Week 77

 6th June, 2010

Received an email from Jane (1) today:

Hope you’re enjoying being “home” and that house sale goes smoothly.

We’ve been v busy since the election and my strategy seems to have worked – no cuts in this year’s budget – but who knows what the spending review will bring. I am having to cope with the recruitment freeze which will begin to impact soon.

So I am glad to be off on Tues for a few days in New York with my friend Sheila. David is off to Singapore so can’t come with us. We’re flying BA – managed to avoid the strike – and staying at the Waldorf Astoria which I love. Plan to run in central park, drink cocktails in Grand Central, shop on 5th Ave and go to the Met and MOMA.

And I have ordered an iPad which will arrive for when I’m back – did think about getting it there but don’t want to waste time in apple when there’s so much to pack into 5 days! Will let you know when I am set up as I’ll probably use my personal email then as I can access it on the move. I haven’t previously bothered as my blackberry is connected to my work system.  Let us know how the house sale goes and when you are returning to Sifnos.

7th June, 2010 

We have been away from our Greek home a week already. It is still very muggy here but there are signs of rain arriving. The forecast on Sifnos is for a cloudless week with temperatures fluctuating around 27 – 28C. In Huddersfield, we are expecting a grey, wet week at 16C.Our buyers have had their mortgage offer confirmed. It is on its way to our solicitor. We have already signed the contracts. We expect them to sign towards the end of this week. We have said that exchange of contracts must take place on Wednesday, June 30th because we are flying back to Greece on Thursday, July 1st. We have booked the tickets. We have found a removal and storage company locally. Our next door neighbour will store one or two delicate items – TV, Computers, etc.

Wonderful story in Ta Nea (The News) newspaper this morning. It featured yet another workers’ protest and this photograph:The protest was about tax rises and pension cuts and the banner says: We Resist! Unfortunately, the protest was broken up early because rain began to fall in Syndagma Square and their resistance was broken.

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8th June, 2010

We have been emptying draws and deciding what is worth keeping, what will we see ourselves wearing again and what must be discarded. Fifty shirts from Charles Tyrwhitt mostly at £40.00 a time. I must have bought double that number over the years. I was one of the early on-line customers in the late 1980s and they gave me great pleasure over the years but what use are they now? One hundred and fifty ties bought from all over Europe. Hanging on a dozen tie hangers, they represented my first dilemma of the morning. In the past twelve months, I’ve worn a tie twice. Most will have to go. Five pairs of unworn Oxford black all leather shoes. I wear casual shoes now almost all the time but I can’t bring myself to throw these out. Pauline is throwing out more shoes from her collection than I have worn in my whole career.

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Arranged today with BT for our telephone and broadband connections to be cut on the day we go. Done the same with Sky. I’ve arranged our travel so that we will see all the ‘Last 16’ matches before we leave on June 30th in cluding England (winners of group C) against Serbia (runners up of group D) and we will be well settled in our Greek house before the Quarter Finals when we will probably be playing France. Very strange experience today that almost invoked one of my nightmares. For years I have occasionally had a dream in which I find myself on the operating table of a hospital where a surgeon is about to perform brain surgery on me. As I look at the scalpel, I begin to recognise the surgeon. Didn’t I use to teach you? I enquire with mounting anxiety. The surgeon’s face contorts with a sickly grin and I know at once that he is an ex-pupil of mine. That is when I wake up.

Today, I needed help with a large amount of money coming my way on the day before I leave for Greece. We will not be needing it for some time and I need help and advice in how to deal with it quickly. Pauline and I have done Private Banking for many years without really using its full potential. Now I needed it and I took out the contact details of our Private Banking Manager – one Richard Baines. Now that name rings a bell. I’m sure you are one step ahead of me and realise already he really is an ex-pupil of mine. I was his Housemaster. He was a very nice lad but not terribly bright. I’m going to be trusting most of my money to him until October. When will I wake up?

9th June, 2010

We’ve only been in this house for ten years as opposed to twenty in the previous one but it is amazing what we have accumulated. We have ordered a skip. This morning we found some very old photos in a drawer. This is me in the bath of our first house – circa 1978:

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Our solicitor confirmed our sale and our completion date today so the sale is as good as complete. Opened savings account at Barclays and spoke to a financial advisor at Lloyds/TSB. The intention is to split the house proceeds between four institutions we can only jointly hold £100,000.00 in any one of them safely. The money won’t arrive until we are at the airport so our bank manager has to have accounts to put it in.

10th June, 2010

Today has been a defining day. We booked the Removal firm to take our goods to store. We were able to do this because our buyers agreed our choice of Exchange of Contracts date and Completion date. There is little now that can go wrong. (Famous last words!) The Removal Firm will visit us tomorrow with boxes and bubble wrap so that we can start the process of packing up. They will come in on the day and finish it for us.

We went over to Oldham to take Pauline’s Mum out for lunch. Pauline’s Mum had tomato soup followed by fish and chips as she always does. Pauline and I had salmon fish cakes on a bed of rocket salad which was delightful. Pauline then had strips of beef filet in a cream sauce which was excellently done and I had chicken breast wrapped in Parma Ham and Mozarella cheese which was clumsily done and a disappointment. We drank sparkling water and didn’t have a sweet. The bill came to £60.00 which Pauline’s Mum thought was disgraceful.

Another photo from that stash we found in a drawer. It says on the back in Mum’s hand: Sutton on Sea, July-August 1952 – John 1yr 4mnths.

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In the foreground is me (I still wear that shirt.) and next to me I assume is Bob. I realised when I blew the photo up that it was Dad in the background playing a game with a girl who could only be Ruth. The only thing that slightly puzzles me is that, if the dates are correct, the oldest I could be was 1 yr 5 mnths and that would make Bob 7 months old. He seems well developed for 7 months. Any views?

11th June, 2010

A friend from school came over to say goodbye. Margaret was the school’s SENCO which, for the uninitiated, is the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator. Pauline was her line manager and they got on well. We used the meeting as an excuse to have cream cakes with our coffee. Margaret brought a wonderful bunch of flowers. At lunchtime, we said goodbye with a real sense that we were going our separate ways and may never meet again. At that very moment, I find the concept almost unbearable but it soon passes. We move on.

In the afternoon, our removal firm brought twenty five boxes for us to start packing. We went out to Staples and bought 120 m of bubblewrap to do the job professionally.

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12th June, 2010

A busy day today. Off early to Sainsburys then back to read the paper and get jobs done before the football matches start. Today I am going to document all the pictures we have hanging, take them down and wrap them with bubblewrap. We have about thirty or so. They are each about 1m x 1.5m and cost somewhere between £150.00 – £200.00 each. We have collected them over the past thirty years. We have already taken some to Greece but we hope to find space on the walls of a new apartment for most. The picture catalogue will follow next week.

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