Thursday, 31 December 2015

The old is nearly out...

Digging through the hedge.
Rob Sweeting on his mini digger.
 Well the old year is rapidly coming to an end but at least on a fairly high note for us this year.  Geoff has made another great come back health wise and will hopefully soon be going out again.  He is still forgetful and at times confused but the pills seem to be taking affect once again.  He is talking of coming back to Greece next year again "for one last time" but we will wait and see on that score.  As things are at the moment we are returning to Lefkas as planned on the 10th January but we are planning on Sandra returning about six weeks later just to see how he is coping and to get make sure he's looking after himself adequately.

All the deadly green slippery algae removed.
 I have been digging holes across the lawn of our old house to try and discover the cause of a drainage problem from the road down the side shared by us and the farm next door.  The drain turned out to be full of roots for about sixteen feet which has now been replaced and the huge lake in the road now clears fine.  It has been a problem for many a year but now we can look forward to not having to drive through all the mud when the weather is wet, as it usually is especially at this time of year.

Sanny get another hairdo.
Many people has asked us about the mammoth flooding our area has once again been suffering from.  It has not affected us although York and Selby areas have had it very bad.  Our flood just over two years ago was caused by a freak set of circumstances so hopefully it will be many, many years before we get it again.

 Last night we were on baby sitting duties for Jess and Lissa, this meant that Hairdressing had to be on the agenda again, it's a good job that I don't have long hair any more of otherwise people might start to think I gone transsexual!
What a picture!

Geoff's (bottom right) school picture.
WWII in modern Pakistan (then India) Geoff left with horse.
Geoff has been given a picture from an old paper this week of his school photo I'm guessing from about 1930 so I've mad it as good as I can get it with the limited tools at my disposal and put it on his electronic picture frame with his other old pictures which I scanned in years ago.  He sits and watches them revolve around for hours occasionally saying things like "look there's old so and so who we went to school with".  Now I know I look old and sometimes act old and at time I certainly feel old but he thirty odd years in front of me, so NO Geoff, I didn't go to school with them!

After he saw that picture he dug one out of the back of his wallet from his days out in India with the army and his beloved horses it was a little thing about the size of a match box and he's had it in his wallet ever since it was taken.  Anyway I gave it the same treatment (Geoff is on the left) but the quality of the original is very poor so I can't get it much better than this.

All that remains is for me to wish all our family, friends and anyone else who reads my weekly drivel, a very happy and healthy 2016.  May things only get better for everyone.

Friday, 18 December 2015

'T'is the season....

 The photo's this week are all taken in Lefkas just before we left.  It amazes me how much more the Greeks are getting "westernised" with regards to Christmas.  When we first retired and went out there it was very much just another religious celebration and in second place by a long long way to Easter.  Now, some eight years later, the gap between them is much smaller although Easter is still the primary festival in Greece.  The plethora of decorations and lights about this year is hugely more than we have seen previously.

Last Thursday we set off on our first leg to getting back to the UK for Christmas by driving to Athens and staying in  Peri's Hotel near the airport.  In effect this pays for itself as they look after the car for the month we are away at no extra charge.  Airport parking would cost us something in the region of €150 for the period we are away so it's a bit of a "no brainer".

The Easyjet flight the next day was uneventful apart from being sat next to a guy who smelt of pee and had very severe halitosis, I don't think we have ever been so pleased to get off an aeroplane in our lives.  At Manchester we had arranged to pick up an hire car and thought it would just be a case, having done all the paperwork on-line, of showing the license and picking up the keys.  No it took us 3/4 of an hour and then when we got into the car park the car wasn't there.  Another 15 or 20 minutes and we had another (upgraded) car.

Unfortunately, when we got back to good old Yorkshire we found Sandra's dad was full of flu and not in good health at all.  We have had him to the doctors since and he's now improving but we think our current way of life may be in for some radical changes sooner rather than later.

Sandra and I would like to wish everyone who reads our musings, a very happy Christmas and a fantastic New Year and all of 2016 in fact.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Last blog for a short while (at least)...

Some of the olive pickers.
More talk than work I think!
Brian and Vicky very kindly invited us to their house warming over the weekend but of course there was an ulterior motive: Olive picking.

There were a great many people there so although Sandra helped with the "harvest" I just stood around and talked, bit of a man-woman roll reversal really!  I may end up paying dearly for that remark but hey ho.
More quake damage pictures.
Road not to be trusted.
A tight squeeze.

