Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Back on the Block

I know I've already talked about the fact that we're back home, in fact we have been for over a week now, but I had a couple of shots that I hadn't posted, which I'd taken on board the Dodekanisos Pride during the voyage home, so here they are above. The first two were taken during our approach to the gorgeous Symi Harbour and the other one shows you how tantalising is the island chain that we live on. Looking at that map (on the wall inside the salon) as we travelled back, I couldn't help thinking that we still have a lot of work to do, including accepting an open invitation to visit some ex-pats on Tilos. Least I think it's still open. I could be wrong!

We'd only been home a few days when I received a phone call from an unknown local number. I answered the call to find that it was the very helpful man from the KEP office in Lardos, keeping true to his word that he'd call us when our Greek driving licences had arrived. And, wonder of wonders, they had. It had been the middle of February when, after an exasperating few weeks during which we'd had to compile a huge dossier of paperwork in order to transfer both of our licences from UK ones to Greek ones (see 1st photo in this post), we'd finally completed the process while sitting across the desk from this very chap in the Lardos KEP office.

Now, as promised, he'd called to tell us we just needed to drop by and sign for them, and our lovely new shiny Greek licences (all hi-tech with holograms and everything) would be in our hands. Look...

I know, my thumb conceals much of it. I'm not dumb enough to post all my driving licence info on line now, am I. But just look at all that clever hologram-type stuff reflecting in the light.

Last Friday morning we breezed by the KEP office, signed a form each, which our friendly, helpful civil servant had passed across the desk to us, and we were given our licences. They came in specially sealed bespoke envelopes too. It was almost like getting a present, we were so excited! I even almost want to be stopped by the boys in blue now, just so I can flash it!

Since coming home we've been trying to tidy up the garden (funny how weeds seem to deliberately wait until you go away, and then go "Hey chaps, let's get this party going!!" - isn't it?). Already the temperatures during the day are up into the mid-to-high 20's (that's the upper 70's to lower 80's to you poor folk across the pond who have yet to catch up with us modern, metric types over here in Europe), and it's starting to get too warm to do much during the middle of the day. As usual, despite the winter trying to hang on by its fingernails and returning to taunt us several times this spring, the weather seems to change like someone's thrown a switch some time during May and, without warning, we're panting and 'phew-ing' and reaching for those extremely un-cool hats that keep the sun off your nose and ears while out in the garden. Oh, and I've also dug out the factor 50 and begun slapping that on at every opportunity as well. The plus point is, we've already rigged up our hosepipe-shower on the side of the carport and enjoyed a few al fresco cooling sessions in the great outdoors, brill!

Yesterday I walked out into the garden at dawn, must have been around 6.00am, and it was wonderfully calm and peaceful. Already the swallows and swifts were swooping around in the sky taking their breakfast on the wing, not to mention gathering food to feed their chicks, some of which we've already been gazing at in their mud-nests on the building where they nest every year, as we walk past it down to the local beach for a swim. Plus there were bee-eaters, with their distinctive whirring call and pointed wing profile, doing something similar. 

Up the tree-and-shrub-studded hill to my right, though, I heard this cooing sound, primarily two notes of the same pitch repeated. It was not more than fifty metres away, I calculated. We've already seen a few hoopoes around this year, but hadn't heard them. Now I realised, that this was what I was listening to. You want to hear it as well? Click this link. You get visual, too, of these amazing birds. I love them. They're extremely timid of humans, and so not always easy to see from close quarters. Go on, take a look at that link and tell me you don't like hoopoes. [See this post from 2015 for some photos.]

It's taken us a week and more, but just yesterday morning, as we sat in the Gré Café down the road and sipped our freddo espressos after having been down for a morning swim, it finally began to sink in that we're no longer working. George came out to greet us, slapped us on our backs and declared that we were now 'touristes!'

For the past few years we haven't been able to go for a swim in the morning, since one or the other of us had to set the alarm and trundle off to work. Now, since I'm working for the Queen of England, who pays me to stay at home (dashed good of her, isn't it?), we're once more able to do so. It's something we've missed, because the sea's always at its calmest from dawn until around midday, when the sea breezes come up and make the surface become 'corrugated,' as it were. When there are three inch waves (more like ripples, really) coming on-shore, my wife always declares that's it's 'too choppy' to enjoy a swim.

Thus begins the first summer that we can truly anticipate as going to be enjoyable for over a decade. It's almost unbelievable to me that, come August, we'll have been living here 14 years. I wonder what the next 14 will bring.


  1. We have lived here for over 12 years now, and we saw our first Hoopoe when we went to Konstantines in Kalathos for a meal with friends. I was too slow with my phone to get a photo!

    1. It's a virtual impossibility to get close enough to photograph them. I don't know if you read my post "Cock-a-Hoopoe" from March 2015 [https://ramblingsfromrhodes.blogspot.com/2015/03/cock-hoopoe.html], but one day we happened to peek out the window, and one was mooching around outside the house. The photos are in that post. It'll probably never happen again!