In her last Post, Sheila described the strange weather that we have been experiencing here in paradise this winter. Suffice it to say that unless I have missed something, it has rained just about every day since she wrote her piece and if it hasn’t been raining, then it has snowed!
Ever since we have lived in Kavousi, we have marvelled that we have never seen any flowing water in the river bed which lies below and to one side of our house. Well, this morning after a solid night of heavy rain, bingo there is a river (well a stream maybe) and the photos to prove it. Not perhaps a torrent but impressive (for us) nonetheless!
Last week our Greek classes were due to re-start and having worked quite hard at our books during the extended festive break, we were looking forward to the new term. Thursday morning dawned with angry skies, strong winds and snow showers even at our level. This was the beach at Ierapetra later in the day.
It didn’t seem too bad here so we were getting ready to leave when the phone went. It was Xrisa, our teacher phoning to say that the lesson was cancelled because the road from Siteia to Koutsounari was blocked by snow and the police had told her she could not get through!
It’s been a crazy winter weather-wise and some say the worst for a generation. Just our luck! Who else swaps Scotland for Crete and ends up with a winter like this.
Still, it could have been worse!
Our Greek neighbours, on the other hand, have had problems with leaking roofs, damp clothes and an inability to keep the house at a reasonable temperature.
As you will note, certain members of the party saw it all as an invitation to toast their tootsies!
Roll on Spring!
Despite all this doom and gloom, the showers eased enough earlier last week to enable Thasos to come and construct our new pergola or to be correct η καινούρια κρεββατίνα. Apparently, a pergola is made of wood and as ours is made of metal, it is a κρεββατίνα, sometimes spelt with only one beta apparently, just in case there is anyone pedantic enough out there to pick me up on my Greek spelling!
It has yet to have its sail cloth ‘roof’ (which given the weather, is probably just as well). Hopefully, that will keep us cool until the vine and bougainvillea have grown sufficiently to provide the necessary shade in the summer, although just at the moment it seems hard to think that we shall ever need it!
Thasos also took it upon himself to build a trellis type arrangement to fit on the roof of the shed so that the other vine has somewhere to climb onto. Top man! And the sun even shone for an hour or so.
As usual, Thasos has done a great job, in some pretty unreasonable conditions it has to be said and we are looking forward to sitting down with him under the new pergola (sorry krevatina) when it is warmer, to share a well-deserved raki or two.
While all this excitement has been going on, our new super hero Yanis Varoufakis has been upsetting the diplomatic apple cart in Brussels and elsewhere. As I write this, we are still not sure that the four-month extension to the bailout will be agreed – still time for ‘Dodgy’ Dijsselbloem and ‘Snotty’ Schauble to pull the plug. However, despite what the so-called analysts are saying, my take on the negotiations is that with a pretty poor hand, the Greeks pulled off the good cop/bad cop routine about as well as could have been hoped.
Anyone interested should read this piece.
Admittedly it is written by someone close to Varoufakis but gives a perspective on and an analysis of the discussions which has been woefully lacking in my view, from mainstream journalists, most of whom seem to have swallowed whole, the press releases and ill-judged remarks from the German Finance Ministry.
What also remains the case is that the new Greek Government does still hold an Ace in its hand, a fact which is known by its so-called partners in NATO, Europe and the Eurozone. If Greece is forced out of the Euro, not only could this cause severe disruption in the world financial markets but Greece could seek financial backing from Russia which has indicated that it might be willing to oblige. And the price for Russian assistance (from one ex-communist to another)? Perhaps a deep water harbour at an uninhabited Greek Island, somewhere in the Aegean? Hence, US anxieties and Merkel reining in her less than cheerful Finance Minister.
Now, whether this is the Ace of Trumps and whether Alexis Tsipras would be prepared to play the card, remains to be seen! It should be an interesting time over the next four months – plenty more dodgy diplomacy from friends Dijsselbloem and Schauble no doubt!
And finally, on a lighter note, last weekend, Eleni (who is in our Greek class) and her husband, Bernard came to lunch. Avid readers will recall that they come from Brittany and treated us to a fantastic Breton meal before Christmas.
We decided to reciprocate with a Scottish version – smoked salmon, followed by haggis, neeps (for which read carrots) and tatties, finished off with cranachan and washed down with sparkling wine and a good red wine (not from Scotland!) and some of my best whisky. The meal seemed to go well, unless the photos lie! Note the brown sauce – an essential catalyst to bring out the flavour of the haggis!