Quick catch up

We’re having a wonderful holiday week, thanks for asking. It’s been pretty full on with three meals a day most days and a few glasses of wine after work at the bar. [caption id="attachment_13144" align="alignleft" width="300"]Symi Greece photos At Roukoniotis with Lyndon[/caption] We took a trip out to the wine presses the other day, and called in at Megalis Sotiris before heading over to Roukoniotis and the monastery there. This is currently being renovated and work was going on as we looked around. It did mean that the nice chaps who are doing the work were able to let us see the ancient chapel underneath the newer one, and there will be some more photos of this on Monday – as I am also getting Monday’s blog post ready as I will be on my way back from Rhodes in the morning. [caption id="attachment_13145" align="alignright" width="300"]Symi Greece photos View from Megalos Sotiris[/caption] We’ve also met up with an old friend from Brighton who took her holiday here on the strength of Neil’s photos, so well done you. We’ve eaten at (let me see if I can remember all the places …): Katsaras, Taverna Zoi, Mandeio, Georgio’s, the Olive Tree, the Windmill, To Spitiko, Meraklis, and have also been to the Sunrise, the Rainbow and Eva’s, and I am sure I have forgotten a few watering holes. I am writing this on Friday with the smell of big beans cooking coming through the house, and while, at the same time, making up some vegetarian thing with lentils for lunch. We may be eating out later if I can still move after all this feeding (and no jogging for a few days now either). Mother is on the terrace reading and fending off the alarm cat and I am trying to get a few admin things done and up to date before the weekend. The weekend is going to include a trip to Rhodes and the airport on Sunday. [caption id="attachment_13146" align="alignleft" width="300"]Symi Greece photos At Megalis Sotiris[/caption] Meanwhile: the wine night last Monday was fantastic and loads of people came down, around 75 we reckon, and so that was a nice send off. Neil’s starting to pack up the shop though it is still open and he keeps getting jobs to do, but he is now able to be more flexible with his hours. There are still some visitors here, a lot of French people all of a sudden, and the cruise ships and day boats are still coming in. The weather is warm, a bit humid at times, there have been occasional drops of light rain, but nothing major and it’s set to be fair for a while longer yet. Okay, now it’s back to those beans…
Saturday, October 18th, 2014 No Comments
Categorized Under: Day to day

Meanwhile at a graveyard in Turin (part five)

In which we gratefully find the concluding part of this five day ramble about a time I once went to Turin and stayed at a campsite. We’re driven down from northern Europe and found ourselves booked into a portacabin, in a graveyard, on top of a hill, in Turin, in the drizzle, and are now arriving for our ‘tourist dinner.’ The story continues… [caption id="attachment_13137" align="alignleft" width="300"]Symi Greece photos Classic Symi view[/caption] Seven twenty five came and we emerged from our tent dressed casually, as you tend to do when camping: Jeans, a shirt that, though clean, had not seen an iron since London, a crumpled jacket each in case it rained, trainers. And we headed across the graveyard-cum-campsite towards the portacabin fearing the worst. We rounded the corner and stopped dead in our tracks. The carpark was glittering with highly polished Maserati sports models, shiny new Lamborghini, special edition Ferraris and several other things that wouldn’t look out of place in a Park Lane car dealership window. A bit of a pause. [caption id="attachment_13138" align="alignright" width="300"]Symi Greece photos To Vrisi[/caption] ‘Good job we booked,’ I said, inching my way between something costing over half a million pounds and what I suspected was a Bentley. But the car park was only the start of it. Inside, the site hut-cum-canteen had been transformed. The plastic chairs were still there, but the tables were covered and the lighting seemed softer, there was music playing and the room was humming. Just about every table was taken, and those that were not were ‘reserved.’ Through some kind of Cinderella-the-Panto magic quick-change, the canteen had become a restaurant, complete with atmosphere. The diners, to a man (and lady) were dripping with jewels, their outfits were top-range designer, they all looked like models, young and stunning, or older and suave; they were, as far as we could see, the Turin jet, jade and diamond, set. [caption id="attachment_13139" align="alignleft" width="300"]Symi Greece photos Village in the morning light[/caption] We, feeling rather underdressed, stood and wondered what to do. No one stared, the room didn’t fall silent, there was no piano to stop playing and the doors didn’t creak as they swung shut behind us, but we did feel very out of place. Until the lady from before waved us cheerily up to the counter, explaining in Italian that we had booked. The counter seemed a very long way off but, as we approached, the cast of ‘Italy’s Next Top Model’ nodded and smiled as we passed, some said good evening, and we were being welcomed. Our lady sat us at a ‘reserved’ table, smiling and chatty. There was already the bottle of wine, and a bottle of mineral water and within seconds our Tourist Dinner had arrived. ‘Excuse me,’ I ventured, ‘but is there something special happening tonight?’ ‘No,’ she replied, ‘why do you ask?’ [caption id="attachment_13140" align="alignright" width="300"]Symi Greece photos A Symi standard[/caption] There is no big bang ending to this story, except to say that the meal was perfect, the canteen completely filled up and there was music and dancing carrying on long into the night. In the morning I took an early walk through the grounds. There was a mist, the day promised to be warmer. Jewelled spiders webs were thrown casually across dew-damp gravestones as though the Duchess had grown weary of her Boucheron necklace and discarded it on her way back to the Bugatti. A dove cooed in a pine tree, and the world below was still; the city was yet asleep. But the car park was empty, the canteen closed. It was as if the previous night had been some kind of mysterious time slip. Maybe it had. If you happen across this campsite be sure to check it out and make sure you book.
Friday, October 17th, 2014 No Comments
Categorized Under: Day to day

