Friday, 10 November 2017

No November Blues

November on Rhodes has got to me my favourite month of the year. Why? Well, for starters it's completely the opposite of the Novembers I remember from living in the UK. In Britain, November was always the most depressing month, it seemed to me. The nights were closing in fast, the weather was bleak and you still had most of the winter to come. Long grey days one after the other seem to be what I recall the most about British Novembers. Here it's, as my dad would have said, 'glorious'. Yes we've had some rain and there will be more hopefully next week. But, true to form, it arrives, does its necessary business and then departs in time for the following day to dawn bright, blue, clear and warm.

Temperatures at the moment are hovering in the lower to mid twenties during the day (that's 70-77ºF in the old money, or if you're American!) and around 10 overnight. The high humidity of the summer months is gone and the atmosphere wonderfully clear, making the light perfect for photography. We've been out in the garden quite a bit because we can now work out there without very soon fainting from the heat and perspiring as if our skin leaked. In fact, after well over a decade of staring at three concrete tubes that were sticking out of the ground, not far from the house, I've recently built some wooden 'planters' to disguise them. These 'tubes' are the tops of the three cess pits that serve the property and the builder never did get around to finishing them off properly.

We'd tried disguising the concrete 'tubes' with slabs, gravel and pebbles, but with only limited success. they still looked scruffy.

Not bad eh? You wouldn't know what lurked beneath these now, would you?
They may have looked rather unsightly, but they do their job well. They're meant to be ecologically designed. One filters into the next and the third one has no solid bottom but is rather stacked at the bottom with gravel, through which the contents are meant to seep away as they decay naturally. It's important not to put strong chemicals down the drains because it would kill the bacteria that do the work. They must be working because the house is now well over twelve years old and we've only had the truck up to 'empty' the pits and flush them out once in all that time, which was early last year.

That's why I didn't worry about filling my planters (made from old pallets - of course!) with gravel and coloured pebbles, because it won't be that often that we have to clear them out for 'servicing'.

Of course, the rains that we have had, while welcome, are nowhere near enough. Mihalis, my farmer friend still tuts and looks up at the sky with evident disgust. 

"I wish it would rain all winter, Gianni." He says. "Even then we'd be behind with the water supply for the villages. And the olives won't be very good this year." Mind you, he does approve of my aubergine plant [see this post]. I only have the one, yes, but it produces enough for my family of two and so we're well pleased. Nevertheless, he only exhibits a genuine smile when it's stair-rodding outside.

Old Agapitos, who has the vegetable patch and olive grove in the compound surrounding the local water reservoir (a huge concrete rectangle about the size of a detached bungalow, together with the 'extension' that they built a few years ago, a circular galvanised cistern with a gently pitched roof), also tch tches a lot when he looks at his olive trees. Mind you, we can be thankful for one thing, after months of the tap water being like seawater, what comes out of the taps now is delightfully sweet and, apart from running it through a filter jug, we can drink it once again.

The 'thalassino' water did kill a lot of people's plants though. We dropped by the local garden centre on the main road just this side of Gennadi yesterday, to buy a few plants to replace the ones we'd lost. The man who runs it is a truly decent bloke who's a joy to shop with. You really enjoy parting with your money when you buy from him because he dispenses horticultural advice with every breath. The premises had been an estate agent prior to the brown stuff hitting the fan when the Greek crisis broke, not long after the 2008 financial crash, both things together having put paid to the existence of thousands of estate agents all over Greece as foreigners stopped buying here in their droves. Where once smart, white bloused and pencil skirted girls dished out A4 spec sheets on as yet unbuilt properties to willing foreigners hoping to live the dream, you can now buy a 70 litre sack of general purpose garden compost or some canes for your tomatoes.

We stocked up on a few lettuce plants and a couple of nice new shrubs (don't even ask what they're called), and whilst handing over the dosh received detailed instructions on how to keep them all healthy. All of it delivered in earnest with a friendly smile while he also hoisted my sack of compost on to a shoulder and deposited it in the boot of the car.

Ah well, sorry folks if you live in the UK, but it'll soon be dawn and I think after we've pottered around for an hour or two tomorrow, we'll dig out the sun loungers again (we dozed on them a couple of days ago too) and fall asleep in the warm November sunshine. I may have a go at varnishing my new planters. Then again, I may put it off for another day.

Keep the noise down, will you.

No comments:

Post a Comment