Blossom and Birdsong

Hooray!  The almonds are in blossom and the valley is full of birdsong!

At this time of the year we seem to alternate between the storms that cancel shipping and mirror-calm seas like this  one.

The new clinic  in Chorio is making good progress.

And we have a nifty new postbox by the fish market in Yialos.

We have done exceptionally well for boats this week.  On Monday we had last Friday's strike-bound Blue Star come through in the afternoon, then again on Wednesday and today.  It is indeed a case of 'all or nothing'.  

Master of all he surveys.

There is a big high pressure system over the Aegean at the moment so the water level is exceptionally low in the harbour and the footings of the bridge are completely exposed.
The almonds are blooming, the birds are back and the coffee doesn't get cold quite so fast in the morning.  With southerly winds the temperatures are creeping up again - 13 degrees at night, 18 degrees at midday.  The humidity is very high and we have had light showers for the past 24 hours. Strong southerly winds are forecast for the weekend which should keep temperatures on the warm side.  In the depths of winter there are rumours of spring.

As Greek Easter falls late this year, on the first weekend in May, Carnival and Clean Monday fall in March this year so we will have a lot of celebrations that month, including Dodecanese Day on the 7th and Independence Day/the Annunciation on 25 March.  All of that is weeks away and this being Greece, none of it has registered even a blip on the calendar yet.  One thing at a time and in this case, Valentine's day which is gaining popularity among young people but still doesn't have the massive commercial following that it has in other countries. Mind you, there isn't much disposable income to fritter away on frivolities here in Greece and few people have credit cards so there isn't a culture of spend today and worry about it tomorrow.  For many Symiots, the closest thing to a credit card is getting the groceries written down in a book at the supermarket to settle up at some future date when the ever-shrinking pension money comes in.  Greek housewives are experts in the art of making something from nothing and the vegetable gardens in the Pedi valley are a family necessity rather than a hobby to keep the menfolk amused at weekends.

It is strange how the foreign media ignores the Greek virtues of thrift, self-sufficiency and stoicism in the face of adversity and would rather portray the populace as a nation of tax-dodging billionaires with houses in Kensington and bank accounts in Zurich.  The majority are being ascribed with the vices of a handful of wily tycoons and over-paid politicians.  Don't judge the Greeks by what you read in the papers or see on television.  Come to Greece and see for yourself, that you too may learn to appreciate the value of the small and simple pleasures. The tiny cup of Greek coffee sipped in a kafeneion while watching the world go by.  The simple taverna meal prepared entirely from seasonal local produce.  The tangy hard cheese made by sheep farmers and sold by hawkers travelling around the country with a van loaded with wheels of cheese.  The loaves of bread, baked fresh every day. There is beauty in a homemade dish of split pea puree with capers, picked and pickled by hand and a well-scrubbed plastic table cloth, the pattern fading slightly at the corners.  In the fluted tumblers that have served generations of glasses of wine from the barrel.  The Greeks even manage to turn a teaspoon of instant coffee and a glass of iced water into something special, the restorative frappe of hot summer days.

Valentine's day at the Symi Flower shop.
Have a good weekend.



Symi Rainbows

As you know from my previous blog, Friday was a wet and windy day.  At sunset we were treated to this wonderful rainbow at Pontikokastro - 'mouse castle', the neolithic stone circle on the hill by the windmills that local legend says is the grave of King Nireus.

The Michaelaki, the statue of the little fisher boy by Kostas Valsamis, the famous Symiot sculptor, used to be by the clock tower.  It was moved to the head of the harbour, opposite our office, when work was done on the quayside at the clock tower to improve facilities for cruise ships a few years back.

The view from the Symi Visitor Accommodation office this morning. The statue in the previous photograph is masked by the date palm on the right.

It is a clear calm cold day today.  It is about 10 degrees centigrade in the sunny.

Balconies on the sunny side of the harbour.

Happiness is a warm stone bridge in the winter sunshine.

There are very few places open to eat at this time of the year but this taverna tucked in one of the back lanes of the harbour is open for trade.  Look at all those marvellous tomatoes.
The latest round of strikes and storms has passed and we have emerged, blinking in the winter sun. I can hear locals chatting in Pachos downstairs and debating the merits of various purchases at the chandlery in the lane.  The Dodecanese Pride came through from Rhodes this morning, bringing some fresh produce and more is expected on the Blue Star which is once again making a special detour through Symi this afternoon to make up for the disruptions on Friday and Saturday.  We should have a couple of days of settled weather and then it will probably turn showery again on Wednesday and Thursday. No strong winds are forecast this week and the agenda also looks surprisingly strike free, aside from the farmers who are still blockading roads on the mainland. On the whole it has been quite a dry winter so far and the water ship from Rhodes is currently in Pedi, topping up the reservoirs.  Temperatures are still low, even in the sun, and there are little plumes of wood smoke rising from chimneys all round Chorio.

Have a good week.



About this Blog

I sailed into Panormitis Bay, Symi, by chance one windy July day in 1993 and have been here ever since. The locals tell me that this is one of the miracles of St Michael of Panormitis. A BA graduate with majors in English, Philosophy and Classical Civilisation, the idea of living in what is to all intents and purposes an archaeological site appeals to me. Not as small as Kastellorizo, not as touristy as Rhodes, Symi is just the right size. I live on a small holding which my husband and I have reclaimed from a ruin of over-grazing and neglect and turned into a small oasis over the course of the past 22 years. I also work part-time for Symi Visitor Accommodation, helping independent travellers discover and enjoy Symi's simple pleasures for themselves.

This page is kindly sponsored by Wendy Wilcox, Symi Visitor Accommodation.

Adriana Shum

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