Week 415

Sunday, 4th December, 2016

Glorious, cloudless day of strong, low sun and glowing blue sky. I love Sundays. It hasn’t always been so but today I sat outside in the garden and read The Sunday Times in the warm sunshine. I’m sure I’ve written before that Sundays in my youth were the worst day of the week. Up early for a family trip to Mass. No going out to meet friends. Sunday lunch was so often roast beef which was my least favourite and then there was the family walk in the countryside. Never subscribe to the false memory of a golden age in the past. Even during my working life, Sunday marked the end of the weekend and preparation for work on Monday. Oh deliver us!

ang_magAnd that is what retirement in to a modern world has done. No wonder we are up at 7.00 am to embrace the day. Freshly squeezed orange juice, lashings of tea followed by freshly ground and brewed coffee. Newspapers downloaded to the iPad and television on for 9.00 am and the Marr Show followed by Peston and then the Sunday Politics. And Breath.

While I was breathing, the latest edition of the 80-page, Angmering Community Magazine was posted through our door and I reflected what a delightful place we had come to live in. Snatch an hour to write my Christmas Newsletter. The ones for Greece have to be posted in a couple of days. Now a fantastic match in which Bournemouth came back to beat Liverpool 4-3 and United were held to a 1-1 draw by Everton. Back to complete and proof-read my Newsletter and print the address labels. And rest.

Monday, 5th December, 2016

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Holiday Inn Folkestone

Glorious morning again but still chilly. We have pottered around our normal jobs. We are going to France tomorrow and the weather forecast says that with temperatures warming up, fog could be a problem in the mornings down here. Tomorrow, we have to leave around 5.30 am which could be especially tricky. We have debated this throughout the day and just now – at 3.30 pm – after a particularly strong weather forecast, we have relented and booked a room at the Folkestone Holiday Inn Express for tonight. It cost next to nothing at £53.00/€63.00 and will mean a later start and no fight with the fog. Relaxation all round.

Tuesday, 6th December, 2016

We have stayed in many Holiday Inns and some Holiday Inn Expresses including wonderful ones in Mulhouse in Alsace and Parma and Modena in Italy but this wasn’t one of them. It was down at heel and uncomfortable and we won’t use it again. We got up and left early. It was the most glorious morning and a joy to be driving.

We drove to the Wine Store to buy Phyllis’s wine and on to the hypermarket to stock up on provisions. The new freezer is being delivered on Wednesday and we have to justify its tunnel_12_16purchase. We were so urgent in our activities that we returned to the Tunnel an hour and a half early and got on an earlier train. Our return crossing, by the way, had cost us just £23.00/€27.31 for  car and two passengers.

We rolled off on to the Kent motorway system at around 1.00 pm, switched on the radio and our hearts sank. We have the TA (Traffic Announcements) button switched on for journeys like this and very soon our radio news was interrupted with information about our own, home village. A car accident had occurred in the centre of Angmering resulting in the car turning over and smashing in to a cartshowroom window. As a result, all the roads around and into our home were shut or blocked with queuing traffic. We were making such good progress in Kent and the driving was delightful. A boding sense of trouble ahead was rumbling in our minds. We got closer and closer and saw long queues of cars just after our turning. We sailed past and into our drive without a hitch. It felt wonderful.

Just thought I’d share this cartoon that I picked up on Twitter with you because it amused me. It will probably give you pause for thought before reading the Blog again.

Wednesday, 7th December, 2016

newsletter_16After a lot of driving the previous day, I usually wake up tired but not today. Hit the ground running on a misty morning that turned to sunny and clear blue skies. After Breakfast, I cleaned the car of the salt and road grime that winter driving brings, tidied up an already tidy garage and waited for the Currys van to arrive with our new chest freezer. Predictably, they couldn’t find us. Our postcode wasn’t recognised on their sat. nav. so we had to talk them in. Of course, they arrived in the middle of PMQs although it wasn’t great today.

This afternoon, I completed the printing of my newsletter – 40 copies going out this year – and made sure all the address labels were printed as well. Pauline completed writing all the cards so they can be posted tomorrow. We are posting about 70 cards with 2nd class stamps costing £0.55/€0.65 at a total cost of £38.50/€45.20 before the cost of the cards are factored in. Christmas eh? Bah! At least I was able to work with the Parliament Programme on televising the Brexit Debate.

Thursday, 8th December, 2016

So much warmer than it has been. In fact, it was said that Tuesday was our warmest December day since 1972. I was 21 then and in my first term of teaching. I was too busy to notice how warm it was.

or_16This morning, we had to go out to the village Post Office to pick up a parcel. As we drove out, we spotted an OpenReach telecoms engineer down a hole in the pavement 50 mtrs from our house. Whenever we see that, it reminds us of Mikailis – our electrician friend from Sifnos. Where ever we drove on the island, Mikailis would always be found at the side of the road, in a hole, investigating something. If we see an Openreach engineer nearby, we always get nervous. As new build houses are handed over and buyers get ready for occupation, they request telephone lines and Broadband provision. More often than not around here, they choose BT Openreach. A little man (Mikailis) comes out and starts grappling with dozens of multi-coloured cables that look more like a weaving loom.

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Pheasant is a wonderful meat.

The last time this happened, the engineer disconnected us ‘accidentally’ and we were without Broadband for a week. We was like a near-death experience. This morning, as we drove home, the BT telecoms engineer had disappeared and, soon after we got in, we realised that we had no Broadband and, then, no phone line. I tried to phone BT Openreach on my mobile. If you’ve ever tried it, you will know that it is like knitting water. No real people just automated menus design to frustrate. After coffee, we gave up and went out to look in the neighbourhood. We found two engineers in another hole about a mile away. They were really nice men and extremely apologetic. The took it upon themselves immediately to sort out the problem.

I received a call on my mobile from BT Openreach to say the line would be fixed by Monday. BY MONDAY!!! We sat around in despair. We had (chose) to go out to buy some pheasants, whitebait and lobsters to stock our freezer. It took an hour but, when we got home, everything was sorted out. The phone was back on and we had internet. Praise be to BT.

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Week 414

Sunday, 27th November, 2016

A scorching day. We’ve had too much sun. I would like to send some to Ruth but I fear it would have transmogrified into a ball of ice by the time she received it. The Sunday papers in UK seem to be featuring forecasts of exceptionally cold weather ahead. We are hoping to fly home to a freakily warm December/January but our hopes are just that.

In Greece, torrential rain has brought floods to the first island we ever visited, Zakynthos where a man has died in the storm which moved on to flood Athens and looks set to sweep the Kyklades and Dodecanese. Meanwhile, the Greek government are being swamped by fears of new demands from their creditors.

They only have themselves to blame. They agree terms in order to free-up bail out money and, as soon as they get it, they decide the terms are unacceptable and can be avoided. This plays in to the Greek psyche which, as I learnt by experience, takes pride in not living up to commitments. Unfortunately, they have met their match in German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble who is demanding ‘real’ fiscal rectitude.

