Week 150

30th October, 2011

One of the problems with our new apartment is poor mobile reception. Over the years, Pauline and I have had spells with O2 / with 3 and, currently with Vodafone. Unfortunately, there is no Vodafone signal at all inside and only a poor one outside. That is not acceptable. Today, I cancelled our contracts and obtained a migration code to port our numbers across to a new provider. The only provider with a useable signal in our apartment is TMobile. They are now owned by Orange so one gets the best of both signals. Fortunately, TMobile will give us a nice, new smartphone free with unlimited free internet and an hour’s free international calls a month in addition to our any time/any network minutes.

Had to get to Gatwick Airport for 1.20 pm to pick up Phyllis & Colin returning from a week in Spain. They were on Easyjet and the flight landed 25 minutes early. Fortunately, they were held up in Baggage Reclaim for quite a while which meant we were there on time. They arrived to find a temperature here of 17C.

31st October, 2011

One day before November and 17 – 18C is forecast. We have clerical work to do in the first half of the morning – contacting Woking Council to get them to collect the bed base we no longer need. Apparently, the cost of collection is £26.00 unless one is aged 60+ when it becomes half price. Doesn’t seem fair, really. Does it?

1st November, 2011


Happy November! I’m still wearing short sleeved Tshirts. Today we are meeting the Sky engineer at the apartment. He has an appointment time frame of 8.00 am – 1.00 pm and actually arrives at 1.00 pm. When he does, it takes him five minutes and he is off. Fortuitously, just as we are leaving the Taylor Wimpey ‘snagging list team’ arrive unannounced and begin to address all the little niggles that we have asked to be addressed. They were excellent.

The Greek situation is spiralling out of control. Papandreou has been forced to offer a referendum at the eleventh hour when it appeared Europe had found a solution. It could all come crashing down around our ears.


2nd November, 2011

Another day of shopping. Lovely mild day and quite sunny. We went to Guildford to shop for bathroom furniture. We also were looking for ceiling lamp shades and standard lamps. We left the house at 10.30 am and returned at 2.30 pm. I was absolutely shattered. I really don’t like shopping.

When we got back, I cooked prawn risotto while Pauline arranged for my anti-coagulation test. We are really pleased to have a system that will work while we are in Surrey and in Greece. Watched Manchester City tonight easily beat Vila Real. Quite boring really.

3rd November, 2011

We went to the doctor’s surgery to try to sort out diabetic eye and foot checks and a diabetic clinic. It turns out that everything is done on one site which makes life easier. They gave me yet another urine sample bottle so that, when I go to the surgery on the 24th and 28th November, I have to take two urine samples to the same nurse for different purposes. She will take two blood samples and test them separately for different purposes. That really is taking the ….Michael. I’m going to be walking round with an empty shell of a body.

4th November, 2011

To get a new mobile phone contract, we have to go through a credit check. Our new-build address is causing a problem with that. Either companies do not list it at all or they have it listed in a different form. We have companies telling us that we’ve got our own address wrong. Today, I have to contact TMobile because their credit rating agency have rejected us. Pauline has to contact the company selling us oak furniture on a buy-now-pay-in-12 months basis because they have rejected us. Both companies believe it is because of our unestablished address.

5th November, 2011

My first chance to watch Sky Sports football in High Definition and in my own home today. Newcastle against Everton could be quite a good match.

Week 149

23rd October, 2011

Almost November and the temperature reached 21F in Woking this afternoon. The sun was out; the sky was blue and the trees showed early signs of Autumn. If this is Global Warming, give me more of it. We were up early and out at 8.00 am to take Phyllis & Colin to Gatwick for their flight to Spain. The M25 was very quiet and we got there and back in an hour. We were back in time to watch the rugby final. It was a good match which I enjoyed because I wasn’t partisan.


This afternoon we went down to the flat but we have been so busy over the past two or three weeks that I felt too tired to continue unpacking boxes or cleaning. We picked up the post and went off to read the papers. I was only pleased that I don’t have access to Sky TV so I couldn’t see United’s humiliation.

