Greek Island Herbs

smartcapture
The butterflies are enjoying the thyme as much as the bees.

blog 16 June 2019 b

blog 16 June 2019 c
The path from Pedi to St Nicholas beach, fragrant with thyme, oregano and sage.
blog 16 June 2019 e
On a more prosaic note, the new recycling bins have appeared in various places around the island. These ones are in the commercial port in Yialos.
blog 16 June 2019 f
The Nissos Chios, the big car ferry that serves Symi on Wednesdays and Fridays during the summer.
blog 16 June 2019 g
The wall is old but the tree is older. As the tree grows the dry stone wall is adjusted and modified to accommodate its changing shape and dimensions.
blog 16 June 2019 h
Harani at dusk.

Symi has turned into a garden this year.  Those long soaking rains for months on end during the winter gave us a spectacular spring and the mountain herbs are putting on a show for far longer this year.  Even people who usually come in June are commenting on how bright the thyme flowers are this year.  While other countries may be worrying about their bee populations, Symi’s bees are absolutely wallowing in thyme pollen at the moment and the hills are humming.

Recycling has been a big topic for all parties involved in the recent elections.  In reality, the bins have obviously been in the pipeline for a while regardless.  Rhodes has had them for some time and this is not the first time we have seen bins for collecting aluminium cans on Symi – we covered the same story in the days of the Symi Visitor newspaper, more than a decade ago.  The crucial thing is not so much encouraging the locals and tourists to use them but that the contents are then actually taken away and recycled in a sustainable way.  Greece has very few recycling facilities and they are all on the mainland, a 17 hour ferry journey away.  Rubbish, whatever it is, tends to be high volume, so a cost effective way of transporting paper, bottles, cans, plastic and so on has to be provided to form the next link in the chain.  Otherwise we will see yet another recycling initiative fall by the wayside as the contents wind up in a landfill somewhere.  In the long term the real solution lies with the packaging industry finding better alternatives that are still effective for their purpose but without the negative environmental implications.

As many of you probably know, I look after holiday homes for various people and provide the services they need to keep them running smoothly.  Recently I received a consignment of all the sheets and towels necessary for one particular house. Three sets of everything.  They were ordered from an on line source by the owner of the property and arrived in big boxes by courier. Every single individual item, whether it be a sheet or a pillow case or a towel, was folded around a piece of cardboard to give it a neat shape.  It was then encased in a printed paper sleeve, giving details of the item.  Each of these was then in a separate resealable plastic envelope. That means that for each item of bedding or towels there were 3 items of packaging. What kind of madness is this?  Even if those separate pieces of packaging are recyclable, in a place where those particular materials can be recycled, bearing in mind that facilities are not universally available, is it really necessary to fold a pillowcase round a piece of cardboard, wrap it in a piece of printed paper and then put it in a plastic bag?  Many of us are old enough to remember when someone would have counted out the appropriate number of items. Laid them on a sheet of brown paper, wrapped it up into a parcel with tape or string and that would have been that.

Simples, as the meerkat says on the BBC!

 

 

Advertisements

May Postcards from Symi

blog 7 May 2019 a
Symmetry
blog 7 May 2019 a1
The waterfront in Pedi bay is slipping into summer mode.
blog 7 May 2019 a3
Waiting for parasols
blog 7 May 2019 a4
The tiny church dedicated to St Thomas celebrated its name day this week.