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About 27 years ago, Pauline & I were living up in the Hora on Simi.It was our first experience of the Dodecanese. Labour MP, Tony Banks, Minister for Sport had a house on the island at the time. It was a time of simplicity for Greeks. Their governments felt free to do what they wanted and the people acquiesced. Russia was changing and looked like embracing a bright, new future under Gorbachev and Yeltsin. It didn’t happen but the possibilities were there. Greece, on the other hand was still slumbering in the shadows with its komboloi and a coffee. They dreamed of nothing other than tourist takings. Dream on!

Monday, 28th November, 2016

Our last night of 28 in Playa Paraiso, Tenerife. After a scorching day and a lovely Dinner with

Aeropuerto Reina Sofia

Aeropuerto Reina Sofia

lashings of smoked salmon and salad, we are sitting outside under a starry, starry sky with the crashing ocean waves as our mood music. Tomorrow, it will be time to move on and live somewhere else. After Breakfast and final packing, a taxi will take us the 30 mins journey to the South Airport. It has a private lounge where we can relax until our flight departs. It takes just over 4hrs. Another taxi will meet us at Gatwick and carry us the 60 mins journey to our home.

We are beginning to wonder how easy this sort of travel will be after Brexit cancels the European Open Skies arrangement aka The single EU aviation market. Anyway, next week we are driving to France so that should be alright unless Le Pen has already been crowned. Next Summer, we will, once again, be driving across Europe and hope we can get across Italy before it leaves the EU.

Tuesday, 29th November, 2016

Breakfast at 7.30 am on a cloudy and overcast morning. We settled our bill – €71.00 f0r 28 days worth of sparkling water. Coffee in our room and then down to take a taxi off to the airport. Aeropuerto de Tenerife Sur is 30 mins by taxi away from our hotel. By 2.00 pm, we were in the air and back in our Sussex home by 7.30 p.m. It didn’t feel as cold as we wfpwere led to believe it would be. We did put the heating on for a few hours to compensate for it being off for a month.

The front door was blocked by a mountain of post which had built up over the month. It included announcements of our Winter Fuel Payment which I had already seen on-line in our bank accounts. We get £100.00/€118.00 each. Silly really but means-testing that would be more expensive than paying it out. The best way to economise on heating is to spend a month in the Canaries!

Wednesday, 30th November, 2016

papayaNovember is closing with no Breakfast. It is wonderful and such a relief. I can get back to feeling empty and vigorous. The day is glorious with blue, cloudless skies and strong sunshine. Some cars around us have ice on them but ours is in the garage. We set off to Tesco to buy food for the week. We’re actually going to have to cook for ourselves. In Tenerife, Pauline had huge slices of papaya for her breakfast each morning. In Tesco today, she bought two papaya. They were very small. Later, we went to Worthing to pick up some orders and came across a wonderful market stall selling huge papayas. We bought two more. The photograph illustrates the difference in size and quality.

We had a great time in Tenerife and a month is almost long enough to start to forget you live anywhere else – particularly with my memory – but it was lovely to sleep in our own bed again. Unfortunately, Pauline was in discomfort from a series of, what we thought were, insect bites. They are in a line on her arm and under her armpit. She’s had them for five or six days and they haven’t got any better. Having consulted a chemist this morning, they have decided it is actually shingles. We headed off to the surgery to be told that there was little that could be done because the infection was too developed. She has to sit it out and suffer the discomfort until it subsides.

Thursday, 1st December, 2016

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Farewell November and welcome December 2016. Happy new month to most of the Blog’s readers.

Cold outside this morning. The gauge read -2C/28F although there was little sign of frost, strangely. We have had a splurge of consumerism this morning but, first, we had to get some calamine lotion to treat Pauline’s uncomfortable shingles. She is really suffering with it at the moment although it hasn’t spread since Monday which is a good sign.

We have a full height fridge/freezer split 50/50  in the kitchen. The fridge is plenty big enough and we have a separate wine cooler but we need some extra freezer capacity so we are going to put a chest freezer in the garage. These things are so cheap and readily available. We just measured up, drove down to Currys and bought the second one we looked at. It had to be suitable for outbuildings. It has a 145 ltr. capacity and is delivered and installed for £120.00/€142.00. It will be delivered in a couple of days.

gtechhooverWe are going to France on Tuesday so we can now buy food to bring back and put in the new freezer but my main intention is to stock up on game birds. We love pheasant. They are not so easily available in Sussex as they are in Yorkshire. I did find a butcher in Worthing who told me he could get some for £6.00/€7.10 per bird which seemed quite expensive. Today, I found a supplier a few miles away who told me I could have as many as I wanted for £2.50/€3.0 per bird. As soon the new freezer arrives, we will stock up on a dozen or so.

I bought a GTech cordless lawnmower in April and loved it. Why I thought it would be a good idea to buy a cheap and nasty, cordless, VAX vacuum cleaner  I don’t know but it managed just four outings and then died. Fortunately, Argos took it back without argument and we thought again. Today, I spent a lot more money on a Gtech AirRam MK2 + Multi for £299.00/€355.00. Now, I’ll really have to do the cleaning!

Friday, 2nd December, 2016

I wonder if GTech is a Greek company. Certainly, their service is fast and efficient. I ordered equipment yesterday afternoon and received it this morning. It is quite cold here at shloer4C/39F but not uncomfortably so. Still, it’s taking a bit of getting used to after last month. With Pauline’s shingles and the fact that we’ve been away, we are not going to the Health Club today. We’ve got quite a few things to catch up with. I’m not drinking alcohol at the moment and hope to keep it that way well in to the new year so I reach for a non-alcoholic drink like Shloer. Usually, it costs £2.00 per bottle but is currently discounted 50%. We went out to Tesco to buy 24 bottles which saved us £24.00. Should get me through Christmas.

Ironically, I have had to move the wine racks in the garage to make way for the new, chest freezer which will be delivered on Wednesday. They are currently holding 120 bottles of wine and we are going to France next week which will, inevitably, increase my stock. There is a delicious sense of self denial and abstemiousness about storing all that wine but not drinking any of it. This is heightened as I carry it through Christmas and New Year.

Today, we received our first Christmas cards and began to prepare for sending our own. It actually feels a little last century to people who live on the web. We have a database of everyone’s names and addresses which I maintain and keep up to date. Pauline writes the cards. One year, I wrote in them: Best Wishes from Pauline & John Sanders. Pauline told me off for being too formal. I don’t know about you but I find it really difficult to receive a card from Bob & Jane. We know three couples called Bob & Jane. I like to know which is which. So you can see how I’m relegated to label printing. I’ve forgotten how to write anyway.

