Week 60

7th February, 2010

I can’t believe I’ve managed to sustain this for 60 weeks. If only I could diet with that determination. Started snowing again today. After an initial foray out for the Sunday Papers, it was a lovely, relaxing day of reading, Rugby Union and Premier League football. Just a pity Arsenal were so spineless!

Wonderful but horrifying article by Christopher Booker in The Sunday Telegraph in which he ferrets out money – our taxpayer money – given by our government under various guises to spurious foreign organisation under the heading of fighting climate change. Amongst other outrageous items of expenditure, he lists the £239, 538.00 we spent for study of ‘Climate Change Impacts on Chinese Agriculture’. The whole article can be read here.


8th February,  2010

Aren’t Monday mornings wonderful? Went for a wonderful swim although the Steam Room was out of order. It is the Spirit Health Club chain and there are clear signs of economic tightening. The Managers are definitely less specialist and expensive to employ than they were ten years ago. The temperatures of the pools are lower – or is it me?

The next hospital visit for Pauline’s Mum this afternoon. We’ve got two this week. To add to her problems, her gout has flared up again. This afternoon it is skin cancer on her nose – post operative – that we are checking. She was signed off. I can’t remember what I was looking for help with for Pauline’s Mum but suddenly I found myself staring at this cherubic face. It was someone called Liz Bruce. I thought, I know that girl! Suddenly realised it was our Liz.


There is a comment box at the bottom of this webpage. I sent in the following message:

What a wonderful new Strategic Director you’ve got and she looks gorgeous!

John Sanders – Huddersfield Home for the Bewildered

9th February,  2010

More snow today. Thought I’d do a search for Liz Bruce in an idle moment. Up popped a copy of  The Daily Telegraph. Mum would have been so proud. You can read the article below:


10th February,  2010

The Health Club was really quiet – probably the snow put them off. The Steam Room had been repaired. I met a Hungarian in the changing rooms. He decided to tell me a joke:

A woman got on a train with her strange looking child and they both sat down. The train moved on one stop and a man sitting opposite prepared to get off. As he did so, he leaned over to the woman and said, You’ve got a very ugly child. The man got off, leaving the woman visibly upset. Another, seeing her distress went over and said, I’ll get you a cup of tea to settle your upset. He went off down the carriage and came back with a cup of tea and a banana. He said, Here you are love. This will make you feel better and I’ve got a banana for your monkey!

I’d heard it before but I laughed all the same. It made him feel better. Well, he was Hungarian.

Spent the rest of the day tightening up the plans for our European trip. We leave England on April 13th and arrive on our island on April 19th. We leave our island on October 4th and arrive back in England on October 9th – 180 days after leaving it.


11th February,  2010

Interesting day today. A young, trainee teacher from my old school who I had been mentoring and supervising last year called round in the morning to ask me to continue in that role. I am very reluctant to get involved. He is a higher order ICT instructor but with weak literacy skills. This latter point seems to count for so little these days but it is essential in my view. We agreed someone else should mentor him. I am free!

Took Pauline’s Mum for pacemaker check. She passed. It is 8 years old and still working well. She will be 96 in August. We will be away but will fly home for a few days if necessary.

12th February,  2010

Had a day off from the Health Club today. Pauline has spent the morning speaking to insurance companies. We now have the house and contents insured for the whole of the 6 months it is unoccupied. We don’t even need to have neighbours coming in to check. We probably will but it is reassuring that it is not a requirement. If you’ve never left your house unoccupied for more than a couple of weeks, you would probably not be aware of insurance requirements. Most House and Contents insurance policies stipulate a limit of 30 days that the property can be left unoccupied. After that, insurance policies are void. Leaving the house for 180 days can be quite daunting. Today we found Intasure, a Lloyds registered insurance company who will insure us for the whole period at a cost of £330.00 for the year. Health insurance and Travel insurance are being provided by Columbus Direct and cost £260.00. Car insurance comes from Fortis. Once again, this is not easy to get for more than a couple of months. We have had to negotiate individually with Fortis and have agreed to pay £20.00 per month extra for the six months we are away so £120.00 on top of our annual comprehensive policy.

We seasoned Hellas travellers know there is only one reliable place to go for inter-island ferry information. GTP or Greek Travel Pages has been published for decades but now is also on the web. Today I was able to fit the last connection into the outward itinerary by fixing the third ferry connection of the trip. We have to cross the British Channel, the Adriatic Sea and the Aegean Sea. This latter crossing is expensive and infrequent at this time of the year. Fortunately, the Hydrofoil service – Aegean Speedrunner – will have started its Summer service. The ferry takes between 5 – 6 hours from Piraeus – Sifnos. The Hydrofoil takes half that. It still costs £120.00 for two with car.


13th February,  2010

Pauline & I have lived together for nearly 32 years. When I say ‘lived together’, I really mean it. We haven’t spent a night apart in that time – or a day. We have worked together on the same campus, often in the same building and, at one point, even shared the same office. We know each other and each knows what the other is thinking often before they do themselves. It will soon be twelve months since we last went to work. As well as wonderful, it has been strange. All our lives we have been running, trying to achieve something. Suddenly, we are not and yet we have both found ourselves substituting future goals which are of no great consequence and pushing ourselves towards them.

I am reminded of the Lines from Elliot’s Ash Wednesday:

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn ……
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still

Even in our travelling, we must learn to sit still.

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