blog 7 May 2019 a5

blog 7 May 2019 b
This stone wall next to Apostoli’s is turning into a work of art as the fishermen clean their paintbrushes on it and test that they have the colours for their boats mixed just right.
blog 7 May 2019 b2
Essential supplies – cases of beer and bottled water, waiting to be loaded onto a boat to be taken to one of the beach tavernas. The water taxis are still in the boatyards in Harani and Pedi so opening is a while off yet but it takes time to get stock out to places that can only be accessed by sea.
blog 7 May 2019 c
Roses flourish in sheltered gardens around Pedi and Chorio.
blog 7 May 2019 c2
Windows
blog 7 May 2019 d
In need of a little TLC.
blog 7 May 2019 e
The view from Evangelismos church in Harani, looking across the entrance to Yialos.  The Nireus and Aliki hotels are along the waterfront and the Merchant House is one tier up, above the Aliki. The green hills in the background are the south wall of the Pedi valley with the Vigla, the highest point on Symi, on the right.  
blog 7 May 2019 f
Outside bathroom
Eilish and Allen petunias
Pedi petunias

The Symi summer season starts later than it used to as fewer tourists come to Symi for Easter and spring break.  With little pressure, businesses now unfurl from the winter hibernation at a more leisurely pace and most set their targets for the end of May rather than the beginning.

Every day brings more changes, particularly in the harbour where the day boats from Rhodes provide more of an incentive for shops and cafes to open up but here in Pedi things are still very quiet.  The first Saga Holidays people have arrived at the Pedi Beach Hotel and the last bus is now at 9.30 p.m. from Pedi.  We had supper with friends at the newly re-opened Katsaras Taverna in Pedi and we were the only diners.

The weather is still unsettled, with random red rain showers, occasional blustery days and temperatures ranging from 16 degrees to 25 degrees.  Even on the hazy days of Saharan dust it can be very bright and the sun cream days are definitely with us.  Over the weekend there were countrywide ferry and flight disruptions due to strong winds.

Tomorrow is VE Day and a local holiday.  German General Wagener surrendered the Dodecanese to the Allies at the building on the waterfront in Yialos that now houses LOS club (previously Katerinettes pension and taverna).  There is still a big parade here on Symi every year.  When I first came to Symi, nearly 30 years ago, veterans and their families would make a point of coming to Symi to attend the parade.  Now they are long gone and very few of the people taking part or watching have any real first hand connection with the event.  It is still, however, an important part of Symi’s recent history and a reminder that tiny islands are not immune to the ripples of world events.

On the ferry front, ANES released a schedule for the Sebeco that covered the Easter and May Day holidays and runs out tomorrow, 8 May, so we still don’t know which evenings, if any, there may be boats from Rhodes to Symi or which mornings there will be boats from Symi to Rhodes. The promised extra Blue Star Sunday routes also don’t appear on any schedule. The Blue Star 2 made a diversion through Symi this Sunday past in order to pick up morning passengers from the Sebeco who would otherwise have been stranded as the wind was too strong for the Sebeco to run.  Generally speaking, if you are making plans, it is probably best to stick with what is on the Dodecanese Seaways and Blue Star websites and regard anything else as a bonus!

April Postcards from Symi

blog 22 April 2019 a
Having a little Cape Town moment, the Vigla sports a rare ‘tablecloth’.
blog 22 April 2019 b
A goat on a mission.
blog 22 April 2019 c
She went over the old call box, along the colonnade, hopped over the wall and disappeared up the alley.
blog 22 April 2019 d
Feline supervision is essential to ensure that all is perfect for the new season.
blog 22 April 2019 e
Yum. Broadbeans.
blog 22 April 2019 e2
A mother and child moment.
blog 22 April 2019 f
A tranquil Pedi – before the sunbeds and parasols are packed out for the summer.
blog 22 April 2019 g
The ghost of a cake shop long gone.
blog 22 April 2019 h
Poppies on the Pedi road.
blog 22 April 2019 i
Free range, Symi style.
blog 22 April 2019 j
Symi colours.
blog 22 April 2019 k
Apostoli’s taverna, still in boatyard mode.
blog 22 April 2019 l
There’s wild chamomile everywhere down in Pedi at the moment. The smell is like Golden Delicious apples.
blog 22 April 2019 m
Cock of the walk.
blog 22 April 2019 n
A sledge, waiting for a boat.
blog 22 April 2019 o
Wheel barrow hitching a ride on a quad bike.
blog 22 April 2019 p
There has to be a logical explanation for three taverna chairs balancing on a boat in a yard in the Pedi valley, but I really don’t know what it is.
blog 22 April 2019 q
All tied up.