Saturday, 3rd December, 2016

Pauline is really suffering today and we hope her shingles is/are peaking. She has an antiviral tablets to take three times each day and she applies calamine lotion to soothe. Even so, she is fighting hard to carry on. We have only been out to our neighbours across the road who were holding an ‘open house’ get together. I hate these things but ‘needs must’.

The Christmas cards have started arriving in force. I received lovely cards from two of my sisters:

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They have a slight similarity with ones we are sending. I wonder if you can spot the connection:

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I always send ‘robin’ cards and, I suspect, people have started to notice. It is well known that all robins are Atheist and very feisty. That appeals to me. They are the ultimate symbol of Christmas. Of course, now I’ve spoilt it for those who are going to receive a card but it looks better in real life.

I’ve watched Chelsea beat Man.City (Boo!) and Arsenal beat W.Ham. (Hurray!) and England destroy Australia at Twickenham (Hurray!) and now Pauline is watching Strictly Come Dancing. We have eaten a lovely meal of Sea Bass and salad and all is well with the world. We are so lucky. Long may it remain.

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Week 413

Sunday, 20th November, 2016

As The Skiathan reminded me, Sunday is for newspapers. It is also for a surfeit of political analysis and discussion. Add to that warmth and sunshine and our cup runneth over. We hope Skiathan Man, his wife and young sprog are having a happy day.

Unfortunately, we have no Sky Sports here so I miss the football and the cricket. Actually, img_0982it is Channel 4 that we miss most. Channel 4 News is fantastic, often cutting edge, regularly abrasive and just unmissable except here where we are missing it. Particularly now, with the political world rocking and reeling and the potential for another three years of it, sharp and independent minds are needed more than ever.

img_0981The newspapers are absorbing reading on Brexit, Trumpism, the Italian referendum. Matteo Renzi is taking a Cameroon suicide pill by appealing to the electorate who look like booting him out. Then there is the French election which, if not won by Marine Le Penn, may force the alternative  (Sarkozy?) to tack to the right. The same will be true in Germany to an extent. Merkel is having to row back on her open door immigration policy in order to nullify criticism at home. Even the Netherlands are seeing insurgency of the extremely right.

However, my pick of the weekend (with apologies to Jane BG) is the Sunday Times article by Dominic Lawson headed:

Trump is dumping the climate fetish. What about you, Mrs May?

He predicts that the Trump team will simply withdraw America from the UN Convention on Climate Change and says that just as Obama used an ‘Executive Agreement’ bypassing democratic agreement to give consent to the Paris Accord, so Trump will reverse it by the mandate of his election which promised to revive coal mining and received full support of the US Rustbelt states. While we are punishing ourselves, China is massively building its economy based on ever increasing coal fired power. As they buy up our infrastructure, we should reflect on that.

Monday, 21st November, 2016

img_0985This time last year we were completing our first month in … Tenerife. I was preparing material for my Christmas newsletter. Today we are approaching our final week of another month in … Tenerife and am preparing material for my Christmas newsletter. I have been doing that for about 20 years now. Once I start a project, I tend not to give up. In just under 4 weeks, the Blog will be 8 years old. There are not so many around who have been so persistent. Some would call it obstinate. I call it tenacious. Today, the Blog ‘memories’ really come into their own as I review the events of 2016.

I have been told off by my sister, Jane BG, for not accepting the prevailing ‘climate change’ doctrine. In most situations, of course, I would defer to her. She knows about weather. She is, after all, a Biologist. What ever she is, she is very, very fit.

Tuesday, 22nd November, 2016

A bit cooler today – only 25C/77F – and breezy in the early morning. It’s been a strange day around. The gardens here are just fabulous. I want to take them home with me. Just a few photos. Actually, some of the most exciting don’t flower but scream out their exotic forms and textures but, today, I’ve just picked flowering plants.

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Strelitzia – Bird of Paradise

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Aloe Vera

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Cape Honeysuckle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Canarian Foxglove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tourist Infrastructure Development

After walking through these gardens and taking photographs, we walked on up the coast road. We stopped to look at a development of concrete that was being laid just as we arrived three weeks ago. Today it was a swimming pool – not finished but getting there and employing many Canarians. Tourism drives everything here. There is nothing else – which makes it rather soulless but very determined to offer the best product they can. In comparison with Greece where people, places and tradition capture and hold a heart, the Canaries offer fantastic, high quality hotels, fantastic and quality food, wonderful swimming pools and all year round perfect weather – not too hot and never uncomfortably cold. In the Canaries, whether it’s January or July, living outside is a delight. In Greece, the winter cold can pierce to the bone.

As we leaned over the fence and looked at the development, a very pretty, petite lady sidled up and affected to look but clearly wanted to talk. Within 10 minutes, we knew so much about her. It sounds a bit creepy but it wasn’t. If you’d asked me her age, I would have estimated 55 – 60 years. She told us she was 69. Her husband had died of motor neurone disease at age 38 and she was left to run his manufacturing business in Maidenhead as well as bring up two kids. She explained that she has paid her kids way through private education but doesn’t feel they are grateful or even care. She told us that she loved her kids but she didn’t really like them. With a look of shock on her face, she said, I’ve never told anyone that before. By this time, I was trying to decide how much to charge her for the consultation but The Daily Politics called and we rushed off our separate ways.

Wednesday, 23rd November, 2016

I’m sorry to report that, in spite of the warm weather outside, I have been glued to the Autumn Financial Statement. For us, it had little to offer. It confirmed that the band of earning before which tax is first levied will rise to £12,500.00/€14,730 per person. Pauline & I will have our first £25,000.00/€29,460.00 of income without paying tax. Investment income is poor to non-existent currently. The government will offer a bond at 2.3% fixed for 3 years. Unfortunately, we can only invest £6,000.00/€7,080.00 jointly which is neither here nor there. With inflation set to hit 2.8% over the next two years, it is the bulk of our savings we need to shelter. Nothing erodes value more than inflation. Perhaps we should buy another property but we really don’t want the hassle.

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A propos of absolutely nothing!

Since we retired, nearly 8 years ago, earnings have remained fairly flat. The OBR forecasts that this will remain the case for the rest of the decade. This is significant for pensioners. Although our pensions are inflation proofed, if salaries go ahead, pensioners begin to feel left behind. Never, in modern times, have earnings remained static for so long. The other hint worth noting but which will have been missed by many pensioners is a rushed allusion to readdressing the Triple Lock on State Pensions after the next election. Some are developing the thesis that the Boomers have had a life in clover and the young have been left out in the desert. The BBC are pushing this thesis almost as hard as their climate change religion. Certainly, it will have to be in the 2020 manifestos of any party proposing it and pensioners will be able to vote accordingly.

Thursday, 24th November, 2016

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Our hotel from across the bay.

We have spent the day walking – or so it seems. Went out for a long walk round the headland after breakfast in strong and hot sunshine. It was lovely to feel free and healthy with time to do what we want, go where we want and when we want together. We were out for a couple of hours and timed our return for the start of The Daily Politics.

