Week 753

Sunday, 28th May, 2023

May is drawing to a close. Time is running, running, running out … and, yet the Summer really has arrived. The sky is blue; the sun is shining; the temperatures are warm. All the signs are there. The Continental Quilt – I’m told I must call it Duvet now. – has been banished until October/November. All the vents on the windows are open. The air conditioning will be brought into service soon. I am living in shorts and tee shirts and will do for the 6 months.

Outside, the bedding plants, and seedlings are being left to fend for themselves. The weather covers have been removed from the garden furniture at last. No rain forecast for quite a while. The hosepipes and sprayers are back in action.

I just can’t sit still any more. An hour of writing or reading at a stretch is the absolute maximum I can manage these days. I was interested to find that Kevin is the same. He has to be out in the countryside on his bike. I have to be walking, working in the garden or in the Gym. It is holding my cerebral projects back. Today, of course, the weather is far too nice to spend in the Office. I am cleaning and tidying the patio.

Fortunately, a girl at the end of my road has been badgering me to help her with her lawn for weeks. I’ve been resisting but, when she said, You’ve got all the equipment., my resistance fell. I’ve agreed to stripe her lawn. What can I say. No self-respecting gentleman could refuse. While my gardener takes care of our garden, I will be tending to another woman’s.

Monday, 29th May, 2023

Lovely, sunny morning with a bit of sea breeze. JohnR has just sent a photo of his latest Lunch venue. The closest thing I’ll get to a restaurant in South Korea. I’m not planning on visiting any time soon.

South Korea restaurant in French, English & Korea

Kevin is packed and ready to fly to Benidorm where the weather is rather uncertain. I’ve given him a link to a live WebCam overlooking the beach which looks very regimented – rather like an Italian one – and prepared for large numbers of people. I must admit, I prefer the anarchy of a Greek beach and the peace & quiet of an isolated cove.

Benidorm – Levante Beach Live cam

Julie’s going to Flamborough lighthouse – I went there once. – with her Camera Club to photograph seals …

Flamborough Lighthouse

… and I’m going to … um … um … clean the patio. Still, only a couple of weeks and we are driving to France so must accept the situation. I hate Bank Holidays now that I’m not working. People on the roads, at the beach, in the shops that are open. They should all be at work!

Tuesday, 30th May, 2023

At 6.30 am, on this beautiful morning, I wished Kevin ‘safe flight’ as he set off for Leeds airport and his Jet2 flight to Alicante. John R wished me Good Morning from Hanok Village, Jeonju City, South Korea which I, admittedly childishly, find quite thrilling. Just getting out of bed at 6.30 am and talking to Jeonju City actually fascinates me. The distance and communication really grips me, means something to me. I love it. Someone even suggested it was sunny in Wales which is stretching it a but we can all fantasise.

Hanok Village, Jeonju City, South Korea

I have long enjoyed reading the work of Dr Anthony Seldon, alumni of London School of Economics, currently, biographer of Boris Johnson, educator … Yesterday was Celebration Day and you would have found me in the Office, weeping softly, (Yes, again!) as I read an article by him in the Guardian: A simple truth: when love ones die, they never really go away. In it he argues, just as I have, that those who are gone, live on in the memory. I have long known that as I expand it to anyone who is far away, dead or alive. I don’t take well to desertion or rejection any more than I do to bereavement.

It is a strange thing and others don’t understand it but I have always felt a responsibility for them, their happiness and safety. I have never been able to explain it fully to myself but it is a strong thread running through my life. Maybe, it is my sentimentality. I make no apology for that. Certainly, Anthony Seldon isn’t so soft. He is writing about the death of his wife and subsequent remarriage but he concludes:

Life is not like anything I was led to believe it was when I was young. It does not start at birth, I have realised, and it does not end at death. So today, Celebration Day, is a day not for sadness but for renewal and, indeed, celebration.

It has made my need to visit my friend, Brian, in Royton all the more urgent. He wasn’t well last time and we have only talked once since then. It is my fault and I must address it. I’ve just got to fit it in around medical dates.

Big trip of the day: out to Lidl to buy 2 12 pks of Almond Milk. There’s is so much nicer than anyone elses’s I have tried. It means going past the beach and the sea was looking lovely with a green-blue colour. I just love the warmth.

In the warmth of the afternoon, after a long walk in the sunshine and a couple of hours cleaning up and planting out seedlings around our neighbours’ trees, we sat in the garden and griddled Sea Bream which we ate with a green salad and a broad bean salad. Accompanied by a white Rioja, the meal was fit for a City restaurant. Absolutely delicious.

Wednesday, 31st May, 2023

Didn’t sleep last night. Put the radio on at 3.30 am. The first BBC World Service news item was about evacuation sirens sounding across South Korea’s capital city, Seoul. It was caused by the launch of a rocket by North Korea although it, ultimately, crashed and burned. I immediately thought of JohnR who is visiting his son in Jeonju City. I don’t think he heard the sirens but he was visiting a Laundry. I don’t know if the two events were connected.

High Class Laundry – South Korea

From a JohnR’s South Korean Laundry to Rattan Direct. The great fun of the day is trying to get the biggest possible discount on the order of replacement covers for our garden furniture.

We found that two people – me & my Housekeeper – logged on using two separate email addresses each – we could reduce the total cost of £200.00 by £80.00 by using a voucher code. Felt a little bit grubby but my Housekeeper loves the chase. It doesn’t get much more exciting than this!

Most of my friends are reliable and we talk regularly. I try to talk most days and at least 3 or 4 times a week. It makes us feel that we are part of each other’s lives even if at a remote level for a lot of the time. Sharing a life – particularly when you know how limited it could be – is a lovely thing to do. At least I get to see them once or twice a year.

Thursday, 1st June, 2023

If I could hold back time …. but it’s June already. My 72nd June although I don’t remember most of them. At least my computer’s Memory Box does that for me. Anyway, I’ve celebrated the new month by waking at 4.00 am, talking to JohnR about the false crisis in Seoul (He knew nothing about it because he is 100 kms away from it.) and then …. going to Sainsburys. That’s how exciting my life is at the moment.

You know how the start of a supermarket is almost always dominated by fresh produce. Our shopping almost starts and finishes there. I’m not meaning to boast. It is just the way our diet is now structured. The trolley is piled high with salad things and green beans, shallots, mushrooms, peppers, beetroot.

Italian & Greek Basil, Tomatoes & Garlic

Most meals for Dinner start with a simple combination of a herb – Basil, Tarragon, Dill, Oregano or Parsley, tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. The protein is fish, shellfish, chicken and/or pulses. I love Cannellini Beans and Broad Beans.

Today, we are going to break out! My chef is making Chicken Kiev (Kyiv) which is wicked but lovely. It will be cooked and eaten outside in the sunshine. I will have to do so much more exercise to merit such indulgence. I am really struggling to control my weight at the moment and that really upsets me.

Kevin is enjoying lovely weather in Benidorm – quite contrary to earlier forecasts. Who would bother putting their trust in BBC forecasting when it changes so swiftly? Here it is only 20C/68F today but lovely and sunny. I’m having to water every day at the moment. There is no rain in sight and that suggests hosepipe controls in the near future.

I am incredibly loyal … to the point of embarrassment. For the past 40 years, I have bought and driven Honda cars. For the past 40 years, I have used IHG hotel group in UK & Europe. For the past 40 years, I have used the Greek, Electra Hotels group.

All of these organisations reward me with forms of privileged membership. No request is too much for Honda to satisfy free of charge. After all, we have had some 20 new vehicles from them. IHG Hotels have given me a Gold Elite membership which entitles me to quite a few things including free nights stay in hotels. Today, Electra Group have given me Gold card status which entitles me to 12% off all bookings, automatic use of an executive car transport between the hotel and the airport, free upgrades, Late checkouts, ect.. Sometimes Loyalty pays off. Sometimes, of course, it is abused.

Friday, 2nd June, 2023

Strange start to the day. Where is the sun? So used to it now that an overcast sky is a shock. At 8.00 am it is 12C/54F – very similar to yesterday but there is a distinctly chilly breeze. My plants don’t like it. At least we haven’t got Welsh rain!

My friend, Julie, in North Yorkshire has been a bit down for a few days after an operation. To cheer her up, I told her a joke although I think I could have made it worse.

Give it to me! Give it to me! she yelled.
I’m so wet, give it to me now!
She could scream all she wanted, but I was keeping the umbrella.

We were driving down to the Fishmonger for a 3kg joint of sushi-quality, fresh Tuna which will be cut into steaks and griddled. A 3kg piece of Tuna is £85.00 now. It’s one of the few things that hasn’t gone up much recently.

Tuna looking like Meat

We are entertaining during the week and Tuna will be the centre of the meal. Let’s hope we can eat outside in the garden.

The day has rapidly developed into a hot and sunny one. I’ve spent the morning, like some itinerant Road Sweeper/Gardener, mowing, edging, feeding and watering all the grass verges for my neighbours. The local Estate Agencies sell houses in our street describing them in Millionaires’ Road. None of us complain because it adds to the cachet when we want to sell.

Millionaires’ Road

Even so, it gives us something to live up to and I contribute by maintaining the external appearance. After all, I’ve got the time & money to do it so, why not? The only problem is that people walk past and say, How are you doing that? I can’t get ours to look like that. Can you come up to No. 10 to advise me and, like the softie I am, I go and find myself taking over.

I have just invited Julia – a Rebecca Jane substitute – to join us down here on the coast in the sunshine instead of trekking all the way to St Ives where she is spending Half Term.

Saturday, 3rd June, 2023

And yet another sunny day. When will it end? The forecast says it will continue for another fortnight at least. It is 22C/70F and lovely but people we lived with on our Greek island always said they longed for more defined seasons and rain in the Summer.

A damp June day in Kamares

Well, my friend, Filoktitis, a news agency photographer, took delight in publishing these photos of last night in Kamares as it RAINED. We built our house up above Kamares Port. Rain is not completely unusual by any means but I’ve asked him to send some to the South of England where we desperately need it.

I am constantly watering my own garden and everyone else’s. Yesterday, D&J asked what they could do to repay me. Of course, I told them I would be embarrassed by anything like that. This afternoon, a lovely card came through the door from M&C thanking me for the effort in making things look good and asking if there was anything they could do for us. It is a wonderful to be able to say that I am in need of absolutely nothing.

Champagne in the West Sussex sun.

In the meantime, we are enjoying a bottle of Champagne in the sunshine of our garden after a long, hot walk. Cheers to absent friends!

Kevin sent me a video at 2.00 am (UK) / 3.00 am (Sp) today of a terrible Beatles tribute act somewhere in some bar in Benidorm. He was drinking Pernod & Lemonade. He must really believe he’s back in the 1960s. The only reason I read it was because I was awake too.

Week 752

Sunday, 21st May, 2023

Spent a glorious day of walking and indulgence yesterday. The temperature – at 27C/81F – was just on the edge of comfortable for a two hour walk. Still, we were rewarded with Club Sandwiches and white wine for Lunch. The afternoon was relaxing and packing before a taxi to the airport for a 22.35 pm flight to LGW.

Makedonia Airport is about a 30 mins drive from our hotel and it is actually quite nice. The facilities, for a regional airport, are excellent. There was even an Executive Lounge for us to use.

The Easyjet flight was on time and not full which made life more enjoyable. We landed back in London Gatwick at Midnight and, with only hand luggage but having to travel from South to North Terminals, we were in the carpark by 1.00 am. What I would do without my Personal Assistant, goodness knows. She records exactly where we park and doesn’t lose it over the time we’re away. When we get off the shuttle service bus, she knows exactly where to find the car with a photographic certainty. Everybody has their uses!

London Gatwick Long Stay Carpark – Of course it was Zone V / Bus stop 6

Empty roads meant we were home in less than an hour catching up with news and current affairs over a glass of wine.

Nigel looks well for 75.

In bed by 3.00 am, we were up at 7.00 am and feeling quite energetic. Got to do a Sainsbury‘s shop and a two hour walk and then we can relax. Chatted to Kevin, Julie, Nigel and John R. this morning. Nigel’s Gallery is putting on its final exhibition this week and it is featured in the local newspaper.

Monday, 22nd May, 2023

Over night, M from Florida sent me her Wordle and a photograph of their night out at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stadium to see Ed Sheeran performance. K & M are with David, a lovely lad who runs a business opportunities business in London and Florida. He stayed with us last time we were in America.

