Week 71

25th April, 2010

Yesterday I was able to watch Manchester United beat Spurs quite comfortably in the end and then watch Arsenal get a poor draw. Today, after doing a bit of gardening to keep my body completely toned, I have watched  Liverpool win and Chelsea smash Stoke in to the floor.

Before we can do any gardening, we have to clear the carpet of wild flowers covering everything. It is so profuse it is quite daunting. I was hacking away at weeds and roots today when Pauline told me to stop because she could smell Rocket. As we moved the mound of wild flowers, there was my Wild Rocket bed from last year still growing on happily. All I have to do is water it.

26th April, 2010

Up early this morning and off out to the shops. First we went to the Post Office to buy one stamp for a letter to England. It was packed. Our friend, Manolis, was in there. We had to stand in line for twenty minutes, watch the Postman record the sale of one 75 Cent stamp with pencil on paper before we could set off to the Farmakia. Our friend, Flora, is now working in the Farmakia dispensing drugs so we wanted to say Hello. Stavros has some apartments/bungalows/gites in Apollonia and we parked in his car park. When we went back to the car, he was there and suggested we went for coffee. Outside the Cafenion we sat in brilliant sunshine and drank coffees and chatted. A man who runs a hotel in Kamares came up to say Hello and I greeted him as my new neighbour. Stavros had told us he had bought land near us to build a home for him and his wife. He told us that they will start to build soon. This man is known on Sifnos as ‘His Mother’ because when you go to the restaurant attached to his Hotel and ask what he has that day, he always prefaces his answer with, “Well, today my Mother has made…..”


After coffee, we went down to see if English newspapers had started to arrive since the air flights embargo has been lifted. The answer was typically Greek – “Maybe tomorrow.” We proceeded on to a shop called Germanos. It sells mobile phones and mobile internet dongles. When we got there, we were immediately confronted one of those really frustratingly Greek red tape requirements. In order to buy a broadband dongle a citizen needs to provide four things: Name, Address, Identity Card Number or Passport Number, Tax Number.  We had the first three items with us but hadn’t anticipated needing our tax number. We received one when we were building the house but don’t know where it is. We drive home to search our computers and paper files. Eventually, I give up and phone Stavros. He rings me back in five minutes with the number and we drive straight back up to the shop with an hour to spare before it closes for lunch. The shop has closed early and won’t be open until 6.30 pm. And so Greek life proceeds – frustratingly slowly!

27th April, 2010

The weather has turned windy and there is a chill in the wind. We have turned the under-floor heating up a notch in the evenings. We have not heard from Germanos about the internet dongle and there are no newspapers because of the transport strike in Athens. In fact, there are no new anything – no fresh vegetables, milk, etc. – because there are no ferries and no transport lorries. We are hunkered down in our house watching satellite television of demonstrations in Athens shouting We demand jobs for life. and Let Greece default on their debt. Let the Banks fail. They got us in to this mess. Don’t take it out on the poor, working people. The whole thing looks hopeless. We get a phone call from our Estate Agents with our buyers’ final bid. They leave us to decide. The decision is easy but emotionally difficult.


28th April, 2010

We believe that there is still potential and appetite in Greece to default on their debt and trigger a run on the banks. We have £10,000.00 in the National Bank of Greece earning next to nothing in interest and decide it is safer to have it out and with us than in the Bank. When we go to withdraw it, we are met with lots of smiles and then we are asked to go to another till where we are asked for:

Our passport number
Our tax number
Our address in England
Our address in Greece
Out telephone number in Greece
My Father’s first name
Pauline’s Father’s first name

We have been banking with the National Bank of Greece for more than ten years and have put around £200,000.00 through our account. We have provided all the above information before and I am annoyed at being asked for it again. I get the impression that it is conditional upon our obtaining our money. I complain vociferously at every question. When they ask for my Father’s name, I say that he has been dead for fifty years. I offer my shoes size and the colour of my underpants. They don’t seem impressed. We fill out all the forms in triplicate but haven’t got our tax number with us. We have to go home for it – a fifteen minute drive – to collect the papers. We get up to go and, as we reach the door, the bank clerk says, Don’t you want your £10,000.00? We have misunderstood completely. We could have the money anyway. They were just updating their records. When the bank looks as beautiful as it does below, you can’t stay mad at it for long.


