Week 158

25th December, 2011

Happy Christmas to any one reading this. It has been an interesting and low-key day.

Got up late at 8.0 am and had toast & marmalade with tea. Pauline put in a bit of preparation work for food to be taken with us to Mandy & Kieron’s house. I had asked her to keep it simple this year and not put herself under pressure. I spent my time on the internet, checking ferry prices for our Greek trip in April. Usually, I book them on January 1st. Last year, we got a 50% reduction by booking so early which meant saving about £500.00. This year, shock horror, the companies have trebled their prices and early booking reductions are down to just 10%. Last year, a 24hr crossing of the Adriatic in a Luxury cabin cost us just £500.00. This year, currently, it will be £1500.00. I say ‘currently’ because there is no way that they will be able to hold their prices and big reductions will certainly follow. The game will be how late we can leave our booking.

Pauline is caterer-in-chief at lunchtime and takes her responsibilities very seriously – too seriously if truth be told. I suggested that, this year, she pre-made a simple Starter and the Sweet course so that she only had to worry about the main course. She had pre-made two terrines for Starter – Pork & Pheasant and Fresh & Smoked Salmon with asparagus. It was to be served on a bed of green leaves.

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We carry everything over in a huge container in the car. When the time came to serve the first course and as I carried out my slicing duties and placing slices on nine different plates, I suddenly learned that each plate needed either servings of fig & apple chutney or tartar sauce, an assortment of green leaves drissled with a mixture of oil & lemon, cracked black pepper and a gherkin sliced three times and fanned out on the plate.

Anyway, it all got done. The turkey was beautiful. By the time the Christmas pudding was served, like so many others across the country, I was too full to eat it. So, everything had gone to plan. The adults chatted. The boys played with their remote control helicopters, Mandy excitedly unwrapped her iPad and showed it around. Then, like the boring old buggers that we are, Pauline & I escaped to the peace and quiet of our own home some ten minutes away. We opened a bottle of champagne and watched Downton Abbey which actually was lifted by the discipline of a Christmas Special and given more bite. We went to bed, tired but happy, as one should do on Christmas Night.

26th December, 2011

Over the years of travelling, Pauline & I have gathered a huge number of photographs which we thought at the time meant something but, through the distance of history, mean absolutely nothing. We have a huge, plastic box full of them. It is almost too heavy to lift. I managed to get it in to the Study but I have no where to put it since the sofa-bed arrived. We are going to spend the morning together going through them all. 95% will then be binned. The remaining 5% will be scanned in and put into a digital collection. I will cry a lot for my past but that is how I am.

What did I mean, spend the morning. It is six in the evening and we have only reviewed half. We’ve got some crackers, though. This was Pauline & me last summer:

pauline_milos83.jpg  john_milos83.jpg

Well, actually, it was on Milos in 1983 but nothing much has changed. I then found this from 1984. It is the price list for our first Honda – an Accord costing us £7335.00 less £2935.00 we got for our trade-in, a Datsun Stanza. This is the Stanza:

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Click on this for the Pricelist. I remember that we were so proud of our Honda Accord. It had Power Steering and Air Conditioning – almost unheard of in 1984. We couldn’t afford a Summer Holiday this year because we had only just bought the car when Slade House became available and we broke the bank to buy it. This poor photo shows the new Accord parked outside Slade House.

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Did you see Ruth at the Bolton match? No I didn’t but I bet she wouldn’t have thanked you for waving. She’d probably gone home by Half Time. Poor girl!

27th December, 2011

More photo reviewing today. I am going to start scanning them in for Albums soon and certainly before I return to Greece. I have very few really good ones of Mum and/or Dad and lots of people have said they do. If you’ve got anything, I would be grateful for as high a resolution copy as you can manage.

Half heartedly watched some football today until it got to Norwich v Spurs which I thought was an excellent game. Is it my imagination or is Sky’s football offerings diminished this season? Answers on an email: john

28th December, 2011

Up at 6.00 am and off to the blood testing clinic. Queuing by 6.45 am but there are still three people ahead of me. Back for toast and coffee and then hoovering and tidying. Phyllis & Colin are coming for lunch. It will be their first visit since the carpets went down and the furniture arrived. They’ve only seen a concrete shell.

Received lovely emails from Panos & Rania and from Margharita Katzilieri and all the other girls working in the Accountants office on Sifnos. All wish us season’s greetings and make us look forward to returning.

Just nipped out to Tesco for a few things. Hardly any shoppers at 10.00 am. Are they all in bed still? What a waste of a day. Filled up with petrol before we drove home. It cost £62.00 which is pretty unpleasant but, instead of every week as it used to be, this is spread over three weeks. Two hundred miles in three weeks is almost unheard of in our lifetime!

We did a cost analysis of retirement. We are pleased to find that our annual commitment only consumes 50% of our pension and we feel that is quite a healthy position to be in. We can support two homes and two lives and still save and invest for the future. It feels good and very fortunate.

29th December, 2011

Civil Servants in Greece – about 150,000 adults – are having their salaries cut for the second time in a year. From January 1st, a civil servant with a Degree and more than 30 years service will have their monthly salary cut to just over €1000.00. Prices in Greece are as high as Britain. How these people will live, I have no idea. What effect these cuts will have on the general economy is obvious. Nobody will have money to purchase goods.

After breakfast on a warm day, we went to a place called Knaphill. It’s only about five miles away from where we live but it has a large Sainsburys and a Homebase. We have our little man coming next week to put up shelves and mirrors and we’ve decided to have some more towel rings in the bathrooms. Pauline has bought three more plus a soap, shampoo, and shower gel holder for the walk-in shower area.

In Sainsburys I bought Pauline a big box of Thorntons Chocolates because it is our anniversary tomorrow and we start our new diet and exercise regime on Sunday. We drive home and, after lunch, spend the afternoon doing paperwork. I went through all the Christmas Cards and the only family member I didn’t get one from was Liz which I thought was strange. I did get a text message from her yesterday but I didn’t fully understand it.  Mike’s card just had the word, ‘Mike’ on it but the writing was so bad, Pauline had to tell me what it said.

30th December, 2011

Our Wedding Anniversary. Thirty three years ago today the roads across the Pennines and many other areas of the country were nearly blocked with snow. We had chosen it as our Wedding Day. The Council Gritters had chosen to go on strike. Fortunately, we had a lovely day and everyone who wanted to attend struggled through and made it. We were married in Huddersfield Registry Office although the photo looks a bit Eastern European now

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and then (to please my Mum) we had a blessing in the Meltham Mills Church just a few hundred yards from our house where we held the reception. Pauline did all the catering and it was brilliant. I had a wonderful day and it was the prelude to a wonderful marriage. I have been so lucky!

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31st December, 2011

For most people, this evening is one to spend with others, partying, holding hands and singing Auld Lang Syne. Pauline and I have always shunned these activities and chosen to spend the evening quietly over a bottle of wine together. It is how we came in and, hopefully, how we will go out.

Diets can never start until the New Year in our house. December 30th is our Anniversary and then, of course, there is New Year’s Eve to be toasted in. Already, however, plans are afoot for a new Health Campaign as we cut down on eating and drinking and start to visit Woking’s ‘Pool in the Park’. We have both put on weight since returning from Greece. It is exactly twelve weeks since we set foot on UK soil which means we have about that much again before we leave. Actually, it is looking like we will go on April 3rd. Greek Easter is the week after Catholic on April 15th.

It was nice to read in The Telegraph today that house prices have risen more this year in Woking than anywhere else in the country. We’ve always had these effects on places.

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