Week 288

29th June, 2014

A cooler day which is rather blustery. Out at 8.30 am to the café. Coffee and tea and then a quick visit to the Notary who is putting in overtime on a Sunday. Life is busy for her at the moment and she’s having her new office decorated. She is so helpful and understanding we can’t believe it!

Back home to read the Sunday papers. They make fairly grim reading for any Europhile. Twelve months ago, I wouldn’t have even considered the idea of UK leaving Europe. Now, I think it is odds on we will leave in the next three years. Cameron has played it very badly and, for short term party politics he has appeased the right wing by leaping in the dark. Now he is bound by a referendum which he looks increasingly likely to lose. We will all be the poorer.

For the first time in two weeks, we haven’t been for a swim. It was too windy to be comfortable. Mother Cat has eaten three and a half meals. Holland came back with a dubious penalty in the final minutes to beat Mexico 2-1. The Mexicans were definitely unlucky to lose.

30th June, 2014

The end of June and a warm day again with our car registering 28C/83F. Had an mid morning meeting with the Notary in her newly decorated offices and then off to the bank where were had a enjoyable chat with the newish Bank Manager. Georgia, a Cretan, is a delightful young woman who was extremely helpful.

Swimming was lovely today. The water was warm and pleasant. Our meal today was onion omelette using the eggs donated by the Elinoil petrol station and delicious they were too! The newspapers are full of cockahoop Tory MPs who are now in sight of their goal of getting us out of Europe and returning us to the Dark Ages of isolation and Little Englanders. The Daily Telegraph’s headline is: The “Junckernaut” is driving Britain to inevitable separation. The point they make is that failure to join the euro has made this inevitable.

1st July, 2014


Happy July 2014 to most of our readers. The tradition goes that the first to say white rabbit on the first day of a new month will have good luck throughout that month. I woke Pauline at 4.00 am to wish her ‘White Rabbit’ and my lucky month began by being sent out to clean the patio. Never accept tradition at face value or Greeks bearing gifts!

It seems to be ant season. There are trails everywhere outside and, particularly, on our patio. We brought a huge stock of ant boxes but, already, we are beginning to question if we have enough to get through until October. Maybe the problem will die down anyway.


It took me three hours but the tiles are looking wonderful again and I feel as if I’ve done some ‘useful’, physical work. The reward is to go out for Lunch. We are going back to Vathy. I hope to get rabbit on the third time of asking.

We did and it was wonderful. Roast saddle of rabbit with oregano. I know from experience that roasting rabbit isn’t easy. It is easy to over cook and make very dry. This was succulent, moist and full of flavour. What am I doing eating rabbit on White Rabbit Day?

2nd July, 2014

Wonderful day today. Started mundanely by cleaning the car. Received an email from Bart Simpson who I have missed for a while. He is back on Paros and with a new Blog entitled: Little greek Island. He is a pleasant and interesting man who is well worth following.


We spent the morning in discussions with out Private Bank Manager at Nat. West in UK. It is an excellent service although we pay quite a lot for it. Next I had to communicate with MoneyCorp, a FedEx Bank that is highly respected in UK.


We have agreed a suitable policy together.

3rd July, 2014

Up early this morning – well before 7.00 am.. Mother Cat dropped in to say Good Morning (in cat speak) but didn’t stay for any breakfast for the first time in three months. We had a leisurely start to the morning – Juice and Tea followed by the papers – before the serious work started when I had my hair cut. We did some tidying out of cupboards. It really is amazing how much useless stuff one accumulates over a decade but become reluctant to throw out. Moneycorp phoned to confirm our intentions and we decided to forgo our swim.

We had a wonderful swim yesterday. The water was delightful, clear and refreshing. The wind today is so strong and blustery, swimming wouldn’t be enjoyable. Anyway, we’ve got a very busy day tomorrow so this is a pleasant counterpoint.

4th July, 2014

The TV news included an item on incredibly strong winds frustrating Independence Day celebrations in the US. Here strong winds have dashed hopes of a pleasant swim and will probably do so tomorrow as well. We have been up to Apollonia for a meeting and to visit the café. We met up with Costas, the woodman who supplied our windows and doors. A bit of shopping and then things retired people do like reading the papers, resting, etc. France v Germany and Colombia v Brazil tonight.

