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My Favourite Planet > Blogs > Cheshire Cat Blog > 2011
back The Cheshire Cat Blog
September 2011
Desperately seeking summer part 2 at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Parisians shelter in a café from a summer rainstorm. © Roger Greatorex
 
Continued from Desperately seeking summer part 1.

It seems that summer is just a state of mind after all. Despite all the complaints we have heard about the lousy weather, most of The Cheshire Cat's special correspondents have sent in snaps of sunny days. Well, why not? We are all for a bit of sunshine.
 
summer photos by Roger Greatorex, Paris, France at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Roger Greatorex

Paris, France
  summer photos by Gordon Mcleod, Menai Bridge, North Wales at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Gordon Mcleod

Stoupa, Greece
  summer photos by David John, Berlin, Germany at The Cheshire Cat Blog

David John

Greece / Turkey
 

Giant Greek hailstone at The Cheshire Cat Blog

The remains of a great big Greek hailstone after it crash-landed on mountain rocks.


What a whopper at the Mysterious Edwin Drood's Column
One fine summer moning, while exploring caves near Didymoteicho (Διδυμοτείχο) in northern Greece, a sudden thunder storm made me dive into one of the caves for shelter. It lasted nearly two hours and battered the landscape with hailstones as big as golfballs which cracked loudly as they hit the surrounding rocks. As soon as it was safe enough to venture out of my cave (for some reason I had forgotten to wear a helmet that day) I examined the hailstones which had already begun to melt. Here's what was left of one of them.

See also the comments on the climate of northern
Greece in The Cheshire Cat Blog July 2001.

Photo: hailstone, Didymoteicho, Thrace, Greece by © David John.
Life's a beach
Life's a beach in Paris at The Cheshire Cat Blog

La vie est une plage.

Parisians soak up the sunshine on the banks of the Seine. The city authority's idea of setting up temporary beaches in the middle of the landlocked metropolis has proved very popular, and has now caught on in other places such as Berlin.

Paris Plage on the River Seine. Photo by © Roger Greatorex, Paris, France.
 
On the beach at The Cheshire Cat Blog

From here you can almost see the metro station.

Paris Plage on the River Seine. Photo by © Roger Greatorex, Paris, France.
 

Beach sport in Stoupa, near Kalamata, Peloponnese, Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Summer sports 4:

the less well-known sport of beach bread-board dumpling chucking.

Aficionados of this sport were recently disappointed to learn that it will not be included in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The problem, apparently, was the inability of the various national Olympic committees to agree on a standard recipe, weight and consistency for the dumplings.

The Chinese, German, Hungarian and British delegations were particularly vehement in arguing that their own national dumpling recipes were best suited for the international competition. The Belgians insisted on using waffles (the Liege variant) and India proposed their new super Teflon-coated onion bhajis. It is hoped that the debacle can be sorted out in time for the 2016 games.

The resort of Stoupa, near Kalamata, Peloponnese, Greece

Photo by © Gordon Mcleod, Menai Bridge, North Wales, UK.
 
Duck day afternoon in Stoupa, near Kalamata, Peloponnese, Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Duck day afternoon

In recent years the sleepy seaside village of Stoupa in the southern Peloponnese has grown into a low-key tourist resort. Rather grandiosely described by one website as "the New Côte d'Azur" (what happened to the old one?), the area enjoys a laid-back atmosphere, sandy bays with crystal clear water and the rugged backdrop of the Taygetos Mountains.

The mountainous region known as the Mani used to be inaccessible by land, and the Maniotes were famous for ferociously defending their independence from the outside world. Now they have chilled out a bit, and with modern road and rail links, Stoupa can be reached from Athens or Patras in around 4 hours. The duck coastal patrol passes by every hour.

See: www.zorbas.de and www.stoupa-greece.com

Stoupa, near Kalamata, Peloponnese, Greece.

Photo by © Gordon Mcleod, Menai Bridge, North Wales, UK.
 
Fish on holiday in Stoupa, near Kalamata, Peloponnese, Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Piscine locals greet the tourists

Stoupa, Peloponnese, Greece. Photo by © Gordon Mcleod.
 
Buoy in Stoupa, near Kalamata, Peloponnese, Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

"There is no escape from the beach, Number 6!"

Greek replica of the huge balloon-type thing which hunted down those who
tried to escape from The Village in the 1960s cult TV series The Prisoner.

Stoupa, Peloponnese, Greece. Photo by © Gordon Mcleod.
 
A rare case of foaming feet in Stoupa, near Kalamata, Peloponnese, Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

A rare case of foaming feet

This is what comes of mixing up the toothpaste and the sun cream before
going paddling. The quick remedy for this embarrassing problem is to follow
the example of the Germans and always wear socks with your sandals.

Stoupa, Peloponnese, Greece. Photo by © Gordon Mcleod.

More beach photos by Gordon further down the page.
 
Breaking waves at The Cheshire Cat Blog

wavy gravy

The Northern Aegean Sea at Nea Vrasna, Macedonia, northern Greece.