K,M & D at the opera

Like all American events, it was obviously a quiet and refined occasion of sublime cultural performance. I also received an email from our Greek hotel thanking us for our patronage, hoping we enjoyed our experience and looking forward to welcoming us again. They also sent me a live video link taken from close to our balcony which is worth looking at

Beautiful morning as we drove down to the garage some mile and a half away. We walked back through the woods on a delightfully leafy path. We will do the reverse walk this evening to collect the car again ……

…. Well, we hit 25C/77F this afternoon which made our walk quite a sweaty one. My cancer treatment is really starting to kick in now and I’m noticing that I am putting on weight which is making me more lethargic and I am tiring much more quickly so I really have to give myself a good talking to as I complete my exercise routine. Today by 4.30 pm, I have only walked 7.5 miles so I will have to complete it in the Gym.

Tuesday, 23rd May, 2023

The morning has opened gloriously and I’ve got gardening on my mind but first a walk. I like to get the bulk of my exercise routine out of the way as soon as possible and, particularly, at the moment because my treatment really is beginning to tax my energy levels. The Consultant did say it would but advised me to confront it and continue to maintain my routine as the best policy. I am trying hard to do that. I’ve got a series of blood tests, Oncology meetings, CT Scans and even my GP Surgery wants to see me.

This is not the life I would want or would choose but that is what I have been dealt. I am hoping a lot of this will be over by the end of September and then I can get on with my normal life. I am going to France for a few days in mid-June and then flying to Athens for a week towards the end of August. What I’m hoping is that I can keep my trip to the North of England to meet up with old friends in October. Could be cancer-free by then with a bit of luck but, if it has to be delayed by a month, I will do it.

Unfortunately, I won’t be at the reunion tomorrow lunchtime in Ripon. Kevin has just contacted me to ask what he should wear to the reunion. I told him, Underpants!

It really has been a delightful day of sunshine. Not quite as hot as yesterday but still 23C/73F. Warm enough to get us out to the Garden Centres. I think I have written before, our area used to be totally covered in market gardens and acres of glass houses which produced the herbs and salad vegetables for the south east.

Buying up Ferring Nursery today.

The economics of that business were far outweighed by the profits to be made on house building so there are few growers left and even they have either become vineyards or garden centres. We still have many available to choose from.

Wednesday, 24th May, 2023

Gorgeous, gorgeous morning reaching 21C/70F very early. Want to be in the sunshine in the garden, planting out but, instead, I am going down to the surgery to discuss cancer. It’s all at their instigation not mine. I’m trying to ignore the whole thing.

I have to have a second Hormone injection coming up which lasts for three months and leads to a month of Radiotherapy. I have to have a CT scan to see what effect the first hormone treatment has had and then meet with my Oncologist. And to top that, my Doctor wants to make sure I’m coping with the procedure. I know I am an old man but, although I shouldn’t complain, it all feels a bit too much.

I wrote yesterday about our areas horticultural past. That’s how this road on our walk got its name. What I love is the white wisteria. Wisteria grows so easily down here that the lilac coloured racemes can be seen in most gardens. On the south coast, this year’s flush is virtually faded but this white variety – Wisteria Alba – is just coming into its own.

If you are one of my Ripon College readers, you might remember Peter Sarginson in the Art Department. He died in 2017 but his work lives on as the poster above attests to.

Thursday, 25th May, 2023

Another glorious day in what is forecast to be a glorious fortnight of wall-to-wall sunshine and blue skies without any rain at all. My friend, Kevin, has decided in his wisdom to spend 5 days in Spain where the days will be dominated by rain storms. He always did have suspect judgement!

Yesterday, my gardener planted out lettuce and courgette plants for me because all risk of frost is over down here now. Today the tubs will be planted up with my favourite crimson red Geraniums, bright orange and yellow Calendulas but, before that, we are going back to the garden centre for some more showy plants for the summer.

These two young (old) men were at my wedding in 1978.

Yesterday, was also the annual reunion of a disappearing species – the first men (boys) to appear at the previously all-women (girls) Ripon College. It was a lovely time but the irony of time is that, 50 years on, the boys (men) are old and aging fast while the College grounds have been completely rejuvenated and re-purposed and are looking beautiful.

Do we look like this?

Although not all are pictured here, only about half a dozen of the 20 men were represented yesterday and the numbers had to be filled by younger ones. Kevin told me that these reunions just served to remind him how old he was. It is almost certainly universally true that we carry a younger image of ourselves around in our heads and rubbing up against reality sometimes can be quite a shock. Of course, I still look little different to my 1972 self although I did spot a second grey hair on my Housekeeper’s head yesterday that may soon need attention.

Friday, 26th May, 2023

Glorious day of shopping, walking and law cutting. All the big things of state. Kevin and Julie doing similarly significant things. Kevin packing for a wet week in Spain. Julie visiting the dentist. John R. is really going for it. He is currently landing in South Korea where he is visiting his son. Hard to visualise but still. Good for him! I am spectacularly mowing lawns in glorious sunshine. We ate roast duck with salad outside in the garden which makes life worth living.

Every day of my life, I do about 2.5 hours of physical exercise about the same of reading and a couple of hours of writing. That way, I try to keep my faculties agile and fit. I am well in to my 15th year of my Blog and that takes up about an hour each day. My book is progressing well and that takes another hour. The central character is a man who exudes confidence as he makes his way through world but, in reality relies heavily on others to show him the way.

Just been reading an article about the author, Robert Harris. Born in a council house in my part of the Midlands, so many of his books have been turned into films. If only I could write like him or even spot the stories that would sell.

Growing old is a disgusting experience. Men, particularly, find hair sprouting from their ears and nostrils like some neanderthal. I find myself walking with my mouth open and dribbling to one side. What is wrong with me? I know it’s happening but can’t correct it. Although I’m quite fit, my balance is poor. I can’t really stand on one leg for long like I used to. My memory is ok – good even – but I have a whole string of words I permanently have difficulty with.

Saturday, 27th May, 2023

Another beautiful morning as in so much of the country. You’ll be surprised to learn that I’m going out for an early walk and then potting up bedding plants. This morning, over Breakfast, I’ve been talking to JohnR in South Korea. It’s not the talk but the fact that my breakfast table reaches out and touches Seoul that interests me. Those in international businesses will be quite used to it but, for me, it is still a fascination.

Lunch – South Korea Style

South Korea time is GMT + 9 so I was talking to JohnR at 4.30 pm after a long, traditional Korean lunch. I think my orange juice and porridge looked a bit more appetising at that time in the morning.


Yet another visit to the garden centre this afternoon. Going to need a mortgage at this rate. Just looking for pot fillers that last all summer, give a bright display and don’t cost too much. We already have lots but to complete the set we purchased VerbenaImpatiens – what we used to call a house plant – Busy Lizzie – in our youth but is now a vigorous garden plant and Cosmos which I know I can grow from seed but can’t be bothered.


That is almost the garden fully stocked for the Summer. Lettuces, herbs, French Beans in the raised beds and some vibrant colour in the patio pots all around. Only the watering is a little time consuming but I don’t begrudge it in this weather.


We’re going to do a few French trips in the next weeks and then fly to Athens at the end of August. We might even fit in a few days in Valencia as well around July if I can slot it into my medical schedule so our store of Euros needs building up. Sterling has been strengthening recently. I can get £1.00 = €113.00 on a click & collect basis if spend around £2000.00 and I can’t be bothered waiting in for an Foreign Exchange company to deliver on a better rate so I am just ordering from Tesco Currency.

The first trip is in just over two weeks so I hope they sort the I.T. system out before we drive on to the Tunnel train. In the meantime, I am really having to fight to get through my exercise routine. Fortunately, I’ve got a really gripping drama series to coax me into the gym. I am watching a Political Spy thriller set in the Whitehouse. It is based on a book by someone I’ve never heard of but might look at in future. The Night Agent is available on Netflix at the moment. You ought to try it.

Some people read in bed. Reading wakes me up and makes me want to start writing and talking. Listening to inconsequential news items on the radio slightly helps me but I am not sleeping well at all at the moment. It is a source of concern for me. I use the radio to distract me from my thoughts. Sometimes it works but quite often I get so gripped by the reports that I want to hear it all.

Week 751

Sunday, 14th May, 2023

A warm and tranquil morning after quite a disturbed sleep. Doesn’t matter what one does to prepare, there is always so much to do in the hours before travel and, I can tell you now that, as we drive away from the house, we will both say, What have we forgotten?

This morning, I have had my haircut, set the lights and automatic switches on Hive, watered the plants, charged my shaver and toothbrush, put the Long Stay Carpark postcode into the Sat.Nav. and done a 2 hour walk.

My neighbour behind our house, who has a dog as big as a horse, is moving to Spain. Her house was listed as ‘Sold’ but it turns out that the sale fell through. She’s still moving to Spain but leaving the house empty and open for the estate agent to dispose of at … £1,000.000.00. I’ve suggested that they rent out their dog for donkey rides on the beach.

Kevin is in the 36 hrs before his next colonoscopy. I know he is nervous. I am trying to calm him down by making fun of him. Do you think of people you are leaving behind when you are going away? I do. How will I help them if they need me? If I die while I’m away, how can I tell them? I know they don’t care but, unfortunately, …. I do!

This really is what we eat …

Of course, we must all do as much as we can to stay fit, healthy and alive. I keep impressing that on the people who are my friends. I am determined to hold a centenarian party for those who manage it. Although this idea has been around for ages, a recent and authoritative study has demonstrated that a Mediterranean diet rich in fruit and vegetables, nuts and pulses, oily fish and seeds reduces the risk of heart disease by 28% and Alzheimer’s by 25% … as long as you remember to stick to it.

Kevin and I are sad, old men. We exchange exercise statistics. He has cycled over 1000 miles and swum a similar amount in the past year. In the last 12 months, I have walked 3,200 miles. We are obsessive. Perhaps men are. I get newspaper reports sent to me daily.

M24 Hero!

I automatically receive news from M24 every morning and evening including traffic, crime, social events and property prices. It’s fascinating. This 85 year old Rochdale pensioner was featured yesterday. He has set himself the goal of completing one million press-ups before his 90th birthday and 100 ultramarathons before his 100th birthday. Now that is something I can aspire to!

Monday, 14th May, 2023

Out early for the drive to Gatwick Airport this morning. Only us and some badgers and rabbits on the road.

Standing room only at Gatwick this morning.

Arrive at Thessaloniki Airport just after 9.00 am (UK) / 11.00 am (G). Taxi to the hotel takes about 35 mins. Always wanted to go to Macedonia. …. and now I am doing.

Flight was fine – only 3 hrs.15 mins. Our first flights to Greece in the early 1980s were 4.5 hrs. Things have moved on so much! We met a delightful taxi driver who took us to our hotel for €25.00.

The hotel manager, Alexia Kolatskou, proved to be a fan of Roald Dahl who went to my local school of Repton. She was excited to hear of the novelist, Nina Bawden and her husband, Austen Kark, former Head of BBC World Service and their connection with me and with Greece and, particularly, her own hotel chain – Electra.

Had lovely contact from Kevin, Julie, John R., John M, Emma, Margaret and Tommy. Strange how poignant contact from friends feels when you are abroad. Sunday will see the Greek General Elections and there are stalls being set out all around the city for political rallies in the build up to the vote. Down by the harbour, this KKE (Communist Party) stall was being prepared with seating and TV cameras for the weekend.

Tuesday, 15th May, 2023

I’ve only been in Greece 24hrs and I’m already … shopping! As usual, the weather is warm. We are in shorts and tee shirts and Greeks are still dressed for Winter. It is 21C/70F but they think fur-lined hooded Anoraks are still appropriate.

First, I ate bacon & scrambled egg for Breakfast. Big mistake! I may never eat again. Now, I really need to walk it off but the most pressing need is to sort my room mate’s email out. BT Email constantly suspends our service from a foreign broadband connection. They think it has been ‘hacked’ even though I use a VPN. Fortunately, I am now confident in resetting the email accounts and normal service is quickly restored.

Then out into the city. It has echoes of Athens but also of Venice and Bologna. It has lots of old buildings but better maintained than those of Athens. It is calmer and the people are friendlier. We’ve met some lovely people here already.

Anyway, I soon found myself in Department Stores like the Hondas Centre and then down to the Fresh Food Market. That’s what I like to see – all the fresh fish in this port city but wonderful fruit and vegetables (Don’t tell Sainsburys!) and so many herbs and spices.

It’s a 15 minute city designed hundreds of years ago. You can walk anywhere within15 minutes. They didn’t know I need to be stretched and forced to walk further.

We followed that by a walk down the Old Port which has been redeveloped into a Cultural Centre with a Film Museum, Fashion Museum and lots of trendy bars and restaurants.