 

After that and the BBC News, we set off for the gym. We did a solid hour of cardio-work (See, I’ve even got the jargon now.) on the treadmill and the bike. The heat was so intense we could have done with a mop to clean up the floor around the equipment after we had

Love It!

Love It!

finished. The gym is a long walk across the hotel campus back to our room and we were pleased to observe how quickly we recovered from our exertions.

The OBR has reported today that relative wage growth has not been worse since the 1920s. Partly this is explained by immigration, partly explained by part time, zero hours and poor quality jobs and partly explained by the anticipation of Brexit. This is what I touched on yesterday. The problem is that the static rates of pay are projected to stay up to and after the end of the decade but set against a newly rising inflation rate because of Brexit’s effect on the exchange rate.

Friday, 25th November, 2016

img_1015Lovely morning but a little fresher today – only 20C/68F at 7.00 am.. Looks like it’s going to be a nice day though. I read the local papers from places I used to live in every night. This morning, The Times reports what Oldhamers already knew that Oldham council has bought a new gritter. They really know how to push the boat out there. The council are running a competition to name a gritter, and Gritty McGritface is thankfully unlikely to make the cut. The children in the town have already come up with Gritney Spears and,  my favourite, Freddie Salted.

We’ve done another lovely walk this morning with beautiful views along the coastal path.

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Quite a few tourists had the same idea so it wasn’t as tranquil as we would have hoped but still enjoyable. When we got back, we drank coffee, watched the Daily Politics and headed down to the gym. By this time, the week’s exertions were beginning to be felt and both decided on a shorter session followed by an hour or so sitting in the sun.

Friday, 25th November, 2016

To put things into perspective, this is the end of the penultimate week of November 2016. Just 4 days left of our time in Tenerife. Just 4 weeks until Christmas and the start of the img_1036Blog’s 9th year. Just 5 weeks until our 38th wedding anniversary and the end of 2016.

Feeling the weight of chronology on our shoulders, we ventured out into the day. It was a warm, sunny but breezy day in which the sea was whipped up and white horses could be seen across to La Gomera. We went for a long walk to enjoy the air and spray from the sea and sunshine on our faces. All around the hotel grounds, people can be seen settling down on sun beds and will be there for up to 8 hours as the perma-tan deepens. Later in the day, we, ourselves, sit on our balcony and enjoy the sun but an hour or so is all we can manage.

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Week 412

Sunday, 13th November, 2016

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The beach below our hotel.

We’ve been here for about 11 days out of our 28. Already, we’ve begun to feel we’ve been here all our lives. Since building our house in Greece and particularly since we retired, we have never felt we were ‘on holiday’ when away from home. Our mindset has always been that we are just living somewhere else. And so it is here. We quickly fall in to patterns of days which quickly feel familiar and ‘normal’. This is encouraged by the weather which seems to be eternally on a diurnal range of 26C/79F daytime – 21C/70F night time. We have half board in our hotel and the food is magnificent. We have Breakfast at 8.00 am and Dinner at 6.00 pm. The rhythm of the days is ordered.

It is interesting to me to set my own, calm and ordered existence against the turbulence of the world’s political turmoil and excitement. BREXIT, Trump, Marine Le Penn, voters in Germany and Netherlands, etc., etc.. Europe is in for seriously challenging times and so are the common standards it has long espoused. Leave aside Trade and Defence, Christopher Booker, writing in The Sunday Telegraph this morning, headlines his column with this:

So farewell then, climate change nonsense;

as he reviews Donald Trump’s policies. I suppose he can’t be all bad! Trump has called global warming a hoax and The Huffington Post and The Guardian are both reporting that

Trump is moving to quit the Paris Climate Agreement — quickly!

So, you see, he can’t be all bad.

Monday, 14th November, 2016

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Not so Spermarket.

I knew I’d enjoyed it and now we know that 2016 will be  crowned the warmest year on record. Long may that trend continue. Today has been a very quiet, routine day. We have been reading in the sun and making plans for the future. We walked out to the local supermarket to stock up on sparkling water. True to my need to bag a bargain, I like the feeling of buying bottles at 30% of the price our 5* hotel would charge us.That’s totally unacceptable.

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BREXIT in microcosm.

We went for a really good workout in the Spa/Gym. The only problem with exercising here is that, in spite of the air conditioning, the gym gets uncomfortably hot. I end up swimming in my own sweat and my shirt is difficult to lift by the time I’ve finished. Too much information? Tough!

One thing that makes me laugh in this Spanish Gym is the fact they have felt the need to paste translations of the settings buttons/data labels. Only the English would require this. As with all my graphics, you can expand them by clicking but the hotel has helped us with:

Calorias = Calories / Velocidad = Speed / Distancia = Distance / Frecuencia Cardiaca = Heartrate

It takes special intelligence to work these out. Still, when we leave the EU and all holiday in Trumpland, we’ll really need English translations!

Tuesday, 15th November, 2016

img_0946Mid-November and exactly half way through our month away. Goodness, it’s been hot today. The gauge only read the statutory 26C/79F but it felt intense and airless. Every
night, we go to bed around midnight. The sky has been clear with lots of stars and moon shining over the ocean. We went outside to see the ‘Super Moon’ only to find clouds had come over and blocked it.

This morning, Pauline woke me at 5.00 am and told me I must have left the light on over the balcony. I looked out and it was like daylight as the moon floodlit the sea right over to img_0948La Gomera. Unfortunately, I was so drowsy, I didn’t photograph it. The papers, of
course, were full of fantastic snaps. The Times had a lovely one at Glastonbury and another from Athens which appealed to me.

The heat and the early start combined with a consistent run of daily exercise has left us feeling rather tired today and we decided to forgo our trip to the gym. Instead, we went for a light amble around the neighbourhood. Now, of course, I feel guilty. I’m still going to watch the England match!

Wednesday, 16th November, 2016

A cracking day of strong sun and 28C/82F. Apart from the normal stuff which included watching a rather poor PMQs, we walked the extensive grounds of the hotel. Previously, I’ve written about the exotic planting which towers up through the open spaces.

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img_0952This concourse is at the crossroads between rooms and restaurants, pools and gardens. In the early mornings, as we go to Breakfast and the evenings as we return from Dinner, the shrill calls of parakeets echo off the walls as they flit through 20ft date palms, banana plants, cheese plants or monstera bushes, umbrella plants or schefflera, etc.The last two, of course, would be very familiar to British homes of the 1960s – 1980s but in smaller, pot form.

Gardeners are working constantly, mowing grass, mulching beds, pruning bushes, sweeping paths, maintaining the automatic watering systems. As they work and like all the cleaning staff, room maids and waiters and waitresses, managers, etc., everyone stops what they’re are doing and acknowledges guests walking past. It can almost become tiresome for people like us who enjoy anonymity.

