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

A bookish coincidence

A bookish coincidence
I had a pleasant and unexpected coincidence occur on Wednesday and it’s all to do with books. So, here I go again preaching to the converted and publicising a couple of my books.

It started with the good news that a visitor here is reading ‘Remotely‘ and laughing out loud. Perfect, just what it’s there for but wait until she gets to the bit where… (You’ll have to see for yourself.) And then someone else turned up with a copy of the book and may well win the prize for being the first person seen, by me, to be reading ‘Remotely‘ on Symi. We shall see. And then, while attending a dinner party where a copy of the book was on the sideboard, started and, so far, enjoyed (with laughing out loud included), another guest commented that she was reading, and thoroughly enjoying, ‘The Judas Inheritance’ having heard about the film version ‘The 13th‘ that was filmed on Symi, and she had no idea that I was the person that wrote it. Looks like the books are doing well this month and by doing well I don’t mean selling lots, but being enjoyed.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Yialos by day

By the way; I think there is a promotion on ‘The Judas Inheritance’ at the moment and a saving to be had if you order a print copy.

So, that was all rather nice and so was the dinner where we stayed far too late and were forced into that nasty situation of having to turn the alarm off before going to bed so as not to be woken at 5.45 when you only got to bed a 1.00 – mind you, I was awake not long after that time anyway thanks to the body clock. But there are no more invites now… until Saturday, oh and Monday – it can be a hectic life here in the summer and we’ve still not got to the very popular month of September when we have lots of return visitors and friends.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Proud flags

But I’m not complaining. I am leaving though, to go and do some pore publicity work on the books before making lunch and then working on another book. This one was the first I wrote and I started it while on Symi back in 1996. It’s going to have a new look, new cover and a bit of a tidy up inside as I cut and correct before releasing it in paperback on Amazon for the first time – in a few months’ time I expect. I have to learn to lay it out in In Design first, so I need to get the basics of that programme under my belt.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Yialos by night again

Don’t forget though – if you’ve enjoyed one or more of my books then please add an Amazon review on its page and recommend it to other friends and family. Ta muchly.

Daily harbour routine, Symi

Daily harbour routine, Symi
Let’s just clear up a little confusion first. Some people have heard that Taverna Zoi is closed – no! It’s not, it’s still open and has a few new dishes on the menu along with its traditional menu of home cooking Greek style. The confusion may have come about because the Village Café (also run by someone called Zoi) has closed. So the taverna is still open, which is good news all round.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Harbour view from the alternative zigzag

If you’re not sure where it is, and are heading this way soon, then you can find it by walking through the village directly from the top of the Kali Strata, past the bars, and the corner shop, the bakery and other shops, the Jean & Tonic and onwards past the Old Pharmacy until you are just about at the supermarket. There’s the taverna on your left, it’s blue with chairs outside, you can’t miss it. The main seating is upstairs on the roof terrace with a view down to Pedi.

So there we are, confusion sorted, I hope and thank you to the ladies who sent in the news. The photos today are from the other night when we were in Yialos. We headed down the alternative zigzag near the house. This route gives you views down into the harbour and on the way you pass the eccentric tree-chickens of Symi.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Eccentric tree dwelling chickens

The harbour is a very different place in the evening than it is in the daytime. In the morning it’s quiet and waking up and shops start to open, and some boats leave for a day’s sailing. Then it’s business time as locals go to the bank and post office and do shopping. Later, around 10.00, island visitors start coming down to use the taxi boats and the three ‘around the island’ boats we now have, and later still, the day boats come in from Rhodes. This is the busiest time with a few hundred day guests arriving and wandering around in groups, if with a guide.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Fishing and pleasure boats in Yialos

The harbour then falls into lunch mode until about three or four when the day boats start to leave and it goes through a quiet patch around 4.00 to 5.00 until the beach trippers start to come back in the taxi boats and the around the island boats. It’s then buzzing for a while as people have an after beach drink, get shopping and head off to freshen up for the evening. Then, as it gets dark, folk are out and about doing their passaggiata before settling in for dinner. What happens later in the evening is anyone’s guess as I am very rarely out and about at that time, but the bars get busy in certain places as the night owls come out, and then I dare say there are some rather wobbly walks home during the early hours. At about this time the fishermen start to come out and head out in their boats, I often see them out at sea before the dawn, which comes around 6.15 now. And then, well, then the day begins again.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Yialos at night

As, hopefully, it will tomorrow. See you then.