Mother Cat has started behaving strangely. She didn’t come for breakfast yesterday and hardly touched her Dinner but drank an entire bowl of water voraciously last night. This morning she ate her breakfast but then walked straight in to the bush where she gave bith last year. We find it incredible that she should be pregnant because their has been no physical sign but she has been eating three meals a day for weeks so who knows.

I would like to say I took this photo in the garden but it wouldn’t be true. I was just struck by its quality.


5th July, 2014

What a wonderful day after a tumultuous night. I think I have quoted a famous line from our erstwhile Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes, before but it is so apposite:


This house has been far out at sea all night,
The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills,
Winds stampeding the fields under the window
Floundering black astride and blinding wet

Well, forget the wet but the rest fits perfectly. We closed all the shutters to avoid flexing and creaking. It was just as well because the booming wind was enough in itself. No damage but we were still quite tired at 6.55 am..

Did our shopping and noted the nearly €5Million donated by the EU (Us) for the new school. Later drove up to see the development of waste disposal at a cost of just over €5Million (Us again). People in UK would be horrified to see their subsidy of remote projects and would push even harder to leave the EU.

Our special friend phoned and we agreed to meet her and her husband this coming week. The Notary phoned and we shot back up to see her with paperwork. Life is jogging along nicely. We’ve had a lovely day and pensioners can ask for no more from life than that!

Week 287

22nd June, 2014

Up at 6.30 am and, before the cat could get her stomach in gear, we went out down to the dustbin drop to get rid of a smelly bag. This hot weather makes them turn very quickly. At that time in the morning, it was 22C/70F and before the sun was up so that was probably the mean, overnight number. It certainly still feels very comfortable for sleeping.

I’ve probably written about this before so stop me if I’m boring you but sleeping is something which has always interested me. For forty years while we were working, Pauline and I would rise at 6.00 am and just after 7.00 am, after a shower and a cup of tea, drive from Yorkshire where we lived over the Pennines to Lancashire where we worked. Bedtime for me was generally midnight. Six hours sleep was enough. Now retired, our friends expect us to catch on sleep. What’s the need to be up?  I say that I never want to get like that. On the day we retired, I asked Pauline to kick me out of bed no later than 7.00 am and she has duly obliged every day for the past five years. We make the early mornings as productive as we can, getting jobs done while we are energetic. You’re a long time dead. Make the most of your waking hours!

By 8.00 am, we were on our way to Café Prago and to a meeting with our friend, the Notary’s husband after a phone call from Milos to arrange it. At the café, this little chap came over to make friends.


The temperature had climbed to 27C/81F by 10.00 am. We’ve come home to catch up on the Sunday newspapers, water some trees and bushes and then go for a swim. The water is wonderful and crystal clear. By 2.00 pm, the temperature is 30C/86F and swimming is all we want to do. Later, Pauline cooks steak &  grilled vegetables in a red wine reduction sauce. Wonderful!

23rd June, 2014

A bit breezier and fresher this morning although we are expecting 28C/82F by afternoon. Apart from a swim, we are spending a quiet day at home catching up on emails, watering trees and bushes and reading the papers.

Today’s Times carries this front page and this page 5:

t1  t2

Before the fund HS2 at a potential £46bn, the Tories are proposing to build HS3 to save 25 mins travelling time between Manchester & Leeds. At the same time, cutting back the NHS which only needs £2bn. The High Speed rail lines will be absolutely inrrelevant by 2030 when they’re finished because superfast digital links will just make that sort of travel largely needless and yet the health of the nation will suffer. And proposals are being put forward to charge £10.00 for visits to the doctor. The world has gone mad!

24th June, 2014

A lovely summer’s day – 26F/79F at 9.30 am – with a pleasant breeze. We are in our eleventh week on the island and had to go up to the Elinoil station to fill up the car for only the third time this year. It cost 90€/£72.00 but is was very empty. The owner of the petrol station and his family are quite delightful people. Father gave us the bill and then a bag of 16 fresh eggs from his own chickens which he was pleased to point out were all date-stamped. Actually, each one had the date of collection written on in biro but it was his little joke.


