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

The Quiet Pace of Island Life

The Quiet Pace of Island Life

Grey skies but warm, up to 26 degrees yesterday afternoon, and no threat of rain, just one of those plain cloud covers that doesn’t seem to move. A calm, silvery sea, through which the Blue Star cut its way before dawn looking, as it always does at night, like an ocean liner off to cross the Atlantic, steaming west from Ireland like that one 109 years ago last week.

Neil april_72_1

Collard doves cooing, the swallows and martens are back and flitting, smaller, more fidgety birds too, and the courtyard has become the sparrows’ playground. There, the chilli plant is coming back; that’s the one taken from Yianni Rainbow’s plant. The bougainvillaea is sprouting as is ‘Heavy Plant Crossing.’ That’s the one by the porch I don’t know the name of, which has pink flowers and sits in a heavy pot, and something has made its home in an empty pot of earth. It looks like a wild succulent, so we’ll leave that and see what happens.

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The shutters are now open again (and the windows need cleaning), the washing dries in a few hours, and there is no need to turn on the electric heaters. Today, I must go down to the sea again, to Yialos, to get permission to go to Rhodes next week, and then all my papers and tickets will be in order for stage one of the biometric application. Apparently, the lady who will deal with us is very helpful and pleasant and has assured us that she can ‘do’ a ‘family’ of four in half an hour.

Neil april_16_1

Meanwhile, at the desk, I continue to plough through my first draft to check the story and plot while thinking about what I can cut out, what is repetition, and ‘what the hell did I mean by that?’ If it doubt, cut it out, as our old family doctor used to say. So, the quiet pace of island life ticks on as we await more news of the lifting of restrictions and the opening up of tourism, hopefully, after Easter, which, by the way, starts next Monday with the beginning of Big or Great Week.

Monday general chat

Monday general chat

Neil has been busy over the past few weeks, walking to various places on the island that he wouldn’t usually get time to go to because of work. His summer job has often started by this time of the year, but not so this year. Still waiting to hear what’s happening on that front. The result of this anomaly is a batch of excellent photos from places like the wine presses, the hinterland and some of the less accessible parts of the island. Some of his photos feature today. These places are easier to reach if you have a car or moped, but we don’t drive, so that’s that.

Neil april_37_1

I mean, I can drive, or at least, I could. The last time I drove was on Symi in about 2003 when I took a jeep along the seafront at Pedi while helping someone put a boat in the water. The year before, Nick Ps had lent us his car to drive to Marathounda for the evening after work, so at least I can say I have driven across the island… once. I always said, though, since I moved to London in 1985, that I wouldn’t own a car unless I needed one for work, which I did until 2002, but at least the thought was there. I calculate that even if I took a taxi from Yialos to Horio every time I went down there, I’d still not pay out as much money as it would cost me to own a car or even a moped. I prefer to walk anyway. Well, I say that, but after 50 steps going up the Kali Strata I often wonder why I am doing it, especially these days when I’ve not been doing it so regularly. Anyway…

Neil april_28_1

We had high winds again at the start of the weekend, and the shutters had to be closed. Sunday though, it was 22 degrees in the courtyard at 5.00 in the morning, though the day promised to be cloudy. This time next week (Monday), I should be on the Blue Star heading to Rhodes to fill out my application to replace my residency permit with the new biometric card. I have everything I need apart from permission to leave the island, which I should be getting today, along with the boat tickets. I’m lucky that I was able to get an appointment so ‘soon’ after the start of the year. Some people in other parts of the country have to wait until October for an appointment, while others are unable to get one at all and must just turn up and hope for the best. With over 30,000 British living in Greece before the disastrous B work kicked in, there’s a lot of paperwork to be done by the immigration offices.

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But that’s for next week. For this week, it’s a case of working on my recently completed 1st draft and doing a story edit. That is, going through it to make sure the skeleton of the story/plot/developments are consistent and all the times and dates and technical aspects tie up. Then, I will do a more creative draft, looking at my use of language, and after that, a grammatical one (with the help of two grammar plugins), before sending it off to be proofed. With the 1st draft running at 157,000 words, that’s all going to take some time.

Neil april_43_1

One Day More

One Day More

I am nearly there… I have one more chapter to wrote/draft for my next novel, and I shall be doing that today. I have 151,000 words already, so this is by far the longest story I have written, which means it will take longer to edit, but that’s all part of the fun. I was concerned about the length until I found out that Bram Stoker’s Dracula is roughly 160,000 words long. After editing, my ‘The Clearwater Inheritance’ will be cut down as I know I have repetitions to sort out, and the first few chapters contain a lot of threads I later realised I didn’t need. Still, the story flows, every chapter has a point, and the mystery is worked out by the end. So, today’s job is to do that one last chapter and finally get the story out of my head.

After that… I may take another village stroll as I did yesterday, and later, I shall return to the wooden puzzle I am building. There’s some housework to be done at some point (washing, and watering the plants, mainly), and hopefully, I will have a little time to read some more of the excellent book Colette sent me for my birthday. Thank you again for that, C. It’s fascinating and, in a word, perfect.

So, to end the week, here are a few photos I have taken over the past couple of days.

April 15th_4 April 15th_1 April_04 April_01 April_11 April 15th_5