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

Inaccurate reporting upsets Greek press

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Refugees in Kos last November

I don’t normally get myself into this kind of thing on my blog, but this is a story that could run, and not everyone would have picked up on it yet. Greek Reporter have picked up on a ‘shocking’ article in the UK’s Daily Mail, their (GR) headline reads: Σοκαριστικό άρθρο της Daily Mail: «Οι μετανάστες μετατρέπουν την Κω σε αηδιαστική κόλαση» Or: Shocking article in the Daily Mail: «Immigrants convert Kos to a disgusting hell.”

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Seems appropriate to have some Kos photos today, and this one seems even more so as we’re onto the DM

I read the online piece by the DM and wasn’t sure if I was more outraged by the dreadful writing, or the misspelling of Dodecanese, or the scaremongering, or the tourists reported as saying things like they couldn’t eat their lunch with refuges watching, or… well all of it really. A complete disgrace to the British press in my humble opinion. And the British people. I mean, people coming to Kos for a holiday and saying they won’t return if it looks like a refugee camp again, and saying this, I assume as they quaff into their beers and three course meals, while camping out at an all-inclusive hotel that cost them only a month’s wages ‘cos they got a special offer in the Daily Mail.


Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Kos castle

The Greek Reporter also says that: “At least 6,000 migrants arrived on the island of Kos in the past two months, while the Dodecanese totaled 30,000 refugees. In the last two days alone 1,200 people arrived in Kos, and every day more come.” (My translation.) The full article, in Greek, is here: You can copy and paste it into a translator online. I won’t give you the link to the Daily Mail article at the center of this storm as I don’t want to promote such hideous reporting, but I am sure you will find it online if you really want to.


Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins


And, by the way, read that again: 6,000 refugees, on Kos alone, in the last two months. If you know Symi you will know that 3,000 people live here. So that’s like the population of Symi all leaving in one month and leaving everything behind, because it’s a case of ‘Kill, or be killed,’ as a refugee explained it to me.


Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

History on every corner

When we were in Kos last year we met some refugees and shared our hotel with others. We chatted, they told us their story, which I’ve noted here before, and we also saw them at the police station which was very well set up to deal with them. Now that numbers are increasing there simply isn’t anywhere else for them to go while they wait for a boat onwards. Local people donate money and clothes even though a lot of local families are struggling to make ends meet. The refugees then move on to other European countries, the guys we spoke to were heading to Scandinavia. Some of them had to swim 200 meters when thrown overboard from their boat, others, as we know, don’t make it and get washed up on the shores, dead.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Kos in November

I reckon we should shove a boat load of so called ‘reporters’ into an inflatable dinghy at night (with very little money, no clothes, but with their children) and see how they get across the sea to Asia Minor, and then see if they can survive with 100 people sharing one toilet while they get their papers stamped and sent into unfamiliar territory with little or no local language and… Well, I can’t go on, my blood pressure is up.

It’s getting out of hand, it’s a humanitarian disaster, the world needs to help a semi-third world country like Greece to deal with the thousands of arrivals each week, and the British hate rags need to either report objectively or shut the farouk up. So, if you go on holiday to a Greek island this summer and find a refugee family temporarily housed next door, just remember, you are on holiday, love, you’re not fleeing for your life!

Symi rain, Dracula’s non-castle

After yesterday’s bonkers post here’s a quick and sensible one. After telling everyone to come to Greece for their holidays the other day, we then spent Tuesday night/Monday morning being rained on.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Early morning

Come Wednesday afternoon things had settled a bit so those people arriving tonight (as it’s Wednesday afternoon as I write this) should at least get a warm and dry welcome. Mind you, it’s still pretty humid so it could well turn to thunder again.

And it seems my call to action was answered. The bit where I advised folk not ignore the British newspapers and come to Greece as all was well. According to Greek Reporter  “The number of inbound visitors in Greece jumped 45.6% to 1.728 million in the January-March period this year, from 1.187 million during the same period in 2014, while travel receipts grew 12.8% to 532 million euros over the same period, the Bank of Greece (BoG) said.” (Not sure about their abbreviation there, but whatever.) Click the link above to get the full story.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Later in the morning

And talking of travel, I’m off to Tilos on Friday. Seems like ages ago I reserved the apartment. Good job I didn’t wait for a last minute deal as the complex has another apartment the same as mine being advertised for the same week but for four times the price. Not sure how that’s going to help tourism, and it may have been a thing rather than a price set by the hotel, but I’m glad I’ve got my piece of paper stating how much (or little, actually) I am supposed to be paying.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Rhodes Old Town, castle as we’re about to be talking about castles

In other news I heard a rumour that the ‘Noddy train’ was back from its service and so the green one will go and the lovely red and yellow one will come back. At least it doesn’t have eyes on it like the one in Romania did. This was at Castle Râșnov and had we known it only took us up a hill and round a corner we would have walked. Mind you, it keeps someone in employment.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Happy Romania chappy

