13th February, 2011
A dark, wet day outside only lifted by the Sunday Papers and Man. United’s win over City yesterday enhanced by Rooney’s overhead goal. We have reconsidered the hotels en route to Ancona in April. Last year we stayed in Colmar (Alsace) and Modena (Italy). We have decided that, because we are going through the Tunnel and will be hitting the French motorways an hour and a half earlier, we can aim a little further. Our membership of the Spirit Health Club allows us privileged prices at Holiday Inns across Europe. We have booked a Holiday Inn in the Medieval, Alsace town of Mulhouse. Just see how medieval the hotel looks:
We will drive on to the hammy city of Parma in Italy for our second night. Like all Italian hotels, the Holiday Inn is classically designed:
To be honest with you, we spend so few hours in these places before moving on that there is no point splashing out on luxury. We have found that hotel prices are falling across Europe. These two hotels cost less than £55.00 per night each with free internet and breakfast. Where else could you get that?
14th February, 2011
Valentine’s Day means a trip to the Anti-Coag Department at the hospital. My INR is rising nicely and I will have one more test before we go away. I shall continue to phone my blood tests in to Huddersfield Royal while I am in Greece, have one more face to face in October before I can reorganise in Surrey. Off to the Health Centre and, after a half hour’s swim I relax in the Jacuzzi where I meet a young man who appears keen to talk. Unbelievably, it turns out he has driven up from Surrey where lives on the other side of Woking from our new apartment. He fits solar panels in millionaires row just down the road in West Byfleet. Lovely to see Chelsea sinking without trace and Torres failing to score again.
15th February, 2011
Today, after exhaustive searching and price comparison, we go on another buying trip for items bound for Greece. Purification filters for our Brita water jugs, Wash&Go shampoo, Corsodyl toothpaste and ‘Oral B’ electric tooth brush heads are all either horrendously expensive or unavailable entirely on our island. We don’t usually shop at Asda but all the bargains were there today and so were we. Of course, we are buying enough for six months so we buy in bulk when things hit ‘half price’. Spending so much time in the sun means sun tan lotion is essential. Pauline insists on a ‘once-a-day’ lotion. She buys ‘Piz Buin Day Long’ sun tan lotion. For 200mls, it cost £19.50 standard price. Pauline pounces when it turns up under £10.00. We usually go away just as the holiday market is being kick started with ‘half price’ or ‘2 for 1’ offers.
We have found that ferry connections from Piraeus to Sifnos are awkward when we arrive this year. We have decided to spend a couple of nights in Patras on the Pelopennese before driving down to Piraeus port on Saturday, April 16th. Pauline has already booked the Hotel Patras Palace. We normally pay £120.00 per night. This year the price is below £90.00. Maybe the Greeks are seeing sense at last.
16th February, 2011
A beautiful morning – blue sky and sunshine – only spoiled by learning that we had missed Pancake Day yesterday. I had no idea. Can I justify pancakes today instead?
We went in to town this morning and did a tour of the banks because we will soon need them to transfer money to our solicitor’s clients account. The cash is in three separate banks – Nat West, Barclays and Lloyds TSB – each one will charge between £20.00 & £30.00 to send the money digitally by CHAPS – robbers!
17th February, 2011
Thick fog in Huddersfield this morning as we set off for Bolton to visit Ruth & Kevan. As we progress down the M62, the skies clear and the sun comes out. It was lovely to see them again and especially because they took us to see the ‘Show Flat’ in the old mill where their new apartment is being completed. Ruth is very excited about moving which has rather surprised Kevan but we can see why she can’t wait to move in. Her penthouse apartment is in ‘The Cotton Works’, a development of a beautiful, red brick, art-nouveau-ish mill built for Sir John Holden between 1925 -1926. Typically, real design went in to the building but it only lasted as a cotton mill for 40 years and closed in 1965, six years before Ruth even met Kevan.
We couldn’t see Ruth’s apartment because it won’t be available for a couple of months but she took us to the ‘show flat’ ands it was very impressive for fellow down sizers. What was equally impressive was the price they have agreed to pay. They are stealing it! Kevan took photos of Ruth with Pauline & I in the show flat.
18th February, 2011
Interesting day today. We received a joint gas & electricity bill for the first three months in the shoebox. The bill came to a paltry £270.00 which is less than we were paying for one equivalent month in our house. We are leaving the shoe box one month early having paid six month’s rent up front. We have asked for one month’s rent back. It is only £550.00 but would buy us something in our new house. We only get it back if they can let the shoe box for that month. Today we got a phone call to say that someone wanted to view the shoebox tomorrow. We’ve got to sell the unsellable.
19th February, 2011
Happy Birthday to Bob. 59 today. He’s certainly got the key of the door! Got outside the door of our shoebox to be met by this:
Had to send my wife to get the paper in a blizzard. Poor woman!