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

Symi reading, bars and other matters

Symi Greece

Pedi at dawn

Having an early start today as there’s lots I want to get done. Mind you, the day started before the night had finished: strange dreams interrupted by the Cat clicking his way up and down the corridor outside the bedroom. I wish he’d cut his nails.

It’s dark at 6.15! I’m still having trouble adjusting to the shift in one hour what with the clocks going forward last Saturday. Due to Monday’s lie in I didn’t see the sunrise but it looks like I will today. The lights are still on at Evagalismos, across the water, the streetlights are still on down in Yialos, and a alone vehicle is making its way around the harbour as a few fishing boats make their way homewards.

Symi Greece

Harani and Nimos at dawn

Neil was down there yesterday and reported that loads of places are now being done up ahead of Easter which is only a couple of weeks away here – a week later than Western Easter this year? Up in the village, The Olive Tree is getting ready with re-painting going on and cleaning, Georgio’s has had a coat of paint on the terrace, and inside. Lefteris’ kafeneion is, well, Lefteris’ kafeneion, Yiannis has not opened the Rainbow Bar yet, but will be doing so after Easter, if not before. Neil is working there this year while I concentrate on other things.

Symi Greece

A new house going up in Horio/Ilemonitisa

The taverna Syllogos is usually open around Easter time too, they do a midnight feast there on Easter Saturday, but I’ve not seen anyone going in and out of it as yet. Taverna Zoi doesn’t usually open until May sometime, and the other bars, Ringo, Village Café, Mandeio, Sunrise, Jean & Tonic, have all been open all winter, as per usual. As have the village shops, apart from Maraquita which concentrates on the summer season.

Symi Greece

Yialos view, March

And so, before things really get going, I’m taking a short break and won’t be back at the blog until Monday. I’ll leave you with a few links in case you want to start planning for your Symi or Greek holiday. Over there on the right you can see links to my books, in case you want to find out what living on Symi is really like, and over there you will also find a link to our Amazon department should you want any Symi maps, guide books, Greece guide books, books about Rhodes, holiday essentials or DVDs etc.

And for more Symi blog reading, don’t forget Adriana’s Greek island blog on a Monday and Friday.

Happy Monday!

Images from Symi Greece

Happy boys watching Disney

Okay, it really is over now, that’s enough, no more, thank you very much. Exit stage right, just the one encore, thank you, bring in the curtain, tabs down, blackout, exeunt, honestly, yes, goodnight, you’ll miss the last bus, thank you, over and out, cut, fab, thank, but… it’s over now, you’re too late, I’m off, double time after ten, union rates, I can’t go on, no more thank you, yes, no!

Images from Symi Greece

Later the boys did some drawing. This picture shows you what’s been on their minds recently. Sad, but telling.

No more birthday celebrations, cakes, barbeques, suppers, drinks, children’s films, fun, good times, late nights… It’s Monday, there’s loads to do and I don’t want to do any of it because I have had such fun over the weekend that it can’t ever end. But it must as my fingers are not quite connecting to the keys this morning, there’s still some washing up to do and I was woken horribly early by the cat. Actually I woke up and opened my eyes and he was sat on the bedside table staring at me. Very unnerving, as he had been so quiet. For a change.

Images from Symi Greece

Chatting in the kitchen

Wonderful weekend, thank you to everyone at the indoor BBQ yesterday, great fun, great food, lots to finish up today and a wonderful (though rather late) night.

That came on the heels of a rather over-indulged Saturday which included being the first customers of the season at To Spitiko (which itself included free wine) and then an afternoon/evening quiz. Apparently we went shopping on the way home too. So I am told.

And today has started in a rather vague fashion with a very clear and calm day, warm inside the house, which is making a nice change after the recent wet’n’cold, and there’s a whole long list of things I need to do.

Images from Symi Greece

My birthday cake – image by Neil (the next book, with Jack included)

So I am not stopping long today, but I wanted you to know that there may not be a blog for a couple of days after tomorrow, I am going to take a little break and get some other things done first thing in the morning, just a rest, I shall be back next week. I may even be back during this week, I should be here tomorrow, but I’m just saying: if you don’t hear from me then don’t worry.

Images from Symi Greece

The birthday party (as Harold Pinter once said)

Now though, time to go back to bed. No! (Only joking.) Too much to do, time to go and have a coffee on the balcony, watch the view and wake up slowly slowly…

The Judas Curse, an update

Symi Greece

Horio from the Nimborio path

This Saturday morning seems a lot quieter around and about. The strong wind must have died down overnight. Yesterday it was rattling the spare tiles so much I thought parts of the roof were going to come off. It also rained for most of the day giving us a stock of fresh water in the sterna, which is handy. But it did also mean the cat was reluctant to go out and about overnight and spent most of the early hours purring in my ear, when he wasn’t sticking his nose in it, sitting on my head, or digging claws into me.

