Friday, June 28, 2019

Return to Crete (Part Two)

Continued from previous post:

Also while treating the woodwork I had noticed that the rough beams above two of the windows were so rotten and eaten away a screwdriver went straight through them. I tore them out, measured up, then went to visit two expats here called Tim and Helen. I’d already seen these two while walking (they live in Armeni). They collect up wood all over the place to burn in their stove during the winter and I had noticed some long logs in the woodpile at the bottom of their garden. Tim kindly let me have two of them. I treated and stained these ready to fit them in the holes above the windows. In the UK this would require sand and cement. Cement is no problem here but for sand the rougher version is crushed rock while the equivalent of soft sand is Marmora – crushed marble. I fitted the logs/beams and am very pleased with the result.



The Greeks have been amazed by all this. Woodworking requires a carpenter, painting requires a painter, electrics an electrician and so on. The divisions of labour here are quite distinct. They cannot quite fathom how one man can do all these different jobs, which is sad really.

I’ve only gone through the main jobs above (like the garden). All the time there were other things I needed to do: emptying out plant pots and cleaning out the weed roots and bulbs (I made a riddle out of chicken wire), frequent cleaning because Sahara dust was getting everywhere, setting cuttings of geraniums and other plants, sowing seeds of radish and like, and burning up garden rubbish in the stove (when it was still cool here).



 A few weeks back the essential jobs were winding down and it had become more a case of what an old friend and workmate called ekeing about. Also the weather had warmed up some and I decided it was time to start kayaking. I let Yorgos know by text but the kayak took a few days to arrive. He hadn’t stored it by his house nearby as I had thought but in storage he uses in Ierapetra. Thank you Yorgos.


Despite my hiding in the Cretan mountains my day job began to catch up with me. Bella Pagan – my editor at Macmillan – wanted a synopsis of The Human. I also worked on turning the three Mason’s Rats stories into two stories with a view, hopefully, of them being used in the next two seasons of Tim Miller’s ‘Love, Death and Robots’. Of course all of this doesn’t sound like a day job at all.


While I interspersed my days with kayaking or walking and at other times reluctantly opened up the laptop, I continued with something I had started last time I was here. Behind the house, in the area beside the ‘ruin’ (a little self-contained apartment), I had collected a great load of knackered old chairs. Those reading previous blog posts of mine will know I picked up a strange habit of renovating chairs here. Most of these I decided weren’t worth my efforts because even once renovated there would be nothing special about them. I chopped them into pieces and piled them on a pallet on the roof for later use in the stove. However, one bamboo chair I did think worth the effort and was one I had started on when last here. This I had spotted four years ago while out on the kayak – it had been washed up on the rocks of the coast. Once I returned to Revans in the kayak I headed out in my car and collected it. I had started replacing the binding on the joints but they had fallen apart in the intervening time.

I stripped those off, pulled out nails and repaired broken joints – in one case with an aluminium plate folded round and screwed in place. I treated the wood and set to work on new bindings made out of lengths of the plant broom. The chair once had a woven back and I replaced this with bamboo collected locally. Then stained and varnished the thing with another pleasing final result.






Meanwhile, after seeing a picture of me in Revans Bar and not liking the gut evident under my T-shirt, I had decided to push myself. Instead of doing the Voila walk or kayaking, I decided to do both. In the morning I walked to Voila, I then worked at some other things, then in the afternoon I kayaked. That’s 12k mountain walking and 10k kayaking. Damn I would soon remove the flab! I did do one week of this and in that time dropped 6lbs. However, I’m not 30 anymore and midday jobs usually meandered in a desultory manner until I crashed on the sofa, while my evenings struggled to reach 10pm again. This also started to exacerbate lower back ‘discomfort’ I had been experiencing for a month and which I’d put down to overdoing it in the gym back in the UK. This expanded to bladder pains and the need to urinate and, at the time, I thought I’d not kept myself hydrated enough and my internet diagnosis was that I’d got a bladder infection. I rested, ate more, took antibiotics that seemed to help but their effect might well have been in my mind.