Anyway their new house looks great and I understand that they have got twenty five litres of oil from the weekends endeavours so success on both counts.  Thanks very much for inviting us Brian & Vicky, sorry we couldn't stay until the end but we were told it was a great evening.

This is the last time I will mention the earthquakes as they are now tailing away nicely.  Having said that we have had about thirty five tremors in the last two days according to the seismic web site, the largest of these being 3.6, so they are still about.

Debbie and Jeremy took the quake photos I have attached to the blog this week while they were travelling about the south of the island.  I'm sure you'll agree the damage is not minor by any standards.  Thanks for the pictures guys.

There will not be any blog next week as we will be travelling to Athens in order to fly back to the UK next Friday to be with our family over the Christmas season.  Sandra and I would like therefore to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a fantastic new year now.  Just in case the access to the internet in rural Yorkshire is as dire as it sometimes can be when we get home.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

pore oil over troubled waters...

Parga Castle and old town
 Just thought I would start with an update on where we are with regards to earthquake activity.  Well, we are still having small tremors, we have had thirty five such seismic events since lunchtime yesterday.  The frequency and intensity of these is now much diminished but it's it well over nine days since the big shock last Tuesday.  That said we still get the occasional one which we feel, a couple yesterday registered over four on the Richter scale.  I think now the worst is now over for this particular round of Quakes, lets hope it's a long time before we get any more.
Nearly had some breakers.

Last Saturday was oil change time for the boat engine.  For anyone not familiar with yacht engines, you generally can't get anything under them to catch the oil so you draw the old oil out through the dip stick hole.  This is a little like drinking a bath full of water through a straw.  The engine in most small yachts is located under the stairs which descend into the saloon so it's a fairly cramped environment which the staircase raised above your head.   I borrowed Jez's oil extractor to do this, with which you pump the air out of the holding tank and then there is a thin hose going into the engine which in an attempt to get air back into the tank, draws up the oil.  Simple Idea and it works.  So half an hour later I have my two litres of waste oil safely in the extractor vessel.  I say to Sandra can you just get this off me and put it out on the pontoon but as I pass it too her I lose my grip (symptom of my post stroke problems) and drop the bloody thing thing on the saloon floor.  This is the equivalent of pouring five gallons of oil in your lounge, not a good thing.  Of course I just stand there and watch it run down through the floor and into the bilges and generally spread its way far and wide.  I was not a popular bunny so in an attempt to placate "her who should be obeyed" I start to clean it all up.  Of course I ruin my clothes and get it all over my legs, feet and arms, well I am a man after all.  Anyway two and a half hours later I have it cleaned to within an inch of it's life and can get showered.  Mucky oil don't come off your skin very well!!  Anyway the engine is now winterised.

Sun over the Island in Parga bay.
Earlier in the week we had a ride out to Parga just for the want of nothing better to do.  We love the place and had a nice couple of hours there chatting to people and drinking coffee in the sunshine.  We thought while we were off the island we may as well have a ride to Ikea and get some ham from the food hall there, it's much better, we think, then any of the local cooked ham and so a bit of a treat.  Also we called in Praktica and got a new engine battery to replace the one we "stewed" whilst Allen and Jean were out sailing with us.  So that meant I could knock another job off the winter "ToDo" list yesterday so I fitted the new battery and put the domestic battery which we had used for the emergency, back into the domestic bank.  Also flushed out the fresh water cooling and replenished the antifreeze, which is not to guard against frost but as a corrosion inhibitor.   Anyway, that's been our week of rumbles and oil and now of course the weather has broken and for the last couple of days has been chucking it down with rain.

Thanks to Linda and Ray for the night out last Saturday and Deb, Jez and Linda for the "bub" last night, finger lickin good!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Shaken not stirred...

Dots represent each seismic event. 
 There are really only a couple or things to mention this week and I make no apologies for either we're just rather saddened by the impact they have had on so many peoples lives.

Firstly, the horrific events in Paris, France, our hearts go out to all right thinking people who are touched by this devastating atrocity.  We hope that any French people who we have met on our travels are not affected directly by it although we are all affected on some level or other.  I really must add here that I wouldn't like to see any vigilantly style repercussions.  We know many people or differing religions, including many Muslims and these outrageous attacks are abhorrent to the vast majority of people irrespective of their beliefs.
Many roads blocked (Sue's picture)

Egremni beach before.
 The other big event, especially for us here on the beautiful island of lefkada, has been the earthquakes, I use the plural because there have been at least three well  over five on the Richter scale the largest of which has been logged at anywhere between 6.1 and 6.8.  We have also had literally hundreds of aftershocks probably averaging at one every fifteen minutes or so.  We don't feel most of them as the water absorbs and dissipates much of the energy.  However we have felt all the big ones and many at over 3 or 4 on the Richter scale.
...and after.

