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!

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Week 404

Sunday, 18th September, 2016

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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Great Gadgets for the Lazy!

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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.

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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!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Would you travel on a train like this?

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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Electra Palace Hotel

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Our Room 215

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

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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.

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Threat of rain brought many to the Museum

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

J&MUM

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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

Dawn

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

beanz

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

1944

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

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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

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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.

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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:

traingate

Poor Jeremy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Friday, 26th August, 2016

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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?

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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

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.

 

 

 

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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.

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Relaxing Saturday Afternoon


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Week 399

Sunday, 14th August, 2016

It is official. I am no longer dying. In fact, I will return to the gym this afternoon. It is a warm and close morning with some sketchy cloud. I am watering the lawn with a rotary sprayer while watching the Test Match and reading the iPad edition of The Sunday Times. It looks like I will make it to my 400th week edition.

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Revithia Keftedes aka Chickpea Balls

We have loved Revithia Keftedes (Chickpea Balls) or Falafel for many years. We (Pauline) decided to make them today and they were wonderful. They were a starter of forbidden foods. They contain chickpeas, mashed potato and mint, garlic and seasoning. The chickpea balls are deep fried and the potato skins have the same treatment.

The main course was Sea Bass fillets with tomato and cucumber salad. All the tomatoes were from our garden. It was extremely hot. The conservatory doors are open now (at 6.30 pm) and the temperature is 30C/86F. Life could be a whole lot worse. We could be stuck in Greece with the Poison Dwarf!

Monday, 15th August, 2016

pwpA hot day of strong sun and blue sky but no breeze. I worked all morning, cleaning the patio and drive with my pressure washer and then cleaning the car. Later, we did a good couple of hours at the Health Club. It was most unusual but we ate red meat today. Ribeye Steak which I griddled outside in the garden. It was accompanied by a tomato & cucumber salad. We ate outside and enjoyed being a little cooler than indoors.

I received a phone call this afternoon from the INR Testing Clinic in Surrey. I emailed my standard test results on Thursday. Normally, they email me back within a couple of hours giving me dosage advice and a date for my next test. This time – nothing. I emailed again on Friday but got nothing again. I emailed again today and, rather tongue in cheek, said I was feeling ‘unwanted’. This afternoon the Head of the Service phoned me to apologise. I felt awful that I had put them out. I am right on track with my INR and won’t need another test until the middle of October.

Tuesday, 16th August, 2016

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The board walk leaving West Beach, Littlehampton.

Hot! Hot! Hot! and Sunny! Sunny! Sunny! The sky is Blue! Blue! Blue! We are going Out! Out! Out! to Litlehampton Beach. Alright, it’s not Copacabana but it’s quite nice. Actually, it was more interesting than I expected. By 10.00 am, it was busy with tourists, parents with kids needing to run and shout with at least a fortnight of school holidays remaining, Grandads with grandsons learning to fish from the pier and the body conscious teens looking for a deep, rich tan. Then there was Pauline and I. We parked as close to the West Beach as possible and walked along the pebble beach before going up this delightful boarded walk through the sand dunes with the golf course on one side and a strange Victorian structure on the other.

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Littlehampton ‘Palmerston’ Fort

Martello towers, are small defensive forts that were built across the British Empire during the 19th century, from the time of the French Revolutionary Wars onwards. Most were coastal forts. Their aim was, post-Napoleonic wars, to provide for the defence of the island of Great Britain. They were not effective or, ultimately needed, but were replaced by Palmerston Forts in the second half of the 19th century. The Primeminister at the time was, of course, Lord Palmerston. These forts were elegant structures but were heavily criticised in Parliament as they were built and called Palmerston Follies. They proved equally unused and quickly redundant although they were called in to action along with Dads’ Army in the World Wars. Neglected since then, nature – sand and plants have gradually reclaimed the space.

I was immediately captivated by a brick and pebble stone structure rising out of sand. A young man was cleaning the pathway and picking up broken grass but, when I asked what the structure was, he had no idea. In fact, I’m not sure he was aware it was there. Five minutes on the web when we got home revealed the facts and there is an interesting website about the reclamation project. I know you won’t be able to contain yourself so here is the site address.

