Thursday, 18 December 2014

There's life in the old dog yet...

Aussie Paul's Birthday bash.
Before we left lefkas we had the very important occasion of celebrating Paul birthday on his boat, we had a great afternoon and evening with loads of laughs, very load ones in Paul's case.  It was just Paul, Jules, Fergus, Nev, Anne, Tommy, Sandra and myself but I'm sure we made enough noise for fifty people.  Thanks to Jules for putting on a super spread and everyone for a great afternoon.
Our potential mooring in Olympic marina, Lavrion.

 On Tuesday morning we set off for Athens to stay at Peris hotel just outside Rafina and within a few minutes of the airport.  We had arranged to stay for three nights prior to flying back to the UK in order to suss out potential overwintering ports for 2015/2016.  The hotel has been great in looking after our car for our six weeks absence absolutely free of charge.  If anyone needs to use them they have a web site which is very basic but gives you contact details,  the cost is €80 per room per night including breakfast.
Rafina ready for Christmas

 On Wednesday morning we set off on our mission to find somewhere for the following winter looking at moorings and marinas from Athens, which we we wouldn't touch with a bargepole, up to Evia which is gorgeous via Rafina, Porta Rafti and Lavrion.  The Athenian places were just not secure enough there was no life on the marina's and the area's involved are slightly less than salubrious, maybe fine if you are always there but we leave the boat for long periods so not for us.  We did like both Chalkis and the Olympic marina at Lavrion, these both had the same problem.

Ice rink in Chalkis Evia.
There is no one living on the marina's throughout the winter period, in November everyone has gone away not to return until Easter.

The lovely town of Chalkis.
I don't think the current Mrs. W. would remain current for long if she had to put up with me for four months without any chance of some type of social life within a sensible distance.  In a way we would be in the same situation as we used to be when living up in the mountains at Assos where we had to travel for anything vaguely resembling entertainment.  I had not realised that for winter living Lefkada would take so much beating.

The school choir, featuring Mason and Jessica (nearest).
 I think that going forward we will probably stay in the Ionian and travel with the car to places we wish to see perhaps having a few days away at a time.  Just thinking to myself, a happy missus is a quite life!
Sandra's Family get together.

And Mikes birthday too!

My poor old mower deck, no bearings left.
 On Friday we set off back for home and all was going very smoothly until we were approaching Paris when the pilot announced that there were problem with the NATS system in southern UK and no one could enter UK airspace.  He would slow down and fly about a bit using his contingency fuel which he did but half an hour later he came on again saying that we would have to land at Amsterdam's Schiphol  airport to refuel and await a resolution for the problem.  So we had about an hour on the ground before continuing our journey.  Seven hours sat on the plane in total.  Our train time had well gone before we got to Manchester but to be fair with Trans Pennine trains they honoured our expired tickets good on em!

Sunday we got to see two of our Grandchildren Jessica and Mason singing in the school choir at the local garden centre, of course they were brilliant you would expect me to say anything else.

In the evening we went to the local hostelry, to have what is now an annual family get together with over twenty but not all of Sandra's family, this year it was organised by Sandra's cousin Kath who made a super job of it and we all had a great night especially Mike, Kath's nephew, who was a day short of his birthday and was duly embarrassed.

On Monday I finally managed to get the deck off my lawnmower and order the correct parts for mending it.  They have to come from the USA and the postage and import duties are actually almost as much as the parts themselves, nevermind they are still much cheaper than getting a new lawn tractor.

Merry Christmas everyone.  Les, Sanny and Geoff.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

On the up...

The pizza chef in Sapore di Piperi.
 Firstly my glass back (as my son insists on calling it), is much improved.  It was slowly getting better until yesterday when Deb and Jez heard of a wonder drug which can be bought straight over the counter as most drugs can be here in Greece.  The tablets, Naprosyn, are used in the treatment of arthritis and I could tell the difference within two hours of taking the first pill.  I have taken another this morning and had the most comfortable day for about a month now.  Thanks guys for the information.
Wicked calzone di mare and mixed salad.

Hundreds of acres or Oranges ripe for the picking.

