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The Social Whirl

December 15, 2011

Since returning from the UK, I have been back on board “Rampage” for nearly four weeks and the time has just flown by.  We set off for UK next Saturday so it is time for a catch up on life in Messolonghi marina.

Well, it is quite a busy social whirl here.  Aside from anything else there are several regular weekly events:

Sunday lunchtime, most of the liveaboards gather for a communal barbecue.  Russell, of whom more later, has been organising this for at least a year, buying charcoal and supplying a number of dilapidated, old deck chairs although most people bring their own, along with meat, something to drink, plates etc plus a dish to share.  It is really good fun, the salads and puddings have been delicious and it’s a chance for everyone to get together.  It usually means that you have to write off the rest of Sunday, as after a large lunch and plenty to drink, no-one ever feels like going back to do any jobs!

Sunday Barbeque - mid November!

Monday evening is usually games night in the marina bar.  Those that wish come along with cards, backgammon, scrabble, rumikub etc.  When I returned from UK Duncan was full of enthusiasm for a new game called  Quiddler to which he’d been introduced in my absence.  This is a cross between a card game and scrabble and has now made an appearance on his Amazon wishlist – so much did he enjoy it.  I was not much use when I first tried to play but am gradually beginning to get the hang of it.  (This is just as well as far as D is concerned as I am a very poor loser and am inclined to sulk.  It’s not that I have to win all the time, you understand, but it is very disheartening to lose consistently!)

On Tuesday mornings, at my suggestion, we now have a Ladies’ Coffee Morning; we used to have coffee mornings in Barcelona which I enjoyed and generally tried to go along.  Russell christened these ones  “Stitch and Bitch” so I decided to live up to this and took my knitting along as I have a fairly large knitting project on the go and time is starting to run short if it’s to be ready for Christmas.  Indeed my knitting has started to go with me where-ever I go – not that I am in any way eccentric these days!

Tuesday night is music night as mentioned in a previous blog.  I’ve been amazed to discover just how many cruisers have a guitar on board and it has been great to get together and both listen to them play and also try to sing along to some of the better known songs – thanks to songsheets produced by our friends, Lee and Joan.  A group of the men, including Lee, have got together to form an informal band, calling themselves – inevitably I suppose – The Messi Men.  They gather on the back of Lee’s boat, “Wishbone” several afternoons a week to practice new tunes.  Meanwhile next door to us aboard “Scotia”, Hugh and Brenda also practice through the week and it’s really nice as we are working or sitting (knitting) in the cockpit to hear them although some of the Scottish lyrics are completely incomprehensible to us ignorant English folk.

On Wednesdays there is a photographic group who meet in the bar (all of our social events apart from the Sunday barbecue are held in the Marina Sunset Bar.)  D & I have not gone along to this as we just feel we are involved in enough already ‘though I am sure our photographs for this blog would probably improve as I know we have much to learn.  Thursdays we also tend to stay away as this is film night and D finds it very difficult to hear because the acoustics in the bar are pretty dreadful.  However, generally speaking, we try to eat fairly early on Fridays so we can be in time for the weekly quiz night.  Personally, I sympathise with those who stay away, refusing to be ritually humiliated but I myself am OK since I am always in a team with the Kipper whose general knowledge is fairly comprehensive so we generally do fairly well and even managed to win one week.  We happened to have formed a team that particular week with a Dutch lady called Marionne and a Greek friend of hers, Lilian.  Our reward for winning was a bottle of wine, presented by Mimis, the bar owner, plus the honour of devising the quiz for the following week.  We shared out this labour, with Lilian and Marionne coming up with some of the questions and we then got together aboard Marionne and Wim’s huge catamaran for a final planning session.

The Tuesday coffee mornings originally came about because we wanted to get together to plan a farewell party for Russell – mentioned above.  Russell, an elderly Australian reprobrate, has been living aboard boats and wandering the world playing his guitar most of his adult life.  However, he’d made the decision that the time had come to return to Oz and since he has been a key figure among those wintering in Messolonghi we all thought a party was called for.  Someone  had picked up that he was especially partial to Indian food so, while I knitted furiously, the evening was planned.  One Monday evening a couple of weeks ago we all gathered with our various curries and a splendid party was held, the rowdy element even cleared a space among the tables later in the evening to do some dancing!

