The front room, where I have my desk, really does feel like a fridge today, it has recorded some of the lowest temperatures I can remember in here, and it’s not much better outside.
The talk yesterday was of the bad winds and the two small wooden fishing boats that sank in the harbour, the sea was that rough down there. Apparently one was swamped and the other hit against the harbour wall so many times it was holed and then sank. The sea looks calmer today, but there is still a breeze and it still feels bitterly cold. Neil, arriving back in Rhodes last night, said that if felt colder there than it did in Vienna and Edinburgh, where he has recently been visiting family.
So, the heaters are on, both of them, around the desk, the cat has taken refuge in the depths of his armchair, and I am going to do what work I can before my fingers seize up and I am forced in to the sofa with vegetable soup and a good book. (I am aiming for that to happen around midday, though I have yet to make the soup.)
I did nip out yesterday to have a quick decaf at the Olive Tree and pick up a few supplies from the shops, and also thoroughly enjoyed a chicken pie at chez Harry in the evening where not only was I well fed but also very well entertained by the boys, and came away with a complete set of Thunderbirds drawings from Harry, now in place on the fridge. The real fridge.
All being well, Neil is back on Symi tomorrow and will be back at work on Monday, mornings and evenings (except Saturday eve and Sundays) through the rest of the winter. He’s had his holiday, I am planning mine for this afternoon.
I’m still here. Well, I would be, it’s 6.45 so even if I was supposed to be somewhere else I wouldn’t have gone there yet. But I am going to be here even when I should be somewhere else as there is no boat today, or tomorrow, and I am coming back on Friday anyway, from where I can’t go today, so no point in going there then, the day there should next be a boat.
Strong winds, up to force nine you see. Except I can’t see, not yet because it’s still dark out there, but I can’t hear either, apart from the occasional blast and rattle of a shutter, but it is supposed to be very windy later, around 11.00, and very cold. It’s not exactly warm now. But still, that’s how it is in the winter when the weather is not always with you.
So, instead, I have a couple of extra days in which to get the house ship-shape for Neil’s return on Friday, which also gives me a couple of extra days working on the book, which is what I shall be doing later this morning. I was going to be in Rhodes seeking out an ear specialist to get some opinion on the tap-dancing that takes place in my left ear 24/7, off and on, but that will have to wait. I’ve seen doctors about this before, but not a specialist in Greece, so thought I might give it a whirl one day. It’s been off and on for years now; a clicking sound that is sometimes low like a Geiger counter and inconsistent in its rhythm, and sometimes fast and high and stabbing, as it is now, but still a clicking and no pain.
I’ve trawled websites and medical advice sites and fora (that is the plural, I looked it up) and learned of other people’s experiences and found all kinds of odd ‘remedies.’ Sinus tablets such as Sudafed is what the original doctor ordered, and it works for some people but not for me; hanging upside down is one of the more advanced breakthroughs in medical science apparently, and actually used in some hospitals. (More for the junior doctors’ amusement than anything else perhaps.) I tried lying on the bed with my head hanging over the edge but that only succeed in making me look silly.
I’ve seen a You Tube video of a doctor treating someone simply by lying the head on one side and then other, and sometimes leaning to the left for two minutes will settle it down, though I look pretty foolish when waiting in the post office or walking in the street. Some say it is tinnitus, some say it is not as it is not the same frequency and sound, but the sound comes back with such regular frequency it might as well be.
I’ve heard it called Tensor Tympani or Stapedius Muscle Spasms (middle ear myoclonus) and this page seems to hold the most accurate description for me so far. I’ve not yet settled down with a mug of Horlicks to watch the videos there, and apparently not even Botox will help me, but the page does give some ideas of treatments, though I will need to go and discuss with the ENT chaps in Rhodes, at some point.
