18th October, 2009
We’ve been back in UK for a fortnight and we are still struggling to come to terms with the temperatures in Yorkshire. The last couple of weeks in Greece were 25-26C. The past couple of weeks here it has been 11 – 12C. Of course, as newly retired persons we are still a little unsure of our finances. Our joint Electricity and Gas bills over twelve months amount to about £2000.00. Now we are at home all day and the LA are not heating us. Today we switched, using USwitch, from British Gas to First:Utility who say they will save us £420.00 per year. That’s worth a good couple of meals out at least. We have done this a couple of times over the past few years but now we’ve got time to torment all these companies with our fecklessness.
19th October, 2009
Our water bill from Yorkshire Water is £1100.00 per year. We are not metered. We are the only people in the Quarry who are not and our bill is related directly to our Council Tax band. We’ve always resisted a meter because we water our garden so much. In fact, we have become the communal tap when someone else wants to water their garden as well. Our neighbours told us recently that they pay less than £20.00 per month for water and our jaws dropped. We will not be watering the garden now we are away so much so we asked Yorkshire Water for a meter. We emailed them from Greece and they came today. Ten minutes fiddling about in our garage which is where our stop-cock is and the meter was fitted. The whole service was free. We now save about £70.00 a month and I’ve got an excuse not to wash too often!
I knew you wouldn’t be able to live without a view of our stop-cock and new water meter.
20th October, 2009
Our mobile contracts have been with Three for the past couple of years. That was fine while we were mainly in England. In Greece and on Sifnos the main providers and best reception comes from Vodaphone. In fact, the fastest transport back to Athens apart from a helicopter is the High-Speed Hydrofoil which sponsored by Vodaphone.
What is particularly good about Vodaphone is their International Passport which allows one to use contract minutes abroad as if from UK. Our new contracts bring a smart new touch-screen phone with excellent web browsing and email facilities. Graphics can be snatched from the web, edited and emailed on on the hoof.
21st October, 2009
On Monday the Waterboard were in our garage. Today it was the turn of the AA. Yesterday, I had spent time in the garage connecting our new mobiles to the voice operated Sat. Nav./Radio/DVD/CD by bluetooth. As a retired person, I am quite slow and had to read the book carefully before completing the operation. To do that, I had to put on all the reading lights. When our phones eventually reported successful communication with Honda HFT, I excitedly returned upstairs to my wife to get praise for being so clever.
This morning I walked downstairs to the car to find the battery completely flat. I had left the reading lights on all night. Fortunately, our car comes with Hondacare – full AA Home and Abroad cover – and within half an hour an nice young man on a bright yellow bike was recharging the battery.
He left with a bottle of wine for his troubles. He was looking round our garage as he charged the battery and couldn’t help seeing a spare bottle. I really like our garage. It is triple size with a double and a single door. As soon as we moved there, nearly ten years ago now, we had it automated so we can drive straight in and walk up the stairs on the inside to the house.
22nd October, 2009
How does the time fly so quickly? Every day we are up at 7.00 am but, before I’ve really achieved anything, it’s Tea Time. Not today. By 10.00 am we had paid off our mortgage and about five accompanying Mortgage insurance policies. Pauline and I are flying around the lounge with the lightness of being mortgage-free. Indulge me if this is getting you down but writing about it is the only way I can come to terms with what is happening to me. I am sitting at home reading The Times and eating buttered toast while receiving substantially more income than when I battled down the motorway at 7.00 am each day to a shabby, old school building and some fairly shabby kids. All of this at the age of 58! Is this really happening? I keep expecting the phone to go and somebody to tell me to get back to work. Indeed, Pauline & I had thought we might do a bit of Tutoring or Consultancy work but now we don’t need to, we can’t be bothered.
I spend my time now searching out good investments, special deals for this and that. In a week or so we are off to the South to look at potential properties. Gillingham, Chatham, Sittingbourne, Faversham, Ashford – those sorts of places we intend to explore. Anywhere in the centre of a flood plain.
France may have to wait until the pound strengthens if that happens in my life time. At least we can pop over there from these towns quite quickly and easily.
23rd October, 2009
Spent quite a chunk of the day with Pauline’s Mum. At 95, it’s hard to cope with shingles. It’s in her hair and across her face and it’s giving her real pain. Pauline’s sister, Phyllis, and her husband, Colin, drove down from Chertsey, West Byfleet to stay with her for a couple of days. We sat and chatted for a few hours. When we go down to Kent, I will call on them and set them up with a colour printer and some internet training.
24th October, 2009
Desperate day today. Dark, wet, blowing a gale. At least Stoke beat Spurs. Looking forward to United v Liverpool tomorrow. What am I saying? Get a life, John!