My SymiWillChristmas on Symi 2008 25/12/2008, 21:03

Sun, Sea, Stuffing and The Doctor 25 December 2008

I always drink too much on Christmas Eve night, and stay up too late. As in previous years and other days of the year, it was all Kantirimi Bar's fault. Never mine, of course. Still, I got to say "Hronia Polla" to Christos just after midnight. Name Day's are still a rather difficult idea for me to get to grips with...oh, they're simple enough in principle, but they just seem a bit alien. For most Greeks, one's name day is more important than one's birthday, and all those called Christos get the joy of celebrating on Christmas Day. This isn't as bad as it seems though, as Santa doesn't come to Greece until New Year's least, not for most people...I'm still British enough to expect his visit today. Oh, and he'll also visit next week too. I think the idea of two Christmases a year is why Claudia loves coming to Greece for New Year.

A main result of my Christmas Eve staying-up-late-and-drinking-too-much was that I missed Christmas morning. Claudia woke me up with an excited phone call about what Santa had brought her and was disappointed that I was still in bed at one o'clock in the afternoon. So was I...the sun at Nos doesn't last very late in December, and my Xmas Day swim was awaiting me. It can be a chilly affair with the Xmas Day sun shining, but after it's gone behind the hills...

As you can see from the photos, it was very clear Christos did his usual take-for-ages-to-get-ready jobs, and by the time we'd fed the menagerie it was past two o'clock, and no matter how clear or blue the day, it was too late for sunshine at Nos. Fortunately, the sun lasts at Nimborio a good hour longer.

We reached the monastery of Ai Giorgis with plenty of time to pop inside and light one of those fizzy black things and to fill the air with the delicious scent of incense. Not having a brain that's infected by religion of any kind, I'm quite aware that the "true meaning" of Christmas has nothing to do with Christian myths, but this doesn't mean I'm unhappy with saying "Merry Christmas" rather than the vile "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings"...I grew up calling it Christmas, and it's still a word that sounds magical and exciting. Claudia, telling me earlier that she had refused to go to church with her mum this morning, complained that most of her friends have been dragged along to some service or other and weren't at home when she called to wish them "Merry Christmas". Anyway...

...we walked down the donkey path, and within a few minutes we were sitting on what is left of the beach at Nimborio. A chill wind has been blowing lightly across Symi from Turkey all day, so I sat contemplating swimming. After a quarter of a hour of prevarication, Christos pointed out that I had about 10 minutes before the sun went behind the hill. Chin jutted forward, brow creased in determination, I stripped off...

...and plunged straight in. It was cold and I was out again a minute later, shivering, wrapped in my towel, but proud of myself. Getting dressed, I suddenly realised how hungry I was.

Christmas Dinner is the best meal of the year, and this year was to prove no exception. Back at the house, Christos prepared the chicken, sausages in bacon, and roast potatoes. My first job was to prepare the carrots; thinly sliced and fried in butter, then boiled in chicken stock with brown sugar and loads of chopped dried apricots. When ready, they were put to one side for an hour to allow the apricots to rehydrate. Next job was a cauliflower cheese...plenty of gouda in the sauce, and mustard too...with brown breadcrumbs fried in butter and mixed with more cheese packed tightly on top to make a crispy crust. Lastly, I set about making Paxo...well, sage and onion stuffing. It turned out to be very easy...surprisingly; three onions chopped finely and parboiled, mixed with brown breadcrumbs and a little butter and dried sage, and bound together by adding a beated egg (thank you Mrs Beaton for the recipe.)

I can report that it all tasted wonderful and that the stuffing tasted almost identical to Paxo. There's masses left over to feed us the next few days as well.

It's now late and I'm going to set up a proxy server on my PC to fool the BBC website into believing my computer is in the UK, rather than Greece. I'm then going to watch today's Doctor Who when it comes online at 9pm Symi-time. It'll round off a very pleasant Christmas Day, and I may give myself an early night so I can be up early in the morning. I may just walk to Pedi...
Donkeys, Horio, Bella and Plop 24 December 2008

I woke up this morning officially old. Well, officially older than I was yesterday. A man has to keep his age a secret when he gets over 40...which of course I'm I can say that I turned 37 and you can all believe me. Good. That's out of the way, then.

