Merry May Day, Everyone!

The view from the office balcony just after 8 this morning - the Blue Star Diagoras gliding into Symi. She was not affected by today's strike as she left Piraeus before the strike began and will only return tomorrow, after the strike is over.  

An hour later, enter our old friend, the water ship. When I first came, before the present desalination plant was built, the water ship from Rhodes was a regular sight in both Yialos and Pedi. These days she comes in when the desalination plant cannot cope with demand.  We have not had any rain for a month now and the summer drought has begun. The cisterns and reservoirs are running empty. At the same time the hotels are starting to open and need to be able to fill their cisterns and there is increasing pressure on the island's water supplies, hence the water ship.

Touching up the paintwork in the back streets of Yialos.

The elegant entrance to the churchyard of St John's at the back of Yialos.  There is a junior school, the Petrideon, at the back of the church and that is where the little girls are heading.

Cleaning awnings, Symi-style.  The blue steps in the corner mark the start of the Kali Strata, the famous steps connecting Yialos with Chorio, the old upper town.

One of my neighbours is experimenting with rigging his boat to save fuel.  As he cannot afford proper sailcloth, this is made of plastic tablecloth fabric.  The pattern is a mixture of geometrics and tulips reminiscent of the 1960s so it may well come from a trunk or attic. The sad thing is that under Greek tax legislation he will pay as much per annum for his much-loved and largely homemade little boat, with its plastic table cloth sail, as someone with an equivalent size Sunseeker or Riva as the only criterion looked at is length over all.

Nobody talks about olive blossom.  It doesn't get the same attention as the more showy almond and cherry blossom and no one enthuses over it like apple blossom.  It doesn't feature on postcards and Instagram.  Poets don't write about it and no one names things after it.  The truth of the matter is that olive trees blossom copiously and all the olive trees on Symi are covered in a haze of tiny creamy-greenish flowers.  

The cyclamens are long gone but the pink bindweed is taking over, tumbling out of rock faces and up fences in an early morning show of cheerful pink.  The flowers burn off in the heat of the day and a new flush opens each morning.

Making the most of the last of the daisies on the Kali Strata.

The poppies are feeling the heat and it is only a leaky pipe that is keeping this clump going.

Growing in a gutter in Lieni, watered by the outflow of the washing machine from the house above.  It is amazing what can survive on a diet of grey water when the rain is over.

The gypsy hawkers do the rounds of the islands, selling their wares. This wonderful display of garden plants arrived on Wednesday and will no doubt leave on the Blue Star tonight.
May Day, Protomai, the first of May, is a holiday in Greece.  It marks the beginning of summer and is celebrated with flowers and wreaths.  As I was walking down to work early this morning many of the local housewives and their daughters were heading into the valley and up the mountain to see what they could find to make the traditional May Day posies and wreaths for the their doors.

This evening there is the annual Koukoumas celebration. This is a traditional event that takes place at Agios Thannasis church in Chorio every year in early May and is organised by the Symi Women's Association.  The local girls perform a ritual dance in traditional costume that is supposed to enable them to foresee their future husbands.  It is a joyful event with a lot of dancing and music and goes on for about an hour. The music can usually be heard all round Chorio and the Pedi valley so if you are on the island and unsure of the way, just follow the music!

Tomorrow evening there is more dancing in the form of the annual concert of the Rhiannon Wheeler Dance School at the Opera House Hotel conference centre in Yialos.  Rhiannon teaches local children (and enthusiastic adults) everything from ballet and tap to jazz through the winter months and then they have a concert before the season starts to show off what they have learned.  Once the tourist season starts everyone is too busy for personal stuff and dance classes become something to look forward to again in the autumn.

The first cruise ship of the season came through for a few hours on Wednesday evening.  As it was of modest size it was able to come alongside at the clock tower.  When bigger ones, the sort that dock in Rhodes, come to Symi they have to lie to anchor off Nimborio and bring guests ashore in small boats. It is rare for cruise ships to spend the night on Symi. They just stop off for 2-3 hours so that passengers can have a stroll around the waterfront and investigate Symi's many small shops and boutiques. Sometimes people who have seen Symi from a cruise ship come back for a longer stay so it is a good way of promoting the island.

Have a good weekend.


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About this Blog

I sailed into Panormitis Bay, Symi, by chance one windy July day in 1993 and have been here ever since. The locals tell me that this is one of the miracles of St Michael of Panormitis. A BA graduate with majors in English, Philosophy and Classical Civilisation, the idea of living in what is to all intents and purposes an archaeological site appeals to me. Not as small as Kastellorizo, not as touristy as Rhodes, Symi is just the right size. I live on a small holding which my husband and I have reclaimed from a ruin of over-grazing and neglect and turned into a small oasis over the course of the past 22 years. I also work part-time for Symi Visitor Accommodation, helping independent travellers discover and enjoy Symi's simple pleasures for themselves.

This page is kindly sponsored by Wendy Wilcox, Symi Visitor Accommodation.

Adriana Shum

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