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

Roll Out the βαρρέλλη

Roll Out the βαρρέλλη

I am writing this on Wednesday morning a day ahead as usual. This means I can’t yet comment on what’s happening in the yUK and the mess that is the Tory party, Brexit and the yUK generally as Ms May-Not-Be PM is currently announcing her leadership disaster thing. My journalist mate over there is sending me headlines by the minute, and it’s all very interesting, but as there’s nothing I can do about it (as I have been stripped of my democratic right to vote), I shall address the more mundane matter of our on-going water adventure. Sitting comfortably? Here’s your update of this thrilling tale – with some photos.

Wednesday started cloudy as the rain passed

Wednesday started cloudy as the rain passed

Tuesday. The workman arrived at 3.30 pm and told me a βαρρέλλη (barrel) was on its way – a tank, I assumed correctly. A little while later, while I was inside keeping out of the cold, I heard a few grunts and some plastic-scrapes, the clang of the gate, and popped out to see that a βαρρέλλη had indeed arrived. A great big heavy-duty plastic thing. The guy was pottering about with it on the courtyard floor, so I retreated inside; he knew where I was if needed. About an hour later, things had gone quiet outside, so I took another look. The βαρρέλλη was now magically up on the bathroom roof. I have no idea how he did it, I assume he prepared it, dragged it back outside and then lifted it on a ladder over the courtyard wall, avoiding the vine and the wires that support it, and the mesh, and the railing and squeezed it through a small gap in the rigging and into place. There was no-one around, and I assumed he’d gone home for a well-earned lie-down. It was dusk by now, so I closed the gate and knew he wouldn’t be back to plumb it in that evening.

December 11th 3

That meant I could do a quick tidy up and head on up the hill to the godsons’ house where we are babysitting for a few days. Well, teen sitting really which is, surprisingly, much easier. I went to have a quick wash before leaving only to find no water in the taps. Ah ha! I thought. The sterna has finally run dry. Nope. There was enough water in the sterna (it had been raining), and the pump was trying to pump it. Perhaps he’s connected something… A look on the roof and it was clear there were no pipes attached to the barrelli. I did notice it was resting on a couple of plastic water pipes that come from somewhere and go somewhere else, but these are hard plastic and were not crushed. Odd. I reset the pump as best I could, but still no water. I concluded that with everything else going on and the level low, grit or sediment had filtered in and bunged it up. A job for the next day. Off I went to spend a pleasant evening and night up the hill.

I knew my MSc would come in handy one day

I knew my MSc would come in handy one day

Next day, Wednesday. I was home by just after six, to find there was still no water and the pump hadn’t corrected itself. No reason why it should. I popped over the road to tell a rather beleaguered and crestfallen landlord that although we had some water in the sterna, the pump was now not working. He said he’d phone the man – which I am sure he will do, and I expect the guy again probably at 3.30 when he finishes his real job. Meanwhile, I had a brainwave and, as it was town hall supply day, wondered if there was any way I could divert the incoming mains to a variety of bottles we had been collecting. Luckily the in-pipe for the mains is one of those tough plastic ones but flexible enough to be pulled from the sterna entrance and directed, with some spillage, to the bottles one at a time. No need for the pump as this is pressured water from the main pipes. So, I have filled up what we have which should be enough for today and tomorrow, and I’ll do it all again on Friday if the new barrelli is not yet attached. The pump, whether it’s dead or simply injured, will have to wait. No point replacing it if we’re not going to need one until the summer.

Tuesday morning, carrying on up the Kali Strata

Tuesday morning, carrying on up the Kali Strata

I am sure there will be more news on this adventure tomorrow if you can tear yourself away from the car crash which is the yUK at the moment. Oh, and roadworks have begun again on our lane so all the above is accompanied by pneumatic drills. There is good news, however. The accountant rang to say Neil is to receive a merisma – a dividend – from the government (Greek, not British of course). It’s something to do with his name being on the lease for our property rental. I don’t know exactly, and I don’t know how much it might be, but he will investigate today. Might be enough for a new pump…

All a bit dark

All a bit dark

No, I am not talking about a blackout or anything, but today’s photos. I thought as the sterna saga continues, you might like some images of what’s going on. So far, not a lot, but I did get a shot of the entrance to our water tank (the sterna, or cistern, beneath the house). You can’t see much, but you might see why anyone is reluctant to go down and investigate. Before we get to that dark and damp experience, here’s yesterday’s sunrise.