The first of many phone calls today came from Claudia...she's very excited about what she's getting for Xmas tomorrow from her mum. She upset me mightily by telling me that Santa doesn't exist, and Christos spent the next hour telling me how Claudia's got it all wrong and is just a child, so what would she know. Thank Goodness. you can see, it's a bit windiferous (that means windy, by the way) on Symi today. The "Atlantic" made its way into the harbour for Xmas as we set off up the Sally Carter to Horio. (Note from Christos: Don't call it that Will!) I had my big leather coat, hat, and scarf on. Don't be fooled by photos with any sunshine in's still damn cold here!

A pack of Stamatides (all donkeys on Symi are called's the law) passed us by at the Sally Carter Bar (Note from Christos: I mean it! One more time and Santa won't come tonight!) There's a mass of work going on all over Symi. So many of the ruins are being done up, and I think it's excellent. Symi once had a population of 30,000 people...and maybe one day it will again...and they'll all need to live somewhere.

We wandered the alleys of Horio, bumping into children out singing the Kalanda, and plenty of other people who we exchanged "Kales Giortes" and "Episis" and "Tou Hronou" with. Eventually we ended up at Agia Triada where the houses stop.

There's a special atmosphere up here that I've always liked. Looking across at the Kastro, we decided that we'd go light a candle in memory of a dear person we knew who died on Xmas Eve last year.

Just as we arrived at the church, Claudia called again. This time she'd forgotten her "there's no such thing as Santa" nonsense, and just wanted to say how much she's looking forward to coming to Greece for New Year...and to wheedle some cash out of me for last minute shopping (she's what girls have dads for, after all.)

When we walked back down the Kali Strata (Note from Christos: Well done!), we found Bella, Gap's wee dogette, nosing about in Pitini. She has discovered a way to escape from Gap's yard. Gap says he'll have to go on 24-hour watch as he can't work out how she manages it. I carried Bella back to the yard and, while there, had the bonus of saying "Kala Hristougenna" to Princess Plop Alexia I, aka Ploppy, SymiGreece's first cat mascot two years ago. I can report that she is still beautiful and mad, but is now fat as well. I am pleased for her. She always remembers us when we visit and lets us have a cuddle. Bless her.

It's now much later...all the Xmas Dinner grub has been bought. Gianni at Taxas has given us a very welcome Xmas pressy, and we've picked up those extra bottles of Advocaat from Nikos Wines. It's now time to go to Aris Taverna for dinner...I am craving a plate of salty chips...
Chilly Fingers 23 December 2008

It may well be bright and sunny here, but by heck it's parky! I had one of those can't-stop-my-teeth-chattering moments that stretched beyond moments and ages...until I managed to get inside Kantirimi and have a hot coffee, that is. Poor Christos and I had very chilly fingers taking the photos today...we'll remember to take our gloves with us tomorrow. I am getting increasingly concerned that my Xmas Morning swim will be an icy, genital-shrinking affair. I may have to cover some parts of myself in a thick layer of goose-fat before I take the plunge.

Those residents of Symi that have built-in fur coats seem to be everywhere. Cat numbers on Symi have had a big boost over the summer; with far fewer cats competing for food at the tavernas and bins, there was more for the summer's kittens to eat and so more of them have survived until the Winter months. FAROS will be busy at the (at least) two vet visits that should happen before the summer season gets underway again. Which reminds me...a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to everyone who has donated online to FAROS, or popped coins and notes into one of the collection boxes around Symi in the past 9 months. It would have been very tough to carry on without your help!

I'm planning my Xmas Dinner at the moment. I forgot to bring my sage & onion Paxo with me from the UK...I am sure it is packed full of additives, and that many would turn their noses up at it, but it's one of the yummiest foods ever and the best part of Xmas Din-dins. Unless one of you wants to have a packet of it air-couriered out to me, I shall have to try and make "fresh" stuffing...I am sure it will taste nothing like the genuine article, though.

This evening, we're going to have the first eierpunsch of the season, a yummy hot mixture of Advocaat and sweet white wine (with some whipped cream on top!) We put in a late order for a bottle of Warninks at Nikos Wines, and then hunted around the shelves at To Emporio just in case Foteini is unsuccessful in getting some of the sweet, alcoholic, custardy goodness in time. After Christos had given up the search as hopeless, I persisted and finally found a dusty bottle tucked away behind some Blue looked rather ancient, but we bought it anyway.

