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BS: Postcard from Dendros 2011

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Roger the Skiffler 16 Sep 11 - 06:17 AM
Micca 16 Sep 11 - 09:40 AM
Roger the Skiffler 16 Sep 11 - 12:32 PM
katlaughing 16 Sep 11 - 03:21 PM
Amos 16 Sep 11 - 03:43 PM
Roger the Skiffler 17 Sep 11 - 06:39 AM
Roger the Skiffler 17 Sep 11 - 11:05 AM
katlaughing 17 Sep 11 - 11:47 AM
Roger the Skiffler 18 Sep 11 - 05:50 AM
Roger the Skiffler 19 Sep 11 - 06:26 AM

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Subject: BS: Postcard from Dendros 2011
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 06:17 AM

As my regular reader knows there is no such Greek island as Dendros. It, its inhabitants and visitors are figments of my imagination and it occasionally rises from the Aegean, to permit me to visit, as it did again this year. Being fictional, there are no ongoing disputes between neighbours, businesses or family members and all is sweetness and light, drivers all wear seat belts or crash helmets as the law insists, not just within the towns where police are present, no female pillion passengers ride side-saddle and everyone pays their taxes, no-one asks for cash payments and no-one smokes in restaurants. Of course, no-one lets off dynamite on special occasions either.
There have been some changes since our last visit. Solar-powered streetlights have been installed on roads and in villages and about half of them actually come on at night. New state-of-the art rubbish bins have replaced broken dumpsters, although their locations are a source of debate by those businesses affected by smells. It is even alleged some businesses don't put their smellier waste in their nearest bin.   
The already poor bus service, which had been improved after a campaign bolstered by my dear wife buttonholing the mayor, (charges that she held him off the floor by his throat until he added an extra daily bus have been grossly exaggerated- it was by his lapels) has now been reduced after an election campaign in which the taxi-driver vote was courted.
   One establishment has added a freshwater beach shower for the use of its own customers only. To safeguard their water supply it is turned on and off from the bar. Attracting attention for this facility was not always easy so the aforementioned spouse asked friends about to arrive to bring a whistle with them. An ex-teacher's playground Acme Thunderer duly arrived and did the trick whilst entertaining adjacent sunbathers! Innocent fun was obtained by those in the know watching bathers from further corners of the beach ignoring the sign on the tap and vainly trying to work the shower!
The weather was cloudless and in the 30s for a fortnight so we did none of our usual walks, but lazing on beach or balcony affords much innocent pleasure, so not seeing a newspaper, watching a tv or listening to a radio in that time is no hardship. Watching visiting yachts trying to pick up a mooring buoy in a crosswind, often losing a boathook in the process, always affords a little shadenfreude.
   The end of the beach where our rented apartment is situated is free of sunbeds and usually only frequented by extended Greek families.   This year, and very unusually, this did not deter topless sunbathing and swimming by a young Greek woman, even when families and old ladies were present. Her presence may have accounted for a group of young men showing off their machismo in swimming, wrestling etc. While not exactly muscle beach… When she was replaced by a greyhaired, substantially-built Northern European lady, similarly underclad, they moved back to the other end of the beach.   I suspect they are the now-grown up boys who used to spend all day jumping off or pushing each other off, the jetty.
   As usual, passing and visiting boats of all types enliven this sleepy village. The smallest were a party of canooists in sea-going kayaks and the largest was the luxury yacht Air complete with onboard helicopter. It circled the bay but didn't stop. As an aside, in the capital, I noticed a day trip boat called Titanikos. It didn't seem to have any customers… The cruising yachts contribute to the multinational nature of the population in the tavernas in the evenings. As well as Greeks and Brits there were: Swedes, Norwegians, Dutch, Austrians, Spaniards, French, Germans, Italians, Roumanian, Slovenians, and a Finn who said he had come to see where his eurozone taxes were being spent! It was especially good the see Turks being well received, even sharing a mooring with a Greek boat. One taverna had an ecstatic write-up in a Turkish yachting magazine ( clearly they visited on a night when I wasn't performing!).