Pedi in the Poppy Season

blog 3 April 2019 a
Even churches need spring cleaning. St George’s church in Pedi.
sdr
Designer flocks with ear tags take the place of lawnmowers round here. Well, why waste good food?
blog 3 April 2019 c
An orderly view.
blog 3 April 2019 e
A disorderly view.
blog 3 April 2019 f
The end of the road.
blog 3 April 2019 g
Villa Jasmine, the house with the blue shutters, was a popular Symi Visitor property. You can now book through AirBnB.
blog 3 April 2019 h
Pedi bay
blog 3 April 2019 i
Wet lands in Pedi.
blog 3 April 2019 j
This seasonal pond in Pedi is swarming with tadpoles. We hope that they reach maturity before the pond evaporates completely.
blog 3 April 2019 k
Reflections
blog 3 April 2019 l
This was supposed to be a marina in Pedi but something went a bit wrong with the dimensions so it is a haven for small boats instead. Yachts can moor on the outside. Unfortunately there are no actual shoreside facilities available as yet.
smartcapture
Checking out the food chain. Pedi cats are generally very well fed, even in the winter months.

Pedi Peregrinations

1551688287973
Nets
blog 12 March 19 a
This home owner has channeled the seasonal stream that passes his house.
blog 12 March 19 b
In a courtyard by the sea.
blog 12 March 19 c
Moss, weed, water grasses and algae are all flourishing in the flooded areas of Pedi bay.
blog 12 March 19 d
A fig leaf for spring.
blog 12 March 19 e
Sunlight catches wet rocks on the slopes above Pedi.
blog 12 March 19 f
Revealed.
blog 12 March 19 g
One of the places where the fresh water is seeping out of the rocks and into the sea.
IMG_20190309_064208_472 (2)
Boat-painting season on the beach at Apostoli’s in Pedi.
smartcapture
The truth about crop circles.
smartcapture
Clearing the football pitch and running track after the flood of 13 November 2017.
smartcapture
Does blue suit me? Even the local livestock are doing their bit to clean up the sports field.
smartcapture
Rural idyll.
smartcapture
Twins!
smartcapture
Clean Monday sky
sdr
Early morning view.
smartcapture
This was the island’s only bus when I first came here. Thanassis who is now a taxi driver was the bus driver. It was just narrow enough to make it down the steep short cut through Chorio and drop people off at the Chorio Hotel.
smartcapture
The calm before the storm – Clean Monday afternoon.
smartcapture
Considering the lilies of the field.

Symi Spring Snapshots

blog 5 March 19 a
On the beach at Apostoli’s.
blog 5 March 19 b
A chilly little breeze.
blog 5 March 19 c
A shack in a desirable location.
blog 5 March 19 d
Beach house.
blog 5 March 19 e
No umbrellas.
blog 5 March 19 f
Pedi pastoral.
blog 5 March 19 g
This stone and wrought iron gate was washed into the bay by the flood on 13 November 2017. Watch out for it coming alongside the taxi boat jetty.
blog 5 March 19 h
Seaweed along the waterfront in Pedi. On the right you can see how the winter storms and salt spray have nibbled away at the reinforced concrete framework of a house. The framework might be earthquake proof but it isn’t weather proof.
blog 5 March 19 i
When winter storms literally come knocking at your door.
blog 5 March 19 j
Co-ordinated colours at Apostoli’s. In the summer this is a beach, in a winter it is part of the boat yard.
blog 5 March 19 k
A useful shed
blog 5 March 19 l
Almond blossom in the mist
blog 5 March 19 m
Almonds and olives
blog 5 March 19 n
Perhaps they should arrange for someone to collect their post in the winter.
blog 5 March 19 o
The men from DEH, the Power Corporation. No matter how cold the wind, they climb the poles with crampons and get on with the job.
blog 5 March 19 p
A carpeted foredeck
blog 5 March 19 q
Sunlight catching the wind on the water.
blog 5 March 19 r
Jungle cat, wading through the swamps of Pedi.
blog 5 March 19 s
This is supposed to be a barley field.
blog 5 March 19 t
How did this survive the winter?
blog 5 March 19 u
Rhapsody in red