Market day in Arta.
 On Sunday we went to the newly revamped Sapore di Piperi restaurant in Nidri.  They have made a great job of the place and are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday every week throughout the winter.  The old Il Sapore now Pomerada is also reopening this week on weekend days.  Looks like there is a plethora of Italian food in Nidri.  We had a great meal on Sunday and it was fantastic to see Demetri in good form.
Arta music academy doing a charity concert

Something fishy.
We have had some pretty poor weather this last few days, not UK poor but never the less poor with some serious wind and rain.  Things brightened up again yesterday and we're back into the low twenties so every thing has dried up nicely.

Yesterday we drove around the Amvraticus gulf yesterday and had a couple of hours wondering around Arta.  The road between Amfilochia and Arta has hundreds of acres of citrus groves all of which are now being harvested.  As a result of this there are stalls selling oranges, lemons, mandarins etc. twenty five cents a kilo (about twenty pence), the man from delmonti he say YES!!

Arta is a fantastic town to visit and it's amazing that so many people who spend an awful lot of time out in this part of Greece never get to see it.  We were treated to a musical performance by the local music academy in aid of charity, so it seems that even cash strapped Greece can still do a bit for good causes.

There will not be a blog next week as we are leaving Lefkas for Athens on Tuesday and after three days in Athens we fly back to the UK, hopefully I will have the time to update things the week after.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Bad back time again....

Parga on a cloudy day.
The old town of Parga
Unfortunately, my back problems have returned with a vengeance this last couple of weeks.  It started I think when I shifted some tables after the pontoon party but has got progressively worse since to such an extent this last week that I have been forced to take anti inflammatory and pain killing drugs.  They didn't seem to be doing any good as we had run out codeine based pills which seem to be the most affective.  Codeine is illegal in Greece as it's an opiate based medication.  As luck would have it our neighbours, Fergus and Nev had some Tramadol which they gave me and this seems to be taking the major edge off it.
As we will be going back to the UK in a couple of weeks I think I will try and last out until then before getting the quacks involved.

The Achrion river delta.
 It is rather worrying though as it brings our future plans for travelling into question.  As things are we could not sail anywhere as I would be incapable of pulling ropes especially when we embark and disembark let alone when we are out at sea.  It would be irresponsible to take the risk.  As this problem seems to have started returning at more an more regular intervals we shall have to think long and hard before making any real decisions.
Gorgeous hidden Sandy beaches

The river outfall to the sea.
Yesterday with the weather being somewhat overcast, we decided to go out for the day and re-visit Parga and then travel back across the Achrion river delta and the coastal route right back to Preveza.  Although we have lived in this area for ages now we had never actually been across the delta which is reputed to be the biggest rice growing area in Greece and on top of that there are beautiful sandy beaches all along this coast which are hardly ever used.  On the downside I guess with it being surrounded by paddy fields and marsh land it'll be mossy city in the better weather.  Having said that there are many apartments and hotels in the large village situated at the rivers outfall.

Today has been raining most of the day so it's been a sit back and watch the telly day, great work if you can get it.

Happy Birthday this week to Grandchildren Libby and Joe yesterday and Finley on Sunday, hope you all had and have a great time.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Where is the time going...

Just having a Giros at Daltons to make Pete jealous.
It is hard to believe that it's already well into the back end of November, apart from the odd thunder storm and occasional rainy day the weather here is still fantastic.  It could very easily be confused with a typical summers day back in the UK with blue skies, a gentle breeze and temperatures in the low twenties.  And the clincher is that as soon as evening comes you need to put something on to just to keep the chill at bay.
It's now only eighteen more days before we leave Lefkas for our Yuletide break back in the UK, we are having a few days in Athens prior to catching the flight back to Manchester and then onto home on the twelfth December.  Sandra is certainly looking forward to catching up with people at home and of course seeing all the children and grand children.

At Kato Rahoula again with Linda and Ray.
In the meantime, on Saturday Linda and her went on the free bus to IKEA at Ioannina for a spot of retail therapy.  She didn't, thank Christ, spend a fortune even though she was off the leash for a while.  She did however come back with some Ikea cooked ham from their food hall, smashing.  Of course she also had to pick up some bit and bobs while she was there!
Last night we went once again to Kato Rahoula (Bottom of the Hill) for a meal with Ray and Linda and as usual the food was excellent.  If anyone needs somewhere to go for Christmas lunch their menu is on the "Friends of Lefkas Marina" facebook page.  It looks excellent and I know where we would be if not in the UK.

