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BS: Postcard from 'Dendros' 2015

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Roger the Skiffler 19 Jun 15 - 09:04 AM
ChanteyLass 19 Jun 15 - 05:14 PM
Roger the Skiffler 20 Jun 15 - 09:06 AM
GUEST,DaveRo 20 Jun 15 - 11:02 AM
Roger the Skiffler 21 Jun 15 - 03:04 AM
Roger the Skiffler 22 Jun 15 - 04:04 AM
maeve 13 Jul 15 - 08:25 PM
Waddon Pete 14 Jul 15 - 03:48 PM
gnu 15 Jul 15 - 08:22 AM
Stilly River Sage 17 Jul 15 - 09:30 AM
michaelr 17 Jul 15 - 06:25 PM

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Subject: BS: Postcard from 'Dendros' 2015
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 19 Jun 15 - 09:04 AM

Last year the mythical (lawyers please note) island of Dendros failed to rise from the sea. This year we had it on good authority that it would and that several intrepid travellers of our acquaintance would be heading out to find it. Furthermore British Airways now fly to the nearest real island in the Summer at a later time, from a more convenient airport, offered food (of a sort) free and more legroom than the usual charter flight we hitch a ride on.   We would also have less time to wait before the next onward ferry, although the journey door-to- door is still around 12 hours with only about 4 hours in the air.
The Owner met us off the ferry as usual, stopping en route at the supermarket so we can stock up on items not held in the limited village shop. On the 40 minute drive we caught up on local gossip, the economic situation, his children's progress at college and his wife's broken leg. The municipality has no money but is spending the balance of (probably the last) EU Improvement Grant money like water. The village now has a crazy-paved road replacing the dusty concrete and this has been extended to create a village square/carpark where a patch of gravel had been for years, allegedly for a children's playground ( hardly a child resident in the village these days). A plot of land dedicated to weeds, rubbish, dead boats and the odd disconsolate chicken is having its brokendown wall replaced also in stone. Five men working on and off, blocking the road with a bulldozer and lorry loads of rocks which were being broken by hand (no safety helmets, steel toed boots or goggles, of course).
What it will surround when it is finished (about 6 feet to go when we left) will presumably be more of the same plus debris (pallets, sand, unused stone) from the works. It reminded me of an American prison gang but no-one was singing (not even Take this Hammer) Good for work creation, though.
The broken down jetty had been repaired and the harbour extended with better landing places for tenders off visiting yachts. While we were there, two men came to install a lamppost (twin lamps) of a pattern we've seen in other "beautified" waterfronts throughout Greece. They were not quite Laurel and Hardy but did their best with drilling, cutting , screwing and hammering. When we inspected the finished work (the lamp stayed on most of the day!) we could see that the four bolts anchoring it to the jetty were mismatched and two of them were about 2"proud of the surface.
The Owner has two apartments and for some years we have stayed in the larger one at no extra cost but this year we were pre-empted by a month's stay for an Austrian climbing couple, joined by a third in their final week. So, we were in the small apartment again. This isn't a problem, the balcony is a little shallower and lacks a table for dining out (we only do breakfast anyway). The bathroom, however is, by my estimate only 4'6" square and you need to put one foot in the shower to close the door. The shower takes about 20 minutes to drain away, at least not on to the floor.
Before we arrived there had been unseasonably prolonged and heavy rain so the hillsides were green with shrubs and wild herbs. This rain had also deposited sand blown across the sea from the Sahara, causing red rain and staining the freshly whitewashed buildings.
In the very first evening in our favourite tavern we met several old friends, some in fancy dress (a Greek Pentecost tradition apparently, not in our honour).   One of these, an Englishman in full Bavarian costume including lederhosen (in that heat!) entertained on guitar and sang for two hours which we had to miss as we retired early (not as young as we were!).
One addition to the tavern family was born shortly after our last visit in 2013 and was a cute and mischievous moppet, fond of throwing things, especially mobile phones. She was being minded by three generations of her extended family, and when they were busy by visitors who were queuing up for the pleasure.
We noticed that one motorboat was missing from its usual mooring. It was explained that when the owner went to renew his licence he was told he also needed a fishing licence. "ButI don't fish". " No, but youcould. And you'll need a jetty fishing licence, as if you have a rod at sea, you could use it shore as well." This from the country that gave the world the world Formal Logic I remember so fondly from my student days in the '60s. As a result the boat was sold, adding an amount to the owner's bank account that meant he avoided the "luxury" tax holiday home owners pay if they are deemed not to spend enough in the country.
I have reported over the years on the village disputes over sunbeds. Ironically, the person most resistant to sunbeds has now covered the beach in front of his establishment with sharp gravel and filled it with tables and chairs under huge umbrellas and a single row of beds right at the water's edge- thus driving non-eating sunbathers further along the beach. His neighbouring establishments have done much the same on a smaller scale. Fortunately the sandier spot we favour only has a fe (some new) beds, no umbrellas and only 2 tables with upright chairs for disabled guests. The beach further along in front of our apartments remains sunbed free. Two older ladies of the white headscarf tradition dress variety have had a few sunbeds but technically illegal as they don't own property adjacent to the beach. Their licences were to be revoked but our friendly tavern owner plead their case- poverty and one has been ill- to the mayor who let them continue,
Last time we were here a new tavern had opened and now the village shop has used a spare section of terrace to open another. This has led to a new feud to replace the sunbed wars- getting good reviews on Tripadvisor and getting your rivals unfavourable reviews from your cronies. A recent arrival who bought a small house outside the village with splendid sea views but down a steep concrete drive off an unmade road to nowhere is reputed to have been Something Big in the UN Peacekeeping Force. Perhaps he could mediate in village disputes- would be a doddle after Bosnia. Was it a coincidence that my camera disappeared after I photographed his house?
After a convivial evening (yes, House of the Rising Sun and Goodnight Irene and the Skiffler kazoo and voice did feature) we walked back by torchlight. On our way out we had seen a seagull eating a large fish at the water's edge. At the top of the third flight of steps to our apartment something squelched and crunched underfoot, fortunately I was not barefoot. Either the gull, or a stray cat had deposited the cleanly picked remains for us to find.
