|The garden, this morning March 30th|
A couple of weeks ago now we had one of the most violent thunder storms we've ever experienced in twelve and a half years of living here. You wouldn't think it, when you look at the conditions outside today, as the photo above shows. Whenever, though, we get fork lightning, it's time to disconnect the coaxial antenna cable from behind the TV. This is because our TV antenna is positioned high on the cliff behind the house and is a sort of open invitation to lightning to come and give it a strike...
|There's the TV aerial/antenna, top of shot.|
Having said that, amazingly this time was the first time in all those years that the antenna took a direct hit. Fortunately, we had disconnected the TV, for if we hadn't it would have gone up in smoke. Behind the TV there's a booster box, to strengthen the signal from the antenna before it goes into the TV. During the course of the storm, which would have been late morning, there was a loud 'crack' which was the sort of noise that tells you that 'something's not going to be right after this.' It sounded like someone had fired a gun in our lounge and, pretty soon thereafter we were greeted by that awful smell of electrical equipment burning.
At first I couldn't work out what it was, until I took a peek behind the TV and saw that the TV antenna signal booster was emitting smoke and had changed shape somewhat, owing to its plastic casing having melted. Oh, and the white casing now had a rather unnerving patch of brown on it, just where it had gone concave.
Oh, dear. 'No TV for us tonight, then,' we thought. Once the storm had passed and the lightning had become nothing more than huge pink flashes across the dark sky to the south of us, I decided to plug the cable back into the telly to see if by any chance the booster was still in business, even though, from the smell and the look of it, there was very little chance.
Of course it wasn't, was it. One big 'boom' had put paid to that booster and so we decided to nip up to Arhangelos and see if we could buy a new booster box. That part of it went OK. There are a couple of stores in Arhangelos where one can buy such equipment, so we were full of hope that we'd be able to fix the problem in fairly short order, but the first one we went to was closed at just after 2.00pm. Drat.
Fortunately, the store opposite the Police Station stays open until 4.00pm and the very nice and helpful chap behind the counter was quick to fetch me a new booster. It was a different model from the one that had been melted, but he assured me that it would do the same job. Certainly, from what it said on the box, I was in agreement.
Rushing back home full of optimism, we were soon back in the lounge and I was ripping the packaging off the new booster and I soon had it installed. Eager with anticipation, we hit the TV button and waited to see what would happen.
Zilch. Now, it's not visible in that photo above, but half-way down the pole on which the antenna is mounted is another, similar box. What if that one was also burnt out? There was nothing else for it but to call Mihali, the TV antenna man who'd fitted the box on the antenna pole together with a new cable a year or so ago. He's based in Arhangelos, and I was calling him at 3.00pm on a Thursday afternoon, all the while watching the skies growing ever darker in preparation for the next band of rain which was heading our way up the coast from Gennadi. The wind was picking up apace too.
Now, in view of the weather conditions, what were the chances that Mihalis would be able to come on the same day, especially as it was getting late in the afternoon? Slim eh? Guess what, just occasionally the synchronicity of the universe works in my favour. Not often, but on this particular day, YAY! A result. Mihalis told me that he was in Gennadi and was just finishing up. He'd be able to drop by on his way back toward Arhangelos and see what he could do. He's a stalwart that guy. He really is. He knew from of old that to get to our antenna involves a touch of mountaineering, since one has to climb a bank beside our perimeter fence, being careful not to be snagged on your way up by all the gorse that, despite my best efforts to keep it cut back, insists on growing quicker than I can cut it, to choke off our narrow pathway to the heights every time.
Then, when you get toward the top you have to scramble up a bank of small pebbles, detritus left over from the house build almost 13 years ago, before jumping over some pretty prickly shrubs and bushes to reach the concrete slab where the antenna pole is tethered by four cables, some ten metres away.
Mihalis grabbed his electronic tester thingameejig and set off with me for the climb. We reached the antenna pole just as the rain arrived for another session. So, with me trying to hold an umbrella over him (not merely to show him a little consideration for all his efforts, but to keep the electronics dry as he opened up the box on the pole to inspect it), he soon declared that, yes, this box too was destined for the gadget graveyard. Just when I was about to lapse into a slough of despondency, he said:
"Hold on, I've got one in the van."
So, while I stood there trying to keep a collapsible umbrella from turning inside out, he negotiated the path back down the hillside to the drive, rummaged in the back of the van and made the climb back up again. By the time he was finishing off, the rain was running down the inside of my collar and right down my back, making it feel decidedly chilly and damp. But did I care? Nope. This plucky chap had saved the day and within minutes we were back inside and he was flicking channels in triumph.
The whole job, from lightning strike to resolution, took just three hours. And he only charged us €30 all in, including the cost of the new box on the pole. Don't let anyone tell you that Greek workers never turn up on time. That evening we enjoyed 'troxos tis tyhis' and 'Μin Αrhezeis ti Μourmoura' more than we ever had before, an experience made even sweeter by the thought that the call-out fee alone back in the UK would probably have been much higher.
I'm very happy to report that "Help For Health Gennadi", our annual charity event to raise funds for the local medical centre, netted a 'profit' of €670 this year. There were some expenses, but nevertheless that sum is all going to be used to purchase much-needed supplies for Doctor Niko and his team, indeed a chunk of it is going to help decorate a small apartment that the good young doctor himself is going to be able to keep rent-free right in in Gennadi village, to help him avoid making the trip from Rhodes town every working day of his life. Him having a young family and all, this was a result.
|Bargain hunters at the event.|
|The excellent banner was provided at no cost at all by the praiseworthy sign company Hedera, based in Rhodes town.|
Despite the rather unsettled weather that we'd experienced during the run-up to the event, on the day the sun shone for us and the redoubtable Dimitri Koronios did his usual stint at the souvlaki stand, aided by ex-pat Tony...
|Don't forget to check out Dimitri's really lovely family-run Summer Breeze Hotel in Gennadi village, for a really Greek experience on your hols.|
Explosions all round really, which leads me to the current state of Greco-Turkish relations. Next time though, eh?