We move on to Germanos who have forgotten to call us to say that the dongle contract was ready. They help me set it up even though everything is in English and I could do it quicker than they could. We do it with my laptop on the wall outside the shop. The irony is that she runs a mobile phone shop but can’t get reception inside the shop. She has to go outside. This is Greece in a nutshell.

We take it home. I immediately try it in our laptop in the lounge, on the dining room table, in the study. In all of these places, the speed is so poor. I can’t even download all my emails. I am totally despondent. Pauline suggests taking it outside. Immediately, I get a good connection with excellent speed. We listen to Radio 4’s World at One (at three o’clock). Unfortunately, the weather has decided to blow a gale. I take it inside again and walk round the house trying it in every room. Joy of joys – the back bedroom provides perfect reception and internet speed. I am going to see a lot of this room. Using Skype, Pauline phones her Mum and talks for twenty minutes for 25p. The reception is perfect. We are using 3G Cosmote. We then phone our estate agent to accept our buyers offer. We are instantly homeless. We will bank the money and rent until we find somewhere to buy. We spend an hour looking through rental apartments and their costs. There are so many, it is impossible to choose. The first ferry for three days brings in The Sunday Times and the Monday Times. My cup is running over.

29th April, 2010

The Estate Agents email us to say that they have informed potential buyers that we are willing to accept their offer but that the house will remain on the market subject to their proof of financial probity. The weather is still rather cool and very windy. We did a little gardening but our heart wasn’t in it. We sit and plan what we need:

  • Contact our solicitor
  • Look for an empty apartment to rent while we find somewhere we want to live.
  • Possibly look for storage firm for our furniture.
  • Do an inventory of what is to be packed and what we don’t want to take with us.
  • Look for flights home – maybe end of May/early June – to stay for a month or so.
  • Look for cheap car rental for a month. Look for investment accounts for the money.

The apartments we were interested in in Surrey have all gone now but we will have to renew our search when we drive home (what home?) from Greece in October. We spend hours on the internet looking for apartments in Surrey & Kent. There are so many but most of them are poor quality developments. We are downsizing but we want quality. Particularly, we want quality of environment – a gated community, preferably, and near restaurants and a Health Club with a pool. We don’t want much: a good sized kitchen, a large lounge, two bedrooms, two bathrooms (one with power shower), secure parking. There may well come a time when we don’t want to drive to Greece and we will need to leave our car securely for long periods.

30th April, 2010

Would you believe it? We go a year without a single viewing. We knock a small amount off the price and we get an offer from our first customer. After haggling them substantially up, we accept and, two days later, someone else wants to view it. Our neighbour, Jean, emails us today to tell us that she is showing a couple round tomorrow morning. We hope this might spark a bidding competition. The property is still on the market (just) and anything could happen. Labour could retain power!

1st May, 2010


Everything is closed today but, as this merges so quietly in to strikes and other closures, who will notice the difference. It is getting a bit politically insensitive here to be a man who has retired at the age of 59 when new austerity measures are changing Greek retirement age from 53 to 67. Oh to be young again!

Lovely lunch outside today. Chicken salad with white wine. This bottle of delightful Pinot Grigio with a delicate, lemon tang was bought in an Italian supermarket and cost £1.27. If you bought it in Sainsburys they would scream ‘Half Price – only £4.99!’.


Week 70

18th April, 2010

The last leg of our journey. Get up at 6.00 am in our room in Hotel Patras Palace. Go down and settle our bill with two exhausted individuals who are obviously coming to the end of the overnight stewardship on the desk. We take our bags out to the car and then go back into the hotel to the top floor restaurant, totally glass-fronted overlooking the bay of Patras and all the ins and outs of sea traffic. We help ourselves to a hearty breakfast from the buffet tables – fresh orange juice, smoked bacon, scrambled & fried eggs, sausages, warm, crusty bread and deliciously smooth fresh coffee. To make sure that we don’t go hungry during our travels, we finish with croissants and apricot jam. All this at 7.00 am. Hard, I know, but necessary.

