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

Cold and Covid Vacs

Cold and Covid Vacs

Blimey. The temperature has dropped by at least 10 degrees in the last couple of days, and although the courtyard is registering 7° first thing in the morning, it feels a lot colder thanks to the north wind. Shutters are shut, curtains are up, and the heaters are on in the background, but blankets are required for TV watching, thermals and Aran jumpers for daywear, and as soon as I find where I put them, fingerless gloves will be a la mode for typing.

Wintery skies

Wintery skies

Yesterday, I went through the online process of putting our house electricity bill in my name to match up with the house contract. It used to be a complicated process and, although I never tried it, involved attending the DEH office in Rhodes with paperwork, bills, your landlord, his extended family and various other hard to find bits and pieces. Now, it’s a case of filling out some online forms, giving tax numbers and passport proof of who you are, the contract and bank details. Hopefully, in a couple of days, I will get a reply telling me what, if anything, I need to do next. I forgot to add the contract when I filled the form as my translation might not have been up to scratch, but I’ve now emailed that, so I wait to see what happens. The good thing about having the bill in my name is that it works with the contract, and everything is now linked through the online tax service. Not sure if that means the bill is deductible, but what it more importantly means is that I will have a utility bill in my name and address. That proof of address, I hear, is needed for getting the new biometric residency cards, which are another story yet to be told. Neil has the phone bill in his name.

Cold mornings

Cold mornings

We’re still waiting to hear what we need to do to get those cards organised, so if you’re on Symi and wondering, hold on a while longer as the officer in charge has said we’ll know as soon as he does. There is a rumour that, as with the Covid vaccinations, we will have to go to Rhodes to complete the process. What with inter-island travel banned for anything but medical emergencies, I can’t see a group of immigrants such as us being allowed to pop over for the day to exchange residency cards for biometric ones. I can’t see an island population of 2,500 or so nipping across to get a shot in the arm either, but again, we’re waiting to hear what’s happening about that.

Meanwhile, the kitchen table should be clear again soon as the Phantom is coming along, and I’ve almost finished. It’s not my best work, but it’s fun to do, keeps me away from the TV and makes a change from writing.

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Our Symi and Συμαιων Γη

Our Symi and Συμαιων Γη

I was browsing Facebook yesterday morning and found I’d been invited to a Symi group. Unlike many of these groups set up by fans and visitors, this is a local one and is in Greek. It’s the group or page for a Blogspot site called Συμαιων Γη. You may already know of it, but if not, here’s a link:

symi site

The menu covers Archaeology, History, Folklore, Environment and Arts, and there are loads of fascinating things to read. Okay, so if you don’t read Greek, you can copy and paste into an online translator, and I know they don’t always give the best results, but they are a help. For example, this page is about the alleyways and tunnels of the village, and a quick translation gives us this:


In Symi, when we say “Stonomyri – Stenomyri”, we mean the narrow road, the alley, and maybe the one that is in a secluded spot, and not in a central part.

Let us see, however, what the Byzantines called the narrow streets, before the Fall and after it, in order to understand the relation of this word with the one we say on the island today.

The word “Steni – Stenon” during the Byzantine period, meant a narrow road, and then there was the word after the fall “Rimi or Rymni”, which meant the same thing. The Combination of both, therefore, became “Stenorrymin and Stenorymion”, and was formed in Symi into “Stonomyri – Stenomyri.”

So, yes, you may have to read between the lines a little, but I think you’ll find it informative. Scroll down that one page (linked above), and you will find 11 articles that range from birds to lizards, those big moths we get here, and those famous Medusa-head door knockers. In Symi we call the door ring “Groukello”, from “Krikellion” but the word “Kourkoumos” was also used on the island.

symi site 2

You see? Fascinating and all you need to do is copy and paste to get a decent translation. I just thought you might like to see that site if you haven’t already.

The Facebook page is here:

Weekend Thoughts

Weekend Thoughts

I’m reminded of that famous line from Downton Abbey, ‘What’s a weekend?’ Every day is very similar these days, and the concept of a weekend doesn’t apply to me any longer. There is no need to have a lie-in on a Sunday because I don’t have to be up for work during the week, but I usually wake at 4.30 anyway. This Sunday, it was 3.30, so I have an extra hour to my day. I can’t count the number of times I’ve asked, ‘What day is it?’ just out of interest, or because I wanted to go to the post office, or, more importantly, because two days of the week I have a video call with Harry for his piano tutoring. Otherwise, it’s a pretty standard routine no matter what day it is.

Last week.

Last week.

Did you know that the word ‘weekend’ didn’t exist until the early 20th century? I expect you did, but apparently, some writers of historical fiction didn’t. I’ve read some stories set in the late 19th century where the characters refer to a ‘weekend’ and use words like okay. When writing, if I am in doubt about a word’ usage, I refer to an online dictionary which tells me when that word was used in print. It’s a bit American-centred, and I can’t guarantee its accuracy, but it’s a help. Here’s the entry for ‘weekend’ for example.


I’m very much in writing mode at the moment, being a few chapters away from the end of the first draft of a new Clearwater, and my Saturday blog on spoke a little about my writing process under the title How I Write a Novel. Other than that, I’ve been beavering away on my Phantom of the Opera model kit, wrestling with the fine detail, trying to find realistic flesh tones and wishing I had better brushes. I particularly like building these in the winter when the rain is lashing, and the thunder is rumbling, as it was on Saturday. The wind was also buffeting the house, as it was at 3.30 on Sunday, giving me hope that I will have to stay in and write and build, and won’t expect myself to go for a walk. (Lazy.)

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Although I feel guilty as I don’t go out tramping the hillside as much as I used to, I do go out occasionally, as in last Thursday, when I tried to make it to To Vrisi but got caught up in a sheep-jam on the hillside. I think I disrupted feeding time, which has moved to 7.30 now that it’s winter, so for my next walk, I think I’ll just carry on up the road instead.

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But that’s for the new week. It’s still the weekend as I write. I have left my character in peril and must go and rescue Silas before he and his assailant get bored hanging around waiting for their author to continue the scene…

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