Thursday, 28 April 2011

It's Easter festivities time again...

Hen's eggs done for Easter Greek style by Liz.
We spent most of Friday and Saturday last week getting ready ready for our small Easter bash.  In previous years Tony has held a huge event with upward of 100 people coming to his house for the Easter Sunday traditional roast.  Last year he said it was to be his last and he and Liz were staying in Vournikas at Liz's apartment so we decided that we would just joint host a small event for a few friends from this end of the Island.  Tony and I took a little time out on Friday to sail Izola down from Lefkas marina to her temporary mooring at Vlicho prior to the start of the Easter Monday Yacht race, the curry cup, from Nidri to Paleros. Other than that it was gearing everything up to feed our guests.
Sandra, Tony and I preparing Miss Piggy!

Warm work this cooking lark!
With Sunday finally arrived Liz was cooking downstairs in her apartment and Sandra was cooking upstairs in our and Tony and I were getting Miss Piggy acquainted with the charcoal and of course testing the quality of the wine!  This had to be done as Tony was convinced that the wine we had bought would give him headache, Hhhmmm...
Guests started to arrive from about one o'clock and the party was under way.   Despite all the free flowing drink and food there was only one glass broken over the entire day amazingly.   They say that you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear but we know you can make a bloody good crackling from one, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.   We managed to get almost all the clearing up done before going to bed knowing that we were going to Paleros the next day.

Table full of friends to help us devour the feast.
Miss Piggy gets an all over tan.
Monday morning and up to Vlicho for 10:30, although the start wasn't until 12 we had to get loaded up and up to Nidri for the start.  Sandra was driving around to the mainland port of Paleros to where the race would finish.  We had booked into the Thalassa hotel for the night as the culmination of the day is a meal and prize giving at the Indian restaurant in the village.  There is only really room for one couple to sleep on Izola, and Sandra is not that keen on sailing anyway so it's a good compromise.  There were 14 or 15 starters in the race although only 9 completed the course, it was a strange day however as the wind varied in strength so much that we went from sailing nicely in places at   5 knots plus to being totally stationary without even sufficient motion for steering.  We also ended up being stopped in our tracks a couple of times by Motor boats and the Nidri star pleasure boat, this did cause Tony to utter to odd occasional profanity well maybe not that odd or even that occasional come to think of it!  Anyway we managed to get over the finish line in fifth but after the times had been adjusted to suit the handicap system we ended up in third place overall and got a late Easter egg for our efforts.   The meal at the Indian in the evening was great, the first Indian meal I have had since last September and I savoured every single mouthful, in fact I even helped Tony eat some of his him not being a fan of spicy food.   Before the prize giving Ruairi took time out to remember absent friends so rest assure Maureen and Mark, you may not be here at the moment but you are being remembered by everyone.  Tuesday morning and back to Lefkas with Izola but we had a mini race against Jungle on the way with me doing the skippering, that's probably the reason why we came second!  but I did managed to get the fastest speed of the event out of the boat at over 7 knots.
A cruise chute trimmer I will be...

Wednesday and Sandra and I decided to do a spring clean of the house and got in the ladders to wash down all the roof rafters in the vaulted ceiling of our house and yes it was mucky but not any more.  Then as just as it was getting dark we found out that we had a drain blockage which resulted in the washing machine discharging it's contents all over the floor of the garage, don't worry Liz it hasn't drowned your apartment again.  Anyway suffice to say that Sandra can't do without a washer, more chance of doing without a husband I think, so I've had to dismantle all the Greek plumbing find the problem and rectify it but all's well that end's well.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Fingers worn to the bone...

Sandra's Giant calzone pizza
 It's been a week of hard work and eating out this week.  Friday night Tree  & Mike had a going away party for a few friends, about 25 in all, at the taverna "Ola Kala" (All Good) in Nidri.  As usual, nothing was booked and so we arrived early with Mike and Tree to ensure that they could cope with such a large party at such short notice (about half an hour until everyone arrived) and yes they could but it would be a case of all the tables full of various meze's  (plates of mixed dishes) for starters and then more Meze's for mains to follow.  This was fine and the food was excellent, I would recommend going there to anyone.

Wild flowers down the roadside.
Saturday, we had been invited out by Vi & Les for whom I have been doing some work for installing their new Sky+ system, she is delighted to be able to watch UK TV again and even more so that she doesn't have to watch Corry at eleven o'clock at night and can just record it and watch the next day.  They insisted on taking us out for a meal as payment for the work as I wouldn't accept money seeing as paid work is something I used to do!  We went to the Italian in Nidri, see Sandra's pizza above, and had a great night, thanks L&V.

