Symi Dream

Living on a Greek island

Symi Dream - Living on a Greek island

November? Are you Mad?

I was just having the best cup of tea of the day (the first one), and idly scrolling through Fakebook while waking up, when I came across a post which demanded a contribution. It was in a group about Greece, and, it seems, mainly populated by people who come to Greece on holiday once or twice a year and therefore know everything about the country. An innocent had wandered in to make a statement and ask for advice, and… well, talk about the slaughter of the lambs.

The enquirer had stated they were going island hopping in Greece in November and asked if anyone could recommend islands to visit between which they could travel. A simple enough enquiry you’d have thought, but oh no. The reactions and replies can be distilled into, ‘Are you mad? What do you want to go to the islands for in winter? You will find yourself stranded, marooned on a rock for weeks on end. You will have to eat your own toes because everything will be shut. The islands are the barren wilds of Hades at that time of year. No-one goes out. There’s nothing to do. Don’t do it!’

Piraeus in November 2022

Piraeus in November 2022

Of course, I had to put in my few cents worth and counterbalance the nonsense. I pointed out that on our relatively small island, in our village alone, we have two eateries and five bars open all year round. I could have pointed out the number of supermarkets and other facilities too, but my tea was getting cold. I did say, however, that the innocent should book accommodation in advance, and I suggested looking at the Blue Star Ferries routes to see what islands the main ferries connected to on what days. For example: If one had the time, the journey could start in Rhodes, then a weekend on Symi, the Monday boat could take them to Kos for a few days, and then on to Patmos, or others, and all the way up to Piraeus. It would work in the Dodecanese, and I assume the same can be done in other island chains.

November view

November view

Yes, there are downsides. Today’s photos show the weather of last November, but it’s not untypical, though an independent traveller should be prepared for weather delays and rain. However, life goes on, even without Mr and Mrs Armitage-Shanks who come to their island every year and have done so 27 times now (in September because of the climate, and George has a hip). You know, the thing about the Greek island in the winter is people live here. What do these FB nonsense non-knowers think we do in the winter? Lock ourselves away in our cave dwellings counting the days until the local taverna owner says it’s time we can come out to play?

Apart from that kind of thing (eating out and going for a drink), there is plenty to do what with name day occasions at the churches (everyone welcome), festivals, walks, exploration, and the annual stranded tourist toe-eating competition.


I hope my sharing of a little insider information turns out to be of use to the innocent who walked into the lion’s den, and I also hope that those who replied from the viewpoint of someone living on an island and basically said, ‘Don’t come, you will die’ find places to live where they can be happier in life. Want to come to the Greek islands in November? Then do some research (not in that group, though), be prepared for changeable weather, and go for it. You can’t have an adventure without being adventurous.


Why not Wander?

Needless to say, the Teams meeting didn’t happen via Teams, but by phone, but let’s not go back there. Instead, let’s go up to the village for a wander. Some people investigate the village while they are here for the day, but many don’t have enough time. Others don’t see it at all, because they are on guided tours which stay in the harbour and follow the routine of ‘Everyone off the boat. Right. We’re here. That’s that, the history is this, follow me, sit, eat, you’ve got an hour and back on the boat, please, all tips welcome.’ More independent visitors manage to walk up, the even more intrepid think to use the bus or a taxi, and usually, people are looking for ‘the church,’ as in, ‘Which way to the church?’ ‘Which one?’ There are at least thirteen.’ Directions are given, which many then ignore and go blithely wandering off in the other direction, and it’s closed anyway, but they don’t need to know that. No, I’m talking about seeing the inner village, if you like. The off-the-beaten-track parts, such as this old shop front…


For some, I think it’s a fear of getting lost. Perhaps they’re worried they will get sucked into a time warp and never find their escape from the maze of lanes, and still be here in twenty years’ time. Others may worry they’ll miss their boat back to all-inclusive paradise, and for many, it’s probably because a) they don’t know it’s there as the reps don’t tell them, or b) they don’t know how to get there. It’s not just day-trippers either; many longer-stayers miss the fun of exploring the lanes. It’s a shame because they are missing out on public toilets.


