Week 506

Sunday, 2nd September, 2018

Yesterday, on the first day of Autumn, we reached 23C/73F and this morning has opened with clear, blue skies and strong sunshine. At 6.30 am, it is a little cooler than one would choose but the day is going to be great. We are going to do one, final trip to the gym before leaving for Greece. We will have missed just one day in the past three weeks. In our Athens hotel, we will swim but not gym. We get plenty of walking done in the city. Looking forward to meeting old friends.

Fruits of Autumn

This is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness to quote John Keats’ Ode to Autumn. It is characterised by mild days but cooler nights, by later sunrises and earlier sunsets. In the past and for many years, it meant going back to work after 6 weeks in Greece so there was always a hint of sadness. I tell myself that enjoyment can be sucked out of all the seasons although Summer warmth is still my real enjoyment. That is why we are buying extensions to our ‘Summer’ with trips to Greece and to Tenerife which will take warm weather well in to the British Autumn. Even so, we have just been told that this has been the joint hottest Summer in British history – equalling 1976. I had just completed 4 years of teaching and was living in a pokey little flat in down town Oldham. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Monday, 3rd September, 2018

Just as we prepared for going away, our 30 month old Tumbled Dryer died. It’s hardly done much service for two people using it a couple of times per week. Like everything else, as soon as we use lose the facility, it becomes indispensable. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day yesterday and we were able to put the clothes outside in the sun to dry but we anticipate a lot of dirty washing when we return from Greece and will urgently need a dryer.

Hoover Condenser Dryer

If you are not a tumble dryer aficionado, you may not know that there are three, main types. The first is a vented machine that emits water-laden air from a hole in the front/back/side. We’ve had many of that type in the past. They are the cheapest of the three. The second is the condenser dryer which – you’ve guessed it – condenses the water vapour before it can escape and is collected in an integral container. This type is more expensive than the former but considerably cheaper than the final type which is Heat Pump. The Skiathan can stop making notes now.

While conventional tumble dryers release the hot air used to dry the clothes, the Heat Pump technology conserves and reuses it, so less energy is used and it reduces energy consumption further. Sounds wonderful but, at £1100.00/€1220.00, it is a wonder I can manage without. A Hoover Condenser Dryer (10kg load) costing £300.00/€335.00 will do just nicely, thank you, although there is a 10 day wait for one to come back in to stock and be delivered. Thank goodness we will be away for a while.

Tuesday, 4th September, 2018

She’s such a messy eater!

Wandering through the streets of Athens in 34C/93F of sunshine from strong, blue skies, we felt we were home. It is as if we had never left. In our flight yesterday my mobile was contacted by service providers in France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece. The flight was wonderful and lasted only 3hrs 10 mins although I was only awake for 40 mins of that. Athens airport was so slick, with luggage on the carousel before passengers were there to collect and the Metro left the moment we had picked seats and sat down.

Our hotel, the Electra Palace, had already upgraded us because of our frequent bookings and provided us with complimentary drinks, Premium Superfast Wi-Fi  plus other trappings. We settled in, went out for a walk, bought a bottle of wine and some salted pistachio nuts and went back to relax with Sky News. Later, we went out to eat at our favourite, street-side taverna – Evegenia’s Paradosiako – where we ate Greek Salad with Garlic Sauce followed by barbecued Sea Bass. Dreamy!

We went up to the Roof Garden this evening and sat around the swimming pool overlooking the Acropolis. It was moonlit, bright and warm with 30C/86F at 9.00 pm. The whole atmosphere takes us back to good times. Next Summer, we have been invited to Sifnos for the Summer. It is something we are seriously contemplating. It would be nice to see Stavros again.

Wednesday, 5th September, 2018

Very hot today. Woke up to 25C/77F at 7.00 am but reached 35C/95F as we walked out in mid morning. Our first task was to find a new restaurant we had read about for dinner this evening. It is on Odos Erotokritou

We liked what we saw on the menu and decided to return in the evening. We walked on down to Monastiraki Station to take the train to ‘posh’ Kifisia. It was hot – very hot – and our walk didn’t last long. We took the train back to Monastiraki and then walked back through Plaka, stopping only to buy a punnet of juicy figs from a street barrow.

