Tuesday, 14 November 2017

A Furry Friend For Coffee

Well, after the humdinger of a storm yesterday, today it dawned clear and bright and blue, which is par for the course ...of course. Since the day stretched before us like a naughty hooky day off school, we decided that a good walk was in order. After a pretty busy summer, having quite a lot of days off together each week is still a novelty at this time of the year.

We'd seen from the forecast that some pretty wild weather was on its way for yesterday (Monday 13th), so on Sunday I trolled off down the lane with my trusty spade to cut a few run-offs for the water that gathers on the lane's surface. It's a kilometre long and has a couple of spots where the water can gather and become a temporary lake after a heavy downpour. Cue sticky mud patches that seriously gunge up your car's wheel arches. I was eager to see, since it had rained torrentially at times yesterday, if my efforts had paid off. Often the temporary lakes can take days to dry up, always assuming that the next storm doesn't come too soon. Walking the length of the lane we were amazed and excited to see no standing water at all - a result! Plus, whereas in times past a torrential storm would have cut gullies across the lane deep enough for your wheels to drop so far into that the car can 'bottom' if you're not careful, our previous efforts from last spring of filling the 'gullies' with gravel has also worked, leaving the lane easily negotiable for a regular car, which ours is. Right, with that out of the way we set off along the coast road with a view to reaching Glystra Beach, which takes about an hour at a normal walking pace.

We hadn't gone a quarter of the way, which meant we were walking past the Rodos Princess hotel, when we realised that we'd underestimated the temperature. We'd both decided before setting out that we ought to wear long trousers, which turned out to have been a mistake. We were both too hot! It reached about 24ºC and, in the sun, felt considerably hotter. We'd planned anyway to stop at the Blue Dreams coffee bar en route, and we were pretty glad to reach it at around 12.15pm, well ready for a frappé and some shade.

The Blue Dreams can be pretty lively in the evenings, especially during the season, but in the day time it's a very acceptable laid back place for a frappé with a rather nice panoramic sea view. You get a very good Frappé there (large glass too) along with a long glass of cool water for 2€. It's about 300 metres down the road from our other favourite, the Gré café. What's also nice is that this winter they're planning to stay open, whereas in past years we've arrived there on one of our marathons à pied, only to find the place all closed up.

Now I probably haven't mentioned this yet, but our neighbour's beautiful ginger cat, Simba, went missing some three weeks ago now and all three households up here on the hill are in mourning. This whole cozy corner of our beautiful, forested valley where the three houses and gardens are situated seems somehow bereft without Simba patrolling his favourite routes around the place. We've been agonising about whether we ought to get a cat of our own and keep oscillating between the sentimental feeling of 'Yes, it would be nice to have a moggie about the place again' and the more level-headed 'Think about the responsibility, even about how we'd feel if this one too were to go missing and put us through the emotional mill again.'

So there we were, just about to enjoy our newly-arrived frappés, when someone else arrived too...

Nice warm fur collar...

Oh, NOW look what you've done...
Maria, who runs the bar along with her brother, told us that this little chap appeared as soon as the season ended, which happens a lot. They get fed, either by the staff of nearby establishments that close down for the winter, or by successive tourists staying in the area. Once those benefactors are gone, cats like this nice little fellow soon see the need to go looking for another source of sustenance, since they've been domesticated by now by the well-meaning but ever-so-slightly misguided seasonal visitors.

He looked to be in pretty good condition and was exceptionally affectionate. Even after Maria's brother came and took him away to give us the chance to sip our frappés in peace, he soon found his way back to our table and was once again climbing on to our shoulders and rubbing his face against our ears. We were wavering I have to admit. Especially when Maria and her brother said, "Take him home if you like." Well, frankly it would have been impractical at that precise moment, since we were a few kilometres from home and on foot. But I may well be back there with the car and a cardboard box yet...

Maria came and had a long chat with us while we sipped. She's a very attractive and intelligent woman who looks nowhere near her years, since she has two grown-up daughters. Maybe it's being the age that I am, but to me she could have been 35. She was well pleased when I mentioned that too. Charm? C'mon guys, I wrote the book.

We talked about the season's work, the olive harvest and growing vegetables. Even though she is every inch a modern-looking woman, she learned from her mother and grandparents the art of growing all her vegetables from seed. She grows tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, water melon, honeydew melon and onions, all by drying out the seeds from one year's crop and planting them up for the next. Her family is from Asklipio, where we go to collect our mail. We talked too about the new hotels being built along the coastal plain by a local Asklipian businessman who doubtless has a serious shilling or two, since he already owns a clutch of swish hotels in the area. I have to confess to holding quite strong views about all-inclusive, yet she could only see the positives. She said that [figuratively or literally] the entire village has found work on the construction projects and many will also be employed once the hotels open for business. 

All-inclusive may have some pretty serious flaws when it comes to local businesses and their chances of survival, but there's no getting away from the fact that there are now 5 café/bars between the area where the Sofos supermarket is situated, down towards Gennadi, and the Blue Dreams itself. When we first moved here in 2005 there was only one. Also, despite the fact that many all-inclusive guests eat 'in' most of the time, the more there are in the area, the more there are who decide that enough is enough of the same faces and the same food every night, so they go out and hang the expense. Thus there are 11 restaurants in the stretch of both the main and coast roads from Angelaki's Taverna and the Lighthouse toward Gennadi to the south and the Mourella, not far from the Princess Andriana hotel toward the north end of the Kiotari area.

Thus, it was pretty difficult to get on one's high horse when Maria was talking about such things and their effect on the locals right here. Of course, there are other areas (Kolymbia, for example) where it's a completely different story.

Anyway, after a pleasant chat that lasted for half an hour or so we were set to continue with the walk. Only, we didn't. Looking across the table at each other we both concluded that the best direction from here was home. By the time we got back, which was around 2.30pm, we were well ready for one of my signature tomato and onion salads (with the statutary cold beer of course) and a few slices of my better half's delicious, nutty homemade brown bread. We'd still walked around four miles by the time we came in through the front gate and both in need of a good cool shower.

It's November 14th, it's 24ºC, it's nice living on Rhodes.

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