One of the notable works of art in this trendy city of fashion, culture, politics and protest is the sculpture commemorating many of their Jewish community who were rounded up and murdered in the extermination camps during WW2. The sculpture represents the sorrow of their twisted bones.

Wednesday, 16th May, 2023

Up early because I was contacted by M from Florida. She is 7 hrs behind us so speaking at 10.00 pm the night before when were 5.00 am. It’s not a problem. I was awake anyway. Tea and Sky News and then Muesli for breakfast.

Aristotle Platia at 5.00 am.

Went out for an early walk before the sun was too hot. We followed the promenade road round the coast. This is a delightful, friendly and cultural city. Art and sculpture are everywhere. I nodded to Aristotle in our square, chatted to Alexander the Great on his horse, waved at Papandreou and laughed at Mitsotaxis all in statue form. We walked 8 miles and the sun got stronger as we went.

Executive Lounge

Back at the hotel, we went in the Executive Lounge reserved for residents of Suites. It works on the principal of an Airport Lounge. We had no idea it was on offer until we arrived. We can retreat from the crowds, enjoy the facilities we choose and order any food and drink free of charge throughout the day. We ordered smoked salmon sandwiches and a bowl of Greek salad with a bottle of wine. May never eat or drink again.

Thursday, 17th May, 2023

This really is a lovely place. On one side is the ocean and on the other views reach to Mount Olympus. The streets are full of lovely, kind and respectful people, people who are interested in politics, culture and fitness. Early morning walkers, runners, cyclists, canoeists, sailboarders are everywhere. The squares are constantly vibrant with political debate. There marquees set up with sound systems proselytising loudly their political party’s policies and candidates.

This man was one of the quieter ones. Aristotle has been dead for almost 2,500 years but he is still revered and gives his name to the Platia in which our hotel stands.

It is a great place to walk and talk, to sit and watch, to share a bottle of wine and Mezedes – usually, nuts, crisps, olives, tomato & feta – and just enjoy the world. It is such a wonderful place.

Of course, it all had to go down hill at some stage. When my Dresser suggested going for a walk, I had a bad feeling and it was completely justified. Fortunately, it didn’t cost me money today.

Friday, 18th May, 2023

Hot, sultry, rather humid day especially for walking. The sun felt a bit too intense. I am rather a creature of habit in my exercise. I immediately found a walk that suited me along the edge of the water and the harbour. One hour out and another hour back. In fact, I’m slightly quicker on the way back because all my old muscles are warmed up and working well.

The promenade around the bay is pebble-dashed concrete which isn’t the most comfortable but it is wide and flat. Along the route, there is so much artwork which makes me want to stop.

Alexandra the Great is a son of Macedonia and he is celebrated on his horse in a statue by the sea …

…. but there are so many interesting pieces like the Sunshades and the Tree of Light. The city is big on environmentalism and ‘green’ living. The lights on the tree are solar powered like so many things in this country of sunshine.

The Tree of Light

What a lovely, civilised and vibrant city this is. All week, there has been a Climate Activist Booth on the Square handing out leaflets, playing music and then a Procession in support of Ukraine across the Square this morning. All totally appropriate in a Square dedicated to Aristotle, the ancient philosopher dedicated to politics and ethics.

Saturday, 19th May, 2023

A gorgeous morning. We eat breakfast outside on the balcony overlooking Plateia Aristotelous and the Thermaic Gulf.

Breakfast is a weird thing across the world. To cater for all nationalities is something of a challenge. Next to us is a Greek couple eating dry sesame rusk with thick, black coffee. A Arabic man has chosen cheese and cherry tomatoes with raw fish. Americans are eating waffles with melted chocolate. We are eating cereals followed by bacon & eggs but there is also mountains of smoked salmon, cold ham and salami, chocolate cake and cinnamon & apple tarts and much more.

No better evidence needed that we must seize the day and enjoy every minute came yesterday when my old school’s jungle telegraph line contacted me to say that an old friend and colleague, who had fallen into Dementia and recently died in an Oldham care home, was buried yesterday. A lot of people I haven’t seen for years had attended and I would have liked to see them again.

It was kind of my friend, Little Viv, to let me know of Derek’s funeral and it underlines the importance of friends. Viv’s husband died of a heart attack years ago. Derek’s wife, who also taught Art in my school, died of cancer about 5 years ago and he rapidly went downhill after that. It’s scary!

In Florida, our new pool is coming on. It will be good to get out and use it if I get through this current cancer problem. M sent me an update this morning along with her Wordle contribution.

It will certainly look good when it’s finished. A barbecue area is being constructed at one side. This is my sort of living.

Been chatting to two characters – Damon Albarn (who I’ve never heard of) and Midge Ure (who I’ve sort of heard of) on Twitter. They have been following me on Twitter.

They are big in popular music, I understand, and their industry has been destroyed by the lunacy that is Brexit. Free Movement of people, which so many of us want, has been stymied by the Xenophobia of the Little Englanders. These two like my views on Brexit and want to re-tweet them. Feel free!

Week 750

Sunday, 7th May, 2023

Glorious day with warm sunshine reaching 18C/65F. Been on a long walk – 7 miles – round the area, policing developments. No street parties to stop. No festivities to stamp out. A few, discrete barbecues and chinking glasses of chilled Sauvignon Blanc from back gardens but nothing too outré.

There was a Vintage Car Rally at the Rugby Club but it was very controlled and there were no union jacks to tear down. So, all was calm. No loud music, brash, ill-mannered Northern behaviour. Normality reigned. What a lovely place we have come to!

As I know I have written before, in September 1969, Mum drove me to this place on College Road in Ripon, North Yorkshire. I had all my worldly goods in a few boxes and was wearing the clothes she thought a country gentleman who was training as a teacher should wear – Sports Jacket, Flannels, Striped Shirt and mustard coloured Cravat. I sold them all within a week of arriving.

I was in Digs in the middle house which was owned by a Scottish family – Mr & Mrs Boyde and their two children, Andrew and Sheila – and I was sharing the top floor with two other students, Nigel and John-2 (so named because I arrived first.) We went upstairs to my rooms and from the small lounge area an almighty racket was emanating. When I opened the door, Nigel was sitting on the floor with a record player blaring out Leonard Cohen’s

Like a bird on the wire; Like a drunk in a  midnight choir,
I have tried in my way to be free …

Mum took one look at Nigel, looked at the delight on my face and fled down the stairs to her car and drove straight home never to return. The Boydes were a lovely family. The father, Geoff Boyde, was stationed at RAF Leeming. The Mum, Sheila, cooked us massive Breakfasts and even more massive Dinners. She knew what growing lads needed and we were never hungry.

We were treated like part of the family. Their son, Andrew must have been about 14 and he went to Ripon Grammar. The daughter, Sheila, was 10. I remember little about her. I had enough sisters as it was.

Move on about 25 years and I was in London attending a conference. I was late for a meeting and rushing through the underground to get a train. I had to push my way through a huge queue of people who were lining up at a ticket machine. As I did so, a couple stepped aside to let me through and I was shocked to see it was Geoff & Sheila Boyde who I last saw in 1971 in Ripon. We only had a brief moment to say Hello and I ran for my train.

I never saw them again but, yesterday, John-2 contacted me and said he had found the daughter, Sheila still living in Ripon and working in Harrogate as a Sports Nutritional Consultant. Today she is 62 and pictured above. But that is not the end of the story. Sheila has been a star of long distance running just like my sister JaneGB.

Pictured above is Sheila winning the Glasgow Half Marathon in 1988. A book on Scottish Athletics says, Sheila Catford is ranked fifth on the Scottish all-time list for the marathon behind Liz McColgan, Kathy Butler, Hayley Haining and Lynn HardingWikipedia tells me she was a British long-distance runner, who competed at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in New Zealand.

A year later she won the Florence Marathon and represented Britain in the 1991 World Marathon Cup which was run as part of the London Marathon. From a ten year old to this makes me feel so old. Those days are in the past but available to be recaptured with the right imagination. Reject it as you will, I embrace the change with realism.

Monday, 8th May, 2023

Lovely warm morning. Went out for an early walk because we have lots of jobs to get through today. I find it really helpful for thinking and planning. Something about the movement encourages the brain to process.

We set off for Thessaloniki next week and the Gatwick Airport Parking has to be booked. The DragonPass Premier+ reservation at the Airport Lounge needs to be confirmed. Then I am forced by my Housekeeper to predict what I will wear so it can be washed, ironed and packed. We can each take onboard a medium suitcase plus hand luggage so we won’t be wasting time waiting for cases to come from the hold.

Our hotel is the sister of the one we use in Athens and it is located on Aristotelous Square around 100 mtrs from the sea and near to the main Department stores, fashion outlets, Tavernas, Restaurants and bars. The hotel has an indoor and an outdoor pool plus Fitness Centre so there will be lots to do. I will just be happy to hear Greek voices, read Greek language on billboards, Shop signs and menus and catch up on some of our favourite Greek television programmes.

Our flight home is late at night so we need a late checkout. Fortunately, I am a holder of an Electra Hotels Rewards card which entitles us to exactly that so I am arranging that as well. There have to be some benefits to long term loyalty.

Kevin, who is currently auditioning as an old, Spanish Hooker, has just contacted me to say that one of our old friends Keith – although a little younger than us – has advanced prostate cancer. It has spread beyond the prostate and he has been receiving chemotherapy without much success.

The news rather brought me up short. Keith, a strong Geordie, and I played football together. He was friendly and kind like so many Northerners. I know how he and his wife must be feeling. The thought that hope is beginning to run out must be absolutely devastating.

Tuesday, 9th May, 2023

Heavy rain over night but lovely warm and dry this morning. It’s how we insist on the meteorological organisation in Sussex. Everywhere looks fresh and so green. New leaves and fresh grass are almost luminous in their vibrancy.

Walking through the park, the rain had refilled the lake and dogs were excitedly splashing in it as they were chasing balls thrown for just that purpose.

The political tide is definitely changing across Britain. The newspapers this morning illustrate that just as clearly as last week’s local elections did. It’s making lots of the Blogs I read much more interesting. Really looks like the Red Wall, Northern voters are finally realising that they were conned by the political glitterati and that Brexit and Levelling-Up were just empty bribes. Why it has taken them so long? You only have to look at the Express and The Daily Fail to understand.

Wednesday, 10th May, 2023

Really strange night dreaming of grass and wrinkly, old witches. Don’t ask. I have no idea why. A bit disturbing though.

Put the radio on at 4.00 am but it was so interesting a news programme on the World Service that I didn’t fall asleep until 6.00 am and had to get up an hour later. It’s strange, though. I’ve got up raring to go, not at all tired. I seem to need so little sleep these days. I was talking to Julie yesterday. Same age as me, she often gets up at 4.00 am and works on her art without suffering. What I don’t understand about it is, after I did so much exercise and had so much fresh air, why I’m not tired.

The day is absolutely beautiful with clear blue sky and strong, warm sun. It’s been very warm – 14C/57F all night. The French Beans planted out yesterday have settled in well and, hopefully, will have really developed by the time we get back from Greece.

It’s time for sun cream before walking now. The sun is quite burning this morning. Before we set off, the robot vacs are set on their tasks upstairs and down. That’s my day’s work done.

Each day, I walk a familiar route and people say hello as if they know me. They only know me as the idiot who walks this way at the same time as them every day. Yesterday, a lady who I’ve said Hello to for quite a while, decided to volunteer, I’m Jane, by the way. Quite shocked me. I don’t know why. I really hadn’t expected it.Anyway, I tried to keep it superficial.

My next door neighbours are lovely but they are busy working people. Dee is a lecturer in English at the local College and he runs a bricklaying company who were employed to build our house. They love Greece and holiday on the island of Skiathos. They want to retire in the next 5 years or so and buy a property there for holidays. Their front door is less than 100 mtrs away from ours but we rarely meet to talk. I do go into their back garden to work on their awful lawn. We have now taken to communicating on Whatsapp.

A long standing joke has been that Jason would sell his wife because she accidentally reversed over my immaculately manicured lawn and teach the dog to drive. I am advising him on lawncare and her on 18th century novels. We are in a private Whatsapp group called Wives&Weeds. We could shout over the fence but this is more comfortable. They are lovely, kind people and have offered to help me if my cancer treatment gets too tiring.

Thursday, 11th May, 2023

Gorgeous sunny and warm morning again. All signs of witches and worries abandoned. Chatted to Julie and Kevin over breakfast and then went out shopping to Sainsburys. We go away in 4 days so the shopping list was tailored to that.