Meanwhile, I’ll click on and try and ignore it. I just thought I would share all that with you in case you are a fellow sufferer and didn’t know exactly what it was, or in case you did happen to have a miracle cure and fancied emailing it to me. And now, with the Alarm Cat shouting around the house (having shouted me awake at 5.30 this morning) I must get on. That wind is definitely picking up and I am wondering if I should go and shut the shutters before it’s too late.
It’s difficult to get out of a warm bed into a cold room, at quarter to seven in the morning, before the sun is up, and then go into a colder kitchen to feed the cat before heading to the even colder bathroom where the window doesn’t shut properly for a shower; with warm water, luckily. But it has to be done.
I know it’s colder in other parts of the world where you are reading this but it does feel as if the cold of winter has suddenly bitten in with no warning. Mind you, at least it’s not raining, the air is very clear, the view across the sea is spectacular and there is no damp in the air. And, with two heaters on to warm up the front room and fingers, thing aren’t so bad.
At least it is not yet windy though that is promised for later. I am keeping an eye on it to see if the Blue Star will leave Athens later day and make its journey down. If it does and it calls in to Symi tomorrow and then to Rhodes, I shall be having another couple of days holiday across the water. A bit of eating out, a bit of shopping, and meeting Neil on his return on Wednesday night. If the boat doesn’t run then I shan’t, and if the wind is that bad (predicted force eight and nine), then there is a chance that Neil won’ even make it out of Athens and will have to spend the night there. The joys of small island living in the winter – and you wonder why islanders talk about the weather and boats so much.
Another thing the islanders are talking about is the Jean and Tonic Bar in the village. This business /lease/license is still up for sale by the owner of the property, Alexis. Here’s the message:
“The well established Jean & Tonic Bar is up for sale. This Late Night Drinking Bar was established in 1984 and is recommended in all the Travel Guides for Symi and Greece. This is an ideal business opportunity for someone with an outgoing personality. If you are interested, please contact Alexis Leventeri by email at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org”
Nice and simple: Drop Jean a line if you are genuinely interested in finding out more about what is involved in taking on the business. Although the previous owner has closed and moved on, the bar is still there and licensed as a late night cocktail bar. So, while you are sitting in, in the winter, wherever you are, and dreaming of living on Symi but wondering what you might do, here is a chance to take over something that comes, more or less, complete, and with good recommendations and publicity behind it. I’ll leave you to think about that.
As Victoria Wood said in one of her skits, ‘By ‘eck Ma, it’s parky.’ It’s suddenly very cold out there (for us) and made even more so yesterday by a strong wind.
A wind that blew the front door open during the night on Saturday giving the Alarm cat a chance to break in and start playing noisily at five in the morning. On these occasions the only thing to do is get up, let him come in, give him an early breakfast and then try and get back to sleep for an hour. Trouble is, when he’s finished eating he has half an hour of vocal training exercises to do, which tends to jolt you awake just as you’re nodding off. If he finds where you are sleeping he will knock off early and catch forty winks on your head instead, which also makes it hard to get back to sleep. No such luck for him this morning though, the door was firmly closed, but his Reveille was still early this morning at just before seven.
Over the weekend I did manage to find out what those metal pins in the ground are all about and they are, it seems, to do with surveying. We had a few comments in from people who know about these things including:
“They are survey bench marks.” (David)
“Yes, survey points.” (Allan)
“It seems that Greece did not have up to date Ordnance Maps and some 15-20 years ago Symi was chosen by the EU as the proto-type for Greece. A team of Surveyors arrived on Symi and measured the whole island inputting this information into a computerised form. A copy of the Completed Map is available in the Notary’s Office in the Harbour.” (Jean)
“So, points and bench marks = reference markers for a land survey, ‘put your measuring instruments here and be consistent with other records’ kind of thing?” (Me, for clarification.)