24th October, 2011

Went down to our apartment to open some more boxes. I wrote an inventory of our unwanted furniture – or our second downsizing. Went to Waitrose to buy food for our evening meal. Met Mandy which was quite a surprise. Later, as we were about to start cooking, Mandy called round with the boys who had been out playing tennis. They gave us each a little chocolate cake that they had made. To say thank you, I put the boys on the carpet and sat on them. I’m sure they appreciated it.

25th October, 2011

We were supposed to be meeting the Sky installers this afternoon but the day started off disastrously. We had lent our large, flat screen TV to Phyllis & Colin while we were away in Greece. Today, we had to take it down to the flat ready for the Sky+ installation. We have ordered Sky+HD multiroom and Sky phone and Broadband package. It saves us about £50.00 per month on our separate services from Sky and BT. Let’s hope the quality is as good. Anyway, as we carried the huge TV down to the front door to put it in our car, we realised that there was a problem. The front door would not unlock. It is a mortice lock and it looks like one of the levers has dropped down blocking the lock in the process. Nothing daunted, we manage to lug the TV out of the back door, through the conservatory, across the car park to the car.

We drove down to the flat. When we got there, I took out all the paperwork I had received from Sky only to realise that viewing cards should have arrived in the post and hadn’t. I had to phone Sky and rearrange. Viewing cards will be sent in 3-5 days. We returned to Phyllis & Colin’s house, tried the lock again with no success and proceeded to search for local locksmiths. As luck would have it, there is a locksmith who lives twenty houses up the road from here. We are waiting for him now.

While we wait, I phone Woking Community Furniture Project and ask them to come and collect our our unwanted furniture. They will come on Friday. They have craftsmen who will spruce it up and give/sell it to needy people.


The locksmith came, inserted a screwdriver into the lock and gently twisted it until it clicked back in to place. It took him thirty seconds. He said he would normally charge £75.00 but, because he was a neighbour, it would only cost £45.00. Oh, Thanks!

26th October, 2011

A very grey and wet day. We went shopping – again. We went to Bath Store in Walton on Thames to buy cabinets for the bathrooms. We bought mirror-fronted stainless steel wall cabinets – 3 x double, 1 x single + 1 x tall – to have put up in the family bathroom, the en suite and the downstairs cloakroom. We have a little man coming to put them up for us soon.

We went on to Farnham to a shop I had found on the Internet and which we were so pleased to see. We wanted a dining table and chairs, a tall display cabinet for glasses, etc and a sideboard for cutlery & crockery.  I found some lovely oak pieces on line and one of a handful of outlets happened to be in Farnham about a mile and a half from Jane BG’s house. I didn’t destroy her day by calling round unannounced but I may do one day. The furniture store is called Oak-Furniture-land in East Street. As soon as we saw it, we loved the furniture and bought everything we needed. The lady processing our order was struggling with her computer. I told her I was an ex-IT teacher and it made her even more nervous.

We went to Waitrose in West Byfleet and bought trout for tea. Pauline cooked it with a lemon, tarragon and olive oil marinade. It was wonderful with a green salad. Waitrose is posh even for a Sainsbury shopper. When we leave the carpark we don’t put our validated ticket in to a machine to raise the barrier. We hand it to a man who is dressed like, looks like and sounds like Prince Charles. He says, Thank you very much, Sir. Drive carefully. I’ve started to tease him that he could be a machine. I ask him if he needs oiling, etc.

27th October, 2011

A pleasant and quite warm day. After quite a lot of driving yesterday, we had a morning off bringing our diaries up to date, contacting suppliers to firm up delivery dates, doing correspondence we have not done since leaving Greece. After lunch, we went down to the flat and prepared for visitors who are arriving on Friday. The Furniture Project are arriving to take away unwanted items many of which had belonged to Pauline’s Mum and had just tided us over in temporary accommodation:

Items for Collection

·      Reclining Arm Chair – Large upholstered metal action
·      Two walnut veneer coffee tables
·      Old pine kitchen chair
·      Dressing Table with back mirror – modern pine
·      Two bedside cabinets – modern pine
·      Kingsize Bed – Pine Head & Foot boards – Iron side rails – folding base
·     Nearly new mattress
·      Circular Dining Table + 4 chairs
·      Standard lamp
·      Television stand

The other callers tomorrow will bring wood flooring for the hall which has to acclimatise in our property before it is put down permanently.

