Week 10

Got an email from Bob today. Not desperately friendly but never mind. His daughter is appearing in a ballet performance in Inverness next Saturday. It is Ballet West’s peformance of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. If you want to book a seat, from what I can see they are all available at the Eden Court Theatre.


Gorgeous sky tonight over the Colne Valley from our house.


We spent the afternoon preparing the garden for Spring. It doesn’t feel far away. In six weeks we will be in our Greek house. Bliss!

February 23rd, 2009

The day has been so eventful I will tell you what I had for tea – Chicken Supreme made by Pauline. It was delicious.


508 days – Can you believe it?

February 24th, 2009

We first came to Greece in 1981, the only source of inter-island travel was Ferry. The craft were almost entirely ex-British Channel, old and uncomfortable. Tickets were sold in umpteen different offices across the country without any real regulation on numbers. The ferries chugged along desperately slowly. It took 6 hours to get from Piraeus to Sifnos. Gradually the ferries got newer and a little quicker. Sometimes they could do it in 5 hours. I’ve already featured the F/B Agios Georgios


It was first built in Holland in 1974. It ran under the name of F/B Free Enterprise VIII own by Thonsend Thorenson.


It was bought by P&O in 1989 and was renamed F/B pride of Canterbury.


It first came to Greece in 2000 for GA Ferries and called F/B Romilda.


Recently it has been owned by Ventiuris Ferries under the name Agios Georgios.

During the good weather we now have catamarans that can do the trip in just 3hours. It is like a dream to get Hi-speed or Speed Runner.


February 25th, 2009

When we go to the house on Saturday/Sunday April 5th/6th, Speed Runner leaves Piraeus at 11.00 am and arrives in Kamares, Sifnos at 2.15 pm. We don’t need an overnight in Athens on the way out. This has just been announced on the inter-island ferry site.

Only 506 days!

February 26th, 2009

I am becoming what the kids in school call a Demic! A sickly old bugger. For 15 years in my 30s and 40s I didn’t visit the doctor once. Now, I’m thinking of marrying one. I spend so much time with them. All I talk about is Hospital appointments I have to juggle, diagnoses I have received and treatments I am receiving.

I am going to try to sum them up and then never mention them again:

Just before Christmas 2008 I go up one Sunday morning at 7.00 am, bleary eyed and drove down to the paper shop for the Sunday Times & the Sunday Telegraph. Arriving back home to tea & toast made by Pauline. I sat down to read the Times and found I couldn’t see the print. I got my reading glasses out (which I rarely use) and I still struggled to read it. I put it down to tiredness and strain particularly when I struggled to read my computer screen. I live on the web and thought I must have been overworking like most teachers. On Monday, I had to teach a lesson and couldn’t read the text on a computer without putting my face so close I could lick the screen. I panicked.

What do you do when you’re panicking? Go to Specsavers! Obviously. My eyesight returned to normal by Tuesday but I had booked an appointment and  on the Friday I went to Specsavers. This gorgeous girl (I could see by then.) tested my eyes. My sight was perfect, she said, for a 57 year old, short sighted diabetic man with only one eye. However, she would take the precaution of writing to my GP. My GP is also gorgeous and blonde. She immediately referred me to an Opthalmologist who was (You’ll never believe it.) an absolutely gorgeous, black eyed beauty – a young Peruvian lady – called Ms D’Souza. I kept wanting to ask her if she played the tuba but I couldn’t stop drewelling. The black eyed Ms D’Souza found that I had a split in the membrane at the centre of the retina of my one good eye. It had sealed itself but she was concerned that it might have been caused by a small stroke. She referred me on to a stroke specialist, Dr Rana.

Unfortunately, Dr Rana was neither female nor gorgeous although he was a skinny Asian man who looked like he ran 5 miles in between meals. He conducted a carotid duplex uiltrasound and a ECG which established categorically that I hadn’t had a stroke but that my heart was in Atrial Fibrillation. Apparently lots of people suffer from this, particularly in their 50s and many don’t know about it. He prescribed the blood thinning agent Warfarin which I will take for the rest of my life and ordered an Echo Cardiogram which checks all the functions of the heart. I used my BUPA insurance to short cut the wait for this and found out to my horror that ………………my heart is in perfect working order. I have the hear of an Olympic rower …………..who has been dead for twenty years.