The Fruits of Greek Autumn

Back at our hotel and with the air conditioning down low, we drank coffee and watch Prime Minister’s Questions although little good it did us. Then we were out again and taking the train down to Piraeus. It has always been a dive but even more so in recent years. We were travelling on a €4.50 / 24hr Athens unlimited travel ticket. Enforced payment is supposed to be introduced but many station barriers were left open and people just blatantly climbed over the fence where the barriers were in use. Nobody has to pay unless they choose to.

Down in Piraeus, one is overwhelmed by the detritus of travelling humanity. It is grubbier than ever but the anticipation of travel is as exciting as ever.

We just touched base but didn’t stay long. Most of our regular haunts have closed down which is sad but not surprising. We took the train back to our hotel and had a good swim before going out to Dinner.

Thursday, 6th September, 2018

Hot again. We’ve seen 33C/92F and quite high humidity. Today was walking in Athens streets. Down to Omonia and the markets. It was so hot that we couldn’t face the stench of the meat market. The outdoor, vegetable market provided anything to rival the Dordogne.

Outdoor Market – Omonia

We were visiting old haunts, places we have walked a hundred times but are now seeing with fresh eyes. We bought grapes and figs from a street seller and took them back to the hotel for our lunch. We went for a swim and did a 30 mins workout .

Going out for grilled Sea Bass and salad for Dinner this evening and linger over a carafe of chilled wine under a hot and humid sky as the light dies. How lucky are we?

Friday, 7th September, 2018

Up early – 6.00 am (Greek Time) / 4.00 am (UK Time) – and down to breakfast. The last breakfast for a while, thank goodness. Even so, scrambled egg and bacon, washed down with freshly squeezed orange juice is a pleasant treat. The sunshine really adds to the flavours and feeds the eyes for the day ahead.

By 9.00 am, we were off to the Syndagma underground station and, with 2 x €10.00 tickets in hand, we crowded on to a commuter train to the airport. By 10.00 am, we were walking into the airport, dropping off our bags for Easyjet and going down to the Goldair Handling Lounge to relax in peace, drink a glass of fresh, orange juice and read our on-line newspapers.

On board our Easyjet flight by 11.30 am, we heard that a 30 minute delay with refuelling would hold us up. It is the first Easyjet delay we have experienced over many flights. The journey back was uneventful and we landed at Gatwick around 2.35 pm.. Quickly through the airport, successful baggage reclaim and out to the Long Stay Carpark shuttle bus. In to our car and a short hop of 45 mins back home via Tesco for some essential supplies.

Sitting back in our kitchen, it seems barely believable that we were breakfasting in Athens only a few hours ago and fighting our way through the crowded underground system to travel to the airport and then sitting high up above the only too tangible clouds over the patchwork fields of France. Life is strange and magical but it was brought back to earth with a bump when we received an email from our next door neighbours to say that their cat, Como, who we had recently looked after while they were away, had been found, run over, more than a mile away from home. They are lovely people and the are heartbroken.

Saturday, 8th September, 2018

Time zones are one of the things that I take time to adjust to. After the last few days spent 2 hrs ahead of UK, we woke at 5.30 am and were up soon after. We had a fairly busy day planned so it was quite helpful. Around 8.30 am, we set off for Worthing. Even then, the coastal road was busy with joggers, cyclists and dog walkers. We parked in the multi-storey car park and set off for the Sports Direct shop in the centre of town. It always amuses me that, potentially, it is most popular with sporty, fit people and yet access to and from the shop is via an elevator. What’s wrong with stairs?

I was picking up a new pair of trainers for use in the gym. I’ve been using the same, cheap pair for the past 15 years and they are beginning to show their age. So am I, of course, but I am not so easily replaceable. (I hope.) We went on to visit Asda and Sainsburys after not doing our weekly shop this week. Home to watch the cricket and then out to the gym. By the time I had done 70 mins exercise there, my watch was showing 16,500 paces completed and I was feeling reasonably satisfied with myself. One eye on the England ‘friendly’ with Spain tonight and one eye on catching up with correspondence.

Another fun-filled day tomorrow. Today has finished with another, old fogey moment. We have had new smartphones for about three weeks. We have both had Huawei P20 Pros. Suddenly, Pauline recently noticed small scrapes on the side of her screen. This really upset her because she had no idea how they had been caused and is meticulous in her care for things. Today, I noticed similar small scrapes on my screen. I ran my finger over them and suddenly realised that the screen didn’t feel like glass. Flicking the screen edge with my finger nail brought up the plastic protector that the manufacturer had covered the screen with and which had started to bubble. I pulled them off both screens which now look pristine. I feel rather more stupid than usual.

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