This evening, I intend to watch the latest episode of Heroes, and then I will try and persuade Christos to watch the latest Batman pic with me. I suspect it may be tough to drag him away from his computer, though. He has this idea of putting wee icons on the SG main page for the blogs and the daily photos. Can't see that happening, myself...

Xmas Dinner for Fishes 21 December 2008

It's been raining a lot in Symiland. Fortunately, it still does this mostly when I'm sleeping, so I don't need to take my umbrella for the few hours a day when I'm not in bed and decide to haul myself out of the house. Today, I wanted to check on the path down to Nimborio that Christos blogged about last month during its restoration. They covered the path in soil as they worked, and now, after all the rain, I was expecting it to be washed clean. Setting off up the slope behind the house as the sky brightened, the first person we met was Nikos drying his wool in the sunshine.

With the sun on my face it felt quite warm, but such pleasant moments were never long-lived with so many big clouds about. By the time we arrived at the monastery of Ai Giorgis above Nimborio, it had turned grey and chilly. I was pleased to see that I had been right about the path has been washed clean, and the cracks between the stones are already filling up with little green weeds.

Down at the beach, I was disappointed to find most of it gone, with only the section by the road remaining. The same thing happened last year too. I shall have to have my Xmas Day swim back at Nos again as least it's still there.

After saying "Merry Xmas" to Bouboulina (or maybe it was Fifi) who had just finished gardening (the rubber gloves were too big for her), we passed through a chilly Harani to the Roloi.

By the time we got there, the big boat from Piraeus had already gone, though it had disgorged the Xmas dinner for the denizens of Symi's fish farms all over the quayside. Each bag weighed 25kg...there were 50 bags per pallet...and I counted exactly 100 pallets. So that's 125 tons of fish dinner. One of the bags had been damaged and I had a nibble of one of the wee pellets that had spilled out...and very tasty it was too.

Symi Xmas Lights 19 December 2008

It seems to come around so much more quickly as I become ever more wrinkly and decrepid...and knock me over with a feather and call me Bob, it's back again! After spending a few days in Dusseldorf at the very Xmassy Xmas Markets, I've arrived back on Symi to spend my 4th Xmas here...and to write another regularly-updated Xmas-on-Symi blog thing...with photos, videos, tinsel, crackers,...and stuff.

To get the Xmas bauble rolling, have a look at how Symi is lit up these nights...Bah Humbug!

[click photo for larger version]


(8) Comments

  1. brightfuture said on 20/12/2008, 01:16

    Great photos! Nice to see all the lights on. Beautiful reflections in the water too.
    Thank you.

  2. SamanthaF said on 20/12/2008, 02:59

    Well, me and the Mr have been talking and we think we may have ourselves a Symi Christmas next year...

  3. Marianne said on 20/12/2008, 15:39

    Oh it's so beautiful Christos! We hope Kenneth has another job next year and no need for work during xmas (fingers crossed!!) Then we can have ourselves a Symi xmas

  4. Simon said on 20/12/2008, 22:09

    Beautiful Mr C! The first shot looks like symi under a bunch of Mistletoe!...a big kissy to everyone there!..and an extra one for Nondas!

  5. Will said on 21/12/2008, 02:23

    Yes, I agree Simon, Mr C is beautiful. So is that 1st photo.Why is everyone congratulating's MY BLOG!! The photos are all my own work...honest...
    OK, I lied!!!! Christos took 'em. Sigh.

  6. Pekka said on 21/12/2008, 21:16

    Nice to receive some light from Symi misters CW (don't dare to write it other way round). Here some snow how from the darkest day of the year in Finland.

    If you listen carefully you can here Rudolf the Rednose with his slade passing by. (if I succeeded correctly)


  7. Simon said on 24/12/2008, 21:58

    Lovin the rolling update of this blog!...Your a braver man than me Will, i find the water berable in July, let alone xmas day!
    I'l have a packet of paxo dispatched is yummy!

    enjoy your fancy eggnog! x

  8. brightfuture said on 27/12/2008, 16:10

    Lovely to catch up on your Christmas blog. Will, how brave you are to have your swim despite chill winds.


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