We drive out of the hotel’s courtyard at 7.45 am and set off to drive the 230 km from Patras on the Peloponnese to the port of Piraeus on the southern tip of the mainland. This road is known as the Attica Highway. The Greeks call it a motorway. It is the most dangerous stretch of road in Greece. If you drove it, you would soon know why. It consists of three lanes – one going each way and one that both ways fight for all the time. You can imagine the number of head-on crashes that occur. Not only that , if you try to drive at motorway speeds – 80 -120 mph, you suddenly come across a bend hidden by cypress trees that is so acute it makes your teeth rattle as you decelerate. As it is the main Attica Highway, it is full of heavy lorries. The shared, middle lane is the only way round them.

Of course, if you live through this first ordeal, there are greater things to achieve later on. From the Attica Highway one drives through the centre of Athens itself – a city where the phrases , Stop at the traffic lights and Oh no, after you Claude have never been heard. If you let someone get ahead of you, they think you are homosexual. If you stop to allow someone to cross the road, you are homosexual. And if you survive the virility test of central Athens, you descend into the Dantesque world of Piraeus where traffic lights are mere Easter decorations and left turns are death wishes

On a weekday afternoon, which is when we have normally driven this route, it takes a minimum of three hours to cover the distance. Sunday morning at 7.45 am, it took just 2.15 hours. Our hydrofoil left at 12.00 noon in boiling, hot sun. The crossing was swift and calm. We only made one stop – at Serifos – and we arrived on Sifnos by 3.15 pm. The house was decked out with wild spring flowers. They were everywhere. We lugged our luggage up the stone steps to the front door and collapsed, exhausted. It doesn’t seem to matter how enjoyable the journey, it is always exhausting.
We opened all the shutters – twenty pairs – and opened the windows, pulling down the insect nets, to allow the house to breathe the fresh mountain air after six months shut up. We put on the underfloor heating  in case there was any damp. The temperature was 26⁰C and, by the time we had unpacked the car, slotted the last bottle of the 130 I managed to fit in. I know that is not quite one a day but I am supposed to be cutting down and we will go out to eat at times so I think we will manage.


19th April, 2010

Heavy rain in the night but we woke up to a beautifully hot and sunny day. We went out to buy provisions from the supermarket (I will show you this at another time.) and to call at the Post Office to see if our parcels had arrived. Unbelievably, it spite of the flying problems, they had. We got back to the house to find that Stavros had employed a day labourer, a young Romanian called Akis to do general menial work for us round the house and grounds. It was fortunate because he was on hand to carry the boxes up to the house. We largely spent the rest of the day unpacking and putting things away. High on the list of priorities for me was phoning Nova – the Greek equivalent of Sky – and having our satellite service switched back on. At the same time, I unpacked the flat screen television we had so carefully carried across Europe and installed it. It was lucky I did because I was just in time to watch a re-run of Arsenal losing in the 94th minute to Wigan. I did laugh!


While I was watching that, Pauline did the cleaning. Seemed a fair division of labour. I am, after all, a new man. We have quite a number of lemons on our trees this year. We picked a few for the fruit bowl. You may see clues that the peaches and bananas were not from our garden


20th April, 2010

Thick, black cloud over the mountains around our house this morning when we got up at 7.00 am. By 10.00 am, it was hot and sunny and smelled so fresh you might eat it. Unfortunately, I am on a diet and I had to make do with a couple of cups of tea. We drink a Breakfast Tea mix first thing in the morning and an Assam during the rest of the day. We used to send for it especially from Whittards in Manchester but found Sainsburys sell an even better one. One of the calculations before coming away  was how much tea we would drink in six months. This is a vital assessment which, if underestimated, would reduce us to drinking those terrible yellow-packeted Liptons Teas. Tea  was one of the essential items that arrived in the boxes in the post.

In spite of fridges and freezers, it is customary on the island to go shopping for food every day. In England, we would shop once a week at Sainsburys, spending £100.00 – £150.00 and buying most things that we need during the week. The only thing we don’t buy is wine.  For two reasons, a Greek island and, possibly, the Mediterranean climate dictate different patterns. Quite a bit of the produce is locally grown. Everything that can’t be sourced on the island has to be brought in by sea – greatly adding to its cost. The weather means that fresh fruit and vegetables go off amazingly quickly. We might store potatoes and onions in Veg. Baskets in our kitchen at home and they will last at least a weak- probably two. Here they will be almost inedible in three days. The island location means that container lorries travel constantly between the island and Athens in order to supply the shops. Canny islanders know the days of the month when fresh chicken will be abundant on the shelves and when not to touch it because it has been there too long. In general, we all go shopping every day and buy what is freshest and available at the time – almost like the 1950s in Britain!