Today, the Bank of England raised the Lending Rate by 25 basis points to 4.5%. It is still ludicrously low even though our younger – pre 60 yrs – friends scream blue murder. For people like me, it couldn’t be better unless it was more. Haven’t had a mortgage since 2009. It was massive – one entire salary – right up until the end. We deliberately hurt ourselves to gain later and we certainly did that. In retirement, when people are meant to draw in their spending, we have felt better off than when we were working. We are spending and saving happily. Haven’t borrowed money for as long as I can remember. We have become lenders of first resort ourselves.

The problem has been, of course, as inflation has increased, our cash reserves are being eaten away with few places to shelter and grow. Each year, I search for the best interest rates both fixed and easy access. They both mature in July and I am looking for 2-yr fixes to beat the inflation cycle. The problem is that we can only earn £2000.00 between us in investment income before paying tax.

I used to have tax-free ISAs but the rate has been so poor that I moved out of them like so many others. Now, I am going to start moving back but we can only feed in £40,000.00 a year. It will take quite a while to shelter everything over the longer term. Hopefully, we will have two more, small increases to push inflation down and savings rates up and I can pounce and fix until 2025. Might even be in positive territory by then.

Friday, 12th May, 2023

Up early and out for a long walk to enjoy the weather. Lots of jobs to get through today so exercise must be ticked off first. Cases are waiting outside the Ironing Room to be packed for Sunday.

I leave all washing, ironing and packing to my Housekeeper. It is quite relaxing to allow her free reign in these matters.

Everywhere is looking lovely. Trees, shrubs, grass, sky make me feel old as they are renewed in vivid colour. Pity bodies can’t renew each year in the same way.

Walked through the park and then on through the wood. The contrast was lovely. Amazing how calming the colours and textures of the natural world can be. Really pleased not to be a town dweller.

I hate being ‘ill’. I hate having to be involved in the medical process. This morning I was phoned by an Oncology nurse who was asking about my welfare. You would think I would see that as a nice thing to do. I don’t. She sounded a lovely girl and was wishing me well with my treatment but my mind is fighting the fact that I am needing treatment at all.

I think I am refusing to accept the aging process. My friend, Kevin, who is so much older than me, is going through a third colonoscopy in months. I should accept this but I am really finding it difficult to do. I’ve noticed that what medics say when they first meet me is, Well, you’re a 72 year old gentleman and … This seems so old fashioned to me. I have pledged to myself to resist these age expectations as long as I possibly can.

It will be good to spend some time away in the sunshine and to forget medics, appointments, treatments, etc..

Saturday, 13th May, 2023

It’s great to get home, isn’t it? Doesn’t matter where you’ve been. ‘Home’ is different. We are going away but we know that home will be lovely when we return. At least, it won’t be Wales!

Our area is bathed in sunshine and painted in green and blossom. We really couldn’t ask for more. And yet, we are flying to Northern Greece – to Thessaloniki – for an interesting short break. Never been there. Will be fun.

The temperature is 21C/70F and the sun is strong. I have cut all the neighbours’ lawns prior to going away and they will look after everything for me over that time. Who knows when we will be back. If we are enjoying it, our open ticket may stay open for weeks. I have to be back for medical appointments but nothing else. We will make it up as we go along.

A suite in the Electra Palace, Thessaloniki will be a lovely retreat from the world. We will walk in the sunshine, swim in the pool, eat in local Tavernas and relax with the Greek language TV. Home form Home!

Euro Gay-Fest

Will you be watching the ‘bonkers’ Euro Gay-fest tonight? I have never watched Eurovision but the EU demonstration tonight might entice me. Alright, it probably won’t but I’ll look at the highlights. Absolutely astonishing that these oddballs vote to leave Europe and then are desperate to be back in it for the most spurious of reasons and you can’t get more spurious than this rubbish!

Week 749

Sunday, 30th April, 2023

King Kieron – 58 today!

Another lovely morning. Warm and sunny. Young Kieron’s 58th birthday today. At least he’s as old as his wife now and what better place to celebrate it than in his Florida home.

It’s Sunday but, for me, it could be any day. Walking, Gardening, Car Cleaning … trying to avoid anything which mentions Royalty, Coronation, Privilege … I woke up to the announcement that the Establishment want all British subjects to proclaim loyalty (Fealty) to King Charles on his coronation. I cannot think of anything which could be further from my inclination.

I am a Republican / Abolitionist. There is nothing about Monarchy or unelected politicians which I would support. These are the questions, formulated by Tony Benn, we should be posing to people in power.

Dawn – 62 this year.
  • What power have you got?
  • Where did you get it from?
  • In whose interests do you use it?
  • To whom are you accountable?
  • How do we get rid of you?

Our Monarchy, House of Lords, Privileges system all fail this scrutiny. Ultimately, if we are not happy with their performance, we cannot vote them out and that is utterly unacceptable.

But Life isn’t fair, is it. That’s not a question. Last night we learned that Pauline’s niece, Dawn, up in Lancashire, has been diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer. There is no justice! She is just 61, had no time to enjoy retirement and is in a very happy marriage. We can only imagine what they are going through and it puts my problems into a pale insignificance. It does underline, though, the importance of taking every opportunity, not putting things off, Dear Reader. Carpe Diem!

Monday, 1st May, 2023

Happy May … Happy Labour Day. I only ask that I see another 28 of these. Of course, that may be revised when I reach 100.

Very warm night. We didn’t fall below 12C/54F which was nice. Mind you, M&K in Florida were 20C and Kevin in Benidorm had 17C. He did invite me and I declined so he keeps sending me photos of blue sky and sunshine, thinking it will rile me. It just amuses me really. Mind you, I need to be abroad in the sunshine – just not in Benidorm. Only two weeks to go and we will be in Thessaloniki.

M&K + D&B were out at the Steakhouse on Horn Avenue, Brooksville, Florida. Don’t think they ordered Fish but looks like Daniel’s had too much Key Lime Pie.

Actually, they ordered Chateaubriand 20 oz Steaks at $129.00/£103.00 each. Nice to see them all looking happy but, why wouldn’t you when you are young, fit and healthy?

Tuesday, 2nd May, 2023

I’m often asked for recommendations of hotels to stay at, places to visit, and restaurants to eat at in Athens. M in Florida asked me this morning to recommend restaurants for her Golf professional in America because he is coming to a tournament in Athens. A man I met 40 years ago when he was singing in a Simon & Garfunkel tribute act on our Greek island during the summer went on to forge a career with a Blog/Website/Databank of advice for travellers to Greece. He is a Greco-American and is an interesting man to talk to and read. He has made a lucrative career out of his passion.

I obviously missed my way – in so many things – and should have been more adventurous. As a regular traveller to Greece over the same 40 years, I have been a regular reader of Greek Blogs. I started my own Blog. For the past 14+ years, I have been recording my daily life – events and thoughts – and built up a readership of followers. People are interested in other’s lives. It is quite fascinating to see what will happen to others next, to be able to drop in and out without commitment.

Could be me!

My readership on my main Blog site is currently about 1,600 each month as you can see on my phone app. They are mainly UK and Western European with some in America. I have a shadow, backup site which is read by more although not a great number more. That group seem to be mainly in South America and Africa. Goodness knows what they make of it. However, all the seemingly trivial activities of my daily experience are interesting enough to ensure they come back to check.

Decided to have a few days in France in June to walk in the sunshine and change the scenery. Booked the hotel last night and now have to book the Tunnel. I have to be back by the 21st in time for another of these Hormone Injections. I’m really struggling with weight and tiredness at the moment but I’m pleased to report that I’m still completing my exercise program every day without exception.

Back in shorts and tee-shirts now for the rest of the year. I don’t know if it’s because I’m feeling my age but I tend to wear ‘Grandad’ style tee-shirts. Nearest I will get to being a Grandad. I’ve got literally dozens but my Dresser is currently insisting on buying me more. Apparently, I’m ‘heavy on my clothes’ … meaning I spill things down them. I don’t but you have to keep the staff ‘sweet’ so I don’t argue .. much. If I ‘need’ new clothes, I ‘need’ new clothes and that’s an end to it! They are on their way from Jacamo.

Wednesday, 3rd May, 2023

Blue skies all the way today. My French beans are growing away and will need to be planted out soon – then, you didn’t need to know that like so much of the detail in my Blog.

We are going abroad in two weeks and I need these and the Basil plants to be planted out before I go away. Giving them a bath in the sunshine today.

We did some bathing in the sunshine ourselves this morning in Worthing town centre. It was delightful. Lovely weather makes everywhere look better.

Down every avenue the sea sparkles and there is something magical about that. The town is getting ready for an influx of tourists with cleaning and painting. They are attracted by the sea and the beach, by the fish restaurants and the sunshine … and so am I.

Thursday, 4th May, 2023

Didn’t sleep. My mind was tortuously alive to regrets. Turned the radio on – BBC World Service – was presenting a programme from Argentina about the Military Junta who overthrew Peron and ruled between mid 1970s – mid 1980s. Particularly, they rounded up Left Wing activists and tortured and killed them in prison. Those who were taken became known as The Disappeared. The ‘Disappeared’ were floating through my dreams when I woke a few hours later.

Out early to vote at the Community Centre. Voting always feels discouraging when it takes place in these shabby, unattractive places. I took my Drivers’ Licence card with me as photo ID but took the chance to express my strong opposition to the imposition of that extra requirement.

My opinions were expected even though eyes were rolled and buttocks tightened. This card was pushed across the desk to me before I went on to vote. I had to vote for three out of the six candidates. The first three on the list were all Tory. The last three were Green, Lib.Dem. and Labour. I didn’t vote for the Tories.

I forwarded my written response to the government and copied it to my local MP, Andrew Griffith, and to Arun Council. I pointed out the irony of returning it to Levelling Up Department when the attempt of the Tories is pure gerrymandering and a deliberate attempt to exclude sections of the electorate. My email will almost certainly go straight in the government waste bin as it will with my diabolical MP. Hopefully, the Left will, be angered enough to do something about it when we take power.

Friday, 5th May, 2023

Awake at 4.30 am. At least the Radio brought an interesting and pleasing election count review programme. The Tories are dying on their feet. Labour and Lib.Dems are eating them up. Things can only get better – to coin a phrase.

Present from America

A year ago today, a Waitrose delivery arrived at our door. We hadn’t ordered it. Initially, we thought it was for our neighbours or just a mistake. Eventually, we were told that it had been ordered in America and delivered to our door as a lovely gesture. There are nice people in the world!

While I was mowing neighbours’ lawns yesterday, a girl lent out of her bedroom window and called out, “You can come round and do mine now.” Unfortunately, I knew instinctively she was talking about her lawn (and not in the Shakespearian way). Today, I will make her a happy girl by doing her lawn.

This morning I am chauffeuring my Housekeeper to the Hairdresser’s. I don’t pay her for her services but I like to reward her at times. It is important to keep the staff happy. I’m happier because the sun is shining, the sky is blue, the Tories are losing and will continue to lose the General Election now.

My Memory Box threw up a couple of interesting occasions from a decade ago. In 2013, our school was finally being demolished …

… and we were relaxing on the patio of our Greek island home at the start of a 6 month stay. It illustrates how quickly life changes and how many possibilities there are if we are brave and confident enough to risk it.

Our lovely neighbours next door have invited us to a Coronation Party tomorrow. I had to decline because I wouldn’t have been able to get through it without offending their other guests. Nothing would persuade me to celebrate the Coronation. Certainly not the prospect of a ‘Knees-up’ whatever that is. I’ve never been to one in my life and I’m not likely to start now!

Saturday, 6th May, 2023

Lovely, warm morning. Unfortunately, that is about the only good thing to say about it. The media is fixated on Monarchy although, I have to say, hardly anyone around here has put ‘bunting’ up which is heartening. There have been no street parties advertised down here. We are all too ‘select’ for that.

My computer announced a beautiful day.

I had a long discussion with my lovely next door neighbour yesterday as I declined her kind invitation to a Coronation Party. I excused her enthusiasm because she is an Australian/German and we all know immigrants are fanatical Royal watchers.

Not Mine Either!

Great to see two things this morning. Heavy rain in London to dampen down the enthusiasm of the loony royal groupies and the view of sensible dissent on the Coronation route. We must work to make this the last Monarch and it certainly will be across many areas of the Commonwealth. Australia and West Indies are noticeably moving that way. Young British people are already disinterested and will grow into Republicans. I’ve already talked to Kevin who chose to avoid it all by going on a bike ride and to Julie who went out to prune a tree. So much healthier than Coronation Compulsion!

Tom Jones … after Henry Fielding.

