Sunday, 7th May, 2017
Pleasant day with patchy sunshine and reasonably warm. It’s a day off work with no trip to the gym. We went out to the garden centre for some more clay pots and a couple of dill plants. They will be potted up tomorrow along with basil plants. I’ve decided to buy an automatic watering controller for the times while we are away.
It is already 8 years since we retired even though we still walk the corridors in our dreams. Of course, we worked with hundreds of staff over nearly 40 years. Our school employed 130 teaching staff at its height and we regularly hear of older ones falling off the conveyor belt of life. It was nice to see Norma, my assistant for a few years, celebrating her husband, Harry’s birthday.
Harry used to teach Craft in my school until he had a bad accident at home and fell from a ladder – an accident that provoked a severe stroke at the age of 40. He was unable to teach after that but here he is celebrating his 80th birthday. Norma is 75. It is good to see they have had life after his accident. Harry, a skilled carpenter, filled his time with little jobs at home and he restored the ‘Richard chair’ for me many years ago.
Monday, 8th May, 2017
The weather is lovely, bright and sunny but we’ve had a difficult day. I spent a couple of hours valeting the car while Pauline cleaned the house. The car doesn’t know what’s hit it. It’s never been so clean. The leather seats have almost satiated on polish and the paintwork is inches deep in wax. Pauline’s cleaning halted early when our cordless vacuum halted and blurted error messages. We read the manual, followed the recommended steps and accepted it had died.
Fortunately, when I phoned GTECH at 6.00 pm this evening, I was told that replacement parts would be with me tomorrow. An hour later, I was messaged by DPD arranging the delivery. I don’t think we could have expected a better response than that which is fortunate because our sat. nav. went on the blink this afternoon.
We have an integrated Comms. / Sat. Nav. / Entertainment system which is Honda badged. This afternoon, it froze, freed up and then froze again. I only just found my way home from the Health Club. We had been to do another two hours of hard work which culminated with 30 mins in the outdoor pool. This will mean a trip to Honda tomorrow to get it sorted out. Fortunately, it will cost nothing apart from time and it is a very rare event with our cars.
Tuesday, 9th May, 2017
The day started and finished with clear skies and strong sunshine. In between, it was fairly overcast. I wouldn’t describe it as warm for May at 13C/56F. We went out early for Pauline’s doctor’s appointment and then to Worthing to pick up my new suit. I also bought a water sprayer for irrigating my lawns. We have had an incredibly dry winter and there is even talk of a hosepipe ban in the summer. I am getting in there in advance. It costs next to nothing and gives a choice of about 7 spray patterns. Our lawns are going to love it!
The GTECH vacuum cleaner broke down yesterday. A new part was delivered this afternoon and everything is back up and working. You can’t ask for better service than that. On the way back from Worthing, we stopped in at the Honda garage to tell them about a ‘dicky’ sat.nav./infotainment unit. They put a diagnostic computer on it for a few minutes while we had a cup of coffee and pronounced a whole new unit was required. It will be available in a few days. We have used less than 12 months of our 5 year warranty.
When we got home, our neighbour came round with our fig trees which had been delivered while we were out. Tomorrow I will be preparing planting holes and with stone at the bottom to restrict the root growth which will encourage fruiting. It will be interesting to see if the micro climate of our back garden is good for fruiting figs.
Wednesday, 10th May, 2017
A lovely, warm and sunny day that reached 20C/68F by early afternoon. After coffee and the papers for half an hour, we completed our tasks in the house and then went back to the garden centre for more clay pots to pot up our new fig trees. I say trees but they are really short sticks with a few green buds. However, we know from experience that, once they get going, they will grow and bush and become very vigorous. What we don’t know is how well they will fruit.
We potted them up with some stone at the bottom. Restricting their roots encourages fruiting. That’s why the rocky subsoil of Greece is so good for their success. I’m hoping that the residual warmth of the garage wall reflecting back what it has absorbed throughout the day will encourage more clement conditions to further help their development.