28th October, 2011

Beautiful clear blue skies and strong sunshine. We had to be down at the apartment for 11.00 am. We got the furniture ready for handover and then took a couple of garden chairs outside and sat in the sun under the gloriously autumnal trees and waited for visitors. Packs of wood for the hall floor arrived first at 12.00 pm and we had to wait almost until 4.00 pm before the furniture was collected.

Back at Phyllis & Colin’s house we ate rabbit stew with garlic bread and green salad. It was absolutely delicious. Brought my calendar up to date: 

October 28th Friday Woking Community Furniture Project  11.00 am – 4.00 pm / Carpetright delivery of flooring
October 29th Saturday Browns hair with Genny – 9.15 am  / Bathstore Walton to collect cabinets
October 3oth Sunday Collect  Phyllis & Colin from  Gatwick  1.00 pm
October 31st Monday John to see Dr Goad 3.30pm – Take all medication
November  1st Tuesday Sky Specialist to install box
November  3rd Thursday Residents meeting 6.30 pm – Maybury Centre, Board School Road. GU21 5HD
November  10th Thursday Openreach Engineer –  8.00 am  – 1.00 pm
November  17th Thursday INR Check – Woking Walk-in Medical Centre – 9.25 am
November  19th Saturday Wardrobe materials delivered
November 21st Monday Wardrobes & Shelves fitted – All Day
November 23rd Wednesday Carpets & Hard flooring layed – Morning
November 24th Thursday Kathy health check at Hillview 11.40am
November 25th Friday Bed delivered   –  Advised time by text message + Lounge Furniture
December 6th Tuesday Trip to France
December 12th  – 17th Suite delivered

It feels quite busy although I suppose I would have considered it easy in the past.

29th October, 2011

A gorgeous, sunny day with clear blue skies. Off early to Weybridge for Pauline to have her haircut at Brown’s Hairdressers by a girl who trained at Sassoons in London and is a trainer herself now. I love Pauline having her hair cut because I get a quiet hour in a coffee shop with the paper. Today it was Coffee Republic on Weybridge High Street. She seemed reasonably pleased with the result but I have a feeling the search may go on. We went on to Bath Store in Walton on Thames to pick up five bathroom cabinets we’d ordered.

Back home and ham & salad sandwiches and a glass of red wine for lunch with Football Focus. Life could be a lot worse.

Week 148

16th October, 2011

I actually bought a Sunday paper and read it from cover to cover. Went down to the apartment to unpack boxes. We have to get a charity to take a lot of stuff away. It will be the second downsizing since we left our large house. This one will be painful – lots of huge, framed pictures, pottery we have collected over the years with lots of invested memory.

Lovely colours on the trees around our garden:

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17th October, 2011

Big day today. After more box unpacking at the apartment, we have to seal a new doctor. Tomorrow, we go to Huddersfield and say goodbye to our doctor of over ten years. We have a present of Sifnos honey, Italian olive oil and French wine to thank her for her wonderful service. An excellent doctors’ practice that we have identified has rejected us because we live too far away – 1.85 miles. We are going to look at one which is just 1.5 miles away.

We have been to the Hillview Surgery and are delighted with it. It is newly refurbished and welcoming. Even better, it was the surgery of Sir Alec & Eric Bedser. They had donated a great deal of money to the surgery.


18th October, 2011

Up at 5.30 am – a beautiful morning but cool. Out of the house at 6.30 am and on to the M25 heading for Monsom Lane, Repton. Visited Mum’s grave and said, ‘Hello’. The beech nuts had fallen in huge quantities and were scattered everywhere but real signs of Autumn in the tree colours were hard to discern. It was a windy day. The winds of October are supposed to drive dead leaves from the trees. This October, the leaves aren’t cooperating. Someone had left flowers at Mum’s grave quite recently.