Some of the devastation.
Unfortunately whilst things could have been much worse there have been two fatalities and several injuries requiring hospital treatment.  I hasten to add that neither us nor anyone actually known to us has been hurt but "there but for the grace of God go I"

The tremors are still going on, Sandra has just felt a 2.2 one as I write this down, I must be thick skinned as I didn't.  Our Friends Jez and Debs have been down the island today on their bike but couldn't as yet get through with land slides and huge boulders blocking the roads.  We hope the guys employed clearing them keep safe whilst the tremors continue.

On the internet there is an amateur video taken from a fishing boat that shows the collapsing of the cliffs over Porto Katsiki and Egremni beaches.  The after photo shows what's left of the three and a half kilometre beach which has been voted as one of the top ten in the whole of the Mediterranean, it may never be the same again.   Thanks to the anonymous people who's photo's I have purloined from the internet.

If anyone would like to help the poor hard hit Lefkadian's who have been affected by the quake there is a giving site set up :-

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Lest we forget...

Lesanda proudly sporting her poppy day offering
Some of the marina's proud ex-service people (from Facebook).
 The salient part of this week has been the remembrance service which was held on the marina in Porto cafe by Jackie Dallos.  A very moving and humbling service with contributions from some of the ex armed forces personal resident on the marina and island.  For me, it's very important that we take a while every year to remember the sacrifice of our people both military and civilian during the armed conflicts in our history, not just the two world wars but others as well in more recent times.  I am in no way shape or form a man of any religious beliefs but this service is not about religion, it's about pride and gratitude and thanks for those who gave so much for such little reward.  I can't help but think to myself that without these dedicated men and women I for one would not enjoy the lifestyle which I now enjoy and I'm sure that that applies to most other people as well so I will always be eternally grateful.  Thankyou.
G pontoon about full for the winter yellow horseshoe is Lesanda.

 I think those who are coming for the winter are now here although the weather is so good there may still be one or two who are putting off getting snuggled down for the winter.  We have been having temperatures in the mid seventies for weeks now with no rain for weeks (touch wood) and looks like we have at least another ten days or so to come, we may yet pay for it of course.  Our pontoon is about full but there are still spaces opening up as charter boats are taken out for the closed season if anyone fancies joining this vibrant winter community.
Main square in Arta
Anyone for a new septic tank.

There must have been some problems with the sewage system on the marina because each of the toilet blocks seems to be getting a new septic treatment plant installed.  It has been quite interesting watching the men install it, they definitely are not working to northern European standards and any commitment to health and safety is minimal at best.  But at least the company are committed  to improving the facilities.

Sandra and I have had a couple of days out and about whilst the weather has been great.  It was great to visit Arta again for the first time since I had my stroke earlier on in the year.  We have also been riding around this beautiful island just to remind ourselves how lucky we really are.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

where did the light nights go....

Those who dare, dance...
Steamboat Rooster doing their thing.
It's been a great week with fantastic weather for late October/early November. This is apart from the gales we had for forty eight hours over the weekend, but not anywhere else on the island only Lefkas it seems. I have had to at last resort to wearing long trousers on a night though, if we are going out somewhere anyway.  It's turned a little chilly of an evening and of course it's now sunset at around 5:30 and so dark by six o'clock.  That is bad news because all of a sudden you realise that winter is just around the corner.  I do cheer myself up by remembering that back in blighty it'll dark much earlier than than this in fact from what I remember of it, on damp dismal days it never seemed to get much light at all.  We know how lucky we are and if things stay along the same lines as usual we'll still have a few more weeks of weather in the 20's during daylight hours.

Every gathering has it's exhibitionists. 
Most of our work is now complete on the boat just a few little winter jobs to do, and as November came then it was time for the pontoon party for all the united nations of people who stay here over the winter.  This year it was organised by Anne and Mike from Ruffles Spray.  It seemed to go off like clockwork and not only that, this year we had a special treat afterwards with a great performance from one of the islands bands, Steamboat Rooster in Porto Bar.  They were excellent, thanks to Vicky for facilitating this.  Although the bar was full it was outside for the dancers and the mosquito tolerant.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

I thought we had retired...

