Week 24

31st May, 2009

White Rabbit Day tomorrow. Also back to school day for so many. By Sunday, we would be feeling distinctly fed up and looking for any reason why we shouldn’t go. Not any more. We are planning a trip to France the week after next. When we come back, we will do a day strawberry picking at our local strawberry farm followed by a day’s raspberry picking. Pauline will make brilliant jam. Instead of moping about tomorrow, we went for a drive on the moors.

Below you will see shots of the road we took for so many years to work. It is the old, pre-motorway, cross-pennine route. In the summer we would drive this road and the motorway in the winter. The landscape here looks as if a giant had grabbed the moorland and squeezed it in his hand. It is left in crumpled folds, carpeted in lush green grass and crimson and white flowering heather. Occasionally, the rock breaks through the surface. The eye would never tire of it.

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1st – 3rd June, 2009

While the country has been obsessing about Hazel Blears’ expenses and Brown’s likely successor, I have been pruning Laurel bushes in to ball shapes, manicuring the lawns, trimming the edges, all the finishing touches needed to make our house saleable. It has now officially gone on sale. We have tried to set a realistic price so we don’t find ourselves still stuck here this time next year. Apparently, the neighbours have been monitoring the regular visits of tradesmen – painting and decorating, windows and doors, carpets and curtains. They have been observing Pauline & I cleaning the windows, sweeping the patios, mowing the lawns, weeding the flower beds. They have said to themselves, “I bet they’re moving!” Today their supicions were confirmed as the official ‘For Sale’ board went up.

We were just having lunch and cheering at the news of Hazel Blears resignation when we heard a banging outside. Pauline jumped up and screamed when she saw a man banging a post into our front garden. “They’re selling our house”, she shouted. We madly set about tidying the house in case someone called to see it. They didn’t.

Had a lovely email from Cal telling me that she was going back to work and sending me some more photos:

An Irish Tent


Irish Cannabis


The Irish Pyrenees


It just looks lovely. I can’t wait to drop in on her unexpectedly.

4th June, 2009

As a traditional grumpy old man, I have long been the bane of the Kirklees Environmental Health Department. They like to think that they are at the cutting edge of Waste Disposal. They try to enforce sorting of waste by their customers so that they can sell the materials on in a profit making concern. They give us two coloured wheelie bins, green and black – and each is collected once a fortnight on alternative Thursdays. I refuse to have a dog and bark. Who has got the time to separate rubbish? Well, Dustbin Men (and Tramps) of course. We pay them an enormous precept each year from which we cannot derrogate. Of course, the bottom’s fallen out of the waste material market which is really putting a strain on the SITA spreadsheet.


5th June, 2009

Apparently it is Friday. I spent the whole of yesterday thinking it was Friday. I even went to the extent of ordering a takeaway for tea to recreate that ‘Friday Feeling’. Never mind, I shall have to try all over again today.

We drove over the Pennines to Saddleworth to the Whit Friday Brass Band Contest. I have lived in the area since 1972 and this is the first time I have been free to watch it. It involves bands from all the communities travelling from village to village playing their brass band music to the local population and being judged. There are ten or so individual competitions. Really, it is a good excuse to get together and share a drink in all the lovely Pennine pubs. For some reason, although it is always on Whit Friday, it is invariably dodgy weather. After days of glorious sunshine and high temperatures, today was cooler and changeable. Everybody started off drinking in the pub gardens but as the music started so the clouds darkened. Fortunately, most of the competitions were finished before the heavy rain set in.

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The house officially went on sale yesterday. Today we had a car trawl slowly past and back, checking it out. Why didn’t they just come in and offer us the full asking price? It would make life so much easier.

6th June, 2009

Leeds and Manchester Airports are not far away. Flights are rare enough to be more of interest than annoyance. We did get a bit annoyed when a helicopter flew back and forth low over our house the other day. Within a few hours we had a knock at the door and a woman appeared holding a framed, colour aerial photo of our house. She wanted £12.00 for it. Normally, I would have sent her away with a flee in her ear as all the other neighbours did but, on this occasion, I bought.


