Week 165

12th February, 2012

It was -4C in the garage when I went down to the car at 8.00 am. to go and get the papers. The air took my breath away as I go out of the car to buy the papers. I bought the Sunday Times and The Sunday Telegraph but I’m not going to do that any more. They just take too long to read. I will buy the Telegraph on Saturday and the Times on Sunday.

Watched Wolves destroyed by West Brom and felt sorry for Mick McCarthy. Felt really miffed that City managed to nick a goal against Villa.

Spent the day listening to Greece and the decision in parliament. The nonsense by a few anarchists was predictable but will still put tourists off this summer which is exactly the opposite of what Greece needs and wants. The decision will be at midnight, our time, and will almost certainly be in favour.

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13th February, 2012

It is mild Monday and the temperatures are due to get warmer as the week continues. As we are off to France, that is pleasing.

For some insane reason, Nat. West have always put us on the highest category bank account. It has a qualification of earnings way above our pension but it has numerous benefits that are helpful to us. We get free:

  • European Green Flag Breakdown Cover
  • Annual Travel Insurance
  • Worldwide VIP Airport Lounge Access
  • Mobile Phone Insurance for 4 phones
  • Card & Document (i.e. Passport) Protection
  • Identity Theft Protection
  • Home Emergency Cover – burst pipe, boiler breakdown, etc.
  • Automatic £10,000.00 overdraft facilities

I spent the day bringing these things up to date, registering our mobiles, our changed credit and charge cards, our new passports, etc.. It’s amazing how time consuming it is. How did I do these things when I was working? Well, I neglected them most of the time and then jammed it all into a weekend.

14th February, 2012

Positively balmy 6C today. The sun is even trying to break through. In Athens it is 16C. I might pop over for a coffee. I could afford the flight but €5.50 seems a bit steep for a capuccino and that’s what they’re charging in Athens currently.

The foreign currency arrived this morning in three, small, 1st class Parcelforce packages. We immediately counted it out and everything was perfect. £5,000.00 bought €5875.00. We will use them again and buy another £5,000.00 now we know it works.

Just remembered that it’s Valentine’s Day. After 34 years together, we really are past all that and that is a nice, warm feeling!

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15th February, 2012

We heard last night that the Greek deal was unravelling. Other Europeans were making bellicose remarks about preparing for Greece to leave the Euro. We think that they are negotiating positions but it is all taking too long for us.

By 6.45 am, we were standing outside Woking Walk-in Hospital waiting for a blood test. The lady who did mine, turned out to have lived and trained about a mile from where we used to live in Huddersfield. No wonder she did such a good job.

Decided to book our Ancona Patras return ferry tickets today. Last year we go a 50% reduction for booking early. This year it’s only 10%. We get an extra 10% for being over 60 and we always save 30% for booking the return journey at the same time. I’ve written before that we always treat ourselves to a Luxury cabin for the 20hr crossing from Ancona to Igoumenitsa (in Greece) to Patras on the Peloponnese. Last year, the return trip cost £493.00. This year it will cost £967.00. Thank goodness Pauline’s rich. The boat is lovely with excellent cabins, swimming pools, shops, restaurants, etc. but it is still a huge price hike which I think they will come to regret.

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16th February, 2012

Up even earlier today – 5.00 am. We want to beat rush hour traffic because we are off to the tunel. Out of the house by just after 6.00 am, we were checking in by 7.15 am. It is all done automatically by numberplate recognition these days. The return trip for the car and up to nine passengers cost £22.00. We rolled on at 7.50 am and off at 8.20 am – (France 9.20 am). We went to our wine store and bought 200 bottles. That is 18 bottles  for Phyllis and Colin and 182 for us. Sounds reasonable really. Ours will be packed in the car and taken to Greece – one bottle for each day we are there. We went to Auchan in Coquelle to buy some groceries – smoked and garlic sausage, packs of rabbit joints, duck joints, duck breasts, jars of Dijon mustard, some wonderful cheese, etc.. We had a coffee and ham & cheese sandwich in a little cafe and then set off back to the tunnel. We were back home and unloaded by 2.00 pm.

17th February, 2012

After breakfast, Pauline cut my hair as she has done exclusively since 1978. I wouldn’t know what to do at a barber’s now or how much it costs. Signs of grey are increasingly threatening to break in. If Pauline cuts it short and controls my tendency to bushiness, then she maintains what she endearingly calls ‘pepper & salt’ colouring. Even so, I don’t think I’m doing badly for my age and I haven’t gone bald like Dad which has always been my greatest fear. I will be 61 in seven weeks which means Bob is coming up to the big celebration of 60. Always makes me feel better! As you can see, he may be a year younger and a few pounds lighter but he’s had to resort to a comb over. Perhaps if he did’t drink so much…Happy birthday for Sunday, Bob.

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18th February, 2012

The morning started beautifully in full sun and blue skies but soon greyed over and started to rain. Anyway, after getting the paper, it’s a day in for us. I’m doing slow-cooked rabbit with shallots, carrots and celery. It is braising in a bottle of red wine along with some chicken stock, fresh rosemary and flat-leaved parsley. Towards the end it will have harricot beans stirred in which will help to thicken the sauce. It is already smelling great. I’ve even put the head in to the slow cooker for flavour but I will take it out towards the end.

Now I’ve fixed the dates for going through the tunnel – April 4th, the date for getting the Ancona ferry, April 6th, I can book two hotels – one in France and one in Italy – for the journey down. The distances haven’t changed so we are going to structure the journey in the same way as last year:

  • Day 1 – 7 hrs driving to Mulhouse in Alsace.
  • Day 2 – 5 hrs driving to Parma in Italy.
  • Day 3 – 3 hrs driving to Ancona in Italy to get on the boat.

This is a job for Saturday or Sunday. I will use Booking.com.

It is Bob’s 60th birthday tomorrow. We are the same age for a month and a half. I sent him this:

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