Friday, 13 June 2014

An Old, Wise Greek and Some Other Stuff

Can't believe it's already a couple of weeks since we last enjoyed the hospitality of our old friend Gilma, way down South, where we always get served up a perfectly-brewed Elliniko and are usually offered some interesting nibble or other to accompany it.

Sitting with him in his very old, yet sprucely maintained cottage around the turn of the month, the conversation turned to the weather. Made us feel quite British, but frankly, this year everyone's on about it. It's been the weirdest start to a summer for over fifty years, and that's official. If I had a Euro for every "false start" that this summer has made I'd have, ooh, about ten Euros by now. My better half is the weather expert, walking database that she is, and she usually says that at the start of May the daily temperatures usually crank up by about 5ºC virtually overnight. Where, during April they'd been hovering in the lower 20's, they usually turn into the mid to upper twenties and don't look back until October comes.

The same usually happens with the start of June, when they'll normally crank up even further to 30 and over. Plus, the cloud we see is sparse and scattered once May is under way. Yes, we can get a short blip and a shower now and then, but often we don't.

This year, however, the summer has made as if to start umpteen times, only to then bring us a surprise drop in temperatures and some cloudbursts well suited to the depths of winter. We're all feeling decidedly sorry for the holidaymakers, although by and large they tend to make the best of it anyway. On one of my excursions a couple of weeks back, on a day that had begun full of promise and unbroken sunshine, but had turned very murky and the rain had "spat" at us for a while in early afternoon, I'd remarked to a guest as we sat in the Top 3 Bar awaiting the arrival of the coach for the return journey, that the weather was a bit "British" and how sorry I was (like it was all my fault. Must try and get rid of this guilt complex), only to receive the reply, "Hadn't noticed. It's a darned sight warmer here than back home, so why should I worry?" Good old British Stoicism, eh?

So, returning to our chat with our wise old Greek friend, he made an interesting observation concerning the meteorological goings on this year. In answer to a comment from me about how strange it had been so far he said, and I quote, "This kind of thing often means we're in for a big one Yianni."

"A big one?" I asked. I already knew what I think he meant, but needed clarification, which soon followed. Assuming his usual conspiratorial stance, he whispered, all the while thrusting out both hands before him in a distinctly "Tommy Cooper-esque" gesture, "Seizmo, Yianni. We could be in for our next earthquake!" Now, the last big one we had here was in 2008, when we had a 6.4 on the Richter scale. Everyone remembers it because it lasted for 20 seconds or so, time enough for me and her indoors to get out of bed, slip into our robes and walk calmly (!!?**) out on to the drive before the ground stopped vibrating. It's easy to remember which year it was, because it came hot on the heels of the worst forest fires in a couple of decades, the year when even Kiotari Hotels were evacuating guests as a precaution.

So, if the earth does indeed move for us this coming summer, I'll let you know. That's always assuming that Reuters don't get there first, of course.

Actually, yesterday it really did feel like it's supposed to feel in the middle of June. The temperature hovered around 31-33ºC all day and we took a shower outside without worrying how cool the water may be on our skin. Plus, this past few days we've even taken our first real swim in the sea at our favourite stretch of beach, so things do finally look as though they're getting back to normal.

At 5.30am this morning, after what was for me a really good night's sleep for a change, I went out to water the garden. Even though we have an extensive watering system, there are still enough plants in pots and some that are too far from an available water pipe as to require about half an hour's work every couple of days keeping them all from shrivelling up. With the temperatures finally clocking in at around normal, it's the best time of day to be exerting oneself. Only about 25ºC out and with the light just beginning to grow from the murk of night to the morning "gloaming", it was truly wonderful to be wandering around outside. Plus, it had been a full moon last night and I was stunned to see the "moonset" approaching as I stepped out with my trusty watering can in hand. Hanging just above the hill to our right (West of course) was this bright, white globe, so I dashed back inside for the camera. Now, as you'll know if you follow this stuff on a regular basis, my camera's not a posh contraption, but I took these anyway, plus one with the iPad...

Wouldn't have missed that for the world. Of course, with the naked eye I could see all the details on the moon's surface, but the camera couldn't quite manage that.

Returning to the subject of the weather for a moment. We bumped into a couple of old friends from Germany last night, Mo and Angela, who holiday on Rhodes regularly, usually staying in the Lindos Blu hotel. I usually remark to people who stay there that "that's the hotel with the rubbish view, isn't it?" Check out that website folks, see the irony!! Frankly, it's even a bit "Santorini-ish" here and there the view from that hotel.

Anyway, Mo told us that they'd arrived on Tuesday and we remarked right away that they've come at the right time, because had they come earlier they may have experienced some of this year's weather-vagaries. He replied right away that the weather's been pretty strange in Germany too. He told us that when they'd flown out here on Tuesday from Dusseldorf, it had taken them so long to reach the airport owing to heavy rains, wind and floods, that they almost didn't make it. Then he said that flights had been delayed, cancelled and diverted too owing to the wild weather, which was totally out of character for this time of year. 

See I have my own theory about all of this. I distinctly remember reading probably twenty years ago now that experts were warning that, owing to the melting ice-caps at the two poles, the worldwide seawater levels were set to rise by about a meter in the coming decades. If the sea level were to rise by a mere meter, it would drastically alter the world map almost beyond recognition. The Maldives, for example, would cease to exist. Now, despite the proof that the ice at both poles is receding at a rapid rate, the sea levels haven't changed to any appreciable degree, so where's all that extra water gone then? Want my opinion? (OK, OK, no need for that!) Well, it stands to reason to me that it's all in the atmosphere, hence higher humidity that in decades past on Greek islands, more frequent incidences of storms and deluges than ever before here, there and everywhere and in places that simply never used to experience such phenomena. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it!

So, what we need now is something cheery, eh? I remarked at the outset that I'd had a good night's sleep, which is something I rarely experience. I've tried just about every suggested therapy, diet and potion to combat the problem. But now I'm wondering if what I really need at 10 o'clock every evening is one of these (with the contents still in it of course - well, at the outset anyway)...

Tell you what, Corona never tasted like this when I was a lad!!!

My wife was cleaning a villa or two yesterday and returned home as per usual with a couple of bags of spoil. In one of them was this at-the-time unopened bottle of Corona, which is evidently from Mexico (very Greek, eh?). Now, since we'd been out for most of the evening, at something like 10 pm we called in at Panayioti's "Meat and Grill" on the lower beach road just below the Princess Adriana hotel for a few vegetarian pittas to have for our "tea". Last night his fellow proprietor Alexi (may be his son, must ask next time) prepared them after I'd phoned our order through in advance (0030-22440-42038) and we dropped by, collected them and high-tailed it home to slob out on the sofa and munch them in front of the TV. 

Last night's were arguable the best takeaway pittas we've ever, ever had. They usually pack them solid with salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion), tzatziki and chips (see this post PDQ!), but Alexi pulled a stroke of genius and asked if we'd like some Halloumi in there too. Boy am I glad I said yes!! Anyway, so there we were tumbling in through the front door, tearing off outer garments to cool down (no other reason, OK? This is a family site) and ripping paper off the pittas too to get at them when I opened the fridge for something to wash mine down with and there was this chilled bottle of Corona, all glistening with tempting condensation on the outside, so I thought "Yea! That'll do."

Having chomped through the pittas and guzzled the Corona we went to bed and I slept and I slept and I slept. I think I've finally discovered the best sleep potion. It's evidently from Mexico and steeped in tribal tradition, ahem... yes, these ancient herbal recipes are definitely the best. Pass me another Corona...

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