Week 409

Sunday, 23rd October, 2016

A brilliant morning of cloudless, blue sky and strong sunshine. At this time of year, that means a cold start. At 7.00 am and while all the ‘workers’ were still in bed, the temperature in our garden was 4C/39F. The Basil is dead but the Tarragon still thrives. We will make one more harvest of it for the freezer before we go away but I doubt it will get through a month without us.

prop_sifI woke up at 6.00 am as usual but, this morning, the first thing that popped into my head was the lucky break we had in securing a good buyer for our Greek property when we did. If we hadn’t, we would have died still owning it. This reverie was provoked by an article I read just before going to bed last night. The desperate Greek Government has been pedalling popularity seeking claims like:

  • Tourism to Greece is getting stronger.
  • The Housing Market is seeing a revival.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah.

It may be that desperate Greeks choose to believe them but they would be foolish if they didn’t look further afield for their data and analysis. I wrote in mid-September about the revision starkly downwards of Greek tourism data and today I draw attention to an independent report concerning the Greek housing market. The report, which can be read in full here greek_prop, is based on a Pricewaterhousecoopers survey. Pwc say that Greek property prices are unlikely to return to pre-peak (2008) values before 2030. The Greek housing market is unlikely to be in supply/demand balance for three decades – 2047. This will not only impact current Greek adults but their children and even their grandchildren.

All of this makes us feel as if we made a deus ex machina escape from the responsibility of Greek property ownership. With that warm glow, I can report that the temperature outside has increased a balmy 300% to 12C/54F. I’m getting out the beachwear for a good afternoon.

Monday, 24th October, 2016

A grey and overcast day that reached just 14C/57F. It has been something of a none day. It seems wrong to write off a day of one’s life like that but we have done routine, greek_money_pitunremarkable activities like go to the Health Club, do domestic chores, read the newspapers, write to friends, watch political programmes. I suppose everyone has to do these things some time. It is just a day to enjoy being alive.

This huge sink hole appeared in Ioannina in northwestern Greece shortly after an earthquake of 5.6 Richter hit the area on Saturday. It is estimated to be to be more than 30 mtrs deep. It is to be hoped that billions of euros can be found at the bottom to drastically reduce the country’s debts.

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Week 408

Sunday, 16th October, 2016


Rain & Spray like fog on M25.

Up at 6.30 am and out just after 8.00 am. We set off for Monsom Lane, Repton, Derbyshire. The journey is just short of 200 miles. We set off in heavy rain. The M25 was thick with heavy spray. For 8.30 am, the traffic was remarkably heavy.

On to the M1 and the skies cleared. By the time we reached Derbyshire, the sun was out. The Repton countryside looked quite delightful although Autumn appeared to
be a little further advanced than in Sussex. The village was little changed.

img_0774We drove down Boot Hill to Monsom Lane to say Hello to Mum & Dad. The grave looks good and someone had planted small cyclamen in the ground at the front. I always visit at this time to coincide with Pauline’s Mum’s anniversary as well. It is Autumn and usually damp, misty and the grave is poignantly strewn with colourful but dead leaves. It is eight years since she died and the raw emotion is no longer there but has been replaced with region and judgement.

We usually do a quick circle of the village before leaving and that is what we did this morning. The problem was traffic. We couldn’t drive slowly and look because we constantly had someone on our tail. We turned round in The Square and headed for Yorkshire. Past Meadowhall Shopping Centre the motorway is being worked on for more than twelve months. It is going to be a ‘smart’ motorway. It feels anything but at the moment. Check-in at our hotel in Brighouse is 2.00 pm. We arrived, after seven hours, at 1.55 pm. Our suite was ready and we settled down to our newspapers with a glass of wine and some nuts.

Monday, 17th October, 2016


Trio in the Room at the Top

Woke up very tired after yesterday. Down to Breakfast at 8.00 am and then off to Bolton around 10.00 am. We were going to meet up with my big sister, Ruth, and her husband, Kevan. We were there just before 11.00 am and it was lovely to see them. You can see how big Ruth is.

We talked and drank coffee in the Bolton Oasis for a couple of hours and then set off for Oldham. Our destination was the coffee shop at Oldham Library. We were meeting our dear friend, Viv, who ran our Reprographics Department but who is now a Carer for her Mother. As we were walking from the carpark, I noticed an Asian man who I thought I recognised. I speculatively asked him if he attended our school and he confirmed he was Nurul (I remembered his surname, Hacque, and his twin, Abdul.). I remember him as one of two, beautiful, little twin brothers. He said he was 31 which meant he had left 15 years ago. Fully bearded and pushing a pram, Nurul was a lifetime away from the boy I remember …. so is my teaching career. The loss of the years makes me ache!

Tuesday, 18th October, 2016


Saying ‘Hello’ to Mum.

After Breakfast, we set off for Oldham Crematorium. It is the 6th anniversary of Mum Barnes death. She would be 102 now. As so often, the autumnal weather was damp, misty and a little chilly. Soggy brown leaves littered the crematorium’s pathways. Mum’s name, in Itallic Script, was there for this day in the Memorial Book. We don’t stay too long but just enough to concentrate our memories.

On to the here and now. We sourced Colin’s ‘Holland’s Pies’ and oven-bottom muffins which he misses from his Lancashire life.Then on to Shaw to visit my old friend, Brian. He and his wife, Val, are four years older than us but we are still confronting the same things in our lives. I took him a case of wine for his 69th birthday last week. We stayed a couple of hours and then drove back over the Pennines to our hotel.


The Spiced Pear Tea Room, Holmfirth

At around 2.00 pm, we set off for Holmfirth to meet Margaret & Tony. We met for ‘Afternoon Tea’ at the The Spiced Pear. We were amazed to find the converted, stone pub was packed. I had a pot of Yorkshire Tea. The others stuffed their faces with crustless sandwiches, chocolate cakes, scones with jam and clotted cream, etc..

It is always hard to part. We are leaving a previous life and moving forward. It is a bitter-sweet event that tells us we have moved on and can never go back. It hurts. It hurts the sentimental amongst us. It hurts ME!

Wednesday, 19th October, 2016

Up early – 6.00 am – and down to Breakfast at 8.00 am. Coffee, newspapers and the check out of our hotel. We set the sat. nav. at 9.30 am and drive the 200 miles to Byfleet in Surrey. M62 on to M1  and arrive about 1.45 pm. We deliver the Lancashire ‘goodies’ and go down to our doctors’ surgery for the very last time to pick up a prescription. On to Tesco to buy a snack for tea and then the 50 miles to our home in West Sussex. We arrive at 4.00 pm. We arrive tired but happy to be ‘home’.

Went to bed at 10.00 pm!

Thursday, 19th October, 2016


Good enough to eat?

Paid for the early night by waking up at 4.00 am. Had to listen to the Trump v Clinton debate to lull myself back to a fitful sleep but got up three hours later feeling tired. We had to do our shopping so went out earlyish. Back by 11.00 am. We were supposed to be going to the gym but I was completely knackered so we sat around reading and thinking of jobs we should be doing. While we were away in Yorkshire, half a dozen mushrooms appeared on the back lawn. I picked them off carefully so as not to spread the spores. They look as if garlic and olive oil would turn them into a meal. Would you trust my judgement? I wouldn’t! I bet Jane B.G. would know if they are dangerous. Where is she when you need her?

aplHad to ‘Check-in’ for our flights to Tenerife this afternoon. Effortless when it is from the computer chair in my Home Office. Pity we can’t do the ‘Bag Drop’ from here as well. Because we are going for a month and flying at 8.00 am, we are going to take a taxi to an airport hotel at Gatwick so we are on-site already when we drop off our bags and relax in the No1 Gatwick Members’ Lounge. It will make the transition in to ‘holiday mode’ all the easier as we move from this hectic pace of every day retirement.

Friday, 20th October, 2016


Flu jabs today.

A bright and cheery but chilly start to the day. At 8.00 am, it was just 9C/48F. At 8.00 am in Tenerife this morning it was 23C/73F which will do for the next month. We were out fairly early to have our ‘Flu jabs. When we got to the counter to book in, the receptionist queried whether we were both 65 years old and qualifying for ‘free’ treatment. When Pauline confirmed our ages, the receptionist expressed real surprise that we were that old. I saw Pauline’s face light up with pleasure. We sat down to wait and saw an old lady hobble up to the counter and enquire about her ‘Flu jab. Subsequently, she came to sit by me and said,

That’s made me feel better. They’re surprised I’m 65 and I’m really 73.

I didn’t disillusion her .. or Pauline although I did check my own appearance in the mirror and preened a little.

swAs we arrived home, the mail was on the mat and Pauline had the all-clear from her recent mammogram. I know I’ve only got eleven more years to live but, apart from BREXIT, things seem to be going rather well at the moment.

We received our first water bill from Southern Water this morning. Pauline had allocated £250.00 and it came in at £230.00. That’s fine but what was quite shocking was the fact that the charge for fresh water was just £80.00. The rest was accounted for by dirty water disposal and treatment. That was a hell of an expensive penny to spend!

Saturday, 21st October, 2016


Happy 59th Birthday to the twins – Mike & Liz. I hope they enjoy their last year before they come of age – The Third Age!

A delightful day of clear, blue skies and strong, autumnal sun. It’s Saturday and the 59th img_0830birthday of my little, twin sister and brother – Liz & Mike. It is hard to believe and just a little scary! Am I old? I valeted the car and felt shattered after that. Is that age?

We had to go out and collect our last repeat prescription issued by our Surrey Surgery just seven months after we left. Tomorrow we will complete the forms for our new, Angmering Practice although we won’t see them until we return from Tenerife in December.