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On to Oldham. Today is the first anniversary of Pauline’s Mum’s death. It is a painful time and we went to the Crematorium to view the inscription in the Memorial Book. On to our hotel near Brighouse.

19th October, 2011

Up at 7.00 am and down to breakfast by 8.00 am.. So unusual to eat bacon & egg. Off to Hepworth Honda to visit our friend, Chris Woods, who has sold us new cars for the past thirty years. On to pick up our pre-ordered prescriptions and then on to Sainsburys to pick them up. The novel part of this was that the prescriptions were all free because both of us are 60.

After a cup of coffee, we drove to Leeds to Barker & Stonehouse. We looked at a dining room table and a set of chairs and two cabinets for the lounge. We may order online. Back to Oldham and to our old house at Quarry Court to visit our neighbour, Jean. As we left her, we met our other neighbours, Graham & Margaret. It was nice to see them all again.

20th October, 2011

A day of meeting friends and relatives. After breakfast, we drove down to the Anti-Coag. unit at the hospital for the final test. Then we drove over to see Brian & Val in Shaw, Oldham. At lunchtime we drove to Bolton to have a cup of tea with Ruth and then drove back to Huddersfield to go out to Dinner with ex-school friends, Margaret & Viv. Finally back in our hotel room, we collapsed – full & tired – and watched footage of the killing of Gaddafi.

21st October, 2011

Early morning appointment with our wonderful GP, Judith, to have flu jabs, a final diabetic review and to say goodbye. We gave her a jar of honey from Sifnos, a bottle of olive oil from Italy and a bottle of wine from France. It was a lovely, final meeting. Back to the hotel and then off to the motorway for our drive back Surrey.

The motorway was great while it was called M1. As soon as it changed to M25 it clogged up. The last 30 miles to one and a half hours because of a number of accidents and one slow patch where we were advised that pedestrians were on the motorway. We saw one young man but have no idea why he was there. We called in at our aparment on route to Phyllis & Colin’s house where we are staying. Lots of mail had arrived including our updated driving licenses. While we were there, a lady from the council called to talk to us about Recycling. Fortunately, I was in the toilet doing my own recycling and Pauline had to deal with her.

Week 147

9th October, 2011

Went down to our apartment to do some cleaning and tidying after leaving it empty for six months. It is was a beautiful day. We were delighted with how the landscaped grounds around our building were looking. The trees are in magnificent colour. The apartment is set in the grounds of an old convent. As we were driving in, I noticed a little grey haired old lady teeter on the top step of huge step ladders with electric hedge trimmers in hand, cutting back a huge conifer. As we passed her, I turned down the window and shouted, “I expect to see a peacock in that conifer when I come back!” She looked so astonished that she nearly fell off the ladders.

We cleaned and measured up the rooms so that I could produce scaled plans ready for ordering furniture. When we left, the old lady was just getting down the ladders from a perfectly shaped conifer (in a conical) with the electric shears. We stopped the car in the road to say, ‘Hello‘. She told us that she was 82, her name was Joy and that her husband had been Head Gardener in the Convent where our apartment was built. She was clearly a character and lonely. It was hard to get away because she soon started rambling on about lots of stuff like her grandaughter getting a university place and then dropping out, etc.. Unfortunately, traffic came the other way and we had to move on.

10th October, 2011

Today I phoned Sky to book an installation of a package containing television, phone line with free calls and unlimited broadband. It will cost £70 – £80.00 per month which will save us about £40.00 on our previous arrangements.Went down to our apartment again and parked for the first time in our underground garage. We noticed that our nearest neighbour was parked in her space so we decided to go and introduce ourselves. She is a single woman who told us she’d been retired for four years and was now 54. She had been in the army and looked ‘well clipped’ – it turns out she was a General. She told us that she spent her time playing golf and travelling abroad. There is a meeting for the Management Group of our Development soon and we agreed to go together.