That is a long preamble to saying that we went shopping to the Supermarket yesterday, we went again today to buy fresh chicken, chicken liver, plaice, king prawns, smoked bacon, orange peppers, and lots of fresh fruit. We will almost certainly go again tomorrow.

21st April, 2010

I’ve been drinking wine since the early 1970s. Almost from that point I’ve drunk at least half a bottle each evening with a meal. One of my early memories of Greece in the early 1980s was of a delightful, lemony white wine – a staple of the Greek wine industry – called Demestika. It was so cheap, even impoverished young travellers like Pauline & I could afford it. It was certainly cheaper than anything we could buy at home. Most of my early Greek experiences are filtered through a pile of squid and chips and a bottle or two of Demestika.


I have not bought a bottle of wine in a British supermarket for over fifteen years. We have tended to make twice yearly pilgrimages to the holy grail of Carrefour in France to buy our wine there. We have never run dry. Because of this, I had lost touch with UK prices until recent price wars amongst supermarket chains brought  flagged up wines Half Price at just £4.99! hey might be worth looking at – £10.00 wines for half price. When I looked, they were the very wines I have been buying for €4.00 in France and Italy. And then the Chancellor slaps even more duty on these imports from a ‘Common Market’. It is a nonsense. Well Greek wines have improved a little since the days of rot-gut Retsina but the average price of a bottle of wine on the island is €7.00. Living on a Greek Island is an expensive business nowadays – even for Greeks. Thank goodness I brought my own wine cellar with me from Europe

22nd April, 2010

From the start of the day it has been beautiful – a cloud-free day reaching  temperature of 25⁰C.  I have been very lazy. After watching the morning news show on Greek  Skai TV, I took my coffee out on to the veranda and read my latest book,  Modern Greece by CM Woodhouse. It is not what you would call a riveting read. I don’t lean over and say to Pauline, Hey you’ve got to hear this! It does help me understand a lot about the country I am living in and its people.  CM Woodhouse’s Modern Greece starts in 324 AD so newsworthy it is not. It has helped me understand much more quickly why the Greeks have always tended towards Russia rather than America, towards the eastern, Slav states rather than western countries such as France and Britain. Essentially Greeks are Slavonic in origin.

Although present day Greece is showing real signs of disassociating Orthodox Christianity from the body politic, it is still highly visible throughout society as it was in Britain even in the first half of the last century and still appears to be in Southern Ireland today. As societies become increasingly sophisticated and post-industrial, as the common people become increasingly, if relatively, wealthy, so their need for salvation diminishes and they tend to become far more sceptical of organised religion. For current day Greeks just as for Roman Catholics, the carapace of religious authority has been severely cracked by scandals which previous generations would have acquiesced in covering up or explaining away. For the Catholics, it is paedophilia and for the Greek Orthodox it is financial scandal. Just as in the Catholic Church where the older generation of believers have invested far too many years of their lives genuflecting to the pope to accept it was based on immoral nonsense now so the old Greek ladies, veiled in black still fawn before a priest cross themselves and close their ears to court cases involving drug running and money laundering. After all, it’s nothing that confession and prayer can’t put right. It’s only a few bad apples anyway.

To change the subject, I was in the internet cafe last night and Pauline had just phoned her Mum on  Skype when a message popped up to say Ruth was on-line as well. I video phoned her and was soon in Ruth’s house looking at her and Kevan leaning over her shoulder.  I got to hear some family gossip like Bob & Jane were still stuck in Madeira five days after they were supposed to have flown home. Somehow, ‘stuck’ and ‘in Madeira’ don’t seem to go together but I’m sure Jane was desperate to get back to school. I got to hear that David & his Mum were in Ireland but that Jane (1) was struggling to join them on Wednesday. In years gone by, we would be flying from Athens to Manchester at just the time of the flight closures. I have to say, an extra five days wouldn’t have gone amiss. Ruth also told me that one of her little hooligans had broken his arm in three places at Play School or somewhere like that. That’s how a childhood should start – plenty of breakages can be really character forming. I had seven broken arms before I left school. Nice to see he is keeping up the family tradition. I challenge him to beat my record!

