Still rambling about the hillside and still at the ancient Castro

Symi Dream handy tip alert: In case you missed your free copy last year, here is the Olive Tree guide to Paska on Symi. This is a PDF file which you should be able to download and save, print, or open and read online. Click here for your Guide to Symi Easter.

I am employing the use of tachygraphy today as we carry on across the hillside. Yesterday we got as far as Ag Nikitas and the church there. If you are following this walk and making notes then so far we have: left the village on the donkey path which leads to Ag Paraskevi, passed the friendly dog by the road who likes to have his back scratched, headed across the main road and off onto the track towards Panagia Mirtariosita, taking the lower path to slip past it underneath on its south side, and then heading up the track towards St George Kotikon, but heading off the left hand slipway and up the hill rather than along, and so to St Nikitas and then heading to the left of the church, through a small patch of trees and out onto the open hillside.

Symi Greece photos

Towards the ancient Castro

Phew, that was a march and a half and mainly up hill, but worth the clamber for the views now awaiting us and a good place to sit and do some bird watching:

Symi Greece photos

(Note: must get decent binoculars before next winter)

From up here there is a view down towards St Emilianos, and across to Turkey, and a little further along the side of the hill, towards the sea and other Dodecanese islands. From this place I was able to see Symi (of course!), Rhodes, Halki, a faint edge of Karpathos way beyond it, Tilos, Nissiros, Kos, and at one point on the walk, Bodrum as well as Datca in Turkey. Not bad on one day. Through binoculars I could even see the houses in Tilos’ main harbour. This photo is actually of the quarry on Kos.

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Kos, from a distance!

It is also possible to see down towards and over the bay of St Vasilis, which is on the other side of the hill you’re on, so you can’t see it without going over the top, and across that bay towards Lapathos and Apiana bays. Those who have read and studied Jason and the Sargonauts will know that this is the bay Jason and his tourist guests should have landed at (Apiana) when they were marooned by the duplicitous boat captain. If you have not read it then a) that won’t mean anything and b) shame on you, you skilt! Taintwivy thee to (kindle version here, if you buy the paperback you can get the Kindle version for £1.99 or something ridiculous).

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Apiana bay in the distance

And finally we make it to the ancient fortification of Castro, which is recognisable from the huge pile of old fallen down stones around the base of some very sturdy walls. I am calling it Castro as that’s what it says on the map.

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Checking the views from on top of the Castro

While here we found the two halves of a pottery handle; Lyndon found one half and I found the other a few paces away, and they fitted together perfectly. There was also part of a rim of a large jug or amphora. I have no idea of the age of the piece though, could be 100 years could be 2,000 or could be ten I guess.

Symi Greece photos

Two halves placed together

So, after having a look at all views from the old Castro and after a rest, having found ourselves to be a little flabile, we headed back through the woods and towards home. There are still photos to come, which will be up tomorrow, and still some sites to see even on the homeward march, but that will have to wait until another day.

Symi Greece photos

Entrance to the ancient fortification

Tachygraphy: (Johnson) n.s. The art of practice of quick writing.
Taintwivy: at full speed
Skily: (Johnson) n.s. [A word used by Cleaveland, of which I know not either etymology or meaning.] Well, how very helpful Mr J.
Flabile: (Johnson) blown about by the wind

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 No Comments
Categorized Under: Day to day

Walking to Symi’s other Castro with Samuel Johnson and Francis Grose

I’m not sure how I am going to do this as I want to get in some old words and I want to tell you about a walk. The old words are new to me, but they come from “The Vulgar Tongue, Buckish slang and pickpocket eloquence”, by Francis Grose. This is a book that Jenine gave me for my birthday and is based on dictionaries by Francis Grose from 1785, which is why I can use words like Sutler, without having to worry that my spell check doesn’t recognise them. And, while I am doing that, I can show you this photo from my early morning walk yesterday:

Symi Greece photos

Sunrise over Pedi, 06.45.

