Thursday, 23 June 2011

The British Weather takes it's toll...

Garden Looking good.
I seem to be living with dodging between showers this week but despite this we have managed to get all the garden, greenhouse, hedges, veggie plot and grass finally back under tight control.  While going around I noticed this big mushroom which seems to come at this time of year every year, growing on an old elm tree trunk which I have down the side of the paddock, it's about 2 ft across it and very pretty.  I once a few years ago wrote to the BBC gardening website forum to try and establish exactly what type of fungi it was and if it was edible.  Some wag replied "all fungi are edible - some of them only once!"

My prize fungi.
We have still managed to get out and about a bit in the time we've been in the UK.  Last Friday we had a visit from our long term mates Allen and Jean who spent the entire day with us taking of plans for the future and what we all intended to do.  Allen has gone into hospital today (Thursday 23rd June) for his prostrate operation which he has been patiently waiting for for about 8 months, we hope it's a great success and he'll soon be back to fighting fitness. On Saturday evening Sandra and I went for a meal down to some old friends and found ourselves reminiscing until very late in the evening but we all managed to have a great evening, thanks Nicci & Paul.

Maureen has been in touch with us over the last couple of days to arrange a time for us to go and visit Mark.  It was number one on our list of priorities for when we returned but due to one thing and another it's ended up that we have been here for a fortnight before paying him a visit.  I'm sure he'll forgive us for that and we'll now see him on Saturday so hopefully more about that next week.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Back home for a while...

The last supper?
 Sorry for the delay in bringing out the next instalment of this blog but last week at this time I was on the ferry from Zeebrugge and I don't seem to have stopped since.

Sandra, Geoff and I went out to Scary Mary's (the penguin) in Vasiliki the night before we set off for home with Debbie & Jez,  Debbie's mum, Liz & Tony and also Liz'z son and daughter in law Jimmy & Els, for a farewell meal.  We had a really good night and as usual Mary sent us away with some extra wine and a full belly for the journey.  The next morning we had to be up early for the trip to Igoumenitsa to catch the ferry for Venice.  This trip takes about two hours or so and you are supposed to be there a hour before the ship disembarks so for us this meant setting off around five am.
Ferry just arriving at Igoumenitsa.

The trip home was uneventful (thankfully!) and enjoyable we travelled from Venice after getting off the ferry next morning across the top of Italy to Milan and from there north into Switzerland via the Gottard tunnel toward Basel and into Germany heading for Strasbourg.  We stopped at our normal overnight stop maybe fifty miles short of Strasbourg at a small German town called Kepple-Grafenhausen.  This is a good overnight stop as it's affordable, within half a mile of the motorway and has good food available in the town.  The Next day it was onward and northwards towards Brussels via Germany, France, Luxembourg and Belgium finally finishing at the port of Zeebrugge to get our Ferry to Hull.  The road miles (driven miles) is about 950 to Hull so out of a trip of about 2000 miles this isn't too bad.  I did get some diesel in Belgium before getting on the ferry for €1.239 (about £1.10) per litre this was the cheapest I saw in the whole of Europe.
Starting to sort the collapsed arbour

Back to it's former self.
Our canvas covered dining room cum lounge
Our home for 3 months in the paddock.
 We arrived home by about 11 o'clock in the morning and wasted no time in getting the caravan set up and prepared to be our summer residence complete with Sky+ in the awning and Free-view in the caravan so I don't have to watch soaps when there is some sport on TV.

In the paddock although No. 2 Son Chris had kept the grass under good control all the borders needed doing and the arbour with honeysuckle, Jasmine and Passion flowers growing up it had collapsed in last winters heavy snowfalls so all this needed repairing.  The winter also seemed to have killed my huge Phormiums which used to stand at about 12 feet +, After I have cut all the debris from around them three of the five are showing signs of new growth at the bottom so I may not have lost them altogether.  Several other shrubs have been lost however but never mind, if you are not here to look after them then this is the risk you take.

Our caravan and the paddock is now looking like a home from home and for those in Greece who didn't believe we had a dining table in the awning then here it is complete with fitted carpet Dyson hover and grannies old chair for a bit of comfort!

On a sadder note my Aunt died on Monday before I set off from Greece and although we got back for the funeral we obviously didn't get a chance to see her in time.  Our thought's are with Colin, Dianne, Jim and of course their families.

As yet we have not been to see Mark we have sent him a couple of texts to arrange a time to call but as yet he's not replied, I guess he's busy in training for next years Olympic ping pong team!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Last week before the summer recess....

Second place isn't bad seeing as we were in the doldrums.
 A really eventful week this week as we have been showing Geoff all the Island sights we have not yet introduced him to.  We have also eaten out quite a few times this week as we are trying to run stocks down before setting off back to England next Tuesday.  This means that next weeks blog will be a couple of days late as the European police don't like you using a laptop whilst driving, although I think you'd get away with it for quite a while here in Greece.

A few of the guests at the after race event
Geoff tries to beat nature in a thunderstorm.
Sunday brought the benefit race for Mark & Maureen from Lefkas to Preveza and return.  We sailed Izola, that is Sean, Jane and I, and when we got out to the west of the bridge which connects the island to the mainland we thought we may be in for a great sail.  As the bridge only opens on the hour and the race was scheduled to start at 3 o'clock we went through at two and got a little early practice in, as it was the start didn't happen until

 3:40.  I certainly need all the practice I can get and it was good fun until about halfway to Preveza the wind just failed. For about forty minutes we just kept spinning more or less on the spot and the wind vane at the masthead was going around like a helicopter on idle, in the distance we could see a thunder storm coming towards us so there was a chance that the wind could build which it did.  from there on we had a tremendous sail never going less than 7.5 knots and with the edge of the boat deeply rooted way down into the sea, fantastic stuff.  Thanks to Tony & Liz for loaning us the boat and for Sean and Jane for allowing me to hinder their days sailing.  The end result saw us finish in second place after the handicap had been sorted behind Jungle which had Tony and his crew aboard.  I think there were about 13 or 14 starters so we didn't do too bad.

Just a little light lunch needed it is later than 12 o'clock.
 Tuesday morning brought a Thunder storm and as we had intended going for a ride down the west coast it had to be somewhat delayed, it's the first time since we have been a Vournikas that the water has threatened to enter the house and Geoff was playing at King Canute trying to stem the flow, he must have worked hard at it because we didn't get a drop over the threshold.

That's more like it me getting all my juice from the prawns!
We finally got off and toured the West coast and back through Karya and stopping for our Evening meal at one of our favourite taverna's, the Katogi in Vafkeri, a super meal and excellent company for the evening even if we did end up with a shopping list to get from the UK when we return, no problem the food is worth it!