I’m going in the Gym to watch ITV-X. I’m watching an adaptation of a novel I had to study for ‘A-Level’ 56 years ago. Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones – published in 1749 and one of the first in the picaresque novel form. I remember, as an impressionable 16 year old, being absolutely transported by the rather bawdy tale of a virile young man and his conquests. It really kickstarted my love of study … amongst other things.

I read avidly read around the topic. I bought and read The Rise of the Novel. It led me to read the works of Daniel Defoe – Robinson CrusoeShamela and Samuel Richardson – ClarissaPamela, etc.. I couldn’t read enough. I wasn’t reading them for escapism, for the enjoyment of Fiction but for their historical content and intellectual/literary import. That approach has stayed with me all my life.

Lovely little ironies as a footnote. Tom Jones’ is adopted by the benevolent, Squire Allworthy. His neighbour, is the dissolute Squire Western, who loves drinking, hunting and plenty of sex. Tom, of course, eventually married his daughter and lives happily ever after.

Squire Western is played in the drama by Alun Armstrong. It was in 1971, 52 years ago, that I was an extra in an ITV drama series which featured a young Alun Armstrong as its main character. I didn’t realise it then but he is only 4 years older than me. King Charles is only 2 years older than me and his coronation took one right back beyond the mid-18th century, it reminded me he wouldn’t have been out of place with the Squires.

Week 748

Sunday, 23rd April, 2023

Raining and grey this morning. The London Marathon will be wet. Maybe it will dampen the traffic. I am driving up to Surrey to see M who is over from Florida. Must be wishing she wasn’t this morning although seeing me will make up for it. I thrashed her at Wordle last night.We have to drive on the M25 leaving at the M25’s busiest junction – J10. In heavy rain and clouds of spray, it should be fun.

Yesterday Julie arranged a group ‘Selfie’ for me with her and Nigel reunited with their son and his wife on the beach in Bridlington. Lovely photo to receive.

Anyway, the drive up to Surrey was much better than expected. The weather improved and the traffic was quite light. We met up with M back from Florida on a fleeting visit to check on the Geriatrics. She had made us a lovely chicken stew with asparagus, peas and broccoli. Who knew M could cook so well? We had a facetime with K still out in Florida which was nice.

I drank wine at lunch so my Chauffeur had to drive us home. Unfortunately for her, we had a bout of torrential rain and even some hail on the motorway which tested her but I coped with my hands over my eyes. Back home the weather was beautiful sunshine and blue sky. We did an hour’s walk and then got in just in time to watch Man. Utd. in the FA Cup semifinal.

Monday, 24th April, 2023

Gorgeous morning down here on the South Coast. Went out for an early walk. Everywhere trees are now green and fresh, lots of blossom including the inaptly named May Blossom which always arrives in April here. Must be a result of climate change.

Quite a few jobs to do today. Currently, it is dandelion season. I eradicate them as soon as I see them. My neighbour’s lawns are on my agenda today. They will all be sprayed with broad leaved weed killer. The dandelions will disappear in a couple of weeks and long before they can set seed to self-propagate another year. I’m looking after about eight different lawns now. It’s costing me a fortune but I enjoy it. Just exercise in the sunshine is what I need.

This morning the news came through that Len Goodman – I only know of him because I have a friend who watches Come Dancing. – has died of Bone Cancer. How lucky I’ve been to have avoided that. I am in that frame of mind at the moment. It is the I’ve had a cancer scare but it looks as if I’ll get away with it mode. I’m rather taking for granted that everything will turn out alright but, just as I’m thinking, Poor man to find cancer had spread to the bones, a letter drops on the mat.

It is from the Patient Care Co-ordinator of my Surgery. It starts:

Dear John, we are sorry to hear of your recent cancer diagnosis … We can offer you support via the Macmillan Cancer Service.

The whole thing suddenly becomes real again and intrudes into my everyday enjoyment. The other thing is that I was shocked to find Len Goodman was only 6 years older than me. I always thought he was an old man.

I do prefer to take responsibility for my own health and I really like accessing my Records, Appointments, Treatment and Medication on my phone/iPad through the NHS App. Soon we will be able to hold video consultations with GPs and Hospital Consultants instead of travelling to them. This will make the whole process quicker and less demanding on NHS time. I have joined an NHS long term study of the treatment of Prostate Cancer. Let’s hope the description ‘Long Term’ proves accurate.

My little sister, Cathy, who lives about 10 mins drive from me, is celebrating her Wedding Anniversary – actually, I’m not sure which. I wish her and Laurie a happy day.

Tuesday, 25th April, 2023

Another gorgeous morning. We just have to take our happiness where we can. We are going down to the beach and the Fishmongers. I found that the original fish outlet had spelt my name incorrectly but still quite spooky …

Orginal Fish Outlet – Littlehampton Beach

M is going back to Florida this morning – lucky girl – and she sent me one, last photo over night attached to her Wordle which beat mine.

Lovely Dog!

The weather is set fair for Summer now. It was quite a cool night but that is likely to be the end and new plants can now be set out down here. Gardening is the order of the next few days to give things time to establish before we go away.

Walked on the beach first. Lovely and quiet. The occasional dog walker and a small knot of school children excitedly discovering what the difference is between sand and pebbles. On to the fish outlet. We normally order online and have it delivered. Quite nice to meet the people in person.

With high temperatures forecast, Kevin is off to Spain during the week. I’m expecting my phone to be flooded with terrible karaoke. Julie is building a cold frame on her allotment. She’ll be screaming by tonight.

Wednesday, 26th April, 2023

Got to book my next, three month, hormone injection which will take me up to the point where I start intensive radiotherapy for a month. I also have to have yet another PSA Test prior to meeting the Consultant in late July. Yesterday, I had two, very serious letters telling me about my radiotherapy and how I would have ‘free access’ to the carparking area for Cancer Patients. I don’t want to think of myself as a Cancer Patient. I’d rather pay for the carpark and be normal.

Unfortunately, the side effects they warned me about with Hormone Treatment have started to surface. I am putting on weight. I’m going to stop eating altogether. I am feeling tired. I’m really having to apply mind over matter to complete my exercise routine. Actually, I’m only managing 9 miles a day at the moment. I’m beginning to have mood swings which is worrying because I am an emotional person anyway. Waking up feeling sad which is daft but I’m finding it hard accepting my position.

Thyme & Oregano carpet after 1 yr

Trying to distract myself by paying attention to the garden and, particularly, the Herb Bed. Last year, the first, small herb seedlings were planted and they have already spread quite well. We have Thyme, Oregano, Tarragon, Bay and Sage and Mint. I’m not just growing it to cook with but to construct a colourful carpet effect.

Varieties of Sage – Salvia

The Sage didn’t do as well as some so I’m trying again with a number of different varieties. They have differing colours, scents and leaf shapes. Like Thyme and Oregano, Sage is a Mediterranean herb which likes hot and dry. Walking in Greece, we trample over herbs like this and release a strong scent. Sheep on the mountainsides feed on wild Thyme and that delivers a wonderfully flavoured meat. I’m growing Parsley from seed because that is an annual anyway.

Can you tell it’s a slow news day, Dear Reader?

Thursday, 27th April, 2023

My Mother, Catherine, died 15 years ago today. I remember the event with great clarity. Her husband, my Father, Eric, had died in 1965 when I was 14. I remember that day with equal clarity. I was shocked in many ways. Shocked embeds itself on the consciousness like nothing else. A staunch Roman Catholic, Mum believed she was going to a better place. As a staunch atheist, I knew where she was really going.

Mum & Dad married in Burton-upon-Trent 74 years ago. Even so, I am a product of them and they are a product of my memories to be remembered and acknowledged.

Captain Andreas Taverna, Kamares, Sifnos – 27th April, 2011

On this day 11 years ago, we were lunching in the Taverna above. I can tell you we ate Grilled Sea bass and Greek Salad with a chilled bottle of Apelia white wine. It was a trip to start another 6 months in our house and reunite with Greek friends.

In other news, Kevin has flown to Spain this morning and will be now be walking out of Alicante Airport into very bright and quite warm sunshine. He’ll be hitting the Karaoke Bars and having his sort of good time.

I’ve instructed my resident chef to make Rabbit Ragù for Dinner. Made with rabbit joints we bought in France recently, it will be served with asparagus tips and sprouting broccoli for the healthy option. Really looking forward to it.

Friday, 28th April, 2023

Busy day with more clothes orders being collected and/or returned. It is something of a daily ritual now. The new herb plants are going to be put in the raised beds by my gardener this afternoon. I have to mow the lawns for 4 neighbours and I have been thinking about what flowers to put in each one’s cut-out beds in the centre of the lawns.

I’ve decided to give them a splash of bold colour at different heights. I’m going to grow them from seed. Maximum height 24″ and minimum height 6″. A mixture of two Nigella (Love-in-A-Mist) varieties and two Calendula (Marigold) varieties. Hope the neighbours appreciate them.

My neighbours are all amused that I don’t just mow the public space grass outside our houses but weed and feed it and, most importantly for me, I cut the edges so they are straight and neat. I have to have things looking neat and controlled. Nothing wrong with Nature as long as Humans control it. My wife has always told me I am mildly OCD and I think it has got slightly more pronounced with age.

Before ….. & ….. After

I was reading an article about David Beckham this morning. In it he says that his OCD means that, before he goes to bed at night, he has to tidy the rooms downstairs so he doesn’t face ‘chaos’ in the morning. That is exactly me but I do it throughout the day as well …. for my own peace of mind.

Saturday, 28th April, 2023

Gorgeous, warm and sunny day. We reached 17C/63 yesterday which was lovely. Not, of course the warmth that Kevin is enjoying in Spain but alright for now.

Apart from Kevin in Spain, Julie in her allotment in North Yorkshire and John in his Gallery, there seems to have been a resurgence in popularity for the Lake District. John R. has put his Dinghy back in the water, Dave R. is back up mountains and Sue W. is touring the countryside. Never understood the fascination. I choose sunshine before all else. The Lake District is definitely a NO.

Unfortunately, the Karaoke Tour of Benidorm is also a NO which Kevin finds hard to understand. He is obviously hurt by my rejection but that is how it has to be. I am not up for a lads’ week in English Pubs in Benidorm. I really can’t think of anything worse.

Mind you, I am even less likely to join John R or Dave R in the lake District. In two weeks, I will be in Thessaloniki, the second city of Greece. I can’t wait to hear the Greek language being shouted across the street, to smell the familiar smells of Bougatsa (πογάτσα ) from the oven (Φούρνος) or Souvlakia (σουβλάκι) griddling across the road. All the familiar TV stations belting out absolute rubbish in frenetic Greek babble unnoticed by the owners. The Greek tradition is to never turn the TV off but never watch it – in fact, sit with your back to it at all times.

Idyllic Skiathos

My next door neighbour, whose firm built my house, is desperate to buy a property on Skiathos where he likes to holiday. I have spent some time with him this morning advising him how to go about it.

This evening, after a hard and long Gym workout, we had Dinner in the Garden. It was warm and Sunny. My Chef cooked Courgette and Sea Bass Fritters with Garlic Sauce. It was served with a Green salad and eaten in the fresh air. Lovely! soon we’ll be doing that it Greece.

I’ve included my photo and I apologise for that. I’m not as drunk as I look. In fact, I’ve not even started on the red wine but I had to show Kevin that you don’t need to go to Spain for a good time.

Week 747

Sunday, 16th April, 2023

We don’t fly to Thessaloniki until the middle of May but I’ve just Checked-In and received my Boarding Passes on my phone’s Easyjet App..

Suddenly realised that we fly out of Gatwick North Terminal and return to Gatwick South Terminal. Only noticed while booking the Airport Carpark. That’ll be a bit annoying.

We have to get the inter-terminal shuttle train and then a shuttle bus to the carpark around midnight …. and then drive over an hour home. Still there’s always pain with the pleasure.

Ordered the Kindle from Amazon yesterday afternoon. Delivered this morning. Now to set it up and download my Housekeeper’s Library. Only about 500 titles. If they haven’t got the word Love in the title, they are rejected. I don’t know what she’s trying to tell me but it’s essential bedtime reading.

Monday, 17th April, 2023

We all have to look our best on this wonderful day. Sunny and warm but I’m having my haircut. I find it hard to sit still for so long. No pictures because I wouldn’t want to dazzle you with my beauty but if, you show me yours, I’ll show you mine.

Before going out walking, I have to check how much we’ve got in Euros for our trip to France on Wednesday. I’m not really sure why we always have so many Euros in the safe but we never sell them back to the bank because that is the way to lose money. Anyway, notes and a kilo of coins comes to circa €3000.00 which will do for this week.

The River Arun runs through the Marina and into the sea.

