Week 123

24th April, 2011

Easter Sunday. Everywhere is closed apart from our minds. From midnight the island became alive with church bells ringing, fireworks shooting and bursting illumination across the mountains to major explosions blowing up Kamares beach with a white light flash that, after the delay, shook the very ground we stood on almost a kilometre away and boomed across the valley and rolled around the mountains for seconds afterwards. Greeks drove home to their houses from shaking hands and ritually greeting each other with: Christe elaison (Christ is risen.) to eat a midnight meat feast which they were supposed to be denying themselves for the past forty days. I can assure you they haven’t been but who really cares what Christmas is about or Easter? Pauline and I went outside on to our terrace to watch and listen to Greek frenzy of celebration and then escaped the freezing night air to drink a hot cup of tea before bed.

We got up very late this morning after going to bed late last night. It was almost 9.00 am before our tea and toast for breakfast. The Sunday Telegraph had been delivered to my Kindle. I wish I’d ordered The Times now. It might be less obsessed with Royalty and Weddings. I’m going to be sowing salad and bean seeds today and then I’ve got Arsenal v Bolton to look forward to. I’m relying on Ruth to come up trumps.

Of course, like all the best sisters, Ruth has done it for me again. Bolton beat Arsenal in the last few minutes and almost produced an impossible response from me – I began to feel sorry for Arsene Wenger.


It was lovely to be sitting in my Greek house and to receive texts from Ruth about the result. Thirty years ago, we queued up for half an hour to use one of the two telephones on the island to ring out of Greece only to find all international lines were busy. Now I can conduct a virtual conversation with a strange woman in Bolton from my lounge.

25th April, 2011

Easter Monday is going home day in Greece. All that fuss, all that preparation and all that excitement and, by Monday afternoon, the ferries are arriving to take them back to Athens and work (or striking) on Tuesday. It’s a bit like Christmas without Boxing Day.

We had a pleasant morning reading and baking bread as the sun streamed in. At 2.00 pm, we went down to Captain Andrea’s Fish Taverna for lunch. Captain Andrea is now dead. He was ‘The Man’ when we first came to Sifnos. His wife, Poppie, ran the restaurant like a military operation while he, having been out all night on the high seas, lounged around drinking coffee. Now his son, Andreas, who was only 10 when we first arrived, is Mayor of Sifnos. It is Andreas we have to cultivate to provide us with a telephone line because he also works for the telephone company.We had a lovely meal although, ironically, not of fish. Easter in Greece is a time for meat. We had Greek Salad, Tsatziki, Roast Mastello (goat) and potatoes. We washed it down with a litre of House Red and were then given Easter cake for our sweet.

Later in the evening, I watched an enjoyable match in which Man. City beat Blackburn. I would like to see City pushing United to new heights next year. I’ll be sorry to see Tevez go though.

26th April, 2011

Pleasant but chilly morning. Went up to the Supermarket for basic commodities and then came back to read the paper on the Kindle. Royal Wedding mania is beginning to dominate news media of all countries – The Daily Telegraph, The BBC, CNN and the Greek television. Even here, it will be difficult to avoid.

In addition to 100 Kg of ‘stuff’ that we posted by Parcelforce, we brought a hell of a lot as well. This included five, huge, pictures by Alma Tadema which we have no room for in our new apartment and which have a vaguely neo-Greek, neo-Classical, Mediterranean scene and would look fine in our Greek house. Each one is 3ft x 2ft -ish and will happily help to furnish our huge, stark, white Cycladic walls. Today, it was my job to put them up and, in years gone past, it would have taken me all day, agonising over spacing and heights, etc.. I’ve put so many up in the past ten years, I was amazed to find all five took me less than twenty minutes and I didn’t need a stiff drink in between.

Watched Man. Utd. totally embarrass the Germans – Schalke – and, just as the game finished, thunder & lightening began to spark round the mountains.