December 10th 1

That’s about as pretty as today’s few shots are going to get.

As for the progress on the water situation… It rained on Monday, so we had loads of free water pouring into the sterna from the roof. While this was going on, we were able to have showers and save some rainwater in a few buckets in case we need them later. After the downpour, there was a decent level in the tank, but most of that was gone within an hour, leaving us enough at the bottom to use for washing up and the like. The leak seems to be somewhere at a level above the top of the pump, so I am not too worried about sediment being dragged into the machine and ruining it, and it’s one of those pumps where if there is no water to pump, it shuts itself off, so the pump itself shouldn’t suffer damage. It’s down there somewhere…

December 10th 3

On Monday, our landlord came across to see how we were doing and check we were okay for the day and told us that his workman would be arriving after work that afternoon. Two guys appeared around half-three with the landlord, took a look at the sterna entrance and discussed options. This was all in a mix of Greek, Symiaka and Albanian, but I followed the thread as I knew what the context was. In the end, it was decided that they would bring a temporary tank to go on the bathroom roof and, I assume, plumb it in so we can use that as our sterna until they do the deed down the hole. Something they are reluctant to do now as it’s a big job (we wouldn’t be able to use the workhouse for some time because a wall and possibly floor need to be knocked through or something), the weather is unpredictable, and it’s winter, so that will have to wait until summer. As long as we have the tank, we don’t mind, but it did sound like a bit of an excuse to me. I waited in for the evening as they were due back with the tank and equipment after five, but thanks to a thunderstorm, they didn’t arrive.

You can't just pop a ladder in that gap and climb down the ten feet to the bottom, parts of the wall/floor will have to come out.

You can’t just pop a ladder in that gap and climb down the ten feet to the bottom, parts of the wall/floor will have to come out.

It’s Tuesday morning as I write and no sign of them yet, but we still have some water in the sterna, so it’s not a worry. I will have to wait around until they get here – which could be any time – and deliver the thing and set it all up. Meanwhile, Neil is covering our godparent duties up at the boys’ house while mum is away, and I’m missing out on the fun. But there’s no choice, not until we are back online with water and can fill up the new tank. Hopefully, this morning, as you read.

Get ready for the next thrilling instalment of ‘The House that Leaked Water’, a remake of the 1971 cult horror classic, ‘The House that Dripped Blood’, four shorts in one film written by Robert Bloch, a bit of a long way from his novel Psycho, but there you go. And here I go to wait around for a plastic tank.

Random Places

Random Places

While we wait to hear news about the sterna-fixer due last Saturday but not yet appeared, let’s go on a little journey. I was just going through my collection of images in the ‘for later’ folder, and I thought you’d probably had enough shots of the mountain and the path to To Vrisi, the walk up the road and so on, so I looked for something else. Actually, I’ve not been able to walk up the road much these last few weeks for one reason or another (rain, cold, waiting for workmen etc.), and so a trip around a few places might be of interest. Apart from anything else, it will fill today’s blog page and won’t take me long to do, so I can load this up ready for Tuesday and then pop across the lane to have a chat with the landlord and see what’s what with water. We’re down to about two flushes, and a kettle-worth left in the sterna dispute the weekend’s rain which went straight in and straight out again. Anyway, meanwhile, here is a random collection of images from some places I have been to this year.

Rhodes

Rhodes

Rhodes

Rhodes

Kos

Kos

Athens

Athens

Athens

Athens

Romney Marsh

Romney Marsh

Romney Marsh

Romney Marsh

Littlestone (Kent. View from my old house.)

Littlestone (Kent. View from my old house.)