Thursday, 17th November, 2016

Adeje Sea Front

Adeje Sea Front

Another very hot day again from dawn until dusk with none stop sun and 28C/82F. We chose to explore another part of Costa Adeje and did a couple of hours walking which was plenty in that heat. We called in to a few shoe shops on our quest to find the style I bought here in February. A week ago we drew a blank completely but today we found them.

Unfortunately, they only had them for midgets. These are the big challenges of retirement. Another, is coping with all these old people who are around. When you are retired, the people who are most likely to be on holiday in November are … retired people. They are so slow and infuriatingly indecisive that they drive us mad. In and around the hotel. In the streets and shops. In the airport. Old people everywhere you look.

Don’t get me started on old people in Restaurants confronted by the multiple choice question of Buffet-presented food. They are all suddenly struck down with Dementia.

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Prawns or not?

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Oh no! More choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is so good not to be old. That is one thing I will never do.

Friday, 18th November, 2016

Have you got that Friday feeling? We haven’t. It could just as easily be Sunday here. The sun shines. The temperature hits 27C/80F and life trundles on serenely. We’ve done our img_0967exercise, read our newspapers and sat and dozed in the sun a bit. We have ten days left here and we couldn’t have chosen a better month if we’d tried. Our old home in Yorkshire has been hit with snow. Now, at 7.30 pm in Yorkshire, it is a tropical 0C/32F. Our new home by the coast in Sussex is not faring that much better at 3C/37F. Even Greece is only 11C/52F. (9.30 pm). Here, it is 22C/70F and will hover around that all night. If warm weather aids life-expectancy, all the Canarians should live to 100. I’ve not seen much evidence of that unless the 20 something looking girls serving in the restaurants are really all centenarians.

No photo tonight so I thought I’d share a picture from my Twitter feed which rather amused me. It fits perfectly with our current polical situation.

Saturday, 19th November, 2016

There is something invidious about us&them comparisons but what the heck. The sub tropical experience is enhanced by pictures and reports of weather back home. The Sussex coast is expecting severe gales this evening. Hope they don’t set the burglar alarm off. West Yorkshire is … well, West Yorkshire-ish. So today’s contrast is:

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Playa Paraiso

West Yorkshire

West Yorkshire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a lovely, relaxing day doing everything slowly, I had to eat Dinner fairly sharpish because Ed Balls was in Blackpool on Pauline’s favourite, Strictly Come Dancing.

Love Sparkling Water!

Love Sparkling Water!

Wonderful 'Starters'

Wonderful ‘Starters’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No wine again,  just sparkling water with Dinner. The sparkling water is lovely.  I’m becoming quite addicted to it. Unfortunately, the ‘Starters’ here are delicious so we both had two – Carpaccio of Beef and Endive stuffed with creamed blue cheese.

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Week 411

Sunday, 6th November, 2016

img_0892An incredibly hot and sunny day. We have done all the traditional things for Sunday – watched three, political programmes and some football plus did a strenuous gym work out. Had a bit too much sun and a bit too much Dinner. Pauline watched Strictly results while I have done my Blog. It is like home from home but with unseasonal warmth and sunshine.

Back in our real home, the Brexit debate continues to flip flop around. It is a huge mess made worse by a terrible, Tory government.  My view is that we are likely to end up with an early General Election to resolve the situation and – whisper it softly – I wouldn’t be surprised if we had Corbin government. You know the old adage:

Democracy is far too important to be entrusted to the people.

and Winston Churchill’s view that

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average Voter.

Well Brexit was brought about by the average voter and the next election will be decided by the same, average voter. If you had ever taught in one of our schools, you would know how dangerous Democracy can be.

Monday, 7th November, 2016

img_0894Talking about dangerous things, Stavros, the Greek government have announced a whole, new crack down on tax evasion. Particularly, they will target small businesses and the self employed with much stricter punishments for unpaid tax. Especial attention is being given to those spiriting cash out of the country. Can you imagine people doing that?Things could get tricky.

Coming away has had an interesting effect in rebalancing our lifestyle. We are alcohol free, eating less and increasing our exercise time in the gym. Tonight we ate smoked salmon salad with sparkling water and felt so holier than now. It is a beautiful, warm (23C/ ) evening and, like most evenings here, as the sun goes down, the clouds decorate and graduate the sky. So, no apologies for including this photo.

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The world is such a beautiful place and we are so lucky to be in it. Shut up, John, you sentimental, old fool.

Tuesday, 8th November, 2016

Well another lovely day averaging 24C/75F. I don’t think the night time temperature has gone below 21C/70F over any night as we complete our first week. We like this sub tropical climate. It doesn’t get too hot or cold at any time. We are spending our third month here in the last twelve and it hasn’t erred from this theme.

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The sub tropical climate means that wonderful plants grow enormous and for fun. Our hotel really exploits this. The rooms and corridors are built around enormous atriums or atria which are open to the sky and planted so the trees and shrubs reach ever upwards.

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As you can see, the views from the balconies and over the pools to the sea are framed by sub tropical plants reaching out to the bright, warm, blue sky.

I still check The Skiathan’s Blog every day even though he’s currently in UK as his wife fights the terrible blight of cancer. He appears to remain upbeat and cheerful in spite of his (their) difficulties. Every time I eat fish – which is almost every day – I think of him. I was amused today to see that he had two visitors. I was the one from ‘Spain’ and the other was from Glossop. The Skiathan reaches the parts …

Wednesday, 9th November, 2016

Stressing over a Trump win

Stressing over a Trump win

Went to bed at midnight ‘knowing’ that Clinton had won. Woke at 5.45 am to be told that Trump was odds on winner. My Twitter-feed provided the quote of the night in a uniquely British observation:

BRITAIN has woken up relieved to find its idiotic act of self-harm earlier this year is now a piffling historical footnote.

The lunatics who voted Brexit can at least hide behind the mad men of America! What it does underline is the yawning gap between the political elite and everyman. It will happen again across Europe before they actually begin to accept this and begin to tone down the arrogance. It may take our new, American Ambassador to the European Union – one Nigel Farage – to finally bring that home to them. You scoff? Did you scoff at Brexit or think President Trump the most unlikely thing to happen in your lifetime? All the traditional lodestones of political life are being hurled into the sea.

Thursday, 10th November, 2016

img_0920What a gorgeous, hot and sunny day. We took the shuttle bus that links our hotel with its sister establishment. The first picture shows Pauline in the garden at the front of our hotel. We became tourists and travelled to the centre of Costa Adeje.

At first sight, it is beautiful, quiet and refined. We walked past this bay lined with ancient, eroded, volcanic rock formations, over img_0921a ridge and down into Blackpool on Sea. We didn’t stay there long. Pauline had a mission to buy a pair of shoes for me similar to those I bought here in January, They are extremely soft leather, casual shoes made by the Spanish company, Fluchos. We looked in vain and, eventually, took the shuttle bus return to our hotel to enjoy the afternoon sunshine.