23rd April, 2010

We are into new territory in Greece. We have never been here this late in the Spring before and didn’t realise how hot it could be. It has been quite ferocious today. Usually, we have come for Easter when all the Spring flowers are out and there is no bare earth visible and then returned in July when there are no flowers visible and all is bare earth. The sun has burnt everything off. Well now Spring flowers are still in abundance but are beginning to wilt. Some the nice bushes which have been obscured by rampant wild growth are beginning to come in to their own. The Callistemon, for example, is looking glorious. We have one in front of our bedroom and another on the front drive. In UK they are known as Callistemon or Bottle Brush because that is what they have – flowers that look like bottle brushes. Callistemon derives from the Greek – Calli (Good or beautiful) stemon (stamen).

callistemon_2.jpg callistemon.jpg

The little Yucatan Palm is growing away beautifully now.


24th April, 2010

We went out shopping early this morning under lightly clouded skies. The temperature at 9.00 am was 25⁰C.  

Week 69

11th April, 2010

After cutting the lawns and edging them, the garden has been turned over to the care of our next door neighbours for six months. Pauline went over to say goodbye to her Mum. It went better than expected. The Sunday papers were read in double quick time as packing went on apace. Tomorrow is the last full day at home.

Received an email from Malcolm & Lorraine:

Have a safe and pleasant journey. I hope the Honda performs as well as would be expected and gets you there safe and sound. We look forward to a continual dialogue of daily activities and plenty of photos of sun and sand
Best Wishes
Malcolm and Lorraine

Received an email from Jane (1)

Just wanted to wish you well on your odyssey. Enjoy both the journey and the prospect of 6 months in Sifnos as well as the time living there. You have timed it well, missing the election and what, I anticipate, will be a crazy post election period in the public sector. Who knows what will happen to the economy, FT and the Barclays shares.

David is working in Ireland and will be there for the next two or three weeks so I plan to join him for a long weekend. We’re planning to catch up with Cal and Les. Although I have been to Dublin several times I have never explored further south so am looking forward to seeing Cork and Kerry. We fly to New York for a few days in June and will be staying at the Waldorf. And we go to Peru for 3 weeks in Aug. I always book our hols for a year at a time year; that way when we are both working long hours we know we will soon have a good break to recover. I am always buying travel books for inspiration and ideas for future trips.
We have just remade our wills again (as I realised they were very out of date) in case our plane crashes in the jungles of Peru or the boat we are taking sinks in the Amazon. It’s a strange process which has also helped me think about my future plans.

Send Pauline my best wishes for your journey and for the next 6 months. It’s a beautiful weekend here in London – am off to walk down the river.

I replied to Jane

Thanks very much. You didn’t say which hotel you stayed at in Athens and what you thought of it.
I hear you’ve been a very bad girl – employing ex policemen to investigate their colleagues. Talk about the corrupt judging the corrupt!
By the way, only Jesus can walk down the river.

12th April, 2010

A frantic day getting last things done. We suddenly realised our Europ Assist that comes with our car under Hondacare only covers us for trips of 90 days. Half an hour later and £250.00 lighter we have AA Annual European cover. The bins aren’t emptied until a week on Thursday (What sort of service is that?) so everything goes into the back of the car including the lawnmower which we blew up irreparably last night and we are off to the Local Authority tip. We come here once a week anyway but today there is a queue a mile long. Back home it’s tea and toast and then we start to pack the car. The car is filled in two stages:

Stage 1: Just the boot is packed and the rear seats are left in upright position. The widescreen television fits neatly across the back of the rear seats and is strapped to the anchor points. Everything else, including a garden spade and fork (Have you seen Mediterranean spade?) and a sewing machine are piled in.

Stage 2: When we reach Sortir 40 on the E25 at Thionville, we go into Carrefore and buy all their wine. Returning to the car, we re-pack it with the back seats down to create a flat platform. The cases of wine go there to ensure the greatest weight is in the centre.


Stage 3: We drive on with Pauline saying continually, Do you think we are overloading the car? We carry on regardless until we get to Italy when we stop and start to make as much room as possible for all their wine and cheese.