27th April, 2011

Torrential rain, thunder & lightening roared intermittently all night. It is not unheard of at this time of the year but it is not common. We lay in bed listening to the gallons of water fall on our flat roof and down into the massive water tank below. We will have soft water for some time to come.

Mum died exactly three years ago today. I still miss her dreadfully although, it is true to say that the pain is dulled somewhat. She is in my thoughts on a regular basis, in conversations, arguments in my head. I spent 57 years trying to shake off the yoke of her authority and the last three learning to live with my own. The sense of loss has only been exacerbated by the death of Pauline’s Mum which Pauline has borne with such stoicism set against my incontinent emotions. Neither of us feels anything exists beyond ourselves. We belong nowhere and to no one than each other. It is a strange and lonely feeling yet incredibly liberating. What to do with that freedom?

Well, tonight I’m going to watch Barcelona v Real Madrid in the next Champions League semi-final. I would like to see Real at Wembley. When the game actually came on TV, it was 10.00 pm in Greece which is really too late. It finished at nearly midnight and was a strangely tempestuous affair. It seemeed to me that Barcelona were mainly at fault but that might just be my perspective. Admittedly, Messi’s goal to bring 0-2 was very good.

I have decided to cheat in the garden a little this year. Instead of growing everything from seed, I have decided to buy some vegetable plants. I have red and green peppers, aubergines and courgettes in small plant form to give myself a head start and I’ve been potting them up this afternoon. It isn’t terribly warm and is still just under 70F but we have to get started. Unfortunately, the wet weather is holding up my clearing of the vegetable patch which still looks like this.


I am still having trouble with my internet connection and I am having to steal connections wherever I can until Cosmote reinstate my dongle. For that reason, don’t expect a perfect service for a little while.

28th April, 2011

A quiet, cool night but we awoke to the sound of torrential rain. We had to turn the central heating up. It is very dark. Rain clouds falling over the mountain. After porridge for breakfast, we decided it was just too horrible to go out and settled down to reading – the paper for me and her novel for Pauline.

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When the rain has cleared and the sun has come out – about 1.00 pm – I turn to sowing seeds of salad, beetroot, herbs like tarragon and parsley. Pauline starts pulling up weeds in the veg. patch.

Watched a biopic of Edith Piaf this evening after dinner of pork and roast vegetables. What a hard life some people are born into and live. How lucky are we!

29th April, 2011

Amazingly, it didn’t rain last night but it was still cold this morning until the sun came up. Our underfloor heating is really repaying Pauline’s confidence in it. What do you think we did today. Absolutely opposed to religion and to Monarchy, we watched the Royal Wedding. Admittedly, there was little choice because it dominated BBC, CNN and every Greek Television channel you could find. I read my paper but kept an eye open for the TV. Even I was pleased to see the weather stayed dry on a big, British spectacular.

Went out for dinner tonight to the restaurant run by Panos & Rania and their serf (chef), Anna. In the winter (which they still consider it here), the menu is restricted.  We went to see Panos & Rania – lovely, genuine, island people who open their hearts and their homes to people in true Greek style. I, for example, am having problems re-establishing my internet provision. I am have to wait for a courier to bring a new contract from the provider, Cosmote, to me in Sifnos before I can be reconnected. There is an island, free service but it doesn’t reach our house. I have to drive down to the beach, sit in the car with my laptop to get a reasonable connection. Panos & Rania immediately said I could use theirs in the restaurant which “is never locked. It’s wireless; just walk in and use it any time.” That is how wonderfully genuine true Greeks are.

30th April, 2011

Today, we are off to the cafe to see Christos. He and his wife moved in to their new house over the winter and had their first baby. We are going to have a cup of coffee at the cafe and arrange to go up and see their new house and baby.

After that, we are off to the garden centre to buy a few more young plants – melons and field cucumbers hopefully. This afternoon I am going to do something very unusual – support Spurs. Even a draw against Chelsea would be alright.

