Week 164

5th February, 2012

Quite a bit of snow fell over night. Well, a couple of inches. In Yorkshire, it would just have been a normal May morning. In Surrey, it was akin to walking to the North Pole. We drove out for the papers. Hardly any one was on the road.

Watched Man. U. draw with Chelsea in a match which they should have won easily.


6th February, 2012

The snow is disappearing rapidly. As we waited for a settlement to the Greek bailout negotiations, I spent time researching and reading up on how the Greek economy had been allowed to get to this state. It will form the next chapter in my other, much neglected Blog – Living on a Greek Island. It will be completed and published this week, hopefully, to coincide with the Greek bailout success.

Merkel and Sarkozy have been very reassuring this morning. Germany will not accept Greece going bankrupt, Chancellor Merkel said in an interview this morning. ”We refuse to (accept) a Greek bankruptcy. We can’t accept that,” she told ZDF German TV.

7th February, 2012

Glorious, sunny day. The big, black cat who lives across the courtyard seems happy for the first time in weeks. We are going out for a walk this afternoon.


It was still -3C when we set out for our walk but lovely and sunny. The neighbours black cat kept trying to walk us to his door in the expectation that we would open it and looked quite crestfallen when we didn’t.

Next to our development which is red brick, is the convent building. It looks 1890s – 1900s in style and is built in a yellow ochre/orange brick with some pretentions to neo-Gothic which was popular at that time. It is surrounded by huge fir trees and rhododendrons. In the low, winter sunlight it looks beautiful. Next to it is a wreck of a house with white, painted pebble dash walls, peeling, broken window frames, a botched lean-to-cum-car-port and greying net curtains. It is on the market for just under £600,000.00. You couldn’t buy a garage around here for under half a million and the weird thing is, that hit us as soon as we came down, people don’t seem to care about or look after the outsides of their homes at all. They may do with the insides but they certainly don’t go for curb appeal.

The other strange thing is that we constantly get people trying to sell/buy our property. We get flyers or tatty pieces of paper through the door asking if we would like to sell because buyers are actively looking in the area. You would never get that in Yorkshire. It took us a year to get a viewing. From advertising to sale takes about six weeks around here.

8th February, 2012

One of the things we like about our development is that, even though we are a duplex with our own external front door, we don’t have to have those dreadful ‘wheelie bins’ outside our front door. There is a bin store with about ten, black, mobile refuse bins which are for general rubbish and ten more with blue tops for recycled stuff which I don’t really understand but Pauline tells me that I can put plastic, paper and cardboard in them. Fortunately, there is always space so you can dump anything you want. For example, we were getting rid of an old coffee maker. You just put it in a plastic bag, leave it at the side of the bins in the store and the rubbish men will take it. We had a mattress to be taken. We phoned the council, paid £10.00 over the phone and left our mattress in the store ready for collection. All rubbish is kept discretely out of sight then taken away and dumped on China or Africa or somewhere else.


Today, we have had a scandal. Somebody was spotted – not a resident – dumping a mattress and a large, pink, plastic slide in the store with no prior payment for collection. Fortunately, one of the residents is a private detective and he apprehended the miscreants who admitted they weren’t residents but were related to residents. They just wanted to avoid the charge. We are waiting for action to be taken over this by the Management Group. Oooh!

9th February, 2012

Another Thursday, another early morning at the hospital. Standing, queuing in freezing temperature at 6.45 am is not my idea of fun but it beats sleeping. More blood given. Woking Walk-in Centre have more of my blood than I do now.

Greece tentatively agreed a debt settlement last night. We might be in the clear for a while. It has come at a huge cost to the Greeks, however, who have had to take even more cuts to wages and pensions.

We were visited by Ms Lise Andreassen from the University of London this afternoon. She is doing her Doctorate on people’s adaptation of green technologies that are required in the building of new homes. We tried to convert her to our scepticism of climate change but we didn’t really succeed. Anyway, she is Norwegian.

10th February, 2012

It started to snow here about 7.00 pm last night. It was still snowing at 3.00 am. When we go up this morning at 7.00 am, it was melting in the weak, winter sunshine. This was the scene from our front door:


If you ever read The Magic Far away Tree by Enid Blyton and I lived in it for a week or two when I was six, below is how I imagined it to be:


Because we have some building projects to pay for in Greece when we get back, we will need finance above living costs. Normally, we would electronically transfer money from our English currrent account with Nat. West to our Greek Account with NBG (The National Bank of Greece). With the instability of the Greek economy at the moment, we don’t want to stick £10-15,000.00 in a Greek Bank which might crash so we have had to consider alternative ways. We will buy euros in UK and carry them in big denominations to Greece. When we have had to send large amounts of money (£20,000 – 50,000.00) in the past, we would use Nat.West Standard Transfer for which the would charge £20-30.00 but give us only marginally above tourist rate even though, as Private Banking customers, we were supposed to get preferential rates. Today, I have decided to take the plunge and use a Forex specialist. I bought £5000.00 at €1.1742 which is so much better than Nat West’s €1.12. So I got €270.00 more from I.C.E. (International Currency Exchange) than I would from Nat. West.

11th February, 2012

Got up to a lovely, sunny day with an outside temperature of -11C. This is the lowest we have experienced down here. It will be interesting driving out for the paper.

It was -4C in the garage but the roads were fine. The lady who served us in Asda had come to UK from Tanzania (made up from Tanganyika and Zanzibar) more than 30 years ago. Its first president was Julius Kambarage Nyerere who was very a very forward thinking, Marxist-based, political philosopher. I had to study his Education policy in my first degree. I think she was rather surprised I knew of him. The cosmopolitan nature of society down here is incredible.

Just watched Man. U. cruise past Liverpool like a Mercedes S-Class past a VW Beetle. Very childish behaviour from Suarez but also from Evra at the end.


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