Sunday, 2 August 2015

Another Mrs. Taylor

Elliot and Tamsin were married this week in Brighton. Great day, wonderful service, terrific reception and even the weather turned bright and sunny for the occasion.

Simon (best man), Elliot, Tamsin and Maddy (bridesmaid)
Elliot and Tamsin in a shower of bubbles.
Chloe, before the ceremony
Abbi and Sebastian with bubble machine.
And off they go.....

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Deal or No Deal?

The Greek and EU flag flying together - but for how long?
So, after 17 hours of acrimonious talks, bitter disagreements and threats of a walk-out a deal has been done. Of course it won’t last. It’s a classic EU cobble together – more compromised than an MP passing off a duck house on expenses.

Greek PM Tsipras tells his country’s parliament he does not support a word of what’s he’s sign up to but urges them to vote it through anyway. The IMF says the plan stands no chance of working.  It’s obvious to all that this ‘rescue’ is doomed.

You only have to spend a little time in Greece to understand why this pack of cards will topple. You may wish to blame ‘Joker’ Tsipras – and certainly he has to bear a lot of the blame promising the Greek people things he had not the slightest chance of being able to deliver. Chancellor Merkel does not emerge too well either – she’s trumped Tsipras several times, was stung by his snap referendum and has responded by kicking him in the two of spades. France’s President Hollande was desperate to save Greece’s finances – mainly because French banks have heavy investments in Greek banks.

But, aside from all the high-level politicizing it’s the ordinary Greek folk one feels sorry for. As we sail the Greek islands we encounter three sorts of Greeks. There are the hard-working people running a small business and doing their best to make a success of it. Some work incredibly long hours, put heart and soul into their business and deserve to succeed. Then there’s the lazy buggers who don’t really care, spend their time sitting on chairs putting Greece and the world to rights. The third layer is the ‘officials’ – part of the over-bloated bureaucracy who have jobs with no apparent point. Many of the Port Police fall into this category – it’s all part of a massively overstaffed public sector.

There is, though, a common thread. Tax. Wherever you go, whatever you buy, whenever you pay you encounter the tax evaders. Tax evasion in Greece is on an industrial scale. They don’t regard it as wrong – it’s just what you do. We hear tales of lawyers producing two sets of accounts for land purchase – one a record of what actually happened and another for the tax office. If fraud is so ingrained in the legal system what chance this side of a couple of generations of changing the culture such that tax evasion is regarded as a crime and not a way of life. If the Greeks won’t pay their taxes why should the rest of the eurozone’s taxpayers step into make up the shortfall?

As I write the Greek parliament is sitting and debating whether to accept or reject Tsipras’s eurozone deal. It’s unclear whether they will or will not. Either way it does not really matter, mark my words, it will all unravel in a most spectacular way. Thank God we didn’t sign up to this particular euro club.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015


A corner of the garden with the barn in the background

Oh the joys of being back at home. The dishwasher, the washing machine, putting paper down the loo, standing under a shower for as long as you want, no slapping halyards for miles, no anchor watches and full English breakfast with real bacon and sausages. Yes, but even so we do miss the boat.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Greek crisis solved

Italian police have today seized assets worth €1.6 billion from a mafia family in Sicily. By a stroke of luck €1.6 billion is exactly how much Greece owed the IMF. The solution to the Greek crisis is at hand. Give the Greeks the €1.6 billion seized from the mafia.  Simples.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Clear as mud

So, what would you do?

This sign greeted us as we tied up on Big Vathy quayside. I read it several times. The Italian in the boat next to us read it several times, was puzzled and then explained it to his crew. His English was obviously better than mine because I still have no idea what it means.

Jo summed it up; ‘This is Greece” she said, “So whatever it means no one will take any notice anyway.” She has a point.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Referendum. What referendum?

Firstly, news that Jo has recovered - nasty 24-hour bug.

Big Vathy - actually it’s called just Vathy but there’s also a Vathy on another, smaller, island. Hence the name.
We are anchored off Big Vathy, the ‘capital’ of Ithaca. We have been here two days now. The tavernas are open, there are no queues at the ATMs which appear to be dispensing cash, there is food in the supermarkets, fuel at the filling stations and the pharmacies are well stocked. There is not one single political poster visible anywhere – the only way you’d know there was what is possibly the most important vote in a generation in Greece is to watch the TV news or buy a paper – neither of which we do, nor, indeed do any of the other visitors to this Ionian island. It will be interesting tomorrow to see if Greek ‘Polling Station’ signs appear. Maybe the philosophy in this tourism-dependent area is to keep the crisis very low-key – do nothing to scare the visitors.

There is some evidence that visitor numbers are down – there are certainly more tables at the tavernas than visitors to occupy them. But in all other respects it looks like business as usual. However, I have to say if I were a German visiting I’d be cautious about flying my national flag – whichever way the Greeks vote tomorrow.

Friday, 3 July 2015

3rd. July - Hell in Hellas

Happy on the helm.

Jo has been zapped. Yesterday evening she was feeling a bit ‘off’. We had a great evening and meal with David and Jan (Lucinda Jane) and John and Lori (Cantski) but she felt decidedly squiffy by the time we got back on board. It was not long before stomach pains struck. There seemed little doubt that she had food poisoning – a quick check of the NHS Symptoms website seemed to confirm the diagnosis.

This morning the local pharmacist prescribed some de-hydration sachets (pronounced awful by Jo) and the Greek version of Imodium. She is now resting and hoping time will heal. I’m just hoping the forecast force 5 blowing straight into the harbour this evening will rock her to sleep and not induce less desirable side effects.