Week 122

17th April, 2011

Woke up to rain in Sifnos this morning. Still tired after the journey. Watched some good football on TV. Went out to eat at Simos restaurant. Went to bed very early.

18th April, 2011

Got up early, feeling so much more rested. Went up to the Post Office to find our 5 boxes containing 100 kilos of ‘stuff’ had arrived. Carried it back down to the house and spent the morning unpacking everything. Went out for lunch at 2.00 pm to Myropi restaurant. Lovely lunch and wine. Drove home and fell asleep. Later found that Sifnos had installed an island wide internet connection ‘free’ and we are just on the usable edge of it. It will probably be stretched to the limits when the tourists arrive but, for now, it is good. Feeling sorry for Ruth after Bolton’s game.

19th April, 2011

Up early to a freezing cold morning. Had to turn the underflooor heating up. Lots to do today. After breakfast of tea, toast and jam, we are off to the medical testing centre to have my Anti-coag. test. Then we are going to the mobile phone shop to cancel my dongle contract because Sifnos seems to be providing broadband free. Then, on to the ‘Garden Centre’ for growbags and to see if they have pepper, melon and tomato plants.

20th April, 2011

Bitterly cold, wet and with gale force winds. Our Underfloor heating has been on since we arrived. All day and all night. The only decision has been whether to turn it up from constant 21C / 70F to 24C / 76F or back down again depending on the time of day. It is amusing to read that UK is basking in a barbecue Summer in April and that the beaches are so busy. Here, we are wondering if people will arrive for Easter celebrations because the strong winds are threatening boat sailings. Each morning starts with toast and tea at around 7.30 am, the BBC News, the Greek News and opening up the Kindle to find that The daily Telegraph has been delivered. It has revolutionised life already. I don’t have to wait until the 10.30 am boat has come in – if it does. I don’t have to wait for the van to roll off the boat and up to the papershop. I don’t have to wait until all the Greek papers have been unpacked, checked and counted and put out on to the shelves. Particularly, I don’t have to buy a day-late newspaper. I don’t even have to pay nearly £3.00 for it. Now, I get today’s newspaper at 8.00 am (Greek Time) / 6.00 am (UK Time) and it cost me £10.00 per month for newspapers that would normally cost £92.00.

Watched Arsenal – Spurs match tonight. It was a classic. I absolutely loved it and, to add to the pleasure, Arsenal only got one point. Surely United can’t lose the title now.

21st April, 2011

It is still very cold and windy but, at least, it is drier. The Greeks regret this because we are looking at the last rains until October now. After morning routines have been gone through, we get a visit from Margharita – Stavros’ Mother – who has come up to the house with a bowl of freshly cooked Gigantis or big bean soup. She once cooked it for me and I over expressed my appreciation of the dish. Now, every time we return to the island, we regularly get a dish of Gigantis.

After Margharita has gone, we drive up to the supermarket which will be closed for three days over Easter and we have to make sure we have enough food. We buy a fresh chicken for tonight (2 kilos – €5.00), Cyprus potatoes and lots of vegetables. We go to the ‘Garden Centre’ to buy a plant fot Margharita for Easter. We get a hydrangea and some plants for us – a couple of large Pelargoniums, some seedling red peppers, courgettes and aubergines. I will grow some from seed but I would like to have a few producing early. We drive back down to Kamares to visit Apostolis & Moshca for lamb. We buy effectively a lamb at €7.50 per kilo. We buy about 5.5 kilos in two legs and two shoulders.We will have roast lamb with onions, garlic and the rosemary and thyme growing round the house. The cold lamb will be used to make filo pastry parcels.The first lamb joint will be for tomorrow. Today we have half a chicken still to eat. I cooked it with lemons from our trees. We must have about 50 lemons on the trees this Spring. Tempting though it is to pick them, they remain perfect on the trees for a long time so we pick them when we need them. Pauline made a lemon tart yesterday to eat with whipped cream. It only took three lemons and it was absolutely delicious. After dinner tonight, we watched a film. We have a DVD/VHS player hooked up to our TV and we have an entire library of unwatched films – recorded from TV or bought in UK – which we rarely watch. Tonight Pauline chose ‘In Her Shoes’ featuring Cameron Diaz & Shirley Maclaine. You might call it a girl’s film but I enjoyed it. It centred around a dysfunctional family so I felt I understood its terms of reference.