It is common thoughout Greece (though in one village harbour they all just say "Welcome") for businesses to sponsor free mooring buoys for visiting yachts. In the Advice to Yachtsmen they are encouraged to patronise the advertised business.   This advertising is, apparently, illegal so when a business who doesn't sponsor a buoy complains to the Port Police once the rivals have their buoys out and names unveiled, the Port Police turn up and allow the practice to continue on payment of an on the spot fine (for which, strangely, no receipt is issued) and the complainant is told off for wasting police time while sharing the benefits such moorings bring to the village.
We were dining in the tavern high above the village when the fisherman owner (his son does most of the work these days- we've known him since he opened his first beer bottle at 7 years old or so) noticed someone on a fishing boat from elsewhere tampering with village fishing markers. His bellow must have been heard at sea as the boat veered away on an eccentric course. His call to the Port Police was at a similar volume and probably didn't need the phone!
Music forms a large part of our evenings in the village. Our host plays a variety of guitars and occasional bouzouki. Guitars, cajon and dumbek drums and tambourine are available for performers. Two visiting Germans brought their own guitars and their English language repertoire over two evenings included Dylan, Davey graham and Tom Waits. Other nationalities off yachts formed ad hoc musical jam sessions over the week, spoilt only by interventions on spoons and kazoo and off key singing by some old Brit who should know better. I had a cold for a couple of days and was told it improved my voice (not difficult). I suspect the tsipourou I drank "to clear my tubes" had more effect.
Food is a major part of the pleasure of our holidays, I enjoyed various new dishes, a local take on stuffed vine leaves, the addition of samphire and caper leaves to traditional village salads, pork marinated in retsina and a range of sweet things: cherries and strawberries, bougatsa, revani, loukoumadhes and rizogallo.Herself celebrated her birthday while we were there and a cherry-decorated chocolate cake suitable iced was produced. "Happy Birthday" sung in Greek and English. We were able to invite multinational friends to join us to repay hospitality received. One Danish resident showed us details of the boutique hotel he had lovingly restored in the main town. We were able to meet two members of the family no longer resident. Daughter came up from the main town with her two delightful daughters and Younger son, who remember as a babe in arms on our first visit, took a few days off from working 15 hour days in the kitchen of an international chain hotel on another island to visit. He has to do a further shift waiting in a restaurant to make ends meet and survives on 2-3 hours sleep. His forthcoming National Service will seem a picnic.
During the cloudy period we shared a hire car with friends and visited and ate in the other main coastal villages. We also visited a couple of remote churches on great viewpoints that we hadn't been to before. The map claimed the road was "sealed" but not in our lifetime I suspect. We always visit the monastery of St Savvas (he's been dead for generations but worryingly, keeps inviting me to be his Facebook friend). It was good to experience the monastery (or nunnery we would call it) in the peace and quiet it is intended to be without the usual coach parties of Greeks and Italians ignoring the dress code and photography restrictions. Indeed the main town and main resort areas seemed quieter than usual. In the grounds I saw a plate with a lizard pattern (put out for cats I suppose) then the lizard moved! Another photo you'll have to imagine. In the main town even the baker remembered us and came out to shake hands and when we stopped for coffee we were told "were out of cakes but you're welcome to eat some from the bakery at our tables". (In the UK it's :"Only items purchased here to be consumed on the premises"). Another shopkeeper who didn't have what we wanted directed us to rival who might have.
One village houses a Sea World museum which we've laughed at before, jumbled exhibits, rotting diving suits. It has now been reorganised by a son of the late founder into a tribute to his father's 40 years diving career. It has a well ordered and captioned collection of sponges, shells, corals and wreck artefacts from ancient coins and amphora to WW2 plane parts.
It is always fun to take the local bus, the driver swearing at double parkers in his way, tailgating terrified tourists on scooters not going fast enough, and parking on the wrong side of the road so he can buy cigarettes from a kiosk without leaving his cab
Apart from the lizards we saw the usual birds but also a Hoopoe, only the second one I've seen in 30 years of visiting Greece, Usual goats, some with splendid horns (more lost photos).
Not only St Savvas was quiet, the capital and main tourist reort also seemed less busy and the expected influx of locals to "our" village both weekends was less than expected. Still between 6-20 yachts in most nights.
Just before we left a meg motoryacht anchored in the bay : The Mayan Queen. Binoculars out, laptops consulted- owned by a Mexican gold billionaire. No, we were not invited to dine on board.
Downsides: having my camera removed from the taverna to the horror of our local friends, and i would never have expected it either- probably someone off a visiting yacht. With its age, the insurance excess and the prospect of spending a day in the capital trying to get a police report it wasn't worth bothering. I have a better camera I use when we go somewhere new, this was an old pocket one I take on my walks at home. I've already sourced a cheap second hand replacement, but the loss of unique pictures is annoying. Also my Kindle died for the second time after a few days. The bees on the wild mountain thyme (cue for song?) sounded soporific but did one have to come into the hire car, sting me on the cheek and cause a certain amount of in-car chaos until it could be ejected?
And so home bearing gifts from our friends including my 3-star £medicine". We have had to pay our 2-week mean and bar bill from the UK by bank transfer as their card machine died and their bank couldn't replace it in time. Don't try that in the UK! Our taxi driver, a Greek-Australian, Peter Andre lookalike, was adept at reading the ferry timetable while driving, avoiding goats and stopping to help older colleagues find the path to newly built houses. We saw one customer frantically waving from a hillside house while the driver vainly tried to find the road up.
Our return ferry was at a more civilised hour not the 7am we usually catch. And we shared it with several of our friends who had been on the island linger but were catching the same return flight. Usual leisurely breakfast on the real island, watching the swallows nesting in the eaves feeding their young. Also watching 2 Greek Army scout cars, machine guns manned, escorting what appeared to be three empty lorries (Greek bank reserves?) in full battledress and helmets (in that heat).
So, Serifos in September (paying in drachmae or euros?). Next year? Iceland already booked for February and Northern Lights, I hope. Possibly Florence, some Greek island as well. Back to Dendros in 2017 if I'm still insurable!


