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

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

The origin of the idiom “every cloud has a silver lining” is most likely traceable to the year 1634, when John Milton penned his masque, ‘Comus.’ In it, the quote appears as “Was I deceived or did a sable cloud Turn forth her silver lining on the night?”

There’s some info to get us going, and it’s appropriate to today’s travel post. You will remember I was left flightless like a Galapagos cormorant and had taken myself to the Plaza for a relax before heading back to the airport. My new flight was at 3pm, and I had, by now (Sunday morning) lost my Hilton room and train journey to Brighton. I spent some time chatting to the friend I was due to meet on Monday, and we eventually came up with a new plan. When I did get to London, instead of going to Brighton for the night and then racing back in the morning for our scheduled meet at 12.00, I’d stay in London. This is where the silver lining comes in, but first, you need to know what was going on with Mr Box.

In Trial By Jury, I was the Judge (I'm always the comedy relief) and Pete was the Defendant. Poor lad had to run on through the audience singing, "Is this the court of the exchequer? Be firm! Be firm my pecker." I wonder if they use that line these days? I don't remember anyone sniggering in 1980, but I was getting into a three piece suit, robes, wig, false beard and a large gin while he was doing it.

In Trial By Jury, I was the Judge (I’m always the comedy relief) and Pete was the Defendant. Poor lad had to run on through the audience singing, “Is this the court of the exchequer? Be firm! Be firm my pecker.” I wonder if they use that line these days? I don’t remember anyone sniggering in 1980, but I was getting into a three piece suit, robes, wig, false beard and a large gin while he was doing it.

Back in 1980, Pete and I appeared as Cox and Box in the one-act operetta by Sullivan and Burnand. (It’s presented on the programme as Gilbert and Sullivan because we were also in Trial By Jury in act two, but the libretto is by Burnand.) Actually, it is a one-act triumviretta as there are three people in it – and here’s another thing I just noticed. There was a TV version of the show made in 1982 with a guy called Russel Smythe as Mr Cox (my part). Russel was a friend of my uncle, and I used to go to the gym with him when I was in my late teens. That’s just one of many coincidences in this story. Anyway… Cox and Box were due to meet on Monday 30th July outside the theatre where the show was first performed. But…

Not a great photo, but at least a record of the programme

Not a great photo, but at least a record of the programme (I don’t remember the military band’s music being light)

Mr Box, over for four weeks from New Zealand where he now lives, had taken as part of his family trip, a week in Italy. There were eight in his party (parents, sister, various children) and they were flying with Ryan Air. I know what you’re thinking, and you’d be right. Here’s a list of their holiday highlights: Ryan Air flight out, delayed. Arrive Genoa with all luggage missing. Hire car (minibus I guess) that was booked was not available. €350 taxi trip to Viareggio. Luggage arrived at airport two days before return journey when there were no seats left on the train back to Genoa. No hire cars suitable in Viareggio. Found one in Pisa. Drove to airport for return flight, picked up luggage but found the flight cancelled. No other flights out of Italy (for eight people) until Wednesday – return to New Zealand was Thursday/Friday. Train to Milan for overnight. Found flights for eight people leaving from Zurich on Sunday. Train to Zurich. Managed to fly back to London landing at 10.30pm Sunday.

Gatwick

Gatwick

By which time I had: Downloaded the EasyJet app and secured my boarding pass. Arrived at Rhodes airport, had lunch over the road, joined my comrades in departures where there was still the plane outside the window doing nothing and no sign of activity. Mr Lancashire was still on the phone suing anyone who would listen and threatening to burn down houses, Ms Italy was screaming at some poor floor sweeper, a few people had sourced more vouchers, and a few of us were just waiting calmly. At this stage, people started talking to each other and bonding, which was quite jolly and there were two factions; those prepared to go with the flow and those who wanted a riot. A policeman was called. I popped a couple more blood pressure tablets. Messaging Mr Box to keep him updated and he was sending back shots of wonderful scenery taken from a train travelling through the Alps. That party was happy then. Finally, staff arrived at the plane and eventually we were able to board.

Travelodge salad and a glass of wine, £20.00 thank you!

Travelodge salad and a glass of wine, £20.00 thank you!

The crew were great; a bit worried about their reception, but folks had calmed down now – I think the Astonomia had a word with Mr Lancashire and Ms Italy, and they were noticeably quiet. The captain explained what had happened (delays elsewhere had put them over their allowed flying time and no other crews were available), and then it fell to the cabin crew to explain that the trolley had not been restocked but what they had would be given away, apart from booze (eyed Mr Lancashire sideways). Took off. Landed, took the train to Victoria (only me, not the whole gang), tube to Temple, wandered up to the Travelodge in Covent Garden arriving around 8.30pm. Sorted rooms, waited for Box who finally arrived at 12.30 Monday morning – the others in his party had gone to Cambridge. Again, no point in him going there and then coming back the next day.

A Greek lunch in St Martin's lane the next day

A Greek lunch in St Martin’s lane the next day

So, the silver lining for both of us was that instead of having only 21 hours together after 37 years, we had 34. By the time we’d stopped hugging and chatting, laughing and saying, ‘Oh my God, how long has it been?’ it was 4.00 a.m., and I’d had three hours sleep in the last 48, but I didn’t care.

