Thursday, 22 June 2017

Walls and Bridges

Of course, you'll know if you read my ramblings regularly that I'm a bit of a music buff, so I couldn't resist calling this post after an old John Lennon album. Anyway, it's a completely appropriate title considering what it's about.

Last Tuesday I decided to take a walk around the perimeter of the Old Town, something I hadn't done in many years. It seems to me that the majority of tourists head straight for one of the gates into the interior and often fail to take in the grandeur, the immensity, the impressiveness of what the "Knights Hospitaller of Saint John" accomplished here.

In order to get a good look at the exterior of the walls, you need to walk up Papagou from the bus station (Passing the legendary Top Three Pub!) and then go left at the traffic lights, going uphill still on Ethnarchou Machariou. Actually though, before you even reach the traffic lights, you can ascend some steps (not far up the hill from the public toilets) through some fairly poorly tended undergrowth in a neglected park area, and pretty soon you get a first glimpse of the moat beneath you and the walls on the opposite side, quite near the Grand Master's Palace, which peeps menacingly at you from above the walls, demonstrating the scale of the construction work that would have been involved in the whole thing.

It's in this small park area that I came across this curious grotto, which looked like it ought to be graced by a small pond, maybe some trickling water, but was bone dry and smelling of pee and excrement. Shame, as it would otherwise be quite cooling, even photogenic...

If you want to know where this is, it's roughly within the red circle shown below:

From here you can begin to follow the moat from above until you get to the entrance to the Old Town known as the Gate D'Amboise, which is where it says Platanakia in the map section above. At this point you have to trace your steps back down to the road, pass the entrance to the gate and re-enter the park at the place which can be clearly seen at the bottom of the screen shot above too (in green). Once in the narrow park, just take the path that keeps you closest to the wall above the moat. That's when it gets really impressive.

I don't think I've ever really taken a close look at just how amazing the Old Town wall really is. I've even run around the moat during the annual Rhodes For Life charity event, but when you're jogging and trying to swig from a plastic water bottle and not bump into other runners, as well as simply trying not to die from a heart attack, you don't tend to admire the scenery all that much. Like I said above, I believe that the majority of tourists possibly don't do this walk and don't thus get to really appreciate what a huge achievement in medieval construction it really is. 

The walls around the Old Town were completed around 1465. When you look at the photos below, you can't fail to wonder, as I did while meditating on the hugeness of it all, how they managed to build the whole thing in anything less than a millennium, it's that massive. The walls were built to have as smooth an outer surface as possible, to make climbing them impossible, for a start. The designers even built 'dummy' walls here and there, to confuse potential invaders trying to find a gate to batter down in order to gain access. The fact that the Knights eventually left Rhodes (in August 1522) under a mutual agreement with Suleiman the Ottoman ruler, after he'd tried on two previous occasions to take the city by force and failed, speak volumes about just how impregnable the place was. From here they went to Malta, some say under an agreement with Suleiman in which the island was granted to them as compensation. I haven't checked that out though.

Here are some more of the photos I took on Tuesday. I've included a video or two as well...

This shot shows how relatively few people walk the moat, sadly.


Here it's easy to see one of those 'dummy' walls I referred to.

This is the Ag. Athanasios Gate

This one's taken from the bridge shown in the one above.

The knights were on Rhodes from 1309 until 1522 and, as I said above when you wander the park across the moat from the walls and stand and admire the whole edifice, you have to wonder at this huge accomplishment. The whole Old City has been a World heritage site since I think 1988 and is arguably the best preserved medieval town in Europe. There are others, Carcassonne in Southern France springing to mind, which although beautiful and impressive, are largely re-constructed. Apart from the odd stone here and there, this is all original and all the more amazing for it.

If you have never wandered the outer perimeter of the Old Town of Rhodes, I heartily suggest you give it a go. From the inside, where one's eye is continually distracted by so many things worth seeing, it has to be admitted, you don't get anything like the appreciation that you ought to for the phenomenal accomplishment that is the wall around the Old Town of Rhodes.