Wednesday, 17th August, 2016

pwbThe peak of Summer which was wall to wall blue skies and strong sun and reached 29C/84F around 1.00 pm. We went down to Worthing seafront around 9.30 am to check out a restaurant Pauline found on-line. The Crab-Shack on Worthing Marine Parade. It looks interesting and its menu suits us perfectly – It’s Crab. Couldn’t resist a phone photo of my darling wife. She is 65 in early October and we will celebrate with a fishy lunch here.

Back home, we ummed and ahhed about whether to go to the gym because it was so hot. Eventually, we chose to knuckle down and get on with it. We were pleased we did. The Leisure Club was quiet and the exercise was enjoyable. We drove home feeling better when we did going. At home, the garden was so hot that we decided to cook and eat inside for a change. Broadbean and radish salad dressed with lemon, garlic and olive oil starter was followed by roast salmon with pesto crust, roasted cherry tomatoes and garlic mushrooms.

Thursday, 18th August, 2016

An oppressively hot day of high humidity which reached 26C/79F. We had already decided to have a day off from the gym. We’ve already done four, consecutive days and we find our muscles welcome a rest. Even so, we’ve been charging round Tesco, Waitrose and searching out Hospice Charity Shops. We were out between 9.00 am – 11.30 am and then I cut the lawns because rain is forecast for Friday afternoon.

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‘Girl Reading’ by Charles Edward Perugini

All our 19th Century pictures that we’ve collected over 30 or 40 years are going to be disposed of. We have about 30 large, framed prints – Pre-Raphaelite, Whistler, etc.. They really suited our taste and the style of our houses in the past. They are not right for the present and the future. I don’t want to throw them in the tip. I can’t be bothered raising a few hundred pounds at a car boot sale. I am going to give them to a Hospice Shop to sell. I’ve chosen the popular one around here – St. Barnabas House – and made arrangement for them to come and collect.

I have lived with and loved these pictures for more than half of my life. Often, our homes looked more like art galleries because they were so dominated by pictures. Although, on reflection, I have a tinge of regret in parting with them, actually, it is me down to a T. I always feel good when leaving a past and moving forward to a new future, ridding myself of the trappings of my former life and starting again. On reflection, I think I always feel I have failed in my former life and welcome the opportunity to succeed in the new. A tabular rasa on which to start the examination again.

Friday, 19th August, 2016

eurosA slightly damp and humid day. The lawns were pleased to see a bit of rain. Had the painful duty of ordering Euros for the weeks ahead. Currently, £1.00 = €1.16. It is not helpful to make comparisons but it was only two or three years ago that we were getting £1.00 = €1.42. Damn those Brexiteers! I’ve bought just £1500.00 worth at the moment in the vain hope that we might see an improvement. I know it is a long shot really. The next movement in interest rates is more likely to be down from the dizzy heights of 0.25% to, maybe, only 0.1%. That will have a negative impact on sterling. C’est la vie! Sorry, nearly forgot we are no longer European. That’s Life!

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The Coppice & Angmering Medical Centre

We’ve been struggling to find a GP Surgery down here. There is such a shortage of doctors that every available Practice had put up a ‘Full’ notice on their website. Like some aging University Entrants, we had to go through ‘Clearing’ which has eventually allocated us the surgery we expected all along.

We are driving up to Surrey to pick up our last repeat prescription next week and that will be our last time there. I will write a letter to thank the lovely people who have served us there and prepare for the next stage. From Huddersfield in Yorkshire to Woking in Surrey, the medics and their staff have been absolutely delightful. Let’s hope it is repeated in Angmering, West Sussex. We are off to the gym in a couple of hours to get fit before we meet our new GP in the next week.

Saturday, 19th August, 2016

A warm but blustery day with a little rain. We have been at home and catching up on jobs. My project for this week is to make a complete Pdf record of my Blog as an insurance policy and as it embarks on its 400th week. Bound copies will be available at a price even for my favourite English tourist.

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Greek Supermarket Sales Plummet

Talking about Greece, which I was doing rather obliquely, some economic signs of the stress the country is under were published in the Greek Press today.

The dramatic drop in the consumption of food and basic necessities by 5 % in the first half of 2016 has revealed how hard Greek households have been hit by the economic crisis.

According to the market research company IRI, supermarket turnover in the six-month period from January to June fell by 8.8 percent compared to the same period last year, while sales volume fared even worse, plummeting 12.6 percent. At the same time, statistics showed that prices per item have risen by 3.8 percent in the first half of 2016. The drop in consumption is linked to consumers’ compromised endurance levels and hikes in value-added tax.

