Symi Dream

Living on a Greek island

Symi Dream - Living on a Greek island

Too Tired to Sleep

I had one of those nights where I couldn’t sleep. Yesterday afternoon, I went for a long walk (for me). Sensible shoes, water, a hat, and off I went, up through the village to the ‘lone tree’, and out onto the path along the hillside to Xissos, and back to the village via the road. Home to home in one and a half hours and straight into the shower. I wasn’t so much celebrating the walk at the end of it, but I was celebrating the fact we still haven’t had to turn on the hot water tank since June, and the water was still warm enough that it didn’t make me swear.

After being up since three in the morning and after doing three and a half miles uphill and down, I was ready for bed at half eight but hung on until nine, when I headed off, looking forward to a good night’s sleep. Could I? Could I buffalo. I tried laying this way and that, but posture made no difference. I tried all those other tricks too. Remembering places I’d been to and walking through houses I’d lived in, recalling pleasant memories, picturing nothing, picturing lying on a raft on a flat calm sea at night, and reciting Under Milk Wood, or the first few lines as I can only remember the first few lines of anything. Silence. To begin at the beginning… Try a poem. Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary…No. ’Twas brillig, and the slithy tories did grye and gimble in wabe: All mimsy were the Labourites, and the mome Libs outrgabe…

Nothing.

Try picturing scenes from the walk, like this one:

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Then I got to thinking, ‘Perhaps I am too tired to sleep.’

Say what?

Apparently being too tired to sleep is a thing. So where did that expression come from then? To be a thing? When did something being a thing become a thing? As if it wasn’t bad enough wondering about that, I then started wondering if it was possible to be too tired to sleep. Surely that’s like being too hungry to eat.

‘What a wonderful banquet, Marjory, but I couldn’t possibly. I am far too peckish to eat a thing.’

Or being too thirsty to drink.

‘Just crawled in from the desert, dear. Hell of a tailback on the dunes. Kept me out there for six days. Oh, very kind, but no water for me. I am far too thirsty.’

Apparently, being too cold to snow is also a thing.

‘I think it might snow.’

‘Oh no, it’s far too cold to snow.’

Presumably, you can also say it’s far too wet to rain.

I tried asking the 348 cows in the field if they had any plans to lie down, but they told me to ask the sheep in the next field. There were 382 of them, and I was still awake.

Relive the wonder of the day’s wander…

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I felt Neil come in, and realised I was in trouble. It was definitely late and I am body-clocked into waking at three, four at the latest, I started doing that thing where you count down the hours until you’re going to be awake, and thinking, ‘If I drop off now, I’ll have five hours.’ Check the clock. ‘I’ll have four hours.’ Think of nothing, and there we are having a discussion with Richard Burton about rain in the desert and what does mimsy mean? Yay! I’m asleep.

I’m awake. Mimsy means to be rather feeble and prim or affected, so Richard tells me. The fan is now off, but it’s neither warm nor cold, so do not adjust, normal sleeping service will return shortly. Ah, two thirty is it. Perhaps it’s too early to get up. Then again, if it’s too wet to rain, too cold to snow, and presumably, hot to be warm, it is, paradoxically, never too early to get up.

So I did. This is the result, and now, to work. Or do I have too much work to do to work?

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[Before I suffer the slings and arrows of outrageously clutched pearls, yes, I know you can be too hungry to eat. Ditto paradoxical insomnia. It’s half three in the morning, so take the thing in the spirit it was meant.]

Things to Do

Today’s list of things to do:

This blog post (obviously, and quickly), my other blog post to do, a short story to edit, four hours at least of another project, water the ‘garden’ as it’s a water day, washing (ditto), continue to rearrange and edit the first four chapters of the next book as I realised on my last readthrough that all the info and story I need is there but in the wrong order, take a short walk (if possible), make lunch, prepare lesson plan for H’s fist piano lesson of the season ready for Monday (this can wait until tomorrow). To make it worse, I didn’t wake up unit four, so I already feel as though I am in a hurry.