Walking in the sunshine makes such a difference. Sunshine seems to link the elements together and make fresh air worthwhile. I love it. Sunshine makes me happy.

The last couple of days have been a nightmare. The flush on the downstairs toilet has broken. I’m constantly having to climb the stairs. Today, our plumber texted to say he would come round with a replacement unit. Half an hour later and £120.00 lighter, I have quick relief. My Housekeeper watched him like a hawk. I won’t need a plumber next time. The replacement unit is only £21.00 from Amazon and my Housekeeper is ‘free’. She will be able to do the job herself. Everybody has their uses.

Been wonderfully warm today. We reached 16C/61F. Still comfortable by 6.00 pm this evening. Summer is definitely around the corner.

Tuesday, 18th April, 2023

Up early and out early driving the three miles to sunny Rustington. Eye Tests before 9.00 am. No change, no cataracts, no new glasses. If anything, my short sight has slightly improved.

Everywhere was incredibly quiet on the roads and in the shops. I like it. Rustington is an attractive small town particularly in the sunshine.

Got to clean the car and prepare it for France with an even earlier start tomorrow. The car fridge has to be installed and necessities for legally driving in France – First Aid Kit, Breathalyser, Fluorescent Jackets, UK Sticker, etc..

Finally, because we are in a new car, we have had to apply for a new vehicle emissions sticker for the windscreen. It is cheap and simple to buy this online and it comes in the post very quickly. It is another matter mounting the certificate in the windscreen. We have had three for the last few cars and this is the first one we’ve got right.

Walking this afternoon was quite chilly. There is a breeze with an edge. Still, done my 9 miles for the day.

Wednesday, 19th April, 2023

Up at 5.00 am and out at 6.00 am. Beautiful morning to be driving. Got to the Tunnel early. Went across an hour early and off to Auchan in Coquelles.

This was just a shopping trip and it was lovely to source things we had missed – Duck and Rabbit, Saucisson and Pâté, gorgeous tomatoes and lettuces, garlic and onions.

At Auchan – looking for the Salad.

On to the wine – 48 bottles of still wine plus 24 bottles of Champagne – about £1000.00 plus 2 bottles of perfume – £70.00 and a few extra litres of red wine smuggled and unchecked at the border. Then on to Cité Europe  and more shopping.

We walked the shopping complex. I was looking for glass wine decanters and my Housekeeper wanted white, porcelain side plates. Neither of us got what we wanted. Such is life.

Before we left, I had somewhere to go. Absolute necessity at my time of life. It provided my favourite photograph of the day.

Thursday, 20th April, 2023

Woke up late on a glorious morning. Didn’t get up until 7.15 am. Around 5 hours driving and 8 miles walking yesterday left me tired. It was nice to ‘break out’ though and we will do it again in a few weeks if the medical situation allows.

First, I have completed the arrangements for a short trip to Thessaloniki in just under 4 weeks. These days, the use of Executive Lounges is so popular that it is necessary to pre-book even if we have automatic passes. This is because the admission numbers are finite. A couple of times we’ve turned up and been refused admission so I take no chances now.

In fact, although we will be there at 4.00 am, our first choice – No. 1 Lounge – is already fully booked between 4.00 am – 5.00 am. I’ve had to choose Plaza Premium instead. I’m sure it will be fine.

Out to the Garden Centre which was looking lovely in brilliant sunshine. I was going to buy herbs OreganoThymeSageBasil, and Parsley plants. It is time to get them in and growing away. Doing a first cut of the remaining lawns this afternoon.

Friday, 21st April, 2023

A bit of a nervous day today. I have been summoned to a meeting at the Oncology Department of Worthing Hospital. It may be routine but it maybe something more sinister. The only information I have had, since my skeletal scan, was through my online medical records. I Googled the results and deduced that the cancer hadn’t gone beyond the prostate and into the bones. I hope this meeting is just to confirm my amateur research.

Going out for a walk to take my mind off it and to think through the information I will need to ask for while I am there. I have a second hormone injection to come at the end of June and I need to know when the month of radiotherapy will begin. I need to know how it will affect me as well. The other thing I want to ask is about an additional note from the radiographer:

Presumed degenerative tracer uptake is noted in the axial and
appendicular skeleton e.g. cervical spine, knees, ankles and feet.

I take this to mean that the scan showed bone degeneration in areas that one might expect in a 72 year old man. I have to know if it is ‘normal’ and whether my exercise routine is helping or accelerating that degeneration.

One of the things I have to do in preparation for flying, is to download Boarding Passes on to our smartphones and the iPads, and phones have to be charged so that Border Force staff can check them if required. Something that won’t turn on and boot up can be confiscated.

I like to have a reserve power source to charge up anything that is failing. The last Power Bank I used is probably still plugged in to a wall of the Electra Palace Hotel, Athens which is where I left it last September. I ordered a new one this morning. It holds enough power to recharge two phones and two iPads

Saturday, 22nd April, 2023

Up at 3.30 am. Couldn’t sleep. Yesterday ended so well that I can hardly believe it and I woke thinking about it. It seems stupid to say I’m feeling incredibly lucky – I have cancer. – but I’m feeling incredibly lucky.

Yesterday evening I was ‘invited’ to meet the Consultant Oncologist – Ashok Nikapota. He turned out to be the most delightful man both from what I found out about him and the news he delivered to me.

One of my great failings/strengths is my interest in people and their lives. I can’t stop myself trying to find out about them when we meet. I have developed the ability to elicit life stories from people in minutes. I find them absolutely fascinating. It turned out that Ash, originally from Sri Lanka, had been to Sifnos where we built a house and spent 6 months each year. He knew where our house was and loved the port. We are flying to Thessaloniki in three weeks and so is he. I love opera and so, it turns out does he. We had stuff in common which was wonderful.

Essentially, the news he delivered was that the treatment process I was following – six months of hormone treatment to shrink the prostate followed by a month of intensive radiotherapy would give me a 90% success rate of being cancer free at the end. I think I can settle for that. Actually, I couldn’t believe it. Drove straight home and opened a bottle of Champagne. It never tasted better! I immediately felt the need to tell people. I phoned my brother, Bob, who also has prostate cancer and then contacted my friends. It felt as if telling others made it more real. Now I can shut up about it.

To celebrate, I’ve order a new wine decanter. I ordered it this morning from Amazon and it will be delivered this afternoon by 3.00 pm. Love the Amazon Prime service.

Week 746

Sunday, 9th April, 2023

Early sea mist has been burnt off to reveal a lovely day. Generally, religious festivals annoy me. I don’t celebrate them and those who do expect everything else to stop for them. Now Christianity is a minority interest in UK, I would expect the country not to stop for these ridiculous obsessions.

Kevin contacted me from his bike out in the Yorkshire sunshine yesterday. This morning, he is swearing that the South-centric BBC are telling everyone it is hotter than Greece but it is ‘freezing’ in Yorkshire. I told him, when I had found a shady place to rest out of the Mediterranean weather and wiped the sunscreen from my hands to use my phone, he should consider taking up ice skating. He seemed to take it quite well.

Been out for an hour’s walk this morning and will do a second this afternoon. Probably watch Liverpool v Arsenal later. I’m pleased that the predicted tiredness I was warned would accompany my hormone treatment has not materialised yet. Maybe it will but I will continue to fight it. I’m not sure what effect a month of radiotherapy will have on me but that won’t be until September.

We sold our Duplex Apartment in Surrey 7 years ago this week for double its purchase price after 5 years of ownership. We sold it to a lady from Australia whose husband had died and she was returning to her children and her homeland. She bought all our furniture because she brought none with her. We were pleased to start again in our new house down here. It had done the job while we in Greece for half the year.

Yesterday, we found the property was back on the market at a price which was less than we sold it for. We had kept in contact with her until 18 months ago but she is now in a Dementia facility. The speed of that decline is quite shocking!


I have written before of my love of the Pre-Raphaelites. I think it began with an amalgam of my first University Degree and research into the basis of Left Wing Politics which developed at the same time as the BBC showed an influential, dramatic series called The Love School in 1975.

It was Dante Gabriel Rossetti who first appealed to me. His Italian roots and his love of Jane, his model, just hooked me. The symbolism of his paintings and the romanticism of his subjects were what I craved. As I began my University education, I found William Morris for his Socialist politics rather than his paintings and John Ruskin for his philosophy.

Soon after getting married, I began to buy Pre-Raphaelite prints and feature them on the walls of our house. Eventually, I had dozens of them and others who illustrated the progression of the movement which largely ended with Whistler. I always majored in Rossetti and this painting on the right has always been my favourite. His beloved Jane – William Morris’ wife – is portrayed rich with sensual, sexual symbolism.

Rossetti’s Proserpine, like his model Jane, is an exquisitely beautiful woman, with delicate facial features, slender hands, and flawlessly pale skin set off by her thick raven hair. She is based on Persephone, queen of the underworld to which she disappears in Winter only to resurface with Nature’s regrowth in Spring. She is on show at the Tate in London until the end of September in The Rossettis | Tate Britain.

Monday, 10th April, 2023

Apparently it is a Bank Holiday today. All that means is there are less facilities available and the weather worsens. I was going to spend the day on the beach, sunbathing, but ….

Sunny Worthing

Instead, I’m going to Sainsburys. Fair swap? Back home, I’m going to dream of better things , maybe talk to people who want to talk to me and look to explore car ferries across to Spain and Villas for rental in Aguilas or Puerto de Mazarrón, Murcia where our friends had a property. Pre-requisites are Private Pool, Wi-Fi, Satellite TV, air-con and washing machine.

Mazzaron Property

There are plenty of properties to choose from but the quality is not great. My rule of thumb is not to rent one which is less than I have at home. What’s the point?

Aguilas Property

Most of these villas would cost about £4,000 – £5000 per month which is quite good value. We have to add to that the ferry crossing which takes about 33 hours and will cost about £1200. We might split the drive across Spain in two and have a hotel in Zaragoza which will add a bit more. Over all, it will cost us about £7,000 for the month.

We will, of course, have a villa that sleeps 6 so there will be room for friends. Can’t think of who to invite at the moment. Answers on a postcard.

Tuesday, 11th April, 2023


Always keep your options open, Dear Reader and think three times before finally deciding. Having contacted the Cancer Clinic this morning, I have had to rethink the Summer. The dates for a major intervention are not fixed so neither can be my travel plans be.

A Spanish drive may have to be in the Winter or Spring next year. So, Dear Reader, if you were hoping to take up some of the beds in our rented house, put your plans on hold. We are thinking again for this Summer. One wag this morning suggested we holiday in Anglesey. I’d rather stick pins in my eyes. Welsh weather and comfort do not compute. Anglesey is for the wrinkly and aged. I am going to stay young and vigorous for as long as possible.

I am now looking at a more controlled and time-flexible, driving trip down the French coast. You can still come with us, Dear Reader, but it will entail stops in Orleans and Toulouse. We stayed in the Mercure Orleans on the banks of the Loire a few years ago and really enjoyed it.

Mercure Orleans on the banks of the Loire

Three or four days driving via Orleans, Bordeaux and Toulouse where we will stay at the Novotel will see us at Marseille -the drugs and gangster capital of the South of France.

Bordeaux – Toulouse – Marseille

I love driving through Europe. It feels so liberating and empowering. We can go for as long as we want or as short as the medical intervention dates dictate.

Novotel, Toulouse

We’ve always wanted to visit Marseille. It is the interface between France and French Dependencies in Northern Africa like Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. Exotic, exciting and indulgent.

I am pleased to report that I am now back up to an average of 9 miles a day over the past month. It has been an struggle but I am nothing if not determined. Next stop – back to 10 miles a day.

Wednesday, 12th April, 2023

Lovely, sunny and warm morning although we are expecting strong winds later. Out for an early walk which takes us past the Community Centre, through the park which is popular with dog walkers and down through a housing development to our home.

Angmering is quite a proud and attractive village. Angmering in Bloom is a volunteer organisation which works throughout the year to maintain and enhance the environment. Local businesses sponsor their activities which include public gardening. Plants and bulbs are provided by the four, local Garden Centres and all around the area, little pockets of planting are displayed like this one on our walk.

Each year the village is judged by the Britain in Bloom organisation and Angmering regularly wins County sections at least. Angmering is twinned with Ouistreham on the Normandy coast. Purposeful, proud Europeans. Maybe this is because of its high proportion of Middle Class House owners with relatively high disposable incomes. Certainly, Angmering is a comfortable place to retire to.

On our walk, we pass the well-used children’s play area which has swings and stuff. Today, Grandparents, with coffees in one hand and phones in the other were barely supervising little kids on swings and slides, scooters and bikes. It must be quite demanding these days to be a parent of a parent. Childcare is almost obligatory. I do wonder how long it takes for the charm of the role to wear off.

