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

‘Remotely’ hits the shelves

‘Remotely’ hits the shelves
The news today is all about ‘Remotely‘, my latest offering to world of novel comedy which is now available at Amazon. I know I’ve been banging on about it for over a year now as I wrote it, some of it was written on Tilos, the rest was written on Symi, and it’s all set in a place not unlike Littlestone-on-Sea, on the south coast of Kent. A place I have called Middlestone-on-Sea because just along the coast from Littlestone is Greatstone, and my fictional community live somewhere in between. There’s also a theatre in it that I borrowed from Folkestone, the Leas Pavilion Theatre which I once worked in, and which was used for filming of the French/British TV series, ‘The Tunnel.’

Remotely by James Collins

Remotely by James Collins

That’s the setting, what’s the story? I’ll put the blurb here in a moment so you can read it if you want to. First though, I’ve already had people ask about the Kindle version and yes, there will be one as I know many people these days use that format. The text has to be reformatted for Kindle and that’s going to take them a couple of weeks, but I will let you know when it’s ready. Meanwhile, if you’d like to support a struggling writer please feel free to order an Amazon copy, or pass the link on tor friends and family who might like to read it and, if at all possible, please put up a review on Amazon when you’ve read it.

The first person to be seen reading a print copy on Symi wins a drink!

We now have to do some publicity work, starting with the newspapers local to the area where the book is set – newspapers I appeared in when I was younger and doing lots of Am-Dram. (I wonder if they still have the photo of me as Ali Hakim in Oklahoma!) Any other ideas for publicity would be welcome as would as many shares and reviews you feel able to do on Twitter and Facebook and all those kind of places. Thank you!

Remotely by James Collins

Remotely by James Collins

The book is not going to be for everyone, not every book is, and it’s not really suitable for under 18s due to the language some characters use, but it is fun and if, like me, you are fed up with the banality of ‘reality talent shows’ and the like, then you might like some of the pops that some of the characters take at that genre of mass-appeal TV.

Anyway, here’s the ‘Remotely‘ blurb (most of it is also on the back cover) and the link to where you an order a copy from Amazon.co.uk – it should filter into worldwide Amazon stores before long.

Remotely pokes fun at British reality television.

Britain’s newest and most pointless TV talent competition is coming to Middlestone-On-Sea. ‘So You Think We’re Remotely Interested?’ has taken Friday night viewers by storm as it streams live variety shows from remote, provincial theatres across Britain. The theatre with the most audience votes wins regeneration and revival, and lord knows, Middlestone-on-Sea needs both.

The dying seaside backwater rests its hopes on the performance of two ex-best friends, gay Gary and straight Stag. The visiting celebrity judge, the mysterious and timeless Miss P, knows that for all to be well, they must mend their broken friendship. But there is no success without trial. She magically swaps Gary and Stag into each other’s bodies.

Secrets are learned, comedy ensues, and yet the community remains divided. Rifts must be healed, differences accepted, and bodies swapped back before the season grand finale in four days’ time otherwise Middlestone will lose everything.

“Once you start on James Collins’ coming of age, body-swap comedy, you won’t be remotely interested in putting it down.” G. J. Mugwatch MP

Some Amazon reviews for James Collins:

“Brilliantly observed and a wicket wit.”

“Lots of laughs and loads of page turning moments. Yes, it was hard to put down.”

“Another unputdownable book that had me engrossed from beginning to end, and chuckling.”

“Finished this book yesterday and oh so amusing, would love to see it as a film.”

“More, I want more! I truly could not put this book down.”

Order ‘Remotely’ here and have a good laugh.

The A to Z of Symi activities

The A to Z of Symi activities
[Oops! This post was meant to be for Friday, but I posted it early by mistake – ah well.] Thinking about it, there are various types of visitor who enjoy holidays on Symi. It’s a question of beer, bar, beaches, boats, bouzouki or beefteki. It’s often a case of swim, sea, siesta, stroll, songs or saganaki. There are so many things to do you can more or less pick a letter and find a list of things that begin with it and select your activity from there. You could even use your name as your guide.

Symi Greece Simi

Symi Greece Simi

Jaunts, Ambling, Moussaka, Eating and Sun = James, for example. Culture, Outings, Laziness, Lounging, Internet and Sea = Collins, and strangely sums me up, apart from perhaps Sea, which I don’t see a lot of even though my surname starts with a C, if you see what I mean. The point being, that for such as small island there’s a lot to do, so I wondered if I could set myself the challenge of an alphabet of activity to inspire you when you are on a Symi holiday. Here goes:

Symi Greece Simi

Symi Greece Simi

A, Afternoons in the sun

B, Beaches to sunbathe on

C, Culture at the nautical museum and the summer festival

D, Driving a moped into the mountains – rather, around the mountains

E, Enjoying a stroll around the harbour

F, Finding food at any of the wonderful tavernas

G, Going for a walk along the hillside or through the valley

H, Hiking further afield to Tolis or one of the monasteries

I, Imbibing a beer or ouzo and watching the world go by

J, Jumping on a taxi boat to one of the further beaches

K, Keeping your suntan lotion and after sun in the fridge (tip)