Meanwhile at a graveyard in Turin (part four)

Our intrepid adventurers have thrown caution and sensibility to the wind and entered a portacabin on a camp site/Gothic horror film set in Turin, Italy, sometime in the past. In this gripping episode we encounter a trauma hospital in Egypt and two formidable Italian cooks. [caption id="attachment_13130" align="alignleft" width="300"]Symi Greece photos The creepy theme continues... (this is also on Symi)[/caption] The room was long, with many large Formica tables that had slightly raised lips on the edge. The kind favoured by schools, oil rigs, prisons. Around each table were eight or so plastic chairs of the orange, church hall variety, the ones that have an odd shaped hole at the base of the back for no discernible reason. Perhaps it’s to let your back breath as you slip down the chair in warm weather, or perhaps to chill your kidneys when it’s cold. Anyway, cheap and uninviting as they were, they were nothing compared to the walls. I was once invited to look around the trauma hospital (A & E) in Luxor, Egypt in my, then, capacity of ‘interested tourist.’ I was with a nurse friend and she was invited by a doctor to view the facility, but she didn’t want to go alone. We were made to change shoes at the door and the only reason I could see for this was to make it easier to step over the patients sitting on the floor. After half an hour of viewing what was essentially a third world disaster building, we were invited for a cup of tea and a cigarette in what I assumed was the staffroom. The only place to sit was on a table so I jumped up and accepted my small glass of red hibiscus tea, dangling my legs and looking apprehensively at the walls. Something dark had once run down these walls, like the creeping black gunge of ‘The Amityville Horror’ fame, or whatever makes those the nasty stains in public toilets. Something very unhygienic had taken place here and I asked, ‘Excuse me doctor, is this the staffroom?’ [caption id="attachment_13131" align="alignright" width="201"]Symi Greece photos Red on the walls[/caption] ‘No sir,’ he replied proudly, ‘this is our operating theatre.’ Well, it was not dissimilar to the portacabin in the graveyard outside of Turin. Say no more. The unusual stains on the walls (damp, we told ourselves for reassurance purposes) were highlighted brilliantly by the glare of the few working overhead strip lights, which gave enough illumination to allow us to make out the far end of the room. There was a counter running right across, with glass fronted cabinets and fridges, a large Coke fridge stood to one side with a vending machine next to it. On one wall, near the fridge, I noticed something that resembled a menu and beneath this was a table football game. [caption id="attachment_13132" align="alignleft" width="300"]Symi Greece photos Also read on the walls (in Rhodes)[/caption] We approached and, through the fog of cigarette smoke and the blue mist of burning oil, we made out two plump ladies. They were both in the last wild throws of middle age, wore hefty rings on salsiccia fat fingers, and had large pearls hanging over their much wiped aprons. It was a strange mix; declining glamour peeling away to reveal exhausted hard-workers beneath. And they were staring at us expectantly. ‘Hello,’ I said. They nodded and one lady said, ‘Good afternoon,’ so we’d passed the language barrier thing. I didn’t speak Italian but English was clearly acceptable. I checked the menu and saw that, also in English, was written ‘tourist dinner.’ And then a price that was the cheapest we’d seen anywhere. There was, I thought, probably a very good reason for that, and it was with some apprehension that I asked, ‘What time are you open for dinner?’ [caption id="attachment_13133" align="alignright" width="300"]Symi Greece photos And blue[/caption] She looked at me as if I had just asked for her bra size. ‘Have you booked?’ Slightly stunned, we both took a look around the room, her words echoing in the cavernous space until they settled into the dust collecting at the skirting board. ‘Er, no.’ She sighed and I had the distinct impression that I had given the wrong answer. ‘Tourist dinner or A La Carte?’ I could sense Bernie beside me holding in a laugh; there came short jabs of breath close by my ear. ‘What’s the tourist dinner?’ ‘Barbeque, salad, bottle of wine, sixteen million lire.’ (Or whatever the price was.) ‘May we book then, please?’ ‘Have to be before eight.’ ‘Half seven?’ ‘I’ll check.’ [caption id="attachment_13134" align="alignleft" width="198"]Symi Greece photos Blimey, this is a long post![/caption] As she consulted a book behind the counter I stole a glance at my companion; red faced, a tear on his cheek, lips drawn tighter than an oboist hitting a top F. The short jabs of laughter were now underscored with a slowly escaping whimper. ‘Table for two please,’ I added, unable to resist. Bernie left the room doing a pretty good impersonation of that very same top F. I could hear him out of the corner of my ear, as it were, outside, howling. ‘Seven thirty, table for two tourist dinners.’ It was confirmed. ‘Thank you very much.’ ‘Don’t be late.’ I assured her we would not be and left to find Bernie outside, bent double, clinging hold of a tree and gasping for breath as if he'd just run all the way from Zermatt. ‘Well it’s going to be cheap and saves another drive,’ I said. ‘Have you booked?’ It was all he could say for the rest of the afternoon. Ah, but there is more. To be continued…
Thursday, October 16th, 2014 No Comments
Categorized Under: Day to day

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