22nd April, 2011

Today is bright and breezy and about 70F which feels cool here. We have had an in-day. Pauline has made bread. I have been taking some photos for the Blog and the Website. Everywhere is green and carpeted with wild flowers. There has been so much rain in Greece this winter, everything has grown a lot – apart from the economy.

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Greek TV is dominated by Easter or Pascha as they call it here. Mainly it is about the ‘Exodus’ or ‘leaving Athens’ for one’s island home to celebrate with family. The UK press is dominated by petrol prices for people going out on day trips. The Greek press has just the same preoccupation for those driving across Greece and getting on Ferries.The price of petrol on the island is about €1.80 or £1.58 per litre. When we left Woking, we were paying £1.31. The TV news is dominated by pictures of petrol stations, people queuing in cars on roads to get through the tolls, cars queuing at Piraeus to get on ferries and then by meat prices in the markets of Athens. Everybody has to spit roast a lamb or goat for Easter. The price has gone up again just as their wages are going down. There is huge unemployment in Greece now and they are really hurting.

23rd April, 2011

Greece is now officially closed. The last boats have left Piraeus. They will arrive at the island by 2.00 pm and there will be no more movement until Tuesday. The shops on the island close at 2.00 pm and will not re-open until Tuesday. Greek television will show church services and wall to wall Hollywood biblical blockbusters that will blaze away in the corner of every living room completely ignored by all concerned as they prepare to feast and forget the economy.We feel complete outsiders but not unhappy for that. This afternoon, I will watch three Premiership football matches starting with Man. Utd. – Everton. Rooooneeeyey!

Week 121

10th April, 2011

The start of the next adventure. At 11.00 am, we are taking Phyllis & Colin down to our new apartment because we will need their help while we are away. We would like them to

  • call occasionally to clear post.
  • supervise the fitting of the burglar alarm which still hasn’t been done.
  • check that the ‘snagging list’ has been completed.
  • occasionally check security.

At 2.00 pm we are off to Ashford and the adventure really begins. We are off to the Tunnel at 5.00 am for a 6.20 am crossing. Hope the weather we are currently experiencing continues. Blue skies and gorgeous warm sunshine still prevail.

Having said goodbye to Phyllis & Colin and thanked them for all they have done for us over the past few months, we drove down to the Ashford Travelodge. It was even more average than it looks but we were only staying a few hours. We went to bed at 9.00 pm.


11th April, 2011

Up at 4.00 am and, after shower and a cup of tea, we drive down to The Tunnel. Plenty of people booked in for the 6.20 am shuttle which, in the nascent daylight, leaves right on time.

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As we emerge from the darkness of the tunnel to the daylight, it is obviously another gorgeous day in prospect. We begin our journey at 8.00 am Central European Time. It is a new journey for us with new motorways and it soon proves to be so much better than the route we have taken from Zeebrugge for the past eleven years. France is warm, sunny and totally empty.

We stopped in a scruffy little town called Woippy near Metz for lunch and to raid the local Auchan for wine. We buy our first tranche of wine for the six months away. I had already warned Mastercard of this activity in case they took fright and stopped my card.


We drive on to Mulhouse and to the Holiday Inn we had booked there. It turned out to be fantastic with a lovely room and a brilliant restaurant.