L, Letting all your worries slip away as you watch the boats coming and going

M, Melting in August

N, Not worrying about work and home

O, Ordering your favourite ice-cream at one of the ice-cream shops

P, Playing cards under an orange tree with a cool drink

Q, Quietly pondering that novel you always wanted to write

R, Rambling over the hill to Nimborio for a quiet taverna and a swim

S, Staying up late to hear live music

T, Taking a ride on a jet-ski or the big yellow sofa thing

U, Unwinding after a stressful time at work

V, Viewing any of the mighty views from up in the village

W, Wondering why you haven’t actually come to live here permanently

X, Xοιρινές μπριζόλες (pork chops) for dinner with a salad (I know, but you try it)

Y, Yachting from Yialos to Pedi and back

Z, Zapping some great photos (or mosquitos)

A bit of nonsense but a game you can play at home; draw up your list, get over here and play.

Meanwhile, there was a concert in the main square on Wednesday night with fireworks, and the Symi Shrimp Festival, with free shrimps, dancing and wine is to be held in the village square on Sunday night. The newly restored PA system has been in full ding-dong with its four note intro, its message and its four note outro, very often with no message in between for some reason. The day boats continue to come and we’re all wandering around saying ‘Zesti’ (warm) as we head towards August. Bring it on. [See you on Saturday.]

Symi Greece Simi

Symi is waiting for you

Quick news update from my Symi desk

Quick news update from my Symi desk
Although it has been quieter than a normal July so far this year, when we called into Yialos on Tuesday I was pleased to see how busy it was. The large cruise ship from Cyprus was in as were the three day boats and many of the bars, cafes and tavernas were doing good business. Let’s hope we see more of this. The Blue Star came and went on Wednesday on a calm and slightly misty sea…

Quick news update from my Symi desk

The Blue Star Paros off in the haze

One of the things I picked up on Tuesday was my health insurance renewal. Now I am no longer in the Greek Ika system I choose to have private heath insurance as having none is not worth the risk. I’m pleased to say that after my checks and things earlier in the year the premium has not gone up by very much at all, I only wish that I’d done what I intended to do and saved a little each month as now I am scrambling around to find it – but I will, as they give you three weeks or a month to sort it out before you’re not covered. I’m nearly there.

Quick news update from my Symi desk

The Blue Star Paros emerges from behind Nimos

We also picked up the phone bill which now, thanks to Cosmote and their office in Rhodes, is the cheapest it’s ever been, around €25.00 per month for 12 Mb broadband and phone line with, it appears, free calls included. Mind you, we hardly ever use the phone and these days I am more inclined to leave my mobile at home when I go out as well.

Quick news update from my Symi desk

Several boats in

The weather has been hot, to say the least, and a little bit muggy, but great weather for beaches and boats, not that I see much of either, and the evening in the square have occasionally enjoyed a slight breeze. BTW, the Symi Shrimp Festival is on this Sunday in Horio Square, usually starts around 9pm.

Quick news update from my Symi desk

Waiting for the ferry

And on the book front, I should have news for you on ‘Remotely’ very soon; we are just checking the print quality of the cover and waiting for one book to arrive before letting you know all about it. It is on Amazon now, if you want to take the risk (I submitted the cover but had no reply form Amazon about its quality which should mean it is fine and it looked fine on their on-line checking system where you can see if it all fits correctly – and it did). If you do, then simply do a search for ‘Remotely’ James Collins and you should see it. Once we’ve been through the print version we will work on the Kindle version and that could take a few more weeks to come through as there are formatting things that need to be done.

Quick news update from my Symi desk

The Cyprus cruise ship (Tuesday)

Remember, if you’ve read any of my books and liked them, the more reviews that go up on Amazon the better – for me! So don’t be shy, put up a few words and click the stars, giving your honest feedback and help others find books they might like to read. The best seller so far this month is ‘Lonely House’ which is a change from ‘Symi 85600’ as that’s usually my best seller, bless it. Anyway, that’s my news. Have fun and enjoy the pics, some of which were taken from up here to show a nicely busy harbour.

Symi Animal Welfare, Summer report July, 2016

Symi Animal Welfare, Summer report July, 2016
Today we have an update from Symi Animal Welfare and some photos they have provided.

Symi Animal Welfare

Symi Animal Welfare

“On Symi the heatwave has been relentless since early June… and in these high temps the island cats prefer to find a shady place to sleep during the day, venturing out after the sun goes down, around 8.00pm to hunt for food in their habitual feeding places, hoping for some tasty scraps from kind tourists dining at the local tavernas, and the less fortunate cats are usually seen around the bins area in the port and the village. Although food is easier to find in the summer months, the cats’ appetite is often reduced by the heat, so many of them appear thin, but that is normal at this time of the year.