 

 

Celebrations, film update and cheese balls

Celebrations, film update and cheese balls
Tuesday was the celebration of ‘Our Lady of Nimos’ with services and a festival over at the church. We saw the boats going backwards and forwards through the day, the day-boats came in and went to Nimos first to blast their horns in celebration before docking on Symi as usual.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Fresh fruit and veg at Lukas’ green grocers

We were down in Yialos on Monday night, there may be some photos to follow, and it was good to see the place was fairly busy. It could always be busier of course, but it’s still a contrast to the village. Although that was busying up later in the evening, it’s still peaceful and quiet during the afternoons when everyone is at the beach or having a siesta, and pleasantly humming in the mornings when people are out for their coffees.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Carry on down the Kali Strata

Switching to film news, I understand that some people have had trouble getting to see the film on the site that the Kickstarter updates talked about. The chap in the office back in the UK has been dealing with the enquiries and is doing his best to sort out whatever issues individuals have. It looks like it might be a problem with Hotmail and Gmail accounts specifically, and also, you need to have Flash installed so it can be viewed. Be patient, he’s doing what he can. Meanwhile others, myself included, have had no trouble getting to see the special backers’ preview and it looks good. It sounds good as well, great music and there are plenty of locations that regular visitors to the island will recognise.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Figs ripening on a windowsill

Talking of films, I am still waiting for the results of my screenwriting course, the final results. I’m pleased to say I’ve been scoring around 75% or above on the individual assignments, and I am hoping for a good result on the last one. That was the 40 page script I had to submit and this one goes to an ‘independent, industry adjudicator’ someone in the biz who I’ve not been working with, so I am expecting a harsh criticism (it’s what’s needed) which will hopefully have some useful advice in it. The script I came up with was really for a television comedy series and we’ve been talking about other ideas for other episodes. If I can get the pilot script into a decent shape and come up with five or six possible other storylines, I might send it off to somewhere, via my ‘agent’ and see if anyone bites.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

A cruise ship in Symi

Meanwhile… Here on Symi, the weather remains warm, not as humid as in July but still hot. The garden furniture has given up and we have now collectively fallen through four director’s chairs that were either very badly made, or which weakened in the sun. We’re down to the one rickety bench and four kitchen chairs for our outside, which means constantly moving furniture about the place. But I’m not buying any more now, it can wait until next year.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Too much sun? Or an advert for ice cream?

Oh, I picked up a tip the other night. If you want ‘the best cheese balls on the island’ then Nanou beach is the place to go, according to this one critic. I am sure there are lovey cheese balls elsewhere, but that’s today’s recommendation. While you are there you can also swim and sunbathe of course, and tuck into any of their dishes – there’s a new chef, I understand. You will have to get a taxi boat there and back, though it is possible to walk there if you know what you are doing and are up for an adventure. Either way, it’s just one of the many Symi beaches that offer peace and quiet, perfect water and, well, cheesy balls I suppose.

Symi Sunday – I know it’s Tuesday but…

Symi Sunday – I know it’s Tuesday but…
Sunday was a bit of a day off. We decided to go down to Yialos, to exercise my back (which is now greatly improved I am pleased to say, though still not 100%), visit the bank, get some cat food and some tablets from the pharmacy. The pharmacies on Symi are open on Sundays during the summer, which is a handy thing to note if you are here on holiday. There was a cruise ship in from Cyprus as well, so there were lots of people about even before the day boats came in.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Cruise ship in port

Once there, rather slowly, it was straight to the bank to get some money out with the intention of having Sunday lunch while we were there – in Yialos I mean, not in the bank. The first machine got me all the way through the process and then, when I clicked to continue, threw my card back at me. Odd, there was money in the account. So we walked on to the next one saying hello to Takis at Takis Leather en route and with me trying to walk upright so people didn’t think I’d had an embarrassing accident. The Alpha ATM did the same thing though; right pin number, money in the account but as soon as I asked for it, the card popped back out again. This wasn’t from my Greek account so I can only assume that either there was no money in the machines or there was a computer problem when doing the conversion. There was a receipt in one of the machines so they had been working.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Morning!

But still, we had enough cash for lunch and the other things could wait so we put our feet up, metaphorically speaking, at Pacho’s, watched the world go by and then went for something to eat, knowing that we had enough as the prices are always very reasonable. After that I wasn’t up for a walk back up the steps, not through overeating or anything, but because of my back. So, a taxi ride was the next treat. This was followed by some hanging out at the Rainbow and an evening in with a couple of films. All very nice and relaxing, a proper Sunday – for me. Well, almost, the Sunday I had planned, like the Saturday, was going to consist of a long walk and a lot of writing, but neither happened due to the costume injury I sustained on Friday morning while putting my shoes on. Hey ho.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Colourful Symi

