19th February, 2012
Happy 60th Birthday, Bob. Received a nice email reply from Bob and I have suggested Pauline & I will take him & Jane out for dinner when we come back from Greece in October.
20th February, 2012
One of the things that exercised us when we decided to spend 6 months of the year in our Greek house was Health cover. We both have EHIC (European Health Insurance Cards) which, nominally, entitle us to treatment under the National Health Service of the country we are in. Greece has some fantastic Hospitals to rival many UK facilities but they are not in the Public Service. They are privately owned and funded. Here, for example, is the Onasseio Cardio-surgical Centre in Athens. As its name suggests, it was initially financed by Aristotle Onassis but now charges big fees paid by medical insurance companies.
Most wealthy Greeks take out insurance policies. We enquired about the cost. It would have been £5,000.00 per year which is rather steep for six months each year particularly when we are entitled to free treatment. We don’t want to become American, do we? As a compromise, we take out six months travel insurance which will cover us in a private hospital if anything serious happens and repatriates us if that is appropriate. The cost for two of us over 180 days in Europe is just under £300.00.
21st February, 2012
It is getting warmer – 12C today with 16C predicted for Thursday. The lady across the way with the fat, black cat, moved out today. I will miss the cat!
I tied up the rest of our Greek trip today. I booked the Tunnel crossing for early morning April 4th. I booked the Holiday Inn, Mulhouse, Alsace for that evening. I booked the Holiday Inn Express in Parma, Italy for the next night and the next day we board Superfast Ferries.
22nd February, 2012
After breakfast, we looked through our accounts for the last six months in Greece. Apart from extraordinary items like building work and a trip to Athens which we accounted for separately, living at the Greek house, cost us just £4000.00 for the six months. Even though the Euro settlement has been signed, we don’t trust the probity of Greek Banks and will carry all the cash we will need with us. I ordered another £3000.00 of euros from the International Currency Exchange and got them at £1.00 = 1.175. An hour later, the rate dropped to 1.16. This would have provided us with 45.00 less. I expect the rate to fall more in the next few days.
23rd February, 2012
After Breakfast, we drove to the Farm Shop in Chobham. Pauline and I had discussed the importance of reinforcing and forwardly oiling the wheels of the people who provide us with services in Sifnos. Panos & Rania at our favourite restaurant, Nikos & Chrissopigi our electrician and his wife, Giannis & Poppi, our plumber and his wife, Kostas & Maria, the woodman and his wife, Moshka & Apostolis who own the supermarket and the ladies in the Accountant’s office. We had discussed the possibility of Pauline making some jam and some chutney but time has run out so quickly that she’s not going to manage it. Instead, we resorted to farm shop produce. We hope to give each couple a little bag with one sweet and one savoury jar. Victoria Plum, Raspberry, Rhubarb & Ginger are the sweet offerings. Beetroot, Apple and Rhubarb & Chilli are the savoury choice all badged with an English Farmshop label.
The weather was so warm for mid – late February that we went out and bought a garden table and chairs. I opened a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio and we drank it outside with a bowl of peanuts in 17 – 18C. We have forecasts in the papers today that we will reach 28C in the next few days. Thank goodness for global warming!
24th February, 2012
More shopping today. We managed to secure the last leg of our journey out to the island. April 8th, 11.00 am we will have driven down to Piraeus harbour and boarded a catamaran ferry which will do the journey in 3 hrs 15 mins. Aegean Speedlines will charge 159.00 for the privilege.
Later in the day, we went to transfer two cash ISAs from Santander to the Halifax. They matured a couple of days ago and were being downgraded to about 2%. It’s still not great but 3.5% at the Halifax may look quite good soon as inflation falls rapidly.
25th February, 2012
Wonderful sunshine again today and our courtyard reached 24C (in February!). We read the papers outside as the sun shone. Lunch – salmon and smoked haddock fishcakes with haricot bean salad and garlic bread – with a delicate bottle of white wine. At this time of year, the sun is low and, by 3.00 pm had started to go behind the trees. We went inside and I watched England narrowly lose to Wales at Twickenham and then flicked between Man. City thrashing Blackburn and England thrashing Pakistan. I only watched the cricket at all because Ruth kept texting me about it.
While I was lazing around watching sport and reading the paper, Pauline was researching box sizes on the internet. In the days before we set off, Pauline will pack two, large boxes full of things that we don’t have room to carry and we will take them down to the Post Office for shipping by Parcelforce. We have been doing this for about the past seven years and this is by far the cheapest carrier. We have never lost a parcel and they are in our local island post office almost before we are.