And then I can turn to page 67 (a random number from the top of my head) and find the word… well, verb actually, To Chouse, which might well go with our new friend the sutler, who actually wouldn’t be much of a friend for long. “My, that sutler was a sutler and knew how to chouse!” And that kind links me on in no way whatsoever to the start of this week’s walk story. We started out from home at around 10.00 in the morning, leaving the Alarm Cat totally in charge of security arrangements:

Symi Greece photos

Beware of the cat

We were heading, with Justine and Lyndon, up to the ancient fortification of Castro in a part of the island that I’d not been to before. Neil had a rucksack full of supplies, camera equipment and water and I had the old camera with the long lens, so my photos are mainly distant shots. I have to say that although we didn’t need money with us I was, on Sunday morning, a lansprisado as we paused to look down on the monastery of Michaelis Roukoniotis:

Symi Greece photos

Michaelis Roukoniotis seen from above

Heading on up the path, which was rubbly in places, we could look across to the mountains of Turkey, rubifick in the morning light. We headed up hill, and then uphill some more (my legs are still aching from this walk) and into the woods, as Sondheim might have said, where we stopped to rest at the church of Agios Nikitas:

Symi Greece photos

The icon at Ag. Nikitas

Now then, I will save the next part of the walk for tomorrow and leave you with a random word from page 111 of my new old book… Oh charming! I see my book knows me already as the first thing I saw on page 111 read ‘Duffer’, my eyes then strayed down a little to Dumb Glutton which I shan’t go into, and then over the rest of this page and page 110, both of which seemed to be filed with very lewd words and meanings, so I did look up Duffers and found them to be “Cheats who ply in different parts of the town.” I suppose that’s what we get from looking in a dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. Here’s a photo of the view from nearby Ag. Nikitas; tomorrow we are heading to the left of this photo and the ancient Castro.

Symi Greece photos

The area of Karo, with Tilos in the distance.

Sutler: A camp publican. Also one that pilfers gloves, tobacco boxes and such small moveables. (Moveablbes, another word that the spell checker doesn’t recognise. And a pilferer of gloves eh? You Sutler you!)
To Chouse: To trick or to cheat.
Lansprisado: One who has only two-pence in his pocket.
Rubifick: (from Johnson’s dictionary) adj. Making red.

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 No Comments
Categorized Under: Day to day

Photos taken at the church of Ag. Faneromeni, Symi,

And on the walk through the trees, past the church of St. John. This is the last gallery of photos from the walk we did a week ago last Sunday. We did another walk yesterday and there will be photos from that before long. But before we get to the gallery I should welcome you to Great Week on Symi, the last week of Lent and the week before Easter. Bells, services, fasts, it will all culminate with the Easter celebrations at the end of the week.

Symi Greece photos

Inside the church

Village View has already started to get some great feedback: “Brilliant read and totally absorbing.” “Enjoyed tremendously…” Thank you for those comments folks. Remember, if you write and publish (a nice!) Amazon review there’s a book in it for you. And now, here’s that gallery for you. These photos are kind of in the wrong order as we start off over on the east side of the island at Ag. Faneromeni and the church, and then later we’re back towards Panormitis in the forest and the church of St George that is there. There are photos of the icons and decorations of each. As usual, you can find all our Symi photos  from the photos index.

Monday, April 14th, 2014 No Comments
Categorized Under: Symi Photos

Village View, the latest book about life on Symi

Village View: A year on Symi.

Village View: A year on Symi.

We’re having a break from galleries and walks today to publicise then new book which is at last available online. Copies are on their way to the Symi Dream shop as well, though may not be here for a while, and only a few. So, your best chance is to buy a copy from Amazon, Lulu or any of the other outlets, rather than hope we still have some in the shop when you come to Symi. The price is, as always for my books, the same as usual, despite the fact that this book contains more photos than any previous one, and that it is nearly 300 pages long.