Delphi with Brenda and Joan

Another day I took two ladies, Joan and Brenda, on a trip to Delphi.  Yes, those of you who are regular readers of our blog will exclaim that this was my third visit to the oracle in less than six months, having gone initially with Andy and Susan and then again later when Jonno was with us.  One of our new friends here, Joan, had asked us how she might get to Delphi from Messolonghi, to which the reply was “by bus, but it’s a long and involved journey.”  Since her husband, Lee, had less than no interest in going with her, my original suggestion was to have a ladies day trip there whilst Maggie was with us.  Maggie, however, had other ideas.  Having already “done” Petra and any number of piles of old rocks the previous week, she made absolutely sure I abandonned any such plan by throwing herself onto the pontoon (see previous blog entitled ???) thus rendering out of the question, any long and inessential car journey in our somewhat minimalist Fiat Siecento.   However, having raised Joan’s expectations regarding a jolly jaunt to Delphi I felt I could hardly let her down, so we invited my neighbour, Brenda, to join us (really 3 adults in that car is quite enough!) and off we went.  D had taken the precaution of replacing a couple of the tyres (a fresh challenge for my knowledge of the Greek tongue) plus the rear windscreen wiper, and thus ready for anything, off we set.  The day was without incident, although I amused Brenda by restricting my photographs to a couple of herself and Joan plus a series of a group of very appealing small kittens that we came upon.  But you have to remember that having been there twice previously I already have any number of photographs of the temple of Apollo etc – frankly more than I need or will probably ever look at again.

Other events in the last month?  Well there have been a number of meals and drinks with friends, a couple evenings of canasta with Pam and Roger, first aboard “Cap d’Or” and then a return match aboard “Rampage”, plus a guided visit to the Garden of Heroes in Messolonghi.  This last was extremely interesting and worth doing since I now have a far better appreciation of the dramatic history of the town, the terrible seiges during the War of Independence and the appalling hardships and self-sacrifice endured by the townspeople.

Another day we were informed by friends that there was an olive oil factory in the nearby village of Agios Thomos where you could go to watch the olive being produced and buy some for a very reasonable sum.  D and I made two visits in the end as the quality of the oil is fanastic and we decided it was worth taking some back to UK to give people as presents.   The sum charged per litre we discovered to be completely arbitary, according to the whim of whoever you happened to speak to on the day of your visit.  We paid two different sums on our two visits (less on the second visit,) and other people, we later learned, were charged a different amount again.  However, even at its most expensive, it was of a better quality and half the price of most olive oil available in the UK.

It don't get no fresher than this - olives to oil at the local oil press

Well, I think this covers most of the highlights of the past month.  In between times there have been a number of winter maintenance jobs completed included a new facia for the binnicle plus several sewing jobs.  These included a special groundsheet-cum- backpack for climbing ropes, made of bright orange ripstop nylon and commissioned by my son during his visit in September.  As his December birthday approached I felt I had to get on with the task and it became the subject of much chat among the Messolonghi Marina community as to the best way to make it.  Having successfully completed the prototype, further commissions – for a small consideration – will now be undertaken on request.

One of the couples over-wintering here this year took the initiative and established a daily radio net for the exchange of news and information, pleas for assistance etc.  Among other things this enabled me to find bright orange sewing thread for the climbing bag mentioned above and a companion to join my Greek classes.  This latter has proved excellent since I now have the pleasure of David’s company on the cycle to and from class, a reduced cost for the lessons and the opportunity to revise some ground I had already covered.  So while for me, the language is slowly starting to make sense, poor David still feels he is drowning as he struggles to get to grips with the Greek alphabet and the appallingly complicated grammar, (even the proper nouns decline – aghhh!)  Our teacher, Yani, is delightful and very enthusiastic and the class invariably runs well over the prescribed hour, for which he never charges extra.  I always feel churlish interrupting him to say we probably ought to finish for the day – sometimes 40 minutes after the official end of the lesson.  However there is only so much I can take in, or attempt to learn before the next lesson so I always feel I have to draw a halt to proceedings.  One day it poured with rain so Duncan drove us to town and arranged to pick us up at 1.15, (the class is officially from 12 to 1pm.)  At 1.25 pm I heard my mobile announce that I had a text message and even then it was another 10 minutes before we were able to extract ourselves, despite explaining that my husband was waiting.

The bread man visits - Pam and J buying the staple of life.

You will have gathered from all of the above that we are thoroughly enjoying life in Messolonghi and we may well spend another winter there next year.  This blog was started before we departed and we are now with my sister in Kent on the first stage of our winter progress around England.  However, the tale of our long trip back here plus all the excitements of Christmas and the New Year celebrations must wait for another time.

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