We ate a glorious meal of whitebait (Merides), garlic sauce (skordalia) and tomato & cucumber salad (Salata). This was accompanied by a chilled, white wine (Domestika?). It was deep fried outside and we ate it outside in the garden in the warm sun. Two football matches today plus the newspapers. Pauline will be watching ‘Strictly’ while I do correspondence.

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Week 407

Sunday, 9th October, 2016

pub_angAnother sunny day out of blue skies. Not terribly warm now – only 16C/61F – which is why we are going to spend a month in Tenerife very soon. In the meantime, we’ve got a week of gym work, and a trip to Yorkshire. Our village looks lovely in this sunshine as this picture of the pub in the square demonstrates but there is no substitute for warmth. Although our garden is south facing and flooded with sunshine, it is taking longer to warm up in the mornings and less comfortable to sit out in. Tenerife is 24C/75F and that makes all the difference. Greece is only 23C/73F today. Fortunately, at least, we really haven’t seen snow since moving South five years ago.


More demanded of Greeks

The European creditors who now govern Greece are demanding a great deal more in tax from the Greek people who are not accustomed to paying it and much deeper cuts in Government spending which Greek governments are accustomed to spending, whether they’ve got it or not, to bribe the electorate. Additionally, they are demanding much more vigour in selling off state assets which the government and the people don’t want to privatise. Throughout the whole process, everyone is having to be coerced, like some reluctant juvenile, to do the right thing against their inclination which is to do nothing.

Monday, 10th October, 2016

Blue sky, bright sunshine but chilly this morning although, by early afternoon, we had reached 17C/63F. Apart from a couple of hours at the Health Club, we have spent the day aortaquietly reading through and dealing with medical matters. We both have significant tests, offered by our Surrey Health Authority, coming up tomorrow. Pauline has a mammogram and I have an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening. I understand mammogram but have no idea about my investigation.

Apparently, all men aged 65 years old are offered this scan by the NHS. Abdominal aortic aneurysm is a localized enlargement of the abdominal aorta. Over enlargement can lead to rupture which often results in death. If that’s right, and I have no reason to doubt it, I’m all in favour of undergoing this scan.

As soon as these investigations are concluded, we will put in our formal application to our new, GP surgery. It is within walking distance of our house in the village. In the future, that could be significant. The local A&E takes 20 mins to drive to which is becoming fairly standard in the latest moves at rationalisation. At least I can give and receive INR information by email these days.

Tuesday, 11th October, 2016


Villages Medical Centre – Send, Surrey

Up and out early this morning We were driving to The Villages Medical Centre in Send, Surrey.  It is an absolutely delightful, country village location. If one was going to receive bad news, that would be the sort of restful place one would wish to get it.

I am a naturally inquisitive person when it comes to meeting others. Pauline says I only need a couple of minutes with a complete stranger to elicit their entire biography. I introduced myself to the two practice nurses dealing with me and immediately found one of them, working in this idyllic, Surrey village, was originally from Yorkshire. I realised then that she couldn’t be all bad although she did have cold hands as she smeared my belly with gel. Within minutes of running the scanner over my hairy, gelled-up belly, she pronounced that I was completely normal. I asked for certificate to prove that to my wife who would otherwise be reluctant to accept that her husband and ‘normal’ could be synonymous but, apparently,  the NHS didn’t run to that.

We drove on to Byfleet to have coffee with P&C and to deliver their wine which we had bought in France last week. Then we went on to the Woking Walk-in Centre for Pauline’s mammogram. The day remained nice and sunny throughout which made the journey home pleasant but we were both really tired when we finally sat down to our chicken salad meal.

Wednesday, 12th October, 2016

petrolThe day opened grey and overcast but soon cleared to blue sky and pleasant sun with the temperature reaching 14C/57F. We still haven’t got a new, permanent doctor down here yet so we are going to Tesco for our ‘free’ flu’ jab. Every little helps! We are both tired after yesterday but we will force ourselves to the gym after Prime Minister’s Question Time, of course.

Brexit is dominating everything as the Pound Sterling plummets. All our imports will shoot up in price and inflation will hit our economy. We are already seeing sharp rises in petrol/diesel prices and there are many more to come. This, of course, will increase prices of everything because transportation costs will rise. The value of the pound has hugely fallen which doesn’t just mean foreign travel will be hit but all our imports will go up in price. Effectively, we will be importing inflation. The lunatics who voted for this don’t really comprehend the effects to come.

Thursday, 13th October, 2016


Rabbit is a wonderfully fat-free meat.

A largely grey day which reached 17C/63F but felt cooler in the breeze. I cut the lawns which had grown rich and green. At least it’s only once a week now instead of twice. We went to the Health Club. Pauline, who is a little under the weather, found the workout hard. Ironically, I loved it today.

When we went to France, we bought rabbit carcasses and, yesterday, I casseroled one in dry cider with a bulb of garlic and rosemary. Today, we ate them with roast carrots, parsnips and green beans. The result was gloriously delicious.

Friday, 14th October, 2016


Repton Village of my childhood.

Went out to have our ‘Flu jabs at Tesco. We checked on Wednesday and were told that we could have it at 10.00 am today. We arrived well in time only to be told that the nurse would not be available and we had been misinformed. I absolutely hate professional incompetence like that. I start to quickly feel the red mist rising and I had to walk away before I was openly rude to them. Pauline smoothed things over and booked an appointment for next Friday. Actually, we may be able to arrange it while we are in Yorkshire next week.


Dave & Sue with Jonathan

Got home to a large, brown envelope marked – Photos Please Do Not Bend. It was from an acquaintance from my past and someone I haven’t seen since 1969 some 47 years ago. I have to type these figures just to understand them for myself. Dave Beasley is 12 years older than me and was a mentor to me in my youthful village life in my home village of Repton in Derbyshire. He retired after a serious, industrial accident in his early 40s and took a small holding in rural Wales. Now 77 and still in Wales with his wife, Sue, he has sent me a photograph which depicts them with my village friend, Jonathan, who has lived in Boston, Massachusetts for the past 40 years or so. Dave and Sue look just the same but older as we all do. Jonathan is the spitting image of his father, Edward. Dave & Sue’s property looks delightful.

Saturday, 15th October, 2016


Dad, aged 16 at Burton upon Trent Grammar School. He is the tall one in the centre back row.

Mid October has started under grey and lowering skies but, by 10.00 am, blue has appeared and so has the sun. Today would have been my Dad’s 101st birthday. Unfortunately, he survived to see less than half of those. He died, aged 49, of a heart attack in Burton upon Trent hospital. When asked if I have any history of heart disease in the family, I hold my breath and hope I take after my Mother. I will be saying ‘Hello’ to them both tomorrow when I visit their graves in Repton.

Today, I have to valet the car in preparation for our trip tomorrow. Pauline is making the Christmas Cake this morning and then packing this afternoon while I watch Chelsea getting thrashed by Leicester (hopefully). We are looking forward to reconnecting with friends and relatives over the next, few days.

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Week 406

Sunday, 2nd October, 2016

A lovely, warm and sunny day with blue sky and high, white clouds. After the political programmes and before the football, we sat out in the sun in the garden. We deliberately chose a house with a south-facing garden which gives us long days of sunshine. It also helps us to grow patio plants successfully. Of course, one can’t fight the seasons and, as we open the conservatory doors onto our breakfast table each morning, we are beginning to notice the early air has a little bite to it. Today, I cut the basil plants back to the base and Pauline made the last batch of pesto using our plants this season.

sbb3Watched a programme about Rick Stein’s connection with and appreciation of John Betjeman last night. Suddenly saw a volume of poems that was said to be a ‘First Edition’ of Summoned by Bells featured. It reminded me that I have a first edition, signed and numbered as 1/125 with the location of Repton in 1960 included in the inscription. I think Mum gave it to me. I know that Betjeman used to visit and stay with Dr Hodson who lived about 100 yards up the High Street and he could be seen playing croquet on the lawn. It has been carried with me from house to house for 40 years and probably will be for the eleven years I have left.

Monday, 3rd October, 2016

Yet another lovely day of sunshine and blue sky. We are told that last month was one of the warmest Septembers on record and I can quite believe it. It was a great month not to be a teacher. Let’s hope my last 11 Septembers are as good if not better. About this time, we begin play the game about when we move into long sleeved shirts; when we feel it necessary to put the central heating on for the first time; when the continental quilt will be needed on the bed. No signs of any of those as yet.

We are going to France soon and we’ve decided not to go to the Health Club but to get jobs done. I have to mow the lawns, check the car for oil, water and tyre pressure and make bsfsure we have all our necessary documents.  Pauline is washing and ironing in preparation for packing.

A couple of weeks ago I reflected on the Greek media’s reports of the fall in tourism this year. This weekend, they reported the serious drop in holidays, holiday lengths and spending by the Greek population itself. The number of Greeks not affording a holiday at all and those cutting the number of nights away meant that spending by Greeks fell by a whacking 15% this year. It is not surprising with so many out of work or experiencing more pension cuts.

The Tories, here, are busily making it clear that we are not just leaving Europe but we are really LEAVING EUROPE. This will almost certainly mean import/export duties coming in to cross-border transactions as well as visas for Britons travelling to Europe and Europeans travelling to Britain. It may well mean deporting some foreign nationals who are deemed surplus to our workforce requirements and borders being much more strictly controlled with entry based on our requirements for skilled workers. This is all going to turn very ugly.

Tuesday, 4th October, 2016

Still the lovely weather continues with blue skies and strong sun flooding our back garden from dawn until dusk. The early morning – 7.00 am – and the evening – 7.00 pm – are tinged with the sharp edge of cool air of Autumn but the days are warm with Summer sun and delightful.