As we left, he said, watch NERIT (the new Government backed channel) at 1.00 pm today. Apostolos is playing his bouzouki, This is his son, a lovely lad who is about to go off to college to train as a car mechanic but plays beautifully and, until recently, had a pet grouse called ‘Famous’ which he kept in a box. We must time our swim so as not to miss it.

Actually, we decided we didn’t have time for a swim on Sifnos. Nikiforos called with his taxi just after 1.00 pm and took us down to the port. We had an interesting discussion while waiting for Speedrunner with an American diplomat from Washington DC and his Russian wife who teaches Russian geopolitics in the local university. We had booked VIP Class and it was quite delightful. The taxi from Piraeus to our hotel –  the 5* Electra Palace in Plaka – cost just 20.00€ and we were soon out to eat at one of our favourite roadside tavernas.

epbed epbreak

eppool epdining

We were tired and went to bed about 11.00 am but woke up dry at around 3.30 am and we made a cup of tea. Flicking the channels on the TV, we came across Apostelos from the petrol station playing his balalaika in a repeat of the lunchtime show.

25th June, 2014

Already a warm 27C/81F and still. Swimming and little else will be the order of the day. Actually, we managed to get an hour and a half walk in after breakfast and before the thermometer showed a warm 38C/101F. Didn’t stay up for the Greek match last night but it was lovely to see it this morning re-played over and over again – particularly the last five minutes. Pleased Samaras was the scorer. He’s almost British now anyway.

Of course, we had picked the four warmest days of the year so far in Athens. It was just too hot to swim in the rooftop pool so we used the indoor, air-conditioned gym and pool. It was totally deserted apart from the Beauticians doing pedicure/manicure/massage and general pampering. We did about an hour of exercise to make up for the smoked salmon and scrambled egg breakfast.

26th June, 2014

‘Phew, what a scorcher!’ will probably be today’s headline. It is 11.00 am and already 32C/90F. We don’t have a lot planned apart from swimming. The newspapers are full of jokes about Suarez going out for an Italian and the Snickers advert which they say is tastier than an Italian. I feel sorry for Liverpool. They were denied the Championship at the last gasp and now may lose their top striker for months. The lad is mad. Why doesn’t he eat sensibly?

Pauline has been out this morning to the hairdressers – Michalis Anousakis salon- which is just across the street from our hotel. Later, we brave the heat to walk to Psiri district.

Talking about eating. We’ve gone fish mad recently. Baby fresh squid on Tuesday followed by grilled sea bass yesterday and grilled salmon today. No wonder we’re doing so much swimming. Anyway, the temperature has reached 40C/104F. There are a lot of very red faced tourists wandering aimlessly around. Fortunately, we are not in that class. While we are having Dinner, the Notary phones to confirm some news we were waiting for. We have agreed to meet with her on Saturday.

27th June, 2014

A lazy morning of breakfast, newspapers, swimming and packing. A taxi arrives to take us down to the port of Piraeus for just before 4.00 pm. We go straight on board and into air-conditioned VIP seats for a glass of wine and some peanuts. Back on Sifnos, Nikiforos is waiting for us to whisk us home. Mother Cat arrives immediately and reproachfully devours two day’s worth of Beefy chunks with a hint of salmon. She then proceeds to talk to us for half an hour as if she’s missed us. We feel terrible but there’s probably worse to come.

28th June, 2014

Mother Cat was so insecure after being left for four days that she stayed close all night.  This morning, she was sleeping on my dining chair on the patio when we got up just before 7.00 am and after two helpings of her favourite dried food – salmon flavour – she went back on to the patio wall to enjoy the early morning breeze in her fur. I photographed her through the insect net which degrades the picture rather:


Off to do the week’s shopping, get some photocopying done and meet the Notary. Later, we will have a swim. The days are so hard!

Week 286

15th June, 2014

Half way through June already and we only have fifteen weeks left on the island this year. The escalator is speeding up. Must run faster to stand still!

After an aborted attempt to watch England lose – I fell asleep at Half Time – the morning has opened hot and just got hotter. By 10.00 am, it is 27C/81F and windless. Mother cat has eaten and slunk off it the shade of a bush to sleep. We have to clean the patios and read the Sunday papers. Definitely another swim is called for and then a cold lunch of protein.