"Izola" with her clean bum!
 On Friday during the day Tony asked if I would help him clean and anti-foul the bottom of his little yacht "Izola".  It was gone Lunchtime when the yard lifted her out and we spent a hard afternoon scraping  her bum and got the first coat of paint on her before I had to leave to get ready for the night out which had been planned.  Anyway the weather forecast for the coming weekend was not good although Friday showed no signs of it deteriorating.  Saturday morning came it it was obvious that nothing was going to get done outside in fact the whole weekend was a bit of a washout, it seems that whenever the UK gets decent weather ours takes a downward turn.  Tony Managed to get another two or three coats on her on Monday but unfortunately we had already agreed to go and visit our friends in Assos, so I couldn't help him, poor old Tony all this work and no "little helper".

Me making sure they don't drop her whilst on the move.
The people at Assos were so pleased to see us it was like the return of the prodigal son.  We just seemed to have a parade of people coming up to us to shake hands and ask how we were doing and how were things on Lefkas, some of them had heard about the cart race and the injuries to Mark and the Greek boy so we had to try and explain all about that to them.  They all without exception asked us to pass on our best regards from them to Mark which is very nice when you consider they don't know either Mark or Maureen, so if you could do that Mo we would appreciate it.  Anyway after some shopping for Easter on the way back it was home to the sanctuary of Lefkas.

Safely in her natural element.
Tony rang Monday night to say that "Izola" was being launched again the next day and he would appreciate a hand again with cleaning the hull above the waterline and also getting her blue "go faster" stripes on.  So Tuesday it was back to the marina and more elbow grease required.  We cleaned off all the old adhesive from the old blue line which was a real trial and T-cut all the hull.  Fortunately Tony had bought a machine to take some of the strife out of this but nevertheless it was still a tall order to get it ready for the lift at 2:30pm.  Anyway we managed it and even managed to have half of shandy each before the crane arrived.  A right good time we've had doing it and not a sign of any osmosis in the old girl.

We had a few people around last night for an evening meal which Sandra prepared in her own inimitable style.  We'd like to thank you all for coming and hope you enjoyed all that home made fodder!

Just preparing now for the Easter festival which is the biggest annual event here in Greece.  All week we have heard various church services going on from one or another of the three churches here in the village but I'm sure there will be a tale to tell about that next week.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

From Rats to Paint Pots...

Tales of the riverbank - I think not!
 First a quick update about Mark & Maureen. On Monday they left Greece are now safely in the UK having been taken by an air ambulance Leah Jet from Ioaninna to Leeds-Bradford and from there onto Airedale hospital ICU.  I'm sure that everyone, especially Sandra and I, wish them well as things progress.  See you two sometime in the summer.

We have been trying to poison some rats which have taken up residence in both our roof and the garage, until Tuesday we had not seen anything of them other than their droppings but then we saw this taking in the sun on our patio railings.  Needless to say it was very poorly with all the poison it's consumed and is now an ex-rat living in that little rat hole in the sky!
Orange and Brown is this seasons colour.

Had a painting session Sunday and Monday to brighten up our chairs and table which live on the patio. We started by buying some aerosol car paints but you just use tons of the stuff so after three cans and only four chairs roughly done we decided the plan B must be tins of paints and brushes.  Sat on a couple of them on Monday and found that the paint although dry was still soft so I hope Tony and Liz aren't going to bill us for damage to their clothing!  Anyway I think the result is pleasing and a great deal better than green and rust.
Garden Before Wednesday
 Wednesday was the big clean next door to prepare Tree and Mike's house ready for letting for the holiday season Tree, Sandra, Adele and Harry undertook the inside whilst Mike power washed the paving and I tried to rescue the overgrown garden.  After a full days work we have Tree & Mike safely ensconced in the downstairs apartment and upstairs is sparkling.  I think you maybe able to tell the difference in the before and after shots of the garden, if not then I've wasted my time.    I'll give you a clue - look near the BBQ and at the bed in the foreground.

Garden After Wednesday
This morning we've been to Vi & Les' at Nikiana to set up her SKY+ box, unfortunately she hadn't got the connections for the twin shotgun cable so I've had to leave her running with just one connection to the dish.  Nevertheless, she is ecstatic to have her UK TV back and running and is most impressed with pausing live telly.  Hmmmm perhaps there's a business opertunity here!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Mothers day in the sun...

