Category Archives: People

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.

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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.

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8 Deadly Miles

We went with a group of friends to Skala Sikaminias, north Lesvos, 8 miles from Turkey, a ride out with fellow bikers, for a spot of lunch. This is what we saw.

In less than 3 hours more than 24 small inflatable boats, all overloaded, filled with men, women, children, infants. Many with poor quality lifejackets or inflatable vests. They had risked the 8 miles of open sea, across a shipping lane, in what on that day was good weather, with equipment not fit for purpose.

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We saw one boat get into difficulty. The outboard failed. Fortunately close enough to shore to be seen and fortunately the wind assisted in helping them. A small boat went out from the village and helped, got people closer to shore.  A human chain formed.  All got safely to land.

We saw another boat get into difficulty on rocks, people dashed out to help.

We saw a boat being piloted into the small harbour by a fisherman in his boat.

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We saw those on shore help their fellow human beings reach safety.

We saw the villagers of a small fishing port, dependent on the sea and tourism doing what they can. But frustrated. How do the occupants of a village with less than a few hundred people cope with this? How do they keep the cafes and tavernas open, how do they make a living? But, they helped, even if only to get people to the shore and on their way to Mitilini, not one said build a fence, not one said send them back. Their view was, we will help, we will do what we can, but we need help as well.

A reporter their asked us if as tourists we were distressed. We said no, not as tourists. Yes, distressed as human beings. The reporter saw something more interesting so we were saved more questions.

We saw men, women and children. Ashore, smiling, happy faces. No doubt relieved to have made the incredibly dangerous and expensive trip across 8 miles of open sea. Relieved to have reached the EU, to perceived safety, to a perceived chance to build a new life and not be dependent on charity. To have escaped whatever they are running from.

There was incongruity about it all. The tiny fishing village with more people arriving in three hours than the entire population of the village, and knowing this happens day after day, week after week, month after month. Our hugely expensive toys, Harleys mostly, gear left on saddles, draped over bars, people passing through with their entire worldly possessions in a small backpack, looking, pointing, smiling.

We give to charity, money, clothes and stuff. We asked a volunteer worker there what more we could do to help. He said this. He said, no matter what we do, people will come, people will try to reach Europe. He said to go back and tell your government to open the borders and let people pass.

Winter is coming, the storms will come, the sea will become far more dangerous. And yet, if we do nothing, people will still try to come, the body count will rapidly rise.  Opening the borders is not a perfect solution, it is not going to solve a crisis.  It will do one thing and one thing only, the most important thing, it will save lives.

So please, if you read this, if you value human lives, go to your government, tell your government to open the borders, to let people pass.

After a long gap…

Camels2015R That would definitely be my picture of the month for January!

I am really not sure why we have gone so quiet.  February seemed to disappear down the back of the sofa.  We didn’t do much except try to get out to the shops between showers of rain.  I guess it’s winter.  We did mean to get away this year but an unexpected trip to London in December meant that, by the time we got round to looking at possibilities, everything was either rainy or too expensive.

We have just got back from a more scheduled trip to see family in the UK and friends in Ireland.  But, whilst we work out what to do with the blog and process more photographs, here are some of the camel wrestling in Selçuk back on the third Sunday of January.  It was a glorious sunny day – quite warm – and the crowds were out and cooking, eating, drinking, playing music and dancing on the tables.  The photos, sadly, lack the sounds and smells which are very much a part of the experience.  We hope they convey some of the atmosphere.

Travel Complications

birthday-61bIt’s been some time since our last post but, in our defence, we have been on a longish roadtrip.  One that very nearly did not happen.

We had a ferry booked from Chios to Kavala and we booked a ferry from Çeşme to Chios, leaving ourselves a few hours for a meal on the harbour side.  As the ferry was scheduled to get into Kavala in the early evening, we booked ourselves a hotel in Kavala.  Everything was in place.

Only it did not work out that way.  The first hitch was when the Greek ferry agent contacted us to say that our ferry to Kavala would be 23 hours later than anticipated.  No major deal.  We unbooked and rebooked the Kavala hotel (for the next night) and unbooked and rebooked the ferry to Chios.  Then we went to the beach.

On our return from the beach the bike decided it had never heard of this thing called electricity.  Well, it did have a spark occasionally, but there was no way it was going to start.  Next morning we phoned the Harley dealership in Izmir.  They came out and picked up the bike.  It turned out to be a fault in the insulation of the negative cable from the battery.  The recovery cost us more than the repair.  Whilst the bike was in the workshop they checked it over thoroughly.

There are worse places to be stuck...

There are worse places to be stuck…

So, the day after that we headed for Çeşme.  It was windy.  Well, it is always windy in Çeşme, but it was notably more windy than usual (though not as windy as it was the time we took the ferry in December).  And our ferry to Chios got cancelled.  Apparently due to weather.