This photo will go to Greece and join photos of all the houses Pauline and I have lived in together mounted above the oak settle from Oldham Town Hall. The irony of that ending its life on a Greek island really appeals to me.

Week 23

24th May, 2009 

Beautiful day – hot and sunny. Managed to get good outdoor shots of the house and garden to email off to the Estate Agency.


25th May, 2009

Another lovely day, perhaps not as sustained sunshine as yesterday but it is a Bank Holiday. What does that mean when you’re retired?  Had a lovely phone conversation with Ruth yesterday evening. Talking to her made me feel happy. I love her. I have gone about the day today with Ruth in my head. I must see her before we leave for Greece.

Pauline’s Mum and sister Phyllis and her husband Colin came round for Lunch today. Pauline cooked Lamb Shanks in Red wine Jus with Jersey Royals and assorted vegetables. It was absolutely wonderful. We used this occasion to talk about our plans and how we would provide for Pauline’s Mum.

27th May, 2009

Kerb Appeal is the order of the day today plus the oven-clean little man called. Two hours it took him. He was out of breath when he’d finished – all the running up and down our twenty stone steps I’ve no doubt. You’re not very fit, I said, as Pauline paid him. I’ve got to drive to Holmfirth now and Tomorden this afternoon, he gasped as he left. I offered to put him in touch with Jane BG in order to get his pulse rate down but he said he hadn’t got time. Well it is difficult when you’re working!

I’ve been planting‘Gold Splash’ Euonymous to provide some eye-catching kerb appeal at the front of the house. I think they will make all the difference.


28th May, 2009

Attended the funeral of Angela aged 92 years today. I went with Pauline, her Mum, Pauline’s sister, Phyllis and her husband, Colin. It was a sad and under-attended affair for a lady who had outlived most of her friends and relatives. We moved Pauline’s Mum into the Anchor Housing warden assisted apartment 28 years ago. She was 67 years old. She is 95 in a few weeks. Angela moved in to an apartment 3 years later and they were inseparable for 25 years. Angela had an alcoholic son who visited her once a week for his tea on a Friday. He is in his mid-60s and spends most of his time in Thailand. Angela was very timid, found it very difficult to go out and, although we managed to get her out for a pub lunch once or twice a few hundred yards from her flat, she flatly refused to travel the 15 miles to our house for Christmas Lunch even though she was alone. Her husband died 35 years ago and she had soldiered meekly on since then. In the past few months – rather like Mum – she began to give up the will to live. She stopped eating, started to stay alone in her flat and became terribly thin. Eventually she went to hospital to be treated for a chest infection and never returned. Another little personality has left the world. Her claim to fame, I learnt at the funeral, was that she worked in the Pickle Factory in Fleetwood where she was born and living in that important fishing port, she hated fish. We all have our moments.

29th May, 2009

Glorious day today. Just enjoyed it.

30th May, 2009

Disappointing win for Chelsea. Have to admit that they were the better side. Glorious day again. Spoke to Stavros today. He is finally getting the log burning stove stainless steel exhaust pipe fitted and the huge pergola over the outdoor dining patio. We go in seven weeks. I can’t wait.


Week 22

Caroline’s Birthday tomorrow. Happy Birthday Cal. As you can see, Cal gets very wrapped up in the region she inhabits. She speaks Irish and worships Newcastle United.


18th May, 2009

Got an email from Jane today. She’s been on this madcap scheme to raise money for Breast Cancer – The Moon Walk – She sent me this picture after she had finished. She said she was off to a Health Spa to recover.


This is what I wrote to her:

Thought you were supposed to be in your underwear. Pauline’s niece, Mandy, was doing the same walk. She’s off to a Spa today as well. It’ll be full of women with sore feet and jogger’s nipple. You could all have saved yourselves a lot of pain and donated your Spa costs instead.

I thought that was fair.