(If the videos don't work on your device, there's a link under each one to their YouTube version, which hopefully will play for you)

Sunday, 11 June 2017

There and Back Again

On my excursion to town yesterday I decided to make the walk from the Top Three up to the Rhodes Acropolis, formerly known as 'Monte Smith', just to see how long it would take. Occasionally I get guests who want to walk it themselves and they always ask me how long it would take them to get up there and, formerly, I'd hazard a guess. It was about time I could tell them from personal experience.

Since we usually arrive in Rhodes Town at around 10.00am and we don't leave until 3.30pm, I knew that I had plenty of time, since I don't usually go into the Old Town for a spot of lunch until somewhere approaching 1.00pm. After a second one of Maria's delicious frappés [OK, if you're Greek, I know it's really 'φραπέδες' !!], I up and set out to walk it at a measured pace.

It wouldn't do much good describing the route I took from the heart of town, right next to the bus station, up to the 2,300 year-old Temple of Apollo, but I will say that it's easy to navigate. If you're not too familiar with the layout of Rhodes Town, a map in your hand will soon have you stepping it out with confidence. I actually made it in 20 minutes, so it's really not that far then is it?

Annoyingly though, I forgot the iPad (left it charging [not for drinks] at the bar) and didn't have my digital camera either, so these rather substandard photos were taken with my ageing phone!! But hopefully they'll still demonstrate why it's worth seeing the Rhodes Acropolis:

Takes a bit of squinting, but the tiers of the athletic stadium can be seen through the trees. It will help to click on the photo to get the larger view.

Just a tad closer, making the tiers more visible.

The stadium was partly rebuilt by the Italians between the wars, but the amphitheatre is an almost complete reconstruction. Events are held here during the summer months though. Not a bad environment to witness a concert, eh?

Just a slight adjustment on the view above.

Sadly the remaining columns of the Temple of Apollo are currently shrouded in scaffolding. Let's face it, there's never a good time to do a spot of shoring up when it takes a year or two, is there.

Regarding the work being done on preserving the temple's remaining four and a half columns before even they too crumble and tumble to the ground, I was interested in the rather large sign that greeted me as I entered the park. It was one of those European Union signs that details the archaeological work being carried out and stating the amount of EU cash that's being pumped into the project. It was €1.6 million. Couldn't help thinking about all those road, social and cultural projects in the UK that will in all possibility soon not be able to benefit from such financial aid. Maybe I'm over-simplifying things. I dunno.

I really do love this view down across the town from the terrace just below the temple, with the mountains of Southern Turkey (Asia Minor) on the horizon.

The view you get of the stadium from the road that cuts down through the park.

Walking back down to town I came across this café/bar. I had to do a double-take because at first I thought it was a local government office. Whoever thought up that name was a genius and they deserve it to be a success. I've no idea why my phone chose to distort the picture though. It has a mind of its own.

I caught a glimpse of this while passing. Is that a magnificent bougainvillea or what?

Just changing the subject a little. On our way home I ended up talking with Nikos, who drives the coach, about the snakes on the island, since he'd seen a large black one basking on the road earlier in the day. Now, in chapter 11 of 'A Jay in the Jacaranda Tree' I talk a bit about the snakes and how the deer were originally introduced to the island to keep the snake population down. There are many theories about how the deer are supposed to do this and, if I'm honest, I find all of them a little hard to make any sense out of. Nikos, however, came out with the answer that does tick all the boxes and makes ultimate sense.

Rather than hopefully trampling snakes under foot (I mean, why would a snake hang about to be trampled on anyway?), or their dung being a snake deterrent, Nikos' explanation was that the deer trample on the snakes' nests and thus destroy their eggs. It could be that the deer even forage and eat the eggs as a delicacy. Either way, that explanation seems much more feasible to me and would indeed result in a lowering of the snake-breeding success rate, thus controlling their numbers effectively. Snakes nest in shallow depressions in the ground, thus leaving the unhatched eggs at the mercy of deer hooves or gnashers.

