Sunday, 12th February, 2017
Last of the chilly days. I think we struggled up to 5C/41F and the sun broke through for a while. We are told that warm days will be back tomorrow which should reach double today at 10C/50F. I’m looking forward to getting out in the garden again – weeding and mowing the lawns. Just shows you how much time I’ve got on my hands.
It was an indoors day for me but not for this daft dog. It was snapped playing on the sea shore. I’ve never been keen on dogs unless they are well roasted with garlic and olive oil but this one almost looks acceptable.
I have been looking through a box of memorabilia which hasn’t been opened for quite a few years. While I was reminding myself of some photographs of a trip to Ireland in 1966, a metal square fell out on to the office floor. As I picked it up, I realised that it was a small, framed photograph of Major Eric Sanders aka ‘Dad’ taken in 1946 as he was demobbed. He was 31 years old. Incredible to think what he had to go through in the deserts of Palestine. How foreign it must have been to a young man from a small, Midlands village.
How lucky I have been in my life to choose most of my experiences, to go abroad at leisure and in comfort and to live beyond the age of 49. He always blamed the heat of the desert for his hair loss and told us stories of frying eggs & bacon on sun-heated Land Rover bonnets and stones. The things that I’ve never forgotten were the really important ones like a penchant he developed in the army for smearing bacon with marmalade and drinking chicory-based ‘Camp’ coffee. Mum had to pretend she liked it for years when they were first married. In spite of this, Dad died when I was 14 and long before I really got to know him. I regret that.
Monday, 13th February, 2017
Well it’s all change. By 10.00 am we were reading 10C/50F and later the sheltered, back garden reached a dizzy 16C/61F. I celebrated by cutting the lawns for the first time for two months. It felt and smelt good. No politics this week. Parliament has broken up for Half Term. We don’t want them overdoing it. We did a really hard couple of hours at the Health Club. We struck up a conversation with a couple who we’d seen there before but never spoken to. He was a retired Banker aged 86 and his wife was 85. They had spent time working out in the gym and followed it with a swim. They travel around the world and particularly enjoyed Greece in their younger days but, in age, they want more luxurious hotels in the Canaries. We would love to emulate them at that age.
The current angst in Britain with the state of the NHS is always addressed by the Tories with the refrain: We are putting in Billions more and just what we were asked for. They imply that funding is increasing exponentially under their management. We know it is not true. We can see it is not true but few of us have the facts at our fingertips when we articulate the case.
This graphic from the Institute for Fiscal Studies provides all you need to know about why you have to wait in A&E for hours or lie on a trolley in a corridor for hours or have your surgery cancelled because of lack of beds. The real question is, what is the motive. Am I cynical in suspecting that we are being softened up for a charging policy? Is this a long term aim of the Tories to weaken the country’s trust in a cradle to grave service and move people to private practices?
Tuesday, 14th February, 2017
A rather grey day which only reached 10C/50F. Snowdrops are out in force around here. There are some buds coming through on the hydrangeas at the front of the house and yesterday’s weather did give us a suggestion that Spring isn’t too far away.
This is a day for loved ones – if you get sucked in to all that commercial guff. My wife and I agreed nearly 40 years ago that Birthday, Christmas, Anniversary and Valentine’s Day recognition through presents was completely unnecessary. You can’t get more romantic than that. Today has been renamed by me as Poison Dwarf Day. We celebrated the occasion by going for an extra long workout at the Health Club.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about our first draft stopovers en route to Ancona Port this Summer. In the past, we would drive like-bats-out-of-hell and do the journey in 18 hrs. Latterly, we would take it a bit slower but still look at it as basically a journey to Greece and then a journey home. Now, we won’t have much of a timetable and can take up to a month each way. We have returned to the plan over the past few days and it currently lines up like this:
Calais – Reims – Dijon – Lyon – Turin – Genoa – Montepulciano – Ancona
Ancona – Parma – Bellinzona – Mulhouse – Reims – Calais
I am now identifying hotels for each stop and how many nights we want to be there. This is the sort of research I enjoy.
Wednesday, 15th February, 2017
The day started beautifully bright and sunny. The sun glistened on the dew of the newly striped lawn. I was going to go out and do some weeding of the beds around the house but, by the time I was ready, the sun had disappeared and dull greyness pervaded the sky. Instead, I turned my mind to something which has been troubling me for some time. Like the typical prevaricator I am, I really have to grit my teeth to address such things.