As we did so, Pauline found a retailer who stocked the shoes and went online to order them. In fact, she ordered three pairs in grey, blue and tan colours.img_0927

The bill came to £199.95/€230.00 plus £15.00/€17.20 for delivery from mainland Spain. Just as she pressed ‘PAY’, the site froze and my mobile sounded a text coming in. I should have predicted it and alerted them to it in advance but our bank’s fraud warning system went into overdrive and stopped the transaction. Fortunately, a brief phone call freed everything up and the purchase went through. Very impressive on the part of the bank, though.

Friday, 11th November, 2016

img_0924The sun has risen fiercely. The temperature is rising strongly. But Leonard Cohen is dead and, with him, a little piece of my life. In late September 1969, I dragged my trunk up to the attic room of my first College ‘Digs’ and there was Nigel sitting under the table with a bottle of red wine and ‘The Songs of Leonard Cohen’ playing at full volume on the record player. I wondered what I had come to. Certainly, my Mother, who had driven me there, was flabbergasted. So it couldn’t be all bad.

Suddenly Repton, the Black & White Minstrels, The Billy Cotton Band Show, Cliff Richard, et al were jettisoned and a brave new world embraced. The sound track of that Leonard Cohen album – Like a Bird on the Wire, Like a Drunk in a Midnight Choir, I have tried in my way to be Free.  has returned to me many times in my img_0925adult life. Of course, in the hurly burly of working life, there is little time for such self indulgence and it was rapidly pushed away but, in retirement, it is almost unavoidable.

Your eyes are soft with sorrow
Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye

I have emailed Nigel who, like Leonard Cohen, became a Buddhist monk briefly but now paints and runs an art gallery in Yorkshire. I haven’t seen him for 44 years. Meanwhile, we move on to another day of sun, swimming, exercise and self indulgence. Hallelujah!

Saturday, 12th November, 2016

Another hot day which read 26C/79F but felt so much hotter without the whisp of a breeze. Lovely end to the week. The only reason I know it’s the end of the week is because of this Blog. My brother tweeted a picture of himself with a pint of beer yesterday evening and extolled the delights of reaching the weekend. One of the losses in retirement is never having ‘that Friday feeling’. One learns to cope with that loss.

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Hotel Gym

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An Angel Jogging!

We have enjoyed sitting in the sun and reading the newspapers and watching rugby internationals this afternoon. In between those two, different sessions, we spent an hour in the hotel spa and gym. We are almost back to our regular five hours of solid ‘cardio workout’ each week – an hour for each of five days a week. After Christmas, we will increase it again to 90 mins per session. I’ve had a problem with my right arm since February and it has inhibited my swimming so we have had to rely on gym work. My arm isn’t right but I’m determined to get back to swimming next week.

The biggest problem I have here is lack of distraction. In David Lloyd Health Club, I have my own, personal television and I time my exercise sessions to coincide with  an interesting political discussion or analysis. In this way, the time flies by and I’m not aware of the pain. Here there is nothing but some terrible, overhead music system which just increases the pain and lengthens the time to near eternity. I find myself fantasizing about the retribution I would wreak on the creators of this soundtrack to hell.

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Week 410

Sunday, 30th October, 2016

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October, 2016 has almost slipped off the end of the conveyor belt of time. Although we will welcome November, the loss of another month must be a source of sadness. The worst thing is that it will soon be forgotten. This Blog is one person’s attempt to shore our memories up against the erosion of time.

I have to make a stark admission this morning. I am what is known in the North of England as a SCRIKER. I cry at the drop of a hat. I have known it most of my life but it has got worse with age. I have always been reduced to tears by music. A Chopin Nocturne invariably gets me. I can dissolve over a Mozart violin section. Opera is the worst. Puccini and Donizetti destroy me. I watch performances on the Sky Arts channel. Last week, I switched it on as background in the Office while I wrote emails and letters to people.

While I was working and half paying attention, it changed to a Chris de Burgh concert and, without focussing on the music at all, I found myself in floods of tears. The heady mix of Irish sentimentality and easy lilt stirred something in me which I couldn’t hold back. You may think this is ‘cheap’ emotion and I have thought about it long and hard. I don’t know the answer but maybe my Irish, maternal ancestry has brought the susceptibility through my genetic makeup. I’m not ashamed of it although it can be a little embarrassing at times. I try to explain it by saying that I am in touch with my feminine side.

Monday, 31st October, 2016

Well, October is going out with spectacular weather. Warm and sunny with clear, blue skies only smudged by traces of planes, high up, leaving and approaching Gatwick – which is what we will be doing this afternoon. We are bound for Tenerife where the temperature is forecast to be a steady 26C/79F all week. It will do just fine as we swim in the salt water pool and stroll along the countryside roads.

Thought I’d share this photo with you that I picked up on some Twitter-feed and which really amused me.

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Of course, you can substitute for elephants, Irish and Blacks from the not-so-distant past.

When we sold our Greek house two years ago, even the Notary was surprised to find that we didn’t have to pay any Capital Gains Tax – the difference between the ‘declared’ cost of gsuperbuilding and the ‘declared’ price of selling. I use the word ‘declared’ advisedly. It was a wonderful surprise because, until then, CGT had been at a punishing rate of 20% of any profit. It was dropped in the months before we sold but, in January, it is going to be re-introduced. There is a God! (Well, maybe not.)

Kathimerini also reports more bad news about the Greek economy:

Retail sector suffers, as supermarkets see turnover slump almost 8 percent. Not only is the slump in sales across all sectors of retail commerce showing no signs of recovery, but entrepreneurs are saying that the worst is yet to come. It appears there is no exception to the phenomenon, as it has not spared any section of the market, be it stores selling electronic goods or clothing shops and supermarkets.

Who’d have thought that Greeks wouldn’t have lots of money to spend?

Tuesday, 1st Novcmber, 2016

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Happy November, 2016 to most people!

A very early start for the first day of November at the Holiday Inn, Gatwick. Up at 4.00 am and out at 5.00 am. We take the shuttle bus to North Terminal and go to the No1 Lounge for quiet, relaxation, free bacon sandwiches and coffee and strong internet signal. At 8.00 am we fly and at 12.30 pm we are in Tenerife South airport terminal collecting our luggage. We have a taxi taking us to our hotel and then we will relax.

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View over the salt water pool

And relax we did in 26C/79F with lovely sunshine flooding across our generous balcony which is furnished with two sun loungers and a table and chairs. We drank the complimentary bottle of Tempranillo with some roasted, salted sweet corn ears after which, we felt even more tired.

We went for a walk around the hotel complex to familiarise ourselves with the facilities. We found the three pools, three restaurants and the gym & spa. We were given two, complimentary hours in the Spa. We returned to make a cup of tea and watch BBC News. We can receive BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Sky News.  It’s enough to keep in touch with the world.