16th June, 2014

Don’t get too excited but we cleaned the patio today! It was a day which didn’t start well because my internet and mobile provider, Cosmote, was off line for the first three hours. It was probably transmitter maintenance on the island but it meant I couldn’t listen to the Today programme on the BBC. I got over it by watching BBC TV News but it’s not the same.

A warmish day – about 26C/79F – which encouraged us to go for another swim and the water was warm and crystal clear. A pleasant day that ended with a disappointing Portuguese performance against Germany.

17th June, 2014

Cosmote, was off line again this morning until 10.00 am. I don’t think Greeks have really got the hang of the importance of the Today programme. I’ll be glad when they finish the transmitter work. The British news features Schumacher’s tentative ‘recovery’ or at least coming out of his coma. It chimes with such resonance for Pauline and I because it was this day, exactly 34 years ago, that we  had a terrible car accident. We had been married for a year and a half and had just taken delivery of our first, brand new car together. It was a pageant-blue, V-reg Leyland Mini.


It was the school exams and I had huge packs of marked scripts in the boot. A man driving to work in a Ford Cortina went out of control on a sharp bend half a mile from our school and careered across the road into our car cutting it almost in two. Pauline & I both ended up in hospital and I had a severe trauma to the head which left me unconscious for about a week and semi-conscious for much longer. It took us a full year to really get over it and about five years before we got financial compensation. At least we did and have had 34 years of wonderfully fulfilling life since. It’s looking like Schumacher’s recovery is much less certain.

18th June, 2014

Cosmote made it a third day running for loss of service and again later in the day as well. We went out to Faros today. The view could not have been in more stark contrast to Heronnisos. The latter looked chic and cared for, upmarket and as if money had been spent on it. Faros looked shabby, deteriorating and distinctly down at heel as if there was no money to spend on it. There were virtually no tourists there apart from a couple of French families and, as all good Brits know, the French don’t count!


The day has turned into a hot, 30C/86F and rather muggy. We found walking rather hot and uncomfortable work and soon came home. We went down to the beach for a swim and the water was delicious. Within an hour of getting back home, there were rain spots on the windows although you wouldn’t call it a shower. Mother Cat thought it was enough to take shelter in our porch where she lay flat out and dead to the world. I settled down to watch Australia v Netherlands.

19th June, 2014

Good Morning to my ancient sister, Ruth. Hope everything is good and that Kevan is still coping with you. It is a hot and steamy morning that woke us half an hour early at 6.30 am with a thunder storm and just a smattering of rain but not enough to make a difference. the temperature has reached 31C/89 F by 12.00 pm and we have gone down to the sea to cool off.

We spent a couple of hours cleaning and clearing the edge of the road along the wall of our property to make it look more appealing or, in the jargon, give it curb appeal. We also had to clear out the storm drain in preparation for winter rains. I suppose they will come.


It was sweaty work but enjoyable and going straight down for a swim in the cool water afterwards was just the antidote. The pounds are still falling away and I am almost back to the point that I found myself in 1985 when I was overwhelmed by it and gave up fighting back. Griddled chicken breast with griddled peppers and onions was a wonderful meal today.


It is my only meal today but my stomach can’t take more.

20th June, 2014

Never take life for granted and enjoy every breath! Still in mourning for the shameful display last night until I read this morning of the death of the younger brother of Kolo & Yaya Toure from cancer yesterday at the age of 28. What a ridiculously young age to lose one’s life!

Quite a humid 27C/81F. We went for an early swim just as the tide was turning. It was producing majestic, crashing, blue waves and foamy surf which made swimming even more enjoyable. After returning home, showering and changing, we drove down to Vathy Bay for the second time in ten days to have lunch. Caper Salad, Chickpea Balls, Cucumber, Garlic & Yoghurt Dip as starters followed by roast chicken. Vathy was very busy with tourists. The tavernas were full of French diners. It really looked the chic, in-place.

Later, we were stopped in our road by our friend, the taxi-driver – περιμένετε λίγο – who loaded us up with vegetables from his garden.


We got more courgettes than we could sell at market. So kind.