I’ve spent the morning scrabbling around my computer and cloud backup as well as my filing system to find a document produced by cousin, David, which pulled together our Family’s History. He sent it to me quite some time ago when life was in such a state of flux that, even though I was excited to get it, I decided to deal with it later. As I moved house and my computer failed and was replaced, I am still struggling to locate it. I absolutely hate misplacing things! I am going to have to beg for another copy soon.
Always lovely to receive a brown envelope from HM Revenue & Customs particularly after we had two demands of unpaid tax over recent years. Fortunately today, we were just being informed of a raise in the tax-free allowance which will be £11,500/€13,530.00 from April. This is particularly noteworthy because our allowance is still rising towards the £12,000.00/€14,120.00 that was promised by the UK government whereas the Greek’s tax-free allowance has been cut to £7345.00/€8636.00 and their creditors are demanding another reduction over the next 12 months.
Yesterday’s press featured a leaked EU document which they headlined:
Britons in Europe will face BACKLASH from bloc’s members after Brexit.
This suggested that BRITISH nationals living in a country in the European Union could well face reprisals over the UK’s treatment of foreigners. The European Parliament’s legal affairs committee drew up the internal document that looked at the impact of Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc and indicates that the 1.2 million Britons living with the EU could pay a price for Theresa May’s failure to offer a secure future for EU nationals in the UK.
It is not really a time to be property owning abroad at the moment and may not be again. There are likely to be serious issues around reciprocity of Healthcare, Pensions, Cash movement and Bank Guarantees, Personal Identity and Social Security. Already, moves are being prepared to restrict those living abroad from returning to Britain for ‘free’ Healthcare. This is bound to provoke a response in Europe. Brexit will not be responded to economically but politically in order to shore up ‘The Grand Project’.
Thursday, 16th February, 2017
The day has started warm but grey although it is forecast to become sunny as the day develops. Although not a ‘Vegan, Vegetarian or tree hugger’, I will not be observing Τσικνοπέμπτη unlike the Greeks who mark the start of Lent by gorging on barbecued meat wrapped in entrails. It was always one of their more sophisticated habits we declined. We will be going for the over indulgent Tuna Pate & Tomato Salad. I know but you only live once. In the UK, start of Lent weekend is at the end of next week but we are celebrating early by shopping at Tesco, going to the gym and generally living it up as usual.
Friday, 17th February, 2017
Spring is coming! Spring is coming! Don’t Panic, Mr Mainwaring! Don’t Panic! Yesterday, we topped at 14C/57F and the forecast is for 16C or 17C/61F or 63F. This is excellent for February in England. The lawns have reacted well to being cut. Shrubs everywhere are budding up. Even the flowers in the hall are blooming. The cyclamen that Catherine brought us in October have flowered continuously and continue to do so. Optimism abounds ….. apart from bloody Brexit!
Already, this morning we have reached 10C/50F and I’m going outside to clean the car. What fun!
Continuing to go through my Memorabilia Boxfile, where I found a photograph of Dad from 71 years ago earlier in the week, today I turned up a very faded, ‘Box Brownie’ photo of me 51 years ago with my scoutmaster, Dave Beasley, Michael Holmes who lived in High Street, Repton and Jimmy Philips who lived on the council estate at the far edge of the village. We had travelled to Dublin and then on to County Donegal in southern Ireland. I have wonderful but hazy memories of the trip. It was when I confirmed myself as a smoker and revelled in Sweet Afton which eventually made me very sick.
Saturday, 18th February, 2017
Lovely, warm day which reached 14C/57F as we left the Health Club at 4.00 pm after another couple of hours hard work. It was the fourth session this week and I found I was just beginning to cramp in my calves as I was finishing. Is it my age? Must try harder!
Pauline cooked what is becoming one of my favourite dishes for our meal today. Fish Pie should be off the agenda because I can’t eat potato but, with an inventive twist. This ‘pie’ was made up of Salmon, Cod, Scallops & Prawns in a Béchamel Sauce and topped with long, thin slices of Courgette topped by a light sprinkling of grated Parmesan. Pauline has a Jacket Potato with hers. I don’t.
We are told that we will be warmer than Greece over the next week. We have an electrician coming to do a few, small jobs but we have also resolved to go down in to Worthing and walk down the Pier which we have not yet done. It looks interesting and will post pictures as soon as I can.