Over time the pains drew back from my bladder and into my back, with occasional shooting pains down my legs. I now suspect the antibiotics were not needed (could be wrong) and that this 58-year-old simply overdid it. I decided to take it easy for a while and stayed in the house just carrying out some light chores. But of course the fact that I hadn’t painted inside nagged at me, and light chores turned into about 30 hours over two days of house painting and cleaning. I also found that the tile glue I had used as plaster in the hall to try and block the damp there had blown and had to chisel it away. I do have an off button, I just haven’t found it yet. Then, with a resurgence of all the symptoms, despite the antibiotics, I really did rest.

Since then, taking it easy, eating better and keeping hydrated, it seems my body has started to catch up with the exercise (the changes do occur during rest). Of course I’ve needed to urinate more, because the volume occupied by my bladder has shrunk (probably exacerbating the effects of an expanded prostate) – muscles have tightened there and grown elsewhere. I can even see muscles on my bloody shins while a couple of leather bracelets I wear have grown noticeably tight. Also (another internet diagnosis) maybe I had 'radiating pain' - back pain that moves about, like into the groin and down the fronts of the legs. Anyway, I’m doing only one exercise session a day now, with breaks whenever required.

Recently the exercise has included swimming because the Cretan winds have hit. One day I headed towards Kalo Nero (clean water is the translation and ‘not now’ was the comment many years ago from the Stelios who sold me my house). When I set out the wind was light and the waves not too bad. During this two and a half hour trip it cut up rough with a combination of waves from the South and wind from the North. I found myself out at sea fighting to get in and at one point wondering if I was going to make it. Another day I headed to Koutsouras. The North wind blew but I stayed close to the coast on the way there – the blasts diverted by mountain valleys and buildings on the coast mostly behind me. Upon my return I rounded the point at the end of a beach called Kalamakinyah straight into the blast and had to push myself to the limit – the kayak travelling at walking pace. When I rounded the next point in towards Makrigialos harbour I thought the ‘pirate ship’ moored there (a tour boat) would shelter me. It didn’t. Sometimes I was travelling backwards, sometimes driven into the rocks. Absolutely knackered I finally grabbed hold of the boat’s mooring rope and hung on. At this point a motor kicked in to tighten the rope and it rose out of my grasp. I then had to paddle like crazy to get in to the beach. I’m now going to be a lot more careful about the damned wind and waves here. I don’t want any more episodes like I’ve had before: abandoning my kayak on a beach and having to walk back in my swimming trunks and ask Kostis in Revans to fetch the thing in his truck or, due to lack of attention seeing at the last moment a big wave heading towards me and surfing me in backwards onto the rocks or, as on a couple of occasions, simply flipping the kayak over.

to be continued. . . 

4 comments:

Geoffrey said...

Great to hear about LD+R, but seriously... you COULD have pushed for Strood! ;-)

Jessie Grey

duncan said...

2 Google suggestions:
1/ Tamsulosin 400 micrograms, for the prostate
2/ Tanking slurry for the damp
Both brill in my experience.

ILTYT_Adventure said...

`I do have an off button, I just haven’t found it yet'. I would stress about that the least of all. It's the silly buggers who have found their off button that need to worry.

Radiating back pain, age, a little disk degradation, a feeling like maybe an insect is walking up your legs or just landed, or as if a feather is being brushed aginst your skin (it's not always pain). I'd just roll with it, as you seem to be doing.

I've taken up Tai Chi I have been truly amazed at how it ties brute muscle and cardiovascular together, it's like the missing link, it will certainly show you, that all those big muscles are pointless when you want to stand on one leg and lean forward without support.

I am glad (for my own reasons) that you have found your way back to Crete. Close the circle, start a new one.

PS: I love, Love Death and Robots.

PPS: Have Netflix commissioned a Polity series yet? Or do I need to send them a strongly worded letter?

PPPS: Break a leg.

Neil said...

Looks like you have made some excellent progress since your return.

I like the mortar work between the stones.

Anyway, what's the internet connectivity like on the island now. The last time I remember you mentioning anything, you had to go down to the bar.