Adriana's Symi
March 2001

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Friday, 30th March 2001

"Tuesday and Wednesday brought strong southerly winds that sent newly painted chairs and tables and bright umbrellas cartwheeling round the harbour. Since then Symi has been engulfed in a thick cloud of pink dust through which the sun can only dimly be discerned. Ships and hydrofoils shimmer across a murky metal sea and the Turkish coast, only a few miles away, is just a vague thickening in the dusty air. It is still strangely warm, despite optimistic forecasts about rain and northerly gales. It may seem odd to those of you out there who are wondering when the rain will ever stop but there are some of us here who are really praying for a wet weekend! As the insect life proliferates in the heat, the spiders are rigging the most fantastic webs to cope with what must, to an arachnid, be the last word in gourmandising. The webs can span several metres and are surprisingly strong. The reptiles are enjoying themselves too. Miniature versions of Tyrannosaurus Rex snap at flies and gleaming blue tailed lizards flash after mosquitoes. The longer I live here, the better I understand how the Ancient Greeks evolved their mythology - Pandora's box, for example! 

As I am writing this, one of the inter island ferries has docked and I have seen the following pass the bridge: a red lorry transporting 8 full grown black cows (fresh beef for the tavernas next week?), a blue lorry stacked with bundles of firewood and bags of charcoal (Easter barbecues), a small green truck piled high with crates of lemons (essential to good Greek cooking) and a lorry load of plastic garden furniture in white, orange and purple ( a sure sign of summer!)"

 

Monday, 26th March 2001

"The first summer heatwave is upon us, even though it is only March. On Friday afternoon we experienced a brisk northerly wind that was bad enough to delay the Symi II ferry's departure from Rhodes by nearly two hours. The wind dropped on Saturday and the thermometer has been climbing steadily ever since. Although temperatures in Rhodes are still in the twenties, Symi has been over thirty for two days now and it looks as though tomorrow will be hotter still. Still no sign of rain either. The sea is the colour of molten lead and the dust haze in the air suggests that, in the unlikely event of rain, it will be of the red variety. The rocks in exposed places are already hot to the touch and a cold shower brings pleasant relief after a day's gardening. 

This time last year we were still in thermal long johns and scarves and the idea that we are now in for the long haul is making everyone who lives here feel slightly hysterical. If only we'd known, the last time we saw clouds, that we wouldn't be seeing anymore until November, we would all have paid them a lot more attention!'

 

Friday, 23rd March 2001

"Greetings from sultry Symi. The Greek Meteorological Office says that unless significant rain falls before the end of March, this will be the driest winter in five years. March temperatures have been as much as 10 degrees above the month's average. While this is great news for those in search of a tan, this is bad news for agriculture. All sorts of plagues and pests are hatching in the heat and there are bulletins on the local television, warning farmers of what to look out for in the orchards and what to spray them. The grass is dying back significantly without setting seed so grass will have to be sown for grazing next winter. Three of my biggest almond trees (full grown, fifteen to twenty year old trees) have already died of drought after two consecutive dry winters on Symi. 

The roadworks (Symi's answer to the first cuckoo in spring) continue apace. The back lanes of Yialos are also being paved with Symi stone. Opinions are divided as to whether it is an improvement or looks too slick for Symi. A new controversy for Feedback to the Mayor?!"

 

Monday, 19th March 2001

"After a glorious weekend, it is fractionally cooler today with a slight breeze. Still no sign of any rain and I shall be watching the Farmers' Weather on Greek television tonight very closely, as will most of the other farmers in Greece. In many areas drought warnings have been issued and there are problems with grazing dying back prematurely without setting seed. This means no daisies for next year! The warm weather has precipitated a plague of aphids at our place. Anybody out there know where I can procure wholesale supplies of ladybirds? 

On the plus side, the various works around the harbour continue uninterrupted by bad weather so there is a possibility that we will be more or less ready for the first excursion boats, scheduled to arrive from Rhodes next week."

