6. Predictions

#  6 Predictions

We live on a peninsula off the bottom of Crete sticking about 700 metres into the Libyan Sea. Immediately behind us are a range of hills going more or less straight up from the sea to about 600 metres and beyond them, yet another range going up to about 1300 metres high. The consequence of this is that we have our own micro-climate which at times appears to have its own personal microclimates. The vagaries of the weather produced by the permutations brought on the differing combinations of winds, sea and mountains means it can be warm and dry on one side of the peninsula and cold and wet on the other, both at the same time, while the sight of heavy rain falling from a cloudless sky not only takes some getting used to but is a bugger for sorting out what sort of coat you’re going to wear.

Out of the tourist season, the community makes its living either through agriculture, tomatoes and cucumbers are the commercial favourites, though you can never buy the local produce, it all goes for export, and fishing. Consequently a keen eye is kept on the weather. I got here at the start of September, just as the summer was beginning to draw to a close but I noticed very quickly that the locals seemed to have an uncanny knack of preparing for any change in weather. The sun beds would be drawn up to the back of the beach if a westerly wind and high waves were expected; the cars would be moved away from the water’s edge if an easterly wind was imminent; the sun bed parasols were dug out of the sand immediately before a northerly storm hit. Sitting one evening with my friend Spiros, I asked him about this and if there were any particular signs that were used to predict the weather; me thinking of such as the flight patterns of the local Swifts, the date of departure of the flocks of Herrings* bound for Africa, the behaviour of the local animals, the colour of the sunset, the pattern of the clouds etc.

He thought for several minutes and then said the magic word: “Meteo.” **

It seems the online Greek weather forecasts have a somewhat higher reputation for accuracy than does the Met Office equivalent.

Later in the conversation he did however, let me into the secret of predicting the end of the tourist season proper. I had always thought it was taken to finish 1st October or whenever Monarch shut down their charter flights but apparently not. The end of the tourist season here is signalled by the arrival of the “Farewell Finns.” It seems that for reasons best know to themselves, every year at the end of the summer when most of the rest of Europe*** has gone back to work and/or school, there’s always a last minute influx of Finnish families, usually with very young children in tow and their arrival and subsequent departure is taken as the end of the season. In fact you can tell the progress of the tourist season by plotting the arrival of the different nationalities. The most southern nations/states get the early holidays and the further north you go, the later the nationals arrive for their holidays. The British are the clever ones, they all arrive in the middle of August, at the hottest time, just exactly when the Greeks take their holidays, the beach is unbearably crowded and the prices for the hotels and rooms go up by 20% for the period. The Finns, I am told, break the pattern in that there will be an influx in mid June and then another, the Farewell Finns, in mid October.

We, in fact, had direct experience of the Farewell Finn phenomenon. Now Finnish people are lovely people, very charming, accommodating, excellent linguists and brilliant cooks (you’ll have guessed by now that the readership includes one or more persons of a Finnish persuasion). However, I put it to you that any group of people of any nationality that comes on holiday in a party 17 (yes seventeen) strong and consisting of one extended family, with ages from about three months to 60 years, is definitely bordering on the masochistic and needs some sort of therapy from someone. Still, they were a joy to watch as, in their bright yellow tee shirts, each printed with a different message to their grandmother whose 60th birthday they were celebrating with a holiday in Crete, they tried to assemble all 17 for a group photo. It might have been easier if the photographer had a stand for his camera rather than having to balance it on the top of a pile of books on a poolside table and squint through the viewfinder before dashing in front to join in the group…with the entirely predictable results, for even in Finland, expensive digital cameras and swimming pools do not mix that well.

It might also have been easier if one of the youngest children did not have what appeared to be an anatomically correct doll, looking like a six month old child (or so I’m told, I have no experience of such things), which, when wound up and placed in the swimming pool, would proceed to ‘swim’ around. As it was, during the period they were here, there were at least two rescue attempts made by people who, seeing the doll in the water and thinking it was a child jumped into the pool and saved it.





*I think Spiros meant Herons.

**  http://www.meteo.gr/cf.asp?city_id=112       Oh dear, only 18 and sunny today.

***OK so Finns probably will argue that they aren’t European but I’m not going to get involved in any debate about them being Scandinavians or Swedish or Russians or something…life’s too short!