Symi Animal Welfare

Symi Animal Welfare

However, all cats need to drink, and we would like to remind all our friends & visitors that it is very easy to help the island cats by providing, in your area, a plastic container of water    for them, in a shady place, and you will see how they come to enjoy a refreshing drink, and give you a thankful look. Any plastic recipient will do, perhaps an empty ice cream or   margarine container? and one of the best is the (cut off) bottom part of a 10 litre water container, that makes a really good size bowl.

Symi Animal Welfare

Symi Animal Welfare

We would like to remind everyone that we will continue to promote and fund the feline neutering programme that we already have arranged with 2 vets in Rhodes. Any island resident who wants to take their cats over for neutering should first contact Suzan or Antonella at SAW. Finally, as we rely entirely on donations, we would like to thank all our supporters for their generous donations to SAW in 2016.

Symi Animal Welfare

Symi Animal Welfare

Best wishes & happy summer from the SAW Team,
Suzan, Antonella, Christina, Hazel & Tove.”

Symi Animal Welfare, website, donations and information.

All about Jacks

All about Jacks
On a day when I can’t think of anything to write about, I turn to my bookshelf and pull down a copy of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable for inspiration. As the cat, Jack, is sitting at my feet I decide to look that name/word up and see what Dr Brewer has to say about it. There are 49 entries and then 19 other side references. Deciding not to bore you with every single one (you can, after all, go and buy your own copy of this invaluable tome), I have picked out a few choice entries that might interest you and interspersed them with equally random images from my ‘to post’ collection.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

In Yialos

For example, did you know that a Jack Adams was a fool? I didn’t, and there was no other explanation, so, like a fool, I Googled it and what came up first? ‘Jack Adams Underwear and active wear for men’ and a host of images of semi-clad men the likes of which not even the Grattan catalogue could run to. It’s also an annual hockey league award apparently, but mainly it’s about underwear. Moving on.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Spring poppy

Jack-a-dandy (a foppish, bright little fellow – there are a few of them around here) was followed by Jack-a-Lent. The explanation for this is ‘a kind of Aunt Sally thrown at lent.’ So if you have an aunt Sally you now know what to do with her in the run up to next Easter. Apparently there is a reference to this in act III of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Next came Jack among the maids a ladies’ man (quite a few of them around here as well), and Jack-in-a-bottle, a long-tailed titmouse so called because of the shape of its nest. (I am more interested in how a mouse became to be called a tit, but that’s another story). Moving on.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Singing at the taverna

Ah ha! There are plenty of these around the world right now too, a Jack-in-office, a ‘pompous overbearing official who uses his powers unimaginatively’ is how Dr Brewer politely puts it. I just call it Farage and have done.

Here’s my favourite so far, a Jack-in-the-green: ‘A youth who moves about concealed in a wooden framework covered with leaves and boughs as part of the chimney-sweep’s revels on May Day.’ Conjures up all sorts of odd images, mainly ones of military cadets getting up to no good in camouflage gear up chimneys. You may be either saddened or pleased to note that this custom is now obsolete. Oh look, a Jack of Dover is some unidentified ‘eatable’ mentioned by Chaucer in The Cook’s Tale – probably a pie that has been cooked more than once, apparently. Well, if you will eat at motorway service stations…

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Off sailing

A couple more: Jack-o’-the-clock, is the carved/painted human figure that, in some old public clocks, used to (or still does) come out to strike the hours on the bell. I didn’t know that. There’s one at Wells Cathedral I am told, where two quarter-jacks strike the quarter-hours and Jack Blandfier strikes the hours. And finally, a Jack out of office – one dismissed or no longer in office which happily brings me back to Farage, though he’s not quite gone yet, he’s still taking EU money for telling it that it’s rubbish. There are a few Jack words I’ve not used that I could use in order to describe that particular dunty, bruss, buffle-head – as they would have said in Kent some time ago. I’ll leave the translation up to you.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

My nephew and the real Jack in disguise

 

 

Pedi bay photos

Pedi bay photos

The weekend was a bit of a productive one. Neil was working on his college course, and I was able to get ‘Remotely’; through the proofing process, almost, and now have it nearly ready to go live on Amazon. I just need to check the cover printing, which I should be able to do in the next few days. Watch this space. Meanwhile, I have also reached the end of the next book, ‘The Saddling’ in its first draft form. Just over 100,000 words that now need to be put in the right order and tidied up. But I will be leaving that alone for a while to let it ‘sink in’ before going back to draft two.

Pedi bay photos

Someone doing his yoga

We also managed to have a very pleasant evening in Pedi, having dinner with lovely people (you know who you are), sitting on a balcony and watching the boats in the bay.

Pedi bay photos

A pleasant summer afternoon walk

So, as my typing fingers are all but worn out, I think a few Pedi photos to welcome you to the week are in order, and I’ll leave the words for another time.

Pedi bay photos

A bit low in the water perhaps?

Pedi bay photos

Water-surfing, slowly

Pedi bay photos

Pedi bay photos

Pedi bay photos

Pedi bay photos