Party of the gods

If thunder and lightning is your thing, I can recommend no better spot than Vassiliki. I rather think that rascally pair, Eric the Wind God and his old mucker Zeus, have rather enjoyed this week’s humdingers, judging by the way they were throwing our balcony furniture around. What with that and the rattling shutters, all that flashing and strobing, and the pool chairs dancing round on the tiles below, that was quite a party up there. Few too many scoops of the old ambrosia, methinks (and I’m not talking creamed rice here, folks).

Now the sun’s finally fought its way back, the day before we fly home, I hope their heads are as sore as ours were on Wednesday, the morning after Georgiou’s delivery of yet another unsolicited half litre, just as we were about to leave.

Just saying ‘no’ – in more ways than we ever thought possible – doesn’t seem to work. Trust me we’ve tried. And where the surreptitious feeding of the various local cats is fine for surplus nuggets of food, I’m not sure they’d thank us for a dousing of pink wine. Thank the gods we’ve added that yogic back-from-the-taverna-outside-a-litre-of-wine thing to our routine.

Brollies down, hoods up

And – speaking of Georgiou – as we suspected, those fancy harbour-side brollies do little to protect diners during heavy rain. Which means the majority have to down parasols, batten down the hatches and shut up shop.

You have to feel for these restauranteurs. It’s a hard life – busy, busy, busy, till late into every day, all through the summer season. They have to be. (In the winter they mainly sleep, says Georgiou).

Already strung up by their government’s insistence that they now not only have to rent the same pavement spaces they’ve worked for years, free of charge, and stump up €1200+ for each fancy brolly, now they’re unable to work if it rains. (And when it rains here, boy does it rain!) And who’d risk watching a €1200 investment taking flight across the bay with old Eric?

Further round the harbour front, the less exposed Penguins, run by the equally generous Gary and Mary, managed to stay open during torrential rain, although not everyone had the entirely pleasant dining experience they’d perhaps hoped for. The outer lips of those tricky brollies also act as handy overhead reservoirs, quietly storing up icy water. Which, sooner or later, disgorges itself onto the unsuspecting bod below.


…and then the earth moved

We’ve had an earthquake too. Yup. The earth moved. There I was, deeply absorbed in my bloggy jottings on the iPad, when this really heavy-footed oaf walked behind me. Except, glancing up from the screen, not an oaf in sight. I glance to my right, where the Gremlin was similarly deeply absorbed by his recent birthday pressie, a copy of The Round, by Steve Chilton, about all those nutters (I use the term affectionately), who have run the 42 peaks of the Bob Graham Round in 24 hours. The book, I’m told (if you’ll forgive the slight diversion), is a little repetitive and numbers-heavy – even for a BGR nerd – with a notable absence of some of our mates who we believe should be in there with the best of them. He’s persisting with it, nevertheless.

Anyway, he too felt the heavy-footed oaf. A short time later, the oaf was back, a little more tip-toe-y this time.

Turns out it was 2.5 in magnitude, at a depth of two kilometres. No reports of any consequences too dramatic, unlike November, when the whole island of Levkas was said to have shifted 36cm to the south as a result of an earthquake. Measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale, the aftershocks continued to reverberate for some days.

That quake originated in the Ionian sea, some 280 kilometres (175 miles) west of Athens. In Vassiliki, cracks appeared around the harbour area and debris tumbled across the roads. Sadly, two people lost their lives, one (I’m told) an older lady in the village who’d popped out to check on her animals. She was struck by a falling rock. Had she stayed in her home, she may well still be here.

There’s little evidence of all that chaos now, save for the odd newly-constructed wall, neat and crisply pointed in stark contrast to its older, more typically decrepit neighbours.

So easy to forget, when we come to this beautiful place – to lie in the sun, meditate on a yoga mat, surf the waves – how vulnerable we are to the whim of those gods. I’ve heard it said that earthquakes and thunder and lightning storms frequently go hand in hand. Poseidon, brother to the thundery Zeus, rules not just the sea but also earthquakes. Reckon he likes a good party too.

Back to reality

Home tomorrow and, doubtless, normal service will resume. Already, concerns about what’s happening at home begin to seep back into the consciousness. It seems the field across the way – Strawberry Swamp as we’ve now dubbed it – is once more a quagmire. And once again, Mr Story’s diggers are busy shovelling more soil on top. And so it continues…

But, picking up my mountain rescue cap, I read this morning that BT are planning to remove the payphone at Seathwaite in Borrowdale because ‘it has had very little use over a significant period of time’.

The phone lies on the route to Scafell Pike via Styhead Tarn and the Corridor Route, and sits in the shadow of Base Brown and Glaramara in the valley lying south-west of Rosthwaite.

Keswick Mountain Rescue Team, one of the busiest in the Lake District, covers the area around Seathwaite and responds to frequent calls for help from walkers and others in distress in the area. They have called for walkers and climbers to visit the Allerdale planning portal to register their objections.

‘Although this phone box may get little day to day use in this age of mobile phones. It has been, and still is a real lifeline during emergencies. There is no phone reception on any network at the head of the valley and so it remains the only public form of communication to the police and mountain rescue.’

Suddenly, the clock turns backwards, to those days long before every pocket, every handbag, every rucksack, harboured at least one mobile phone. When all you could do if your mate had an accident was leg it back down the mountain to the nearest farmhouse or inn and hope there was someone around with a telephone line installed.
If you feel that this is an emergency asset worth keeping, check out the Allerdale website and press the button to comment on the application. You might just help save a life.

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