My friend, Kevin, in North Yorkshire took his grand kids to the cinema yesterday and sent me a snap of his experience. They went to see Super Mario which is based on a computer game. He said, “Cool 3 year old wearing 3D glasses. Terrible film but they enjoyed it.” 

My housekeeper and resident seamstress told me yesterday that her sewing machine was failing. A few hours research with advice from friends in Saddleworth and New York and a new, Bernina machine was ordered. It should arrive on Friday and I can have my shorts put back together!

Thursday, 13th April, 2023

Gorgeous morning down here. Got Dentist and Blood Test appointments so going out for an early walk. Before that, I’ve had to put together a pdf of lawncare advice for my next door neighbour. He’s called Jason. At 6.30 am, I was constructing the document, attached it to an email and fired it off. I asked Jason if he got it and he hadn’t. I’d sent lawncare advice to a Joiner called Jason who we once used years ago.

I must contact 10 people every day by TextWhatsapp and Email. It helps if you’ve got the right contact details. Every evening, I do Wordle. It’s quite good fun and only takes 5 minutes but I send mine to M&K in Florida. They do theirs just before bed – around 3.00 am in UK – and I pick it up in the morning. Wordle is done through the New York Times by millions of people each day. Yesterday the word was BORAX. Fortunately, M&K are too young to have any knowledge of it. I wonder if you remember it, Dear Reader. It chimed only distantly in my memory banks but my Laundry Woman well remembered her Mother using it.

My sister, Jane Georghiou, runs and runs and runs and …. This week she has been running in Poland in the World Masters Indoor Championships. She, of course, was chosen for the one outdoor event – the half Marathon through Polish streets in the rain but she did get a silver medal. At the age of 71, she puts me to shame.

This morning I’ve heard from Kevin and Julie about their daily plans. In 1975, I was living alone in a hovel in Oldham, Lancashire. You don’t get much more show biz than that! I started going out with a girl who eventually became my Housekeeper. Her good friend at the time was Diane who worked in the Craft Block of our school. She is a seamstress.

Today, by accident, Pauline caught Diane’s name on her iPad and it began dialling her Facebook connection. Within seconds, Diane’s face was in our kitchen rolling back the years. We had missed them in New York by one day and, a few months later, her husband was dead of a brain tumour. It was nice to reconnect and really underlines the importance of meeting people from the past face-to-face. It means so much.

Lovely trip to the dentist today. She is Persian and absolutely gorgeous. I got so many cuddles during my consultation that, if I hadn’t invited them, it could have been construed as sexual harassment. Of course, at my age that’s not a crime but a benefit to be enjoyed. How sad are old men?

Friday, 14th April, 2023

Cold and wet today. Depressingly dark and gloomy. Received a postcard (Remember them?) from my old, Saddleworth friend, Caroline. She is in the Yorkshire Dales visiting places that I haven’t been back to since 1969. When I write things like that, a cold wind of horror runs through me. 1969!! I was just starting at Ripon College – a girls, C. of E. Training College. The Induction Week saw us packed on to coaches and taken round the Historical (Religious) Highlights of the Dales.

Rievaulx Abbey

Bolton AbbeyRievaulx AbbeyByland AbbeyFountains Abbey are places that an 18 year old lad surrounded by lots of similar age girls was not particularly interested in. Being on a coach with them was more interesting than getting off to walk round ancient buildings. My experience was particularly interesting as I was gripped by the hand of fate.

Byland – Scene of so many crimes!

In old age, I would like to say that these positions have been reversed but I wouldn’t be being completely honest. I’m still not into ancient buildings.

Saturday, 15th April, 2023

The middle of April already. Much better weather today. Went out for an early walk. It is incredible what goes on in our neighbourhood on a Saturday morning. The Rugby Club nearby had hundreds of kids – girls & boys of all ages playing matches on multiple pitches. Adults giving up their time to train them, referee them and support them. Would I have done that? I might.

Up the road on more pitches scores of kids are playing and training for football. No wonder we see so little crime around here. They’re all too knackered to cause trouble. And then I came across this outside the Community Centre and thought I was going to be proved wrong. A police car was in attendance and there was a knot of kids on the carpark. Fight? Break-in? Drug Dealing? No, just Cycling Proficiency Courses being offered by the local Constabulary. Calm is restored at Home!

Chatted to Kevin, Julie and John R this morning first thing. Julie’s growing Comfrey. I have no idea why. John R has lost his hedgehog. Can’t have gone far. And Kevin was reminding me about the time, just as I was finally leaving College in 1972, when I ran an English Language Course for Dutch teachers. Kevin has a Dutch friend and has an amusing anecdote about the Dutch. I didn’t tell him that the last days of College were not happy ones for me.

Going to France on a shopping trip on Wednesday. Eurotunnel are obviously struggling to get custom in these straightened times. They contacted me this morning offering £55.00 each way crossings so I couldn’t resist. Better shopping in Auchan than Sainsburys!

My Housekeeper has been reading books on Amazon Kindle since 2010. She ditched books – saved us carrying them to Greece for six months – and downloads them for free in the hundreds. The Kindle is the most amazing piece of technological kit. You can drop it and it has no effect.

They last years without a problem. There have been one or two improvements over the past 13 years but, basically, they just do the job of being lightweight books. You can carry around hundreds of books at a time without trouble. Download them in minutes and store them for years. Today we ordered her the latest edition for just over £200.00. Who could complain?

Gorgeous evening – 16C/61F – just right for a walk and talk. The Summer is coming! Let’s hope we get there.

Week 745

Sunday, 2nd April, 2023

A grey start to the day although the forecast is for wall-to-wall sunshine as the rest of the week develops. Been a busy start in communications. Every morning at 6.00 am I pick up an email from M in Florida. She’s not been in bed for long when I read it. Most mornings, Kevin checks in on Whatsapp. Yesterday was Chris’s birthday and I sent an e-card. Kevin was up and in touch around 9.30 am. By then, I had already had a Text from Liz who is staying in a hotel near the Brandenburg Gate. She had been reading the Blog and was pleased about my recent news.

The Brandenburg Gate

I must admit that, although I am a committed European, I am not particularly desperate to holiday in Germany. I don’t like the language and find it difficult to read. I am much more comfortable with the Romance languages of French/Italian/Spanish. I am not keen on the coarseness of German food and I don’t get their humour at all. We’ve flirted with/driven through Germany a number of times en route to Greece and that is enough for me.

Watched the early morning political programmes as normal on Sunday. They are my religion. Braverman was typically obnoxious although I’m sure she appeals to the Tories baseline racist Right and the rampant Xenophobes. Dave Roberts and John Morris contacted me almost immediately afterwards to express their disgust with her. Braverman comes across as a deeply dislikeable person and not terribly bright or articulate.

The day just improved with lovely, warm sunshine and we did two, long walks. I’ve managed 9 miles today. Just had a lovely WhatsApp message from Michelle across the road offering all support while I am in treatment and recovering. Some people are so lovely.

Monday, 3rd April, 2023

Exactly 14 years ago today, we retired after long and protracted negotiations for a financial package. My friend, John Ridley, retired on exactly the same day. It was the most wonderful feeling and now seems so long ago and frighteningly near as well.

Counthill School – opened 1951

It was one of those relieving and frightening moments of one’s life when all responsibilities are suddenly thrown off but Life momentarily appears empty. The routines of working life took years to be erased from my system and my dreams were populated by concerns that had featured in my career. Even now, I can see the corridors of stress, the Inspectors arrival, the expectations of success, the meaningless policy papers, endless meetings and pointless resolutions.

Derker Board School – opened 1885

Now, at 14 years distance, one of the things that really saddens me is the state of the buildings I worked in for 38 years from the pagoda- style, former Board School, 1885 building in Derker where I was Head, to the former Grammar School building which opened in 1951 with its dreadfully leaky and drafty, metal-framed windows. I worked in relative squalor all that time.

I had appallingly cramped offices and cold classrooms all of which were hard to keep clean. I introduced computers and the internet to Counthill School, eventually a campus-wide wi-fi network, on-line registration, school intranet and home-school teaching and learning systems. Every inch of that way was hard and resisted by many staff who were scared of the new. Can you imagine people wanting to resist new technology?

Waterhead Academy – opened 2013

The new school is like a comparative dream. Built with integrated technology, smart screens, wi-fi throughout, large, purpose designed classrooms, offices large enough to work in, good heating and air conditioning, lecture theatres and all-weather sports fields.

Tuesday, 4th April, 2023

Woken up to find myself still alive on this gorgeous day of cloudless blue sky and strong sunshine. No need to drive to school. I’m retired. It is going to be a gardening day.

Went to the Garden Centre yesterday and bought some seeds and bags of soil. I am going to spend the morning preparing the raised beds for sowing seeds.

Sharing gardening activities with my Allotment friend, Julie. I’m just playing at it while she’s seriously growing her food on a large scale. We did all that years ago when we had an acre of garden and installed formal deep beds for vegetables.

Teachers’ Pensions are uprated by 10.1% this month although we don’t feel the effect of it until our May pay. Even so, one of the good things about Teachers’ Pensions is they are index-linked and keep pace with inflation in perpetuity. I spoke to Kevin about it this morning. He had no knowledge of it. It always amazes me that intelligent people are so unaware of these things.

The beautiful 5G mast in the Park.

An hour’s walk in the sunshine. Two hours gardening and another hour’s walk in hot (well 13C/56F) sunshine and I’m completely knackered. They say that the treatment program I’m on will make me tired in the afternoons. I am not prepared to acknowledge that but I’m feeling tired this afternoon and in need of comfort.

Wednesday, 5th April, 2023

Nice morning. Going out for an early walk because I’ve got a busy day. My sister, Cathy, is coming round for coffee. Had to source Vegan Biscuits just for her. Can you imagine it? I didn’t know there were such things. I didn’t really know what Veganism actually involved.

Vegan Biscuits ….. Exciting!

Basically, it means no animal-based products – no meat, dairy, or fish. Only plant-based products. What do they wear on their feet? Leather shoes? I’m going to find out today.

I love my Memory Box. It throws up so much that I’ve forgotten and brings it back to life. On this day in 2009, we were in our second day of retirement and had just landed at Ellinikon International Airport – the old and now demolished Athens Airport – to find our ferry to the island had been cancelled. We had to get a hotel quickly and went to the Electra Hotel on Ermou Street. We had to fight our way through a noisy demonstration in favour of sacked workers in front of the parliament. The next morning, on my 58th birthday, we were off to our island house.

In 2012, we were living in Woking, Surrey during the winter months. A woman and her son bought a duplex apartment across from ours. The son, Lawrence, was a chef in an upmarket restaurant in the city. The mother, we soon learnt, had cancer. She was in her late 50s and worked from home. She wasn’t very friendly or communicative but she sat outside and worked in the sunshine.

Things happened quite quickly. Lawrence’s mother suddenly disappeared. We later learned she was in a hospice and then, on this day in 2014, this floral tribute appeared outside their apartment. She was gone. Later that year, Lawrence sold the property and moved on with his life. His mother lives on only in his memories and ours. And so life goes.

Thursday, 6th April, 2023

My little sister, Cathy, arrived an hour early yesterday afternoon. I nearly turned her away but relented because we hadn’t seen each other for quite a while. Actually, it was lovely. We talked over coffee for a couple of hours. It almost always comes down to the dysfunctional relations of family which ultimately results in humour and tears. We parted vowing to meet more often in the future however much there is of it. I am acutely aware of the significance of renewing my relationships now. This morning, she sent me Birthday greetings which was nice.

Birthday Lunch 2022

It was much warmer and sunnier on this day last year. I don’t think we will be eating Lunch in the garden today.

I have joined the club of old, wrinkly people. I am 72 today. So many lovely people have sent me best wishes … and some not so lovely. I’ve had best wishes from a girl who I first met in 1973 and I haven’t seen for around 20 years. Ex-pupil, Marie, wrote: Happy Birthday, Sir. Best Teacher Ever. XXX !!! The fact that she’s in her 60s and still calls me Sir is neither here nor there. Ex-pupil Emma sent me love and kisses. Sue from Oldham did as well. Sue in France wished me, Joyeux Anniversaire. Sue in Gozo, Malta sent me best wishes.