At least, that’s what I was told this building was when on my first guided walk all those years ago. It makes sense, as, once upon a time, when properties didn’t have the bathrooms we know today, and when clusters of homes centred around an open space such as this one below Ag Athanasios, where else could you go when you wanted to go? That’s just one of the unusual sights you can find when exploring Horio (also seen written as Xorio). It’s actually not that easy to get lost. If in doubt, head downhill and you will eventually come to the sea. It may not be the bit of sea you started from, but that’s okay too. Alternatively, head upwards and you will, at some point, be able to go no further. Stay high, follow the boundary and you will find the main road. After that, follow rule one and head downwards.


As for me, I am heading off into the writing world, today, using the kitchen as my base as our niece is staying in the room beside the office, and I’m sure she doesn’t want to be woken by the clattering of my inept typing at 4.30 in the morning. Instead of my view of the harbour, I have a view of the draining board and the bathroom. Delightful.

Not a Teams Player

Well, today’s got off to a great start. Not. You know how I like to moan about these things, so…

Microsoft Teams. I hate it, so we’re off to a good start there, but today I hate it more. Having had an accidental lie-in and set my working day back by an hour (so I’m already out of kilter and it’s not even five), I opened my PC to start work and wanted to get everything done in good time for a Teams meeting I have at midday. The first thing I found was an email from the other end reminding me to accept the meeting invitation, which I’d already done. So I did it again, and the ‘Teams’ thing started to open. Then it just hung there for half an hour while I set up other things needed for the morning’s work, and was still ‘opening’ when I came back to it.

A search around online for remedies, and I followed the instructions to open a program and select Teams (which wasn’t there), and then to try running a… something, which I did, and completely removing the thing from the machine, which I did, and then downloading this, and opening that, and hay presto there we go, it’s open. In the wrong account and in Greek with no translation option (that used to be there) and with the thing refusing to let the browser translate for me.

Another several minutes sorting that out, downloading another version, opening this, and clicking on that, I signed up with a new account, using the old account’s credentials, and expecting to be scoffed off the page, but it worked.

That’s that, for now, but I’ve still got to try and get the thing working again in time for the meeting, and before then, there are things to do. Namely a lot of typing, a bit of house-tidying and making some things for lunch or dinner. We have a niece arriving today, so at least I have that visit to look forward to.

Meanwhile, I’ll let you study the image below and see if you can identify a rare sight in the village. No, not the moped, obviously, but a pied wagtail in the village square. I can’t remember the last time I saw one up here, they are usually down by the sea. You will have to enlarge the photo to see it, and even then, you’ll only get pixelation. There’s a clue, though, it’s around the middle of the pic.

Had enough now, so I’ll leave you playing spot the ball and get to work, hopefully, with everything being up to date by the time I start wrestling with this ridiculous program. Why can’t people just use a phone?


A calming view of the Pedi Valley


It’s there, honest!


And, for the cat mad among you, here’s a sleepy thing up at the museum the other day. All sweet and innocent? There was half a dissected rat across the path, so I assume his bad boy was sleeping off lunch.

My Favourite Waste of Time

I was innocently wandering the hillside the other afternoon when, quite without permission, a song leapt into my head. ‘You’re my favourite waste of time.’ I didn’t think I was wasting time, I was merely getting in a few steps, a modern-day euphemism for what used to be called taking a walk. There I was enjoying the views and minding my own business when a line from the song kept repeating itself. Very annoying, particularly as it wouldn’t go away and followed me all the way from the house on the hillside back to Taverna Zoi. There, I finally managed to get rid of it, but not before I’d taught it and its lyricist a lesson.

‘You’re my favourite waste of time.’ Has there ever been a more insulting love song? (Answer: probably.) But what exactly do the lyrics mean?