“Yes that’s it. They measure the contours of the land by measuring the distance and the elevation angle between points.” (Alan)
So we can put that mystery to rest now, if indeed it was a mystery to you. I always wondered what they were about. I’ll look out for more later when I head out into the cold to do some shopping. I have a busy two days ahead as I want to get everything up to date and three bog posts ready in advance (obviously I mean ‘blog’ posts there) so I can head off to Rhodes on Wednesday and do some (Christmas) shopping, meet Neil and try out the Indian restaurant. That is, if the boat sails on Wednesday. I keep checking the forecast but it doesn’t change: very strong winds scheduled for Wednesday, up to force eight or nine, and that might well mean no boat, which will mean no trip to Rhodes until Friday morning, which is when Neil should be coming back, so there’d be no point in me going unless we spend the day there and came back later in the evening. Decisions! Will keep watching Windfinder.com.
As mentioned on many previous occasions in this blog, people living on Symi are frequently asked “what is it like in winter?” We all answer in our own ways.
Generally this question is asked as part of the general conversation. There are a few times when it is asked with an underlying purpose, often when considering buying a property or even moving permanently, whether to continue working or retire. It is essential when moving to a different country to consider what life is like in winter, especially when the main season is over.
For those considering living or buying a property on Symi. One of the frequently overlooked areas of research is transferring money abroad. This is especially important when buying a property on Symi (or anywhere else), whether it is one of the many old ruins that is need of considerable building work, or a property ready to be occupied. For those properties that need repair the builder will often expect payment in stages. Further, when the building is in use there are practical things such as paying electricity bills, water and taxes.
In recent years it has become much easier to be part of the growing trend of people working from home. The rise of the internet means that it is now much easier to work at home from a small island such as Symi. Working at home for an existing or new employer requires self-discipline, but this is often outweighed by the improvement to life style and reduction of stress.
In addition to paid work, for those at or near retirement age. issues such as pension payments come into play. Many UK based pension companies will make the recipient pay if money is to be paid into a “foreign” bank account. State Pensions can usually be paid into any bank account, however it is necessary to check with the relevant government agency the exact rules. Additionally, many people who move to Symi often own property that is rented out to tenants; the rent paid may make a significant contribution towards an individual’s income whilst living on the island.
Whether it is just buying a property, working remotely or retiring, everyone’s banking solutions needed will differ. Lloyds international banking can provide solutions tailored to individual needs that allows one to enjoy the new life to the full.
So going back to the original question “what is it like in winter?” The temperature in the last few days has been around 20, a bit of rain, the odd thunderstorms and some sunshine. That being said, life still goes on as people get together socially, take up activities such as dancing and generally get on with enjoying everyday life.
If you wander around the village looking down at your feet all the time, you may avoid tripping up, but people will think you very antisocial. However, while you are walking that way you may notice some things on the ground and wonder what they are.
I don’t mean the even increasing amounts of, shall we say, left over Chum that more and more owners seem to think is someone else’s problem, and ditto the occasional bag of household rubbish that never made it to the skip. (Perhaps the carrier was mauled by a loose and wandering hound and never made it, that might explain it.) You will, of course, notice lots of steps and stones, and looking at one’s feet is often the safest way to travel around these parts, especially at night. But also, you might notice small pieces of metal embedded in the stone at irregular intervals. Example:
What, you may wonder, are these? They appear in odd places, there’s one right outside the Rainbow Bar, there are several around a house opposite us where some surveying work was recently done, and there are many more all through the lanes and paths in Horio, and possibly Yialos I haven’t noticed. What are they?
I have no idea. I wondered if they might be to do with where cables ran underground, but then cables don’t run underground around here, and the water pipes are also over ground. They might be to do with drainage I suppose. The big house near us was recently surveyed and, after the guys had clambered around on its roof, stood with their theodolites and other equipment in the streets and looked up at the building tutting and shaking their heads, ‘It’ll have to come down guv,’ and after they’d made notes on clipboards, they circled some of these metal things in red. Why?
Alien landings? Underground streams? Theodolite markers? Surveyors’ tools? I am sure there is an obvious, and probably rather dull, explanation and when I mention this on Facebook there will be some sensible (and silly) suggestions. So, my thought for the day is: what are they? I will let you know if I find out.