   The buses may have been fewer but they still afford entertainment. I particularly liked the notice: "Remain far from doors. Danger of wounds". Wandering goats and sheep remain the most effective deterrent to speeding round blind bends, but rockfalls and crumbling road edges also help. Our only neighbours this year, (the other apartment remained unlet while we were there) were the local retired doctor, whose holiday home is the only other one directly on the beach, and the inevitable goats who stretch over the fence to eat the owner's flowers.
   Yes, the simple pleasures remain in village life: youngster, even "cool" teenagers, still play with diabalos and swimming and fishing seems to be their main pursuit, as well as motor bikes, but Greek petrol at 1.74Eu a litre may slow them down. I read the books I took with me plus the non-German books left in the apartment and on the bar of the taverna. Are all detectives alcoholics? Together with some English friends (who brought over the whistle) we constructed a sundial on the beach, which, texts inform me, is being refined by other visitors after our departure! We also picked up a speedo dial from the dead boat detritus (I can't believe the fishfarm inflatable has been junked already and the old raft is back!) which we fixed to the beach shower with a bit of old wire, just to confuse people further. While eating a lunchtime meal in one restaurant a confused bat kept flying round, occasionally resting on a beam. When it finally went out into the open hillside a raptor (possibly Eleanora's falcon) came from no-where and took it on the wing.
Entertainment in the taverna in the evening centres around magic tricks from a visiting professional and music from residents and visitors. Some entertainment was also caused when my beloved's main course was delivered to the wrong table, The large group said afterwards that they had a dish they hadn't ordered (but they ate it!). Herself was finally served and the entire staff of the establishment came out at different times to apologise (did you see that Monty Python sketch?. They know better than to mess with She who must be obeyed.   One evening just as the lights were going out a woman walked slowly down the deserted street, dressed in a long black garment with a hood. "It's the Woman in Black" people cried, although she turned and glided back the way she came before reaching us! Spooky! Our hostess rubbed he arms: "She gives me goosebumps" she said.   
   One day a small boat pulled up to the quay and an unfeasible number of live goats were decanted into trucks. I counted at least 36, and one pickup had left before I started counting. Goat boat, goats on a boat, snakes on a plane… We immediately amused ourselves with a plot outline for the revenge of a group of flesh-eating goats. Most fun was casting various locals and visitors. My singing & kazoo playing meant I was to be played by Jeremy Hardy!
The music. As well as visiting guitarists we had an excellent Dutch harmonica player with a full range of harps, including a chromatic, a Swedish trumpeter with a pocket cornet, a certain kazoo player who eschewed the spoons for guiro this year, and the younger son of the resident guitarist who added Cajun drum box to the hand drum.
   Hit of this year was Flanders and Swann's Hippopotamus Song sung by Somewhat of a Broadcasting Legend which seems likely to replace House of the Rising Sun as a local favourite. However, Count Basie's Splanky played on cornet, kazoo and harmonica had to be heard to be disbelieved! The younger element continue to expect me to join in with modern stuff (you know, the Beatles and suchlike). I said my motto (I've emptied bigger rooms than this) should be replaced by "Some of the words and none of the notes". Our host gave a small German girl an impromptu guitar lesson, teaching her a particular riff in five minutes and made her parents promise to bring her back next year for more. Keep up with the music lessons for the technical stuff, but never forget to play from the heart, was his advice.
   Despite the well-known financial problems, the Greeks continue to be generous. We were given a lift from ferry to village by a local friend who just happened to see us in the port, our landlord gave us a very good bottle of wine (and a good price for the apartment), free sweets, fruits and drinks still appear in tavernas, even the taxi driver rounded down his bill. We continue to be welcomed back by all the locals we meet and look forward to Dendros rising from the sea again, maybe next year, or the year after. Other islands always beckon, but we know the view from our balcony is the best we've ever had in Greece and we can't imagine never seeing our many friends again. I don't take many photos of views these days, as nothing changes except my waistline, but the boats, seascapes and sunsets are addictive. Sheila tends to chronicle the nightlife. We'll put some up on our Photobox account soon for the usual suspects.

RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Dendros 2011
From: Micca
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 09:40 AM

Thanks Roger, I do Enjoy your trips to Dendros, but tend to disbelieve the existence (without photographic evidence)of a boat named "titsandnickers" even in Greece


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Dendros 2011
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 12:32 PM

Micca, there may be a photo...
Update: as the mayor wasn't in evidence during our stay (rumoured to be hiding under his desk with his thumb in his mouth rocking to and fro in case Sheila got past his security)Sheila has emailed the tourist board and the mayor's office with her views on the decline of the bus service!
RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Dendros 2011
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 03:21 PM

Thank you so much, Roger. These are always such a welcome *travelogue* in our home. I always read them to my Rog when he gets home at night.


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Dendros 2011
From: Amos
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 03:43 PM

Delightful, old chum. Another year and the Mudcat Schooner will join you at Dendros. First star on the left and straight on 'til morning, I believe, are the sailing directions.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Dendros 2011
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 06:39 AM

Thanks for fixing the html, Joe. Thanks to Flanders & Swann's recording & El Greko's help with the words, I tried my hand at "singing" in Greek this year doing the Greek equivalent of "Old MacDonald has a farm": Kokoraki (the noise Greek cockerels make!). Well received, but as Dr. Johnson said about dogs walking on hind legs "applauded not because it is done well, but that it is done at all" (I paraphrase).
Photos to come soon.

RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Dendros 2011
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 11:05 AM

Photos now up on photobox. Usual suspects will get invites to view. I didn't mention a propos sunbeds, that the owner who disliked sunbeds in front of his taverna now has tables & chairs and palm frond umbrellas on the beach in front of his taverna. Go figure!
RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Dendros 2011
From: katlaughing
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 11:47 AM

Beautiful photos and so much fun to imagine! Thanks, Roger.


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Dendros 2011
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 05:50 AM

Those of you waiting for the annual swimsuit survey, well, only I had one sunny holiday this year (not many swimsuits in Canada)and the village sample is small but black was the clear winner. Herself supplemented her usual black or navy blue wit a shocking pink maillot on the grounds that I wouldn't miss her. She had noticed my need for closer & longer scrutiny of my survey subjects and deduced my sight and memory must be failing.

RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from Dendros 2011
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 06:26 AM

I see I omitted any culinary references. Family tradition has it that most of our photographs seem to be of people eating or drinking. I try to avoid being photographed with a glass in my hand & Sheila always tries to catch me out! I always try to have something I haven't had before. This year squid stuffed with feta and herbs and octopus patties were among the new dishes sampled. [If you asked Nigella Lawson or Martha Stewart:"How big are your octopus balls?" -to decide whether to have them as a starter or main course- would you expect to get the reply: "How big are your balls?". I have to say the octopus won!] I also managed again not to have the same main dish over the 14 evenings. Unfortunately these 2 ambitions mean I always miss out on some favourites. No goat stew this year. Gave way to my sweet tooth on a couple of occasions (OK, it was 4! They were all freebies including galaktobouriko and loukoumathes, yum, yum!)
   All the locals we spoke to were worried about the economy. Bank loans for business expansion have been too easy to get recently and now people are worried about foreclosures. While we were there the Greek equivalent of Value Added Tax went up considerably. With only a month to go before the end of the tourist season businesses either had to reprint their price lists or absorb the extra cost. Fortunately, tourist numbers were up on the last couple of years but the village shop was clearly reluctant to restock too much to avoid being stuck with unsold goods at the end of October.
   We regulars have tried to suggest solutions to obvious problems in the village over the years but the people of the country that gave the world formal logic seems reluctant to change even in the face of difficult times. Sometimes it seems like a primary school playground. "Y, Why don't you cooperate with X?" "He drove past and didn't wave". "X, why have you fallen out with Y?" "I waved as I went past and they didn't acknowledge me."

Well, we hope to be back to "Dendros", or some other island next year,if they're still trading.

RtS


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Mudcat time: 16 May 11:39 PM EDT

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