Wednesday, 21 December 2011

In the wet

I keep making up a cup of coffee with my cup of tea. I  do this a few times when Lin's away - with her mum and dad who she's taken for a biopsy in Sheffield. I've been cycling in the rain, giving Oscar his walk along the canal, taking in some Pantone swatches for Richard to use for computer graphics. We had lunch in town - a steaming soup of wontons, noodles, mushrooms and pak choi, delectable spring rolls, salt squid and rice, and china tea, regularly refilled. Oscar lies quietly in his basket under the awning outside Cafe Soya.
On the street I stay dry and warm. Oscar's got a soft, dense undercoat beneath his wiry surface fur keeping him warm and dry in the wet. This afternoon I raised a veranda of sorts on the shed on our allotment. The site's all mine in this weather, but I'm not alone as people pass along the path through the park, sometimes stopping to chat. I shall cover the plywood of the veranda with roof felt off cuts. It'll be good to have a bit of shelter outside to sit and watch the plot.
In the evening when Lin had still not returned I cycled into town with the box of Pantone Swatches Richard uses for making pictures on screen, Oscar running beside me along the puddled towpath. In the German Market we had bratwurst with crispy bread rolls. I had a mug of mulled cider before heading home the way i'd come.

Lin was back. We'll know the results of her father's biopsy after Christmas. The appointment for 1230 yesterday was delayed until half past six, and then as Lin was preparing to head south this morning the hospital called to ask Lin to bring her dad in to take some photos they needed. "They were all very nice" said Lin "but different people gave us different reasons for the delays." 
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I streamed another of Jack's Old Country films from the 1980s.
"Now here's a piece with a conservation message of a sort. Nothing to do with birds or frogs or wildflowers but a beautiful creature, important in the history of Britain which recently has been very seriously reduced in numbers. Now all the tourists who come from overseas to see the sights of London, a lot of them go to see a statue which is called the Quadriga. It's a statue of Queen Boadicea in her chariot. They buy postcards of it. But Queen Boadicea or Boudicca, as I believe it's now fashionable to pronounce it, never had horses like that. There are four horses in this chariot. It's a - that's why it's called a quadriga - and they're great big roaring giant horses of the sort which were quite unknown in Boudicaa's day. In the days of that queen the horses in England were very small, very tough and very ancient. They'd been here as long as anybody had ever been here. Perhaps they were here before the people."
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In Ano Korakiana we enjoy a wood burning stove which, after getting through one truckload of purchased olive logs, we've fuelled with wood recovered from the side of village paths, the gardens and interiors of long empty houses and driftwood from Corfu's litter-strewn beaches.
On the beach ~ plenty of firewood amid the trash
It entails getting permission, sometimes receiving generous offers as when our neighbours, Effie and Adoni rebuilt their apothiki offering us all its old roof wood - decaying but still excellent for heating.
Wood for me to saw from Effie's and Adoni's garden
With the cost of gas and oil increasing it's clear that wood burning stoves are returning in popularity and with this poaching of wood from Greek forests. Kathimerini reports:
Illegal logging has taken on epidemic proportions since the beginning of December, according to reports on Wednesday from forestry services across the country and the Environment Ministry’s Special Secretariat for Forests. The record-high cost of heating oil coupled with shrinking household budgets and a drop in temperatures have compelled thousands across Greece to switch off their radiators and turn to wood-burning stoves instead, creating a profitable market for wood sellers and importers, as well as illegal loggers who pass off their merchandise as being licensed. Reports suggest that thousands of hectares of forest have suffered serious depletion in Pilio, Xanthi, Kavala and Halkidiki, with illegal logging also taking a chunk, albeit a smaller one, out of the woodlands of Foloi in the prefecture of Ileia and Aghios Christoforos near Agrinio, while forest rangers in Strofilia in Achaia claim to have been attacked by a group of illegal loggers when they tried to stop them. The problem is also acute at the Kotychi-Strofylia Reserve in the western Peloponnese -- whose lagoon and forest are protected under the Ramsar Convention -- where there have also been reports of widespread poaching. Forestry authorities, however, admit to being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the phenomenon,
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In Thessaloniki English citizen journalist Teacher Dude sees Greeks hanging electricity bills containing the new property tax on a public Christmas tree:
Richard Pine's morose grim letter from Greece for The Irish Times 23 Dec'11:
Politics is in complete disarray as people brace themselves for at least a decade of hardship and misery arising from a much-needed bailout. Two inescapable facts emerge from the new political scenario in Greece. First, that Greece was, is and will remain bankrupt – socially and morally as well as financially. The figures don’t add up. They add down. Few people in the street believe that the new “government of national unity” can do anything about it. Second, the structure of politics has fallen apart, with a massive question mark over the future of the two major parties, Pasok and New Democracy (ND) – Pasok because, under former prime minister George Papandreou, it failed to solve the crisis; ND because it caused it. It’s being widely bruited that austerity, even with a 50% 'haircut 's Greek debt, will not cure the long-term ills of Greece, and will do severe harm to individuals and business in the meantime. This is a fact of life which bewilders Greeks because they can see no way out of the impasse....
Richard ends his piece with a quote from Michael Lewis who is referring to southern European nations and Ireland as a new 'third world': “The Irish have a greater talent for suffering. If you imposed on the Greeks what the Irish have imposed on the Irish population, people would be getting shot.”

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