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

Still asleep

Still asleep

Early start this morning. I woke up just before six reminding myself that I’d not prepared a blog for today and, as I’d just said something about getting back into the habit of doing a daily… something, I thought I should get on with it. The fact that I’d not gone to bed until eleven last night doesn’t have a say in it, so here I am trying hard to think of something to write here. I can’t, so instead I’ll throw some pickle at you.

You know that Christmas is over when…

You can never have enough, I say.

You can never have enough, I say.

I’m sure I had some good ideas yesterday, a list of things I could witter on about here, but now I’ve forgotten them, perhaps that’s because it is still very early. It’s dark outside, there are stars, some cloud, the moon has been and gone, and the temperature is down again. I mean, around ten probably, I’ve not looked, but it’s not that bad, and it’s not windy.

January light

Apart from a thunderstorm and some showers yesterday, it’s been wetter inside our bathroom than it has outside the house, of late. Condensation with a bit of through-drip from the flat roof above. (Must get the paint and paint the roof, been saying that for a couple of months now, but with the post-Christmas dip in finances to below floor level, it’s going to have to wait.) It all leads to flaking paint and mouldy ceilings, it’s not too bad right now but will be. So that’s all on the list of jobs to do.

January light

January light

As is, later this morning, writing another blog for tomorrow so I can have a lie in and not wake up until my usual time of 6.15 instead of this ridiculously early hour of… oh, 6.00 – ah well. Winter life! I now have all day to potter about.

January light

January light


Back to the desk

Back to the desk

I’m trying to get myself back into the routine of (almost) daily blogging now, starting with a couple of half-remembered things from the last couple of weeks, and some photos taken over the New Year period.

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New Year’s Eve Santa visit with song

One of the things that popped into my head was a chat we had with a local friend. He’s a keen card player and was, when we saw him, off to play a game with some friends. This was no ordinary game, however. They were gambling, and their winnings were going to be given to the Symi football teams, as was a percentage of the bar takings from the bar where the exhibition game was to be played. Gambling for charity, I call it. Sounds like a great idea.

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Not that card game, just an afternoon in the kafeneion.

Another thing that happened occurred on New Year’s Day. You hear a lot of expressions at this time of year, and there are many best wishes style greetings in Greek that you get used to saying. Over Christmas, apart from the Kali Christouyena for ‘good Christmas’, you hear several others, and I wondered which was the appropriate one for New Years’ Day as I wandered through the village to deliver a wine box before taking a walk. Should you say Xronia Polla, as you do on name days and birthdays? Should you say Tou Xronou, as you do at church festivals? Should I still be saying Kali Christouyena? What is the correct one? ‘Ah,’ I thought as I saw Papa Lefteris approaching me. ‘I’ll wait for him to say something and then I’ll know.’ As we passed each other, he said, ‘Happy New Year,’ so that idea didn’t work. You can always wait for someone else to speak first and then just say ‘Episis’ for, roughly, ‘Same to you.’ I guess any of the greetings will do as long as it’s said with meaning.

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The current state of the football field. There is a fundraising campaign to rebuild this, the most-used sports facility on the island. (See Solidarity Symi.)

So, back to the desk and back to work. The fun is over for another year now, and we have to return to being adults. Ah well, easier for some than it is for others.

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Snow on the mountains of Turkey, opposite Pedi

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

The last survivor of Christmas?

That Was My Symi Year That Was

That Was My Symi Year That Was

To round of 2017, and before I get back to the usual (almost) daily blogging, I thought we’d have a look back over 2017. I have my diary in front of me and am flicking through to remind myself of the occasional events from the last 12 months. Through this, I have uploaded some of the photos taken by Allan and Julie on the wedding day, probably the biggest event of the year for us. Sorry I couldn’t get everyone in, but I tried to find the most embarrassing shots of friends and family that I could. All photos today are by Allan and Julie – thank you!

September 8th 05Cheers!

January to March. Well, January to mid-March was pretty uneventful it seems, as those months tend to be. Staying in, writing, keeping warm and keeping dry are the main things to do in the darker winter months on Symi, unless you’re away, a farmer or builder. Nothing really leaps from the diary until later in March when we went to Rhodes for our annual health checks. It was sometime around here that Neil received his Ancestry DNA results, discovering that although he has an Irish passport, I am actually more Irish than he is, according to the DNA. I am 33% from Ireland, and he is 25%.

September 8th 0150 years old and still no sign of growing up

April. Jenine had a BBQ on April 2nd, and I renewed my Windows 360 subscription – gosh it was an exciting time in the office. I applied for a new passport and won. Easter was on 16th April. Meanwhile, I was publishing some travel articles, paying the electricity bill and one of the grandsons had a birthday.

September 8th 02George and Lee (not a singing duo), engaged a few days later.

May. The Saddling was published. The diary seems to be full of odd notes, ‘Ann for dinner’, ‘Paint’, ‘Sam-tree’, and ‘Football article’, for example. I think it was about then that the Symi football teams went to Camber, near when I grew up. Some kindly folks from Romney Marsh arranged towels and things that they couldn’t bring with them. Also, Neil flew off to the yUK to photograph his niece’s wedding and sit his IGCSE exam in Global Citizenship. While he was there, he attended the London debut of ‘The 13th‘, saw his son, and didn’t get lost on the Underground (thanks to Kate and Alistair). Pete and Gwen arrived for their first visit (of the year), and Hillary took us to Haritomeni (29th, in case you’re reading this, and thank you very much again – now get back to work (inserts smiley wink)).

September 8th 03Symi neighbours and great friends; Alun read at our ceremony.

