25th November, 2012
Sunday papers, fresh coffee, Politics on Sunday, two football matches but no goals. Smoked salmon for lunch and Pheasant for Dinner. Torrential rain seems to be falling everywhere but here. The Chelsea match – twenty five or so miles from our home – was played in sweeps of monsoon rain. Here it was dry. Our old home area in West Yorkshire seemed to be reporting raging rivers and inches of rain to come.
People in Greece are picking their olives and taking them to press although Skiathan Man says many think they can buy olive oil cheaply enough to not bother with the back-breaking work of picking themselves. We left just a little early this year to pick any of ours but Pauline cured two kilner jars of ours very successfully last year.
26th November, 2012
A pleasant, mild morning enhanced by highlights of England’s Test victory. I have been captivated by a family photograph that David Pritchard sent me. It looks like it was taken in the garden in Repton. He thinks it was circa 1925:
As I understand it, the photograph features from left to right:
Granddad Sanders (Richard Watthew [Dick] b. 1889) and on his lap is Auntie Kath (b 1921); Sitting high is Kessie (Kate Anne Kesterton) (b. 1887) and next to her is the Grandmother none of us got to meet, Mabel Lilian née Flook (b 1894). Sitting next to Mabel is Great Grandfather Edwin Thomas (b. 1860). On the grass, with his head on Great Grandfather’s knee is Eric (b. 1915), my Dad looking exactly as I did at that age. Next to him on the grass is Auntie Marj. (b. 1919). Seated on the right of Great Grandfather is Great Aunt Susan Sarah (b. 1886) and Great Aunt-in-Law Annie (‘Nance’ b. 1833), wife of Dad’s brother, Edwin Thomas (b. 1891), who is sitting in the deckchair on the right with Mary Kate Delamont Sanders (b. 1920), later Mary Long, sitting on the front edge of his chair.
I have decided to start with a difficult-to-do character, my Grandmother who I never met, Mabel Lilian née Flook (b 1894) because she was incarcerated in a Mental Asylum later euphemised with the name Pastures Hospital Mickleover from 1930 until her death in 1962. She gave birth to her final child, Auntie Edwina, and, within two years, was incarcerated never to return home. I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Derby Records Office.
27th November, 2012
First thing I had my annual review with my doctor. It was excellent which was pleasing.
I’ve had a reply to my FIR which gives me real hope of some answers. Twitter-feed informed me that Flooding is making access to Repton from north of the Trent extremely difficult.… and I was back in my youth remembering the fields of floods cutting off Willington. It is still raining in the North but, in Surrey, everything is calm. We are almost at the end of November and we’ve used the central heating for two hours since our return from Greece. We are told that really cold weather is on the way and yet our apartment is built to such standards of insulation that body heat of two adults is enough to keep it warm. Our heating and hot water bill last year was just £100.00.
I cooked smoked salmon risotto this evening and it was really enjoyable.
28th November, 2012
For the past couple of weeks, Pauline & I have been going to the Nuffield Health Centre in West Byfleet and swimming half a kilometre each morning. We are really enjoying it, getting quicker at completing it and recovering much sooner. From Monday, we are going to start adding lengths until we are up to the kilometre. The Health Centre is coming towards the completion of its total refurbishment and, next week, will be installing dozens of new pieces of machinery. I’m going to get really fit watching that happen.
29th November, 2012
Up at 6.00 am and out at 6.30 am to be at the Walk-in Centre for my blood test. It was freezing and we had to stand outside for ten minutes. Back for coffee and to watch Heir Hunters, a television programme I’ve become addicted to. We can’t go swimming today because the burglar alarm is being serviced at an unspecified time. I debated whether to get the step ladders out to make the service easy but, when the engineer arrived, he was a 6ft. 7in., 23 year old boxer who could do the whole job without going on tiptoes. The burglar alarm – linked to a call out centre and the police – cost £240.00 per year but the service takes ten minutes.
Pauline made MORE mince pies while completing three different lots of housework at the same time. I was more ambitious and read the paper and then turned my attention to financial matters. Sort of Men’s Work! We are consummate savers. After using our full ISA allowances, we like to use a savings account that we can dump spare cash in to. Three or four years ago, I was getting 4.2% including a bonus. Two years ago, this was down to 3.1%. Today, it is impossible to beat 2.2% for an easy access, on-line saver. I am going to use the Post Office account for this so we can easily move money around easily whether we are in Greece or UK.
30th November, 2012
Glorious blue skies and strong, low sun all around. Autumn leaves still clothe the trees but, this morning, are crusted with frost for an hour or two before the sun burns it off.
Out just after 9.00 am for the weekly shop. The Tesco supermarket is already busy. It is a 24 Hr. megastore with an M&S attached. The carpark is big enough to swallow half of the residents of outer London. Christmas is everywhere. Personally, I hate Christmas and all that attends upon it. Fortunately, my wife is of a similar opinion so we reinforce each other’s predjudices quite selfishly. I saw an advert for half price, artificial Christmas Trees today and thought, if I made Christmas Trees, what time of year would I feel it necessary to halve the price in order to persuade people to buy them. After a nano-second’s thought, I decided that July would be a good time to offer half price Christmas Trees. As it got closer to Christmas, and people became keener to secure a tree, I would feel confident to increase the price. Adverts like this rely on the herd instinct to be infected by the celebratory instinct and to suspend critical thought and rational judgement.
By the time we finished shopping, cars were looking for the last few parking spaces in this vast carpark which one needs Olympic training just to get across. Home for coffee and then out for a wonderful swim. I’m beginning to feel better everytime I do it. Later, I had to go for my annual diabetic review. All my readings were fantastic and I left the surgery skipping.
1st December, 2012
It cannot be the last month of the year already. Happy December everyone.
Skiathan Man drew my attention to an interesting article in The Guardian – a newspaper which is a bit too boring for me normally. In the month before we left Sifnos, crates of beautiful logs started to appear in delivery yards. The local tile shop was ‘branching’ out (no pun intended) by stocking a few crates. They certainly seemed to sell quite quickly although I remember thinking that a crate of logs would go up in smoke in no time at all. The Greeks think their electricity is expensive. I honestly don’t think it is much more than ours although I’m sure many homes aren’t insulated as well as ours. I think there is also an anti-establishment, anti-authority thing going on. Property tax bills are being tied to electricity supply and there is a revolutionary spirit abroad – We’ll show them. We won’t use their electricity. We’ll live simply off the land. We’ll collect our own firewood. They couldn’t do that on Sifnos and I don’t think they’ll find buying logs is a great deal cheaper than paying for electricity.