Week 26

This Blog is moving in to completion of half a year. I’ve never managed half a week of a diary before. With only five weeks to go until we leave for our Greek house – we will be away for circa 90 days this summer – this week will be spent making insurance arrangements.

  • Our current house insurance only allows an absence of 60 days – need to renegotiate that.
  • Our car insurance, has to be expanded to provide fully comp for three months abroad.
  • Our travel insurance has to have the necessary health cover for this extended period.
  • Car must be valeted and serviced.

We will send another box of items ahead of us by Parcelforce. We will take a few cases of white wine and pick up some more of red wine. Stavros is feeling rather down at the moment and he will need lifting. We are also taking a lot of gardening equipment with us this time.

17th June, 2009

Took Pauline’s Mum out for a meal at lunch time. We all ate too much but she was happy and vibrant as this photo shows:

mumb2.jpg  mumbp.jpg

Her cancer operation has really healed well. Pauline will kill me if she sees this photo because she’s not at her best but I think she looks happy and lovely.

Just 30 days until we set off on our trip across Europe to Sifnos. Nowadays we largely use our Sat. Nav. which comes with our car but this is the sort of route we follow:


Set off Saturday 8.30 am

0.0 Turn right at Heiststraat
0.3 Turn left at Meeuwenstraat
0.5 Turn right at Isabellalaan/N34 Continue to follow N34
1.9 Turn left at Baron de Maerelaan
1.9 Take the ramp onto Baron de Maerelaan/N31 Continue to follow N31
18.9 Slight left at E403/Expresweg/N31 (signs for A10/E40/N31/E403/Kortrijk/Veurne/Brussel/Oostende) Continue to follow E403/N31
21.2 Take the E40 exit toward Gent/Brussel
21.3 Keep left at the fork to continue toward A10/E40
21.7 Keep right at the fork, follow signs for E40/Gent/Brussel and merge onto A10/E40
103.5 Take the exit toward E40/E19/Luik/Namen/E411/Antwerpen
105.0 Merge onto R0
130.5 Take the exit onto A4/E411 toward Namen/Luxembourg Continue to follow A4Entering Luxembourg
313.9 Continue on E25
333.7 Take the exit toward Luxembourg-Ville (Sud)/Saarbrücken/Metz
334.8 Merge onto E25
345.5 Slight right toward E25
345.9 Slight right at E25 Entering France
346.3 Continue on A31
371.9 Take the exit onto A31
381.6 Take the exit toward Strasbourg/Metz-Est
382.9 Merge onto A4 Partial toll road
394.5 Take the exit onto A4 Partial toll road
547.2 Continue on A35 (signs for Colmar/Mulhouse/Offenburg/A35)
562.9 Take exit 10 toward Duttlenheim/Duppigheim
563.3 At the roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto D1422 heading to Strasbourg/Blaesheim/Innenheim/Obernai Go through 1 roundabout
565.8 At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto A35
604.5 Continue on N83
615.9 Continue on A35 Entering Switzerland
682.0 Continue on A3 Toll road
698.0 Take exit 9 toward Arisdorf/Bern/Luzern/Gotthard Toll road
698.8 Merge onto A2 Toll road
726.1 Take exit 45-Härkingen to merge onto A1/A2/E35 toward  Rothrist/Zürich/Luzern/Gotthard Toll road

  We always reach here in time for Dinner around 7.00 pm – 8.00 pm
734.9 Take exit 47-Wiggertal toward Reiden/Luzern/Gotthard Toll road
735.7 Merge onto A2 Toll roadEntering Italy
971.7 Continue on A9 Partial toll road
1002.7 Take the exit onto A8/E62 toward Milano Partial toll road
1007.9 Take the exit onto A50/Tangenziale Ovest toward A4/Bologna/Genova/A7/A1/E66/Torino Partial toll road
1038.4 Continue on E35 (signs for Bologna/Melegnano/A1) Toll road
1039.3 Take the exit onto A1 Toll road