Seems to me that's another problem solved! Right, now I'm off to tackle third world debt...

Monday, 5 June 2017

Highway Maintenance

Resurfacing - Greek style

The distance up the lane from the road to our front gate is exactly one kilometre. Usually, once a year or so the local council will send a 'grader' [see photo] along to 'scrape' the surface and fill in the 'ravines' that develop during the winter rains. These ruts can be so deep that, if you're inattentive enough while driving up or down the lane to get a wheel into one, there's no doubt that you'd be stuck because the vehicle would 'bottom', possibly damaging the wheel assembly in the process, not to mention some of your bodywork.

When we get storms, the lane can be transformed within minutes into a raging torrent in places and, when you consider that it's composed mainly of dirt and gravel, that means rivers of mud too. You have to time the grading machine's arrival just right, because if it does the job before we've seen the last of the heavy rainfall before the start of summer, then all the good it has done in levelling the surface is instantly washed away, creating large masses of mud on certain low corners and re-opening the ruts that had only just been filled in.

Oh, the perils of living up a dirt track.

If you get the timing right, then as long as you vary your position on the lane's surface when driving up and down, your tyres can help in compacting the newly rearranged dust and gravel into the ruts and the result is a fairly respectable surface for many months to come. The grader (or as we call it the 'scraper' - I know all the technical terms) has the effect of widening the lane considerably and, as long as we residents don't get too lazy and simply drive up and down the middle, we can use our vehicles keep it to the new, broader width and thus make it easier to pass if one happens to meet another vehicle somewhere along the length of the lane.

As time passes the vegetation beside the lane can also begin to encroach again and we eventually end up with long stretches where it's impossible to pass if you meet someone coming the other way, which we occasionally do. Quite a number of locals in pickups (usually including a few old geezers who don't see too well) use our lane to get up to the village of Asklipio. 

The thing is, the grader has only come in recent years if I've telephoned the local dimos and requested it. In the old days it would come automatically, sometimes even twice a year, but what with all the budget cuts and stuff, well, now you have to call them. I'll give the local dimos its due though, every time I phone them up (I use a dedicated number which gets directly to the right office) the lady on the other end is friendliness itself and she'll have that machine up our lane within 48 hours or so.

But this was not so when I called her probably approaching a year ago.

"Kalimera," I began, "Could you send the large tractor with the blade [I don't know the exact term the Greeks use to describe the grader] up our lane please? It's getting difficult to drive it without damaging the car." 

Normally she'd just ask me to describe where exactly our lane is, assure me that she'd schedule it in and we'd hang up. This time, however, she replied:

"I am so sorry, but it's broken down and we haven't been able to repair it yet.

She promised that it would be along just as soon as it was repaired and so I accepted her assurance, along with the resignation that we'd have to drive the lane carefully for a while yet.

After a couple of months I called her again. This time she remembered me immediately and apologised again that the machine was still not fixed. This didn't bode well. Down the road from us toward the village of Gennadi there's a modest yard belonging to the local authority and in it there's an old grader, parked up and fetchingly rusting itself away, that's clearly visible from the road as you pass. I have been of the impression for a few years now that they raid this old one for parts when they're needed for the machine that's currently in use. It was apparent this time though that the problem, whatever it was, was going to incur the kind of repair costs that the local dimos just couldn't afford at the moment.

Thus it was that we and one set of our close neighbours went halves on a ton of haliki (inch gravel) from the local builders' merchant. They sent their truck up the lane (We know the drivers really well after all these years of living here. After all our garden is full of gravel walkways, all of which were created with their help), tipped it out and we worked up a sweat raking it into the worst of the ruts about half way down the lane from the house. We'd accomplished a temporary fix.

About two months ago I was driving along the road near home and passed a low-loader with a grader mounted on the trailer. It was heading toward town and thus, putting two and two together and hopefully making the regular four, I concluded that they'd finally sent it away for repair, possibly even shipping it to Athens.