So I can go on abusing all my organs – red wine by the barrel, Italian meals twice a day and my only risk is going blind. At the hospital today I noticed a little old man shuffling across the carpark. It was Mario Bortoletto who, for 30 years had run a wonderful and our favourite Italian restaurant – Sole Mio


– in our home town. I asked him what he was doing there. My eyesight, he said, I am losing my eyesight! Is that what happens after eating Italian food all your life? I think I’ll have some toast.

February 27th, 2009

Received a letter today containing a cheque. I don’t remember ever crying at receiving a cheque before.

Re: The Estate of Catherine Lily Bennett – DECEASED

That word hit me like a hammer blow and I crumpled instantly. The episodes are coming less frequently now but still they come.

Week 9

Early off because we have a very busy Half Term week ahead. Toast for breakfast and then off to buy newspapers and give Phyllis one more help on the internet before setting off back up the motorway to Huddersfield. The journey took us just over 3 hours on Sunday. Trip to Sainsburys and then home to relax and read.

February 16th, 2009

Got up at 6.00 am as if it was a normal work morning. It isn’t. It is Half Term and at 8.00 am a team of men will appear and begin to knock out all our windows. They are all being replaced over the next couple of days by Coral Windows. We had to take down all the curtains and blinds. We did it with minutes to spare. At the end of the week, all the carpets are being replaced.

Unfortunately, Pauline has had to dash over to Oldham and take her Mum to hospital. She has blacked out and fallen. They may keep her in over night.


February 17th, 2009

I was going through memorabilia of Mum’s when I cam upon this match report from November 1968


I had been selected as the youngest member of the First Team in 1966.


February 18th, 2009

Spent the entire day taking up the carpets. A skip was delivered and tomorrow all the old carpets will go into it as well as some garden rubbish. At the same time, Carpetright will deliver and fit the new ones. What fun!

February 19th, 2009

Really exciting day. We went out and ordered new curtains for our Lounge. The windows are in. The carpet is down. Obviously, we need new curtains. The fabric is a multi brown stripe affair called cappuccino. The curtains will cost £570.00 and will be ready in 4 weeks. Will I be ready? We have ordered them from our local branch of Dunelm.

February 20th, 2009

We had ordered a skip to put all the old carpet in to. It is a huge amount of old carpet. The skip cost £75.00. It’s still on our drive but it is almost empty. Why? Because of a bizarre happening. I’m parked outside the chemist shop waiting for Pauline. The local Thai Restaurant is being renovated and has a skip outside on the pavement. Suddenly an elderly man and a young boy drive up, park and get out. The walk over to the skip and start rooting through it. The first thing the old man picks out is a piece of old carpet. Ironically, it looks exactly like one of the pieces that I have put in to our skip.

The next thing I know was akin to an out of body experience. I see myself getting out of the car and going over to this skip rooter. I say to him, “If it’s carpet you want, I’ve got loads of it in my skip on my drive.” He looks interested and he turns out to be Irish. The little lad with him is Asian. I haven’t really got time to roll that story in my head. It’s his grandson – His son/daughter married an Asian. He’s kidnapped this lad off the street saying, “Come and help me steal old carpet from a skip near the chemist’s shop.

It turns out he wants the carpet to suppress the weeds on his allotment. He appears outside my house and takes most of the carpet in two or three trips. Now I’ve paid £75.00 for a skip that is empty. I’m going to my neighbours, “If you’ve got anything to put in a skip, feel free.”. Why do I get myself in these positions?

February 21st, 2009

Heard from Ruth yesterday and Liz today. Ruth told me she is going to Bob’s next weekend. I thought I would go with her but it turns out I’m busy. Liz has not been invited. However, it looks like she will be shopping in Geneva next Saturday.


Hope she sends me a card.

Week 8

May have to do a few hours at work this week although heavy snow is forecast to fall over the Pennines on Monday night so I may have to find things to occupy myself on Tuesday. Only eight weeks until we fly to Greece for the Easter Holiday. Although we booked the Olympic Airlines flight nearly a year ago, there are other details to finalise.