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from 'Dendros' 2015
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 19 Jun 15 - 05:14 PM

Once again I am delighted to read about your journey except for the bee sting and camera theft.

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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from 'Dendros' 2015
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 20 Jun 15 - 09:06 AM

Thanks to my fan!
Refreshing just in case anyone else is still interested in my ramblings.


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from 'Dendros' 2015
From: GUEST,DaveRo
Date: 20 Jun 15 - 11:02 AM

Excellent. Thanks for posting that.

I expect I've visited Dendros, but much of your description could apply to any Greek island. I've often moored my boat to one of those lampposts. Two bolts out of four holding it down is par for the course; after a few months the wind will blow the glass lantern at the top off. I often wondered how some businessman cornered the market for these idiotic lamp posts. (Don't tell me - I know!)

But I suspect your mention of climbing and sponges might be a clue to the island's identity.

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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from 'Dendros' 2015
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 21 Jun 15 - 03:04 AM

I suspect you're right, Dave!

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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from 'Dendros' 2015
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 22 Jun 15 - 04:04 AM

No other interest? OK I'll let it slide off the bottom.

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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from 'Dendros' 2015
From: maeve
Date: 13 Jul 15 - 08:25 PM

Lots of interest here...but many are busy with summer work or play. It's worthy of a few more refreshes!

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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from 'Dendros' 2015
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 14 Jul 15 - 03:48 PM

Oh indeed! Great fun to read. Not all browsers of the site leave a message!


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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from 'Dendros' 2015
From: gnu
Date: 15 Jul 15 - 08:22 AM

Ditto maeve. Lovely "ramblings".

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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from 'Dendros' 2015
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 17 Jul 15 - 09:30 AM

Watching for the next entry.

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Subject: RE: BS: Postcard from 'Dendros' 2015
From: michaelr
Date: 17 Jul 15 - 06:25 PM

What island is it then?

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Mudcat time: 16 May 11:57 PM EDT

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