Week 449

Sunday, 30th July, 2017

A sunny day which looked warmer than it felt because of quite a strong breeze. The morning was spent in quiet contemplation aka reading the papers. The afternoon was a two and a half hours at the Health Club in the gym and the outdoor pool. We both felt really good at the end of it.

Congratulations to my little brother, Bob who (I understand) is celebrating 40 years of marriage to a cook. As I’m in my 39th year of marriage to a cook, I can no longer use that as an excuse for being overweight.  I’m also ashamed to admit that I haven’t a clue where this was taking place. It was 1977 and I don’t think I was there. I was probably, very sensibly, left off the guest list.

Bob and I shared a bedroom for 18 very formative years. I was there when he bought his first pair of Levi Jeans. They were so  stiff, he stood them up by themselves in the bedroom. I seem to remember him soaking them in the bath for a week while he was wearing them!  While I was twittering out Cat Stevens songs, Bob was listening to John Mayall & the Blues Breakers. While he was taking things apart and rebuilding them, I hadn’t learnt to change a plug. Of course, I had anticipated the future where plugs never needed changing.  Not sure what’s happened to Bob’s feet. I have a horrible feeling that I don’t really know him at all.

Monday, 31st July, 2017

A really pleasant day of sunshine and warmth as the breeze disappeared. I was feeling a bit under the weather this morning. I had a couple of dizzy spells and found that my pulse had dropped to 40 bpm. My blood pressure was lowish – 107/64 – and I was feeling a little ‘otherworldly’. You might say: No change there then! As a result, I spent the morning sitting down trying to solve an FTP problem I have with a website.

I had the Test Match on in the background. I have a television on the wall in the Office. Suddenly, the background came very much to the fore as England began to make the break through. Soon, I forgot my health and was rooting for Moeen Ali as he approached the moment, on a hat-trick, when a third wicket would win the Test and the series for England. A sublime moment in any players career, Moeen bowled and the team claimed LBW only to be denied by the umpire. They appealed and Moeen, England and History was not to be denied.  It was a life giving moment.

So revived, we set off for the gym and did our routine for the third consecutive day without a hitch. Really enjoyed it.

Tuesday, 1st August, 2017

Hello August

Happy August 2017 to all our readers. Life could be a lot worse. Brexit could already have happened! Remember, there’s still all to play for.

August has been welcomed in with such a wonderful day that we forgot the gym and sat in the garden sipping chilled, white wine. Sometimes, you just have to let go and indulge yourself and this was one of those occasions. The peace and quiet, the warm, windless sunshine and the green grass made it a day to remember.

We did find time to trim the hedges which has made them look better and more looked after. We understand that tomorrow could be wet so today was a good one to enjoy. On Thursday, I must mow the lawns and feed the plants but today is for enjoyment.

Wednesday, 2nd August, 2017

Well, I’m certainly glad we took full advantage of yesterday’s lovely weather because today has turned windy with heavy rain and 19C/66F. So much for August!

I’ve had a chance today to review Greek news. You will probably be aware that the government – under European direction – is trying to get to grips with forcing Greeks to pay their taxes. To that end, they are attempting to assert central control and oversight by moving all payments to electronic/plastic (POS) point of sale machines. The deadline passed a couple of days ago for businesses from lawyers to plumbers to request and adopt these machines and start using them. In this command economy, failure to do so will attract a large fine. The Greeks are, however, highly experienced in getting round such measures. They applied for machines, did one transaction and then go back to ‘cheaper’ cash in hand style business.

In this way, the rich get richer by avoiding tax and the poor are able to make their meagre finances eke out a little better and none can see that, ultimately, it is their country that will bump along the bottom of the debtor’s prison cell in perpetuity. The state of the country’s economy has impacted heavily on wages and salaries in Greece’s private sector. They are shockingly low especially when one takes into consideration the cost of living in the country. Many are surviving on €500.00/£440.00 per month. You can bet Stavros is taking full advantage of that.