Luckily, the temperature is now down to around 32 during the day, so I’m not sweltering, and I have all day as I have no work to go to. No work? Ha!

I had time for a short wander yesterday afternoon. Now it’s slightly cooler, I don’t mind going out, climbing to the top of the village and back during the afternoon, whereas before, it was nigh on impossible to go out at three in the afternoon. There was a cooling breeze too, which helped. This photo was taken with a wide angle from next to the Panorama Kantina on the main road a little way up the hill.

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These other two, which I will leave you with as I set about my to-do list, show you the balmy early morning of the other day and the view from our window, or one of our windows. It’s a pleasant view up the lane where we often see cats, chickens with their chicks, people with suitcases, the trash truck, and the occasional goat and other wandering animals. All delightfully rural until a moped with no sound insulation roars by in the wrong gear. However, today, there’s no time to stand and stare.

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Plot Holes and Pot Plants

Yesterday, I was able to take down the notes stuck around my writing station, tick them off a list in my notebook, transfer the facts/details to the main ‘bible’ notebook for my current series, and say, ‘That’s the first draft done.’ I then spent the rest of the day with my head inside the book, trying to put my imaginary finger on what’s missing, or perhaps, what’s not quite exactly as it should be… While wondering if there aren’t too many distractions to the main mystery plot, and knowing something isn’t quite right but I’m not sure what… Until it finally fell into place as I was drifting off to sleep last night.

So, today, I shall begin again, this time, reading through with a great big note (and only the one) right in front of me reminding me what to cut out and what to highlight. I know what the problem is. The protagonist isn’t sure whether he is going to do A or B, and that’s misleading the reader. It’s actually me, while writing, who didn’t know if the protagonist was going to do A or B, and leaving my options open, but like an open gate to a field of cattle, it’s let everything wander into the lane and get muddled up while causing a traffic jam. So, time to make a decision, close the gate, stick to the one idea, and rewrite the draft with that in mind.

Meanwhile…

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Back in the real world, the chillies are doing well, bar one plant that has suddenly decided to wither and die while full of fruit. Very odd. It was planted at the same time as others, in the same soil (different pot), has been treated the same and was doing as well as them until recently. We’ve tried all kinds of things to keep it going but to no avail. The rest of the courtyard is doing fine, as we learn which plants want what levels of sunlight, and discover the best places to put them. There’s always one.

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Beyond the courtyard walls, the Symi-September world revolves, with more regulars arriving, the same number of day trippers tripping, and yachts and gin palaces calling in. Temperatures are cooling by not mightily, so it’s still good beach weather, and as far as I can see, the season is behaving as ‘normal’, though, after the last few years, it’s hard to know what normal is. Still, upwards and onwards…

A New Week Ahead

And so begins another seven-day working week. Can’t wait. But first, a big thank you to everyone who sent anniversary wishes last Friday and over the weekend. We had a lovely afternoon at the bar and an evening with friends. As a special treat, Neil didn’t have to go to work at the bar in the evening, which he has been doing at busy times of late. Instead, we had a meal out at George & Maria, followed by, for me, a late night (10 pm).

Aniversary flowers from my husband. (Well, from Valantis' flower shop, but you now what I mean.)

Anniversary flowers from my husband. (Well, from Valantis’ flower shop, but you know what I mean.)

Talking of busy times, September on Symi is a popular month for northern European visitors, and already, many familiar faces have arrived for their two or more weeks, and as always, it’s good to see them. It’s also good to see and hear regular visitors meeting up while welcoming new visitors and sharing their experiences, thoughts, and their love of the island, hopefully encouraging return visits next year or in the future. What is always a very sociable island becomes even more sociable at this time of year and on into October. The day trip boats continue to arrive, with several each day, and the connections between islands are more than at any other time of the year. Except for today’s Blue Star which had to be cancelled as there’s a shipping ban due to high winds further north, and there’s a strike on Wednesday in protest at a nasty incident in Piraeus last week, but that may not affect the local services (ANES and Dodekanisos). The yellow bus is being repaired so we have the silver one, but the bus is keeping to its schedule, and the train is still running, as are the taxis, the bike and car hire businesses are open, and you can always use Shank’s pony to get around. Shanks being a new business hiring out mules because they are more eco-friendly than cars.