12th April, 2011

After eating too much in the wonderful restaurant, we had quite a fitful sleep, got up quite early and, after a shower and a cup of tea, we were on the road before 9.00 am. Unfortunately, it started to rain as we left the hotel and went to the car. The first hour’s driving was not particularly pleasant with heavy rain, standing water, spray from the heavy lorries and narrowed lanes and roadworks across Switzerland. We have always hated Switzerland. They charge 35 euros vignette to drive on their motorway system which is in the worst condition in Europe and then they close half of it with orange ‘temporary’ lines which scarily narrow the lanes down to the width of a gnat’s whisker. The temporary markings have only been there for eleven years as far as we know. The only improvement is that we are now driving it in daylight so we can see what an eyesore it is.

Anyway, descending rapidly through the wet, snowless alps into Italy, the weather miraculously changed to clear blue skies and strong sun. The temperature rose to 27C / 81F and all was right with the world. We found our Holiday Inn in Parma – another lovely hotel although you wouldn’t think so from the outside.


We over ate in the wonderful restaurant and then staggered out to watch Man. Utd. humiliate Chelsea. I was so happy and full.

13th April, 2011

Had another fitful night because I had eaten too much but got up and had breakfast today. There is something about Italy makes you want to eat.

I had structured the journey so we did 7 hours on our first day, 5 hours on our second day and 3 hours on our third day. It all meant I could keep my speed in the 80 – 100 mph which is a little more comfortable and less likely to be picked up by local police. In fact, in the whole of our journey, we only saw a couple of police and they weren’t interested in us. We did the last three hours down to Ancona, drove to the check-in office and then on to the port dock. By 1.30 pm were were boarding Anek Lines ferry, Hellenic Spirit.


We were shown to our De-Luxe cabin which has a large porthole, air conditioning, television with Greek and Italian programmes,  a double bed, table and chairs, fridge with complimentary wine and bathroom with toilet and shower. Mrs Bouquet would have loved it!


We put our watches forward another hour to Eastern European Time and opened the wine. After we’d drunk it, we went to the restaurant for dinner. Our first Greek salad of the year is always the best. It accompanied pork fillet and potatoes and a nice bottle of red wine. We went back to our cabin to watch television for an hour or so and, particularly, the weather. It all looks set fine for our crossing on Saturday to Sifnos. Strong winds are the danger that lead to boats being cancelled.

14th April, 2011

We had rather a fitful night having eaten too much and there was a bit of roll on the ferry. We woke up in time to see it dock at Igoumenitsa on the Greek mainland opposite Corfu and just below Albania. It looks a beautiful place, covered in trees. It is well know for its coastal fish farms which supply British supermarkets with Sea Bream & Bass, etc.. Here a lot of Albanians and Turks who work in Greece get off the boat to drive home for Easter.

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After bacon & egg breakfast which was free because we had a De-luxe cabin, we read the paper on our Kindle and watched Greek news on television until a knock came on the door, asking us to vacate our cabin so it could be cleaned. We went out to a wi-fi area and I tried to bring my blog up to date. Unfortunately, the satellite signal was so weak, I only succeeded in deleting almost my entire week’s Blog so, if you read it day by day, you will notice it has almost completely been rewritten. Our hotel in Patras has free, superfast broadband.

We rolled off the ferry about an hour late at 3.00 pm and drove across the road to our hotel – The Patras Palace – which we have used for ten of the twelve trips we have driven to Greece. It is delightful with large, richly appointed rooms and private parking in secure grounds. This is particularly important because bands of illegal immigrants roam the port fences just waiting for their chance to slip into the back of a lorry, the boot of a car or even under the back axle. They hope to get on a boat to Italy. As we look out from our expensive hotel balcony, we see these ragamuffins lined up against the fence eyeing up an opportunity. We feel sorry for them but not that sorry. They put in enormous efforts to get to the West. They take enormous risks to get to the West. They should stay in their own countries and invest that enormous effort and appetite for risk in making their own lands fit for a good life.

Looking beyond the immigrants, we see this:

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15th April, 2011

This morning we got up in leisurely fashion. I didn’t get out of bed until 8.00 am. After a huge and leisurely breakfast of toast & coffee, bacon & eggs in the roof-top restaurant, we have returned to our room to make telephone calls – using Skype – and Pauline brings her accounts up to date while I bring my Blog and website up to date.