Vic Roebuck died in 2010

Like, I suspect, so many men of my age, I have been on a odyssey to reconnect with influentially formative figures from my past. My hero Rugby and English teacher from Grammar School was Vic Roebuck. I managed to write to him and thank him for all he had done for me just months before he died aged 82 in 2010. He was sad after losing his wife but still fighting to keep fit and serving Burton upon Trent Rugby Union Club.




David McAndrew – I last saw in 1972

Having failed to get in to Newcastle University in 1969, I settled, as a male Roman Catholic, for a Teacher Training place at an all-female, Church of England, Training College. I was one of the first 20 men amongst 600 women. I saw Ripon training College as very much second best but I absolutely loved it. My English tutor, David McAndrew, introduced me to serious poetry and writing. Particularly, he introduced me to the Cumbrian poet, Norman Nicholson. In an idle moment, I googled David and up he popped celebrating his new collection of poems, Gesture from Fragments at the Ripon Writers’ Group. He must be mid-80s but looks remarkably the same as I remember him when I last saw him in July 1972 – only 44 years ago. I wrote, speculatively, to him and received an email back immediately.



Harry Chambers – Poetry Tutor – O.U. 1975     Died aged 75 in 2012

As I started teaching, I felt as if I had to redress my failure. I applied for an Open University degree course. It would take a lot of my earnings, all my spare time and energy and many late nights writing assignments. It was worth it. I loved it and began to take a pride in myself. My third year course was 2oth Century Poetry. My tutor was a middle aged man called Harry Chambers. I had never heard of him but, it turns out, he was a legend in the publishing world of modern poetry. He was a close friend of Seamus Heaney, a confidant of Philip Larkin and a promoter of burgeoning, young talent that eventually became the establishment. The year after I graduated he moved his publishing company, Peterloo Poets, to Cornwall. He left a profound impression on me.


Professor Bill  Stafford


While I am doing this, I should pay tribute to the man who, probably, had the most profound influence upon my intellectual development. Soon after I had graduated from the Open University, I began to feel uncomfortable with my inability to understand the political world around me with any real perspective. We were living in Huddersfield and I saw an advert in the Huddersfield Examiner for applications from ‘mature’ students for a research degree – a Master of Arts in The History of Ideas. I didn’t even know what it was but it sounded challenging and I wrote to the young man who was supervising the course. It was Dr Bill Stafford. My research was into the rise in the influence of Marxist thought in late 19th Century Britain, the Rise of the Labour Party and the political writings of R.H.Tawney. Bill is now Emeritus Professor William Stafford.

Wednesday, 5th October, 2016


Sunrise over the South Downs

Up at 5.30 am. Why is it still dark? By 6.30 am, the daylight is breaking on a glorious morning. By 7.00 am, we are fighting against a strong sun in our eyes as we drive across to Folkestone and the Tunnel. As we always do, we arrive early, and get offered an earlier crossing.

I took some photos on my new phone and the quality seems reasonably good although I really must go back to my digital SLR camera. The phone and the iPad cameras are just so much more convenient. Certainly, the people parked in front of us on the train could not have posed much better than these, unsuspecting victims.


30 mins crossing


Arriving at our delightful hotel in Coquelles.

As we drive to our hotel in Coquelles, the gorgeous grounds are flooded in sunlight as the rabbits enjoy a mid morning lunch of grass flavoured grass. We have booked a suite for a couple of days to celebrate Pauline’s coming of ‘old’ age. We have been coming to this hotel for 25 years. In that time it has been under two or three owners. Originally, it was French and subsequently Millenium Copthorne. Now it is IHG.

I am an IHG member and get discounts, upgrades and free nights. Here, we have an upgrade. We will stay in an IHG hotel in Yorkshire and at the airport on the way to Tenerife. Each stay adds benefits to my account.


The Channel is widening as we stand here.

Having checked in and unpacked, we drive out to Cite Europe shopping complex where Pauline buys ……more shoes, in fact, three more pairs of shoes. Well it is her birthday. As we drive back to the hotel via Auchan supermarket, this delightful scene across the road presents itself. A French farmer ploughing his field against the backdrop of The Channel complete with ferries and the white cliffs of Dover. The Channel seems to be widening as we stand there. All the mood music from the other side is strident. Let’s hope it is only a negotiation position being struck at the outset!

Thursday, 6th October, 2016


Wonderful Wimereux

I’ve woken to a nascent,blue sky and another wonderful day. Pauline has woken to being 65 + 1 day. Nightmare! Hotel breakfast to which we are so unused that we are full before we start. Back to our room for coffee and newspapers before we set out for the coast road and the Calais to Boulogne via Wissant, Tardinghen, Audinghen and Wimereaux. In beautiful sunlight, the journey was a delight. We revisited old haunts and found new ones.


Our old haunt in Wissant.

After a lovely day in the sunshine, we went back to our suite and ate a meal of prawns, celeriac dip, tomatoes and cured ham with a bottle of chilled, white Burgundy. This bottle cost £10.00/€11.11 but would cost £21.00/€23.34 in UK. We are aware now that this facility will only be available for another 18 months. They are all considering their futures even now.


Friday, 7th October, 2016

Up at 7.00 am (6.00 am GMT) and down to breakfast at 8.00 am. Breakfast is an alien concept and hard to stomach but the feeling that ‘we’ve paid for it so we’ll eat it’ still prevails. Feeling painfully full, we stagger back to our room to drink coffee and read the newspapers.


Migrant Smugglers apprehended on M25

At 9.30 am, we check-out and drive to Auchan where we do our weekly shop plus packs of duck breasts, duck legs, rabbit, etc.. Salad and fresh fruit abounds in our shopping trolley. We set off for the Tunnel about 10 mins away. A cup of coffee and a toilet break and we are queuing up for the train. Off and on to English motorway by 12.00 GMT, we set off on our 90 mins drive to home. En route as we join the M25, we see a large lorry full of boxes (We now know of frozen roast potatoes.) being searched and about 15 migrant stowaways being removed. They have endured temperatures of -25C for hours. The Daily Mail newspaper reports later confirm that.

Home by 2.00 pm, we read through correspondence, unload the car and sink back into our sofas. It doesn’t matter where we travel, coming ‘home’ is great!

Saturday, 8th October, 2016

Is it a sign of age to be tired after being away for a few days? If so, I’m not tired at all. Even so, we both lazed around a bit this morning. I did rack up all the bottles of wine we bought. It came to 140 bottles for us, 48 for P&C and another dozen for friends. Our car swallows 200 bottles of wine without trying. Our wine store also gives us ‘free crossings’ through the tunnel so the process is painless.


For me ….


…..For you.









After that, we went to the Health Club for a good workout. Really enjoyed it after days away indulging ourselves.

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Week 405

Sunday, 25th September, 2016

mobilecaseWhat a lovely, lovely day! Blue skies, strong sun and warm air reaching 21C/69F. Everywhere looks so much more optimistic in this weather. Hope Ruth’s getting used to the snow in Puerto Pollensa. Sundays are political programmes – Marr, Peston and Sunday Politics with the incomparable Andrew Neil. At the same time, The Sunday Times fills the spaces. We went off to the Health Club for a couple of hours between 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm and got back just in time to watch West Ham. thrashed by Swansea. It could have been anyone. We all hate West Ham..

Pauline likes to put her smartphone in a leather case. I prefer mine lighter and unencumbered. Ordered an orange leather one for Pauline. She will be a happy girl. She made a wonderful tomato salad, a beetroot salad, skordalia and cold garlic and tarragon chicken. I love that sort of meal nowadays. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have entertained it.

Monday, 26th September, 2016

Interesting day – a little fresher than yesterday but still reached 20C/68F. Our conveyancing solicitor wrote to us with our final house documents (only 6 months after completion) and included a cheque for £80.00/€93.00 which was left over after disbursements. We were just planning where to spend it on a meal for Pauline’s birthday when we found a parking ticket on our windscreen. We were parked in what we thought was Waitrose carpark while we shopped for about ten minutes. It turned out, it didn’t wbbelong to the supermarket and there was a special ‘badge’ scheme that we should have joined. We had a £25.00/€29.00 fine to pay.

We drove home feeling a little aggrieved. Soon after we got home, we were informed that one of our investments was paying us a bonus of £1250.00/€1441.00. It is all tax free and feels so much nicer because it was unexpected. We ended the morning £1305.00/€1504.00 up. Could be worse.

We should have gone to the gym but chickened out today. Instead we made a meal that the Skiathan would be proud of. It included crispy whitebait with garlic sauce plus fresh crab salad washed down with a tangy and chilled white wine. This is how retirement should be!

Tuesday, 27th September, 2016

A mild but cloudy day. I have set my self the task of giving the car a full valet before we go to the gym. I vacuumed inside, cleaned and treated all the leather, cleaned and shone the glass inside and then gave it the full treatment outside. It starts with a pressure wash to get the loose grime off followed by shampoo and wax spray and a water brush off with a final jet wash to finish. I enrol my assistant to help with the wipe dry and shine. About an hour and it’s done. We go in for coffee and the rain begins to fall. Great!

The trip to the gym was more successful although it was remarkably busy for a Tuesday. We are beginning to find our current routine a bit too easy although tiring. We’ve decided to up our time on the equipment from tomorrow – only by 5 mins – for the rest of this week and then by another 5 mins next week. We are going to France for a few days so we will have a little time to recover.

protestMeanwhile, Greek Police, Fire Brigades and Coast Guard gathered outside the Defence Ministry on Tuesday morning and demanded that Minister, Panos Kammenos, restore wage cuts and avoid further cuts on special payrolls. Thessaloniki bus workers walked off the job for the 11th day in a row on Tuesday, demanding three months in unpaid wages. Almost half of Greek workers fear being sacked in near future. This is not a happy country.