Photo by © David John.
Summer pick'n'mix
Ecclesiatical traffic light in Stoupa, near Kalamata, Peloponnese, Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

marble and stained glass traffic light (early prototype)

Nothing whatsoever to do with beaches.

Stoupa, Peloponnese, Greece. Photo by © Gordon Mcleod.
 

Robby Robot goes Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Robby Robot poses for a seaside snapshot by his mum.

Forbidden Planet Beach, Nea Vrasna, Macedonia, Greece.

Photo by © David John.
 
The Mad Hatter's tea party at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Nice cuppa tea?

The Mad Hatter's tea party ride, Nea Vrasna, Macedonia, Greece.

Photo by © David John.
 
All the young dudes at The Cheshire Cat Blog

All the young dudes

Children's clothing mannequins, Istanbul, Turkey.

Photo by © David John.
All creatures great and small,
hairy and horrible
Seagull chick in a plant pot at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Growing seagulls in a pot

Stoupa, Peloponnese, Greece. Photo by © Gordon Mcleod.
 
Swallow parent brings food for the chicks in Stoupa, near Kalamata, Peloponnese, Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Lunchtime at the Swallow family beach chalet

It seems incredible that in a few months these tiny, scrawny, constantly hungry chicks will be be strong and adept enough to fly with their parents and the rest of their avian clan to their winter home in Africa, several thousand kilometres distant. In the meantime it's non-stop work for the parents bringing up the kids.

Stoupa, Peloponnese, Greece. Photo by © Gordon Mcleod.
 
Bug scaling the souh face of Mount Ashtray in Stoupa, near Kalamata, Peloponnese, Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Bug scaling the souh face of Mount Ashtray

Stoupa, Peloponnese, Greece. Photo by © Gordon Mcleod.
 
Insect larva casing in Stoupa, near Kalamata, Peloponnese, Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Greek holiday accommodation to let. One careful owner.

Post metamorphosis, Stoupa, Peloponnese, Greece.

Photo by © Gordon Mcleod.
 
Ninja cricket at The Cheshire Cat Blog

teenage mutant ninja cricket

Cricket in the caves of Didymoteicho (Διδυμοτείχο), northern Greece.

Photo by © David John.
Aspects
of summer


Put your mouse
over an image to see further details.


Sunset on the Peloponnese coast, Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

swimming in gold

Robot at the beach at The Cheshire Cat Blog

robot on holiday

Hungry swallow chicks at The Cheshire Cat Blog

feed me!

Seagull flying over the Northern Aegean Sea near Thassos, Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Aegean seagull

Boy on a bicycle, Nea Vreasna, Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

biker boy

Miniature train on the beach in Nea Vrasna, Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

All aboard!

Gliding seagull at The Cheshire Cat Blog

glider

Jiminy Cricket on a rockface in Didymoteicho, Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

give a little whistle

Seagull chick at The Cheshire Cat Blog

fluffy gull

Ape with sunburn at The Cheshire Cat Blog

slightly sunburnt

Fishes in the sea off the Peloponnese coast at The Cheshire Cat Blog

full fathom five

Creepy-crawly beetle at The Cheshire Cat Blog

don't bug me

Macedonian Moon at The Cheshire Cat Blog

la Lune

Duck on the Peloponnese coast at the beach at The Cheshire Cat Blog

like a duck to water

tea time at The Cheshire Cat Blog

tea time

Insect larva casing at The Cheshire Cat Blog

room for rent

Inner-city beach on the banks of the River Seine, Paris, France at The Cheshire Cat Blog

sur la plage

Holiday maker on a bicycle, Nea Vreasna, Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Easy rider

Sunrise on the beach, Nea Vreasna, Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

empire of the sun


All photos
on this page are
copyright protected.

Permission to copy or republish photos must be gained from their respective authors.

If you wish to use any of the photos for your website, blog or publication, please get in contact.

Higher resolution versions are available on request.
 
Seagulls following the ferry between Kavala and Thassos, Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Seagulls in the wake of a Greek ferry. The birds fly around the ferry,
and the passengers have great fun throwing pieces of food to them
from the upper deck and watching as they dive to catch them.

Aboard the ferry between Kavala and Thassos island, Macedonia, Greece.

Photo by © David John.
 
Kavala seagull at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Seagull flies over the North Aegean coast near Kavala,
with Mount Pangaeio rising in the background.

Aboard the ferry between Kavala and Thassos island, Macedonia, Greece.

Photo by © David John.
Transports of delight
Nea Vrasna express train at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Closely observed train

Greek railways have been having a hard time this year. The economic crisis has forced the heavily subsidized OSE * to raise ticket prices and slash services: all international trains have been suspended indefinitely and parts of the Peloponnese narrow-guage railway closed.

This is a great slap in the face for OSE management and workers who have been working to improve services and structure. Like the buses (see below), travellingbby train used to be a testing experience, to say the least. It once took me 13 hours to travel in a smelly, old train from Patras to Athens, a journey which takes 3-4 hours by car. However, in recent years I have been delighted to travel by comfortable, modern trains, speedily and at affordable prices.