We had only been at the restaurant for a short time when a car arrived with Les, Vi, Tony and Jane.  We knew that Tony and Jane where still here although due to go back but had no Idea that Les and Vi where back on the Island albeit for a short stay.  I have to say that when it came time for ordering drinks Les refused anything but water......  for about twenty milliseconds!  but it's the thought that counts, what do you say Les?  At least we got a chance to wish them all seasonal greetings before the departed for the UK. A great time was had with great company to boot and I've already copied that TV programme for you Ray.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Pontoon party and all that...

Special rice at Raj Panorama, Palairos
 It's been the week for eating Indian food this week as we have been across to Palairos twice, Friday and Tuesday, just to take advantage of Salim's excellent food before he heads off to Bangladesh later this month.  In fact I think the Panorama is closing this weekend if anyone want to make a dash for it they had better go now whilst they have the chance.

The Lefkas Sea Shanty singers.
Saturday was the Pontoon party which is organised every year usually by Debbie ad one or two willing volunteers.  It's a way of all the winter live aboards being able to get to know each other and for those who are unfamiliar with the area to meet people who can show them the ropes.  No one likes having to reinvent the wheel.

This year we seem to have many more British people than we have in the last couple of years but also with a good selection of other foreign nationals as well from all over Europe, Austrailia and America.

People becoming "well oiled".
We were treated to a singing fest from both the Lefkas Ladies choir and the Sea Shanty singers which made a pleasant change from the norm, by late afternoon some forty five litres of wine, donated by the marina and some of the popular tavernas, had been consumed and all had a great afternoon.  Thanks Deb for another great do!

Since we brought the electric over on board things which were not possible to produce with gas oven as it wouldn't reach high enough temperatures.  Now things like Yorkshire puddings and beef wellingtons are a mere trifle, or at least they are to Sandra - I burn water!

Beef Wellington, Sandra style.
Outside Castle Pantokratoras on the seaward approach to Prev.
 Jeremy and Debbie told us the other day about an old fort or castle which they had discovered near the seaward entrance to the Preveza channel.  From land you turn towards the sea from the roundabout before the northern tunnel entrance and just follow the road for a couple of kilometres.  A little fast whizz around the net this afternoon has shown it to actually be an old prison but it is a quite interesting if a somewhat under exploited old building.  Just outside there is one of those EU boards saying that something like 3.5 million euros has been spent on the area and very little of this has ended up making the castle into a tourist exhibition which could perhaps have raised money for the beleaguered local economy.  None the less, that seems to be the way of the world in these parts it just seems to be such a shame they are missing a trick!

Inside the old Prison.
The weather has turned a little on the wet side and it's been raining most of the day today but never mind at least we know that tomorrow it will be dry and the water won't be hung around for a week after it stops.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Sunsail take over the world...

Blocking off my view of the town
and as far as the eye can see.
 Sunsail and their sister company Moorings,  have been moving their yachts and catamarans onto our former pontoon (H pontoon) all this week and look like they have about completed it now.   I think there were going to be somewhere in the order of a hundred boats in total but we've not bothered counting them.  I have to admit they have done everything with the precision of a military manoeuvre and as I write this I can't see hardly any red sails left so it's not just been about relocating they are starting to get them ready for leaving for the winter.  Although in the wind today it looks like some could be moored a little tighter as they are swinging quite a distance.

The only real downside for us is instead of the open view we used to have over the town in winter is now obscured, nay, obliterated!  On the upside though we are very sheltered where we currently are (G Pontoon) and much nearer the main gate for getting out and about, as the small pedestrian gate we use in the summer has now been locked for the next five or six months for security reasons.

It's raining and the canvas looks great.
I had a look at the weather forecast earlier this week and it looked quite wet and windy by the end.  With this in mind we decided to get on and weather proof the winter cockpit awning.  Although it wasn't leaking or anything it's always a good idea to protect the canvas against the ravages of weather and UV light.  In the UK we bought a large can of Fabsil for this purpose and rather than leave it in the can thought it would be of more use on the canvas.
Kato Rahoula, good food, great company.
You can get this type of canvas treatment out here in Greece but it's very expensive and I would rather use Fabsil which we have used for many years on caravan awnings and tents with no problems what-so-ever, and it's much cheaper in the UK.