Had good wishes from P&C in Surrey, A&K in Florida, Bob in Maidenhead, Ruth in Bolton, Kevin, Julie, John R., John M. in North Yorkshire, the lovely Julia in York, Peter Holgate in Knaresborough, Kevin Sellers in Ulverston, Dave Weatherly in Bolton, Charlotte and Lindsay from school. Fiza defied the wrath of her Muslim husband to send me her love. Even heard from Hilary-Jane for those old enough to remember. With time running out, it is good to reconnect as often as possible before the light fades.

Villa in Aguilas, Murcia.

Trying to stay positive but short term at the moment. Considering properties in Aguilas, Murcia which are easily drivable to from here with just one stop. Property is so cheap compared with Greece and Italy. This villa sleeping 6 people with pool, air con. and wi-fi is just £900.00 per week. Cheaper than living at home and with additional sunshine. Worth considering maybe for the month of July.

As with all good birthdays, the sun came out and the air was gorgeously warm. Did two, long walks in the sunshine and planned out more trips abroad to the sun. Our poor neighbours are away for an Easter break in Skiathos during some of the worst Greek weather for a while. They will certainly be clean when they get home!

Friday, 7th April, 2023

A gorgeous day to reflect on connections and coincidences down at the Pier. The sun is strong and hot. It’s nice down here on the South Coast. We came down here 7 years ago almost accidentally. Having left a Greek island, my Housekeeper craved the sound of the sea and this is where she chose. Quite coincidentally, it is 5 miles from where one of my sisters has lived for nearly 40 years and 15 miles from where my maternal Grandfather was born. My Mother’s cousins had a number of Antique shops along the South Coast. None of these things occurred to me until later.

Worthing Pier looks very ordinary from the opening. It has a Theatre and some tacky tourist shops. My Grandfather, from an Irish emigree family, was born in Brighton in 1894 and told tall tales of diving off Brighton Pier as a young lad for coins thrown by tourists. In later life, having worked in London throughout his career, he dressed in his trademark bowler hat and Dicky Bow and opened an Antiques shop in our village of Repton in Derbyshire.

So, by coincidence, we are down here after having lived in Huddersfield for 40 years. Our Pier has had a multi-million pound redevelopment and now looks quite good when you get on it. A new restaurant has opened at the end and is starting to get great reviews. I thought I’d look up when it was built and I found that it arrived in the mid 19th century and was designed by Robert Rawlinson. Nothing particularly special about him although he came from Chorley in Lancashire but he married a girl called Ruth (my sister’s name) from Lockwood in Huddersfield just a short spit from where we lived for 40 years.

Piers are strange places and being on one is to transport one’s self out into the sea, Looking over the edge, many are given to the awful temptation to throw themselves into the watery unknown. It is strange how that happens. I get it when I’m crossing the Aegean and looking over the ferry railings. Piers are derived from Peter, The Rock, and first arrived in the early 19th century. They certainly have rather an anachronistic feeling when I’m on one. They probably say the same about me!

Saturday, 8th April, 2023

Gloriously warm and sunny day. Easter weekend in UK. Greek Easter is next weekend. We spent some 30 Easters in Greece where it is the equivalent to Christmas. Lamb is roasted by some on Saturday – all day in the bread oven – and eaten at the midnight feast. Our cultural rhythms are still set to that sway.

Littlehampton Town Centre

Before we went out into the warm sunshine and down to the beach, my chef started the process of slow cooking a leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary. The vacuum robots were started on their tasks upstairs and downstairs and we were free to indulge ourselves in the season.

We drove down to Littlehampton – about 10 mins away – and parked up. We walked down to the Marina to join the Easter crowds promenading (βολτα) along the Marina/Beach path.

It is school holidays which means the Funfair is open and parents can let their troubles while away some time in fantasy land. I have to admit, it all looks and feels very ‘tacky’ to me but each to his own.

Back home, we ate salad in the sunshine and I did something I rarely do. I drank a bottle of beer. No ordinary beer, of course. It was one from Northern France – Houle du Blanc Nez – Surf of the White NoseThe White Nose is a cliff pointing out to sea. It is brewed in Wissant and delicious.

The tools of my trade are words. they always have been. It is something I owe to my Mother. I love words, sounds of words, meanings and their origins. I love the concepts that they paint and the ideas that they help to construct. I love communication. It is one of the few things I am good at. I am often shocked by the power my words have on others.

I sent a letter of Coincidences & Connections to a number of friends yesterday. I was absolutely shocked by the emotion of their responses. They shared it with their wives and read it to their Mothers. It obviously touched a nerve, resonated with a memory, evoked an emotion which builds up in all of us. I have that ability with words to move others. If there is any time to talk it is now before the going down of the sun. To hold back because of reservation will make it too late.

Week 744

Sunday, 27th March, 2023

Hope you’re up … although there’s little incentive this morning. The weather is as wet as Wales. I was awake at 5.30 am. All the clocks advanced an hour apart from the oven and the coffee maker.

Watched the political programme this morning in which the Tories announced more gimmicks concerning Assylum Seekers and Offenders. Put one lot in prison camps and the other lot in prison fatigues to perform social reparations. Neither are serious policies. Today, they are announcing ‘trials’ of policies which will never see the full light of day. These are the actions of the flailing government in the dying days of power.

Bognor Regis was Closed.

We decided to drive to sunny Bognor Regis or as royalty actually described it, Bugger Bognor. Of course, today it was looking at its worst. It really makes our seaside town look fantastic in comparison. It was very warm but grey and wet.

Even sheltering under the pier, the drips came down on us. On the promenade, great swathes of men – 20 – 40 somethings – were walking by as if taking the air after a lads weekend Saturday Night. Not that I’ve ever been on one. The whole concept appals me. They seemed as subdued as the weather.

Monday, 28th March, 2023

The day before the day. Haven’t quite got to grips with the time shift. Didn’t get up until 7.30 although I woke at 5.00 am and listened to the news as I drifted in and out of dreams.

Nuclear Bone Scanner

Tomorrow at 1.00 pm, I will go to Chichester Hospital and look for the Nuclear Medicine Department. There I will be injected with a radioactive material into a vein. The substance travels through the blood to the bones and organs. As it wears off, it gives off radiation. This radiation is detected by a camera that slowly scans the body.

Between the injection and the scan, I have to wait three hours for the nuclear glow to spread itself around my body. Ultimately, I will literally be glowing with unhealth. Can’t wait. If you want a bright hug, you know where to come.

A walk in the Park.

Lovely and warm and sunny today. Been out for an early walk – did about 5 miles – through the Park and beyond. Kids in school. Adults out at work. The park is quiet and empty. Actually, on the way back, a lady stopped me and said, Could I just say (What on earth is going to come next?) that I think you’re doing so well. For the past year and a half I’ve been watching you walking past my house every day. You never give up. You must feel so much better for it. It’s a bit of a shock to think I am being observed so closely. If only she knew what an awful man I am, eh Reader.

Tuesday, 29th March, 2023

The day arrived at 4.30 am. In spite of so many well wishes, it feels lonely and blank. It is a day to retreat in to myself. Been out for a 5 mile walk – wet and cold.

St Richards, Chichester

Just arriving at a hospital makes you feel ill. Where are your friends? Who is there to say, You will be OK.? The first job is to find the right place. Walk through the hospital, past the waiting men …

They’ve been waiting forever!

…. and on to the Nuclear Department. It is enough to strike fear into anyone.

After a short wait, a lovely girl takes me into her room for an injection of nuclear material. I am released for 3 hours to roam the world without concern. Although, I am very concerned. I drive to Sainsburys superstore nearby and have a (revolting) sandwich for lunch and about 4 cups of coffee. Two hours later, I drive back to the hospital and walk back to the Nuclear Department. Very shortly, I am ushered into the radioactive scanner room.

I have my legs tied together and the scanner closes down on my body. The first scan begins. As it does, I realise that the lovely girl is playing Classic FM. Irony of ironies, a string quartet begins to play Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. I have died and gone to ….

I couldn’t believe it. The tears streamed down my face behind the mask. It’s strange but the radiologist, Jane, understood completely.

She was a an aficionado of Cohen and knew all the lyrics. We talked about our experiences briefly and I left. Driving home in the rush hour rain, things returned to normal-ish.

I reached out to people to try and make life seem normal. I even did Wordle and sent it to M&K.

Wedesday, 29th March, 2023

It was a strange day and I was too preoccupied with my own events to remember to mark the fact that it was my sister, Jane’s birthday yesterday. I hope she enjoyed her day. In her new, West Yorkshire home.

Two walks today because the weather is warm and dry. It is so warm that the morning opened with a thick mist illuminated by a ghostly sun.

This afternoon I have to go for a hormone injection which should last 3 months and shrink the prostate and the cancer. Anyone available as a stand-in? Kevin would but it’s a long drive. The hormone shrinks the prostate and the cancer with it. Unfortunately, it brings on the Menopause with attendant hot flushes and mood swings.

Thursday, 30th March, 2023

A lot of shopping this morning. A lot of shopping! Tesco, Lidl and Asda for items selected by my resident researcher. Warm but grey morning with weak sun breaking through. The Beach Road was quiet and so was the beach.

The breeze was strong enough to interest this lad with his wind surfing although his girlfriend can only look on.

We are in the penultimate day of March and in the middle of the astrological phase of Aries. Now I don’t believe in Gods, Fate, or Astrology. I don’t believe in anything which is not empirically justified. But I am constantly shocked as I grow older. I always believed in the primacy of Nurture over Nature particularly when Eugenics had some currency but, as I’ve grown older, I have been shocked to see the strength of the effects of Nature on human generation.

Who could take astrology seriously? Certainly not me. It has always been something to be scoffed at on a par with Fortune Tellers and Palmists. However, I am approaching a birthday which makes me an Aries and I cannot believe how closely I fit the personality traits of that star sign. Aries Man is:

  • A Leader
  • Strong & Bold
  • Trailblazer & Innovator
  • Impulsive
  • Very Impatient
  • Self-Centered
  • Competitive and Ambitious
  • Short-Tempered & Honest

If you wanted to describe me accurately, you have it right there. Against all my better instincts, you have me right there – for good or ill – in that list. Perhaps not sure about the Self-Centered but I can’t argue with the rest.

Friday, 31st March, 2023

A horrible day of strong winds and driving rain with standing water on the roads. I’m going to be in the Gym a lot today.

I am trying to stay healthy and maintain my fitness. Fresh orange juice and porridge for Breakfast. No Lunch. Sea Bass and Salad for Dinner with no wine. I am increasingly drinking plant-based milks. I have no idea why other than I like them and they are relatively low in calories.

I am told that this hormone treatment will leave me feeling tired and listless. I am determined not to capitulate to that and I will continue to push myself hard. Otherwise, I might as well lie down and die!

Twelve years ago today, we signed for the purchase of a new-build, duplex apartment in Surrey which marked our exit from the North of England after 39 years.

It allowed us to have a lock-up-and-go property in UK as well as a house in Greece. It made our drive across Europe easier, quicker and cheaper.

Just 7 years ago this week, we had sold our Greek property and our Surrey property and were moving into our new-build Sussex home. We sold the Surrey property for double the price we paid for it to a lady called Pauline from Australia. We have stayed in touch and she is still there and loving it. That makes us feel good.

Saturday, 1st April, 2023

Happy new month to all Blog readers. Hope it turns out to be a good time for you all. Maybe, it will be a good month for me too.

I can hardly believe it. Yesterday, at 2.30 pm, my Patients Know Best website informed me that the cancer had NOT SPREAD TO THE BONE!!!! I can’t believe it. I have prepared myself for the worst for so long that this news is almost unbelievable.

It is actually quite strange, I get this information unmoderated in real time just as my consultant and my GP get them. I have to research the significance of the results before I speak to a medic at all. What on earth does:
No osteoblastic metastases actually mean? Thank goodness for Google.

Within minutes, I had heard from Kevin, Julie, John, Jason and Bob, from P&C and M&K sharing their love and congratulations. I must admit, I wasn’t sure whether to be happy or controlled. Didn’t know whether it was good news or slightly less bad news. However, it is news. It seems to me that I can have some hope. I hope, Dear Reader, that you will share that with me.

I can see clearly now the rain is gone …

The rain stopped, the clouds parted and the sun shone warmly this afternoon. Went for a walk and I’ve managed 8.5 miles so far today. Beginning to think about travelling again. We are going to Thessaloniki in May and Athens in September. Going to think about a long French drive in June/July. We have long wanted to visit Bordeaux so that will be in my planning.

Bordeaux on the River Garonne

After getting out of the Tunnel in Coquelles, the drive to Bordeaux is only 8.5 hours. In the past, I would have done it in one go but these days I will build in a hotel stop half way in somewhere like Orléans on the banks of the Loire River where we’ve been many times before. Planning is good. It is half the enjoyment.