June. I met with Rebecca Hall about adapting her novel ‘Girl Gone Greek’ into a film script. Allan and Julie arrived for their first visit of the year, followed soon after by Alun and Andy, Amanda had a surprise birthday party at the Old Markets Hotel, and on June 16th I flew to Cyprus for a few days of the Cyprus International Film festival to introduce ‘The 13th‘ and do a Q&A session afterwards. Two days after returning home, Jack, the Alarm Cat died from complications to his deteriorating skin condition. A few days later, dinner with Christine and Roger.

September 8th 04Pre-match gathering on the terraces.

July. Wedding meeting with Jenine, bills paid, ‘Andreas water’ (i.e. turn on water to give our elderly landlord some for his sterna), Pat and Hazel’s birthday party on the Poseidon, Neil bought wedding rings. Dinners, BBQs (we’re into Summer season now), a radio interview for the yUK re ‘Saddling’ and ‘Remotely.’ July 24th – the Symi premiere of ‘The 13th‘, dinner with John and Elaine, and a few notes about what my Fitbit was recording during my morning walks (not very much).

September 8th 06Hugo prepares.

August. There are a few more notes about invites and events. Brother’s birthday, dinner with Steve and Louise, dinner with Anne, singing lessons, another dinner with Anne (she’s very generous with her dinners), organising boat tickets for family for September, agreed a contract for the screenplay, collected Mother and Mike from Rhodes for their holiday, did some author interviews, and the weather was hot.

September 8th 07Colette and Heather looking fabulous.

September. The early part was taken up with getting married, the first Civil Partnership on Symi, friends and family staying, bit of a madhouse, wonderful day(s) around the wedding, all went well. Neil turned 50 on the same day. Andy’s 70th birthday party, Neil fell off a church roof (almost, but it was a bash to his bad leg), drama. Dinner with Nick and Adriana, and with Chris and Jeanette, Anne had another party, lots of work to help pay for the wedding, booking honeymoon trip (Croatia), and another lovely evening with Hillary.

September 8th 08Official sister-in-law.

October is mainly notes about work and jobs, and what I need to do, I was obviously keeping my head down – dinner with Alun and Andy, and apparently I was to ‘Hoover’ on the 20th, I wonder if I did that? Terri was involved at 5.30 on 21st, not sure what with, and Penny gets a mention re eating out as well. We ended the month with an evening with Jenine and the boys.

September 8th 09Jenni, is that water?

November. Social events are calming down by now. Meanwhile, I was preparing another book, and there was a bonfire party at Adriana’s farm, an afternoon with John and Paula at their house, I was meant to accompany Louise at a small recital for friends at the Well Being Centre but, ironically, the piano was not well and gave up the ghost. It’s still here but not working and I really need to dispose of the poor thing but can’t bring myself to do it yet. A huge storm hit Symi on 13th – luckily, no fatalities, but a colossal amount of damage. Helped clean up the high school and offered ourselves to assist where we could, as did everyone. Symi, Stuff & Nonsense was being set out and prepared with the help of Allan, and a cover design ordered. Terri’s birthday party on 28th, and plenty of time at The Rainbow.

September 8th 10Lady in red (and lady in yellow)

December. ‘Symi, Stuff & Nonsense’ was published (or was that at the end of November?). The Godboys came for tea a few times (always fun), Christmas shopping, playing for carols at Lefteris’ on Evie’s keyboard. Christmas, and now New Year.

September 8th 11Last minute advice from a married couple.

Those are only a few notes from the diary, and the details may mask the major events: Neil claimed his Irish passport, I went to Cyprus, he went to the yUK and sat an exam which he passed, the film, ‘The 13th‘ was shown around the world (still no definite news on what happens next) and won loads of awards, we were married, saw lots of family, I published two books (mentioned above), wrote a screenplay, wrote two other books at 80k words each, revamped an old one (thanks to Allan and his layout), published ‘Honestly‘ (forgot about that one), and wrote the first 80k word draft of ‘The Witchling’, the follow-up to the best seller, ‘The Saddling.’ Not a bad year for writing.

September 8th 12Think I am distracted by bookshelves, a common occurance.

Finally, in this long catch-up of what’s happened this last 12 months, here’s what’s planned so far for 2018: Honeymoon in Croatia in March, and my birthday in Split (or Dubrovnik) with annual health checks in Rhodes on the way there (joy). I intend to publish the next Saddling adventure, ‘The Witchling’, in/around March. I may slip off to Tilos for a writing retreat in June if I can afford it, I missed it last year. Our son may get married in November which will mean a trip to Scotland. Mother, Nephew George and his fiancé, Lee, are visiting later August/early September, I’ll start on another book no doubt, and may even finish one. Need to buy a new piano (may have to wait a long time). Apart from that… Well, it’s a fun game of ‘wait & see what the year will bring.’

September 8th 13Mother and her toy-boy? No, mother and grandson-in-law.

Thank you to everyone who reads my blog. ‘Symi, Stuff & Nonsense’ is dedicated to you, and sales so far have raised over €100 for the high school for books. So, that was my Symi year that was, and here’s to the Symi year ahead. Happy New Year!

September 8th 14

The family

September 8th 15

The concert party arrives.

September 8th 16

The wonderful Adriana.

September 8th 17

Anne and the famous hat (had an invite all of its own).

September 8th 18

The equally as wonderful Wendy.

September 8th 19

A Poseidon wedding buffet.

September 8th 20

A surprise birthday/wedding cake from Yiannis and Fotini, made by Honnie.September 8th 21

Dawn and Chris take the floor by storm.

September 8th 22

Mother raving like it’s 1969

September 8th 23

Happy New Year!

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