Symi Blues in February

blog 20 Feb 2019 a
A small fishing boat in Pedi.
blog 20 Feb 2019 b
Where there are castles built by the Knights of Rhodes, there are also canon balls. It is only in Hollywood that canon balls explode. Real ones are made of stone or iron and there are literally thousands of stone canon balls in Rhodes as well as a few in Symi. This one is on a doorstep in Pedi.
blog 20 Feb 2019 c
Homage to Knossos and Sir Arthur Evans.
blog 20 Feb 2019 d detail
When it says Outdoor shower on the listing…
blog 20 Feb 2019 d
Well, it does stop the kids from tracking sand and salt into the house.
blog 20 Feb 2019 e
A Pedi fisherman’s cottage. I didn’t notice the cat among the fish baskets until I downloaded the photograph.
blog 20 Feb 2019 f
Water colours
blog 20 Feb 2019 g
There is water seeping out of the hillsides
blog 20 Feb 2019 h
and draining from gardens
blog 20 Feb 2019 i
and flowing into the sea … (BTW the shell case is a more recent relic, left by the Germans during the Second World War)
blog 20 Feb 2019 j
from neat canals
blog 20 Feb 2019 k
Kamares
blog 20 Feb 2019 l
A slightly fancier fishing boat
blog 20 Feb 2019 m
Almond blossom
blog 20 Feb 2019 n
Sand shovelled into heaps outside the Pedi Beach Hotel.
blog 20 Feb 2019 o
A calm morning in Pedi
blog 20 Feb 2019 p
Pedi pond. In the summer this vanishes totally, just leaving a few clumps of grass to mark its location.
blog 20 Feb 2019 q
Sandbags instead of sunbeds.

 

The weekly storms are still vicious but the sunny intervals between them are growing longer and milder.  There is a feeling of spring in the air and there are more people around.  It is that time of the year where it is warmer outdoors than in and everyone is relishing the sunshine.  Walkers of all ages promenade past under the watchful gaze of grazing sheep.  The ground is still to water-logged for much agricultural activity.  More heavy rain is forecast for the weekend as another storm system passes over Greece. As we near the spring equinox the storms increasingly pass to the north of us so while they may disrupt the big boat schedules they are not as destructive locally.

Wherever one looks on Symi there are bits of history tangled up with the present day.  The sense of continuity has a steadying effect.  Invaders and occupiers have come and gone and people are still here, growing olives, grazing sheep, fishing …

The photograph at the top of this blog shows the Kastro, Symi’s acropolis.  This has been a fortification of one sort or another for thousands of years although the most recent structure was a castle, built by the Knights of Rhodes.  Much of the remaining structure were destroyed during the Second World War when the retreating Germans blew up the munitions store they had there but there are still chunks of wall visible.  The main habitation was always huddled around the acropolis rather than the sea.  Trouble came from the sea.  Pirates, invaders – anyone on the shoreline was vulnerable.  Ancient settlements tended to be on high ground where you could see trouble coming before it arrived and defend yourself.  Symi’s hill tops and mountain peaks are dotted with the remnants of ancient fortifications and settlements.  They are not always easy to spot, particularly in the summer months when everything is uniformly dry and patterns are not so easily distinguishable on the landscape.

If you have any topics about Symi that you would particularly like me to focus on please let me know via the comments section or by emailing me or commenting on Facebook.  I would love to hear from you.

 

Adriana