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

Walking early

Walking early

Out for a walk yesterday around six, hence these couple of photos. I saw on Facebook that the first turf for the repairs to the football pitch has arrived, and noticed from the hillside path that the ground is no longer just mud, and work has started. All good news for our three football teams one, or all of which recently received a signed shirt from the Aston Villa team.

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I saw the usual sights on the walk yesterday. Men waiting for work pickups at the bus stop, people cleaning steps and brushing the lanes outside their houses, the goats on the path to the monastery, passing me as if on their morning commute, and later, ladies heading to Agia Marina to tend the graves. By the way, if you are heading that way, the bridge is being worked on, and the ravine, and it’s passable on foot and possibly on a moped, with care – see photos below. It was a quiet, calm morning, and very pleasant. Even though I had my music playing, my mind was on a story, and when I reached home an hour later, I had to sit and write down the notes for it. I’d had an entire scene in my head but won’t be able to recreate it exactly – where’s brain to paper transference technology at these days?

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And, for those following the water story… I left the gate unlatched yesterday and, when we returned, the boys were busy at work on the tower where several more yards of black piping had been added and trailed. We told them about the leak on the new joint, and they said they would attend to it. I was also able to ascertain, in our mix of Anglo-Greek-Albanian, that the work they were doing, the tank #2 and solar water heater, are for the apartment downstairs and for the landlord’s house, and there was no need for them to interfere with our water supply. They laughed when I looked relieved and were grateful for the celebratory beers we gave them from our fridge. (It has been there since Christmas, but it’s still within date.)

The path to To Vrisi

The path to To Vrisi

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Drip feeding the saga

Drip feeding the saga

[Hi, John from Birmingham. I hope you got home safely, and thank you for popping down to deliver your message on Tuesday. Thank you also for reading the blog and giving feedback; always appreciated.]

Can you guess what it is? Answers on our Facebook page please

Can you guess what it is? Answers on our Facebook page please

If it hadn’t been for the watery shenanigans at our house, we wouldn’t have been in the square when one of our readers sought us out to compliment us on the blog. I was at home at five, having just finished work and the doorbell rang on the last chime of the village clock. Thinking Neil had forgotten his key, I answered it to find our friendly plumber, so I said hello and left him to get on with things. A few minutes later, a hot water tank arrived, followed by some solar panels. A little while after that, once Neil was home, and we were settling in for a quiet night with Designated Survivor, the drilling and banging started up on the tower, so we decided to go out for an hour or two and let the boys get on with it. They’d gone when we got back, but half a solar heating system (for one of three houses and we’re not sure which) had been installed. Or partly installed as something was banging about up there in the breeze during the night.

A new addition to my desk; a 1940s magnifying glass

A new addition to my desk; a 1940s magnifying glass

Wednesday morning, I went to check the water was coming in and water the plants, when I noticed a new tap had been put onto the landlords in-feed – that’s the one that runs against gravity, up and over the road. I also noticed that the mains feed was now leaking and I could only stop it by turning off the in-feed form the Dimos (town hall mains). It’s not our water draining back as that’s not possible and I hoped it wasn’t the landlord’s either, but once the mains was off, the drips stopped. So what that is, is us paying for the leak until the boys return, hopefully, tonight, and I can try and explain it needs tightening. I’d do it myself, but that would probably result in the entire village being without water as I’d only make a mess of it. And I only own one spanner.

Supermarket sweep

Supermarket sweep

None of this is bothering us, it’s not troublesome, but I am keeping a close eye and have Symi Property Services on speed dial for when it goes horribly wrong, and I need them to come and repair someone else’s errors again – or maybe I am being uncharacteristically pessimistic. Oh, did I tell you about the bathroom door? I can’t remember, but if I didn’t… When nephew George arrived, we went to fetch the spare mattress from the spare bathroom, used as a winter storage area. At first, I thought the metal door had expanded in the heat as it was stuck, but further and lengthy investigation revealed that the lock had broken, somehow, in the closed position. Not the key lock as the key is on the inside, but the snib for the door handle. Luckily, our perfect neighbour had dealt with breaking into locked, metal security doors before  (legitimately as a locksmith) and, after a few sweaty hours, managed to drill and cut out a section of the steel surround and remove the lock. Who puts a metal security door on what was an outside bathroom? It was a good job no-one was in it at the time, as there is no other way in or out. Ah well, the joys of island life.

A Symi sunset

A Symi sunset

Up and Down

Up and Down

That’s up and down the hill yesterday morning, finally. It was a muggy damp start to the day with a cloud over Nimos and humidity high. At least, that’s what it felt like when I was at work at the desk and sweating by 5.00. I was later out and up the hill and down again by eight with the rest of the day to myself.

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There’s been some development on the on-going water saga. I mentioned the mysterious barrel up on the roof? Well, on Monday night two workmen came to investigate the pipes and attach a couple of new ones to the tank on the tower, tank #2. This they did, but haven’t yet attached the other ends to anything, so I am still not sure what this tank #2 will be doing. Meanwhile, though, they fiddled with the in-feed from the Dimos, trying to work out how our neighbour was to get water into his sterna. Here’s how the pipes go: the mains comes into the courtyard where the meter is (it should be in the street but it’s not, which is why it’s not been read for two or more years despite asking the landlord to sort it, and that’s why our next water bill will be €260 at least – Michalis at the Dimos worked it out for me). Anyway…

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The mains comes in, through the meter and directly into our tank (#1) where there’s a stopcock, so it doesn’t overflow. Between the meter and the tank is a tap which runs our hosepipe so we can use it directly from the mains on water days. There’s another one which goes directly up, over our wall, across the road and into the landlord’s house and it’s anyone’s guess where after. In the old days before the tank, we’d close our water-in valve and open his, and the Dimos supply would take the anti-gravity route across to his sterna. I tried to explain all this in faltering Greek to a faltering Albanian plumber who was convinced our landlord’s supply had something to do with our tank #1 and didn’t seem able to understand two concepts. One, that the valve to the landlord’s sterna wasn’t working and needed replacing, and two, this meant that when the mains isn’t feeding in and we turn on the hosepipe, we’re siphoning off his water for our plants – that gravity route in reverse.

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The mastorases, there were two, went away in the end, leaving our gate open, not telling us they were going and, after I’d checked for damage, found they’d left the lid off our fresh water tank (#1). The fun and games will continue as tank #2 now has pipes, and they will have to be attached to something somewhere. But hey! In the middle of all this… Our kitchen hot tap has not been working since before Christmas, so we’ve been boiling kettles or filling the bowl from the bathroom. It would run and then run out as if the pressure was dropping and I suspected muck in the pipes brought up by the pump when the sterna broke. Recently, the tap gave up altogether and nothing was coming out. A couple of days ago, for no reason we can think of, it started working again. Another mystery to add to the list.

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