Wednesday, 2nd November, 2016

The backdrop to the day has been similar to yesterday. Blue skies, strong sunshine and 26C/79F. Towards the end of the day a bit of hazy cloud developed but I am writing this at 20.20 hrs and it is dark outside but still 23C/73F. We have the air conditioning on. In UK, the temperature has suddenly tumbled and, at home, it is now just 2C/36F. Sifnos is an uncomfortable 11C/52F.

I know that’s enough about about weather but, when you come somewhere like Tenerife in the Winter, it is mainly for better weather. We travelled yesterday and we can feel that in our bodies today. It has been a relaxing day sunbathing on our balcony. The view from the balcony

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The view from our balcony over to La Gomera

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We walked out to the nearest supermarket and bought out their supply of sparkling water and mouthwash. When a bit of whispy cloud cover came over in late afternoon, we walked up the coastal path to explore…..absolutely nothing. Tomorrow, we will start to use the fantastic, state-of-the-art gym.

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The coastal path in front of our patio.

 

 

 

 

 


Thursday, 3rd November, 2016

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The planting here is one of the delights.

A little bit of cloud this morning and 25C/78F. We went out for a good walk along the coastal path. By its very nature, the path is a roller coaster of steep descents and just as steep inclines. It has no comparison with a treadmill in the gym. The effort – and we pushed ourselves – combined with the heat and humidity left me soaking wet by the time we got back to the hotel.

Got back to our hotel room, made a cup of coffee and was about to shower when BBC News reported the best piece of news we’ve heard for months. The High Court has ruled that The House of Commons is supreme and not the Tory Cabinet. We can now tell the idiots who voted to leave that the majority of those they elected to represent them voted to remain. We must repeat the Irish experience and get them to vote again and again until they get it right.

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The Spa Pool

We watched the Daily Politics programme on BBC2 as the ‘frustration of Brexit’ discussion really cheered us. We then set off for the gym which here is delightful, well furnished and stocked with machines. It’s attached to a Spa which we will also use. I will sit in the jacuzzi while Pauline has beauty treatments even though she is so beautiful that there is no more scope for improvement. At least she can enjoy treatments she rarely indulges herself in at home. Probably this won’t go further than manicure and pedicure but we will see. As long as it makes her happy.

Two or three, additional, throwaway observations complete the Blog tonight. If you find the presentational effects even more rudimentary than usual, it is because I have chosen to do the whole thing on my iPad Professional while away. It is less precise without a mouse but it saves carrying a laptop around. The food in the three restaurants here is absolutely wonderful. Tonight we ate plates of the freshest, tastiest salad accompanied by plates full of king prawns in their shells. This was followed by grilled veal steaks and cauliflower gratin. The whole meal was accompanied by ….. a bottle of sparkling water. That is the third point I wanted to raise. The first full day here was marked by my decision to give up alcohol for a few months. I have been drinking too much wine and must stop. I’ll keep you posted.

Friday, 4th November, 2016

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Before Breakfast

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After Breakfast

The Weekly Politics show on BBC2 is always on ridiculously late. It begins at 11.45 pm and ends at 12.30 am. I invariably say I won’t watch it but I always do. And so it was last night. The alarm went off at 6.00 am this morning and so did the Radio 4 Today programme. These are exciting, political times and not to be missed. While drinking morning tea, I took the photos on the left from the balcony. You will soon get (already be) bored by them so I promise to limit future shots.

img_0869Yesterday, we looked out over coffee and watched a huge shoal (pod?) of dolphins swimming playfully past. There must have been twenty or thirty. I took a photo but, as so often happens, the lens didn’t reproduce what the eye could see and not a single dolphin was close enough to discern. I will have to train them to be more photo friendly.

Our room is very comfortable, is cleaned daily with fresh towels every day and the bed linen changed every three days. We were offered every day but thought that excessive. Every evening, they still do that quaint, old thing while we are out at Dinner, of coming in, ‘turning the bed down’ and placing a chocolate on the pillow. I think it’s weird but not a problem.

What is really impressive here is the internet feed. We have two iPads and two smart phones connected permanently to the wi-if and the speed is absolutely excellent. So many hotels nominally say they offer wi-fi but it would be quicker to wade through treacle than browse the internet. Here, the speed and broadband width is excellent. We have a relay point actually in our suite which serves just our requirements. I can send 5mb graphics without any problem. It makes life so much more enjoyable.

Saturday, 5th November, 2016

Remember, remember to go away in November. We left home on  Halloween Day which saved us seeing lots of children. Brr! Children! And now we are avoiding the fireworks hype. Brrr! Guy Fawkes. In replacement, we have had a wonderful, wonderful day. We went out for the morning, leaving from our hotel on the ‘free’ shuttle bus at 10.30 am by which time the thermometer was reading the statutory 26F/79F. We went to Costa Adeje town where our hotel has a sister establishment.

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Costa Adeje

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Costa Adeje

The pretext of our journey was to look for some soft, leather shoes for me to supplement the ones I bought here in January. Ironically and, perhaps, perversely in this weather, we came away with two, thick, hot, woolley cardigan coats for Pauline. I can normally manage about ten minutes shopping before I am tired and bored. Today I managed nearly two hours and I was close to death!

It was very hot. One of those automated weather data display ticker tape things showed 30C (86F) although I can’t confirm that. The nice thing about Adeje is the yellow sand instead of black, volcanic stone which just doesn’t feel right. It is November and Adeje is very, very busy with tourists. Stavros would give his right arm for this if he could cope with such demand.

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Week 409

Sunday, 23rd October, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 24th October, 2016

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

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

Tuesday, 25th October, 2016

diary_1944A grey turning to sunny day that reached 16C/61F in the afternoon. Spent a chunk of the day looking through a huge collection of family photos in my archive. I’ve been through them all many times but a small book, that I’ve never seen before, fell out of an envelope. It was Mum’s diary for 1944. It almost felt wrong to be reading it but I couldn’t resist.

Mum was in her first year of teaching at Purley Oaks School in South Croydon and was obviously loving it. Many of her entries merely recorded – A quiet day. – and the whole thing degenerated as she got to August. What was surprising was that she was going to the theatre every week and often twice or three times in a week. I was also able to trace her house which was in Woodcote Road, Wallington, Surrey. Google Earth is a wonderful tool.

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Mum’s House – 1944

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mum’s First Teaching Post – 1944

Of course, the war was still in progress and, after a hard day’s teaching and then marking her books, she would go with another woman on ‘Fire warden’ duty. Can you imagine it? She records her duty as Fire Watching on the nights of Sunday / Tuesday / Thursday / Saturday. On other occasions, she had to do Saturday & Sunday from 12.30 pm – 5.30 pm. And the young people of today think they have it hard. Even the phenomenon that is me would feel stretched.