Symi Greece

Some of Neil’s shots from last weekend today

I have ‘cut 5’ of the Judas Curse to look at later today if I want to. The news on this project (as the backers should already know) is that it has been with the editor for a while, the producer/director has been working with him on it, piecing together the scenes and shots that make up the story, and it is now in the hands of the composer and sound artist. I’ve heard some of the music and we’ve seen most of the visuals – all of which is pretty stunning.

Symi Greece

The boys at the art exhibition (they’d already seen the art)

Symi comes off well in the visuals. I mean, this isn’t a holiday video or a promotional one for the island, but it looks great as a backdrop to the action. All very spooky at times, which is why it was chosen. Early on there are views from the sea and later, when things start to happen, there are plenty of views around the village, lots of detail too and some great locations. It all looks very atmospheric and eerie.

Symi Greece

On the Nimborio path

I’ve not heard the music over the film yet, so I’ve only really heard parts of that, but that’s coming together now, and the sound has yet to be finished, all the ‘Foley’ needs to be added. Foley (you see ‘Foley artist’ at the end of films, on credits) is basically the day to day sound effects. When you shoot a film you might shoot ‘atmos’ in the background, the general atmosphere of the location, but you don’t worry too much about the footsteps or the door closing, the window creaking or the wind, that kind of thing. All that has to be added and timed in by the Foley artist later.

Symi Greece

BBQ view

BTW, it’s called ‘Foley’ after Jack Foley who was the originator of sound effects when ‘talkies’ first came in, and many of his techniques are still used today.

After all that’s done there is the final colour grading to do on the film, making dark places lighter, creating an overall feel or sheen or colour for the total image. Then there are the credits to be created and added, not only the text but any visual credit sequence that might be wanted. And then the hunt for the distributer gets started and who knows how long that might take. Before then the compnay have to set up the final contracts and deals with the other producers and put in place the insurance. This might scare you:

Symi Greece

Harani view

“Before you can sell a film for distribution you have to have what is called Errors & Omissions Insurance. It’s like buying a car. No distributor will touch the film unless you can produce the ‘log book’. The log book most importantly consists of this E&O cover. This indemnifies the seller and every buyer down the chain from being sued. Well, it doesn’t stop you being sued, but if anyone does sue, then your legal costs are covered after the first £10,000 and up to £3 million. People sue for the craziest of things: committing suicide after watching the film, for example.”

Never knew there was so much in it eh? Me neither. Just a reminder if you donated £20.00 or more, to send your head and shoulder shot in for the credit montage, or send a note if you don’t want to have your photo used, this is so they know who to chase up and who to leave unbothered. Send your pics to the email address on the last Kickstarter update – and have a good weekend!

Thank you everyone for my birthday wishes!

Images from Symi Greece

Birthday dinner table a la Harry

A bit of a later entry today following the birthday festivities yesterday and an early alarm call from the cat, followed by dozing off on the sofa listening to the shutters rattle and the spare roof tiles clatter about above.

Images from Symi Greece

Village square in the wind and rain yesterday

Thank you to everyone who sent messages and emails and texts yesterday, pretty overwhelming really. Hundreds of best wishes on Facebook too, and not just a quick ‘hippo birdy, two ewes.’ It was lovely, I had a great day and was ‘well spoiled.’ The next celebration in the social calendar will be Easter in a few weeks’ time.

It’s been very windy these last couple of days. There was (or still is) a ban on shipping so no big ferry is due in today, at least not at the right time. I just had a look at ‘live ships’ and it is still in Piraeus. It looks like the wind is coming from the east, or north-east; it looks like the sea is being blown inland.

Images from Symi Greece

Birthday trifle


I can’t believe it’s nearly nine and I haven’t even posted this yet, so I won’t hang around this morning, I’ll get these photos of yesterday up and leave it there. There is now some recovering and catching up on house duties to see to. (The cat litter got wet in the rain yesterday so that’s a job to look forward to. Not.) Thanks again for the birthday wishes; normal service will be resumed shortly.

Images from Symi Greece

Making Morph

Images from Symi Greece

Song and dance Morph


On this day in history

And this morning's Symi weather is...

And this morning’s Symi weather is…

The following are (mostly) taken from History channel and its Day In History, and other history websites, word for word. You will be able to tell when the other words are mine, I hope. This day in History, March 26th


1484, William Caxton printed his translation of Aesop’s Fables

1799, Napoleon captures Jaffa (I suspect he was after the smashing orangy bit in the middle)

1824, 1st performance of Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis”

1827, Beethoven died in Vienna, aged 56 (‘I shall hear (it) in heaven.’)

