Sunday, 26th February, 2017
Grey and slightly damp but mild day. Definitely a day for political discussion, newspapers and football watching. There will be plenty of days for going out in the sunshine….. hopefully.
We try very hard not to buy processed food. I have even tried hard to cut out bacon, salami, mortadella, bresaola and saucisson although I absolutely love them all. Today, Pauline has ordered natural hog casings in order to make her own sausages. We used to do it in our Greek house where quality sausages were just not possible to buy. You could get tinned frankfurters which I’ve never liked or Greek sausages – Lukániko (λουκάνικο ) which tended to be thin, hard and spicy. Additionally, their provenance was always slightly suspect so we learned to do without them.
Had to share with you my favourite cartoon of the year so far. Taken from The Times:
Well, England really only just beat Italy and Man. U. really only just beat Southampton. It’s been a nail biting afternoon. I gave my morning over to researching a tennis tournament in Pefki, Maroussi, Athens this Easter. Could be an interesting trip.
Monday, 27th February, 2017
Clean Monday / Καθαρή Δευτέρα for the first day of Lent, if that means anything to you. To some Greeks it means doing without eating meat, eggs and dairy products. Actually, most, modern Greeks don’t take it too seriously but like the culturally binding routines of Festivals that accompany it.
We are celebrating in the only way we know how. Today is Fish Pie Day. Pauline is making it with lobster, scallops, prawns, cod and salmon. The topping – replacing potato – is slices of fennel topped with grated Gruyère cheese. Oh, I wish it could be Lent every day-ay-ay-ay.
My little brother, Bob, is in Barbados. He’s just tweeted this photo saying it’s raining. I went out to collect the bins after the refuse collectors had been. I was hit by a violent deluge of hail. As soon as I got back inside, the sun came out.
It’s quite unpleasant outside today and feels cold. The temperature only reached 9C/48F and is a meagre 6C/43F at 6.00 pm, grey and damp. It really doesn’t make you want to go outside. Much nicer to sit down inside to a really good Fish Pie.
Tuesday, 28th February, 2017
Glorious day here for February to die on. Bright sun in clear, blue skies. A bit chilly, reading 2C/36F at 7.00 am. We weren’t getting the white stuff that was falling heavily in the Midlands and the North of England thank goodness.
Clean Monday / Καθαρή Δευτέρα on Sifnos was preceded on Sunday by Carnival / Καρναβάλι. We were sent a link to the video of this event. Homespun and amateur, the film shows islanders dressing up and mocking/celebrating Greek culture and traditions. We were delighted that this year’s festival featured our dear friend, Emmanuella who helped us so much on the when we were on the island. We’ve heard from her but we haven’t seen her for over two years. This is a scene with a ‘postman’ in the Artemonas Πλατεία.
It seems so far away as the British government prepare to pull the shutters down on European access. Fear of a post-Brexit interregnum which will allow mass migration from poor areas of Europe to Britain are being addressed with controls which will inform those wishing to come that they will have no security of tenure. From shortly after April 2017, those EU residents who attempt to come to Britain will be not allowed to claim benefits and will be told that their stay is conditional and probably temporary. Britain, expects reciprocal action to be taken against ex-pats living in Europe. Dual nationality may well be abolished under these arrangements.
Wednesday, 1st March, 2017
The daffodils may be almost on their way out and many trees and shrubs budding vigorously. The birds may be singing optimistically and the grass growing enthusiastically but it’s still very cool outside. Even so, I am delighted to see that our potted French Tarragon is growing back strongly and will not need replacing for this year at least.
For years, the 1st of the month has meant for us reading and recording the electricity, gas and water meters. Usually, that would mean going outside or into the garage to the meters. Here, I have a smart meter mounted just below my computer monitor and, at the click of a button, I can see and record on my spreadsheet the total usage for the month and the years of both gas and electricity individually or combined. This is data for a geek like me that is so wonderful it borders on the orgasmic. Unfortunately, the water meter is set into the front lawn so it is easy for the company to come round and read but is not user-friendly at this time of year.
Of course, it is a lot more expensive to power this 4-bedroomed house compared with the 2-bedroomed Duplex we ran in Surrey. There, the total, annual cost was under £500.00/€590.00. Here it is £850.00/€1000.00. It is still below average for a house of our size in the UK. A lot of our expense goes on drying washing. We never do that outside but always use a tumble dryer which could be seen as an indulgence. Thank goodness, we don’t have to balance heating and eating like a significant number of poor people including those reliant on just their State Pension.
Thursday, 2nd March, 2017
A lovely, lovely day in which one could really believe that Spring had started. Clear blue skies from Dawn to Dusk with strong sunshine which raised temperatures in sheltered areas to 14C/57F although the edge on the breeze reduced that to 10C/50F in most parts. We did our weekly shop at 9.00 am and then completed our third, consecutive hour of cardio workout in the Health Club. Just as we were finishing showering and dressing to leave for home, the Health Club fire alarm went off and everyone traipsed out in to the carpark. Fortunately, we were able to drive away.
We got home and put together a wonderful meal of Cornish dressed crab, scrambled egg, cold water prawns and tomato & cucumber salad. It was one of those dishes that make one feel good to be alive. Having just finished our meal, I walked over to make coffee and the power went off. Everything went dead. I thought I was in Sifnos. We don’t expect this in Britain nowadays. After phoning the power company, it turned out that the house developers up the road had severed a main cable. Must have been a bit of a shock! Anyway, it was back on within 90 mins..
Amazing how much we rely on mains electricity. Couldn’t check Google for the power company’s contact number. Couldn’t distract ourselves with a television. Could heat the coffee. Couldn’t put the heating on. Couldn’t, couldn’t, couldn’t.
Friday, 3rd March, 2017
Took a day off from exercise at the gym today. We went out to our garden centre – literally 5 mins drive away – to look for some ‘fill in’ shrubs for a bed where some have failed and ideas for additional garden furniture. There are garden centres all around us but this is the biggest and the best quality. As we walked round, I was particularly keen on some new, Hebe variations.
We are looking for colour all year round at the side of the house down the drive to the garage. These new Hebes look excellent candidates. They are low growing and strong in colour.
While we were walking round, Pauline smelled what she thought was Mimosa – a scent she has always loved since our Greek house. It turned out to be Sarcocca Confusa or ‘Sweet Box’. It looks like we are definitely having some of that either side of the front door. In reality, the shrubs on sale were so tempting, we could have bought one of everything if we had the space for it. In age, however, we have learnt not to impulse-buy but purchase after reflection. We will check out gaps in the beds and then return to get the plants we need.
Saturday, 4th March, 2017
Lovely mild and sunny day. We went down to the Post Office to return another on-line purchase which wasn’t what it seemed and then nipped down to the Marina to have a walk in the fresh, Spring air. Of course, at the weekend, you can always expect quite a throng of visitors and today was the same. Littlehampton Marina is lovely with a wide, open walkway and lots to see. We always like to call in at the fishermen’s huts to see what fish is for sale and see what the little boys are catching with their hooks & lines dropped over the wall.
The beaches and boardwalks are busy with others and their dogs taking the air, even paddling at the sea’s edge. Children scoot past or glide on their roller boots. Old people hobble along behind, pulling in huge lungsful of reviving ozone. Today, there was a special focus of interest as a gaggle of new lifeguards were standing in the sea being inducted by their instructor. Although the air was pleasantly warm, I can’t imagine the sea was. Rather them than me. We drove home for a bowl of home made vegetable soup.