Friday, January 13, 2012

It is cold. In fifteen years I have never known Crete to be so cold. The central heating is switching itself on at the point we normally turn it down to at night and the wood stove has been going all day for the last three days. Can’t remember when we last saw the sun and the rain has been incessant, not heavy but a depressing drizzle, plus a freezing wind and hailstorm for added interest. Looking out at the courtyard first thing this morning I saw it was littered with oranges the weather had knocked off the branches. Despite this the trees are still laden, so much so that some branches are hanging virtually vertical to he ground, but I learn from the news that orange juice is going to shoot up in price. Doesn’t everything? Orange juice prices hit record levels reads the headline. More than half the world’s orange juice comes from Brazil and traders say the main reasons for the price hike are safety concerns about juice from Brazil and cold weather in Florida. The US Food and Drug Administration said carbendazim, a fungicide, has been found in shipments from Brazil. Orange juice has risen by about 25% since the beginning of the year, to $2.12 a pound. Carbendazim is banned in the US, but is used legally in Brazil to treat black spot on trees. Consumption at the low levels that have been reported does not raise safety concerns, the FDA said in a letter published on its website but any orange juice which could be a risk to the public would be removed from supermarket shelves. The US is the second-largest producer of orange juice, with production mainly concentrated in Florida. Why did I always think it was California? Did Mister Steinbeck make me think that? Maybe they gave up oranges for grapes, wine being more profitable but that’s only a guess. A few days of cold weather in Florida has led to ice being found in some fruit and damage to leaves so it is not only Crete feeling the ravages of winter. Interesting that oranges grow in profusion on Crete and right now they are everywhere but the EU I believe banned their export because they are too big!

Never mind the orange juice, overnight the cost of petrol has risen alarmingly, from 169 to 176 lefta (cents) a litre. This means the heating oil has gone up again and I dread to think what it will be. Two thirds of a tank at the start of winter cost 660 euro

We have had three tons of firewood - 450 euro and the last two electricity bills plus the new property tax has cost us almost a thousand, so Greece sure ain’t what it used to be. And although this means every time some money comes in virtually all of it immediately goes out again. At least our income is in pounds so we are not as badly off as 20% of the population living below the poverty line. It has got so bad some mothers are giving up their children to charitable organisations because they can t afford to feed them and children are the whole reason for existence in Greece.

Doesn’t it make you want to bring down every curse on the fat cats who have fled the country taking their money with them and those who owe literally millions in tax and seem to be getting away with it.?

Rising energy prices have pushed Germany's inflation rate up to 2.3% in 2011, the highest since 2008, official figures show. Big deal!

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