If you take a look at them (and I’m talking the lyrics used by Owen Paul, Bette Midler the al, in case there are others with the same title), you will see how, like a Donald Tr*mp speech, they have been intricately and carefully carved from the English language. I quote:

Here I am. I’m playin’ day dreamin’ fool again, You’re my game…’ The next bit has a classic squeezing-in of an ‘ove’ rhyme to match with ‘love’, to wit, ‘the clouds above.’ (Question: where else are they going to be?) Then comes ‘And you’re my honey, you’re my favourite waste of time. You’re my Said (sic) you’re my favourite waste of time.’ From then on, it’s basically a repeat of the title ad infinitum with something about giving you my love tonight, with ‘love’ being another euphemism, I suspect.

It wasn’t so much that the song was repetitive and the lyrics basic, most pop songs are written like that to make them more memorable, thus, commercial, it was the idea that someone has a favourite waste of time, and what that implies for the object of the singer’s desire, the ‘You’ of the song. What exactly is his message here?

I mean, what other wastes of time does the singer indulge in?

I think the message of the lyrics is clear:

‘Hi, baby (they’re always called baby in such songs). Just wanted to let you know that when it comes to watching the washing machine go around for three hours on its sixty-degree cycle, and when compared to staring at a newly painted wall for the afternoon, you come out tops every time. You know, doll (an alternative to ‘baby’), I could sit and watch reruns of Payton Place all day, but I’d rather threaten you with my insinuations of ‘love’ (read joystick), and let you know that ‘I don’t care if being with you is meaningless and ridiculous’, because when it comes to doing things which help me waste my life away, you’re top of the list.’

Mind you, at least the thing has survived all these years, is still a classic (read, ‘anything old no matter what’), and it got itself into my head without warning. It will probably stay with me all day now, hey ho!

I set out to talk about the views I’d seen over the weekend, but somehow got sidetracked by that song and now I feel I’ve wasted my time and yours. So, I’ll give you three of my weekend views (actually, it was Friday), so at least you have some Symi photos to look at:


The view from the bank ATM machine


The view from the lunch table


The view from the taxi

Shots from on High

Below are some shots from on high to round off the week. By contrast, one of them is a shot from underneath. It’s one of the tunnels you can find if you wander the upper village. I’m told these came about because parts of the village were built with narrow lanes to a) help support properties during earthquakes, and b) to make it more difficult for invaders to pass through. Possibly also c) because of a general lack of space. I’ve also heard or read that most of the lanes are just wide enough for a mule to pass through because when they were constructed, that was as wide as was needed. Coming down from the top of the village the other day, I passed through the narrowest alleyway in the village (that I have so far found). It’s so narrow, I have to turn slightly sideways in parts, yet it’s still passable for me, but a mule with a pack would get stuck. Next time I am that way, I will try to remember to take a photo.

Apart from a couple of walks, for me, this week has all been about sorting out my next book. I wasn’t 100% happy with it when I finished the first draft a couple of weeks ago, and it was only late last night that the reason came to me. I jotted a few notes which basically put the plot into perspective and finally gave me the frame on which the rest of the story should be built. So, later this morning, I will begin again on yet another draft, sift out what’s not needed, highlight what is, and hopefully, this will be the last round of edits and rewrites. I’ve never had such a drama with a story. Maybe I am more critical of myself now than I’ve been before, but something has always nagged me about this tale since I had the idea for it some years ago. Finally, the story found its characters, but now, they’ve lost the story, and it’s my job to put it back together.

I’ll start on this before I head down to the harbour for some essentials, namely, mastic, varnish and a brush (not metaphorical ones for the story, but real ones for those odd jobs that have been hanging around for years). There’s also a visit to the post office and a quick lunch at one of our favourite tavernas in the offing. So, I’ll get on with my ‘patch things up’ day, and leave you with these shots from on high.

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