Wednesday, 26th October, 2016

High pressure is sitting over Britain and it has meant mild, stable weather. Yesterday I recorded a grey turning to sunny day that reached 16C/61F in the afternoon. Today was exactly the same. We spent the morning packing for our month away and then we ventured out to the gym. A couple of my sisters contacted me and I have some work to do before replying.

Fascinating to read that the Tsipras government in Greece acted unconstitutionally in re-tendering the Television Licenses for Broadcasters. Back to the drawing board there and, lesvosmaybe, for the government itself soon. To be fair, this was only the left wing trying to readdress the actions of previous, corrupt ruling parties.

All of this happens against the backdrop of the ‘migrant crisis’. A sudden surge in numbers trying to get to Greece before winter seas make it too dangerous are aggregating those already trapped in Greece. Unrest, agitation, fires and fighting are on the increase. The upheaval underscores the problem of overcrowding at Centres on five eastern Aegean islands where more than 15,000 migrants are awaiting the outcome of asylum applications or deportation.

Thursday, 27th October, 2016

argosFor some reason, I am finding my Blog difficult to write this week. This is an almost unique experience over the past eight years. I must try harder!

Quite warm and rather misty this morning but, eventually, sun broke through and bathed the lawn in light. The new, cordless vacuum cleaner that we bought two months ago stopped working this morning. It was soon apparent that it was not going to be revived and I scurried around to find and print out email copies of the sales receipt and warranty. We bought it in Argos for £150.00 and we had already discarded the packaging. It was only ever a ‘second’ machine. It was put in a plastic sack and we took it back to the store. There was no discussion or prevarication. I only had to say that we didn’t want it any more and a full refund was immediately put back on to our credit card account. It makes buying from Argos feel a reassuring process and one that we would be more inclined to repeat.

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Ochi Day in Greece – October 28th

We have spent the day completing tasks which are on our To-Do  list before we go away for a month. I have spent a couple of hours cutting the lawns and tidying up the garden. This afternoon, Pauline has cut my hair out in the garden. It will last about six weeks. The packing is virtually done and, tomorrow, Pauline will have her hair cut in Worthing. The packing is well on its way to completion and the taxi is booked to take us to Gatwick. The journey is less than an hour and we will stay in an airport hotel so the early morning flight isn’t troublesome.

Tomorrow in Greece is Ochi Day which marks the Greeks refusal to bend the knee to Mussolini’s forces in 1940. In the light of such admirable strength, it is disappointing that the tax collection authority has had to threaten hotel owners with action for not declaring their earnings. It is an age-old problem that will have to be cracked down on if Greece is ever to pull itself out of the mire. It’s all very well saying no (ochi) to a fascist dictators but quite another thing to cheat your own country of its income stream.

Friday, 28th October, 2016

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Tony & Guy Worthing

Out early this morning and off to Worthing by the Sea. Pauline is having her hair cut at Toni & Guy at 10.00 am. I am going to while away an hour in Costa Coffee on the sea front. Pauline’s haircut costs £60.00/€67.00 which always seems a lot but so be it. The town was warm and quiet. We were reading 16C/61F which is not bad as we approach November.

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Sea Front view from Worthing multi-storey carpark.

We made a few, shopping stops afterwards – M&S to pick up an order; Wilkos to buy some gardening materials and then Debenhams to buy really exciting things like socks. We park in the multi-storey carpark on Worthing sea front which affords many delightful views like the photo opposite. unfortunately, it also is attractive to seagulls who bombed our car. Stavros knows a thing or two about seagulls. They seem to particularly like his boat for ‘target practice’.

So, when we got home, I had to clean the car before acidic deposits affected the paintwork. While I was doing that, I cooked duck breasts (pretending they were seagull breasts in an act of mini revenge) with mixed, roast vegetables. As we drove out, we called at our new doctors to deliver our completed forms. We were given ‘wee test’ pots to complete and return but that won’t be until December when we get back from Tenerife.

Saturday, 29th October, 2016

suntableA warmish day of 16C/61F – especially if you remember that we are moving into November. The sun streaming through the conservatory windows onto the dining table made the house feel too warm. I took advantage of the lovely sunshine to treat the lawns with Autumn Feed and then tidied up the car and garaged it until December. We won’t need it again until then.

The plants we put in each side of the drive are doing well and have continued to provide a muted and subtle but old fashioned charm. We will take a new look at the possibility of adding to them in the Spring although we will be driving across Europe next year and will not be at home to look after them. The cyclamen that Catherine brought autumngardenus as a present the other week are still flowering strongly with little beacons of light against the dark bark mulch.

Against all the noise of BREXIT and antagonism towards foreigners in the British tabloid press, there is an interesting story about Greece. It suggests that the EU is refusing to send officials to ‘dangerous’ Greek islands despite their migrant promise. The Greek islands are too dangerous for European Union officials and the EU have refused to send asylum experts over – despite their promise to Turkey. Bodes well for next year’s tourist season!

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Week 408

Sunday, 16th October, 2016

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Rain & Spray like fog on M25.

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

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

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

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

Monday, 17th October, 2016

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Trio in the Room at the Top

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

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

Tuesday, 18th October, 2016

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Saying ‘Hello’ to Mum.

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

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

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The Spiced Pear Tea Room, Holmfirth

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

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

Wednesday, 19th October, 2016

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

Went to bed at 10.00 pm!

Thursday, 19th October, 2016

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Good enough to eat?

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

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

Friday, 20th October, 2016

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Flu jabs today.

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 21st October, 2016

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

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

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

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

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Week 407

Sunday, 9th October, 2016

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

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More demanded of Greeks

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

Monday, 10th October, 2016

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

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

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

Tuesday, 11th October, 2016

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Villages Medical Centre – Send, Surrey

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

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

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

Wednesday, 12th October, 2016

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

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

Thursday, 13th October, 2016

rabbits

Rabbit is a wonderfully fat-free meat.

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

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

Friday, 14th October, 2016

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Repton Village of my childhood.

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

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Dave & Sue with Jonathan

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

Saturday, 15th October, 2016

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

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

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

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Week 406

Sunday, 2nd October, 2016

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

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

Monday, 3rd October, 2016

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 4th October, 2016

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

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Vic Roebuck died in 2010

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

 

 

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David McAndrew – I last saw in 1972

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

 

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

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

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Professor Bill  Stafford

 

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

Wednesday, 5th October, 2016

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Sunrise over the South Downs

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

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

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30 mins crossing

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Arriving at our delightful hotel in Coquelles.

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

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

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The Channel is widening as we stand here.

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

Thursday, 6th October, 2016

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Wonderful Wimereux

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

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Our old haunt in Wissant.

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

 

Friday, 7th October, 2016

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

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Migrant Smugglers apprehended on M25

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

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

Saturday, 8th October, 2016

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

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For me ….

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…..For you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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