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Poor Old Makis

A second and, for Greeks, highly significant statistic reported this weekend is that Campsites on the islands are reporting a 30 percent plunge in arrivals from abroad and, in particular, from Germany, France and Italy. This is on top of UK travellers reigning back on their trips because of the plunge in the value of the Pound Sterling.

One of the consequences of a drop in tourism, in a country reliant on it like Greece is, is the effect it has on the Labour Market. The final statistic reported today is that Greek unemployment in July was up 2.8 pct from June at a time when one would normally expect quite the reverse. If unemployment is up just as peak tourist season approaches, there is a serious problem.

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Week 398

Sunday, 7th August, 2016

You know you’re getting old when your Blog hits week 398. That equates to 7.653846153846154 years. WOW! I was young before this started. It is Sunday. There is an exciting Test Match and Man. Utd. playing Leicester City in the Charity Shield. There are Sunday papers to read. We are going to the gym to earn the right to sit down and relax later.

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Kalamata Dreaming

We are going to Greece soon – Athens and the Peloponnese – well we were. Pauline wants to cut it short and just do Athens this time. She wants to fly to the Kalamata region of the Peloponnese  next year instead. We did book our Athens hotel and with cancellation built in so that will be a job for tomorrow. We will retain the hotel but alter the flights and the dates. I’m not particularly thrilled but marriage is about compromise. I will play my part.

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England win and go ahead in the Series.

Really enjoyed the cricket and the quality of the England team. It is 30 years since I’ve been able to settle down to a Summer Test series. Greek television didn’t seem keen on buying it. I don’t know why! It was particularly good to see Moeen Ali chosen as Man of the Match. I never feel he gets full recognition for what he brings to the team. He also seems a bit on the fringes in the group shots. His batting has certainly made a huge difference to England and he took the last, ‘vital’ wicket in the match.

Monday, 8th August, 2016

shampsprayLovely, sunny morning of clear blue skies. Spent it outside cleaning the car and doing tidying up jobs. My new pressure washer comes with two pressure nozzles, a water brush and a shampoo applicator as well as a patio cleaner. In the past, I’ve never had the time to bother with such things and just bunged the local car wash £10.00 each week to do it for me. Now, it’s quite a pleasure to do it myself. I’m not so keen on using the chamois to wipe it off but I’m sure my wife will help.

Half an hour sitting out in the sun and then it will be time to set off for the Leisure Club and another hour’s exercise. In the meantime, I’m looking at the potential for setting up a new (additional) Blog with a view to exploring a specific topic and possibly attracting some advertising. If I decide it is a goer, I’ll let you know.

Exercise was hard today. We left home at 1.00 pm and returned from the Leisure Club at 3.30 pm. We were both shattered. Fortunately, it was Pauline’s turn to cook. She had already prepared tarragon Chicken with a roast onion and fennel dish accompanied by garlic mushrooms. Just a simple, little dish to fill a corner. It was followed by fresh raspberries and strawberries with ginger yoghurt on top. Deeeelicious!

Tuesday, 9th August, 2016

A hot and sunny day that reached 26C/79F in our garden. We spent quite a bit of time in the garden absorbing the vitamin D. In spite of both feeling tired, we went to the Leisure Club and did another session of workout. We were both seriously feeling it by the end of that session. We will do Wednesday – which will make four consecutive days and then have Thursday off before going for our fifth session of the week on Friday. We have the burglar alarm installer coming on Thursday after the alarm went off in the middle of the night and nearly killed us with shock.

Pauline cooked the most wonderful meal that sounds very simple but was just delightful. We ate cod loin with pesto topping and a cucumber and Greek Salad. The pesto was made from our home grown basil and the salad was made of tomatoes grown on our patio. The flavours were outstanding.

Wednesday, 10th August, 2016

A sultry day of cloud and hot sun. I’ve got a sore throat, painful ears and a sniffle. We decided to call off the gym work today and concentrate on more pressing matters. We still haven’t got a doctor down here yet. We have become accustomed to playing the system a little since spending half the year in Greece. Our doctor in Yorkshire though 6 months in our Greek house was a great idea and was happy to prescribe six months drugs in one go so we didn’t have to worry abroad. When we came down to Surrey, they immediately frowned on that idea although one did tell us to stockpile in order to have enough and that’s what we did. The rule is, apparently, that we shouldn’t be out of the country for more than three months or we could be taken off the surgery roll. We managed to persuade them that we were respectable and trustworthy but it was always a bit iffy. Current ex-pats are going to find it much more than a bit ‘iffy’ when Brexit finally hits.