And, as the novel ‘Dracula’ was published 118 years ago yesterday, I thought you might like to see one of Neil’s photos of ‘Castle Dracula’ (which isn’t anything to do with the fictional castle and very little to do with Vlad Tepes (Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia (1431–1476/77)) which was taken on the same day as The Romanian Noddy Train. And with this, I will leave you and go and get the red rain dust off the outdoor furniture.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

castle Bran, Transylvania

Word play coffee break

BBQ Niborio Symi Greece

Peppers, for no reason

Here’s a post for when you’re having a leisurely coffee break. It’s been a long time since we did some pointless wordplay on these pages, so today I thought I would stun you all with random thoughts on a random word or possibly two (I have to go and cook in a moment so not sure how long I will be staying around), and while stunning you with nonsense I might also stun you with some of Neil’s photos of Symi, as that word is in the title of this blog after all.


BBQ Niborio Symi Greece

Spring flower

I did think about dipping into ‘The Elements of Eloquence’ by Mark Forsyth  but then, after reading a little about Merism, Epistrophe and Epizeuxis I decide that he puts it so well there’s nothing more I can do to make it all make sense, except suggest you go and buy the book, if you are keen to improve your understanding of the English language that is. [And for those who may be wondering, Merism, Epistrophe and Epizeuxis are not the Three Graces, they are: Merism is when you don’t say what you are talking about and the example in the book is ‘ladies and gentlemen’ is a merism, for ‘people.’ Epistrophe is when you end sentences with the same word. Or end each clause with the same word, or end paragraphs with the same word. (So, basically, most pop songs.) And Epizeuxis is when you repeat a word immediately and in the same sense, for example, ‘Location. Location. Location.’]


BBQ Niborio Symi Greece

Pedi bay

So, now you know that (and there will be a test) we can move on to something less interesting. I love receiving books as gifts, and that’s not a hint, surprisingly, and for my birthday my mother sent me a book about collective nouns titled ‘An Unkindness of Ravens’ by Chloe Rhodes (appropriate to our location here on Symi I thought). What’s even better is that it’s a hardback book. (I just like the feel of them.) So, thanks to this gift we can have a little quiz here as I ask you if you know the collective nouns for the following random entries:


  1. A ? of gossips
  2. A ? of jurors
  3. A ? of harlots
  4. A ? of butlers
  5. A ? of cobblers (and it’s not ‘load’)
  6. And a rather nice one, A ? of fishermen


BBQ Niborio Symi Greece

Church on Rhodes

The answers are at the end of the blog. I was going to put them upside down, but then thought it might be difficult for those reading this on a desktop PC who would have to turn the monitor over; easy enough to do if you are reading on a Kindle (of kittens, by the way), but if you’re walking around with a device and get distracted you might trip (of goats). That’s why I applied some shrewdness (of apes) and didn’t want to make this too much of a labour (of moles) for you.

One day we may return to this book and do some more. That selection was from the People department, there are also animals, professions, religious callings and (other) exotic creatures to look forward to. My favourite has to be A worship of writers, of course.

BBQ Niborio Symi Greece

Lydia hotel, Rhodes

But back to the task in hand, a random word from my Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary (another hardback gift).

The letter of the day is ‘S’, and the first word that jumps out at me is Sabulous. Not Fabulous, though it is rather, sabulous means ‘gritty or sandy.’ So I guess you could stretch that and say that a Stieg Larsson novel is sabulous (as they are considered a gritty read) and that Olivia Newton John was no only fabulous but also sabulous when playing Sabulous in ‘Grease.’ (She played Sandy.) So, there you have it, lots of new words to ponder over today as you wonder where all this comes from and why you’ve sat and read it all. And finally, here, without the need to stand on your head, are the answers to the collective nouns quiz.


  1. A gaggle of gossips (Makes perfect sense to me, especially when at certain local watering holes.)
  2. A damning of jurors (Goes back to Magna Carta – buy the book for the fascinating derivation.)
  3. A herd of Harlots (Reminds me of: ‘You can lead a whore to water but you can’t make her think’, which is the punchline, but I can’t remember the body of the gag.)
  4. A draught of butlers (To do with a draught of wine, rather than leaving the door open.)
  5. A drunkship of cobblers (Drunkship being an out of use word for a group of drunk people. Poor cobblers.)
  6. A drift of fishermen (To do with, er, fishing techniques, apparently.)

And a worship of writers? (To do with ‘the established tyranny of patronage’ – Thomas Wharton 17th century.