Got this other photo – at last – of Jane Georghiou. Only the top half. I don’t know if she’s self conscious about her legs. You notice she’s so green she even chooses the correct colour car as a backdrop. I have tried to give her some brotherly advice about using up her lifetime’s supply of heartbeats and footsteps before she’s ready to go but on she runs and what is that she’s holding? Ugh! Can’t be good for her. Come in No. 245 and put your feet up with a good glass of wine.


19th May, 2009

For a week our cooker – a double built in AEG – has been turning itself on at strange times. 11.30 pm I was just setting the burglar alarm when the oven flicked into life. Again 2.30 pm it did the same thing. We thought we must have accidentally set the automatic timer when we put the clock forward. I reset everything. It made no difference. We have a service agreement on the oven so we called a little man out but we had forgotten this when, at 11.00 am today, two big, red fire engines roared into Quarry Court and stopped right outside our house. At that moment, the little oven man arrived in his car thinking, “Oh no! I’ve got here too late. It’s set the house on fire.” Fortunately for us but not for our next door neighbour, it turned out that her dishwasher had started to throw flames out of its door and she panicked and called the fire brigade.


Our little man couldn’t stop shaking as he told us he would have to order a new thermostat for our oven. Before he comes back, we’re going to get another little man in to clean it.

20th May, 2009

Got a cheeky message from Ruth asking why I didn’t clean the oven. It’s filthy. I am a tired old pensioner and this little man has been coming to clean our oven twice a year for the past nine years. I wouldn’t be so heartless as to begrudge him employment. Besides, for £50.00 he gets the oven, which is six years old, looking better than when we bought it. It takes him three hours or so. He dismantles it and takes each section down to his van parked on our drive where he has a bath of caustic soda to dip things in plus a steaming hot vat of soapy water which just does the job. I couldn’t do anything like that.

Can’t quite decide if Cal is building the Cath Bennett Wing or the Lily Coghlan Wing or two wings each by those names. However, she is a big girl doing a big job as you can see from this photo:

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22 May, 2009

Estate Agent called today confirm House would go on the market at just under £400,000.00. The brochure was ready apart from the detailed floorplans and the photographs. The Hip will not be ready for another ten days and it can’t be advertised until it is. My camera was much better than the Estate Agent’s so I was delegated to take photos and email them to him. Sunday looks like being a very sunny day so I hope to take the photographs then. In the meantime, I have been practising.

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Which shot of the lounge looks best? Answers on an email.

23 May, 2009

More photographs today plus we received the draft of the brochure. The agents appear very enthusiastic and optimistic about selling reasonably quickly. If they do – and we are trying to separate the sales pitch from reality – we may have to cut our long holiday short and/or fly home temporarily in order to settle our affairs and find storage for our furniture. We bought this house as a trade-down almost exactly nine years ago. We always said it was ‘just somewhere to live’ and that we would not get attached to it. However, not only has it proved a good investment but we have grown to really enjoy it. Still, got to move on!

Week 21

We have three different Estate Agents coming to the house this week. Everything that could reasonably be done has been done. There is talk of a pick up in the housing market in our area. We have been to look at two different development sites and both had virtually sold out. Whether that is down to price adjustment or rising market is impossible to tell. We remain optimistic.

Cooked a wonderful meal tonight of belly pork served with Jersey potatoes, asparagus and carrots. What a wonderful place this world can be. Hope the girls enjoyed their trip to The Boot Inn.


11th May, 2009

Estate agents coming tomorrow. I’ve booked three in. Put the finishing touches to the House and garden today. Mowed the lawns. It nearly killed me. Must get a little man in next time.

Phoned Mike. He didn’t reply at first. When he did, half an hour later, he said I was interupting his game of Bridge.


12th May, 2009

Valuation Day! The day is dry, warm and sunny. The house is neat and gleaming like a new pin. The first valuer arrived from Brearley Green. It was the Managing Director – Peter Green – in his big Mercedes who drew up outside the house. Having had the most cursory look round at break neck speed, he announced that he hadn’t got a clue how to value it because nothing in our vicinity had gone on the market for at least five years. He said he was taking a stab in the dark and quoted a figure that was so below our expectation that it depressed us immediately. The next valuer cam from Reeds Raines. He measured everything minutely and after careful consideration of other properties in the area, suggested a figure which was £75, 000.00 more than the first valuation. His charge for selling would be 1%. The final valuer came from Halifax Estate Agency. They had proved the pushiest and most determined to win our business. The valuer was equally thorough and suggested a price some £85,000.00 more than the intial valuation. She told us her selling fee would be 1.8%.