The thing is, they need the machine not only for lanes such as ours, but to clear the hard shoulder of quite a few stretches of road in this part of the island. The road passes through what in railway terms we'd call in the UK 'cuttings', where frequently during the winter rains erosion causes some quite hefty boulders and even mud slides to come down and 'roll 'into the road. The grader clears the roadsides and keeps the road passable for vehicles in two directions.

Just two weeks ago I was encouraged to see evidence that the grader had once more been at work after many months' absence. I grabbed the phone, called the dimos and asked if they'd got the thing fixed. Yippee, the lady answered in the affirmative and so I put in a request for our lane to be scraped.

Nothing happened. Well, let me qualify that, we had a further ten days of occasionally very heavy rain. That happened. The lane got even worse. We got even more depressed. 

Then the weather forecast from Sakis Arnaoutoglou on the national TV suggested that from last Wednesday the summer would finally have arrived here on Rhodes. Rather late, but better late than never and we had been in desperate need of the rains anyway.

Two days after the summer turned up, so did the grading machine. Bless that lady in the office if she didn't realise that to have sent it any earlier would have meant that the work it may have done would have all been to no avail if it had rained heavily right afterwards. Thus, just when I was considering calling the office again to see where it was, we were both thrilled as we ate breakfast a few days ago to hear the grinding noises of the huge blade being heaved along the lane, coupled with the sound of a labouring diesel engine of the tractor unit.

Doesn't take much to get me excited and thus I rushed out with my trusty iPod to snap the photo at the top of this post, along with these two as well as it trundled past our gate...

Happiness is a machine called a 'grader'!

I tell you. After a couple of years without it, that's a beautiful sight!

Some 'highway maintenance' of a different kind took place while I was sipping my exquisite frappé in the Top Three in Rhodes town during one of my excursions last week. A decidedly ripe 'whiff' began to assail my nostrils and, before I knew what was happening, Maria, a woman fast approaching the wrong end of her 6th decade of life, was out on the kerbside lifting a cast iron drain cover with her bare hands. I could scarcely believe my eyes, because have you ever tried lifting one of these (see example in photo, right)?

As a man who's had both sides 'done' when it comes to abdominal hernias, I don't relish the idea. Yet here was Maria, wife of Spiro, who between them run the Top Three Pub, lifting this solid iron chunk out of its hole in order to place a sheet of metal which was evidently made to measure down under the drain cover to block off the air rising from the drains beneath. In fact, she did two of them and, by the time I'd reached her side to try and offer assistance (reluctantly), she'd got the job done and replaced the covers, both of which are right beside the bar. 

I looked around for Spiro, expecting that he was perhaps serving some customers, but no, there he was observing the proceedings. He'd made no attempt to help, I'm judging because perhaps he has a back problem or something, because I was slightly taken aback at the view before me. It seems that they're quite used to the drains starting to whiff after heavy rainfall and so have fashioned these two rectangular sheets of metal to be dropped into place in order to protect their clientele from the pong.

Once Maria had replaced the second of the two covers, after shooing me away when I'd tried to help with the second of them, she went back behind the bar to wash her hands and I said to Spiro, 

"Strong woman your wife! I never knew she had it in her!"

To which he replied, 

"Now you know why I don't cross her!"

Here's Spiro in the kind of pose that I'd assume he would have adopted had he come to his wife's assistance. It's a shot of a framed photo that's hanging in the bar, maybe taken after he'd done what she just did on a previous occasion?

I'm still amazed that Maria didn't do something similar after what she'd just accomplished. 

And finally, some more shots taken around Mandraki and the Old Town last week for you...

These remnants of the days of Turkish rule are fascinating and surprisingly common around Rhodes Town.

Amazingly, this is just around the corner from the Casino. Gaze through the railings at the old Jewish cemetery and you'll spot it.

Maybe the odd hobbit lives in the Old Town too, eh?
Just one more from down our way...

Lunch anyone?