Take the exit onto A14 toward Bologna Borgo
Time for a snooze usually 1.00 am – 6.00amPanigale/Bologna/Padova/Bari/A13/Ravenna/Ancona Toll road
1453.2 Take exit Ancona Sud-Osimo toward Ancona Sud/Osimo Toll road
1453.7 Continue straight Partial toll road
1454.3 Continue straight onto SS16
1458.4 Take exit Ancona Centro toward Ancona
1458.8 Merge onto Asse Nord-Sud
1463.5 Slight left at Via Alessandro Bocconi
1463.9 At Piazzale della Libertà, take the 2nd exit onto Galleria del Risorgimento
1464.6 Continue on Via Antonio Giannelli
1464.7 Arrive at Ancona, Italy – Sunday, 9.00 am.
  Section time: 13:51, Total time: 13:51

As you can see it is 1464.7 Kilometres or 910.1 miles and, if driven continuously, should take 13 hrs 51 mins.. Because we stop to sleep and eat, it takes us 24hrs. Then we have to get a boat down the Adriatic which takes 20 hrs. Then we drive to Piraeus from Patras which takes another 3 hrs. Then we take a ferry to our island for another 6hrs. It is quite a journey and costs about £2000.00 return.

18th June, 2009

Today, we signed papers for our redundancy settlements and filled out Pension forms to take effect from August 31st. Although we are not working, we have three more salary cheques to receive. We have been very lucky to have spent the last five months of our service on fully paid gardening leave as well as another year’s salary in redundancy. To cap it all, we were told that we could have 35 year long service awards in cash – enough to buy a new desktop computer to take to Greece. We feel quite uncomfortably mischievous as we plan the next few years out.

Jane B.G. has got to me. Probably because she is so skinny. We have a month before we leave for Greece where we will swim twice a day for three months. We calculate that we will do 170 swims before we come back to England. We will go on one set walk every day – 85 walks – and then we will be developing our vegetable garden. Because of Jane B.G., we thought we would use our last four weeks here profitably so we have rejoined our local Spirit Health Club. We had been members for years but, in recent times, we found ourselves not getting there. I calculated last year that the swim we had in June had cost us nearly £800.00 we had used it so little. We decided to stop kidding ourselves and cancel our subscription. We became lapsed members. Today we joined just for 4 weeks, because that is all we have left, for an amazing price of £75.00 for the two of us. We went off for our first swim of the year. I did thirty minutes non-stop followed by a Jacuzzi and a Steam Room. I felt wonderful. About an hour after arriving back home the phone went and I panicked when I realised my legs wouldn’t work. Probably I’d brought my resting pulse down too much. I think I’ll have to pace my return to peak fitness.

19th June, 2009

40 years ago this Summer, I went to Training College. I shared an upstairs flat of a four storey house with two other lads who were Freshers as well. My College was for all girls – 650 of them – and the College had only just decided to take men – all 20 of them – a few weeks before I applied. On one of the few occasions Mum took me anywhere, we went up to Ripon in her car – I can’t remember which one now but it was the one after the Austin A40. She got Nellie Deacon to go with us because she didn’t want to drive home alone. She was still fairly inexperienced as a driver. I was the first one there because Mum was keen to get back before nightfall. There were two bedrooms, a single and a double. Guess who got the single bedroom! Later in the day the prospective occupants of the shared room arrived. Nigel Faulds from St Albans and John Ridley from Whitley Bay.

ripon_men.jpg   john-ridley.jpg

In the group photo, Nigel Faulds – who is now a Buddhist Monk by the way – is  standing back, extreme left with his arms folded. I am back, third from the right with my old friend, Kevin Dagg second from the right. For some reason, John Ridley didn’t get on this photo. Next to it is a recent one of him as Headteacher of a Primary School in North Yorkshire.

Leonard Cohen spent ten or more years as a Buddhist Monk – I think during the 80s and early 90s. I would never have heard from him if it wasn’t for Nigel who dragged me away from Cliff Richard and introduced me to sitting under the table, drunk as a skunk on red wine and howling to 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….

The Leonard Cohen concert on TV last night transported me back 40 years. I had a tear in my eye for lost youth.

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