Wednesday, 28th September, 2016

Glorious and warm, sunny day with clear, blue skies. We are told we will reach 24C/75F today. Currently, it is 21C/70F and delightful. I have already cut the lawns this morning and ordered my minion to dead-head the potted geraniums. Everything looks pristine and we can sit in the sun to avoid catching SAD.


Ruth on the right & Lizzie Dripping on the left.









Who needs a remote control on their phone? Good fun, though!

Spoke to Ruth this morning just after she returned from Bolton Hospital Eye Unit where she was having her second cataract operation. She sounded very chipper and said the operation was very straightforward. She’s only been back from her holiday a few days and she sounds happy and vigorous – for someone so old. We are going for coffee at her penthouse apartment in Bolton when we go up in about three weeks. First, we have a trip to France to celebrate Pauline’s birthday.

As a fan of gadgets, I’m really enjoying my new smart phone. It has so many apps available that I’m still learning and learning is what I enjoy. Today, I have found the Peel Smart Remote app pre-installed on my phone. It allows me to control all the televisions in the house – switching on/off, changing channels and volume. We have plenty of remote controls anyway but it’s just nice to do it from my phone. It will also control the air conditioning – but I haven’t got any.

Thursday, 29th September, 2016

What a difference a day makes. From cloudless, blue skies yesterday to grey, damp and overcast this morning. It is still mild – 17C/63F at 7.00 am. We are reacquainting ourselves with the supermarkets this morning – Asda, Sainsbury’s & Tesco – all for carefully researched items. They are all close together but it takes about and 90 minutes. By the time we get home at 11.00 am, the sun is out and the patio starting to dry out.

A cup of coffee and listening to an important speech from the Secretary of State for International Trade. It is important for clues to the Government’s thinking on Brexit ytnegotiations. The importance of Free Trade is being stressed, suggesting that membership of the Single Market is going to be lost on the alter of abolishing Free Movement.

Do you like tea? I drink a lot of fresh coffee but I also love tea. I love Yorkshire Tea and have done for years. Strangely, our water in Surrey didn’t suit Yorkshire Tea and we had to find an alternative. Here in Sussex, we have returned to Yorkshire Tea and it tastes wonderful. It is so thirst quenching. Yorkshire & Sussex is a marriage made in paradise.

I am dying. Well, we all are but I have been given a timescale. My expected lifespan is between 76 – 79 years which gives me a remaining 11 – 14 years of healthy life. The NHS heart age calculator uses things like my atrial fibrillation and weight and height plus blood pressure and family history of heart disease to predict the age at which I could expect to experience a heat attack or stroke. It is quite shocking although useful to know. The interesting thing to me is that losing more weight would make no difference to my life expectancy at all.

Friday, 30th September, 2016

September 2016 leaves on a warm and sunny day that brought us a few, momentary showers as well. Pauline suddenly became social and attended a Macmillan for Cancer coffee morning at a neighbour’s house in our street. I didn’t. I phoned friends and updated my Facebook page. Now that’s what I consider being ‘social’. I also did the vacuuming of the house. We are so clean and tidy here that there is little to do in that regard.

Another trip to the Health Club this afternoon. It was really busy – on a Friday? That’s unusual. Pauline cooked a delicious cod loin with pesto topping which we ate with cucumber and cherry tomato salad and balsamic vinegar beetroot. Absolutely wonderful. Good, healthy food makes one feel really happy.

As we enter October, we realise that we are away from home for five and a half of the next eight weeks. It’s going to be an interesting time.

Saturday, 1st October, 2016


Happy New Month. White Rabbit! It’s going to be a busy one. We are going to France and Yorkshire. Let’s hope we can tell the difference. Actually, the weather is forecast to be lovely next week in France which will add to the pleasure.


The Northern Echo – October 9th, 1969

It was 47 years ago this week that I was preparing to leave home. I was 18 years old and had spent my post-school holiday working at Pirelli in Burton-upon-Trent and saving money for my future. I thought Pirelli made tyres but it turned out that they also made slippers and it was in that department that I was put to work, packing them in to 80kg boxes and stacking them on shelves in the loading bay. Eventually, after three weeks long experience, I was moved into the loading bay to stack boxes of slippers on to lorries. Before I left, after ten weeks’ work, I was about to graduate to the job of Export Manager but that would have been a step too far. I managed to save £430.00 which was exactly the equivalent of my first term’s grant.


Idyllic Ripon

I was leaving home to go to Ripon Teacher Training College. It wasn’t my first choice by any means. I had pinned my hopes on reading English Lit. at Newcastle University but they wanted A/A/B at ‘A’ Level and I didn’t make it. I spent most of my Sixth Form career playing Contract Bridge in the Prefects’Room. I had always wanted to be a teacher but not yet. I wanted to meet the girls of Newcastle University first. Instead, I had to settle for being one of the first 20 men amongst 600 women to attend Ripon. I loved it and never went home again apart from for one, Summer holiday. This photo from The Northern Echo featured the only 20 men at the, previously, all-womens college. I don’t know how but I am dead centre of the photo next to Kevin.

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Week 404

Sunday, 18th September, 2016


Unnatural Autumn Conkers.

A lovely, mild and sunny day. We are not going to the gym today so, after listening to the newspaper review and watching the political interviews, I throw myself into Autumn Tidying. Of course, that is not such a major job here as it has been in other gardens that we’ve owned. It is smaller and not surrounded by trees. No leaves to sweep up. That was always a bind. Actually, horse chestnut trees in the village have been showing early autumnal signs but I read that they are being attacked by a disease imported from Turkey. Not much good comes from there – apart from figs and ‘delight’. I cut the lawns, threw away the old tomato and pepper plants and swept the patio.


Acidic, Greek, Thompson Grapes

Autumn is a time for wonderful grapes, sweet and scented. Unfortunately, our supermarkets seem to be swamped with rather acidic but tasteless, ‘Thompson’ grapes from Greece. They are exported from Andravida on the Patra – Pyrgos road. What we particularly love are the Greek Rozaki grapes which are imported from the Korinthos area. Maybe they will come soon but for how much longer? UK imports more grapes from Greece than all of the other European countries put together. How will BREXIT alter this relationship? We were saying this to a friend from Sifnos who contacted us this morning. It is looking as if we will be completely out by mid-2019. That’s if there is an EU to leave by then. Elections all around Europe are about to throw Spaniards in a lot of works!

Monday, 19th September, 2016

Overcast but mild this morning. We will be going to the gym for a couple of hours around 2.00 pm. Before that, my jobs are to mow the neighbours’ lawn and to tidy the garage. First, we go to Asda to buy ingredients for green tomato chutney and green pepper relish. Neither of my jobs are major and I’m finished within the hour. Pauline is still going through the process of chutney-making as I finish. The kitchen stinks of boiling vinegar but I’m sure it will be worth it.



Mind you, I used to love cheese and chutney but I’m not allowed much cheese nowadays so I will have to rethink that.

Tuesday, 20th September, 2016

Overcast but mild again this morning. We have a forecast of 30C/88F returning next week but we’ll believe that when we see it. My job today is to make some decisions about new smart phones to replace our Sony Experias. Our 2 year contract is up on Friday. We can expect a new, ‘free’ smart phone if we sign a new, 2 year deal. We have been with EE (formerly Everything Everywhere) which expanded out of T-Mobile and Orange and its purchase by BT. Currently, I am torn between these two:


Sony Xperia X / Samsung Galaxy S6 edge

Does it matter? Probably not but we will be stuck with them for two years so attention is required.

We spent our couple of hours at the gym and I know you’ll find this hard to believe but the exercise time shot past because I was able to watch the Liberal Democrats Conference Leadership speech. The continuing Party Conference season will go on for a week or so  and help me through the pain of exercise.

Wednesday, 21st September, 2016

tatoosSigns of aging are everywhere for a 65 year old man. I realise this in the Health Club changing rooms when large proportions of men are covered in body art. I cannot even get close to understanding the need for it. Many/most of these men are not so much younger than me, are fat and well over forty and covered in ink. Why? I, personally, find it even more unprepossessing on middle aged women. Is it just me? Maybe, but we hear that employers don’t want to consider applicants who are covered in body art particularly if they are expected to serve the public. I have the same problem with bolts through noses or plastic saucers in ear lobes.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about Athens being particularly quiet. At the same time people were telling us that Greece was experiencing record numbers of tourists. I’ve learnt to take this with a healthy dose of scepticism. Today, as so often, official figures released show that:


Greek tourism revenues failed to post a turnaround in July, bringing losses in the first seven months to to 345 million euros year-on-year, according to data compiled by the Bank of Greece …Travel receipts in the period from January to July declined by 4.8 percent year-on-year, reaching 6.78 billion euros. In July alone, travel receipts and arrivals went downhill on an annual basis: The drop in takings exceeded 100 million euros, or 3.5 percent, while arrivals shrank by 2 percent from July 2015.

In Greece, you can never take local reports at face value. The official figures almost always contradict them. Let’s hope the Poison Dwarf is enjoying her splendid isolation!

Thursday, 22nd September, 2016

A lovely, sunny day to greet the ‘official’ first day of Autumn. It is the equinox – equal day and night – and marks the start of the slide down into Winter. We are marking this occasion with a visit from my sister, Catherine, and her husband, Lorrie, who are coming for coffee. Later, we will go to the Health Club for a good workout.

mobsamI have decided on the phone I’m going to choose. It will be the Galaxy S6 Edge. It’s not the greatest smart phone in the world but we are not big users of mobile calls or texts. We will have two phones and two contracts which will cost around £62.00 / €72.15 per month and that is enough. It gives us unlimited calls and texts at home and in Europe plus 2Gb of data. A lot of our time is spent at home nowadays and our phones use the house Wi-Fi so the only time we need data is when we are out and about or abroad.

