Yacht Pipit


Has spring sprung? - 8th February 2014

A spring-like view of Skorpios.

Following the recent earthquake and numerous aftershocks, including one 8 days later of similar magnitude to the original 'quake, we were going to use the more predicable 'Did the earth move for you?' title, but that seemed a bit flippant as there has been significant damage on Kefalonia. There are many people there who have had to evacuate their homes, with hundreds of buildings seriously damaged or destroyed, and are now sheltering on two ferries that have been brought in. Fortunately and rather miraculously there have been no serious injuries, but our thoughts are with those affected.

Our sympathies are also with folk in the UK who have been flooded or otherwise affected by the seemingly relentless extraordinary weather coming in from the Atlantic. To see the railway line at Dawlish flapping about in the breeze, Plymouth lido and Cornish villages we know being overwhelmed by the enormous seas is quite shocking. We had no more than 2 or 3 metre waves in Biscay when we crossed, and even that seemed a bit lively at times; we can barely imagine what 16 metre waves are like.

Anyway, since our last update the weather has been as we expected for this time of year here - grey days, often with rain and sometimes strong winds, more thunder & lightning, but also one or two brighter days, so we've been spending more time indoors than out. This has given us time to ponder on what we might do for this season, and also cook some nice meals as we stocked up well on our last visit to Lefkas. We've culinarily (is that a new word?) revisited some of the countries we've sailed to: Spanish style pork belly, bean & chorizo stew in the slow cooker, Moroccan lamb tagine & couscous (the latter being so good we named it twice...) and an Italian inspired tuna, lemon & caper pasta dish. On Burns Night, we even had a haggis flown in - ok so our favourite online grocery store was able to deliver one - not one of MacSween's finest, but a tinned alternative that, although looking a little like dog food on opening, once gently heated through was surprisingly good. We had leeks and tatties as opposed to the traditional arrangement as neeps weren't available here, but we did maintain tradition with a wee dram or two...

The following afternoon, whilst sitting on the sofa, we became aware of a deep rumble. I was about to look out of the window, thinking that a tripper boat that had tied up earlier in the harbour had just started her engines ready to depart, when the villa started shaking quite alarmingly. Having never experienced an earthquake before, it took a few seconds for the penny to drop - "earthquake!" I exclaimed to Ann who had, having grown up in California, already deduced this. With memories of the drills practiced in school, Ann calmly suggested that we should get outside QUICKLY, which we did. We were both slightly discombobulated (now there's a word I never thought would feature in these pages!) despite knowing that this area is prone to earthquakes. We even sent a text message to our friend Rebecca to confirm that we hadn't overdone the Burns Night drams and imagined the whole thing. After a check of the villa which showed no signs of damage, we settled, aided by a very small (we wanted to keep our wits about us) Brandy Lefkas, and got on with the rest of our day. We were able, thanks to the internet, to get accurate information on the earthquake almost immediately afterwards, and subsequently monitor events and reports minute by minute, adding a note of our own experience to one website which gathers feedback.

Some hours later, whilst Ann was cooking dinner, we felt an aftershock here, strong enough to rattle our now empty brandy glasses on the table. On Kefalonia, dozens of aftershocks were felt and the residents, mindful of the terrible destruction caused by the 1953 earthquake and its stronger aftershock, were understandably a little frightened. In the days following the initial earthquake, Kefalonians continued to suffer numerous aftershocks of which we felt only one lightly here. Just after 0500 last Monday however, we were literally shaken awake by one that was of similar magnitude to the original 'quake. Again, disconcerting for us, but our thoughts kept turning to the people of Kefalonia, where we knew it had been stronger. Seeing some of the photos and videos of the damage from the earthquake and its aftershocks makes it even more astonishing that there were no serious injuries:

Report of original earthquake

Report, photo and video of major aftershock

More photos and video

I found experiencing an earthquake a very weird sensation - it's just doesn't feel natural, except of course it is...

On a lighter note, we have seen a Scops owl twice now. We hear their unique whistle-like call often at dusk and recently watched one for about 10 minutes as he/she was sitting on a branch surveying the ground next to the villa for prey. We don't have the photographic equipment to get a decent photo, but you can watch a great video here. And here is our photo:

A Scops owl. Honest.

Wednesday was bright and sunny, so we set off on Shanks's pony along the coast road to Spilia and Spartochori, returning via the inland road:

Captain Aristidis, a temporary replacement for Meganisi II.

And here is Meganisi II, 'resting' in Spilia Bay.

Almond blossom.

A tree. Ann's at it again...

Feeding time.

Two things we didn't catch on film (well, silicon) - a kingfisher darting across the beach at Spilia, and a brace of fighter jets we could hear approaching but not see, until they suddenly appeared directly overhead barely above tree height!

9.5 km - 6 miles in old money...

Good news! We have finally eaten the last of the Christmas turkey, in the form of a turkey & leek filo pastry pie. Only thing is we still have our Christmas contingency turkey breast in the freezer...

Perhaps not the most photogenic pie you've ever seen, but very tasty!

Thursday was a grey day with bursts of very heavy rain, but yesterday was another glorious one, inspiring us to don our walking boots and take the track towards Port Atheni. As we sat on rocks at the water's edge eating our sandwiches in the warm sunshine and thinking how lucky we are to be here, our thoughts became more solemn as we talked of the forecast of yet more extreme weather heading towards the UK this weekend, and the further misery it will likely cause. Not a very cheery note on which to end this update, but somehow appropriately bookends our opening paragraph.

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