Allen and Jean at Cafe di Paris.
 It's been a hectic old week this week, I ache in places which I didn't know existed.

We started last Friday by taking Allen and Jean to Patras where we both spent the evening before sending them off from Araxos airport back to Pathos in Cyprus.  We had a good last night culminating with a fish supper at our usual restaurant there.  It was great to have you two guys to stay but now the real work begins!
New shock absorbed passerelle.

Repaired in mast furling and new rope.
 As you will know if you read the blog a couple of weeks ago we had some "shake down" issues with Lesanda whilst we were out sailing with Allen and Jean.  Mainly the toilet and the in mast furling of the mainsail.  To solve this problem I waited for our guests to depart and started to look firstly at the toilet problem, or rather the holding tank.  For those who don't know about boats, most yachts out here have a holding tank for keeping the contents of the toilet whilst in harbour and not polluting the water you are sat in.  Ours started pushing this through the air vent.  Allen and I did unblock it when we were out but the problem subsequently resurfaced so to speak.  I have not put any photos as it's not such a palatable subject but to cut a long story short when we left the boat in spring after my stroke the sea cocks were turned off and the residue inside the tank had set like concrete.  It looked for all the world like crisp bread as I prized it from th tank sides.  This had been flaking off and blocked all the pipes so it all needed cleaning out.  Not for the faint hearted but it now seems to be fine, I shall be replacing all the pipework when we haul out in spring.
Winter cover back in place.
The problem with the in mast furling was two fold, firstly the rope used to actually furl the sail had swelled slightly with crystals of salt and with general use so I have replaced that.  Also the section of the sail which is fastened to the foil inside the mast although very tight was not tight enough.  I winched the up-haul for the sail to get this as tight as humanly possible which has made it work very much better.  I can now pull it in and out without the use of any winches even in my weakened condition.

Freezer in it's new permanent place in the fore cabin. 
We have also moved the freezer into the fore cabin which meant removing the aluminium extrusion from the door frame this gave us one millimetre to play with in getting it in, better than having one millimetre short.  This now gives us all the cockpit to play in again.  The winter cover has replaced the bimini so we are snug again although the weather as yet is more akin to a great summer day in the UK.  All the steel work has been polished and Sandra has washed all the extra stuff we needed for our guests as well as packing away the summer cloths and reinstating the winter wardrobe.  Today we have done nowt, bliss...

Thursday, 22 October 2015

a great couple of weeks comes to a close...

Last of the good sailing.
 It's nearly come to the time when we will be going back to Patras to see Allen and Jean back off to Pathos.  We have had a great time with about a week out sailing and a week based at the marina and doing a few things around and about.  We over-nighted at Nidri, little Vathi on Meganisi, Mytikas and Palairos on the mainland.

One of the trawlers in Mytikas.
When we were at Mytikas a couple of fairly large trawlers docked very near us and we bought a kilo of prawns from one of them and all four of us prepared (skinned em) before Allen produced a smashing garlic prawn dish for us all to enjoy.  Of course we had to have a Indian meal in Palairos which as usual was greatly anticipated and enjoyed, might go back again next week!

The rain it did rain, hope they get wet!.
 Tuesday was Sandra's birthday and we went for a ride on the mainland to show our guests a few places they had not been before and also had a stroll along the harbour at Preveza.
In the evening we had a super meal at Kato Rahoula in Nidri.  Sandra had a fab time as she nears the next decade although she won't thank me for reminding her of that.

Rivers on the biminy
Unfortunately the weather has taken a turn for the autumnal now and overnight we have had quite loud thunderstorms and heavy rain.  At twelve thirty this morning a huge fifty six foot yacht with about fourteen people on it came and moored opposite us on the pontoon.  They were the noisiest people we have ever had near us so much so that I had to get out of bed and try to tell em to shut the £&$1 up.  This seemed to have no effect so I gave them a very loud whistle and it stopped instantly and in the ensuing silence I told them again complete with sign language that people were trying to sleep.  Of course they took not one bit of notice and carried on as though I was not there and the loudness continues until about three thirty, hey ho.  Thanks for the company for the last couple of weeks guys and you never know next time it may be on your boat Allen, assuming you can win Jean over!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Foreigners come to stay...