Not a surprise, therefore, that more than 50% of Greeks cannot afford a week’s holiday according to data from the EU statistics agency, Eurostat. Due to the economic crisis, 53.6% of Greeks either take no holiday during the year, or have to settle for less than a week. Statistics place Greece near the bottom of the list. Romanians are in the most difficult position with 66.6% saying that they cannot afford a holiday. They are followed by Croats with 62.8%, Bulgarians with 56.4% and Greeks. Ironically, it is Romanian and Bulgarian workers who are most likely to work in the Greek island and drive down Greek wages.

Thursday, 3rd August, 2017

A very blustery and cool day – just 19C/66F again. We are expecting guests for the weekend so make an early trip out to do all the shopping. Four supermarket visits later, we are just walking out of Tesco when all hell breaks loose. As we walk through the doors, flashing lights start accompanied by sirens blaring and, as we walk towards our car, a voice shouting, Excuse me, Sir. A man in uniform was moving swiftly towards us. He said we’d set off the alarms and had we got anything we hadn’t paid for? We hadn’t although we had been doing ‘Self-Scan’.

The Scene of the Crime!

He asked us if we had any joints of meat. We hadn’t. We volunteered that we had two sides of salmon costing £33.50/€37.10 and he immediately said that would be it. We showed him our till receipt and he went into effusive apology mode. Apparently, they have been having lots of thefts of high value meat and fish and an invisible, electronic security marker should have been automatically removed when we scanned it in but the process failed thus setting off the alarm. I think he was more embarrassed than we were.

As we walked on to the car, we received a call to our mobile. It was upsetting news. Pauline’s family had received sad information and our guests now couldn’t come for the weekend and have to make an emergency dash to the North of England instead. Although the news wasn’t totally unexpected, it was still a shock and hard to accept.

We went to the gym to absolve ourselves of the crime in Tesco. Two hours later, we feel better and come home to eat our ‘stolen’ salmon. It tasted so good!

Friday, 4th August, 2017

Cool but dry and sunny with the wind going down here in West Sussex while temperatures across Southern Europe are continuing to be uncomfortably hot. Even the Skiathan would be struggling now. Heat in Greece? Who would have thought it? The hottest we experienced was 43C/109.4F and that was in Piraeus where I nearly gave up the will to live. Apparently, the record for Southern Europe stands at 48C/118.4 and our Met. Office say that, after an extended hot period, the record could be challenged although more likely in Italy than Greece. Half the day up to your neck in sea water followed by the other half under air-conditioning is the survival mode we adopted. Thank goodness we are not in Florence now.

We’ve booked the carpark at Gatwick for our flights to/from Athens and paid the remainder for our month in Gran Canaria. When we started going to Greece, in the late 70s/early 80’s, we budgeted for £20.00/€22.00 per day expenditure. plus flights and hotel. Exactly 30 years ago this month, return flight to Athens from Manchester for two of us cost £153.00/€173.00 and two weeks at Hotel Kamari cost £109.00/€121.00 for a double room. After we’d factored in taxis to the airport in Manchester and home and then down to Piraeus and back plus Duty Frees, we did the whole thing for around £600.00/€665.00 per fortnight. We would do 2 weeks June-July and return for 2 weeks in August for around £1,200.00/€1,330.00. Today, a month in Gran Canaria cost £5,500.00/€6,100.00. Of course, it is not comparing like with like. Our first years in Greece were budget in every way. Our month in Gran Canaria is 5* all-inclusive but that is what aging earns.

Saturday, 5th August, 2017

A lovely, warm and sunny day. I did my house jobs – unstacking the dishwasher, hoovering the house and then felt free to watch the Test Match. It was very enjoyable and I was really absorbed until early afternoon went we went to the Health Club. An hour in the gym followed by 30 mins swimming in the sunshine outside and then 30 mins in the Spa. Felt great as we drove home to watch the rest of the cricket as South Africa collapsed and the first football match of the new season – a draw between Aston Villa v Hull.

Although we are not really aware of it, our village is being invaded this weekend by 8000 ‘music’ lovers for the annual pop concert known as Music Mania. It has been going for the past 7 years and is hosted by the local rugby club. They say they have capacity for 8000 people per day and a two day pass costs £60.00/€66.50. It is not our sort of thing but we don’t condemn it. It is a nicely, quirky thing to do.

About admin

Ex-teacher and Grecophile. Born 6/4/1951. Degree in English & Masters in History of Ideas. Taught English & ICT.

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