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We have just remade our wills again (as I realised they were very out of date) in case our plane crashes in the jungles of Peru or the boat we are taking sinks in the Amazon.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.

thionville.jpg

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.

switzerland.jpg

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.

anek.jpg

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.

pphotel.jpg

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