I like gadgets and this phone also allows me to do Wi-Fi calling when the mobile signal is weak and Wi-Fi charging which obviates the need for a cable. It’s got a 16 mega pixel camera which is as good as my dedicated and expensive SLR camera and it has, reportedly, excellent low-light capabilities. It will be a 2 year contract after which time they will give me two more new smart phones. The Sony Xperias we’ve got now were only released 2 years ago but are worth about £30.00/€35.00 on the trade-in market. The cost to buy the two phones we will pick up soon would be £900.00/€1050.00 from Argos. Once again, they’ll be worthless in two more years.

Had a lovely visit from my sister, Catherine and her husband, Laurie. Coffee and emotion flowed for an hour or so.


September 2016

Of course, family matters spilled in to every conversation and it was amazing to be sitting opposite someone who I’ve met only four or five times over the past 40 years but is intimately involved in my past. As I sat opposite Catherine, I fell back 40 years to my boyhood. Catherine is a lovely girl and I find it humbling to be with her again.

Friday, 23rd September, 2016


Ruler of all she surveys…..and she’s looking at me!

A really hot and sunny day of clear blue skies and no movement of air. Unfortunately, it was shopping morning so I didn’t have much chance to enjoy the weather but it’s not a problem. We have had plenty of sun this summer and we’ve got another month of it in Tenerife soon. I don’t think I’ll fail to get my quota of vitamin D.

Had to take a picture of Pauline to send to our friends on Sifnos so I thought I’d share it with you. It will become part of the Legacy Store. One of my many sisters, and I have six, is in Puerto Pollensa. There are nine of us altogether with about half already in retirement and the other half moving inexorably towards it. Soon the entire clan will be roaming the world looking for interest, excitement and pleasure. Look out world!

Saturday, 24th September, 2016

editorHappy Saturday. Phyllis has pointed out my constant failing to get the date right. I copy and paste from the day before and forget to update. Eventually, after compounding the error for a day or two, I check and revise. I have appointed her Executive Editor of The Blog. It is an honorary and unpaid position – before she asks!

It is a gorgeous, sunny and warm day. I’ve mowed my neighbour’s lawn and watered their plants. We joined forces to plant out some beautiful cyclamen plants that Catherine & Laurie brought us on Thursday. They look lovely.

Our new smart phones arrived this morning and I spent the rest of the day setting them up, copying calendars and contacts across – This is so simple nowadays with Bluetooth. I just had to sit them back to back with the old phone and Bluetooth across from one to the other. In the past, I had to rewrite lots of stuff. I had to set up ‘acceptable’ sounds for Pauline’s ringtone/Text Delivery, etc. Now I have to find which site will offer the best price for our old phones.

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Week 403

Sunday, 11th September, 2016

Home from Greece and waking to clear blue skies with forecast of 30C/88F as the week develops. Kids are back at school, parents back at work and the Health Club will be noticeably quieter. Things can only get better. The only fly in the ointment for me is that a strain in my arm that I noticed after swimming in Tenerife last January has suddenly become much more painful and restrictive. Originally, I thought it was a strained muscle but with its persistence and tendency to move up and down my arm, Pauline now thinks it is a trapped nerve. She says I have got to see a doctor. I am reluctant but know I will have to soon. Even so, we are going to the Health Club this afternoon and every day over the next week.

Found this on a blog this morning. Well, it amused me.


The only way is up … in smoke!







Monday, 12th September, 2016

A lovely warm and sunny morning which reached 22C/70F fairly early. I spent most of it outside, cutting the lawns, watering the pots, pruning the hedges and digging up weeds. I even watered my neighbours’ pots of plants. We went to the Health Club for  a couple of hours and both felt better for it. My arm feels a little better although I’m still struggling to put my shirt on at the moment.

pillsWe picked up application forms for our new Doctors’ Surgery. We were allocated to the Practice because the whole area seems to have capacity problems at the moment. Actually, we are allocated the surgery which is about a mile from our house. It looks pleasant enough. When we have completed our application forms, we assume that we will have induction meetings with a GP – if they have time.

I have to request a repeat prescription soon and have my INR tested. For this reason alone, it is important that we settle our Doctor’s services. By the way, you do need to worry a little when the highlight of your day is ordering replacement pill organisers. That’s what I did today. Yes, I knew you’d be envious!

Tuesday, 13th September, 2016


Brighton Beach Today.

A hot and sunny start, as predicted. It registered 22C/70F by 8.00 am and 26C/79F by 10.30 am. It is reported that we were around 32-33C/90 – 92F. This evening and holding throughout the night it is going to be an comfortable 20C/68F. We have all the windows open upstairs to encourage a through movement of air. It is a twisted logic but, even though we live within minutes of the beach and the kids are all supposed to be in school, days like today are impossible to enjoy on the shoreline because the rest of the world is there.


Great Gadgets for the Lazy!


Hotel de la Plage, Wissant.

Fortunately, they are not in our garden so that’s where we spent most of our day. We went shopping for (Red Meat Alert!!!) some sirloin steaks to griddle in the garden for our meal. While we were out, I spotted some gadgets that I’ve been considering for a while. In our Lounge we have five table lamps. As darkness falls, I switch them on but it takes so long I’m in danger of seeing the sun rise before I’ve finished. At night, I have to check the door locks, turn off all lights, part set the alarm, etc.. I have bought some sets of remotely controlled sockets to switch all five lamps on and off with one button or each individual light on an off from the sofa. Cool or what? I’ve done the same with the bedside lights in the bedroom. Can you imagine not having to grope in the dark for the light switches. With the remote close to your false teeth (joke), one button starts a process of illumination.

We sat outside this evening in slightly cooler air – 22C/70F – and under a nearly full moon planning our futures. Immediately, we have booked a few days away in France to celebrate Pauline’s 65th birthday. We hope to have dinner at one of our favourite fish restaurants in Wissant – maybe Hotel de la Plage. This trip will continue a series of travels which started with Athens and will include a few days in Yorkshire and a month in Tenerife.

Wednesday, 14th September, 2016

cabsAnother hot and sunny day. I did house work. Today it was vacuuming. We were waiting for a delivery. We bought four 2-dr mirrored bathroom cabinets from Bathstore at about £200.00/€235.00 each. One soft-close hinge on one of the cabinets has seized up. Pauline phoned them to ask for a replacement hinge. They insisted on sending a complete replacement cabinet. It arrived this morning.

Having emptied the dishwasher and hoovered the house, watered the plants and made the coffee, I was free to indulge my wild side for a few minutes. I spent it downloading and installing a new operating system for our iPads. I haven’t had time to explore the improvements promised but I soon found that, as The Times had warned me, my newspaper wouldn’t download in e-paper format. I have to wait for the newspapers boffins to re-write their software for the new platform.


Sunrise Calendar closing down.

Something else changing but not for the better. Our on-line, interactive calendar which we use across all platforms – our iPads, Internet Explorer on our desktops and on our smart phones – Sunrise is closing down having been taken over by Microsoft. I am urgently looking for an alternative.

Thursday, 15th September, 2016

Half way though the month already. It is hot and humid. We are told we are going to have a downpour by early afternoon so I am not watering my pots or my neighbours’. Thursday is shopping day. Today, we are picking up a parcel at the PO in Angmering village, visiting Sainsburys, Argos and Tesco. They are all within minutes of each other. However, we set off at 9.00 am and get home around 11.00 am. It is 22C/70F as we set off and a sticky  24C/75F as we return. An hour in the sun in the garden with a cup of coffee and it is time for the Daily Politics programme followed by the News at One.

Now it is time for the Health Club. I regularly feel reticent as we set off and then really enjoy the routine and return home tired but extremely satisfied. Although I have the same reaction regularly, I don’t seem to learn from it. It is great to have a wife who urges me on.

ferriesstrikeI cooked when we got home. Today, it is strips of belly pork with tomato & cucumber salad plus broad bean salad and a green pepper salad. Basically, it is a little bit of roast pork with a lot of varied salad. It was nice and we followed it with fresh raspberries & strawberries with ginger yoghurt. Wonderful!

Tourist season is over in Greece so it’s time for indulgence in strike action. Thursday/Friday next week will see an absence of ferries.

Friday, 16th September, 2016

ccThe news is full of the deluge – thunder & lightning followed by torrential rain. Homes in our previous area of Surrey were flooded. In Yorkshire it was equally bad. Here, we had a few minutes rain – enough to bring much needed water to lawns and flower beds – and then nothing more. This morning has been dominated by  a trip to Worthing for Pauline to have her hair cut. I sit in Costa Coffee for an hour and use their Wi-Fi to do some reading. A large cup of coffee costs me a ridiculous £2.60 for an Americano with milk. It wasn’t even that good.

The hour passed quickly however. I was certainly amused to see a young mother with small baby choose to sit in the most conspicuous seat in the coffee shop next to the front window looking on to the busy street, whip out her chest and start feeding her child. It was rather a ‘look at me’ moment. It gave me indigestion!


Worthing A&E – 20 mins drive away.

We drove home and watched the Daily Politics which centred on the UKIP conference from Bournemouth. Unsurprisingly, Diane James was elected to follow Farage who will, no doubt, find it hard to take a back seat.

We have been meaning to check out our local A&E for emergency purposes. It is Worthing Hospital We decided to investigate and drive there. In early afternoon traffic, it took us exactly 20 mins each way. That feels quite a long time if you have a serious, medical condition. That would be the only reason for going to A&E anyway. Pauline tells me that is fairly average.