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Daring Dogs and Other Diversions

Ruth Zavitsanos is of partial Greek extraction. Her maternal grandfather was from Corfu and emigrated to the USA in 1919. She has a degree in journalism and has written a clutch of very successful and popular childrens' books, among others.

As of yet, only one of her books is particularly centred on things Greek, this one...

The Old Fortress Dog is actually called Leonidas and he takes his responsibilities very seriously. Set in Corfu it's a delightful and in parts moving tale for everyone's children, even some of us slightly older kids too, and has been well received by Grecophiles of all ages.

Although she has only the one title to her name that specifically relates to Greece, she has something new in the pipeline which will appeal to Grecophiles and thus, in addition to the fact that she's part-Greek anyway, I thought RFR readers would like to know a little more about her as well as discover her work.

Thus, dedicated as ever to bringing RFR fans something of interest, I subjected Ruth to my fifteen questions. Her answers are below.

1. Where do you live?
I live outside of Philadelphia or, as I describe it, halfway between the city of Philadelphia and Amish country.

Rocky and Pebbles. Inspiration for Ruth's writings?

2. What do you write about?
My writings vary. I have children's chapter books told through dog's point of view set in exotic locations and the latest, a historical fiction, is set during the Winter Encampment in 1778 at Valley Forge. Though they are classified as children's (illustrations and easy read) adults enjoy my books, too. I recommend them for travel enthusiasts and dog lovers, as well as the educational community. Currently I'm working on my second Novella, A LIFE UNFOLDS IN THE CITY. This historical fiction takes place in 1906, New York City and is part of a Novella series of stories that all take place in NYC during different eras. I'm also working on my Memoir/travel essay which leads to your next question.

3. Why Greece?
Why Greece? My paternal Papou (grandfather) came to America in 1919 from Corfu, Greece. I've always been interested in my heritage and am fortunate enough to have visited Corfu more than a dozen times over 30 years. I consider my memoir (which will be completed after this next trip to Corfu in late June) to be My Big Fat Greek Wedding with a slice of Moonstruck meets Eat, Pray, Love. [See, I told you something was in the pipeline!  - Ed.]

4. How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends on the length of the book. My children's books take about three months to write and then I go back and forth with some revisions and edits, along with working in the illustrations. My novellas take about six months to write since they are close to 100 pages. I have a full length historical fiction, SISTERS INN, that took me a year to write. And, I've been working on COME TO CORFU for five years on and off. [Yet more for Grecophiles on the way! = Ed]

5. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Writing is truly my passion. I love when the scene unfolds and my dialogue flows, bringing my characters to life on the page for readers. Of course, the most satisfying part of writing is knowing my stories are read and enjoyed. I'm very grateful for the positive feedback. People have so many distractions these days that the fact someone took the time to read my words and then tell me they enjoyed the story, is very gratifying.

6. What, in your view, is/has been the greatest gift from Greece to the world?
The greatest gift from Greece to the world? Ha, my Papou would say there are too many to mention. Language, Democracy, Astronomy, Theatre, Sports (Olympics), Yogurt (ha, that last one is somewhat of a joke!) and the list goes on and on. Some of the greatest Greek Philosophers are still being studied today. All that Greece has "gifted" remains in modern times.

7. How do you come up with an idea for a book?
I usually come up with a setting and then go from there. For instance, THE OLD FORTRESS DOG, takes place at an actual ancient ruin in Corfu. Since I love to travel, finding settings to build on is a joy.

8. How do you go about writing, that is to say, are you organised, do your research, disciplined, are are you a messy sort who gets it done one way or another?
My writing flows. I don't plot. I write names down and do research to add to the story.

9. Which other authors do you read?
Like my writing, I tend to read a variety of authors. For suspense, I enjoy Lisa Scottoline. Women's fiction, Robyn Carr, Dorothea Benton Frank, Lauren Wittig (historical fiction) and Arianna Huffington, Thrive (self-help).  I also read a variety of Memoirs/Travel Essays, too.

