Friday, 17 April 2015

It's a Matter of Degrees

Something which always amuses me is the fact that every spring and every autumn there are folk both on Rhodes and in the UK who excitedly compare the weather and the temperature between the two locations. Throwing my hands up here, I'm usually one of them. Don't ask me why, but it's just something people feel compelled to do for some reason. I know, it's probably in the genes of every British person. After all, have you ever known two Brits to converse without either using the weather as an opener, or referring to it at some point during the conversation? Thought so.

It happens though. Every spring there will be a few days when the weather's maybe a degree or two warmer in the UK than it is on Rhodes. Guess what, it's soon all over the social media sites and emails like a rash. It's a pride thing I suppose. "Hah!" Someone will write or say. "WE'VE got it warmer here than in Greece," as if to say "take THAT you smug .....s!" Why is a degree or so of that much importance? Odd isn't it.

What's of far greater importance to me is the little spiders. What little spiders? I'll tell you. About a week before we left for the UK, we got up one morning to find the ceiling in the lounge liberally sprinkled with the little blighters. These were not much larger than what we'd have called when I was a child "money spiders", but in actuality, money spiders they most certainly were not.

I've gone on in the past about the nasty arachnids we sometimes get in the house on Rhodes. I know, they're probably not "nasty" really, but I have to admit to being one of those people who do experience a shiver when spotting one on the wall that would almost fill the palm of my hand. It's about conditioning I suppose. If you've read Tzatziki For You to Say then you'll remember one nighttime encounter I had with one of these fake tarantulas (it's described in chapter 2, "Livestock"). The fact is, even though these days I usually try and re-locate a spider found inside to the great outdoors, if it comes to a question of him or me, then he has to die. I take no delight in it, but that's the way it is.

Standing on a stool to take a closer look (I know, I do live dangerously eh? Fearless, that's me - except in the case of large spiders), I could see that these, of which there must have been at least a couple of dozen, were baby versions of the huge monster that I'd had a brush with in that aforementioned chapter. We were only a few days away from departing for the UK and the thought of leaving all these invaders to grow up in our absence did kind of freak us out a little. When we arrive home to Rhodes it'll be after dark and so the spook factor alone meant that we had to deal with the situation with great despatch.

Elsewhere too I believe I've described in the past having come across a mummy spider (yes, I did mean to type "mummy") with a rather large, probably distended, abdomen, which if I'm not mistaken is that hazel-nut sized bit at the back, from which she appears to dispense silk while making a web, only to poke her and see thousands of her little progeny pouring out from the rear tip of said abdomen and running amok. This memory is what prompted alarm bells ringing when we awoke to find all these little potential freak-out causers sitting on our ceiling in the lounge. They weren't that far from our air-con unit and I have to admit to always wondering what goes on behind it. After all, there are wires and tubes and stuff passing through the wall from the great outdoors behind those things. One is helpless to check what's going on in there. I had visions of one or two of these big mammas trotting up the pipe and releasing all her little dears up there on our lounge wall in a place where I would be helpless to do anything about it. Apart from freak out that is.

Anyway, fifteen minutes and a lot of swipes with a damp cloth later the ceiling was clear of eight-legged imps and we were carefully examining every corner of every room for peace of mind purposes of course. Frankly, over the next few days we found more, but never in the quantity that we'd seen that first time. By the time the day of our departure for the UK had arrived we hadn't seen any for a couple of days and so left the house in hope. 

We're still nervous about arriving home though (shakes shoulders one at a time).

I know it's not Rhodes, but I just thought you might like to see a few shots taken during our stay here in the UK... 

A magnolia tree, the glory of an English garden in spring

Taken during the walk from my brother-in-law's house in Upper Weston, Bath up to the Race Course and (more importantly) the Blathwayt Arms, where I enjoyed my first British pint from the pump. Nectar.

Barry Island, South Wales. Don't believe everything you hear. It's a gorgeous place.

Barry again. Must admit, on that day it was a bit bracing! OK, so the sea's not quite the same colour as it is in Rhodes.

Barry Island again.

Cardiff city centre. The Welsh can be justly proud of their capital, where pavement café culture is thriving.

Lunch (smoked Salmon fishcake) in "Truffles", along a Cardiff walkway. The Tetley's was for medicinal purposes of course.

One of Cardiff's many arcades.

During our stay the weather has been positively wonderful by the way. Shouldn't wonder if we hadn't had it warmer than Rhodes (places thumb on end of nose and twirls fingers vigorously)...


  1. The month in question is April which is very frequently better in the (southern) UK than in Rhodes. I speak from bitter experience; while on a visit to Halki in the early 2000s I was telephoned by my staff who told me how hot it was in Norwich, while I “froze” on Halki!
    Regarding arachnids; the bane of my peripatetic lifestyle are Pholcus phalangioides which get busy in Norwich in my absence spinning webs everywhere to my intense annoyance. These beasts get called “Daddy-long-legs” a term I reserve for the Crane fly (family Tipulidae). My mother called them “Harvestmen (order Opiliones)” which is also incorrect! The most apt common name for them is “cobweb spiders” because that is what they do best!
    I recall being shown a Greek house, as a potential buyer, and seeing a small “mouse” run across the floor which turned out to be a robust black spider which is probably your mini tarantula. As a fellow arachnophobe I was disturbed, and can understand your concerns. It turns out that the cobweb spiders eat other spiders bigger than themselves proving that they are of some use after all!
    By far my worst experience with terrestrial arthropods concerns the Scolopendra cingulata; the Mediterranean banded centipede, serandapodi to the Greeks. I had one in my Greek house under my stored deflated dinghy and, horror of horrors, one between the cushions of a chair in a friend’s house on Halki where I was staying. I grabbed it with a handy pair of Spencer-Wells and still remember the sound of its jaws on metal as it tried to bite the forceps. Now that is a close encounter of the third kind I can do without!
    No doubt all this has put everyone off visiting Rhodes; sorry!

    1. Nurse! NURSE!! My tablets, quickly!!

  2. What’s the matter John?
    Is it that you can hear the sound of those toxic chitin fangs grinding on the forceps, or that you can imagine that strange tickling of the toes, slowly moving up your leg while you are snuggled down in your bed in Rhodes?
    They are comparatively rare, “Don’t have nightmares!”


  3. We saw large numbers of huge spiders at the end of your lane when we passed last Saturday, John. Wonder if they were waiting for your return! Or maybe they were just basking in the warm sunshine!
    Only kidding,

    1. Aah, that would have been Ziggy and his gang. But then, they're from another planet.