house and my UK house. I record my INR, my blood pressure, my blood sugar, my cholesterol. I know how much I paid for my washing machine in 1982 and my coffee machine in 2014. It amuses, amazes and sometimes horrifies people. However, when the Notary wants some information, she is confident she will get the answer with paperwork to back it up. So it was today when we went up to meet her in her delightful office garden.

In line with my geekery, I capture and record the ferry timetable for our island – for future reference. At least it will inform my book. In the month since we arrived, these are the timetables in place:

1 2 3 4

9th May, 2014

Haven’t been out today. We’ve been garden clearing and really enjoying it. The day has only been interrupted by phone calls from our special friend and from the Notary. Otherwise, we have worked with a will.

Mother Cat is, at best, feral. She is a wild cat but, within two weeks of our return, has settled in to a twice daily feeding pattern. She is waiting at 7.00 am when we get up and is fed dried food and a bowl of water. At 6.00 pm, she calls for her Supper and has a bowl of fish mixed with dried food.


We usually have a chat before she eats but, when she’s finished, she leaves fairly swiftly and silently.

10th May, 2014

I don’t think I’m cut out for gardening. I just don’t have the stamina. Last year, The Pensioners worked six hours per day clearing our land with barely a rest. This year, these pensioners need all the rest they can get and don’t manage more than three hours per day. It’s not very impressive but what is these days?

Spent yesterday dealing with matters back in Surrey, writing letters, emails, etc.. I think I’m more built for the academic life.