Fly Saturday evening. Arrive Sunday morning. Hotel Electra in Athens for Sunday. Up at 5.00 am on Monday and taxi down to Piraeus (40 mins) where we will board F/B Agios Georgos at 7.00 am.  It sails at 8.00 am and stops at Kithnos and Serifos before arriving at Sifnos by 1.30 pm. Stavros will have left us a car in the Port carpark with the keys in the ignition. We will drive to the house (3 mins) and open all the shutters & windows. The underfloor heating will go on to air the house and the sheets will go in the drier to make sure they are perfect. The fridge will be switched on and we will go out to buy basic provisions and have lunch at Simos Restaurant – usually pork and potatoes with lemon sauce.


We will stay in the house for ten nights and the do the return journey to Piraeus and the Electra Hotel for two nights. Pauline likes to do some shopping in Athens before we fly home on Saturday evening. The time lag makes this quite advantageous. Leave Athens at 19.30 and arrive Manchester 22.00. Not bad for a four hour flight.

Still, better do a couple of days teaching before we go.

February 9th, 2009

Hard going to work after the larks of the past week. And the sky is so grey and leaden. Thick snow and sheet ice still surrounds our school building in Lancashire and our home in Yorkshire. To add to the fun, it has started snowing again tonight.

February 10th, 2009

Burnt my hand tonight. Ow it hurts! Happy Birthday to Kevin – 66.


February 13th, 2009

Hard Week – Lots of Bad Stuff in it. Drove straight down to Surrey to see Pauline’s Family on Friday night. We were exhausted. It was lovely to see them all but we were just too tired to really enjoy it.

February 14th, 2009

Woke up to a glorious morning – sun shining, blue sky. Went out to watch the boys play rugby – on to a coffee shop with Phyllis & Colin


and then off to help Phyllis with her computer and email. It went well. In the evening, we went to our favourite Italian Restaurant. We had Stuffed Pepper starter with Sea Bass and vegetables for the main course. It was all washed down with Montepulciano D’Abruzzo. Wonderful.


Week 7

Heavy snow is forecast. Light flurries during the day but tonight it is coming down hard and covering the road. Tomorrow is supposed to be worse. We will see. On Sifnos the forecast is for clear skies, warm sun in the mid 60s for the whole week. Oh well.


February 3rd, 2009

Two days at home. What Joy! Today, a snow plough got to the road linking Quarry Court to the world by just after lunch. Even so, the roads are littered with cars and extremely icy. If we had managed to get to the M62, it was clear but our Exit – 22 to Oldham was blocked. Our section of the M62 is the highest motorway in Britain.


Even if we could have got to school, it would still have been closed. Our school campus is vast and on three different levels. It takes twenty minutes to walk from one side to the other. It would only take one child to slip and injure themselves on one of dozens of sets of concrete steps outside for a major compensation claim to be made. We cannot afford that. Nor do we have time to get the school grounds cleared before children arrive. And what if they damaged the concrete when they fell on it?

February 4th, 2009

Thursday will be our fourth day out of school this week. The building is open for those staff who want to go in but the campus is judged far too dangerous for young people in these litigious times. What a good decision.

I’m off to the heart specialist anyway so I don’t care. Atrial fibillation is what I’ve been diagnosed with. I think we used to call it heart murmur. Let’s hope it is nothing more serious.


February 5th, 2009

The BUPA heart specialist decided that there was nothing wrong with me although he didn’t like to say it but he thought I was a bit over weight. Nice man. Although school is open tomorrow for children, parents have been advised that the campus environs are very dangerous because of ice and snow. The children won’t attend for two reasons: firstly, their parents don’t want them in danger; (They would rather they were out playing on the road.)  secondly, it is Friday and no one goes in for one day. I’m going back to the BUPA hospital tomorrow for a second round of tests.

I’ve been looking at an e-book reader for Pauline to dowload novels to and me to download The Times to while in Greece. They are still quite pricey but might be convenient. Antbody got any experience of them?


February 6th, 2009

Been back for my Echo Cardiogram today. My heartbeat was regular; my blood pressure was perfect and my heart valves were all healthy. The consultant said I had the heart of an Olympic Rower …………………..who had been dead for twenty years. Got to go to school this afternoon.

February 6th, 2009

Managed two hours in school without too much difficulty. Only 523 days to go. Spent the day watching football and rugby (Got to keep fit you know.), creating the Bob Album and emailing an aging hippy called Martin who works in a bookshop in Stroud in Gloucestershire. The last time we saw him was two years ago having lunch with us in our Greek house. Ruth has been lovely this week and taken an interest in my medical bulletins which, thankfully, have been fine.