Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Planting Vines

I have no idea what's happening with the font and layout -- and now colour -- here. Maybe it's time to leave bloggspot? A new glitch seems to happen every time I try to post... :(

We spent last Saturday planting Grenache vines on the Turkish Cypriot field that the family rents. (Turkish Cypriot property is held in trust by the government. It can be rented, but cannot be bought, and what you rent cannot be substantially altered: a house cannot be added to or brought down and rebuilt, a field cannot be built on, etc. The plot of land adjoining the family land here in the village is divided among thirty-two people – all of them of unknown whereabouts, eight of them Turkish Cypriot. For administrative ease, the government have amalgamated it into one big plot which Phil rents and lets his sons use. The only way to change this status quo would be to have a forced sale which would cause a lot of palaver. At the moment, we are keeping the status quo.)

Best Beloved had ploughed the field parallel to the line of vines that he had planted last year, and had marked the spot for each new baby vine with some lime. Then he collected the tractor drill bit from Yiannakis in the village and we started at about ten in the morning, despite a filthy wind that gusted out of the south-east.

Best Beloved would drive the tractor, drop the drill, and make the initial hole, then go on to the next spot. The tricky aspect of it all was that a seam of bedrock underlies the soil anywhere from ten centimetres deep, so each hole had to be redrilled to make a 35mm diameter slot for each baby vine. Best Beloved is hoping that with the extra help through the seam of bedrock, the vines will flourish rather than languish like those planted more shallow atop the seam.

To drill that extra hole, BB had bought an electric Ryobi percussion drill – like a Kango but with a drilling as well as a hammer function. He and Alex (Alex had been watching Scarface the night before and enjoyed hefting the drill and announcing 'This is my little friend!' a la Al Pacino...

went along the line extending the holes. It was a heavy and tiring job: I tried it, but I found the weight of the drill and the torque a scary combination. BB insisted – rightly -- that I learn to use it, and I did drill about six holes (out of 110), but was not happy doing it.

Most of my time was spent clearing the holes in readiness for the drill, then dipping the vine sticks in rooting powder and inserting them in the holes along with a handful of organic fertiliser. Then filling the holes again.

Leo, as usual, was a great help, pitching in with enthusiasm wherever requested to help. His chief chuff of the day, though, was that – since I was working – he was the project photographer. He got to wear my D80 and shoot pictures with it! All the pictures here today are thanks to Leo.

We were stopped, twenty holes and half an hour, short of the end of the line by a shortfall in the electric line. The last fifty metre section of extension lead had blown its fuse, another one was not obtainable, and we had to knock off for the day.

Rain fell all of Sunday, and the next day the cycle of the week began again. Hopefully we will get the job done next Saturday.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Education, Anyone?

I just collected the mail.

Among the prospectuses for UK boarding schools and Sixth Form colleges that were beginning to pile up in the box was a single glossy sheet that represented Alex and Sophia's school's annual recruitment drive and entrance exam announcement – obviously a mass mailing aimed at everyone with a P O box.

It's a small glossy sheet, English on one side, Greek on the other. The name of the school, the announcement of the entrance exam, with a date, and the slogan 'We don't just teach We (sic) educate!'

Bear in mind that the school teaches through English.

Under the date and the time of the proposed examination, the flyer announced 'Candidates will be tested on the school material that they have been teached.'

For all of you queuing up to join this wonderful establishment, registration is now open!