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Doctor Shortages

We identified a surgery down here that we wanted to go to but its website said it currently wasn’t accepting new patients. We have kept our Woking doctor in the dark about our move in the hope that the situation would change. We have returned to Surrey for repeat prescriptions, check-ups, etc. for five months now and things have changed – They’ve got worse, much worse. Every single surgery in our area – and there are five – now announce on their websites that they have no patient places free. We have been forced to go on to an ‘allocation’ system where we have no choice who we visit. Six years of Tory government have brought us to this.

Thursday, 11th August, 2016

alarm

Your 2.00 am call, Sir!

A burglar alarm specialist is here this morning to test the system. We have had one or two problems from sporadic error messages on setting and then a night when we nearly died as the alarm went off at 2.00 in the morning.  He seems confident that he can solve it. Famous last words.

I’m not well. In fact, I think I’m dying. I developed a sore throat yesterday. This morning, I’m streaming with a cold. If I am to live, I will need a lot of looking after. I’ve already told the burglar alarm man not to kiss me because I am obviously infected. Pauline says I’m in a state. As I pointed out, I’m in more than a state. I’m in a country!

After five minutes, the alarm man has concluded that the system wasn’t set up properly in the first place. After five more minutes, he has done the job and is on his way back to Bracknell . We set off to do our weekly shop. I sniff and sneeze around Tesco. Old ladies come up and ask me if I’m alright. When I say I’m dying, they want to pet me. I pretend to be brave and move on although I want petting really. Returning home, I settle in for an afternoon of Test match cricket and drinks from my wife.

Friday, 12th August, 2016

peppersA long, hot and sunny day. I am still streaming a cold and the cricket has been a little turgid. I stirred myself to mow the lawns, pick some tomatoes and the first peppers. We haven’t had to buy tomatoes this week as the plants are delivering day after day.

The peppers have quite surprised us. We had three plants. One has turned out to be a ‘bell’ pepper and two have produced flatter, crenulated peppers. We are looking forward to eating them. Pauline harvested the Basil again today and made another batch of Pesto. I’m hoping to feel well enough to go back to the gym tomorrow.

cartoonKmThought you might like this cartoon from the Greek newspapers. You need to know two things to help you understand it. The Greek economy contracted by 0.7 % year-on-year in the second quarter of 2016 and Anna Korakaki won an Olympic gold medal in the women’s 25-meter pistol. As you will see, the Greek Prime Minister is not much of a marksman in hitting Growth Targets so he evades his failures by glorying in the Olympic achievement. Unfortunately, Olympic medals won’t feed his nation or pay their pensions.

Saturday, 13th August, 2016

Had a disturbed night last night because our neighbour’s burglar alarm went off. They are in Cyprus. There was no sign of break-in and another neighbour had a contact for one of their relations who drove over to turn it off but it wasn’t conducive to sleep.

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West Wittering Beach

Hot and sunny day today that reached 26F/79F in the shade of our garden. The tomatoes are continuing to ripen faster than we can eat them. Everything needs to be watered to keep going. My cold/infection has gone backwards after feeling better yesterday. Today, I’m back to throat soothers, headache tablets and a new box of tissues. I’m determined to go back to the gym tomorrow however I feel.

I have spent the day resting and watching the Test match (ugh!) and the first Premier League matches – Hull v Leicester and  Man. City v Sunderland. Monday and Tuesday are forecast to be exceptionally hot here – possibly around 30C/86F. On Wednesday, we are planning to visit West Wittering beach which is reputed to be beautiful.

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Week 397

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

bastar

Sweet Basil & French Tarragon

Lovely morning. We drank coffee on the patio and watched our tomatoes ripen. The Sweet Basil and the French Tarragon have been a real success and, this morning, Pauline has cut the Basil right back and will make enough Basil Oil and Pesto to get us through until we go away. The French Tarragon is a wonderfully fresh, aniseed flavour and, we believe, is rather more vibrant than the packets of cut herb to be bought in the supermarket. It’s probably just biased opinion but it makes us happy. The tarragon is used three or four times a week in cooking at the moment. That is more frequent than we would normally do but one feels duty bound to use it. When we go away, it will be cut back savagely and the cuttings chopped and frozen. Frozen tarragon is incredibly successful.