That’s 300 pages of last year’s blog, edited and illustrated and formatted to make for easy reading and to give you one whole year in the life of Symi, a small Greek island. There are mentions of several regular visitors to Symi, and some local characters, some photos of visitors and locals alike, as well as images of the island, its festivals, the Alarm Cat of course, and our life during our 12th year on the island.

Village View: A year on Symi.

Village View on Amazon

This is the black and white paperback version, the first edition to come out. In the future there will be a Kindle edition, but that is being formatted at the moment (and sorry, but it won’t be for 99p or anything like that, it will be full price; a book is a book whether you read it electronically or on paper, it’s the same amount of words and work), and there should also be a colour version too in due course. The cover is colour on this first edition, but the photos inside are in black and white, the colour one will be more expensive and probably only available online.

I just did a search on Amazon UK and put in ‘Village View’ and it came up top of the list. The page it linked to is here.

village view back cover

The Alarm Cat appears on the back cover

The price there is £10.60 which is less than the RRP of £12.05, so that’s good news. There is also free delivery in the UK I notice. On Lulu it is €15.00 (which is what it will be in the shop) and both are plus postage of course. It should also be appearing with other outlets, like Barnes & Nobel, shortly. Village View from

Now then. If anyone would like a free copy of my novel, The Judas Inheritance, when that comes out later this year, all you need to do is write a review of Village View on Amazon or Lulu and I will have a copy of TJI sent to you when it is ready. I am looking forward to reading your reviews as much as I hope you are looking forward to reading Village View: A year on Symi.

Text by James Collins
Photographs by Neil Gosling
Cover art by Sarah Bassett
Editing and layout by Allan Robinson
Alarm Cat (11 years old yesterday) appears by kind permission of himslef

Saturday, April 12th, 2014 1 Comment
Categorized Under: Day to day

Agios Ioannis Tsagrias and the Symi Byzantine wine presses

As we are having a run on galleries this week, today’s is a combination of photos from our recent walk to, among other places, Agios Ioannis Tsagrias (I hope I have that correctly) and the Byzantine wine presses. I mixed these two galleries together purely because of the number of images. Before we get there though, here is a photo I took on our early morning walk yesterday – using my phone, I should add.

Symi Greece photos

April sunrise

At the church of Agios Ioannis Tsagrias you can see the old frescos, those that have survived (just), their time here and the candle black. And across the valley outside you can see what looks like an ancient possibly Byzantine stone wall. Over at the wine presses you get treated to a Power Ranger, or Transformer or something, hanging on a wall, some lovely views, a chaffinch in a tree, and some fellow walkers. The only thing missing is a photo of a wine press! Silly me. I will have to see if Neil has one I can use another time.

First though, here is a photo of the upper village in the sunrise, again from the phone.

Symi Greece photos

Village in the morning light

Agios Ioannis Tsagrias and the Symi Byzantine wine presses

Friday, April 11th, 2014 No Comments
Categorized Under: Day to day

Panormitis, Symi, photos from last Sunday and a hectic Wednesday

A bit of a busy day yesterday: up at 6.30, walk to Pedi (well, to the power station) and back just of the halibut (hell of it) at the desk at 07.15 trying out a new keyboard; no good, far too small, need a new Logitech MK300 – or similar, with larger keys more spaced out – will be sending messages to close friends in the UK soon as I cannot find one here or online from close by. That’s another story, never mind, anyway… Writing, dealing with a bank issue (UK bank) writing long letter, photocopying and printing out every proof of identification I have and getting it ready for a trip to Yialos. Gratuitous photo to break up the page:

Symi Greece photos

Where is this? Find out later in the week.

