Tuesday, November 30, 2004

152,500 km on the clock and still going strong?

So there we were, about half way up the mountain and approaching the entrance to the cave, and suddenly the car is engulfed in a cloud of white smoke blinding me momentarily and scaring the shit out of Nontas in the passenger seat.

Hm - I think to myself, billowing white smoke, best stop, even though it is most likely to be just water and steam that's come out of somewhere under pressure. But where? Well, the pic above shows where it came from. A burst pipe, the one which takes the hot cooling water from the engine back to the radiator. can't really move the car without it. So we get into this whole idscussion about what should we do and how to deal with this. Fortunately both Nontas and Mike are technically more advanced than I am with this sort of thing and took it on themselves to fix the problem, but not until after we had finished the work we had come for.

So off we went up the mountain, all of us in the one car now, and me rather a little annoyed with Mr. George the service guy. I'd done the service at 151,500 and dammit he should have seen that the rubber pipe was worse for wear to the extent that it was likely to burst and spray hot and dirty cooling fluid alll over the place.

At the stopping place, we got all the gear out of the car and Eri and I got ready to go on in, while the boys went back down the mountain to look for a replacement piece of tubing. It was not going to be an easy task.

Of course, they could not find a Fiat piece of tubing, and brought up a piece of seat tubing, with the same diameter (roughly) as our broken piece. After exiting the cave at about quarter to midnight, the time came to turn our hand to McGiverisms and improvised solutions. First we saw that the new tube was too narrow to go into where it should be, and had to grease up the tube and the entrances. Next it was too long and would kink in the wrong places, in the end we made a frankenstein’s monster of a solution, using part of the old damaged Fiat tube and some of the new tube and made it all the way home…

The quick-fix solution, in place. Thanks boys!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Thank Petzl for the Pantin

Chelidorea, then.

At the caving blog

Can't be bottled or canned

Jockey had brought me this CD with a bunch of cool tunes on it that I had been looking for for ages. He had added some from his own collection, one of which had a very distinctive style and rather unconventional lyrics.

Going to google and slamming in "boob-scotch" (the refrain), I came across the web-site of one Bob Log III. Not only is this like from a proper album, but the guy who wrote and performs the song is as crazy as any artist Jockey lets me know about after newly discovering them. He performs wearing a motorcycle helmet and singing through a phone mic. And he's a one man band.

Imagine my surprise when a CD came in the post containing not only the photos Jocks took on the trip, but a postie of the Magyar monument in Budapest, and more Bob Log III tracks! Woo! Time to go to amazon...

Thank you Jock, man.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Flu jab

SO I went to the doctor today to get the prescription updated for the next three months, and asked whether she could write me out a whatsit for the flu jab.

Then down to room 13 where I ask the nursy on duty to hit me with her funky flu-jab. She gives me this look, like "aren't you a bit young for a funky flu-jab?", so I tell her that I'm really a high risk sort of guy and show her the paperwork to prove it as she starts all this "you look so young" bullshit.

And then she hit me with the flu jab and I swear I'm not going back the the national health people next year because they are really rather heavy handed when doing the needlework. Back to Sofronis the chemist next year, oh yes.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Chelidorea / Helidorea

Well, it's going to be a tough weekend.

Moved to Caving Blog

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Have booties, will travel

So, went to Ankara for about an hour and a half and came back on Monday. Ping pong. Three aiports, five planes, two continents, one day's work.

It's already started snowing in Ankara, the great anchor of anatolia.

What was I doing? Well, delivering a little box to the CFCU, and if all goes to plan, when the little box opens and the dust settles, I'll have a new job in Samsun to look forward to.


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

De-Rigging Chelidorea (Helidorea)

So they called and asked ...

Moved to my caving Blog.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Joker at Six Meuro

Justifies me spending twenty for a stab at the six thousand large.


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Ta sfouggaria einai zoa!!

No idea how I got into it, but have just spent a little time googling about and want to share what I found. Two or three things stick out as wierd:

1) Frogs have no ribs. I kid you not, I have been googling google images for frog skeleton and they just have little jutty-out things but not what you or I would call ribs.

2) Salamanders have ribs. These freaky little glisteny guys have the most basic of tetrapod body plans. I found a photo of some guy holding a sack full of salamander-spawn which looked like overlarge frogspawn - yukky yuk, but google is my friend.

3) there exist amphibians which are neither froggy-toads nor newty-salamanders. These are called caecilians and they have no arms or legs - one of these grows to some 75cm and is the largest tetrapod to have no lungs.

So why all the fascination with amphibians? Well the BBC has a page all about how they are all dying and endangered as hell, and I said to myself, hang about there , Stelios, mate, learn about these little buggers before they all die out. So off I went to the Tree of Life website for a look. We have the frogs and toads lot, who have no ribs and have different sized and shaped arms than legs, we have the caudata - "tailed" amphibians who have, like, tails and similar fore and aft limbs and they stick out at right angles to the body, etc; and then we got the freaky caecilians who have no limbs and a little bit of a tail sometimes and some of them make eggs and others give birth to live young and others give birth from eggs to live young inside them and let them sit around until they are mature. All pretty exciting stuff, but tolweb is silent on them.

Amphibians ruled the world back in the Carboniferous.

Poor bastards.

So much to learn, so little time.

Levis sit tibi terra

The affectionately called Proto, the First, houses some really rather special funerary monuments in styles as varied as the provenances of the owners. One thing is certain though, whatever the style, white marble is the material used everywhere within the First Cemetery of Athens. One day, I'll be put in alongside my grandparents and anyone else who ends up here before me.