Ray and Sandra smile for the camera but not mine!
We had arranged to eat out with Ray and Linda last night at Nidri at Kato Rahoula (roughly, Bottom of the Hill).  We must say we are most impressed with this place and have been several times now and it's always good.  Ray and Linda were not the only people we met there though as Paul and Sue where already sat at their table when we arrived and then several more people we knew also turned up.  It's nice to see that somewhere not quite on the beaten track can still attract a customer base in these hard times and on a wet and windy night in November also.

The presentation here is top class it's the chip tower that does it.
 Presentation is not something that you really associate with Greeks and food but this place really does make an effort to make it's food look as good as it tastes which is a refreshing change.  I hope they get many more new customers as they deserve to succeed.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

A different week...

Brian and Victoria, with Kev and Lu officiating.
Lefkas Shanty singers providing impromptu entertainment.
The weekend got off to a cracking start with Brian and Vicky's engagement party at "The Octopuses  Garden" right here in Lefkas town.  What a great venue with a super setting and best of all there were loads of people who we don't normally get much of a chance to speak to there.  The engagement, actually should really have been a wedding but with her hectic and busy lifestyle Vicky had forgot to get divorced.  So they made vows to each other that sooner or later when the paperwork is completed properly they'll do it all again but this time for real.

 The entertainment came from a hastily arranged choral rendition or two from the Lefkas shanty singers, most of whom were attending and included the male lead for the evening Brian.  They actually did very very well especially considering that their conductor and task master Rosa wasn't at the party to keep them in check.

It's this big... Yeah, right.
A very good evening was had by all just a shame that it started to rain and of course I had left open the boat windows so we had to depart at about eleven o'clock.  We stole the pictures from Facebook, they were taken with a decent camera by Gilly on the night so thanks to her, Brian and Vicky for allowing me to reproduce some of them here.

Saloon finished with new cushions and curtains.
 On Monday we picked up the curtains for the boat which we've had made by Takis at Yacht Shelters, the same people who made a super job of our upholstery.  The old tub is now looking less like a charter boat and more like our home, and we can block out the light now!  We still have some more to do in the cabins but of course I didn't bring enough curtail rail out from the UK so that'll have to wait.
And the starboard side too! 

Tuesday was Oxi (ochi or no day) an important bank holiday in Greece celebrating the refusal of Greece to be annexed by Mussolini and thus the start of Greece's involvement in the second world war in 1940.  As one young Greek guy said to us the other night, Greece is the only country in Europe that celebrates the start of the war rather than the end.

We were due to pick up Jez and Debs from Preveza, but their debacle with flying from Corfu continued.  When they should have gone back to the UK they were on the Ryan air flight which wasn't allowed to land at Corfu and caused quite a furore in the UK press stranding about three hundred people in Corfu.  Well they got a refund and travelled a week later and had a great trip finishing by flying back to Corfu.  The plan was then to get the ferry to Igumenitsa and then a bus to Preveza where we would pick them up.  No one had thought of Oxi day though and the resultant mass mobilisation of Greeks on the public transport network, the bus was packed and they couldn't get on it.  A quick phone call got us on the way to Igoumenitsa to pick them up and now they are safe and sound back on the island.

Today Tony and Liz have set off back to the UK to finalise things with their new house and then of course to furnish and decorate it.  It will be the first time they have set up home together from scratch so we would like to wish them all the luck in the world  and hopefully we'll see you again at some point early in the new year.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

It's Official, I'm married to an old woman...

Boat sale at Vlicho Yacht Club.
 Saturday we decided that we would go and browse the bargains to be had at the Vlicho Yacht Club boat Jumble, Car Boot, Jumble sale, call it what you will.  As usual there were things which had been seen and rejected at many a sale prior to this one, I wonder when the items owners will finally realise that there stuff really is old junk and no one actually wants it!  Having said that there was some valid sale items and of of course Poros Janet was there with her normal stall full of freshly baked delicacies such as sausage rolls (Brian bought the bloody lot!), Cornish pasties etc.
The Birthday Girl with Pink Champagne and Chocolate.

We managed to get a couple of Pasties before they sold out for a Sunday snack and also had a bacon sarny in the club house so the journey was worthwhile.

Monday was the birthday of the my long suffering and beautiful wife, Sandra.  At last she has caught up with me in age, at least for the next three months.  I never would have thought all those years ago that I would end up being married to an old woman, but I guess she's ended up being married to an old man too, never mind.