We have more or less booked up our travel for the year. We are going to Greece August-September followed by Yorkshire in October and then a month in Tenerife in November. By December, we will be pleased to sleep in our own beds again. Next year, the plants will lose out because we intend to drive across Europe for two or three months. It will be nice to see Sifnos again and meet old friends.

Monday, August 1st 2016

wr_1_8

Can you believe it? August 2016 already. Have a happy month especially all those environmentalists everywhere.

retinaWe have quite a light week so there will be plenty of trips to the Leisure Centre. In mid-week, I have my annual eye test at the hospital which will mean driving to Ashford Hospital. Ashford Hospital is situated on the A30 to the West of London, close to junction 13 of the M25 and Heathrow Airport which will take us about and hour and a quarter. Pauline will be driving because I have to have very strong drops in my eyes which will allow them to photograph my retinas and will stop me seeing properly for about three hours.

I’ve been having this wonderful service since I was first diagnosed Type 2 Diabetic about seven years ago. Although I am no longer in that category, I was able to secure the annual services of eye and foot care in case of ongoing problems. What disappointed me was the lack of continuity or joined up record keeping as I moved from Yorkshire to Surrey where they didn’t receive my photographic records and, therefore, didn’t maintain a developmental record. I’m hoping things will have moved forward now we’ve come down to Sussex.

Tuesday, August 2nd 2016

I’ve just admonished the postman for the current weather. The first day of August was greeted with persistent drizzle and the night was windy with really heavy rain. August in England’s reputedly sunniest county! The postman looked suitably hangdog and apologised immediately. He wasn’t enjoying it either. The tomatoes and peppers absolutely hate it. Actually, we were feeling very tired this morning having been woken by the burglar alarm going off at 1.30 am. Woken from deep sleep, we both charged downstairs to find no explanation. All windows and doors were locked and there was no sign of attempted entry.

We had a cup of tea and chatted. By 3.00 am, we were back to bed but took a while to get back to sleep. We were still up just after 7.00 am having had about five hours sleep or so and were feeling it. I have been shocked to find that my older self adapts far less well to shortage of sleep than when I was in my twenties. It is still damp and blustery now although very warm. We will only venture out to the leisure Club in the early afternoon.

In the meantime, I am trying to get round the paucity of Hockney prints on the market by looking at alternatives. The one Hockney we are going to buy is The Arrival of Spring – something we always look forward to.

Hoc4

The Arrival of Spring – David Hockney, 2011

I have always like this by Paul Klee and I think I can persuade Pauline to put it in the Lounge.

Klee

Small Picture of Fir Trees 1922 – Paul Klee

Pauline is keen on the Klimt so there will something of a trade-off. Actually, I like it very much too. It reminds us of the trees around our very first house in Meltham Mills, West Yorkshire.

Klimt

Beech Forest 1902 – Gustav Klimt

I also rather like this which is called Morning Luster. It has absolutely no provenance but it just appeals to me. I don’t think I will get away with this in the bargaining process.

mlmk

Wednesday, August 3rd 2016

I would like to have met Sod. I definitely believe in his Law. It is proved so often in life. Regularly, I go to the Leisure Club, get changed in the Locker Room which is invariably empty, and go in to the gym to exercise. When I come back to shower and change, there is only one person in the room apart from me and it is Sod. By Law, he’s chosen to use the locker immediately above or below mine. There are 200 -300 free lockers but Sod chose that one and we jostle for space to get our clothes out.

Today, Sod was working for the Ashford Hospital Appointments Database. My annual Eye Test was at 3.30 pm in Ashford, Middlesex. We had to leave at about 1.00 pm to allow for hold ups on the M25. Actually, it only took an hour and a quarter on a lovely, quiet and sunny afternoon. But Sod had already arranged that two deliveries designated for our house would arrive at 1.10 pm and 1.15 pm precisely. How does he do that? Fortunately, he hadn’t considered our neighbours who, kindly received the parcels and had them waiting for us when we got home. We were tired and frustrated after our return journey which coincided with rush hour and took an extra hour than the outward journey.

bowl_tomsFortunately, the trip to Ashford Hospital Ophthalmology Department was very successful and will be my last. Two years ago, I ceased to be Diabetic. A year ago, I ceased to be pre-Diabetic. Today, I was signed off by the Ophthalmology Department and declared completely free of all symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy. When we got back from that good news, we celebrated with a bowl of our own, home grown, cherry tomatoes. I would like to say they were incredibly flavoursome. They were nice and we grew them but they didn’t have the explosive sweetness of some that we buy in the supermarket.

