Thursday, 26 January 2012

Wednesday Evening Musings...

It sounded like the gods were ten pin bowling on our roof. Either that or six people were banging on corrugated iron sheets right outside of our bedroom window. Then there was the sheer volume of water tipping out of the skies, occasionally with some hailstones in the mix for good measure. Oh the joys of a Greek thunderstorm in the small hours. Even on a rare night when I could tell that I could sleep well, I was woken up at regular intervals by the "show", and what a show. You know when the storm is directly overhead when these things happen:

1. The flashes of lightning momentarily illuminate your bedroom, like it was the middle of a summer's day, for just a millisecond, even though the roller blind is three-quarters rolled down.
2. The thunder crash accompanies the flash, with no delay at all between the two. Plus it's so loud that you feel it shake the house. You genuinely have to decide, "now was this an earthquake, or just the effect of the rumble of thunder?"

Thus passed Tuesday night into Wednesday, January 24th-25th. At 4.35am we made a cuppa and read our books for a while before attempting to reclaim a little of the lost sleep. When we awoke at somewhere around 9.45am, the sky was cobalt and the temperature outside a balmy 15ºC in the shade and rising. A winter on Rhodes is anything but boring.

You can always tell what time of year it is when you see your car looking like this…

Tuesday January 24th was a day of two halves. The morning dawned bright and clear, but by lunch time the rain clouds had gathered and the spitting and spotting has begun. No matter because I had some graphic design work on the go for a UK client and the better half had a car-full of oranges to deal with. 

We passed the day quietly. Well, assuming that also making homemade orange juice by the gallon, splitting a few logs into "cheeses" (before the weather closed in) and turning out the wife's wardrobe for a re-organisation session, vacuuming the house from end to end and a spot of ironing along with the aforementioned activities qualifies in the "quiet day in" category. Maybe a marginal there, eh?

Tuesday evening into Tuesday night saw the storm drift across us as described above and, once again, Wednesday morning greeted us with bright sunshine and 15ºC while we partook of a trusty bowl of porridge and some chopped fruit for breakfast, partaken right by the French windows while we gazed down the valley to the sapphire sea.

After a shower around lunchtime, the skies once again cleared for a pleasant afternoon of sunny intervals. So, donning our sweaters, we decided to walk down to the beach. We'd been a bit lucky on the bird-spotting front lately, so perhaps we'd see something exciting today. On Monday evening, as we'd dropped the little Bulgarian off at her house at 10.30pm or thereabouts, she'd organised the orange-donation session that resulted in Yvonne-Maria sitting in the back for the remainder of the journey home. We couldn't put the citrus wonders in the boot (OK, trunk for you guys on the other side of the pond) owing to the fact that it was already full of shopping, since we'd made a pit-stop at Lidl earlier in the evening. As we'd thanked Dhopi once again for ensuring that our Vitamin C intake would be more than adequate for quite some time, we'd just started driving slowly back towards the main road at Kolymbia when we'd heard the cry of an owl.

We quite often have the pleasure of seeing a barn owl swoop across the road in front of the car during dark evenings, usually around the Lardos area, but this cry wasn't that of a barn owl, which is usually a blood-curdling screech. This was in all probability a Scops or Tawny, but we couldn't see it as it was deep into the olive grove beside which we were slowly passing, windows down to listen the better.

On our afternoon walk back up from the water's edge here in Kiotari, where we'd waved to George, the proprietor at the waterfront Pelican's Nest Ouzeri, Photos of Pelican's Nest, Kiotari
This photo of Pelican's Nest is courtesy of TripAdvisor 

...surprised but delighted to see that he's decided to open during the daytime for coffees and such (mental note: must drop by soon), we ambled back up the brief stretch of road from the beach to the Asklipio crossroads and were near-deafened by the cacophony of sounds coming from the now babbling brook running down the valley in the hollow to our left. In summer it's bone dry, but this time of the year sees brooks (of the babbling kind, of course) running all over the place which would make any Welsh valley proud. This hollow, just about ten feet down a steep slope between the road and the grounds of the Ekaterini Hotel, is densely packed with reeds and at the moment of our passing, also with what sounded like enough frogs to make Paul McCartney proud to add to his chorus. We stepped as close to the bank as we could without being certain to slide and slip all the way to the watery bottom, but despite straining our eyes, couldn't catch a glimpse of a single amphibian. We cursed ourselves that we always seem to forget the bins when we need them the most.

Once we'd again entered the lower reaches of the lane leading up to our house, we watched as blackbirds worried their way from bush to bush, making that particular flustered sound that they do as they take off. This always reminds us of the walks we used to do around our old home in St. Athan, South Wales. During the summers here, we don't see them much, although happily we do enjoy their song in the early evenings as summer approaches. Did you know that only the males sing? Did you also know that they only sing from February until late July and sometimes early August. Despite the climate differences, that also applies here. We used to love hearing them in the UK because the first blackbird heralded the advent of Spring and as long as you heard them singing you knew that there was still some summer to come (well, hopefully!).

The final delight we enjoyed on the one kilometre walk back up the lane was a Hen Harrier, which are as indigenous to Rhodes as they are to parts of the UK, though you don't get the chance to see one at close quarters too often. He'd been sitting on a seven-foot high bush when he saw us coming, took off, gave us a magnificent view of his underside, wings outstretched, before darting across the valley to our right at astonishing speed. We weren't sure what kind of hawk it was at the time, only that it was a hawk. A few minutes poring over our trusty selection of bird books once we'd got in and made a cup of white tea brought us to the "Hen Harrier" conclusion, owing to the clearly visible white rump we'd witnessed as he sped away from us. I say "he", but it could have been "she", as the two sexes of hen harriers are quite markedly different, the female being much larger than the male. Oh, where's Bill Oddie when you need him, eh? Be great if we could keep him in a drawer somewhere and whip him out on demand to make a positive ID wouldn't it?

All in all an eventful, yet pleasurable couple of days, punctuated by a chat with the neighbours as we'd handed them a plastic bag full of oranges over their gate to help them share in our citrus plenitude (admit it, you're impressed again aren't you?).


  1. I'm happy that the weather improved after your storm. I have my faith, in Rhodes being synonymous with sunshine, restored. For a moment, your blog was painting a very worrying picture!
    Am equally glad that you mention your other/better(?) half being allowed to ride in the back seat having been displaced by oranges.
    I had visions of her trotting along behind the car/donkey in the style of Eastern Mediterranean women in days gone by.

    1. she fought hard for the privilege.
      Only joking!

  2. John. looking at the pics.Do you really juice oranges by hand
    In our first year here we invested in an electric juicer
    As I recall not all that expensive

    1. I think storing orange juice for more than a few hours is not very good for its vitamins.

    2. Um, did you never think of freezing it?

    3. is it worth it for just a couple of times a year? What did God give us hands for eh? No, we really have enough gadgets in the home and don't want to clutter up the kitchen with any more!!! We like doing things by hand now we have the time to!

  3. I'm not the anon poster re. orange juice John. I always sign myself!

  4. Yea, it's funny because, although it's nice to receive the feedback, I really do prefer to at least have a name to go with the comments. Noted that you always oblige Vicki.