As avid readers of our Blog will know, life here in our house in Kavousi has been somewhat dominated by the need to repair the wall which runs along one side of the property.
Below the wall, a small road runs down to a bridge over the dry bed of a river which is perhaps fifty feet below the level of our terrace. The problem has been that water running off the roof has found its way in between the stones which make up the wall and gradually over the years, parts of the wall have disappeared into the garden immediately below.
Back in December, we asked a surveyor to advise on the best way of effecting a repair and he and his chosen contractor came up with the idea of a grand concrete structure about twelve meters long and four and a half meters high. It would no doubt have done the trick but it was expensive and would have looked hideous. More to the point, it required us to either get permission from the landowner below to use part of their land or to make an offer to buy such land.
At one stage, the latter course seemed to be the more likely option and readers may recall that I thought I had bought the land in question. However, it was then that the locals stepped in! They had never been very happy about us building ‘The Great Wall of China’ as I called it because they thought it was too expensive and when they found out how much I have offered for the land, they were apoplectic with anger that the woman in question was prepared to take us for such a ride.
Then, one day, another surveyor came to measure the land and quite by chance met a fellow on the bridge who asked him what he was about. When he told him, he was informed that the fellow owned part of the land in question and a huge row ensued! After the surveyor had left, we discovered that the new landowner was the son of our neighbour but why she had never told us about the ownership issues, is still far from clear!
Anyway, the upshot was that as he was not about to sell us his land or give us permission to use any of it to support the foundations of ‘The Great Wall’, we had no option but to revert to Plan B and take the neighbours’ advice and employ Vasili, the Albanian stone mason, to repair the wall using stones, which is what they had been suggesting all along.
By this time, we were happy to agree and as Vasili’s quote was only about one-fifth of the original, this was an easy decision!
The first thing that happened was that Vasili arrived one Sunday and began demolishing a huge section of what was left of the wall, leaving parts of our terrace literally hanging over the ravine below and we were given strict instructions not to go near the edge!
The next day, a truck turned up with bags of sand and concrete mix but was too large to get round the corner onto the bridge.
Finally, another truck came with yet another driver, who finally managed to make the turn and parked the vehicle below us. After severely pruning the fig tree below us, he was then able to use the telescopic arm to lift the bags onto the largely unsupported terrace.
The next day, when work was due to start, our water supply failed and it was three more days before the water board fellows came out and told us that it was not their problem.
However, it gave them the opportunity to dry off afterwards with a drink of raki, wine or whisky!
A blockage in the house seemed more problematic but Dimitri, the plumber, soon arrived, summoned by bush telegraph and found the difficulty – gunge in one of the pipes!
So finally, Vasili then got to work and before long the repairs began to take shape and we had the makings of a pretty good wall.
Sheila was kept busy making coffee and providing water for the gang and I extended my Greek vocabulary to include a number of building-related terms, which no doubt will prove very useful in the future!
More rain then intervened and then Vasili went down with what we thought was probably bronchitis and was unable to work for a few days. Finally, a few days after the arrival of Vince and Rosy from London, our first guests of the season, Vasili pronounced the work finished, was paid his money and the concrete mixer was moved to the next job.
He has done a great job and has talked us in to allowing him to build a largely decorative parapet wall on the edge of the terrace above which the top part of the existing fence will be replaced. This will be constructed from contrasting red, grey and white stone from the mountains and today the first such stone arrived.
Yesterday, the truck was back and the next load of sand, cement and mix was delivered to the terrace for work to commence next week.
Andreas, our neighbour, appointed himself foreman of the unloading work and another exciting time was had by all, including Vince and Rosy who had had to put up with a pile of building materials outside their door and builders arriving at all hours, from the time they arrived.
We now look forward to getting the new wall finished and reclaiming our terrace and Sheila will be able to invite the great nephews and their parents to stay, without fear of losing the small ones over the edge!
And the moral of this story is that when in Greece, listen to the Greeks and save yourself a lot of grief. Wait a minute, is that not the Mayor at the door, telling us to take it all down as we do not have the necessary permits!