Friday, 17th September, 2016

It looks as if the hottest September week for a century has been this summer’s swansong. Noticeably cooler this morning – on 13C/55F at 8.00 am – and quite a shock to the system. The tomatoes and peppers have anticipated this change and stopped ripening. This morning, I cleaned the plants of all remaining fruit and prepared to ready the garden for cooler times. With the cherry tomatoes, the yellow variety started slower but have gone on longer – a bit like me. I just love the dark, shiny green of the peppers. All of this fruit, however, is destined to become chutney.

pepppersAutumn tomsAutumn

Received an appointment for an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening . Apparently, it is offered to all men aged 65 and subsequently on a three monthly or annual basis to those who are found to be at risk. Pauline wanted to know why only men were offered this test. As I pointed out to her, men are much more likely to suffer from an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm and I’d never been offered a ‘smear test’ or a mammogram. She didn’t look impressed.

Still, it’s been a great week. Lovely and warm and sunny. We didn’t get the heavy rain which was forecast and we will soon be in the warmth of Tenerife for a month to keep the winter at bay. Actually, the flowering Yuccas and huge palm trees in the gardens around here suggest that the winter will have no comparison with that of Yorkshire. They wouldn’t survive if it did.

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Week 402

Sunday, 4th September, 2016

moneyIt’s nice to start a new week with a Lottery win ………. even if it is only £25.00/€30.00. It will buy us a reasonable bottle of wine in Athens.

Quite a breezy night here although a warmish 18C/65F. I have to do the hovering this morning. I’ve done it once last week. How clean does the house have to be? The tomatoes and peppers are destined for chutney when we get back from our travels. The basil might just yield one more pack of pesto and the tarragon may go though the winter. It will be interesting to see.

quizWe have booked a month Half Board in a Luxury 5* Hotel in Tenerife for November. Even as we did this, we were keeping our fingers crossed that it would be the sort of hotel we like. It was reassuring today as I read the Sunday TimesTravel Section to find that the weekly prize this week is 5 days B&B in exactly the same hotel. I

The hotel has a number of restaurants, a number of pools – including a salt water one – and a Fitness Centre. It has Wi-Fi throughout and easy access to neighbouring areas. We are looking forward to sun and warmth with plenty of activity and four weeks spent surrounded by Sunday Times readers.


Monday, 5th September, 2016


Welcome to Gatwick

Left our house at 1.00 am and set off for Gatwick Long Stay Carpark. Everyone should travel at this time in the morning. The roads are a delight. By 2.30 am, we were in the airport just as heavy rain began to fall.

Travelling by air is so easy nowadays even by Easyjet. Buy on-line; choose seats on-line; check-in on-line. Even the bag drop in the airport is now done on-line and a luggage label generated by machine printers. Travellers have to attach their own labels and put them on to the conveyor belt.


A quiet Athens Airport

We flew on time at 5.30 am and arrived 30 mins early after a lovely flight interrupted by a brief bout of turbulence which I largely slept through. Arriving in Athens just after 10.30 am, our cases were off almost instantly. The airport was very, very quiet. We walked across the road to the train station and paid €8.00 each to Syndagma. Why would you go by taxi? An hour later, we were walking across Syndagma Square and the short walk to our hotel, calling at a corner shop for a bottle of wine and some peanuts.

Our hotel is the 5* Electra Palace Hotel where we have stayed for years. They are nice people who provide a good service in a comfortable hotel although it is rather dated. The Electra Group have bought the building next door which, ironically, used to house the Teachers’ Centre. They have built a beautiful and luxurious new hotel called the Electra Metropolis. It doesn’t open for a couple of weeks but we managed to have a look and speak to the Night Manager en route to our restaurant this evening. We were walking to our favourite street side taverna which we’ve been visiting since it first opened 20 years ago.


Evgenia roadside taverna.

If you walked past Evgenia Taverna as a first time visitor to Athens, you wouldn’t look twice. On the corner of a normally busy road and opposite a normally busy Carpark, this restaurant is a quintissential Athens taverna. Family run, this hotel is basic, tasty and moderately priced with friendly people running it.

We had a Greek Salad and Skordalia followed by Sea Bass for Pauline and Kalamarakia Tiganita for me. We were offered fruit to fish our meal but just couldn’t manage it. Walked back to our hotel to watch Greek News and have a much needed early night.

Tuesday, 6th September, 2016

Didn’t wake until 7.15 am. Must have been catching up on lost sleep. The Internet wi-if here is good and we quickly download our newspapers before going down to breakfast. The hotel seems quieter than usual. The airport yesterday was very quiet and so was the train to Athens. The Syndagma area was quiet and the taverna we ate at had tables aplenty. What is going on? Official figures report record arrivals at the airport. Our eyes suggest some scepticism.


Would you travel on a train like this?







Only one Cafenion left!

We went down to Piraeus to meet friends from Sifnos. It was a shocking trip. The vandalism of the Metro and the areas it runs through is much more extreme than previously. Piraeus itself is shockingly ‘shut down’ as all those ticket offices and cafes we frequented have disappeared. There is just one remaining cafenion and that was quiet. The port itself had few takers for ferries although, admittedly, it was past the early morning rush. However, we have seen it much busier than this.

imageWe returned to Athens and Pauline went on the customary search for shoes and leather belts. We have some suppliers that she returns to consistently but she only purchased a couple of belts today. And back to the comfort of our hotel.

We had to be rescued by a technician this morning after the room safe failed to open. We had stored 2 x iPad, a Kindle, our sets of Bank cards, €2000.00, 2 x smart phones. It turns out that the batteries needed replacing in the back-up lock.


Electra Palace Hotel


Our Room 215














Red wine can sometimes be good for you.

We went for a swim and jacuzzi and then relaxed with a lovely bottle of red wine and some peanuts.

We went for a walk and then out to eat – Salad, Green Beans, Chicken and Garlic Sauce. Soon we were absolutely stuffed. As we were eating, the skies opened and rain bucketed down. Just as suddenly, it stopped and the sun came out. We walked back to our hotel for coffee.


Wednesday, 7th September, 2016


Warm, dark and wet.

Woke up and thought I was dead. Couldn’t feel any of my extremities. It was so warm last night that Pauline set the air con to freezing. It worked. The man next to her and who sleeps on top of the sheets was frozen with rigor mortis. There was light rain in the air and all those who normally breakfast in the garden were moved into the Breakfast Room putting pressure on tables and serving staff.

We have been led to believe that monsoon conditions could be in force today so we have planned to visit the Acropolis Museum in Dionysiou Aeropagitou Street. We have never been before. In fact, it was 30 years of visiting Greece before we actually went round the Acropolis itself. I’m sorry to report that I was completely underwhelmed and I don’t have great hopes of today but I will go with an open mind.


Threat of rain brought many to the Museum


Old stones and old people.

Well, the rain didn’t really materialise. Apparently, it badly savaged the southern Peloponnese but left Athens alone and soon blue skies and strong sun returned. However, we pressed on with our trip to the museum in dull light and threats of rain. Most tourists had heard the weather forecast and decided to brave the museum trip themselves. We found ourselves in a huge building and paying the princely sum of €5.00 each to walk round a pile of old stones with a large and smelly mass of humanity. I told you I would keep an open mind.

Really, after you’ve looked and marvelled at 20 old pots, statues, stone horses and dogs, the mind begins to drift. I find myself people-watching. I’m much more interested in the living than the dead. I met this gorgeous girl on my way. She’s not set in stone! She might be one day if she pre-deceases me which is unlikely.


We did the whole museum although we rather ran round the second floor as our interest waned. It took us 30 years in Greece to visit the Acropolis itself never mind the museum. Actually, if you talk to most Athenians, you find they have not been their either.

Went out to eat at 8.00 pm. We had whitebait, fried baby squid, garlic sauce, Fava (bean dip) and a Ltr of white wine and the bill came to just €37.00/£31.00. We were stuffed and we walked back to the hotel to watch ERT News about the flooding in Kalamata and drink coffee in comfort.

Thursday, 8th September, 2016


Packets of herbs at the Central Market

Lovely, sunny and warm morning. We went down to breakfast although neither of us can eat much more. After a while reading our newspapers, we walked down to the Dimotiki Agora to buy large packets of herbs – particularly oregano and bay leaves. Half a kilo of dried, Greek oregano for €5.00/£4.20 will get us through until our next visit.

On the walk back, Pauline managed to buy three more leather belts of different colours. How many belts does one woman need? I bought three post cards to send to our friends in the North. I bought them from a periptero but, of course, they don’t supply stamps. You have to go to the Post Office for those.


Slow progress to buy three stamps.

In central Athens, the Post Office is always packed. We just wanted three stamps. Many people wanted to send money or receive money, send parcels, have business envelopes franked. There must have been 4o people queuing up as we arrived and got our number ticket. It was NUMBER 255. We got it at 12.53 pm. By 1.30 pm, we were still queuing. A man who had been there for an hour gave up the will to live and left. As he walked out, he gave us his number. It was NUMBER 249. The sign still showed for customer NUMBER 225. Later, someone else handed us ticket NUMBER 242. The sign was calling NUMBER 230. Workers were having chats, going off to get coffees and the customers just waited patiently. It was like a scene out of 1960s Britain.


What’s in a number? 1 hour – 3 Stamps.

Eventually, after we had had a long chat with other customers who all apologised for the state of modern Greece and I even had a discussion about Lord Byron with one poor, disabled woman who was lucky to find a seat, we got served. Most of us were standing for about an hour in hot and sweaty conditions and some of us for three stamps for postcards to England. It is hard to defend this position in the age of Internet, mobile phones glued to every Greeks heads, satellite televisions, etc, etc. Why does it take humans to dispense stamps? It can only be to protect jobs. And the poor, Greek people continue to be battered down by these anomalies.

