October Postcards from Symi

St Nicholas, Symi
The sunbeds and umbrellas have been packed away at St Nicholas beach in Pedi. They won’t need them to celebrate the Feast of St Nicholas at the tiny chapel on 6 December.
balcony
The salt-laden sea air is nibbling away at the terrace of this neglected Art Deco waterfront property in Pedi.
bird on a wall
Invisible bird.
bougainvillea with butterfly 30 Oct 2019
Butterfly and bougainvillea.
Camo cats
Camo cats.
classic yacht
 This elegant Canadian beauty was anchored in Pedi for several days last week.

Crocuses 2

crocuses
The squill flowers have faded away, replaced by ghostly drifts of pale autumn crocuses and other tiny plants.
Elegant lady
Another classic, this one with a Maltese flag.
fan
There has to a story behind this carefully placed ceiling fan blade, resting among the herb bushes in the Pedi valley.  Look at how green the sage bushes are after just a little rain.
from beach to boatyard
Apostoli is switching from beach mode to boatyard mode.  The sledges and skids are being positioned to start hauling out boats.
Gone fishing
The fishing season has started.  This small trawler will be away for days at a time, if not weeks.
kamares
That fragment of shadow is cast by the meander-pattern railing of the Art Deco house you saw earlier.  This dilapidated colonnade was once the Kamares taverna in Pedi.  
mimosa
Mimosa
misty morning
A misty morning in the valley.  The yellow nets on the left are to protect vegetable seed beds from birds and cats.
new green
We have only had two rainy days so far but they were enough to wash the dust from the trees and set the grass growing again.
On the skids
This method of hauling boats up the beaches for the winter dates back to Homeric times.  In Greece there is a strong sense of continuity. Why change something if it still works? The underwater profiles of the boats haven’t changed much over the centuries either and they are still built the old-fashioned way at the Haskas boatyard in Pedi, wielding an adze to shape the wood into ribs and frames.
Pedi beach hotel
The last guests have left the Pedi Beach Hotel and the staff are systematically packing everything away for the winter.
Reeds
If you look about you, there are a lot of reed beds down in Pedi, despite recent developments in the area.  Unfortunately on an island that is more vertical than horizontal, level building ground is in short supply and Symi’s precious wet lands are under threat. That’s the road to Panormitis zigzagging up the hill in the distance.
Road access
By Symi standards, this counts as ‘has convenient road access’.  Mind the step!
sage
Sage, oregano and thyme – the Symi trinity that scents the island’s hillsides every summer.
solar power
Solar power.

 

 

September Postcards from Symi

Agios Nikolaos
The Agios Nikolaos languishing alongside the new jetty in Pedi.  Once the pride and joy of George Kalodoukas and the venue for many a Laskarina welcome meeting, since George’s untimely death two years ago she has been lying forlorn in Pedi.  
Asymi residences St George
St George’s church, Pedi, as seen from ASymi Residences, the discreet and elegant new boutique hotel behind Apostoli’s boatyard and taverna.
Asymi residences
The exterior of the hotel.
bees in the tamarisks
The tamarisk trees are absolutely humming with bees at the moment. They love the sweet-scented blossom. There are a lot of hives on the hillsides above Pedi and in the terraces.
dolce vita
Dolce Vita was a people-trafficking boat impounded back in 2015 and still lying on the jetty in Pedi. The story is that the owners thought that they had got away with hoodwinking the coastguard but they made the mistake of bragging loudly about their exploits in a taverna.  The owners were arrested and the boat impounded.  
Early morning bathers
Early morning bathers in Pedi.
fish baskets
Fish baskets.  
Gone swimming
People staying at the Pedi Beach leave their flip flops on the side of the road when they go swimming.
Pedi beach 1
The anchorages in Pedi have been very full recently.  A few days of stormy weather, gusty winds and big swells have driven sailors to look for safe havens and coffee shops.
Pedi cats
A comfortable nest for some Symi cats.
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Forget about popping down to the garden centre.  In Greece the plants and terracotta pots come to you on the back of gypsy trucks.
pomegranates
A bumper crop of pomegranates at the bottom of the steps leading to Villa Jasmine.
Shady sheep
Sheep enjoying a patch of shade in the shelter of an old dry stone wall.
Useful tree
A useful tree provides undercover parking for a bicycle and a baby buggy, a useful place to dry out the water toys, a handy branch for the family budgie and a shady table for baiting hooks.  In a place with a negligible crime rate a tree is as good as a garage.