Fortunately, this "Nea Vrasna Special" has been spared the axe. I must admit, though, I waited over half an hour to buy a ticket, but there was no sign of a member of staff, and there didn't seem to be a timetable on view either.

* OSE, The Hellenic Railways Organisation (Οργανισμός Σιδηροδρόμων Ελλάδος or Ο.Σ.Ε.) www.ose.gr

Greek high-speed express train, Nea Vrasna, Macedonia, Greece.

Photo by © David John.
 
 
Beach choo-choo at The Cheshire Cat Blog

As with Easyjet, there is no seat reservation on this train, and
passengers perch wherever they please: on the roof or engine funnel,
or even hanging onto the outside. Each to his own, I guess.

Greek high-speed express train, Nea Vrasna, Macedonia, Greece.

Photo by © David John.
 
Oriental snake charmer on a train roof at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Snake charmer rides the rails

Greek high-speed express train, Nea Vrasna, Macedonia, Greece.

Photo by © David John.
 

Greek bus journey at The Cheshire Cat Blog

On the buses

Oh well, if there are no trains, it's "hop on the bus, Gus". Greek bus journies used to be a real horror show. The ancient crates would chug and bump along, or lurch around hairpin bends on high mountain roads at breakneck speed. The drivers were all dangerous maniacs at the wheeel (see story below), and the passengers cowered in their sweaty plastic-covered seats (or even wooden ones if you go back 20 years or so), nervously chain-smoking one and all. At the end of the journey, the driver's idea of cleaning the bus was just to throw all the rubbish and empty the ashtrays out of the windows onto the roadside.

These days there's no smoking on buses, and the windows don't open because of the air-condtioning. Buses are now the cheapest, quickest and safest way to travel around Greece. It's not perfect though. There is no coordinated national network, and bus services are run by independent local KTEL bus companies, which means that there are still many "you can't get there from here" places, as well as bus stops where your bus will not stop because they belong to another company. We could write a whole blog about this, and probably will some day...

KTEL bus, near the Pass of Thermopylae, central Greece. Photo by © David John.
 
 
Greek pick-up truck at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Move hay while the sun shines

The versatile and robust pick-up truck remains the farmer's favourite mode of transport in Mediterranean countries, and you can see why. You can get a couple of tons of seeds, goods, feed, machinery, materials, animals, workers or shopping on the back, and two or more passengers in the front. On Sundays just hose the whole truck down and load the entire family for the trip to the village church.

Greek pick-up truck, Nea Vrasna, Macedonia, northern Greece. Photo by © David John.
 
 
Tractor-powered washing machine at The Cheshire Cat Blog

300 horse-power laundry

Stoupa tractor by © Gordon Mcleod.
 
Boys on bikes at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Beach biker gang

Note the swervy tyre tracks on the road.

Boys on bicycles, Nea Vrasna, Macedonia, northern Greece. Photo by © David John.
 

Cyclist on the beach at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Riding along on my pushbike, honey...

There was a time when Greeks wouldn't be seen dead on a bicycle, and with the dangers of Greek roads they had good cause. Last year a young street sweeper was run over and killed by a bus in the small village in which I was staying. Madness. Imagine then the carnage in the cities and on the highways and motorways.

Greece is the most motor-obsessed nation I know after the USA. Everybody has to have at least one car and/or motorbike, and they think there must be something wrong with you if you don't. If you ask Greeks for directions they will nearly always assume you want to drive to the place you are looking for.

An English journalist friend was the only person I knew who was brave enough to cycle around Athens. At the time Greek people thought he was crazy, but he seems to have survived several years of commuting around the city as well as some epic cross-country rides. I'm sure he has some hair-raising after dinner adventures to recount.

Bicycles are now becoming more common around Greece, though it still sometimes comes as bit of a surprise when one whizzes past on an Athens street. In rural areas things are usually a bit safer, and I even know an 80 year-old who has taken to leaving his car at home and cycling everywhere. This may be due to the fact that he lived outside Greece for many years and brought some strange modern habits back with him.

Above: cyclist on the beach, Nea Vrasna, Macedonia, Greece.

Right: cyclist in central Athens, Greece.

Photos by © David John.
 
A cyclist in Athens, Greece at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Rare breed: Athens cyclist
Meanwhile, back at the beach ...
Car with no wheels at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Beach parking space reserved for James Bond.

Stoupa, Peloponnese, Greece by © Gordon Mcleod.
 
Stoupa duck patrol at The Cheshire Cat Blog

There go those ducks again, punctual as usual. You can set your sundial by them.

Stoupa duck patrol by © Gordon Mcleod.
 
Stoupa beach sunset at The Cheshire Cat Blog

The end of another hectic day on Stoupa beach.

Stoupa, near Kalamata, Peloponnese, Greece by © Gordon Mcleod.
 
Sunset on Stoupa Beach at The Cheshire Cat Blog

Crowded beach at sunset.

Stoupa sunset by © Gordon Mcleod.
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