Actually, I’ve since been contacted by a Greek reader of the Blog. He wrote: You can order your stamps online and receive them at home during the endless English winter so next time you’re in Athens you won’t have to queue. Thanks for that, Nikos!

Friday, 9th September, 2016


La Pasteria. Athens airport

After Breakfast – please make it the last! – we went up to the roof garden and sat around the pool reading our newspapers until around 11.30 am. It was hot and we were glad to return to our room and complete our packing before going down to the Lobby to check-out. We walked up to the Metro at Syndagma after using the hotel’s Wi-Fi for a while. The metro was very busy. We had to stand for quite a few stops before a seat became available. There were still plenty of beggars hopping on and off the train – accordion players, tissue sellers, cup holders, biro sellers, etc.. Eventually, we reached the airport stop and crossed into the departures concourse. Our flight bag drop was going to be available in a couple of hours. We went upstairs to the restaurant to have lunch. It’s called LA PASTERIA but we had sea bass fillets and salad.


Melina Mecouri Business Lounge

We used two, business lounges. The first on Landside – Aristotelis Onasis Lounge – and on airside – Melina Mercouri Lounge. They are delightful with a free buffet of wine and food plus internet services and charging points for our iPads plus quiet relaxation. Our time passed too quickly and we were soon down to gate. The walk there is about 20 minutes.

The wait at gate was, once again, short and we were soon flying. EasyJet flights have come a long way. Also, in the early days, flights could be up to 4 hrs 20 mins to Athens. This time, our flight was 3 hrs 10 mins and quite delightful. We watched a wonderful and prolonged lightening display en route and landed at London Gatwick at just after 10.00 pm. A shuttle bus to the Long Stay Car Park and we drove home for 11.40 pm.

Saturday, 10th September, 2016



Land of Hope & Glory?

It is shocking to recall that today marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Pauline’s brother, Jack, who is pictured here with their mother.

In bed by 1.00 am this morning, we were up at 7.30 am and on a tour of four supermarkets for our weekly shop – Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s and Tesco. Food to feed us for a month. The weather here is forecast to be in the 30sC/upper 80sF this week. We are both tired after travelling and don’t feel like doing much today. Our next door neighbours are off to Australia so we have been left in charge. We have the responsibility of watering plants and organising rubbish collections.

I must be getting old. Found myself watching and enjoying the Last Night of the Proms. I even caught myself joining in with the singing of Jerusalem. I really must be more careful!

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Week 401


Happy New Century Dear Reader. Welcome to Week 401.

Sunday, 28th August, 2016

Very warm but with a little bit of a spitting pleut in the air. Always good for frogs. Talking about the French – You know you love to hate them while enjoying their wine. – I am a little surprised to find myself supporting Sarkozy and in the same camp as yesterday’s man, Call me Dave, in declaring Multiculturalism a failed project.  If they had lived and worked around Oldham and many other Northern towns with their ethnic ghettos for 40 years, they would have arrived at this conclusion much earlier. Trevor Phillips, the head of the Commission for Racial Equality, who has called for an official end to multicultural policy, has criticised “politically correct liberals for their “misguided” pandering to the ethnic lobby and I can think of quite a few of those. Cuckoos and nests are my abiding image here.

barn owl

Barn Owl

I don’t sleep a great deal, as you probably know, although I don’t have any problem in getting to sleep at all. To bed at midnight and awake at 6.00 am is almost ritualistic for me. Occasionally my wife complains but it usually results in maintenance of the status quo. This morning, we were rewarded with a riveting stream of Radio 4 programmes between 6.00 am – 7.00 am. After the all important News Headlines, we had a programme entitled God Loves a Drunk. I thought I was being given divine absolution before I realised it was not quite what I had expected. It intended to examine the phenomenon of divine intoxication – being drunk on God.  They might just as well have been counting angels dancing on a pinhead. This was followed by The Living World: Night with Owls. Pauline and I love owls. At our Yorkshire home, we would be visited every summer by two barn owls that would, uncharacteristically, sit and watch us from the great ash trees at the side of our garden during the daytime as we sat out on the lawn. They were quite unfazed by the daylight or our presence. We were told that the previous owner had rescued one of them and it continued to return and trust humans.


Little Owl of Greece

I learned to imitate the barn owl’s call and used it at night. We were rewarded with an ongoing conversation between us and the owls as they talked incessantly. In Greece we were treated to the Little Owl of Greece or Owl of Athena which visited our land and swooped as we cleared it of thick undergrowth. Once again, this was in broad daylight. It sat on the telegraph wires, gently swaying in the wind or staring at us from a fence post yards from our pergola. I tried my calling trick at night time and it didn’t seem to matter that it was Greek – I was towit towooing in English after all – it still replied and flew around us.

This morning’s programme did something very similar and managed to identify four different owls – the tawny owl, little owl, barn owl plus the cryptic and elusive long eared owl. Our delight in the real world was then rudely shattered by the other, weird world of God Squadders. Well, it is Sunday.

Monday, 29th August, 2016


Happy Sunny Training Days

A lovely, warm and sunny morning with high, fleecy white clouds. It is Bank Holiday. When we were working, it would mark the onset of depression. I notice that most state schools don’t go back for children until next Monday but the staff of our old Authority are in for Thursday and Friday this week for ‘Training’ days. Having been on both sides of the training – receiving and presenting – I know what a lot of bollocks it is! The two days would be better spent in the sun.

Bank Holiday now means nothing other than more people at home and clogging up the roads. We would happily have driven the two or three miles to the beach and walked along the prom. but parking and crowds deter us. We are off to the gym instead for a happily punishing routine. Roast loin of cod with roasted garlic tomatoes (Got to get through them somehow) will be our meal today.

Tuesday, 30th August, 2016

Oh, what an awful day!
I thought I would share it with you.


My contribution to House Cleaning

We decided to order a cordless Vax vacuum cleaner which was advertised ‘half price’ from Argos. By the time we decided to go on line to order it, we found that our router had stopped working. We went out to buy it. They hadn’t got one but could get it from a nearby store by 4.00 pm. We agreed and drove home. The internet still wasn’t working so I contacted BT (in India) who decided that an engineer visit was necessary. My heart sank and even further when they told me it would be Friday afternoon.

As we relaxed and bemoaned our fate at home, I suddenly realised that I couldn’t find my ‘best’ glasses. We both searched the house but to no avail. The only thing I could think of as I retraced my steps was that I had left them in Argos which is sited in Sainsburys. We went back and I had left them there. I must have driven home without realising that I couldn’t see. While we were in Sainsbury’s, we realised that they have fast, wi-if Internet. We need to book our seats for our flight in November tomorrow morning and will be back there for breakfast to do just that.

It is such a hot and cloudless blue sky today that we have decided to enjoy the garden and forget the Health Club. We have eaten lunch early – Prosciutto, Mortadella, Beetroot Salad, Greek Salad and a bowl of olives with chilled Claret. I am writing my Blog entry so I can upload it when we return to Argos to collect our purchase late this afternoon. It may be a little erratic in the next few days.

Wednesday, 31st August, 2016

It’s 8.00 am and I’m in SAINSBURY’S!!!!! At least I’ve got a mug (I hate mugs. I never drink out of mug.) of rather poor coffee. We have been booking our flight seats for a month in Tenerife. The one thing Sainsbury’s do have is good wi-fi. We’ve both downloaded our newspapers, booked our seats and read our emails. Twitter and Facebook can be checked on our phones so we can cope until we get to the health club and their wi-fi.


We’ve got the Internet – at David Lloyd Club

Only when it’s gone does one realise how ubiquitous the Internet is in one’s life. Our on-line, synchronised calendars are not available. Downloading tv programmes is not available. Fact checking is not available. Even our poor mobile signal is not boosted by wi-fi. And we have to wait until Friday! At least I will have time to do the hoovering.

It’s mid day and we’re now at the health club using the wi-fi. I’ve had my haircut outside on the lawn. I’ve done my hoovering. What’s hard about that? I’ve had bananas and Victoria plums for my breakfast. Delicious. In a while we will do our exercise and then go home for roast salmon and salad. We leave for Greece in a few days so packing is the order of the week.

Thursday, 1st September, 2016


Summer is over officially and Autumn begins. Happy September to all our readers. For about a week, now, we have been noticing darkness arriving earlier in the evening. It has arrived well before 9.00 pm and the morning sun is just a little lower in the sky. This morning, I was out picking tomatoes on the patio as usual just after 7.00 am. I remarked that the fruit actually felt very cold to the touch.

How does the world know it is a new season? Perhaps they’ve noticed the excitement on the faces of young children as they prepare for school. Perhaps they’ve seen the fall of depression on the brows of teachers as their ‘training days’ loom. Perhaps they’ve observed the joy in the eyes of the retired as they realise that the world is for playing out in.


Some say Super Sainsbury’s.

It is 8.30 am and we are in Sainsbury’s again to use their wi-if. BT don’t visit us until tomorrow afternoon. We are sitting in the cafe, downloading our newspapers and Pauline catches up on correspondence while I start my daily Blog. It will be continued at the Health Club later.

The day has soon warmed up and we have spent some time absorbing it in the garden. After a while, we realised that, in the distance, we could hear children playing so we had to go in and close the windows and doors. I am writing to the council about noise pollution. We’ve come to the Health Club but there are children here too. Thank goodness school starts next week. Actually, we will be in Greece where school doesn’t start until the following week. Greek children, fortunately, are much quieter.

Friday, 2nd September, 2016


The BT Openreach man cometh.

