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.
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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.
Passed by the Rainbow Bar last night on the way to the tap class and Jenine called in to get some water for us. This reminded me to get a photo (a very bad one from my camera) of the new set up at the Bar.
“Yiannis Two-TV” could well become a new nickname for “Yianni-Rainbow.” Symi is an island of nicknames, or so it was once described to me by a Symiot lady who lives around the corner from the shop. There are so many people with the same name that nicknames are often used to differentiate between them, Even people with names that are not so common get them. Neil is still, locally, the ‘little ducky’ on account of being a Gosling. I hate to think what they call me.
But Yiannis now has two televisions in the bar, showing simultaneously. This might be because he has two satellite installations now, one running Nova and one running the newer Ote service, which also has the British football on it – and probably other things as well, I don’t profess to understand such things. So now, on a quiet winter evening, you can go and sit, sup a drink and bounce back and forth between Animal Planet on the right and the national news on the left. Or you might catch Manchester United Vs Folkestone Utd. on one side and A.E.K. Vs Rhodes Park Rovers on the other, or whatever it is. (Actually I saw the MU Vs Folkestone Utd. And Folkestone won 4/1.)
After that excitement the tap class went… well, it went rather fast actually. Before I forget:
(r) tap, toe, heel, (l) heel, pick-up, (r) heel, (l) toe, (r) heel (l) toe. Is that right – and then repeated on the left?
(r) step, (l) shuffle, (r) ball, (l) change, (r) step, (l) brush (1st two times: (r) step and repeat, third time:) (r) hop/toe, hop/toe, hop/toe (while turning) and repeat on the left?
Not much to remember really.
Here we are off into another week. I was woken during the night by one of the shutters banging as the wind rose again during the night.
It had been grey and cold and windy all day, apart from some time in the late afternoon when it calmed. I made the most of that and went for a walk, which is when these photos were taken on my phone. I’d already made two trips to the rubbish skip after doing some clearing out in the house, tidying up the front room and finding loads of old paper and junk to get rid of. On Saturday I’d weeded half the garden and taken a shorter walk, so by the time I was back from my Sunday walk towards ‘To Vrisi’ and back I felt as if I’d done enough exercise for one weekend.
The rest of my time was spent writing, making notes and having ideas (always much more fun the actually sitting down and typing up), going to parties, Wendy and Ged had a joint birthday bash at Mendeio’s on Saturday night), and watching some old films on TV. I also managed to get in some shopping, though not much was needed, some incidental housework, and some reading. So, all in all, not a bad weekend.
There’s not a lot in the diary this week, which is nice in a way as it keeps the channels clear for the book typing, but I am due to be at a tap class this evening at seven, and I will probably go and check the post office again on Thursday, and see if I can catch the accountant in his office once more. Most things depend on the weather, as they do at this time of year. A rain storm can keep you housebound for safety reasons (as it did last Monday when I should have been tapping), and the cold and wind can keep you from only the most necessary of walks, and according to my forecast it’s going to rain from this afternoon through until Wednesday afternoon; I better make sure there are some spare towel’s to hand, just in case of window or roof leaks.
Saturday, all jobs done and up to date, a day ahead for writing and relaxing, calm, clear, cold, perfect.
Well, maybe not. We will have to see, but another wander down to Yialos may be in the offing. You see I have Wind and I made a mistake with my Wind a few days ago and now I think my Wind has made a mistake with me, and I may need to go and see the man who has Wind in Yialos and ask him to help me with mine.
Wind is my mobile phone network provider, in case you were wondering. When we first moved to Greece in 2002, Neil and I both bought mobile phones and then the provider was called Telestet, which has a nice, telephonic ring to it. In 2004 we were crossing the English Chanel on a ferry, heading to St Lo for a family funeral when suddenly my phone beeped and I received a message saying ‘Tim welcomes you to France.’ I had no idea who Tim might be, let alone how he knew where I was and it was all rather worrying until I looked into it. As it turned out I wasn’t in a spy novel, my phone network had changed its name. And then, a few years later, Tim got wind of the fact that Tim wasn’t a good name for a phone company and so became Wind, and I’ve been windy ever since.
