Symi Dream

Living on a Greek island

A Greek island blog from Symi in the Dodecanese islands of Greece. "James’s great talent lies in his careful observation of the absurd and the amusing, the dramas and the difficulties..." Anne Zouroudi.

Symi Dream - Living on a Greek island

Winter mode

Winter mode

Sure signs that Christmas is coming to the village: The lights are up, and there are parsnips in the shop. Other signs that we are heading into the darker months of winter include the cloud now covering us, the overnight rain and the rising winds. Here are a few rather dodgy photos I snapped the other day in the late afternoon/early evening. It’s darker earlier, of course, and lighter later, but with the shutters closed against the wind – currently from the south, so the temperature is still in the mid-teens – the quilt up over the balcony windows and the heater on, it’s often hard to tell what time of day it is.

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All Go

All Go

It’s all go at our place, kind of. There’s a generator outside working away as a nearby house is being done up, we’ve had the mule train going past already, preceded by trucks of metal rods and other building supplies, and whatever is being done is clearly coming along. It might all come to a stop today as rain is forecast for the next 48 hours, plus high winds. Christmas lights are up in the village and Yialos and have been for some time, and there was an outbreak of parsnips at the supermarket the other day.

Symi, winter morning

Symi, winter morning

Inside the house, we’re not quite festive yet, but we were practising carols and Christmas songs on Monday morning – flute and piano. There is to be another carol and song singing event at ‘Bulmas’ at some time before Christmas, again raising money for the orphanage in Rhodes. It’s a bit of a stretch for my piano playing to go from Jingle Bells to Irving Berlin in the same set, but we’ll manage something, especially if I can persuade my fingers to remember what they are supposed to do and look up a C# m/diminished 4th chord just to remind myself. I also need to look up why my Word programme decided to open blank documents in American English without being asked, and why my keyboard changes from the usual layout to something else (it took me five minutes to find that # symbol) when the one shown on the keyboard is clearly marked and not shift + 3. I can’t wait for my new laptop to arrive, I fear this one has taken on a mind of its own.

Approaching Rhodes

Approaching Rhodes

So, with all that going on, and plenty of other things, it’s hardly surprising I’ve only managed to write about 10,000 words since November. I don’t know where the days go. I was up at four yesterday, and after doing some necessary work, making breakfast, writing this and sorting out a couple of other things, it’s nearly time to get ready to go for lunch with the neighbours. Maybe I should start getting up at midnight, I might get things done then. Hey ho-ho-ho, such is life in the runup to Christmas.

Plaza outside decorations

Plaza outside decorations

Still shopping

Still shopping

Continuing our shopping expedition on Rhodes last Friday… After the surreal experience of Jumbo, we had another fairly odd one on the way back to town as our driver rattled off his list of things he didn’t like about the people who ripped him off one lunchtime. We booked him to collect us later and dropped off our shopping at the Plaza Hotel where we stopped for a drink while we planned the next shopping assault. The list, written on two Post It notes, wasn’t too complicated, a visit to Zara, try and find a cable to link the DVD machine to the Smart TV (still not organised that, but I am sure I have such a lead in the house somewhere), look for inspiration, and buy a Christmas gift for Godson #2 which involved a visit to the basement of the Hondas Centre.

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That done and a new coat bought for Neil, we had lunch at a café/bar in Mandraki called Jaspers. It was still warm enough to eat outside as long as jackets were zipped up, and we decided on a simple chicken dish. Well, fairly simple: massive chicken breast halved and filled with a mayonnaise and asparagus spears, dripping in BBQ sauce and coming with a bowl of fries (€12.50 each – not the fries, the whole dish). That was more than enough to refuel us before heading back to the Plaza to settle in and wait for the boat.

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As an aside, you may be interested to know that the indoor smoking ban has returned to Greece, and this time it looks like it’s here to stay. Special officers have been sent to islands to train the police (on how to identify people with a lit cigarette in their hands, I guess), inspections are being made, and fines are being handed out to both proprietors and smokers who disobey. I was reminded of the time the husband was in hospital, and I was sitting out in the ward waiting room with a local lady who was smoking beneath the ‘No Smoking’ sign. “We Greeks don’t like being told what to do,” she explained, puffing away. Not quite as unsettling as seeing the orthopaedic surgeon coming from ‘backstage’ in his bloodied greens with a fag hanging out of his mouth, but that was several years ago now. Even locally, there’s no smoking in the bars which isn’t so much of an issue in the summer, but the sight of local friends hanging out of the Rainbow doorway while there’s an AEK match on the TV inside will take some getting used to.

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