14th May, 2009

Decided to go with Reeds Raines but only after a lot of uncertainty. They are a national company who pitched the value at more or less what we anticipated. We felt the Halifax might have inflated the value to get the business. The cost of selling through the Halifax would be double that of Reeds Raines which was a partial incentive. We have to have a HIP before we can even advertise our house but the Estate Agents will do that tomorrow. It will take ten days before it is published. We think we will struggle to sell the house before we go to Greece in mid-July so the agents will have to continue in our stead. They say they are comfortable with that and will keep in touch over the web. What a wonderful world.


16th May, 2009

Great day today. United won the Premier League and Leicester Tigers won the RU Premiership title.

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Week 20

3rd May, 2009

 It was the anniversary of Mum’s funeral yesterday. It is not something I dwelt on but I am surprised how raw the thoughts still feel. At the same time, I am not sorry that I feel that way. I do not want to let her go so easily. In my trip to Repton I thought that time had healed the wound but in the trips round my thoughts I know it hasn’t.

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As we drove down Bretby Lane last week, Mum’s bungalow was occupied by someone else. There was a car and trailer in the drive. The only sign of Mum was in the garden which looked wonderful.

4th May, 2009

Bank Holidays like Friday nights mean nothing when you’re retired. It is one of the downsides. You don’t get that Friday feeling. This Bank Holiday is freezing cold and largely wet. It was just too cold to go out. So much so, I did the hoovering. I don’t believe I wrote that.

Got a lovely email from Cal. She is currently on a month’s unpaid leave from her job which she clearly loves. She says it is because of budget cutbacks and working for a not-for-profit charity is not a healthy thing to be doing at the moment. Also, she seems to be having some health problems – palpitations – at the moment. To add to that, she is building the Catherine Bennet Wing single handedly on the end of her house. I hope she’ll be alright. 

5th May, 2009

One of those glorious days when everyone goes back to work but we didn’t. Hugely pressured day though – clearing out the garage. Spent an hour or two looking for French properties and then decided which Huddersfield Estate Agents we would invite to do a valuation. What fun! To cap it all I watched United annialate Arsenal. It doesn’t get much better.


6th May, 2009

Today I would have arrived at school by 7.45 am without having had anything but a cup of tea, done an hours work with a cup of coffee, had a brief meeting, taught a couple of hours of an exam class and then spent the rest of the day until 6.00 pm in my office going through individual candidates e-portfolios with them, preparing them for submission. After I had got home, I would have opened a bottle of wine while I/we started the cooking, finished that bottle at the start of the meal, opened a second and drunk half or more before the end of the meal. After a sweet and coffee, I would have fallen asleep for an hour or so before waking up and wandering into the Study to start preparing for Friday.

Today, what I actually did was get up at 8.00 am, have a bowl of porridge, spend my morning jet spraying the patio and garden steps, have a salad for lunch, do a bit more work in the garden and then catch up with my email correspondence. I also select a list, with Pauline of the Estate Agents that we are going to invite to the house and search for some insulation material that Stavros needs for the flue of our log burning stove in Greece. Finally, before Dinner, Pauline and I look at some coastal properties for sale in Pas de Calais and some others in Maidstone, Rochester and Folkestone area. Putting your life in order is so satisfying. It beats putting someone else’s by far.

In this relaxed state we had fish pie with asparagus and half a glass of white wine each. There was no tension to assuage with alcohol. Until, of course, I watched the Chelsea  -Barcelona match. However much I hate Chelsea, I still think they were robbed.


8th May, 2009

 A day of strong winds and violent hail storms. A day to be tucked up inside and we were. England won the first Test against West Indies.