For those who may have doubted it, Lesanda does have sails.
 San and I had a great night in Patras last Friday before picking up Allen and Jean from Araxos airport.  Managed a nice fish restaurant in the evening and we must remember next time to order one meal and not two, far too much food.

Sunrise over Tranquil bay.
A couple of jobs were left to do before we could go sailing including picking up Pete and MeJulie from Igoumentisa.  San and Jean were tasked with that job Whilst Al and I emptied the boat of the bits and bobs which we only use when we are in the marina, like the washing machine and the mains cooker.

Allen, Jean and San in Pano's Nidri.

Big Al on the helm.
 Monday night was a meal out with all our guests at Margarita's.  We had a real laugh with Pete and I think MeJulie perhaps wondered who these strange buggers were.  Thanks guys for a fab night out and not too much to eat and drink.

Tuesday set off with the intention of going to Ithaka and Kefalonia.  Best laid plans.  Kept smelling burning as we went along and finally isolated it to the engine battery.  It was so hot you could not touch it, fearing a fire we had to deal with it immediately.  Left Allen trying to keep us from a lee shore whilst I got it disconnected and moved.  We then found that we power switch to move from engine battery to domestic batteries was stuffed, bugger!

Nice reach in a light wind.
Flagged down a sialing holiday lead boat who came on board to help me shift one of the domestic batteries into the engine becaus without it we could not start the engine and were drinfting close to land but too deep to drop the hook.  They were great.  We then had a stick mainsail and could get it to furl properly so we headed for the Iris hotel pontoon in Nidri where Allen and I spent the next morning getting it working better.  Turns out to be a bit of a shake down run then.

Botanically speaking it's a "lesser spotted Al"
Next day we decided that seeing as iit was nid afternoon and we were having some teething probs we would head for little Vathi on Meganesi.  12 euros to moor and whilst we produced the paperwork we would have a drink two small beers and two glasses of wine another 14 euros.  Today we have motored to Mitikas and on route discovered that the toilet was filling with foul stuff of it's accord.  After a lot of pumping found out the we had a blockage and the holding tank was full - over full to the point of coming out the breather pipe.   Shit - Literally shit shit shit...  In the end I dangled over the side of the dingy and pocked a cable up the pipe which was partially successful.  We then put the dingy inflater up the hole sealed with a rag and forced air through it.  After a few attempt this worked but needless to say I was in great need of a shower.  Can anything else go wrong????

Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Gathering....

George looking weary.
 We spent a couple of days over the weekend with our Greek family back in Assos where the story began eight years ago.  As usual they were pleased to see us but I'm afraid that the economic austerity measures are really beginning to take their toll on the ordinary rural Greeks especially when they are not living in areas where they get the benefits of tourism.  Sandra and I had decided some time ago that we would take George and Mantha out for a restaurant treat which I know they have not had for about three years.  They accommodated us overnight and many of the villagers turned up at the Kafenion to come and enquire how this strange English couple where doing now that we were no longer in their lives.

Some of the locals turn up to see us.
We ate at a local restaurant on the road to Arta but only after we got George to finally close up for the night.  It's always the case with Greeks, going out for the night doesn't start until late evening and then goes on and on and on...  The meal was good and very cheap starters main courses and two litres of wine and the bill came to forty Euros for the four of us, that's a little over thirty pounds no one taking advantage of anyone there then!

We came home on Sunday totally exhausted from all the lingual gymnastics and just the effort of being there but I guess it was all worth while to see the smile on their faces.
The view over Nidri and surrounding Islands.

Lefkas town from on high.
 We decided to have a trip around the island on Tuesday and found a couple of roads which we had not explored before and we were rewarded with some excellent views and very nice countryside to boot.  Wednesday and today have been spent preparing Lesanda to receive our special friends Allen and Jean who are coming who we will be picking up from Patras airport on Saturday all being well.  We on the other hand are going to have that night in the hotel in Patras tomorrow which we should have had at Easter if I didn't have the my stroke and had to cancel.

The wanderers (Two Drfiters) return. (Pic SV Bagpuss)
This morning the latest of the winterers has arrived.  Two Drifters, Fergus and Nev, came back into the marina this morning after a great summer adventure around many, many of the Aegean islands and having been involved in storm, tempest, refugee crisis etc. but had a "storming time" as well.  Welcome back guys.

It's that time of year now when the flotillas and charterers are packing up and the swallows (yachties here for the summer) are going home.  The rest of us are getting ready to have this beautiful paradise all to ourselves.