10. What's your preferred kind of music? 
I prefer music from when I grew up and danced in Discos. That said, the 60s, 70s and some 80s, too. I also enjoy some of the latest from Pink, Katy Perry, and a few of the popular country artists. However, while cooking I put on Dean Martin and classic Italian music CDs. My grandfather played the Mandolin and Bouzouki so I have a soft spot for Greek music at times, too.

11. Do you like Greek music and if so, which kind?
The Classic Greek dance music. ZORBA gets me going.

12. Favourite Greek dish?
 I love Spanikopita and make a very good one! [I'll be round later Ruth - Ed!)

13. Favourite place in Greece and the reason(s)?
 I've toured the mainland and Athens, along with visiting Santorini. There are other islands I'd like to visit. However, my heart will always find its joy in one place, CORFU.

14. What links would you like the readers to explore in connection with your work, including, of course, sites where your work may be purchased?
I hope your followers will follow me on my Facebook page Villa Dog and visit my website: to learn more about more books. 
They can also follow me on twitter @ruthzavitsanos. 
I'm a HuffPost blogger and all of my books are available on Amazon. Here's my author link:

15. And finally, reading device or real book?
In that I like to consider myself adaptable and versatile, I use both a real book and my Kindle/Nook. I lost my Kindle, bought a Nook and then found my Kindle. So, I'm showing no favoritism in that respect! :)

If you're reading before the first weekend in June. Ruth's doing a book signing in Corfu (kommeno) on Saturday June 3rd, 7-9 pm.

Hope you enjoyed getting to know Ruth. Regular post coming up next.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Dead Heads and Degrees

Fans of the band the Grateful Dead will well know that they're often called "Dead Heads". Sorry to raise false hopes then, because this post has nothing to do with the ancient American West Coast rock bank led by Gerry Garcia.  That is, unless any ageing Dead Heads out there are also keen gardeners; in which case, read on.

Further to something I referred to in this post a while back, ie: the advice that actually more than one local has given me to never water fruit trees while they're in flower, a recent visit to the local plant nursery/garden shop just down the road from us has provided me with the explanation.

We dropped in there to purchase a flowering plant to put in where something had died and decided to ask the friendly chap (never have asked him his name) about this and his answer, I must say, makes some sense.

What he said, in essence, was that if you water a fruit tree while it has flowers then you make it feel that there is no urgency to produce fruit - and thus seeds - because it's in no danger of dying of thirst. If the tree can be fooled into thinking that it'll need to get on and produce fruit because it's in possible danger of experiencing drought and thus possible death, then the survival instinct that's encoded in the plant's DNA kicks in and it decides to start the fruit growing process quicker in order to get the seeds into existence before it's too late. 

Once the flowers drop off and the tiny fruit has begun to swell behind the flower head you can once again begin to water, this time to fatten up the fruit itself. The irreversible process of producing seeds to ensure the tree's survival has begun and it can now be helped along again.

It does make sense to me. It carries a kind of logic. It reminds me of the advice we always get about deadheading roses. If you cut off the flowers as soon as they die (preferable pruning back quite hard to a nodule or leaf growth) then the plant goes into overdrive to produce more flowers because only when the flowers have gone over can the 'hips', which contain the seeds, begin to form. Thus a rose can be kept in bloom for months if deadheaded with regularity, whereas if you don't deadhead, the hips will form and the plant will stop flowering because, in essence, it thinks its work is done.

Eat your heart out Monty Don, eh? (That won't mean much to my readers outside the UK!)

The garden just after sunset a couple of days ago.

We were talking to an Albanian friend recently and she revealed something that, in the several years that we've known her, we didn't realise before. She has a husband and two growing boys and she works, as so many of her fellow countrymen and women do, as an orderly in a hotel, cleaning twenty or thirty rooms every day, seven days a week, for the entire summer season. One could be forgiven for thinking that these folk, humble as they are, are probably not very well educated. How wrong we'd be.

Our friend revealed that she's a qualified teacher and the only reason why she is reduced to cleaning hotel rooms for a virtual slave's wage is that there is no prospect of work in her actual profession back in Albania. She's been to university and has a degree, poor woman. She speaks three languages. She also told us something else that I for one hadn't appreciated. 