Wine bar before evening meal.
 We decided that as a treat we would have some time in Ioannina and stay overnight in an Hotel and try out an Asian Fusion restaurant we had heard of from Deb and Jez.  The Bonzai, as it's called was fantastic.  We started with a selection of sushi dishes and then a couple of mains ( a Cantonese beef dish and a satay chicken one) with chow mein noodles for the carbohydrates to finish.  They sent us complimentary sweets, banana fritters with Ice cream and all washed down with a little wine.  Bloody gorgeous, we will be going back again.
Quaint little place, init!

Hotel Kastro, Ioannina.
 The hotel we stayed at was the hotel Kastros with the old castle walls and very handy for anyone wishing to see the town and it's many attractions.  The Hotel is good value at fifty eight euros for the room with breakfast although we did get woken during the night with the refuge collectors, we always have our windows open.
Anyone for Yorkshire pudding?

We also managed to do the Ikea, Jumbo, Practika shopping bit whilst we were in the area and I think that Sanny fully enjoyed her little birthday treats.

With spending quite a lot of the time since we returned at Linda and Ray's place we have not really had time to try out the new electric oven we brought back with us from the UK.  Well last night we had a cooked dinner with Yorkshire puddings, I think you'll agree they look stoncking.  I can confirm that they tasted even better.  So overall I think the the oven has now passed the acid Sandra test.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Going, Going, Gone...

Fly catching was extra!
And this from the downhill attackers.
 It's been a busy week with various comings and more especially goings.  Before Geoff and Pauline departed for home we took them to see what the streets of Lefkas look like after dark, which is a little later than their normal meal time but exceptions have to be made.  After a stroll through the town we decided to go for a meal at Margarita's.  Every meal Geoff has absolutely cleared his plate and on most occasions helped out the more slovenly eaters among us but this cured him!

He couldn't finish  his schnitzel it was just a bridge too far.  Kelly, Ray and Linda's faithful pooch had to have extra rations!  To be fair about it none of us actually managed a clean plate as they do tend to over face you a little.

One last visit to Pomordora's to be flattered by Spiros.
On Saturday for their "last Supper" we gave them a free choice of where to eat of all the places they had been whilst on the Island.  They choose Pomerdoras (was Il Sapore, Nidri), unanimously.  This didn't exactly surprise either Sandra or I as Spiros makes  real fuss of everyone who goes there and no exception was made for these two elder statesmen.  And of course the food is pretty good too.

 Despite there being loads of grasshoppers in the UK Aunty had never seen one in the flesh before coming here so we managed to show her one which had tried to drown itself in the swimming pool, we also caught a praying mantis for her to scrutinise, there seems to be millions of them this year.
There are many Mantis' but this one was to show Pauline.

It's been a real honour and a privilege to have been about to show these two senior citizens around the Island for the last two weeks, especially Aunty Pauline who had never had a passport, flown or travelled abroad before, I think it was a great experience for her a shame it's had to wait until so late in life to be enjoyed.

Cheers guys, we hope yoou had a great holiday.
A huge thanks to Ray and Linda for allowing us to use their house in order to get these guys here, we couldn't have done it without you.

 Both are now safely back in the UK no doubt reminiscing about their time in the land of the gods.

Braving the streets of Lefkada.
After dropping them off at Preveza airport we had a short wait for the plane from Gatwick coming in with Linda aboard fresh from her trip to the UK and several days earlier than planned.  It was nice to catch up with all her news and we stayed on at Sivota for a couple more nights before returning to Lesanda.

Ian and David last night having a curry at Palairos.
We were just unpacking the car on Tuesday morning when we were told by the marina manager that the time had at last come for us to move berths to make way for Sun Sail, who are taking over the entire pontoon which we were berthed on.  No hurry they said but we resolved to move the next morning and now we are safely ensconced about five yards from our original mooring on G pontoon.

Last night we went for a curry to Palairos with David and Ian from Vafkeri, they had never been before and David is returning to England this coming weekend so it was going to be the last chance for at least six months for him to try it.  All the way there Ian kept whining about how far it was, about five or six miles as the crow flies but longer by road, half an hour from Lefkas town.   When he got to the restaurant he was moaning that there were only three Chinese dishes on the menu so I asked Dimitri if he would do Ian a fish sweet and sour for his main and he took our advice with the starters.  Wonder of wonders!  he absolutely loved it as did we all, I think the journey was well forgotten by the time he's sampled the food.  Well done Taj Panorama and well done Ian for surviving the shock of leaving the island just to eat.