21st June, 2014

Had to go down to the Port this morning to see off and wish the Boys’ Football Team and their coach, Giannis, well. They are were on their way to play a tournament on Milos. I offered myself as centre forward but Giannis declined and pointed to the recent performance of the England team in Brasil. I had to accept his decision. While we were at the Port, we met the Notary and she gave us documents to take to the Accountant’s office. Our link there came in specially to deal with our paperwork which was good of her.

En route, we called at Café Prago for coffee and gossip. They love to hear our gossip and what we think of the islanders in our lives. They can barely believe some of the things we have to tell them. Later, in the supermarket, we chat to friends who have recently retired from our Bank and we’ve known for years. They make it feel a bit like the end of an era!

Lovely swim today. The water was warm and inviting. I cooked orange glazed pork and beans for our meal. I have to say it was a great success. I must send best wishes to Ruth and Jane on their Spanish holidays. Have a lovely time. I must also say ‘hello’ to Simon Baddely who maintains the Blog, Democracy Street where he lives part time on Corfu. I have followed his Blog for years and.  I wrote to him last July and he replied today. That’s snail-mail!

Week 285

8th June, 2014

A warm day which reached 27C/81F. We were up at 6.00 am and drinking fresh orange juice and tea shortly after. Even Mother Cat took twenty minutes to shake sleep off , stretch and ask for food. After eight weeks of three meals a day, her coat is glossily healthy. She is constantly cleaning it. She must be one of the most fastidious, feral cats around.

Later, we went out to Café Prago to meet an important friend and hear their news. The coffee there is excellent and the view even better. While we were there, two elderly Americans approached us and asked if we spoke English. Of course, I instantly replied, of course even better than Americans. They were intent on setting out to walk to Kastro and wanted to know the direction. They were in their 70s and we advised them that it would be a long, hot walk. They set off all the same.

Half an hour later, we were walking to our car when shuffling into sight came the two Americans. It was too hot and too far. They were going to get a bus back to Kamares. We took them in the car and we got their life stories and how they’d met only in the past three or four years when each other’s partners had died. They seemed delighted to be chauffeured home and insisted we take their email addresses and write to them.

Back home, we did the last of the garden clearing – an hour and a half did it. In that heat, it was enough. We have now completely cleared the first three levels and accompanying bankings. I’ve really enjoyed it and it has made me feel fitter and lighter.

Roast leg of pork for our meal. It was delicious but my appetite is so reduced, after a few mouthfuls, I was full.


I watched a dreadful 0-0 draw between England and Honduras and then Nadal beat Djokovic in the Final of the French Open.

9th June, 2014

An ultimately hot day which started off a little overcast and cool but soon got into it’s stride. I think it only reached 26C/79F but it felt very sticky and humid. It is a national holiday here just as Whit Monday used to be in Britain.

We did some house cleaning and tidying having finished in the grounds. We had a simple meal of cold, roast pig – which was delicious – with a Waldorf salad and avocado slices. It is wonderful to be able to buy really good celery here at last. In previous years it has always been dry and stringy. Now it’s up to Sainsbury’s standard!

For non-Greek speakers, there is not so much on TV to grab our interest. However, the much derided NERIT replacement for NET, the national channel, buys in BBC programmes. We have been enjoying two:

Silk – a drama about life at the Bar


and The Hour which is set in the 1950s of our childhood and is a drama about a nascent news programme on that new contraption called television.


It deals with some of the big, political stories of the day along with other social comment. Silk finishes tonight. The Hour has a few more nights to run. Thank goodness for the World Cup!

10th June, 2014

Happy Birthday to Colin who is 78 today. Commiserations to Phyllis who still has to pole dance for him.

Up at 6.00 am on a hot – 27C/81F –  and sticky day. We went out to the café and then to meet with the Notary. We have finished clearing the ground outside and have set about tidying the house inside. Today we decided to reward ourselves by going out to lunch. We drove down to Vathi Bay. It is lovely and peaceful there although they had a fair few tourists in residence today. We went to our favourite tavern where the man who served us  hadn’t been born when we first went there 28 years ago. Tsikali Taverna has long been a favourite of ours.


We had a Greek Salad, a huge plate of roast cod in lemon and olive oil sauce and a half litre of white wine. The bill was just 18.00€/£14.50. Wonderful. The later day reached 28-29C/82-84F and was uncomfortable.

