26 January 2012

You can still do it

From yesterday's Greek daily paper Kathemerini.

Thousands of people who own illegally constructed homes have applied to legalize their properties in recent weeks. Failure to do so would cost them the right to pass on the property to others unless they pay much higher fines, as foreseen by the law. In contrast, the fees charged under the current amnesty program, which is set to continue until the end of February, are considerably lower.

If anyone still has a property where there are illegalities - anything from just a 'closed in' balcony to much larger anomalies, people can still apply to legalise their properties. If they do not they run the risk of much larger fines, or the possibility of not being able to sell their property on, or even pass on as an inheritance, so it really is important to obtain advice on this from a civil engineer or lawyer.


25 January 2012

Corfu still takes the prize for some things

We are in London doing some bits and pieces of work on my daughter's flat, which is five years old. When we bought it, it came with washer/dryer etc. which all seem to have died at the same time (do things really only last 5 years in England - my Corfu washing machine is about 15 years old and still going strong, ditto dishwasher and most other kitchen stuff).

I found a washer/dryer which was available within 10 days, but only if you install it yourself (if you want installation god knows how long you wait) but we needed it within 5 days. I had to go through five websites before I found one that could supply within the 5 day time limit we had. I also wanted a Dyson hoover but I couldnt have it at the same time because it came from somewhere else, etc. etc.

So I finally ended up with washer from Tesco, delivery period 7.00 am to 7.00 pm Tuesday and hoover from John Lewis, hopefully Wednesday morning before 10.30 am (extra, extra charge but never mind if it works).

At 10pm last night (Monday) I had a call from Tesco to say yes, Tuesday between 7.00 and 10.00. I got up early to wait for the delivery. At 9.50 they arrived, heaved the new machine up three flights of stairs and dragged the old one down the stairs.

When we took the cardboard off the top was smashed to bits! Drivers swearing; phone call to delivery service who said it wasn't their problem as it was OK when delivered to them; phone call to Tesco who said was I sure it was damaged on arrival; and when I said 'absolutely' they agreed to replace it - only not today of course as the paperwork all has to go through again - Thursday between 7.00 am and 7.00 pm. I mentioned it was our last day and that we were leaving on Friday, but no use, Thursday is the earliest; although they are supposed to call me tomorrow to give me an idea of what time. So, fingers crosed.

Corfu's not like that is it? I go to Sotiris at Euronics, pick something he has in the store, or at the very worst he orders it and it comes the next day. George loads it in the van, says "I will call you when I am near the house" so I can let him in, and usually by end of the day it has been delivered and installed - no charge for either the delivery or the installation.

When something goes wrong I don't call a 'help' line which costs a fortune and subjects you to dreadful music. I ring Sotiris who sends George to have a look, or the agent for whichever machine is playing up, sometimes with as much as a whole day's delay, but usually the same day, and thats it. ' If it has to go away for repair, he lends me another machine, no argument. ' I wish I could do that here!

17 January 2012

New Year - New Idea (well to us, anyway)

The Corfu Croquet Club has been in operation for several years in a splendid location at Gouvia Marina thereby ensuring plenty of entertainment on hand for non-players in the form of bars, cafes and restaurants, as well as childrens' play area and a swimming pool.

Croquet is a game that suits all ages, and after our conversation with the Club's owner we are quite enthusiastic about getting involved. Check out the website.

The photo shows the renovation in progress of a rescued abandoned kiosk shortly to be used as a store for players' refreshment - fridge for cold drinks, coffees, etc.

What next?

We are all sitting waiting to see if the Greek government might just come up with some useful ideas to breathe life back into the economy and tourism in particular. (Good job we are not holding our breath isn't it?). I recently read an article in the Sunday Times about buying homes all over the world, and, wouldn't you know it ...

Turkey is relaxing its restrictions on nationalities permitted to buy property there (although another article I saw earlier in the week comments on considerable cost of living increases in Turkey) whilst Cyprus has decided to abolish stamp duty on new build homes and halve the tax on resale properties. Spain too has been trying to inject some life into its property market to shift some of the thousands of unsold homes with half price VAT on new builds, whilst Greece, what is Greece doing? Nothing useful as usual!

Good job there are still people who love Greece and really want homes here, but how long can we expect that to last if all the government does is try to bleed people dry. Still, everything has been mismanaged for so long, why should we expect it to be any different now?

There is a sliver of light in the tourism tunnel, where there is talk of concessions on social security payments by employers for their employees, which whilst not in itself a great help, is a major breakthrough in the state of mind of the Ministry of Tourism. Maybe other ideas will finally dawn on our esteemed politicians instead of just worrying themselves about the next elections.

2 January 2012

Christmas in Corfu

There are slightly fewer Christmas lights in the streets this year - an indication of straitened budgets, and hard-times, but it's Christmas after all, and the Christian spirit will out - we probably need some divine intervention right now anyway, so better play it safe and honour Him, even if He does get sidelined most of the time.

What a Christmas!

We started off the festive atmosphere with a coffee, mince pie and mulled wine morning in our Dassia office. Everyone - old friends, clients and passers by welcome. Next year we must try to invite more people personally, because although lots of people came there were lots who didn't hear about it until too late. The intention is for this to be a yearly event, so if we didn't see you this time we hope that we will in 2012.