Mountain stream and spring flowers.
 As you all know last Sunday was Mothering Sunday and we decided that we would have a ride around the island and lunch and evening meal out.  Well Sandra's the nearest thing to a mother that I have and she does pamper me quite a lot really.  We went across to the west side of the Island on a road which we had not previously been on and found some very nice waterfalls, unfortunately the pictures have come out a little crap so I've not put them on here, although the stream pictured here was one of the feeds for the falls. very tranquil I'm sure you agree.

View Down to Gialos Beach.

I see no ships!!
When we got to the south west coast we thought we would have a look down into Gialos beach which is one of our favourites there are only a couple of makeshift tavernas in place during the season and just miles of good sand and azure seas, beautiful!

The road down to it is what puts many people off I guess several kilometres of hairpin bends but none the less very picturesque.  Of course at this time of year it's all yours, a millionaire paradise to yourself.  I tell a lie actually there was another couple further down the beach near enough to see they had no clothes on but too far away to see their "tackle"!
The bane of my life this week!
It's all right for some!

We have been having problems with our boilers for a couple of weeks now, neither the cooker or central heating was working.  Not that we've really needed it but it needed repairing before next winter and there are still occasional evenings when a little heating is needed just to take the chill off the house.  Anyway after working out how all the wiring worked it turned out to be a relay outside the house in the forced air flue system, which I have altered so the relay is no longer needed (less to go wrong in the future).  Only of course that's never the end of the problem while I had all the gubbings out on the floor servicing it all as I went along I altered something which meant when it was all re-assembled the cooker would work and the heating wouldn't.  Diesel up to the eyeballs as I bled the system several times didn't endear me to Sandra well at least the stink in her kitchen didn't.  Anyway to cut a long story short the bit I had altered (the photo diode - (magic eye)) was slightly misaligned and thus not detecting the flame properly but after some trial and error adjustments it's all working fine again now and I can get back to my wood chopping for next winters fuel, you don't have to pay for wood if you're canny but oil is expensive!!  Anyway I'll bet you can't guess who's sat in the sun reading while I'm up to my neck in muck and bullets...

Friday, 1 April 2011

Signs of spring

This week we have been up to Ioaninna to see Maureen and her son at the hospital, unfortunately we are not allowed to go and visit Mark yet as he is still in the Intensive Care Unit and visits are very short, sometimes as short as 5 minutes, and only immediate family is allowed in, i.e. Maureen and her son Michael.  We had a good day under the circumstances and managed to take them both out for lunch at a local taverna.  As for Mark's current condition a continual update is maintained on the following link. It's great to see the local community rallying around to try and raise some money to help with Maureen and Marks ongoing costs, anyone who reads our blog on the Island and want's to contribute can do so via Kevan and Linda  Whittle on 0030 6946 354 096, please remember "there but for the grace...".

View from our kitchen sink

View from our lounge over Vasiliki
On a brighter note spring looks as though it has well and truly begun to surface here on the island the wild flowers and blossom on the trees is a real sight to behold as can be seen from the view from our kitchen window.  In Vasiliki all the taverna's seem to be getting all spruced up for the season and the locals all seem to have much more of a bounce in their steps, 

it's amazing how things are transforming.  We have seen the first swallows around our house this year so I suppose that's got to be sign, although one swallow doesn't make a spring we actually have had loads of em.

Last Sunday we went to taverna delphini (Dolphin) to celebrate Jez's birthday, 27 I think he said he was!  with Tree, Mike, Tony and of cause Jez and Deb.  A really nice night out and for us really the first time we had been out since getting back from 
the UK a month ago so it really did make a welcome change.  Thanks you two for the invitation.

On Wednesday evening we had an invitation to dine aboard "Nanablue" Janet and Dave's Yacht moored in Nidri. excellent food and company all evening, even with Dave and Tony in full flow over airport responses to bad weather, we all found it very amusing good job Janet was able to change the subject subtly.  

We bought a second hand cooker which was advertised on the Lefkas Life website yesterday which will be replacing our baby belling in a couple of weeks when it's been refurbished and wired in.  The Arga style cooker that we have in the house is fine in winter but is a little much in summer as it gives off a tremendous amount of heat while it's running, the little belling is a tad small though when you are (that really should be "she is") cooking one of Sandra's monster lunches.