Did a lovely but hard session at the gym culminating in swimming 400 metres in the outdoor pool under warm sunshine. I am definitely beginning to recover from these sessions more quickly. Indeed, I have not felt this vigorous and energetic since I was at school. I am finding it harder to sit down and stay sitting down – something I used to specialise in. On the days when we don’t go to the Health Club, I find myself pacing around the house looking for things to do. My computer is beginning to feel superfluous to requirements. My iPad provides most news and social media content over coffee in the morning.
Today when I got back from the Health Club, I vacuumed the house and cut the lawns while Pauline produced our meal which, today, was a wonderful Greek Salad and Calamari. Absolutely delicious!
Thursday, 11th May, 2017
Yet another lovely, warm – even humid day that reached 21C/70F. We did our regular Thursday tour of the supermarkets. Actually, we missed one out. A new Aldi opened about a mile away this morning but the opening jamboree attracted so many crowds that we thought we would check it out later in the week. We did buy another, fresh octopus from Morrisons. It is locally sourced and very cheap. When we got home, I watered the lawn again because we still haven’t had any rain in spite of forecasts.
When Pauline & I got married nearly 40 years ago, we were living in our first house together in Meltham, West Yorkshire. Just down the road, David Brown Tractors had taken over an old, stone mill for their production. We went on our first Greek trip in 1980 to Zakynthos and, as we got off the ferry, we were confronted by a David Brown tractor on the quayside. This morning, the BBC Breakfast show was investigating Manufacturing’s attitudes towards Brexit. Their film came from that same old, stone mill in Meltham which has now been taken over by a modern textiles firm called Camira Fabrics. Here, in West Sussex, at 7.30 in the morning we were transported 40 years to another world and it felt very strange. So much has happened since then.
Friday, 12th May, 2017
A warm, sunny and fairly ‘muggy’ day which reached 17C/63F by mid afternoon. It started with light rain and rained again just as we were swimming outside before warm sun reappeared. We have done 10 x 90 minute sessions out of the past 14 days and we are both beginning to feel it. Unfortunately, the Health Club have informed us today that a serious crack has been discovered in the outdoor pool and it will have to close for 5 – 6 weeks from the end of next week which is a great pity because it has been an extremely enjoyable addition to our exercise. There are a couple of indoor pools but, strangely, the experience is completely different.
In Greece, Kathimerini reports that more than 2,500 refugees live in Athens squats while the numbers arriving are rising rapidly again. The EU seem to oscillate between helping and blaming the Greeks for a problem which can only be defined as living on the front line.
At the same time, it was admitted this week that Capital Controls – limits on Greek’s withdrawal of cash from their bank accounts – will remain in place for another two years at the least. These restrictions are onerous but necessary to prevent capital flight from an ailing economy prone to illegal activity. Three years ago, we had enough difficulty repatriating a few hundred thousand euros and be quite skilful in the way in which we used the ‘system’. Today, we might well find it impossible. There is an alarming story on a Financial website of a couple who bought and lived on Zakynthos now, because of ill health, wanting to repatriate their money having sold their property in Greece but being stymied by capital controls. The more I read, the more grateful I feel.
Saturday, 13th May, 2017
What a glorious day. Lovely sunshine and reaching 18C/65F. We drove 50 miles up to Surrey to deliver cases of French wine to P&C. We stayed a couple of hours and drove the 50 miles home again. It is a delightful drive with hedgerows in full height and full bloom, Chestnut trees are decorated with white a red candle flowers, white, May Blossom decorates the Hawthorn hedging and, as we approach the village, Lilac bushes intermingle with racemes of wisteria with a heady mix of colour. Our back garden was bathed in strong, warm sunshine and everything was so green. What a time to be alive!
Heard from an old, Sifnos friend this week who I haven’t seen since he left the island about 10 years ago. Martin (Pinto) is a lovely lad who we befriended on the island when he was struggling to make ends meet. We used to pass on all the back copies of (expensive) newspapers to him to keep him up to speed with the world. He came to have lunch with us at our house. When we returned one summer, Martin had left after suffering the fate of many English ‘friends’ of Greeks. We have stayed in touch ever since and, this week, he has told us he is buying a house in Cheltenham. We are really wishing him well.