I may have mentioned in times past about the disgraceful habit that so many of the larger hotels here have of not paying their staff for months on end. I always assumed that it was simply a ruse using the economic climate as an excuse, when in fact they're making money hand over fist. I believed that they were simply hanging on to their money and making it work for them, while telling their lowly workers that they couldn't pay them owing to cash flow. It turns out that my Albanian friend's explanation is far more likely to be the true one.

She told us that by making their staff wait, often until way past the end of the season, for their hard-earned wages, the management can prevent their staff from resigning and changing jobs mid-season. They feel that they have no choice but to hang on because, if they were to leave, they'd surely never collect the back-pay that they're owed, or at least not all of it. You see the logic of this? In essence these hotel owners are saying that, rather than make their staff happy by providing them with good working conditions and a living wage, with the result that they'll want to stay in the job, they treat them badly and prevent them leaving by getting them over a barrel. 

I do know of one or two local hotels where the staff are paid on time and you know something? It works much better than the other 'blackmail' method. I collect guests on my excursions from these hotels where the owner is a local Greek who does take reasonably good care of his workers and I always get the same story. The guests tell me that nothing is too much for the staff and that they are all helpful, friendly and attentive. It's interesting that among the hotels that don't pay their workers are some that I know are owned by non-Greeks. So the profit's going out of the country anyway. Interesting, eh?

It's not rocket science, but happy staff means happy guests. A lesson that some hotel owners and managers may do well to take to heart.

Our friend George, who has the Pelican's Nest down on the beach road here in Kiotari, has been titivating his store ready for opening for the season. Last year he changed it from a restaurant into a souvenir shop with a difference. We were walking past the other evening when we came across him painting the words "Mini Market" on the wall outside the premises. 

Our George is always ready with a smile.
I asked him how last season had gone. 

"Not too good, Yianni." He replied. 

I wish him well for this season. If you're down here in what I call the "real" Kiotari, and you come across George's shop, sandwiched between "Stefano's" Taverna and "Il Porto", give him a go. Apart from the regular kinds of stuff we see in every souvenir store, he stocks some slightly more unusual things too.

To close on a lighter note. Our wheelbarrow is badly in need of a new tyre. If you've read my latest memoir book, A Jay in the Jacaranda Tree, you may remember my tale about having my abdominal hernia done here on Rhodes in the municipal hospital. The surgeon who did the op, on examining the offending bulge the evening before surgery, had exclaimed, "Poh poh! That is a big one!"

Umm, ouch?

Every time I look at this tyre, it takes me back...

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Nooks and Crannies

Largely a photo-based post this time. I've been wandering around the old Town and Mandraki area both during the day and in the evening this past week while doing my first few excursions of the season. So I thought I'd bring you these...

"I'm just popping across the road darling..."

You may recall I mentioned this before a while back - these arches are earthquake measures. They work! 500 years proves it.

"Yea, so anyway, this fella in a baseball cap was driving it. He asked me where the golf course was. I told him, I said "You're way off mate. You need to be in Afandou..."

Hmph. Still no tourists to pet me yet then...

All you need now is a gin and tonic.

Spiros, I think you could have squeezed a little more on to that board...

Room with a view. Just not much of one that's all.

Handy storage space for kitchen cleaning utensils.

Elvis? You in there?

Lights, camera, action?

Just in case passers-by forget which country we're in.

Left here...

The Mandraki windmills at dusk.


Well I hope you liked those folks. If Avril and John are reading this, I thoroughly enjoyed your company last night by the way. Would have probably liked a bit more shop talk with John, but then, probably better as it was, or Avril would have gone off in a huff (Only joking Avril!!).

Avril and John, for the rest of you out there in web-land, were a couple on my excursion to Rhodes last evening. John was in the same trade as me in his former life, graphic design. Oh, and Vicki and Keith - guess what, they're from near Norwich!