11th October, 2011

Today we went in to order fitted wardrobes for the bedrooms. We are almost the only people shopping in this huge store. Later in the day, we go in to an empty bed shop, an empty carpet shop, an empty Bathstore and an empty sofa store. Everywhere they are putting up ‘Reductions’ signs. We booked a man to come and measure up for the wardrobes with fitting and some bespoke additions. We know, roughly, the price of the carcases but are told not to pay anything until next Saturday when the price will be reduced by a further 15%. Later in the day, we get a phone call from the salesman to say that, if we pay a deposit, we can have 20% off.

12th October, 2011

Phoned my web space provider today because I still haven’t got access to my Blog after a whole week. I am quite dismayed and very angry. They tell me they are still working on the database connection. I asked how many people it affected and they became quite evasive. I became more suspicious.

13th October, 2011

This morning, coincidence??, my Blog became available again. Thank goodness for that. I can get on with updating it. I am nine days behind.

Had emails from friends in Yorkshire who we are going up to see next week. We also learned that a girl we taught with for about thirty years and who was about three years younger than us, died in her sleep last night.

14th October, 2011

Bought two settees and footstool for the lounge plus a sofabed for the study. We then went on to the carpet shop and chose two carpets. Pauline insists on an 80%/20% mix of wool/man-made fibre. We asked for two swatches and took them down to the furniture shop. It was obvious which of the two went best and we returned to the shop – Carpetright – to order. We will have the carpet laid right through the apartment – lounge-diner, stairs, bedroom 1 and bedroom 2. The price was 50% off but just as we were going in to the shop, they were putting out notices for an extra 10% off. We didn’t complain.

15th October, 2011

We now have a timetable for the next few weeks. We have jobs still to achieve but this is the barebone list:

October 18th Leave for Huddersfield
October 19th Visit friends in Oldham + go shopping in Leeds
October 20th Anti-Coagulation at HRI + visit Huddersfield friends / Dinner with M&V
October 21st Final Diabetic Clinic + Say goodbye to our Doctor.
October 22nd Carpets & Hard flooring measure up
October 25th Sky Specialist to install box – 12.00 pm -6.00 pm
November 10th Openreach Engineer – 8.00 – 1.00 pm
November 21st Wardrobes & Shelves fitted
November 23rd Carpets & Hard flooring layed
November 24th Bed delivered
November 25th Suite delivered

Week 146

2nd October, 2011

Lovely sunny day which we spent cleaning the car and packing ready for leaving tomorrow night. Because of the strike situation, we had to go down to the ferry ticket agency – Aegean Thesaurus – to confirm that our ferry would still be running. They confirmed.


Watched some pretty awful football on the part of Bolton and QPR an d was delighted to see Spurs beat Arsenal.

3rd October, 2011

Our last day in our Greek house for this year has arrived. We got up early and gave the cats their last breakfast. They will get an evening meal and we will leave food out for Tuesday breakfast but they will almost certainly eat it during the night. I have just phoned Nova TV to cancel my satellite subscription until next April. After coffee, we will start to pack the car for the journey.

Next, we will drive up to Apollonia and fill up with petrol, cancel our internet service and do some shopping for the journey. That is why this Blog is predictive rather than reported today. By 10.00 am, I will have no internet connection until I reach the hotel in Italy on Wednesday. There is satellite internet on the ferry up the Adriatic but it is painfully slow and unreliable. Hopefully, I will write again from Lake Como.

I’ve been up and cancelled my internet provision but, because I pay in advance, I learn that I will be able to use it at least up to tomorrow and, maybe, even on the boat. Having packed the car, we will go out go out to eat early and then get our boat at 23.59 pm. We will aim to sleep for most of the six hours of the trip and drive off in to the Athens traffic at 6.00 am tomorrow. It will take about three and a half hours driving to get over the Korinthos Canal and half way round the Peloponnese to Patras but we will be there by around 10.00 am on Tuesday. We can then get some breakfast, ‘Check-in’ and get our tickets and drive down to the dock where we will board at about 3.00 pm. We sail at 5.00 pm Tuesday and dock in Ancona about 12.30 pm Wednesday having called in at Igoumenitsa on the way – an approximately 19 hour voyage.

