Monday, 5 December 2016

The Land of the Living

Ventured out for the first time in over a week and a half today. Some people apparently get island fever from living on an island. I think I get "stuck-at-home-itis" after so many days without venturing outside the gates, apart from a couple of short walks in the hills to clear the passages.

Aside from the sore throat, the bad head and the pains like razor blades in my chest when I coughed, I actually enjoyed the first four or five days of being down with a cold. You know what I mean, just laying around and sleeping, being pampered and not worrying about anything in connection with day-to-day life is quite pleasurable - for a time. But, since I cannot recall any period in my entire adult life when a cold lasted more than four or five days, once I got into the second week I was climbing the walls.

I've been finding it hard to type too because I seem to have a painful case of Tennis Elbow, or, as seems more likely, repetitive strain injury (apparently some say it's the same thing), and it hurts all the more when I type or wiggle the mouse on the laptop. Yup, I'm even suffering in silence as I prepare this post, but I don't like to talk about it...

This morning was the first morning since a week last Tuesday when I woke up feeling almost normal and actually felt like getting out of bed. So we headed off to Arhangelos (with a detour to the Western Union office in Massari to pay part of the water bill) to do a spot of shopping and have a coffee somewhere where we could watch the world going by.

The Greco Café serves up excellent filter coffee plus bougatsa to die for...

It was while waiting for that little treat to arrive that an old friend in the shape of Stefanos the coach driver came in and wandered over for a chat and to wish us "kalo himona". I used to work with him many years ago, when I first started doing excursions and we used to have a lot of laughs because I'd tell the guests that he reminded me of Sylvester Stallone (he does, really!), although he's much younger of course. I'd always then add "and girls, he's single.")

He'd had a good season, mainly because he's one of only five drivers who have a contract with a company that only deals wth Russian tourists, so he was guaranteed transfer and excursion work all season long. I was pleased for him. He's not idle in winter either, since his family has a building business; although of course, evidently he finds time for a morning coffee with a couple of palikari.

Arhangelos was buzzing today, there was that much double parking in the main street you'd have thought it was a double-parking festival. The usual plethora of mopeds and motorbikes were whizzing this way and that, making any manoeuvre in the car a lesson in how to look in five directions at once before turning left or right. In short, just the kind of place to be when you've had ten days without seeing a soul. We paid a visit to our old friend in the very trad veg store too...

You can't see the tzaki in the corner in this one, but you can see his laouto, which he picks up and strums between customers

Sometimes it's months between our visits, owing to the fact that it's half an hour's drive away, but he always remembers us and his produce always looks very fresh, very local and his prices very low. We never walk out of this shop without several bags full to bursting with vegetables, plus today we picked up a fresh horiatiko loaf, some large-crystal pink sea salt and a fresh bag of tsai vounou (mountain tea), which is a must when you're under par.

Mountain tea, successfully transferred to storage jar.

If you talk about drinking tea with most Greeks, penny to a pound they'll be referring to mountain tea rather than Brook Bond PG Tips. Whenever we're at friends' houses and they offer us tea, if we don't specify then that's what they'll serve up. Seems the Greeks are quite healthy in some departments without even really being aware of the fact. Brew up a pot of this (although most of our friends boil up a saucepan of water and chuck some in) and add a spoonful of local honey and you'll probably sleep like a log. It's one of those teas that you can almost feel doing you good as you sip at it.

I almost enjoy being ill when I can curl up on the sofa, as I did this past weekend, with the rain pouring down outside and a nice large fleece blanket over me, to watch the UK snooker final with my fingers wrapped around a mug of tsai vounou. There's something delicious about watching snooker when it's wet outside. That knowledge that you have hours ahead during which you probably don't need to move more than an inch or two is exquisite.

Today, of course, the much appreciated rains have passed and the sun is out again. The forecast doesn't show anything much rain-wise on the horizon for a while yet. At least, though, yesterday we did have some decent rainfall, very heavy at times and accompanied by the usual light show of fork lightning and thunder crashes. Fab.

Today as I said...

Like the new toy?
Yes, by complete accident I found a maximum-minimum thermometer at a DIY/garden store a few weeks ago, something I've been looking for for many years. As you can see from the indicator, it went down to 10ºC during the night last night and today it's a very respectable 22ºC. I just love these thermometers. They remind me of geography lessons during my schooldays. Ah, nostalgia, it's not what it used to be.

So, as you can see from this "rambling" - I appear to be back in the land of the living.

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