Only joking, sadly, but now is also a good time for walking as the heat is less severe, particularly in the mornings and evenings.

View from my window.

View from my window.

As for me, I have a quiet week planned with my usual writing shifts to see to, and a first draft to turn into a second. Neil continues to use the gym, and dive when he is able, work in the afternoons and sometimes the evenings, while I plan my list of odd jobs around the house. You remember that list of things to do that’s been hanging around for a few years? Well, I will soon start on the first of them; masticing some gaps between the porch roof and lean-to where the rain trickles in. After that, and assuming it’s a success, then there will be flat roof painting, another anti-leak strategy, followed by balcony-varnishing to protect the wood, possibly trap-changing beneath the kitchen sink, but most importantly, fixing the balcony door so we can close it before the weather turns.

But that’s not all to be done this week. I don’t want to open all my presents at once, and will let the to-do list fester while I work my way through it gracefully rather than with the temperament of a bull in a china shop, which is usually how I go about my running repairs, thereby making things worse.

Early morning out at sea

Early morning out at sea

Heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s back to work…

21 Years On

We arrived on Symi 21 years ago today for a planned year abroad to see how we got on. We’d left Paros the night before on a ferry that arrived and departed 90 minutes before the time stated on the tickets, spent the night ‘sleeping’ on the floor of one of the lounges, lost a sleeping mat to a needier kleptomaniac while watching the sunrise over Kalymnos, wandered around Rhodes with our two rucksacks and one laptop, and taken the hydrofoil over to Symi in the afternoon. We stayed our first week at a property near Lemonitissa (variously and incorrectly pronounced by some as Lemonitsa, Lemonatisa, and even lemonytits), before finding ourselves homeless outside the Rainbow bar one afternoon, and before Anastasia of Olympic Holidays’ fame, and later, Sue, came to the rescue.

Since then, we’ve done all sorts of things, been to all sorts of places, been involved in owning a business, tap dancing, concerts (very occasionally), watching our local godchildren grow up to be fine young men despite our best efforts, getting married, and I have continued my creative shenanigans by writing novels, just as I promised at a promotion interview once when back in the real world. ‘Where do you plan to be in five years?’ (Yawn.) ‘On a Greek island writing books.’ I was, and I still am.

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At the time of moving here, I was 39 and Neil was 35 (we arrived on his 35th birthday), and now look at us. The two old muppets who sit in the theatre box and say things like, ‘What was that show all about?’ ‘I’ll tell you what it was about. It was about 20 minutes too long.’ And now, we’re doing things like this:

Not all photos are from this week. This one is from the week before.

Well, he is, and was yesterday, visiting a wreck site with his diving buddies (no photos because it was a training dive), while I continue to tap dance away on my keyboard. This next photo shows the dive boat returning. You may have to squint to see it, it’s that white dot just below the wake of the departing Stavros.

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Who knows what will happen during the next 21 years? For now, we’re more than happy to carry on carrying on, and will be carrying on later to celebrate Neil’s birthday despite his present still being somewhere between here and France after two weeks. I am getting on with some editing, while he’s planning to go to the gym. (I know, bonkers.)

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I’ll be back next week, but wanted to leave you with this… meme, is it called? Does it need text to be a meme and is it pronounced meme, meem, meam, meemee, me-me, and where on earth did the word come from in the first place? The pair on the left aren’t the same as the pair on the right (me and one of our godsons), but I put it together for International Guncles Day with the caption, It starts like this… and ends up like this. (In a restaurant in Prague, and if you want to know what a guncle is, ask a young person.)

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See you next week.