11th June, 2014

Hot and windless morning. We had an early meeting with the Notary after breakfast. About 10.30 am, we went to the café for a frappe and then to the supermarket for a bit of shopping. Sound a bit desultory? It is! I felt a bit lost having finished all my jobs. We were saved by a phone call from our special friend but this afternoon I just had a snooze which is unheard of these days.

The one big plus today was that my trousers didn’t fall down. Pauline bought me two, new pairs of trousers in early April just before we came away. They were fine but a little on the tight side. In the time we have been in Greece, I have lost 4″/8cm from my waist and I recently had to keep my hands in my trouser pockets to avoid an embarrassing situation developing. Today, Pauline put tucks on both sides and one on the back of the waistband. Should get me through until October now.

12th June, 2014

The temperature peaked at 29C/84F yesterday. Today it has been a couple of degrees down as the breeze is intermittently blustery. It is about six weeks since we began ground clearing and some green weeds have begun to appear in the areas where we started. I brought 5 gallons of glyphosphate with me and we have spent the morning spraying all the recalcitrant weeds.


They will be gone in just over a week and won’t be back this year. I don’t want you to get too excited, Dear Reader, but we then completely tidied out the Garage and took five bags of rubbish to the tip. Mother Cat couldn’t believe the change in her domain. She was so shocked, she needed a bumper bowl of Italian Salmon in  Beef Gravy to recover. However, she did manage it before slinking off into the undergrowth to go a-catting!

Friday, 13th June, 2014

Hot day today which reached 29C/84F at peak. Up fairly early, downloaded and read the newspaper then went down to check for yesterday’s post. We share a box with our special friend and there was just a card for us from Margaret who worked for Pauline for about five years in school as Head of Special Needs. She has gone on to do a bigger job in a central Government initiative in the five years since we retired and is close to retirement herself. Her daughter had a baby last winter and we took presents round. Today we got a card thanking us for the thought. That was nice.


Went out to Heronissos for a trip and really enjoyed it. So peaceful and empty.


Two other tourists arrived just as we were leaving. One wonders how the local infrastructure copes with such intensity. We had a walk, thought about eating but it was too early so drove slowly home. Pauline cooked Octopus for a salad which also included cold kippers and green, sliced beans in and oil and lemon dressing. Just before we ate, our special friend phoned us from a pedicure in Athens to make sure all our arrangements were going well. That was nice.

14th June, 2014

Mother Cat exhibited domesticated characteristics not expected of a wild (feral) cat last night. As we sat on the patio and long after she had been fed for the third time that day –she’d had octopus bits left over from the salad Pauline had cooked, Italian Salmon with Beef Gravy and dried Chicken nuggets to the point when she must have been bursting – Mother Cat came right up to us and began to chat. We were amazed because she is normally so scared. It wasn’t much of a structured chat. It sort of went: Pu-uss / Cry, Pu-uss / Cry Cry, Cry Cry / Pu-uss. I may not have recorded it verbatim but you will get the gist. She stayed until we went in and then slept on the patio chairs until morning call for Breakfast.

I watched the fantastic win by Holland over Spain last night with van Persie’s brilliant, headed first goal that started the onslaught. Of, course, I would expect nothing less of a Man. Utd player.


The temperature last night was perfect for sleep and we woke at 6.30 am very refreshed. Our old friend, Giannis the plumber, is coming to service the compressor attached to our water system. He does this every summer, pumping the water out and fresh air in to maintain a smooth water pressure. It takes minutes, he refuses money and the system works perfectly.

As the day has developed, the temperature has reached 29C/84F. We reached a momentous decision. It is time for our first swim of the season. Last year, we waited until July 1st but today feels absolutely right and so it proved. The water was warm and delicious for 45 mins vigorous exercise. Afterwards, Pauline cooked tarragon chicken with roasted vegetables (onion, mushroom, tomato and pepper). It was wonderful and eaten to the sound of rifle volleys over the valley as the marriage of Young Simos was launched and celebrated. Tonight, we will go to bed at 10.00 pm and the alarm will ring at 1.00 pm for me to watch the England match against Italy. After that result, I probably won’t need to watch any more England matches but you never know.