 

Friday, 16th March 2001
"Symi is basking in premature summer conditions as a high pressure system continues to dominate the central and western Mediterranean basin. With such sunny windless conditions there is no excuse not to get on with the painting and refurbishing necessary for the forthcoming season. The harbour is humming with the sound of electric sanders and we are all slightly high on paint fumes and thinners. The water is warm enough for the hardier types to enjoy a swim, particularly in the shallows. Still no rain though, and it is only the evening dewfalls that are keeping the wildflowers going. The locals are divided into two camps - those who believe that this is going to be a very long hot dry summer as it has already started, and those who believe that this weather is going to break and give us wet and windy weather (and the deeply cynical among us reckon that if the latter applies, it will probably hit us in April, just as the first visitors arrive.). We shall see."

 

Monday, 12th March 2001
"While everywhere else in Europe if not the planet -seems to be inundated, Symi continues to be warm and sunny. Low cloud hung over the Vigla this morning but it soon burned off and the question of drought is becoming a reality. It is now a good two weeks since Symi had any significant rain and the vegetation is dying back rapidly in the exposed areas. Rain is once again forecast but the last lot fell out at sea, between Pedi and Bosburun on the Turkish coast. Temperatures in the sun at midday are now in the mid twenties abnormally high for the time of year. Mist and heavy dew falls make the evenings very damp and night time temperatures are still quite low. The sea is a shimmering burnished pink early in the morning and there is very little wind to clear the air so visibility is quite poor. Is this going to be Symi's longest summer ever? Watch this space!"

 

Friday, 9th March 2001

"The weather system that caused floods in the Ukraine and Hungary had rained itself out by the time it reached us so, apart from a slight drop in temperature (just below 20C at midday instead of just above) and some disruption to shipping, we were happily unaffected. 

The primary school children on the island went around the town with their teacher this morning, singing traditional songs heralding the arrival of spring, and it is certainly glorious at the moment with all the flowers erupting across the hillsides. The rocks above the bus-stop in Yialos are smothered with pale pink cyclamens and the mule trains trotting up and down the Kali Strata munch on lush wild angelica as they go. 

It is full moon tonight which means that we may have some windy weather this weekend; particularly as the equinox is only a week away and the computer projections certainly show some stormy weather reaching Greece early next week. Some more rain would certainly be welcome on Symi before the summer sets in as we have had a dry winter so far - the second dry winter in succession - and the water table is so low that even quite substantial trees have been affected."

 

Monday, 5th March 2001

"Despite the appalling weather experienced elsewhere, Symi has enjoyed a gloriously warm and sunny weekend with only light breezes and a few showers on Friday evening. The combination of unseasonably high temperatures (in the Twenties) and showery spells at the end of last week has got the spring flowers off to an enthusiastic start. The sunshine has also spurred everyone on with the many painting and decorating jobs necessary before the season starts.

 Unfortunately this idyll is unlikely to last for much longer as from Wednesday or Thursday Greece will be affected by another cold front coming down from the north with some quite strong winds forecast. Not quite time to pack away the wellies and two bar heater."

 

Friday, 2nd March 2001-(The first of Adriana's reports from Symi)

"Much of the Mediterranean has been experiencing bad weather over the past few days. Symi has been in the grips of an extraordinary Southerly duststorm since Monday which is showing little sign of abating. Apart from being extremely disruptive to shipping, it has also brought with it unseasonably warm weather with temperatures in the twenties - a marked change from last week when we had cold northerly winds and the temperature went as low as 2C some nights. On Monday evening it literally rained mud for several hours, covering everything in streaks of red sand. Ironic really, considering that it was the Clean Monday holiday!

The sky is still very pink with airborne dust and visibility is poor. Rain is forecast tonight which we are all hoping will quite literally clear the air. The long term forecast is not good as Italy to the west of us is experiencing stormy weather which is heading this way. So you see, it's not all blue skies and dazzling whitewash!"

*A public holiday, normally 40 days before the Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday. Therefore the date changes each year. For 2001 it fell on 26th February and marked the beginning of Lent. Unusually, this year, it fell more than 40 days before.

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