11th October, 2009
Even after six weeks away, it is wonderful to sleep in your own bed again and that is how it has felt for the past thirty years on the first night after returning from Greece. Not this time! After three months in Greece, Huddersfield doesn’t completely feel like HOME. Our bed, which we bought from And So To Bed in 1980 for £500.00 and which we thought was a massive luxury, now feels tired and ordinary. Rather creaky actually. The bed we had made for us and shipped to Greece six years ago is an absolute delight to sleep in. One of the problems was that I got up in the night, thought I was still in Greece and turned right instead of left for the toilet. I nearly ended up stark naked on the garage roof. I thought I’d grown out of that!
When you’re away for six weeks, the waiting post is colossal. We usually do Keep Safe with the Post Office where, for a fee, they keep all your post until you return. (Of course, nowadays, they just don’t bother delivering it at all.) We have a fantastic postman and, apparently, he needed two bags just for our post and he had to make two trips to deliver it because it was so heavy. Huge piles of post wrapped in thick elastic bands completely covered our dining room table and it took us jointly six hours to open and allocate to new piles of:
- Must Deal with on Monday
- Must Deal with during the Week
- Put in the Diary
- Interesting – To be read in time
- Put in the bin
- Shred & Put in the bin
All the time, I was looking for two envelopes worth our entire year’s salaries. In Greece we could check our Bank Account and we saw our wonderful lump sums arrive. We even saw our pensions arrive but the Redundancy payments that we had worked so hard for failed to materialise. We even phoned our legal adviser to follow it up. She told us the Local Authority had posted them. I had visions of striking postal workers steaming open envelopes. As we worked our way methodically through the mounted piles, we began to form the opinion that Sod’s Law would prevail and they would be the last two envelopes left on the table. True to the Law, we got down to the last two envelopes but there were no Cheques.
The concern level rose distinctly. We went through all the possibilities including that they wanted us to go back and teach. We heard while we were away that two of our colleagues who were desperate to finish and who had been lined up for redundancy had had it snatched away at the last minute. Our Legal Adviser was away until Monday. We had to wait. Meanwhile, I thought I had better try a suit on just in case.
12th October, 2009
Our Legal Adviser is a wonderful woman who works for AMiE, the Professional Association for Leaders and Managers in Colleges and Schools. She was responsible for negotiating a fantastic deal with the Local Authority. We contacted her immediately this morning. She called back to say that the HR representative who she had destroyed in our negotiations had been moved over the summer and had ‘forgotten’ to action our settlement. She gave the HR twenty four hours to sort it out or face legal action.
13th October, 2009
By 9.00 am this morning, the money appeared in our Nat. West Account. That settled, we just prepared for a comfortable day when Pauline’s Mum phoned. She had been in agony all night with a headache. We shot over there. She didn’t look good. In fact she had a suspicious rash diagonally across the front of her face and her left eye was sore and swollen. We called the doctor who confirmed she had shingles. In a 95 year old and affecting her eye that is serious. We had to take her straight to hospital. We were there for five hours. I hate hospitals and yet I’ve been to some wonderful ones recently – public & private. Oldham’s is not pleasant, not well equipped and fairly depressing. What gets me most of all is the modern facade masking the Nineteenth Century mill-style building. I also hate the cripples in gowns and slippers who have escaped the lung cancer wards to smoke in the carpark. You need an oxygen mask to get through the front entrance.
Pauline’s Mum was discharged with enough pain killers to subdue a herd of bison and told to take it easy. To be honest, if she took it any easier she would be permanently horizontal.
15th October, 2009
It is six days since we arrived from Greece. We drove over to Oldham to see Pauline’s Mum. It is a simple drive over the moors but it looked like the middle of winter. If we had got stuck in a snow drift, we wouldn’t have been surprised. Only one week before we needed sunglasses constantly. The contrasting shots below show Oldham Moor today and the port of Igoumenitsa, the last stop in Greece on the way up the Adriatic before we reach Italy. If you ever buy Sea Bream from the supermarket, the odds are it comes from the fish farms in Igoumenitsa bay.
16th October, 2009
Pauline’s Mum feels a bit better today and has got other visitors so we are free to get jobs done. Off to the Refuse Disposal Tip today. I refuse to pay and sort my own rubbish so I stick sacks in the car and dump them in the General Waste skip. It’s no hardship and it’s on the way to Sainsburys for some more rubbish. Unless you go early in the morning, the lane leading to the Refuse Disposal Tip is absolutely full of like-minded citizens who refuse to bow to the Stasi Council officials in Environmental Health.
Coming home to find our neighbours mowing our lawns, we phone Northern Rock to get a Redemption figure for our mortgage. We want to settle it next week. Pauline and I have met mortgage payments every month since 1974. Not doing so now will be a lovely feeling. A year ago, when our fix ended, we decided to go on Standard Variable rate just so we didn’t have any costly tie-in at this point. We will be £2670.00 per month better off immediately. Ironically, they had written to us yesterday to offer us a rate reduction for loyalty. We weren’t tempted.
17th October, 2009
Pauline did the dutiful daughter thing by driving over to Oldham. I watch Aston Villa thrash Chelsea. Couldn’t be better.
Received a lovely letter today from Coutts Bank Manager, Sue Riding. While at Nat. West, she was the Accounts Manager who helped us with bridging finance and great encouragement in buying our Greek land and building the house. Not only that, she visited our island to view the land. Like us, she has just retired at the age of 57 and sent us pensioners’ greetings.