13th April, 2010

Another beautiful day! What’s going on? Up early to do all the last minute jobs:

  • Sweep Patio
  • Hoover Carpets
  • Clean and lock windows
  • Phone ‘Sky’ and cancel contract.
  • Phone Waterboard and turn water off.
  • Take Gas & Electricity readings and upload them to the company.
  • Make sure all automatic light and radio settings are correct.
  • Put all rubbish in neighbour’s bin.
  • Eat croissant and drink fresh coffee
  • Check washer bottle in car
  • Make sure laptop and mobiles are charged up.
  • Empty and clean dishwasher.
  • Telephone friends to say goodbye.

Shower ready for leaving. Final check and off. Thank goodness for that. Leaving is always worse than travelling. Pictures will follow but who knows when.

14th April, 2010

We had a wonderful crossing last night and disembarked this morning in Zeebrugge at 8.45 am. after a huge cooked breakfast.  Having driven this journey ten times in peak season with peak season holiday traffic, it was wonderful to drive it today with no one on the road. It was kind of France and the Benelux countries to build the wonderful motorways just for us. We are in the Novotel, Colmar, Alsace. We arrived about 4.30 pm. We have cheap, wireless, internet access for our laptop. We have walked to a wonderful restaurant 100m away and eaten a three course meal for €40.00 plus wine. We have used Skype to phone Pauline’s Mum – 20 mins for 20p – and we have been listening to BBC Radio 4 ‘PM’ programme followed by the 6.00 o’clock news. Life’s just awful for retired people!

15th April, 2010

Up at 6.45 am (5.45 UK). We have BBC News but I’m reading The Times on the internet. It is a beatiful, sunny morning. The drive through Switzerland this morning was quiet and fast. The snowline was only just above the road. This photo was taken just before the San Gottardo tunnel which 17km long.


As we descended into Italy around Lakes Maggiore, Lugano and Como, the temperature rose from 8°C – 22°C. Usually it is the middle of the night when we do this. Today, it was wonderful to see the Lakes in the Spring sunshine. We arrived in Modena, Italy at about 3.30 pm and are resting in a hotel just of the Autostrada del Sole.

16th April, 2010

Up at 6.45 am (5.45 UK). Pauline makes the tea while I get Sky News and the internet on so that I can read The Times. Early off without breakfast. Great couple of hours driving in wonderful sunshine through Emilia Romagna past acres and acres of fruit trees – pear blossom looking and smelling wonderful. Arrived at Ancona and had a toasted ham sandwich before boarding Anek Lines ferry.


17th April, 2010

Still on board Anek. We have just docked at Igoumenitsa and then we will carry on to Patras, arriving at 2.00 pm. We are then off to The Patras Palace Hotel for the night.


Week 68

4th April, 2010

What a way to start Easter Sunday – at the church of QuickFit. At 5.00 pm on Easter Saturday I was checking my car tyres ( normal pressure 30 PSI) and found one to be 14 PSI. We had a quick check and found a nail head in the tread. We have had new windows and doors fitted in the past fortnight so it is possible a stray nail fell on the drive. The problem was that I was taking a banquet over to Pauline’s Mum’s flat to share with her and Pauline’s sister, Phyllis and her husband, Colin. Driving across the Pennines on Easter Sunday with a nail in my tyre didn’t appeal but what to do?

I checked the QuickFit site and found they had closed half an hour ago. There was no chance of them opening on Easter Sunday. I phoned to see if there was a message to tell me about Bank Holiday opening. A cheery voice answered. “I was just going home.” he said. He told me I didn’t have to wait till Monday. They would be open Easter Sunday. I couldn’t believe it but by 9.30 on Easter Sunday morning, with a copy of The Sunday Times and The Sunday Telegraph on the pasenger seat, I drew up outside QuickFit in Huddersfield. Five cheery blokes quickly arrived and opened up. Half an hour later I was paying £180.00 for a new tyre and was on my way to the car washers. I was certainly impressed with QuickFit.


5th April, 2010

Received a very unpleasant email from Caroline. It was disappointing to find my little sister could find such bile in her heart.

Never mind. Move on.