We listen to Radio 4 all morning as ferries come in from Italy and bands of immigrants get increasingly excited. Police and army men stroll lazily around the sensitive, docking areas but immigrants are not really afraid of arrest because they are never arrested. To do so would mean far too much effort and expense housing detainees, processing and deporting them. The immigrants know this. The police and army just chase them behind the barbed wire barrier knowing that they will return again and again as soon as their backs are turned.

16th April, 2011

The Hydrofoil, – Speedrunner – leaves at 7.30 am and it takes 3 hrs to drive from Patras to Piraeus. We will check out at 3.00 am because we cannot afford to miss it. We will arrive at Kamares port, Sifnos at around 11.00 am. We will see our house for the first time in six months.


There will then be a short hiatus before we can achieve internet connection again. It may take two or three days.

Week 120

3rd April, 2011

D-Day! I don’t know what the D stands for in this case but we have spent the day – after the Sunday papers – packing up our possessions ready for removal tomorrow. The removal men are arriving at 6.00 am on Monday morning. Pauline cleaned the oven ready for the hand-over and so we had to send for pizzas for tea.

Received an email from Jane:

I hope you have a lovely birthday. 60 should not pass unmarked so hope you have interesting plans. Travel safely and enjoy Greece.


and one from Ruth:

I enjoyed the cricket final India were the better side !Utd escaped once again ! Will miss you when youre away for six months…..where will you be on your birthday ??  Ruthie xxx

Went to bed at 9.00 pm and set the radio-alarm for 4.45 am. Just as well because (read on) ………..

4th April, 2011

The removal men arrived at 5.45 am. We had just showered, downed a cup of tea and dismantled the bed when the lorry pulled up outside. Our first thought was that it wouldn’t all fit into what looked like a glorified white van but, apparently, that is the most common concern and it all went in easily.

The van set straight off for Surrey and we thought that we had plenty of time to get there before it. We packed our car, went down to Sainsburys for sweets and petrol and then set off. At times we touched nearly double the speed limit which you’ll be aware is only advisory and there more as a challenge than to be adhered to. Occasionally, we say to each other, “I wonder how far back the van is now?” and laugh. Suddenly, after 150 miles, we found ourselves overtaking the removal van. We couldn’t believe it. After four hours,we did just arrive at the apartment ahead of them but only just. They downed a mug of coffee, emptied the van, downed another mug of coffee and set off back to Huddersfield.

We slumped, shattered and read the paper.

Received an email from Caroline:

Dear John

Many happy returns for your 60th on Wednesday 6th, I am not sure where or what you will doing for your birthday so I thought I would send this now. I am sure you will be enjoying a gorgeous meal and wine and celebrating this milestone. It is hard to believe that you are 60, retired and moving to the south.

I am down 3 and half stone since I got diagnosed type 2 diabetic last August and a tea totaller now. The attached picture is me and Barney Rubble wishing you a happy birthday from the river at the bottom of our garden, Les was taking the photo but says happy birthday too.

Good luck in your new home in the south.
Love Cal x

5th April, 2011

Today, we woke up to lovely sunshine in Surrey and, after a cup of tea, we nipped down to our new apartment before setting off once again for Huddersfield. The site team had warned us of delays on the M25 but our sat. nav. soon flashed up that there was a complete ‘blockage’ of the M25 and that there was already a tailback of 6 miles. Our sat. nav. offered us a detour which we took and found ourselves driving past Heathrow Airport. It was an interesting detour but we soon got on to the M1 which was fabulously bereft of traffic. It was almost as if, deus ex machina, some one had hoovered up all the traffic and given us a 1960’s motorway.

We were back in our shoe box by lunchtime and hoovering, repainting the walls, etc. My job was to clean the windows but, when we got there, a professional team of cleaners were cleaning the windows. Apparently, it was all part of the service charge which we didn’t pay. This was the first time the windows had been cleaned in five months.