Thursday, August 4th 2016

A pleasant, warm morning. We went out at 9.00 am to do the weekly shop. I was looking forward to watching a bit of the Test match until I watched a bit of the Test Match, Where did that England team of last match disappear? At 1.00 pm, we drove to the Leisure Centre and did a hard hour’s work. This is our fourth session this week. We will do our fifth and last tomorrow. Saturday will be a rest day and then it all starts again on Sunday.

park

Honda Camera Assisted Parking

We have had satellite navigation in our cars for about fifteen years and a reversing camera built in for about the last ten of those years. It has got to the stage where I would find it difficult to reverse without one now. It is particularly useful in reversing into a car parking space. The driver makes the yellow lines on the camera line up with the white lines on the carpark and Bob’s your uncle (or brother in my case).

Our new car has many improvements but Honda have ‘upgraded’ the reversing camera to default to a ‘dynamic’ setting which makes the whole process scarily difficult. For the past six weeks, we have been trying to adapt to it but failed. Today, after consulting the impenetrable handbook, I finally found how to switch this new function off. Life can be wonderful.

Friday, August 5th 2016

While we were driving to Ashford Hospital on Wednesday, a tyre pressure warning light came on. We pulled off the carriage way and tested the pressure of all four tyres. One was 0.5 psi below the others. I reset the warning system and we carried on our merry way. sncrvToday, we went in to the Dealership to speak to them about it. They told us that it was sensitive enough to be triggered by such a small deflation and there was nothing wrong with our tyre. As we were leaving, we noticed that our old car was still on the forecourt unsold. Rather cheered us up!

The satellite navigation system that we’ve had in Honda cars for the past fifteen years has been replaced (upgraded??) by a Honda version of a ‘Garmin’ system. It is not as friendly although it does provide us with five years of free upgrades. Pauline’s hobby is arguing with the sat. nav.. Mine is slavishly following it. If I’m driving, I have to do it against the background of two women arguing constantly with each other. It’s easier to let Pauline drive so she is too busy to argue with anyone. We completed our fifth session of intense exercise and both felt absolutely shattered. Tomorrow is a rest day.

Saturday, August 6th 2016

winekessLovely day. Hot and sunny with clear, blue skies. It is our day off from the gym although I did cut the lawns and strimmed all the edges. We sat outside with a bottle of chilled, white wine and some garlic stuffed olives. It felt decadent but delightful. Actually, in a bid to get my vitamin D content up, I had a little too much sun.

I retreated into the kitchen to watch the Test Match. It was certainly worth watching. It is nice to think we have a team to be proud of nowadays. Let’s hope it rubs off on the Football team. I’m afraid I can’t get excited about the Olympics and haven’t been able to do for quite a long time now. The systematic, State doping of Russian athletes isn’t a factor in this for me at all. I just find I can’t get interested in the events with some exceptions. At least the English Premier League begins again next weekend. It will help fill in some of the gaps left by the prorogation of parliament and accompanying political discussion and analysis.

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Week 396

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

After another hot and sweaty night, we have woken to an overcast but humid start to the day.  Orange juice and tea followed by the Marr Show and an interview with the superficially affable but ultimately sinister and threatening John McDonnell.

As one reads the Sunday newspapers encompassing international terrorism, European disintegration and British political turmoil, WB Yates’ lines from The Second Coming spring quickly to mind:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
…………….
The darkness drops again but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

What is important, to my mind, is not to run away or turn one’s back on this turmoil and to pretend as one so often hears from older people that it won’t affect them. These issues have to be addressed by all of us. Perhaps we will have to send for Cadet D Pritchard!

On a lighter note (Get it?), we received two more table lamps for our Lounge yesterday. We are very pleased with them. We only have one still to be delivered with one more side table.

lounge2

Lounge in Progress

The Lounge is still work in progress. We have decided to ditch – after 30 years – our collection of mid to late 19th Century pictures – PreRapaelite, Waterhouse, Whistler, Frederick Lord Leighton, Perugini, etc.. It is time to move on and radically. We are rather taken with the recent work of Hockney since he returned to his Yorkshire roots. Things produced in panel form and, often, using his iPad, like this:

Hockney1

Kerby after Hogarth – David Hockney

Hockney2

A Bigger Picture – David Hockney

Unfortunately, they are so new, they have not arrived in print form yet and we can’t afford the originals. I do have a colour laser but, if Hockney is reading this, we are happy to borrow them.