Some Symi snapshots for you to enjoy.

The photograph at the top of the page shows fragments of heart-shaped confetti on the sand the morning after a big wedding at the Pedi Beach Hotel recently.  A few hours later it was all gone, washed away by the wake of passing water taxis and ferry boats.

 

Greek Island Herbs

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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!

 

 

May Postcards from Symi

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

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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.
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Checking out the food chain. Pedi cats are generally very well fed, even in the winter months.

Pedi Peregrinations

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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.
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The truth about crop circles.
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Clearing the football pitch and running track after the flood of 13 November 2017.
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Does blue suit me? Even the local livestock are doing their bit to clean up the sports field.
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Rural idyll.
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Twins!
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Clean Monday sky
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Early morning view.
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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.
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The calm before the storm – Clean Monday afternoon.
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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.
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A shack in a desirable location.
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Beach house.
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No umbrellas.
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Pedi pastoral.
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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
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Almond blossom in the mist
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Almonds and olives
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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
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Sunlight catching the wind on the water.
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Jungle cat, wading through the swamps of Pedi.
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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
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and draining from gardens
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and flowing into the sea … (BTW the shell case is a more recent relic, left by the Germans during the Second World War)
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from neat canals
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Kamares
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A slightly fancier fishing boat
blog 20 Feb 2019 m
Almond blossom
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Sand shovelled into heaps outside the Pedi Beach Hotel.
blog 20 Feb 2019 o
A calm morning in Pedi
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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

Symi in February

blog 8 Feb 2019 a
A moss garden on a wall in Pedi. The barbed wire is to keep the goats out.
blog 8 Feb 2019 b
St George’s church, Pedi
blog 8 Feb 2019 c
Splash!
blog 8 Feb 2019 d
The taverna may be closed for winter renovations but the cats at Katsaras are still dining well.
blog 8 Feb 2019 e
Date palms by the Pedi Beach hotel. That is the monastery dedicated to Profiti Elias – the Prophet Elijah – on the slope in the distance.
blog 8 Feb 2019 f
Reflections.
blog 8 Feb 2019 g
An abandoned farmstead on a mountain top above Pedi.
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The almond trees are what is left of what must have been quite an extensive orchard.

blog 8 Feb 2019 i

blog 8 Feb 2019 j
Sheep in a walled garden in Pedi.

 

January was wet and windy and so far February has not been much better.  They didn’t give a name to the storm that pounded Greece on Tuesday night and Wednesday but it delivered a lot of damage, particularly in Rhodes where large boulders were thrown about by the sea and many small seaside villages and beaches took a hammering.  Once again there were shipping bans and flight disruptions as winds topped Force 9, gusting Force 10.  There are another 6-8 weeks of winter still to come so it isn’t over yet.  Heavy hail storms on high ground took their toll of the new lambs in the mountain pastures on Symi and the local shepherds all have stories to tell.

In the quieter corners the almond blossoms are opening and the countryside is very green.  When the sun comes through it can be as much as 20 degrees centigrade, out of the wind.  Most of the time, though, midday temperatures are around 14 degrees and last night the thermometer on our car was reading 7 degrees centigrade.  The wind makes it seem chilly, particularly as the water has found its way into everything indoors and out.  Most Symi houses, regardless of age, have damp problems in the winter.  Either condensation turns surfaces black with mould or water seeps through walls, turning green with algae if there is any sunlight.  Apparently tea tree oil helps with the mould spores, if one can get hold of it.  Everyone else is constantly swabbing down with bleach solution.  It is not for nothing that spring painting is an annual necessity.

The bus is back, still running on a reduced winter schedule but much better than wading against the flow in the rain.

We have a few breezy partly cloudy days ahead and then the showers and next rainy spell is forecast to arrive on Monday night or Tuesday morning.  As the Blue Star came in from Rhodes last night there should be fresh stuff in the shops this morning.  Time to go foraging!

The cover photograph shows some of the sand and gravel that Tuesday night’s storm threw up along the waterfront road in Pedi.  The small terracotta fragments are potsherds, fragments of ancient amphora and pithoi that have been smashed and polished by the sea over centuries.