We booked ourselves into a rather nice hotel overnight, then off to the ferry agents who felt that we would be able to recoup some of the money we spent on the Kavala ferry.  Meanwhile our ferry to Kavala sailed off merrily at 11 p.m. from Chios whilst we were enjoying an after dinner beer in Çeşme.

Next morning we finally got the ferry to Chios where we were able to exchange our tickets to Kavala for tickets to Thessaloniki for the extra 18 euro that the trip cost for both of us, a cabin and a bike.

The good thing about the delay was that we got to hang out with the Chopper Riders of Chios.  Drinks on Saturday night and a ride out to a blue flag beach (and amazing, huge lunch which lasted us for days) on the Sunday.  And…. finally we caught the Thessaloniki ferry.

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We will have lots to say about the trip itself (though we didn’t get to Bulgaria, again due to weather).  The trip was wonderful and we saw many amazing places in Northern Greece.  We just need to process the photos….

Road Tales

Of course no road trip would be complete without a story about the road. After a day walking in the local area we decided it would be good to jump on the bike. Initially to Geyik Canyon. We had a short walk in the area, but access to the canyon seemed to be closed off. A pity, but it was a lovely ride to get there, some great scenery which Hilary got to enjoy more than me given the variable road surface.

Back to the highway and for some reason the indicators stopped working, along with the tacho, speedo, and dashboard apart from a red ignition light warning. Damn I thought, looks like a fuse has just blown, well either than or an ignition circuit error. I thought about it for a while as we headed around Lake Köyceğiz, concluded not an ignition circuit error, so probably fuse. Best sense got hold me of me, I knew we were low on fuel, but how low I had no idea and the dead controls were not going to tell me. So we called off going to Kaunos and headed  instead to Köyceğiz with a plan to find an auto electrician.

In Köyceğiz the problem became a lot more clear. A quick inspection and we found broken wires hanging from the tail light assembly. The wiring that runs under the rear fender to the rear lights had clearly detached from its mounting and been torn apart by contact with the rear tire. So, off to the Sanayi we went in search of a repair. We found the auto electrician, he was not sure how to access the wiring so everything moved to a motorcycle repair place.

How-many-menThey had never seen a Harley before, but this was not a problem, off came the saddle and the rear fender. This prompted some questions about the not strictly speaking legal efi unit and further questions about the air intake / filter and exhaust. Clearly they understood this sort of thing, very much reassuring me they knew exactly what they were doing.  To add to the fun and games, numerous photographs were taken and friends were called to take more.  From somewhere a printout of the entire wiring diagram for a Softail appeared, not strictly speaking needed mending-the-bikebecause they could just bridge each wire.  Instead armed with this, the entire rear assembly was rewired with a new cable running to beneath the saddle, one new junction box, and plugged back into the main loom. One thing I am very sure of is that the new assembly will stay clear of the wheel, that amount of epoxy is never going to fail!!!

Rewired, one quick test proved the earlier failure had indeed taken out a fuse as well.  None of us were surprised by this. New fuse fitted, everything worked.

Two hours from start to finish and we were back on our way.  Kaunos can wait, we have been there before, it is a lovely site.  No doubt we will be back in the area laer this year.

On the bike. It is 9 years old. 6 years of Istanbul winters, so rain, snow, ice, salt and grit, much like the UK.  Motorcycle wiring is more exposed, so this sort of thing is expected, as was the need to replace ignition coils a year back and more recently due to the old coils, the battery. But as this stuff gets fixed life gets better. We’ve had the bike just over 2 years, we’ve done close to 24,000 KM on it, plus the 28,000 KM it had on it from the previous 7.  It is doing just fine.

At Notion the land has healed

Notion-theatre-April-14It was raining much of last week but the week before was largely glorious and, on Monday, we returned to Notion with friends.  The trenches from digging that we saw back in January had healed over and we did see some salep orchids growing.  Probably there would have been more if they hadn’t been dug up.  There were huge quantities of wild thyme and oreganon and  a large variety of grasshoppers.

Later we went for lunch at Ozdere followed by a visit to Claros on the way home.  A great day out in good company and wonderful sunshine.

 

Camel Wrestling – Fun in the Sun

Last year it was cold, the ground muddy.  I remember my feet getting freezing cold, but at least it was not raining.  This year Selçuk Camel Wrestling Festival took place in glorious warm sunshine, unseasonably warm perhaps but we are not complaining and neither were the large crowds out for having a good time.  A good time seemed to include drinking vast amounts of rakı, outdoor cooking, gambling, dancing and music.  It was all very loud, colourful, entertaining, chaotic, good natured, and great fun.

It is almost impossible to convey the sights, sounds and smells of camel wrestling in words.  The cheering is very loud, the music louder, the commentary often barely audible.  The smells of camels, barbeques (both commercial and personal), rakı and people packed tightly together.