Monday morning dawned after I was up and about and, on going back to the bedroom, I discovered the neighbour’s cat on the windowsill, inside, trying to work out how it could get to Jack’s food bowl through the shut bedroom door. It’s been coming in to snaffle the leftovers as its owner is currently away. That’s no great problem as it’s a she cat and doesn’t spray, but there’s another one, much younger, that Jack doesn’t like and last time she tried to access the soup kitchen Jack literally kicked the you know what out of it. Not a very pleasant mess to clear up, I can tell you.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Busy dining

And so; we ended last week with a quiet and almost empty diary but now, Monday, it’s already filling up with a meal out tonight, another invite on Wednesday, another on Saturday and one on Monday with our anniversary in there as well somewhere. I think that will be spent at home having a day off from socialising, but who knows. This will be a combined anniversary as regular followers of the blog and books will know. Next weekend marks, 19 years together, 14 since leaving England to live abroad and about a week later, Neil’s birthday will mark the 14th anniversary of us coming to live on Symi. I also note with interest that this year is the 20th anniversary of me coming here for the first time. Where did all that go then?

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Another busy restaurant

Anyway, on towards the week ahead with social events and work the only two things occupying my mind, oh, and the hope that I don’t suffer another costume injury.

The Symi Festival this week

The Symi Festival this week
Dates for your Symi Festival diary this week:
Tuesday 23rd – Celebration of the traditional feast of our Lady of Nimos
Sunday 28th – Local music ‘hypochromic’

The venue for the concert will be announced nearer the time through the island’s speaker system.

Symi Greece Symi Dream

Live music at the taverna

I’ve been watching the lights over on Nimos through the past few night, looks like they are getting the monastery ready for the festival at all hours. There will be taxi boats and others going backwards and forwards through the day and into the night on Tuesday. There is a description of this festival in William Travis’ ‘Bus Stop Symi’ if I remember correctly.

Symi Greece Symi Dream

Noufris and his wife Irini at Georgio & Maria taverna

I’ve been having a bit of a Universal horror film weekend – not watching any, but moving about the house looking like Igor. I was doing one of those mundane things on Friday morning, getting dressed actually, and suddenly, for no reason, felt a great ripping up the top of one leg and into my back. ‘This doesn’t feel good,’ I thought and then said… Well, I shan’t repeat it here. But it’s now, Sunday as I write and I’m doing lines from Noises off,’ “Am I in Spain? No I’m not in Spain, dear, I’m in agony.” (You should watch the film if you’ve not seen it, very funny especially if you’re into theatre or amateur dramatics.)

Symi Greece Symi Dream

That black stuff is (are) actually ants on the move – they’d all gone ten minutes later, I hate to think where

This put paid to my plan which was to walk to the monastery of ‘To Vrisi’ on Friday, and do some early morning wandering on Saturday and Sunday. Instead, I spent Friday at home trying to get comfortable while Neil went to Yialos and bought me some ‘anti-inflatables’, which have helped slightly, though you have to realise that the name of the tablets is nothing to take personally. You ask the pharmacy what’s the best thing to take for a ripped muscle and they reply with ‘Voltaren Retard.’ Luckily there’s no comma in there our it could be mildly insulting- but at least they seem to be working. As is sitting still and reading for two days mixed with a little moving about and the local equivalent of Deep Heat. Ah, the joys of getting older.

Symi Greece Symi Dream

Always in the most awkward place

But it did give me time to read through the printed version of ‘Remotely’ to check for any last typos and corrections before the Kindle versions is finished. (Still a few weeks away as the man formatting it for me is now having to arrange the filming of the opening night of Hedda Gabler in Oslo from his cottage in Shropshire while also dealing with the sending out of info about ‘The 13th‘ and caring for his elderly mother… But we are getting there.)

Remotely‘ has been selling well for its first month, but we could always do with more sales, so please take a look – just follow the link. I have to say, having not read it through for a while now it still made me laugh, in in places I’d not laughed in before and also brought a tear to my eye in places, and I knew what was coming. The most recent five-star review of it on Amazon includes: “More double-entendres than a Carry On film” which I rather like.

Remotely by James Collins

Remotely by James Collins

Anyway, I’m going to hobble away now. I’m hoping to get out later if only to get some more inspiring photos for the blog, though we also need even more cat food – I am sure he eats more than we do – and other bits and pieces. I shall put on my fake mid-European/Transylvanian accent, costume and bent walk and wander about Yialos saying, ‘Yes, Mhasther’ while throwing switches and pulling leavers before stealing a brain from a science lab that is clearly marked ‘Abnormal Brain’ (see James Whale’s Frankenstein) and laughing hysterically for no reason. Here’s to a good week.