Here we are again – Sainsbury’s cafe at 8.30 am – under cloudy skies. Hopefully, we will be back on-line by tonight. I’m just hoping the cloudy skies aren’t a harbinger of what’s to come. The BT engineer is arriving in a 1.00 pm – 6.00 pm slot. Never has a man been more welcome at my house.

Because of this vital visit, we will eschew the Health Club today. We don’t usually go on a Saturday anyway so Sunday will be our last before we are exercising in Greece instead. Lawn mowing will be my exercise today. I bet Ruth doesn’t do much of that. I don’t think her grass grows very quickly. It is in Bolton after all. I hope to update this at home in the Office. If it isn’t, you will know I’ve committed harakiri!

I am still alive. The BT man, called Adam who will always be my first man, came and drove off to the nearest broadband cabinet to find my connection had been unplugged in favour of someone else. He quickly restored it and I am back on-line. Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hal-le-lu-jah. I will not need to visit Sainsbury’s café tomorrow after all or Panos & Rania’s Pizzeria.

Saturday, 3rd September, 2016


Blue light on the BT Hub means Joy!

A lovely, warm and sunny start to the day. I woke up and thought, I have broadband. I couldn’t wait to get up and check it was still working. We were out early to do a little bit of shopping and then home for Pauline to harvest more basil and make another batch of pesto. The tomatoes are coming to an end now and the peppers are covered in smallish fruit that will probably not now make it to full size. Autumn draws on and we will go away.

As I was driving home, Pauline asked where my glasses were because they were not on my face. For the second time in a week, I was driving the car without my glasses on. It is true that my eyesight is actually improving as I age and the focal length changes but I still should wear glasses which I have needed since I was seven years old. We’ve decided to go to the Health Club today to exercise because we are travelling early on Monday morning and will be rather busy on Sunday.

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Week 400

Sunday, 21st August, 2016


A Cheap Date to Feed!

I was young when this started and still working although thinking about retirement. For 400 consecutive weeks – This is the 2,794th consecutive day – I have recorded my life on the Blog. Often it has been useful, fun, amusing (to me) and a way of working out my own thoughts. Occasionally, it has seemed like a bind. Ultimately, it has become a record of the latter stages of my life. To all those who read the Blog and those who comment on it, I thank you. If I can reach Week 800, I will be 73 years old and have a useful tool to rescue me from Alzheimer’s. If I reach Week 1600, I will be 88 and asking my wife to do the typing.

Looking forward to my sister coming for Lunch in the near future. She’s a dog lover so Roast Dog will have to be off the menu. Casseroled Cat maybe? Actually, she tells me she’s a vegetarian which is a whole new can of beans for me.

Monday, 22nd August, 2016


Mum aged 21.

It is Mum’s Birthday today. She would have been 93 today. She died 8 years ago. This is her in 1944. She gave birth to me 7 years later. Lucky woman!

Tuesday, 23rd August, 2016

Haymaking in Sussex Downs

Haymaking on the Sussex Downs

There can be few more delightful and enjoyable journeys than to drive from Sussex to Surrey and back at the height of summer. Today, we drove through the Sussex Downs and the Surrey Hills and back in 27C/81F of strong and uninterrupted sunshine out of azure blue skies. The purpose was rather more prosaic. We were collecting our last ‘repeat prescription’ from our Surrey doctor before moving on to our new GP Practice in West Sussex. We doubled this with a visit to P&C.

The drive takes about 55 mins and is through glorious countryside. It does involve one, short section of the M25 (Junctions 9 – 10) but is otherwise very quiet and undemanding. We arrived home about 2.00 pm and cooked salmon and pesto with Greek Salad using our home grown tomatoes. Four ‘hanging basket’ cherry tomato plants have provided and continue to provide a daily salad of fruits.

It has taken me four, solid days of work but I have converted 400 Blog weeks to 400 PDF records for future reference. It will now be my responsibility to maintain this record as a safety net against the failure of my internet platform provider. I’ve been meaning to do it for years and it feels good now I’ve completed it.

Wednesday, 24th August, 2016


Pictures in our Yorkshire House.

A very hot day in our Sussex garden reaching 32C/90F in the shade and 38C/101F in the sunshine. We spent too long in the sunshine this morning. It is what British people are prone to do because these conditions are rare and short lived. In Greece, we would never sit out in the sun because it was always there and we learnt to avoid it.

A lorry from the St Barnabas House  Hospice Trust arrived to collect our store of pictures that we have been dragging around with us since we left Yorkshire in 2010. They were still bubble wrapped and numbered as Pauline had prepared them for storage all those years ago. It was slightly sad to see old friends leaving us but I also felt the relief of a burden of the past lifted.

After about 30 of them had been taken away by two cheery men who promised to let us know how much they were eventually sold for, we leave for the gym. Although we were going to work up a sweat, the buildings are delightfully air conditioned and cool in the current climate. We had our rooms air conditioned in Greece and we will have to now consider it for two or three rooms here.

Thursday, 25th August, 2016

The temperature over night didn’t drop below 20C/68F and was reminiscent of a Greek sleep. We had the windows open and were woken early by the crying of seagulls all around. We eat (in my case, drink) breakfast every morning at the moment with the conservatory doors open to reduce the temperature. Freshly squeezed orange juice followed by tea for me. Pauline has homemade muesli with banana. The routine follows as Pauline showers and dries her hair and I unstack the dishwasher and put things away. I water the plants on the patio and pick anything which needs it.

tomsa tomsb


Feeling the Love!

We are desperately eating cherry tomatoes for all we are worth. Our plants have produced just over 4 kilos and still have quite a way to go. What it does mean is that every meal for the past few weeks have centred round a tomato and cucumber salad which usually also  has capers and chopped cornichons. I’m not complaining but you can have too much of a good thing. The surprise to us was that two of our six plants have produced yellow tomatoes while the rest are the traditional red. Actually, the mx looks great in a salad. I pick them every morning at the moment and they then spend a day on the kitchen windowsill to add a little extra ripening before we eat them.There is a lot of love in our house and, this morning, I found it had been transmitted to the tomatoes.


A wonderful cup of freshly ground coffee topped with cinnamon and chocolate.

With all my jobs done, I can make my coffee and settle down to The Times for a few minutes before I am hauled out on a round of supermarket shopping. It was a mistake to set up a supermarket comparison app. for my wife. Today, I am having to visit Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose and Tesco. Later, I will have to go to Sainsburys. Often, I am only going for one item that she’s found a lot cheaper than in all the other stores. Sometimes, I wonder if it cost us more in fuel than we save in shopping. However, to obviate that concern, I buy in bulk and maximise the saving. Unfortunately, I’ve now got enough bleach spray to clean the entire street and more toothpaste than I’ve got teeth.

Any other sad politicos out there will understand and, I hope, enjoy this. It refers to Corbyn Traingate, obviously:


Poor Jeremy!









Friday, 26th August, 2016


Bags packed for the Gym.

Another hot and sunny day reaching 31C/89F at 11.30 am. Domestic chores this morning. I have cut the lawns and strimmed the edges after picking another huge pot of tomatoes. Pauline has been harvesting basil from our pot plants and has made another large batch of delicious pesto. We’ve had enough sun today already so we are preparing for our gym session. I am treated very well. My wife prepares my bag with towels, trunks, trainers, headphones, shampoo, spare shirt, padlock for my locker and membership card. All I have to remember are my car keys. Where are my car keys?


Griddled Sea Bream Fillets

After a couple of hours workout, my wife insists on cooking – It says more about my cooking skills than her selflessness. Today, in great heat and strong sun, we are having fish griddled in the garden. The starter is Cornish sardine fillets with a broad bean salad dressed with lemon and olive oil. This is followed by sea bream fillets griddled and served with a salad of home grown cherry tomatoes, cucumber and capers dressed with olive oil and lemon.

It has been a delightful day – one it would be good to hold on to and remember. Of course, we will probably forget it by tomorrow but the experience leads us to want and expect more. It is an existential expectation that is doomed to failure.

It is 8.00 pm and a hot and humid 29C/84F inside the house. We have windows and doors open front and back to draw some fresh air through. It looks like we will have a similar day tomorrow and then things cool down a little. It’s been a good day and a nice way to end week 400!

Saturday, 27th August, 2016


Katy & Mump circa 1979

A warm morning following a warm night. The humidity is making it feel warmer. At 7.00 am it is 22C/70F. Breakfast juice with the doors open to the garden. Today is the birthday of Pauline’s Mum, Jane Farrow-Barnes. She died 6 years ago but would have been 102 today. She is always in our thoughts. This photo is of her on the right with her best friend, Katy, on the left. We are not sure exactly when or where it was but, having consulted the oracle, we think she was in her mid-60s (1979-80) and on holiday in Spain.





Sunny Blackpool circa 1956.

On this same day, Joyce & Harry (Joyce is Mump’s brothers child) are celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary with the obligatory card from the Queen. They are a nice couple and we wish them a happy day and many more to come. This picture features Harry sitting behind Joyce with Pauline’s Mum back right and little Pauline leaning against the railing with a sign behind her announcing ‘Handrail Wet Paint’. This photo must date from close to their wedding.

I’ve just spent 2 hours valeting the car. Leather clean on the seats and a full vac. and glass clean. Pressure wash, shampoo and wax, chamois down and shine. And breathe! Now the afternoon is hot and steamy. I’ve retreated inside to watch football – Spurs v Liverpool and Hull v Man. Utd. interspersed with England v Pakistan one day cricket. Sounds lazy but I feel I deserve it now. Pauline is cutting, shredding and freezing our tarragon. We have bushes of it and could almost supply Tesco. It will last us well in to the winter.


Relaxing Saturday Afternoon

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