Monday, July 25th, 2016

gbeachI have always thought that it was dangerous for Greece to rely on one, main income stream. Whenever one talked to those in the tourist industry on Sifnos – which just about included everybody – they displayed extreme complacency based on generations of success. The belief was always that although they would have good and bad years, ultimately, tourist income would continue to be their mainstay.

gbeach2I began to believe that this was complacent for a number of reasons. One was generational. Generations before me – for all sorts of different economic and developmental reasons – looked not much further than Britain’s coastlines. The air travel revolution that began in the 1960s and developed strongly in the 1970s, made European shores easily within reach and those of my generation and just before have not, generally, been as tempted by the Long Haul as the current band of 20 – 40 year olds. Ironically, even those on Greek islands in that age band dream of trips to Thailand, etc.

thaiAnother reason was cultural. Many of the generations born since we joined the EU, saw themselves as European and the ‘simple pleasures’ of Greek Island ‘Hopping’ appealed to the 60s/70s ‘Hippy’ Generation much more than to those who feel the need to explore very different cultures than their own. The Far East has long been a favourite destination to sample more exotic cultures and, gradually, the European tourist base is coming and will become eroded. Add into that mix, European instability, wild currency fluctuation and terrorist threats and the trend is accentuated. Tonight, Kathimerini reports this:

Germany and Britain are Greece’s biggest tourist markets, but tourist spending patterns might be worrying. Bank of Greece data for May showed tourism earnings down 10.4 percent year-on-year as visitors reined in spending.

That tightening of the purse strings was most pronounced with a 29.2 percent drop in spending by Britons, where a see-sawing sterling, weakened by the referendum to leave the European Union, made holidays in Greece more expensive.

This may only be a short term manifestation but it will feed in to a long term societal trend which will be underlined by Brexit.

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

I mused over my freshly squeezed orange juice, cup of tea followed by freshly ground cup of coffee that, throughout my working life and even up to three years ago or so my diet was completely wrong for me. I somehow half knew it intuitively without ever focussing down on it. I ate too much of everything but, particularly, lots and lots of bulk carbohydrates which raised my blood sugar only to see it crash as I burnt it off. This made me crave more carbohydrate immediately.

I must be honest with you. I don’t know what I’m talking about. Only girls did Biology in my Grammar School days and they were banished to another school entirely. As a consequence, I never got to understand girls but, more importantly, I never learned how my own body worked. I was basically walking around in a body which I had never been licensed to own.

shreddies

Shreddies – for years my Breakfast Cereal of choice.

After a huge bowl of Shreddies followed by toast and marmalade for Breakfast, we would drive to school, charge round for about 3 hours and I would sneak a bacon sandwich from the Canteen at Breaktime. An hour and a half later I was shattered and ready for lunch which would often be pasta or just a sandwich. At home, 4 or 5 hours later and, maybe after sneaking a few biscuits during a meeting, we would reward ourselves with a big meal. We only ever bought ready-made food on a Friday (which was ‘Chinese Night’) and we both enjoyed cooking for relaxation. I would open a bottle of wine while I cooked, kidding myself that I would use some in the cooking and then open another with the meal which invariably contained potatoes, pasta or rice and lots and lots of meat. Even as I write this, it seems like another world away.

Today, I have a constant battle with my consumption but usually I win. Only liquids for breakfast. If I get hungry during the morning, I resort to fruit – mainly bananas – and then we go to the gym. When we get back at around 3.00 pm, I am af&nhungry but tired and thirsty so I drink bottled water which fills me and then we eat a meal which usually centres on protein (so I’m told) and, almost always fish or chicken. I’m not allowed green vegetables because of my INR so I have fennel, mushrooms, onions/shallots, peppers roasted or griddled or I have Greek Salad/Tomato & Basil Salad. There are always lots of tomatoes in our meal. This is invariably followed by fresh fruit salad with a topping of yoghurt.