When we were really tired we went off to our hotel – Premier Inn, Brighouse – which is quite delightful and has a nice restaurant attached. We have a lovely room for three nights.


6th April, 2011

Today I have reached a milestone I never thought would happen. I always believed I had Dad’s genes and that I would die young. Of course, I may well still do so but I have managed to reach 60 years old. Every time I drive past Junction 28 on the M1, I shout, ‘Hello Mum’. Now I can salute Dad with my achievement of three score years. My next target is the extra ten. It is the most glorious day reaching nearly 70F with lots of Spring sunshine. Pauline & I are celebrating my birthday with a pork pie and bottle of wine picnic. Tomorrow we will take friends out to Dinner. Tonight it is Chelsea – Man. U.

Couldn’t have had a better birthday present than United’s destruction of Chelsea. I thought Torres showed himself for what he really is. He couldn’t even dive convincingly.


7th April, 2011

Today  we have to post our parcels to Greece. They collectively weigh about 80 kgs.


Parcelforce will charge us about £200.00 and have them in the Post Office in Sifnos a couple of days before we get there.


After going to the Post Office, we had underweighed our parcels on the bathroom scales by a total of 20kgs but because we are regular customers – this is our eleventh year – they found a really cheap consignment deal which still only cost £200.00. The boxes will get to Sifnos next Wednesday.

After the Post Office, we went on to Santander to buy our next ISAs. We bought our full cash allowance – 2 x £5340.00. It makes us feel righteous by salting some capital away. It was amazing how many people were buying ISAs. Santander were finding it difficult to keep up.

After Santander, we went down to say goodbye for the final time to our old next door neighbour, Jean. That was lovely in the scorching, hot sun and we drove back feeling good to our hotel.

After a shower and a cup of tea, we went out to Ciao Bella to meet our old friends, Viv and Margaret. We had a wonderful meal of Italian salad, Bresola and Bruschetta as a starter followed by Chicken and steak with various salads. Over three bottles of wine, our memories and conversations were emotional. We vowed to meet again at our house in Greece. We drove back to our hotel for our final night in Yorkshire.

8th April, 2011

This morning we drove down to the Letting Agents, Martin & Co. We were supposed to be having a review of the shoebox prior to getting our deposit back but they contacted us to say that we were such good tenants, a review would not be necessary. We drove down to give back the keys. We retrieved our deposit on the web from The Deposit Protection Scheme.

Today is like mid summer – hot, clear blue skies – and seems wholly appropriate for the first day of the next stage of our lives, as Pauline said. We go back to our Hotel room to pack up and leave for Surrey. The motorway is quite busy today and aggressive. The bright light seems to be sending drivers bonkers. Even so, we arrive in West Byfleet in three and a half hours. It has been a stressful and quite emotional few days. We are both shattered. After a cup of tea, we set about our final arrangements before leaving for Greece. We contacted British Gas to pay our final gas & electricity bills for the shoebox. Pauline had forward accounted £450.00 based on our previous house’s experience. It actually came to £120.00. Every time we go to Greece, we forewarn Mastercard and Visa so they don’t get suspicious about our spending. We also had to inform them of our change of address.

9th April, 2011

Three years ago today, we set off for Manchester Airport and got caught in a blizzard. Cars were skidding off the M62 and crashing into the embankments all around. It was actually terrifying particularly because we had set off with Greek sun in our minds. Needless to say, we did get to the airport and flew off to the sun but what a contrast. Today is scorching sun and clear blue skies in Surrey. 73F is predicted and, by 8.00 this morning, Brighton beach was packed with sun lovers as the BBC illustrated.


We are dropping some final things off at our new apartment, having the car cleaned, filling the tank and preparing for the off. Instead of driving from Surrey at 4.00 in the morning, we’ve booked a room at the Travelodge which is 15 minutes from the Tunnel and will allow us at least another hour in bed.