When I go out for a walk later I must get some more photos as I am running out in my ‘spare pictures to post’ folder, as I’ve hardly been anywhere of late.
I didn’t take a walk yesterday, apart from to the shops, due to the weather, but today looks clear. Talking of shopping; we use a couple of the ‘super markets’ that are available in the village, and we use them because they are on our way to and from our own shop, and we use both as they have different opening hours, and different prices on certain goods. Yesterday, for example, I used Sotiris’ supermarket because I was out in the early evening, and the day before I used the ‘American’ because I was out during the afternoon when Sotiris is shut.
There is a marked difference between the two on a few counts. The American has things that the other doesn’t have, and vice versa, but I find Sotiris is always more of a madhouse, more noise and laughter. His is also on one level and you can usually have a conversation with whoever is at the till as you browse around. The American is on two levels and once upstairs you’re on your own. It’s recently had a sort-out up there and now has a different system on the shelves, and I always think it’s much more of an Aladdin’s cave. I spend ages looking at all the interesting bits and pieces and wondering if I can justify buying interesting things I don’t need. Everything from camping stoves to tin oven trays; you never know what you will find.
Prices are a factor as well, but you have to keep on top of price-watching like you would keep on top of a daily diet (not that I would know). Something are cheaper in one than the other, some things are the same, others vary, some things are even cheaper than that were no a recent trip to Lidl in Rhodes (baked beans are an example). You also have to go where the supplies are; sometimes Sotiris will have something people want (exhibit ‘A’, last week’s fresh parsnips, though not for me), but then the American may have onions which don’t squash when you squeeze them, and perhaps a few fresh cabbages. At this time of year you take what you can get.
There is also the shop at Campos which I don’t use very often as I am too lazy, but I can’t comment on it without knowing it, so I won’t.
No idea why I started talking about that. Anyway, the typing is calling me, the Alarm Cat is in and at my feet, he has a routine of being there for about ten minutes before he stars complaining that it’s not good enough and shouts at the various rooms in the house for 15 minutes before finally and quietly settling into a chair somewhere, and there are things to be done around the house, so let’s get started.
The Blue Star from Rhodes has been cancelled due to bad weather further north so will not arrive today. It is scheduled to leave Piraeus tomorrow at 15.00 and for more information: SYMI TOURS – TEL.: 2246071689 & 2246071307
Σας ενημερώνουμε οτι σύμφωνα με δελτιο Ε.Μ.Υ ισχυει απαγορευση αποπλου σήμερα Τρίτη 03/12/13. Το Δρομολόγιο του F/B ΔΙΑΓΟΡΑΣ απο Πειραια 15:00 για Πατμο-Λειψούς-Λερο-Καλυμνο-Κω-Σύμη-Ροδο και επιστροφη θα παραμείνουν ανεκτέλεστα. Το πλοιο θα αναχωρήσει την Πεμπτη 05/12/13 απο Πειραια στις 15:00 για Σύμη – Ροδο . Για περισσοτερες πληροφορίες SYMI TOURS- TΗΛ:2246071307 & 2246071689.
Anne Zouroudi has her first Kindle publication out titled “Butterflies in the rain” she writes: “I have at last ventured into the arena of ebook short stories with my first Kindle Single (I’m very late to the party, I know). It’s a story I wrote for a national competition, set not in Greece but the western USA. It’s a total bargain at only 99p, and if you do download it and enjoy it, please consider doing me an Amazon review: good reviews are good news on there. And don’t ask me if Rosita is angel or devil, because to be honest I’m not sure. I just write the stuff. Your views are welcome.”
The weather: There was a thunderstorm in the night, but outside now grey clouds are passing by and the forecast is for sunshine later.
And not so local: On this day in history (1872) the Mary Celeste was found abandoned.
Neil has arrived safely with his daughter in Scotland for this part of his family tour 2013.