Now then, I am now on a contract and Neil is still on pay as you go top-ups. Every now and the he gets a message saying, ‘dial this number and you will get three years’ free calls to all people whose name starts with the letter Z and 100 sms for the next month’ and stuff like that. Consequently he only has to top up every now and then, or during times of high demand like when he is making a film. Me, on the other hand, pays up a certain amount each month and hardly ever uses the phone. But I do get a new phone every 12 months or so, and this time they gave me the unintelligent smart phone on which I can connect to the internet.
But only when there is an open signal, I don’t pay for internet connection through my contract. So, in Rhodes last week for a few days and there are loads of open signals, Rhodes Town Hall has one, and it seems Rhodes generally has one, so I am on line pretty often. While there, having lunch, I receive a message from Wind saying something about internet connection and how I can get a better deal if I dial this number…. I idly do, interested to see what will happen. After all, Neil does this and gets a lifetime’s free chat with both great-grandparents and 2,000 free sms a day. I vaguely wonder what I will get in return, and then get on with lunch.
Next day I have a text message and take a look. ‘Oh it’s from Wind, another offer I don’t want.’ I ignore it. The next day another, I ignore it. The next day another, and so on until one day (Thursday) I realise it is the same message and wonder what it actually means. I translate it to discover it is telling me that yesterday I was charged €1.00 for internet connection on my phone and I can call and get a cheaper deal up to 20Mbs a day. What?! I realise my rouse to save money as backfired on me (and I have now spent half my monthly allowance) and call Wind immediately. A very helpful chap understands, and confirms he will remove the feature, but it will take an hour or so. No problem. There, that’s put me back on track.
Next day, yesterday, I get the same text message and again phone Wind. Helpful lady there understands what’s happened and says she will put me through to the right department (I didn’t speak to a right department the day before) and so I hang on and wait for 20 minutes listening to some obscure cantata by a rap band called Nosey-Mutt-T (featuring Screecher), or some such. I gave up in the end and decided that, if I have another text this morning (they come in around 11.00) then I will go and share my wind with the Wind man in Yialos and ask him to cure it.
So that’s why I may be going to Yialos today. Thrilling eh?
Oh, and happy birthday James! Sorry I can’t be there but I hope you have a good day and if you do go to the natural history museum in Vienna, I would like a photo of the very badly stuffed moose.
Here’s something I was told yesterday and asked to pass on: If you have any old electrical goods that you are throwing out, don’t! Take them to Adonis at his electrical shop in the corner of ‘Trawler Square’ and they can be recycled.
Things like old computers that don’t work (we have two), any old laptops (one), things with circuit boards and plastic and metal that don’t biodegrade. Once a month he has someone come from Rhodes and collect them so they can be turned into other things and reused, rather than spend the rest of eternity hanging around some landfill site where they will never rot away, and if they do, be bad for the environment. So, next time you are heading that way, take your old thingy that you keep meaning to throw away (I am sure we have an old Xbox and a couple of knackered DVD machines somewhere) and do the right thing. Obviously this is going to be much easier for you if you actually live on Symi.
Where today it is again windy and cold. It’s 06.52 and the heater is on in the front room beside me taking the chill off the air. The Alarm Cat is up and about, or was; he’s now hunkered in by my feet but I can tell that he is not completely settled yet, there will be an hour or so of him getting up, complaining and wandering around until he finds just the right spot to settle in for the morning.
Yesterday’s expedition to Yialos was partly successful; the accountant wasn’t in his office so those bills went unpaid, though they are not actually yet due, the water bill is paid and at the post office I picked up the phone bill. In one hand and out the other, kind of thing. Miss DJ and I then went and had a very nice chicken souvlaki at Yiannis’ Giros place before taking the bus back up. Her gathering at Mandeio’s in the evening was in full swing when I left at around 10.30, and it looks like she had a good birthday.
Today, apart from some shopping that needs doing, I am staying in out of the cold.