4th October, 2011

The ferry arrived thirty minutes late last night but docked fairly much on time in Piraeus this morning. By 6.30 am we were spilling out in to the busy, Athens rush-hour traffic. By 10.00 am, we had arrived in Patras – the main Pelopponese port. This is the Patras Bridge of which they are so proud.


I bought my first newspaper for six months and, after checking in and getting our tickets, we parked up and snoozed in between reading the latest news. We boarded Anek at 3.00 pm.

5th October, 2011

Pauline is 60 today. Neither of us can believe it. We have different views on ageing. Pauline sees it as a guilty secret to be denied even to one’s self on the basis that if you deny you are sixty, you aren’t 60 and you don’t feel 60. I always believed that I would die, like Dad, at 49 or earlier. I have always felt older than my age and, when asked how old I am, I always anticipate my next birthday by saying, I will be 61 in April, or whatever. I see it as a real achievement to get to the next birthday. Yesterday, when we got on the ferry and went up to the Purser’s desk to get our cabin key, I told him she would be 60 when she sat down to breakfast on Wednesday. It is late season and this ship is almost empty. When we got down to breakfast at 8.30 am, we were the only people in the restaurant. Normally, it is usual to queue for a table. The waiter had already been told to treat us royally. Our breakfast was free and we could have as much of anything we requested brought to our table. Fresh orange juice and fresh coffee were poured and constantly replenished until we asked the waiter to stop. We had bacon and scrambled eggs followed by croissants with butter and jam until we could barely move. We were just summoning up the ability to get out of our chairs when the waiter appeared with a glass dish full of thick and snowy Greek yoghurt, which he insisted we finish our meal properly with, topped with Greek honey from Crete (the home of the ferry). You must have a sweet, he said. (For breakfast?) We couldn’t upset him.

We staggered out on to the deck and into the sunshine. It was 9.30 am and warm. There was no sight of land and we dock at 12.30 pm. After a few minutes fresh air and sunshine, we stagger back to our cabin. I have my lap top and the ship has a satellite internet connection. It also has Greek TV through satellite. We watch the news coverage of the General Strike across Greece today. I check my emails and the newspapers on the web while Pauline reads her book on her Kindle. Suddenly, the cabin phone rings and the Purser speaks to Pauline. He wishes her Happy Birthday and says she must be pleased to be 16. He says, You are only as old as you feel and today he feels 100. Pauline tells him she will check with him when we return in April. The Purser says that then she will be 15. Pauline is happy.

Before I went to bed, I tried to access my Blog to write it up. I got an error message which I’ve never seen before. I will have to do it tomorrow.

6th October, 2011

Up early. A cup of tea but no breakfast. I have to drive from Grandate, Como via Colmar in Alsace to Metz in France today. It is a 370 mile journey which is estimated to take 6.00 hours. The weather was lovely, the roads were deserted and the journey was wonderful. The Hotel Metz Technopole is a pleasant stopping off point with a wonderful restaurant. We stayed there last year and decided to repeat the experience.

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7th October, 2011

Just a 4 hour journey to finish our trip. Our Tunnel crossing is booked for 6.00 pm but we will certainly go earlier. In Italy, we stocked up with wine and cheese. Now we drive straight to our favourite wine store – The Calais Wine Superstore.


By 4.00 pm UK time, we are back in England and on the motorway to Surrey and West Byfleet. After six months, it feels very strange. This evening, I try to update my Blog but I still can’t access it. I email 1&1, my hosting company for an explanation.

8th October, 2011

We spent the day going through a backlog of mail and feeling very tired. In the evening, we went over to Mandy & Kieron’s to celebrate Pauline’s birthday with steak and potato rosti.