We came to bury Cousin George today. I shared a great-great-grandfather with him. Greek families are so much more extended than northern European. George lost his parents a few years ago, and left for the big journey over the weekend following a traffic accident. I just wish they didn’t open up the coffin every so often.

Vale, George.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

All good things come to an end

After our journey we returned to find Spyros across the street closed so Jockey missed out on the Tsipouro - although I am sure he'll have a lot to say about it on his own blog in due course. We had another good and tasty supper at Deppi and George and went to bed.

No one slept much as the high winds caused my mother's flooding prevention measures to achieve their resonant frequencies and tear loose of their restraints making the loudest and most annoying Flappadappawappaslappa Dappaplappaslappawappa noises all night. The only time the noise stopped was when it rained and the rain came in under the door.

We woke early to make the return journey in what we expected to be bad weather. Stopping for a little at Zatouna for pastelli and tsipouro (after driving through nicely dense fog), we made our way east without further trouble.

Corinth canal - one of the last stops on the way back from Paloumba. Such a trap, but we stopped for the souvlakia and had to walk across a little.

Jock then returned to more northerly latitudes.

Excursions in Elis from Paloumba

So off we went to Paloumba, the little chapel to the archangels wasn't lit on the way there, but not to worry. After amazingly tasty and nourishing food at Deppi and George, we prepared the house for habitation, each in his own way.

I did the preparation for habitation, and K did the cessation of life business for the assorted invertebrate biota unlucky enough to be spotted by her.

The next day we took the new road past Pyrgos to the Bartholomio and Gastouni areas and ended up circumambulating the castle at Chlemoutsi (Frank-fans will know it as Clermont). We arrived just that little bit too late to be allowed entry, and there were no cheeky holes in the wall or fencing to let us in.

We then made tracks for Andravida, where the photographed curiosity stands. This is something I have read about loads and loads and has always been just that little bit too far away to go see for myself, so thanks to Jockey for acting as stimulus.

OK so it looks pretty humdrum and so so for the northern europeans who have the gothic style of architecture coming out of their ears, but for us this is a total anomaly. It is like totally out of its waters. We have a few more gothic structures built by those crazy crusaders back when the venetans were crafty and Zara was more than a brand of clothes. I have been to one, but there is one more to form the basis of a future expedition. But I digress.

I have learned the word for "key" in most of the balkan languages, having had to hunt down the often staid and prim but exclusively momnolingual old spinsters entrusted with the means of entering their locale's medieval building. In this case, quite beyond all expectation, the key was brought out to us by the keeper (FYI: the kiosk operator at the NE corner of the square to the south of the church) completely unprompted, so we had the opportunity to enter and walk around.

There's so much to say about this place - but maybe some other time when the oldfashioned prints come back, and I have scanned them, no?

Ancient stuff

Hadrian's Library in the foreground and that mosque in the background. Managed to get into the Hadrian's library site - never had the chance before and we walked round the tetraconch church and had a look at the mosaic work after a stand-up kebab from Bairaktaris. Not bad.

We then scooted back home to get ready for Paloumba.

Ashmolean master

So, after a quick breakfast and then a faff at the Byzantine museum, we went off to the Cycladic Museum. I like the figurines, although I never seem to get too excited about them. I hate the fact that most of the stuff in here is re-patriated nicked stuff and hence has no solid provenace. I am a pidgeonholing cataloguing sort of guy, and where and how things were unerathed is important to me.

Jockey in one of his favourite places - the Cycladic Museum in Athens, with all the funky cycladic figurines around.

Jockey in Athens!!

So, Jockey came as planned on Thursday night and we all went out with Neeks and Thanassi to post office square in Pangkrati to eat at a rather decent place called "Alphabetario". Feeling suitably stuffed and in need of something fizzywe went home and decided that we would not go pick Korinna up from school before leaving on Friday, but would all meet at home at 16:00 to prepare for the trip.

Friday was therefore going to be a day for museums and travel to Paloumba.

Thanassi eats in the alphabetario on Pagkrati's post office square, after arriving at his usual time.

Briar wood

I have not smoked now for one and a half months, or more than 1,330 cigarettes not smoked, saving about €180. No idea why I have spent most of the early part of today looking at websites about pipes and pipe smoking. Just feeling a bit edgy.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Gor bless her

I just figured out that I haven't seen Jockey since HRH Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother passed away. We were in Whitby, seems like a whole different eon ago, back in March 2002. The only thing that puts it firmly in this eon is the fact that it happened after the events of September 2001.

So there we were laughing at the News of the World "Exclusive" look at what actually happened in holy week, almost 2,000 years ago, with naff CG christ and disciples, and eating those kippers in buns amongst other things. Here is a photo I took during that weekend: Groyne

We bought a kite and broke it very soon after, there on those groynes. It was a strange weekend. I left that evening for the Holy Mountain, which changed me so much both through its own action and because of what happened while we were all there.

A lot has happened since all that. I haven't seen J for that long. Wierd.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Cop shocks cop tyres cop suspension

Fix the cigarette lighter...

So, we've serviced the car and put new tyres on it too. All set for some good travelling over the weekend with Jockey. Best of all, I won't need to go buy a digital camera for the expedition, because I'm getting a camera attached to the new mobile phone that the nice people at Cosmote are giving me.

By the pricking of my thumbs....

So, Jockey's coming and will be here in less than 36 hours: woo! Haven't seen him for like almost two years, possibly much more, actually. Should be a good time. I'd link to his blog if I were more flash with all this techy stuff - possibly I'll get it figured out when I write up the what we did during our weekend in the country.