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Moving Forward

What with various major life events involving unplanned trips to the UK and all manner of running around and life stress this blog and many other things got neglected.  Slowly we are getting our feet back on the ground even though we are back off to the UK fairly soon for amongst other things another bout of running around in what at times feels like a headless chicken.

Through all of this, and the moving back and forth between Selçuk and Παρακοιλα we have been crazy busy.  This now needs to stop, apart from anything else life in the Aegean through July and August is a time to slow down and relax.  Anything strenuous can wait until the heat of summer starts to subside.

In Παρακοιλα we now have the kitchen done, lovely custom hand made units, marble worktops, and German appliances.  We have also done all the essential repairs, got the electrics corrected (there was some crazy old wiring), the plumbing sorted, a garden that is ticking over nicely and external woodwork repaired as best as possible.   The rest can wait, apart from anything else the bank accounts need to recover.

In Selçuk we don’t need to do any of this stuff, it is all done, though we do need to have some inexpensive repairs done to the solar system.  Plus Ashley needs to go back to the cardiologist in İzmir for a follow up.  More on this and a bionic cardiac artery might be a subject for a future piece.

We have been asked on numerous occasions in both Selçuk and Παρακοιλα about our long term plans and to a lesser extent the why behind them.  So to set the record straight.
Are we planning to move permanently to Παρακοιλα? – No. We intend to spend time in both homes.  We might spend more of the summer months in Παρακοιλα and more of the winter in Selçuk but this is yet to be decided.  We envisage it will be a roughly 50/50 thing.
As to why, well there are a few forces in play.  The main one is our desire to protect and maintain our status as European citizens which is now largely (in so far as is possible) achieved.  The rest is as they say, “not my circus not my monkeys”.

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A new roof and a lick of paint

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Once again we had ‘drama’ getting over to our home on Lesvos.  We had booked to go on 14th October.  But, due a row between Greece and Turkey, all ferries with Turkish flags were due to be banned from travelling to Greek Island ports until 12th.  As it turned out, this came to very little –  the authorities came to an arrangement.  But, having engaged the roofers, we felt it was wise to change our ferry and sailed out on 11th instead.

As you can see, a new roof was needed.  We had four men on the roof for a week.  They took off all the old tiles and boards, repaired the rafters that needed repairing and replaced those that couldn’t be fixed.  Put on new boards, added insulation, raised the concrete base to accommodate the insulation and put on new tiles.  A lot of work.  We had been dreading the cost and, whilst it was not cheap, it was very, very reasonable.

Whilst we were there, our good friend came over from Chios and introduced us to another friend, originally from Thessaloniki but living in Kalloni.  We took the bikes for a run to a village on top of a mountain which has a very good (and traditional) restaurant – very popular for Sunday lunch.

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Apart from the roofing, we cleared a huge patch of the upper terrace in the garden and the front garden.  We put a few plants in the front (herbs and lavender which may or may not survive).  The interior doors were rather nasty untreated hardboard.  We made a decision to paint them a rather attractive shade of blue…  Well, we think it’s attractive.

Painting-the-house

We also had the air conditioning unit moved from above the front door (where it nicely cooled the hall but nothing else) into the sitting room.

On our last day we found the new supermarket in the village.  Not sure yet how far this will save us from daily trips into Kaloni on the bike.

In which we replace the solar system

We went back to Parakila right at the end of August.  We wanted to be away for Kurban Bayram so we booked ourselves onto the vehicle ferry from Ayvalik on a midweek evening before the holiday was due to start.  Well, that was not to be.  First the government extended the national holiday to start before the religious holiday, then the ferry company phoned us to say that the ferry would be leaving in the morning, meaning that we had to travel to Ayvalik the night before and book into a hotel.  No major issue and the huge crowds were marshaled through Greek immigration with great efficiency.

We let ourselves in, unpacked a whole load of tools and other things and were delighted to get out onto our own balcony in Parakila and were happily discussing our plans for our two week stay when we noticed a drip coming from…. somewhere on the roof.  Ashley briefly inspected it and concluded that we needed a plumber.  What to do?  Well, we headed for the town square, bought ourselves a delicious homemade lemonade each and asked if anyone knew a plumber.  A plumber was phoned and arrived before we’d finished our lemonade.  Hilary was allowed to take hers home as long as she promised to return the glass.

And that is how we met Manos, plumber and husband of the lady who owns the local taverna (he does the home deliveries).  He came home with us, borrowed a ladder and inspected the damage.  Our solar system was badly damaged to the point of being dangerous (the solar tanks there have an immersion heater in them).  He told us that it needed replacement and gave us a price.  Well, three prices for systems of varying quality.  We chose the middle one that had to be ordered from Athens.  Which turned out to be a fairly painless process (except financially as this was an unexpected expense).  A week later he and his assistant were up on our roof, fitting the new system.  Which seems to be perfectly satisfactory.