Heading to Alpha bank where very helpful staff signed and confirmed me (not in the religious sense) and my passport and address proof so my British bank of 30 years can stop pretending they suddenly don’t know who I am and what my address is – been going on since February this one. If this copy of birth certificate, address, passport, old driving licence, Greek proof of residency, bank manager’s wife’s mother’s marriage certificate, vial of my blood, and all eight great-grand parents stuffed into an envelope don’t suit them, then they can become my ex-bank and I’ll switch to another one. Page break photo number two:

Symi Greece photos

Symi hinterland in April

After bank, visit to post office, shops, then lunch and walk back up the steps and slope to square, home and house-tidy, turn off the slow cooker vegetarian lunch that will now have to do for today, bung on concert version of Les Mis, do housework (singing badly, I should have been Thenardier), check mail, and think about cutting hair. Busy day, lots done – and welcome to everyone who arrived on Wednesday, Mike, Sue, Andy, Gerrie, Sue, everyone else; feels like the summer starts here. And, to celebrate, here are the photos I took at Panormitis last Sunday, part two of our ‘walk with car’ escapade; two or three more parts left to come.

Thursday, April 10th, 2014 No Comments
Categorized Under: Symi Photos

Photos taken in the area of Micro Sotiris, Symi, in April

As promised, here is the first gallery of photos I took during our walk on Sunday. This is the area around Micro Sotiris, and inside the chapel there (one of them).

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 No Comments
Categorized Under: Symi Photos

Christmas comes around again on Symi, and a boat got killed

Christmas came early to Symi on Sunday, in fact it has never really gone away. You often see the Christmas lights left up on houses throughout the year and that’s one thing, but you don’t often see the Christmas crib still up all year round and with the baby already arrived.

Symi Greece photos

Season’s Greetings to you.

OK, so that’s fine too, no one is complaining, it’s just another wonderfully quirky thing that you see on Symi all the time. But what made Christmas even more special for us on Sunday was that someone had taken the trouble to decorate the tree. And not just any old tree, the one and only tree growing out of the side of the rock on the descent to Panormitis. If I had had something suitable with me I would have left a present under it.

Symi Greece photos

Early Christmas

We saw all kinds of wonderful things on Sunday where our walk involved a car, but not for all of the journey; we did walk to various churches and some places, and saw sights I’ve never seen before, some that were very familiar and some that I’ve not been to for a while. There will be more pics up here during the week, but I think as we went to so many places, I will do one per day.

Symi Greece photos

Wild? It was livid!

But today is about the unusual things we saw. There had clearly been a boat murdered at Panormitis, something which would be of interest to Anne Zouroudi perhaps? I know there was a crime committed because the police tape was still clearly visible around where the body had lain:

Symi Greece photos

CSI Symi

Being silly of course, though up at the wine presses we did notice a pair of trainers left by the side of the path. Very suspicious. Had there been a murder here to? Where was the body? Who dunnit? We also saw a Chaffinch or three up there having spent most of the day trying to track down a Coal Tit. But we did have a result which got our driver, Lyndon, bouncing around in his seat with excitement: a Hoopoe (which he, a keen bird watcher, had never seen in the wild before) sitting right there in the middle of the road waiting to be photographed. Luckily Neil was on hand with a long lens.

Symi Greece photos


The places we visited, and which you will see more of if you check in to the blog this week, were: 1) Micro Sotiris church in the area between Chame and Erika (according to one of my maps), we saw irises there and a bite-sized tortoise; 2) Panormitis where we had lunch; 3) the woods between Troulos and Achladi on the way to Faneromeni and the church on the way dedicated to St George, where we also saw some very strange things in trees, roots, and what looked like some kind of ancient stone dwelling; 4) Faneroumeni itself with the huge monastic orchard, the chapel, the view to Sesklia (Teftlousa), and a family sized tortoise; and 5) the wine presses at Merkouria (according to another map) which is where we also saw a power Ranger hanging from a concrete post and got photographed pretending to be monkeys in a cage but that is a story for another day. I’ll just wish you a Happy New Year and be on my way.

Symi Greece photos

Wild iris


Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 No Comments
Categorized Under: Day to day

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