That is my meal for the day but, if and when I am desperate for food, I turn to my other ‘new’ failsafe which is nuts. I buy packets of walnuts, cashew nuts but my favourite is a Fruit & Nut selection. What I had never realised, because I knew nothing about the science, was that protein takes longer to digest and sits in the stomach longer keeping one feeling fuller for longer. It’s a brilliant invention and works wonderfully for me. If you’d offered me these products three or four years ago, I would have told you that you were, well, nuts.

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

lamp_last

The Last Lamp Arrives.

We decided not to go to the gym today. We were both feeling a bit tired after 4 consecutive hard workouts and we were expecting a delivery. It came at about 1.30 pm which would leave us time for a trip to David Lloyd but we decided to slack for one day. The delivery today was the final lamp for our Lounge and the final table arrives on Wednesday. Barring some art work on the walls, we are done. We bought two of these lamps illustrated here from a company called Lights on Lights off. They came in enough boxes to fill a recycling skip. Good company though – reasonable prices and quick despatch. These two only cost £200.00.

We’ve had a little light rain this morning on a hot and muggy day. The recent hot sunshine has really brought the peppers and, particularly, the tomatoes on and we will be picking towards the end of this week. Today, we are having a treat – Calamari and Greek Salad.

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

A philosopher (whose name I have forgotten) once said that Life is not so much about Beginnings or Endings but just muddling through the middle. That’s what we’ve been doing today. It was quite an active day. By 9.00 am we were out shopping at Tesco. After half an hour of charging round the store, we came back and I proceeded to mow the lawns. A short rest at 12.00 mid day with a cup of coffee and then off to the gym. We did a couple of hours in a delightfully quiet gym and then drove home.

My turn to cook today. Roast boned chicken breasts on a bed of home-grown tarragon accompanied by roasted peppers and tomatoes plus fennel braised in white wine with sign4tarragon. It was delightful to prepare, cook and to eat. After that, we allowed ourselves relaxation time with our iPad newspapers.

Three years ago this week, we had finished clearing the land around our Greek house. Pauline had just finished painting our big, iron gate with black, anti-rust paint and I had taken delivery of a ‘For Sale’ sign which I attached to the newly painted gate. The very next day, I received a phone call to tell me that a buyer wanted to come and discuss the property. It took almost twelve months to clinch the deal. Three years on, that sign is on the wall above my head while I type this Blog. It all feels a world away.

Friday, July 29th, 2016

JaneBG

Champion!

Happy 64th Birthday to Jane BG. We wish her another great year of winning.

TomCherry

A Prize Winning Tomato

I picked my first cherry tomato this morning and I was going to send it her as a present but, before I had packaged and labelled it, ….. I ate it. Well I cut it in half and shared it with my wife. She pronounced it under ripe and in need of a few more days on the vine. Story of my life – just too eager.

We are in the dying days of July 2016. We celebrated by going to the local tip to get rid of more packaging than I could comfortably fit into the car. I had been storing it up in the garage as we unpacked five lamps and four tables. I had two types of waste – cardboard which goes in the cardboard and paper skip and polystyrene and bubble wrap plus plastic which all goes into the ‘General Waste’ skip. Strangely, having dumped the waste and driven away, there is a pleasant sense of achievement and relief. Maybe it’s just me.

An on-line journal – Keep Talking Greece – features a CitiGroup Bank analysis which

insists that Grexit is a real possibility in the next 1 to 3 years. Taking into consideration factors like deeper recession and new political instability, the Citigroup analysts see increase of the Grexit risk……………………The report is pessimistic about the country’s prospects, claiming the predictions of both the Greek government and its lenders on the course of the Greek economy will be proven wrong. The Citigroup believes the economy of Greece will continue in recession, predicting a 7.1% contraction of GDP in 2018 and a spike in inflation of 47%, based on its evaluation that Greece will have a new national currency by then.

Certainly, the Greek governments propensity to talk the economy up could well turn out to be counter productive.

Satuday, July 30th, 2016

exM2

Sony Experia M2

exxa

Sony Experia XA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strangely nothing day for the penultimate of July. We went out early to the EE Shop in Worthing to look at possible upgrades for our smart phones which are on contract and coming towards the end of their term. We have two Sony Experia M2s at the moment but I am going to receive two Sony Experia XAs in replacement. I will be able to trade our old ones in for about £70.00 which will be fine after two years use.

Fascinating report referred to in this morning’s Daily Telegraph headlined:

IMF admits disastrous love affair with the euro and apologises for the immolation of Greece

It is well worth a read in the original here.

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