1839, 1st Henley Royal Regatta

1845, Joseph Francis, NYC, patents a corrugated sheet-iron lifeboat (nice try!)

Symi Greece

Last Sunday

1859, 1st sighting of Vulcan, a planet thought to orbit inside Mercury (live long and prosper)

1874, Robert Frost born

1881, Thessaly is freed and becomes part of Greece again

1885, Eastman Film Co. manufactures the first commercial motion picture film

1886, 1st cremation in England

Symi Greece

The Poseidon out of the water in the boat yard

1904, Xenophon Zolotas, Greek economist, Prime Minister of Greece (d. 2004)

1910, US forbid immigration to criminals, anarchists, paupers & the sick (what went wrong?)

1911, Tennessee Williams born

1916, Birdman of Alcatraz receives solitary (fill in the missing word: solitary what? Cage? Diamond? Cuttlefish?)

1920, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first novel published (‘This side of paradise’, in case you were wondering.)

1934, Driving tests introduced in Britain (made no difference)

Symi Greece

Last week’s eclipse as seen from Symi

1940, Ernest Hemingway & Benjamin Glazer premiere in NYC (Premiere in what? ‘Top Hat’? ‘42nd Street’? ‘Much ado about nothing’?)

1953, Jonas Salk announces polio vaccine (one wonders how? ‘Mr and Mrs Scene and their son Vac,’ perhaps?)

1956, Red Buttons debuts on TV in Studio One (meanwhile on BBC2 you can catch ‘An evening with a purple zipper.’)

1957, The European Economic Community was one day old (bless)

1963, James Collins, born (not many people noticed)

1971, East Pakistan became Bangladesh

1973, Noel Coward, English playwright, dies

Symi Greece

Off to a BBQ with the boys last Sunday

1979, Israel-Egyptian peace agreement was signed (presumably by Israel and Egypt)

2000, Vladimir Putin became president of Russia (oh dear)

2008, Ford sells Jaguar and Land Rover to India’s Tata (so they said ta-ta to them then)

And let’s leave it there, except to add that on today in history, Richard III of England was re-buried, and I turned 52.

Greek Independence Day and other matters

Images from Symi Greece

Sunrise over the village square this morning

Today is Independence Day all over Greece and so there will be a parade in the harbour later this morning. The weather forecast is suggesting cloud and wind, but it’s all calm and reasonably clear down there so far, mind you it is only seven. And last night saw the festival at the church of Saint Evagelismos where lanterns are lit along the path leading up to the church.

Images from Symi Greece

And seen from the road

I called down to the harbour yesterday to collect some supplies for His Lordship the cat, and staggered back up the steps under a few hundred weight of cat litter and food to find the courtyard covered in cat litter where he’d been enthusiastically digging around in his tray. It had all gone soggy thanks to the rain so that was a fifteen minute joy, sweeping and washing down, and sifting through, and cleaning out.

Images from Symi Greece

Photographing Neil photographing Jenine photographing the boys

His Lordship also decided to go out last night. I left him sleeping on one of his sofas at 10.00 when I went to bed, at 11.00 he called me as he wanted a door opening, and then at 4.00 he called Neil to open the same door so he could come in for a midnight snack. At 4.30 he was making himself comfortable on my head, and at 6.00 we finally gave up any hope of sleep and gave him his second breakfast. He’s now up on the roof watching the cat next door and being quite happy.

Images from Symi Greece

The train! The train! Discovered on the way back from Nimborio

While down in the harbour I noticed many businesses preparing for Summer, or being ready – almost. Symi Tours has been having a makeover, Meraklis the taverna is being done up, as are several others, To Spitiko looks like it’s well on its way, and the Vapori bar has had its tables painted for some time now. It’s all starting to kick off. If you are heading over to Symi for Easter then you might like to know that the Dodekanisos Seaways timetable is out and there are several crossings from Rhodes to Panormitis, and then on to Symi, over the Easter weekend.

Images from Symi Greece

Spring flowers

Yesterday I did some more work on ‘Stuff and Nonsense’ the collection of stuff that I have written about nonsense, and I also have the last two chapters of ‘Lonely House’ ready for editing and setting out by the editor. This means that we should soon be able to go through and check for widows and orphans and check the layout, we’ll then need the cover sorting out and the ‘front matter’, and be ready to get a proof from publishing. Hopefully not long to go now. Mind you, this is a horror story so not everyone who likes the Symi blog is going to want to read it. ‘Stuff and Nonsense’ might suit you better when done.

And I’m done now, off to work. Have a good Greek Independence Day.