However, whilst the guys were up on the roof, they noticed a problem.  The roof was distinctly…. sloping where it should not slope.  There was no time to do anything about it that trip, but a roofer was arranged for next time we were out.  This was the cause of some anxiety for us as roofs, as everyone knows, can be very expensive items when they go wrong.

We had a very busy two weeks as it turned out.  All the windows in the house have wooden shutters and those which were exposed to full sun all summer needed some urgent repair and maintenance.  We experimented with various stains and varnishes and Ashley ended up treating all the shutters with polyurethane varnish.  This left them looking very good but we doubt if it helped his tennis elbow.

We got into a bit of a routine and found our way around Kaloni and the delights it has to offer (it’s a small town but it has several supermarkets and DIY/hardware stores including one that came to be known as the man cave).  We went to Plomari which is famous for ouzo, had lunch and bought a bottle for a friend who was going to bring Ashley’s new lens and boots over from the UK.  We lounged around on the terrace and we read.

We got back to Selcuk just in time for our neighbour’s middle son’s wedding.  Which was a lot of fun.  Loud, as Turkish weddings inevitably are, and everyone danced.  The groom is a professional singer and he sang a couple of songs himself which, as he has a wonderful voice, was very much appreciated.  We met up with our friend and Ashley got his boots and his camera.  And the rest of September was spent catching up at home.

 

Waterproofing the Roofing

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January was wet.  Very wet.  There is a flat roof over the bathroom in our back house (our summer house) and it was just bare concrete.  Concrete absorbs water and the concrete absorbed the rain to the extent that the paint started coming off the outside of the house and also off the inside of the bathroom ceiling.

flatroofCNot a pretty sight and potentially quite damaging.

Ashley and Zeki did some research, talked to the guys in the building supply shop and came up with a solution.

The roof has been covered in roofing felt and bitumen.  The walls have been re-plastered and re-painted.  This was two days of solid work (plus another day of painting for Ashley afterwards).  We seem to have got a good result.  February was also wet and we had no leaks.  But, what impressed me most was that they took down the satellite dishes then managed (in the dark) to replace them in such good alignment that Ashley was able to watch the UK premier league football on our TV.  (Picture below is before the roof upgrade)

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In the Freezer

After a couple of nights of freezing weather it has now warmed up.  Enough to tempt us away from the wood stove and to venture outside for anything other than getting more wood from  the wood store.

This is what the weather did.

The bougainvillia will recover and go mad in summer, the geraniums will be cut back and some should come through again.  The aloe is probably gone and are a few others.  The chillis are dead, kind of annoying because they were a non local varieties that do best in their second year.

Fortunately we moved the ficus into full shelter.

 

A Slow Transformation

When we first moved here we wanted a place we could just move into with the minimum of work. What with all the stress of finishing work, leaving the UK, and everything else taking on a construction or renovation project simply was not on our agenda.

What was planned was to upgrade as we went along, and as we had the money to do so. The kitchen was always high on our plans to upgrade.  It started like this.

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The kitchen is now done. It was a two stage process, about 2 years ago part one was done. This was the extractor and the upper cupboards which were hand made to match the lower units. The carpenter did a fantastic job.  So this is the end of stage one.

Davlumbaz-lowered-with-fing Now part two is completed. A somewhat more expensive job given the new hob, oven, sink, taps, and black granite worktops. We spent a lot of time thinking about the worktops, granite or marble to start. Ultimately granite is more durable and far more resistant to lemon juice and other acids. Then came the decision of what granite. The stonemason said it would be impossible to exactly match the existing granite and brought us a catalogue with pictures of different granites we could have. In the end we chose the black and stuck to our decision even when we learned it was a bit more expensive.

Then, a week or so later, came the fitting.

The same carpenter we used 18 months ago came and fitted the unit to house the oven. The stone guys came in the evening, removed the old granite and started to fit the new granite, a task completed the following day. Then the sink was fitted and left unplumbed for the sealant to dry.  So this was the second night we could not cook so had to go out for dinner.  The next day the sink was plumbed and in the early evening the guys came to fit the oven and hob and went away again.  I should have spotted the problem, only one power supply – so eating out again. The next morning an electrician came and fitted a double socket, and later in the day the oven and hob were fitted.

We are sure that other bits will happen, but the big work is now done.  We have the old granite and plan to use it elsewhere. It all took a day longer than we thought, but the quality of work is fantastic and the finished result a vast improvement.

New-Kitchen

 

And now we have cake….