Ignore the British Press; here’s news from the ground

Just having a trawl through some recent photos and thought I’ll just put a few up for today as in know people like to see images, and big ones at that.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Early morning Oleander

But before we get too carried away with it all, can I just ask you to drop a line to the UK press and tell them to stop scaremongering? As Adrianna said on her blog last week, yes there is money in the banks, no you’re not going to get yourself stranded without any cash if you come to Greece, and I can also add that you’re probably not going to find yourself strike bound either, especially if the government does actually pay its people, which is something it should put as a priority.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Garlic for sale

There’s no great crisis here as far as I can see, apart from the refugee one and the usual day to day crises that the country seems to deal with. Everything’s a drama in Greece after all, wailing, arms up in the air, oh no! Now someone’s put too much water in my ouzo, what shall we do? Better let the British press know so they can tell everyone not to go to Greece becasue it’s a danger zone or some other twaddle. I mean, does this looks like a danger zone to you?

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Symi hotels

And does it look like no one has any money in the banks? I say, do what my mum has just done. Book yourself a holiday to Greece, Symi for preference, and bring all your own currency with you and leave it all behind when you go. That way there won’t be a crisis, not that there is one (in the holiday area), at least not as much as the Brit-Tabs would have you believe. But then again, as I’ve not actually read one for a while, what do I know? Well, I know what I read online.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

A stall in the square, Yialos

Anyway, that wasn’t where I meant to go with this post. Just feeling a bit silly really. Have had a great weekend and it’s now Monday morning and I’m getting ahead as I have a lot to do before I depart on the Friday night boat. We’re out to dinner tonight and yesterday we had a great barbeque in the village and a lovely Saturday before that and a great Friday before that. The cat was absent for Saturday night and all of Sunday and finally came home again Monday morning at 4.00 so I am a bit sleep deprived as well. And looking forward to guests we have calling in tomorrow and then again on Wednesday and then, I think, we’re entertainment free. And I wouldn’t be able to do all that if there was no money coming out of the ATM now would I?

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Think Greek!

Symi Calendars



Sunday morning… Great evening yesterday with guests in the courtyard, lovely night on Friday with guests on the balcony… Off to a party in an hour… Sounds to me like we are having far too much fun!

I have a week of work ahead followed by a slow boat to Tilos on Friday while Neil stays here to carry on working. I, too, shall be working while away, I’m not going for a holiday but I should have time to wander and explore after work in the afternoons. So, there’s that to look forward to. Before that we have some guests coming on Wednesday for drinks on the balcony, oh and we’re being taken to dinner tonight (Monday) so there is that to look forward to too.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Close up

Meanwhile: I am awaiting a proof copy of Lonely House and, as soon as that has been double checked, it should be available on line, in paperback, and then a bit later in Kindle format. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, people often say (not just to me but generally) that Kindle books should be cheaper than print books because there is no pronating involved. In a way, yes, but in a word No. What I say is that the creator (if still in copyright) should receive the same amount per sale of a Kindle book as he does a print book. So, when the pricing is set for my print book of Lonely House, I will see what I am left with (around $.50 cents usually) and apply that as my profit on the Kindle version. After all, it’s the same amount of words, and took the same amount of time and skill to put together and.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Symi Calendar 2016

If you are itching to spend money now though, you can now order Neil’s 2016 Symi Dream calendar on line from People have kind of misunderstood how things work and asked us to keep copies for them to collect when they are here. Now then: we don’t have any. There is no shop to sell them from. You have to buy them on line. Follow the link. Use your credit card, or Paypal account and your Symi Calendar will be sent direct to your address. (I know Neil has arranged to get hold of a few for specific people, but that will have to be when we have enough money to buy them and have them shipped here – and that does add on an extra cost, so you’re better off buying online.) Here’s the link:

Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Placed here to catch the late afternoon sun

If you were wondering what the glass is all about, it was a housewarming present from Libby, a candle holder. She makes her own glass products such as this one. It’s sitting on another gift we were given, two in fact, and the bust behind it all is Apollo. We bought that when in Symi on holiday back in what? 2000? I think it was. I carried it home to England in my rucksack, and then a year or so later it found its way home again when we moved over here. Everything has a story.

And talking of story, I should get back to my latest. I still have some preparation to do before going away to write a few chapters, and a party or two to attend.

Symi Friday

Here is a quick and easy post: a few photos showing some of the things I saw on my Symi Friday yesterday. We were down in Yialos for late morning/lunchtime.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Day visitors enjoying Symi

As were lots of other people who had come over on the ‘Sea Dreams’ Symi.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

The Symi

I like the way you have to slide off on the port side and then swim ashore. Makes sure that everyone arrives clean.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Alpha Bank

Okay, not the most inspiring image but look at the face over the name – do you think it knows something about the Greek economy that we don’t?


Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins


Meanwhile, the Symi public transport system was in full swing:

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

New green train (the yellow one is in for repairs)

It was my step-father’s funeral yesterday. My step-sister had suggested those who could not make the funeral drop a pebble in the sea as a commemoration, so we did just that.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

Mine was a white one with piano key markings on it.

And later, back home, I watched a new barge doing interesting things down below.

Images from Symi Greece by Neil Gosling and James Collins

And once back up the hill…

So, have a pleasant Saturday and Sunday and I’ll see you next week!