Now then, the story of ‘Cox and Box’ (or ‘The long lost brothers’ as it’s subtitled) is that these two men share a room without realising it. The landlord, Bouncer, has kept them apart until they meet, and the farce ensues. The irony here was that Cox and Box were finally sharing the same room knowingly. (Earplugs in as Box snores.) Sleep at 4.00, awake at 7.00 as I’d forgotten to turn my alarm off, and one of the best days ever followed. More coincidences came into the script: We’d lost touch at 18, but he’d lived 20 miles away from me in the Lake District for a while, and two miles away from me in London where we went to universities that shared some campus space, he’d been in Brighton for a while about the same time as me… Anyway, there we were, reunited and behaving like teenagers again.

Box and Cox outside the Adelphi theatre (Adelphos in Greek means briother, so appropriate for the long lost brothers, kind of)

Box and Cox outside the Adelphi theatre (Adelphos in Greek means briother, so appropriate for the long lost brothers, kind of)

But more about that tomorrow as you’ll be getting reader fatigue now. By the way. Many of these photos were taken on my new phone, hence they are blurred and I’d not got the hang of selfies.

Hello, I’m back

Hello, I’m back

Well, I am back, but I’m not quite back up to speed. The next few posts are probably going to be about me, and my recent trip and so won’t have much to do with Symi, I’m afraid. I know many of my friends will have seen some of the photos I’m going to post over the next few days, but not everyone has. They won’t necessarily be in the right order or appropriate to the thing I’m writing about, but it will make a change from my usual balcony shots of Yialos. I’ve chosen quite a few from the trip and will try and go the events day by day, starting with the adventure which was a cancelled flight at Rhodes.

Symi Greece Symi Dream photos

Only once before have I spent so long at Rhodes airport waiting for a flight, but that was by choice and another story. On the Saturday of my departure, I arrived in good time, as you do, and hung around waiting for the board to change to tell me a gate. It didn’t, but I went through to departures with over an hour to spare and had a wander around. There was an EasyJet plane just outside the window but nothing going on, so I sat in the café and then wandered hopefully to the gate… Where I met Christine from Symi, who was to be on the same flight. She told me there was talk of a four-hour delay. Bit of a bugger, but not to worry, I had the Hilton booked at Gatwick, and my first train journey was not until 10.00 on Sunday morning.

Sunrise

Sunrise

Then there were murmurings from the others at the gate, which I could see through the café window – I’d gone back for a glass of wine, thinking I had four hours to wait. Er, no, it’s probably not going tonight… News filtered through, and Christine found me offering me a compensation card from the airline as we were over four hours delayed by this point, around one in the morning. So, with my €9.00 credit, I bought us each a glass of wine and a packet of peanuts for €20.00… And realised that the cashier had charged me for the beer belonging to the man behind me in the queue. I became very Greek, rushed back, pushed in (politely) and babbled that she’d overcharged me. That was sorted out amicably and it wasn’t until I was back at my table that I realised I hadn’t even thought about the language, it had just come out in Greek. Mind you, I had been awake for 20 hours by then as I had been up at 4.30 in the morning, as is my wont.

It started well

It started well

The trouble with EasyJet at Rhodes is that they have no ground staff, so it was up to some poor local airport employees to break the news to a very fed up group of passengers that the flight was now cancelled. Well, you may have seen the TV programme about EasyJet, it was starting to get like that with people on the phone to… I have no idea who, threatening to sue them and eat their first born, bewildered others waiting for someone to tell them what to do, others shouting in a variety of accents to the staff who had no idea what was going on either… And a few of us, like me and Christine, who followed the calm inner voice of the seasoned traveller and discovered that the airport was arranging hotels and transport (always a bad sign). However, it was later deemed that this would be for families with children first, and everyone had to wait for the luggage to be taken off the plane, and it was now around 2.00, and the ground staff had gone home…

 

Luckily we only had hand luggage, and Christine knew the night porter at the Ermis hotel (Hermes). After a couple of calls, she grabbed the last two rooms there, and we set off in a taxi back to Rhodes Town. Had we waited, we discovered later, we would not have been free of the airport until 5.30, and then taken to a hotel with about 100 others to find it closed until someone was raised from their slumber to accommodate only 30 guests, and then back on the bus for the unlucky and, the last I heard, some of the passengers are still being bussed around the island looking for a bed and it’s over a week later.

Before the delay

Before the delay

The Hermes did it’s best. Christine had a pristine suite (internal rhyme there, note) while I took the last room to be had. I shan’t share the photo, but I walked in to find: the beds unmade (and dubiously stained), the towels and bathroom floor wet, the shampoo and soaps all used and a rather primal scent in the air. At least they’d flushed the loo. Kind of. I was a bit worried that the couple who had clearly just vacated after their night of passion had only stepped out for a fag and would be joining me very shortly. I slept worriedly for three hours on top of the spare cover from the wardrobe. I wasn’t going to make a fuss with the night porter whose fault it wasn’t, so I did what I could – it was after 3.30 by now, nearly 24 hours without sleep. In the morning I risked a shower and then dried off under the aircon before heading to the Plaza for some civility and to await the next stage of the journey.

 

Phew! More tomorrow.

Time Off

Time Off

Right, I’m off. Well, I’m off tomorrow and have a day of doing things today, like packing and finding the 100 leads and chargers one needs when travelling these days. If you want to keep in touch with Symi while I am away, then follow Adriana’s blog here: https://adrianashum.com/

There are also links over there on the right >> to the Symi chat forum and travel blog to keep up to date. I’ll leave you with a set of random photos, and I will be back to the blog around 8th August.

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