6th April, 2010

Happy Birthday to me! I can’t believe I’ve managed to live to 59. That is ten more years than Dad. It is more by luck than judgement. I have certainly indulged myself more than Dad ever did and stressed myself far less.

I received best wishes from Jane 1 earlier in the week. I received Birthday wishes from Sue Wilson in Australia and Malcolm Pritchard in Birmingham via Facebook. Ruth did that too but also sent me a lovely card:

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From my darling wife, Pauline I received a card with a black and white cat very reminiscent of our ‘Flossy’ who died in 1980 and from my Mother-in-Law I received lovely words:

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From Pauline’s sister, Phyllis and sister-in-law, June I received:

phyll_card_1.jpg  phyll_card_2.jpg  june_card_1.jpg  june_card_2.jpg

7th April, 2010

Had people sitting outside our house in their car this morning. Maybe the price drop really has helped.

Today we packed up a wide screen television for its journey to Greece. We are running out of food because the freezer is now totally empty. Tonight it will be pizza or Chinese. (Chose Chinese but had forgotten how mediocre take away food can be compared with home cooking.) Just five days to go. We bought another £1000.00 of Euros this morning to get us through our journey. The rate this morning was £1.00 = €1.14, the highest for quite some time. Have you tried these suppliers – Travel Money Services?

8th April, 2010

Glorious morning this morning. A delight to be alive. My next door neighbour has agreed to take over all gardening duties including lawn mowing for six months while we are away. That’s a wonderful feeling and why I arranged and paid for the cowell to be put on her chimney at the same time as ours. However, it does mean I’ve got to tidy the shed out so she can easily get at the lawn mowers and strimmer.

Another person ‘cruised’ the house this morning in a Mercedes. It looks like that price cut has actually sparked some interest. Why is all this happening just as we are going away? I’m already checking flight prices from Athens to Manchester in case we have to return to exchange contracts in a couple of months. Actually, we have 62000 points in our Natwest Points scheme that will just about buy us Easyjet return flights in June. We had a professional oven cleaner in this morning so that the oven, which is eight years old, looks as good as new. Two hours of his time and equipment feels like £55.00 well spent. We have it done twice a year for the past eight years. £400.00 for an £800.00 cooker is reasonable value.


9th April, 2010

Lovely Spring morning. Off to Hepworth Honda for a Summer-Holiday service. We have bought a new car from them every year since 1984 apart from the current one which we’ve had for three years. We’ve done 39,000 miles in this which is 25,000 more than we’ve ever done before. We have always used the same salesman – a lovely chap called Chris Wood. Over the past twenty five years we’ve got to know him and his family well. We never haggle; never question the price; always have our car serviced with them. We have always had the most brilliant service from them. Since we bought this last car in February 2007, we have always gone in for our ‘Driving to Greece’ service and they always provide it free and make sure we have bottles of free engine oil to carry with us

It is a wierd feeling not to be driving a new car but we made a conscious decision three years ago to buy this one and keep it for four or possibly five years. Chris Woods told us we wouldn’t need to trade it in for twenty years but that seems excessive. A large, 4-wheel drive is ideal for carting large amounts of stuff acrosss Europe and for driving on the less than perfect roads of a Greek island. (Actually, they are rather better than those in Huddersfield at the moment.) It has leather seats and climate control. It is an automatic which is essential for driving long distances. It has the brilliant, Honda Satellite Navigation system built in. It has a huge load capacity. It has automatic lights and wipers. It will do 125 mph without effort and can be set at that on its cruise control which takes so much of the effort out. All the controls – radio, cd, dvd, blue tooth phone are controllable by switches on the steering wheel or by voice control. These are the joys of a Honda.


There is one downside of our car. Its petrol consumption is poor. Automatic gears, 4-wheel drive, air-conditioning permanently on gives us only 27 mph which is expensive nowadays but it is a small price to pay.

10th April, 2010

You can feel the summer coming even in England. Another lovely morning with a forecast of 18c in Leeds – not much in Greek terms but it will do at the moment – especially with three days to go. We set off early for Huddersfield General Post Office with three parcels containing stuff we will not be able to fit in the car. The boxes weigh a total of 50 kg and will cost £120.00 to get there but these parcels will arrive on the island about the same day as we do. It may not be strictly cost effective but it does the job.

parcels.jpg  po.jpg