Week 209

16th December, 2012  

This is the last week of the fourth year of my Blog. I would never have believed, when I started, that I would sustain it so long. I am determined now to maintain it until I can no longer write even if its format or platform is forced to change at some time in the future. I may be the only one but it gives me genuine pleasure. Pauline has proof-read the whole four years and I am about to save it in Pdf form as well so I can make a future hard copy. All sounds a bit navel-gazing but, when you’ve got a navel like mine, what else can you do?

My Great Great Grandfather, Edwin Thomas Sanders, Chairman of Repton District Council, had a brother William (1869 – 1927). I was browsing through some old newspaper reports and came across this:

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According to the family tree I’ve inherited, William would be 30 years old at this time and a bit mature for this recklessness but who knows. His father, my  Great Great Grandfather, Richard Sanders, owned the flour mill at the end of Main Street and I was lucky to find two photographs in a little softback book of photos of Repton.

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They are said to date from 1900 and feature the mill which is their home. The children who would have lived here at some timed were Annie, Edwin Thomas, Sarah, Alfred Henry, Mary Jane and William Richard. By the time of these photos, Great Great Grandfather, Richard Sanders had been dead for nine years and Edwin Thomas, as the eldest surviving male heir, had taken over in charge of the Mill. In the photograph, above left, Alfred Henry Sanders (1864 – 1938) is seen holding the horse, centre right. The woman standing is Mary-Jane (1866 – 1946) and the woman sitting is Sarah (1862 – 1940).

The photograph above right shows Mary Jane feeding the chickens and a pig. Her long skirt trails in the mud. Mud splatters feature on the once white walls of the thatched dwelling. The water supply is a hand pump from the well on the outside wall of the house. Cold, dark, damp and dirty is what springs to mind. Having said that, they all lived to respectable ages (at least those that didn’t die in infancy.) Great Great Grandfather lived to 70. Annie lived to 76, Edwin Thomas to 67, Sarah to 78, Alfred Henry to 74, Mary Jane to 80. Only the youngest, William Richard let them down by only managing 58 years but I suppose he was a bit reckless!

Actually, Edwin Thomas is listed in 1895 as a Builder of Repton, as I suspected. Wealth built up in milling was being used to diversify into other services. I have to present the next article of evidence in two pieces. The item, below left, is continued by the item, below right. It is a report in The Derby Mercury of 1895 of a Lively Parish Meeting in which the second half lists E.T. Sanders (Builder) as dissenting. It also shows William Dakin (retired builder) as in the dissenting ratepayers of Repton. William Dakin was married to Edwin Thomas’ sister, Annie.

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By 1909, Edwin Thomas was a highly respected member of the community, aged 49 and describing himself as a builder. He was elected to Burton Board of Guardians and Repton Rural Distric Council.

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I cooked Cassoulet for Dinner this evening. It was a real success.

17th December, 2012

We were just about to go swimming when we found our road had been totally closed for resurfacing without any warning at all. We now realise that this was at the behest of the developers not the Local Authority so there were none of the statutory notices in advance. Lucky we had no emergencies.

Spent the day researching and found the source of Richard Sanders (1821 – 1891), my Great Great Grandfather’s Will and of William Dakin’s, who was married to my Great Aunt Annie. I have to send to the Derbyshire Records Office for copies.

Ate a wonderfully, smelly, gooey cheese that is like imbibing a deep tasting double cream with attitude. We bought it in France on spec.:

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18th December, 2012

The daily swimming session is beginning to show real dividends. We are doing just 600 m. each day but I’m feeling much better for it. Having missed a day yesterday because of the roadworks, I felt quite tired today at the end of 600 m.. I’ve got to be up to 800 m. by the end of January and 1000 m. / 1 k. by the end of March. We’ve got to incorporate the jogging and rowing machines in the new year.

19th December, 2012

The day has started with beautiful sunshine. We have no appointments booked apart from the Health Club. I hate Christmas and all it stands for both religious and commercial but I love getting cards. I love all mail. It is a standing joke in our house that I run like a puppy to grab the post as it comes through the letter box. I love ‘junk’ mail. I am happy opening and reading a flyer from the latest pizza joint nearby even though I will never eat their wares but I love hearing from relatives and friends and cards and newsletters are just my thing. Got a card and newsletter from an old school colleague this morning which was lovely to open. People’s lives are what really interests me and people watching.

Felt absolutely dead after swimming today. It was raining and Pauline put her umbrella up, saying she didn’t want to get wet! News on Greece was good today with the City announcing, Standard & Poor’s ratings agency last night upgraded Greece’s credit grade by six notches. This is its best position for the Greek economy for quite a while.

I’m cooking again tonight – Duck and Green Salad – but not being too adventurous. We bought wonderful, huge duck breasts in France and their flavour is dynamic. Washed down with a carafe of claret. Wonderful! I’ll be back swimming tomorrow.

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20th December, 2012

Welcome to 20. 12. 20.12. A dark and gloomy day. Heavy rain all night has given way to persistent rain this morning. It feels cold at 9C but I notice Sifnos is only 9C this morning and Skiathos is only 8C  with torrential rain that has made an impact on the streets. For me: Operation ‘Tidy Study’ this morning before swimming.

You will notice the other Blogs I follow in the Blogroll or ‘Links’ list at the side of my writing. I usually work my way up from the bottom to the top although some are not currently operative. An interesting lady who lives in Piraeus and writes almost exclusively about food has written an interesting article in the last couple of days entitled: Are there too many municipal employees? It can only be a rhetorical question but so many, native Greeks can’t see it or, at least, acknowledge it. Just as it is for the State industries/services, so it is for State Bureaucracy. The author is not Greek but married to a Greek. She is in a unique position to observe and comment. I wish she would do more of it.

It is fatal being retired and married to a cook. We appear to have eaten all the mince pies she has made. And now she’s made a Christmas Cake. Actually, she made it weeks ago but iced it today. The little decorations on the top typify Pauline completely. She bought them in 1967 when she was doing her ‘O Level Domestic Science. Unlike me who would have lost (or eaten) them by January 1968, Pauline has kept and used them for 45 years. She has a wonderfu sense of continuity. We’ve been married 34 years at the end of this month. Can she keep me going as long as the decorations?

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21st December, 2012

This is the shortest day – Winter Solstice 2012. In fact, the skies are blue, the sun is out, squirrels are running around with gay abandon. Yesterday’s dark skies would have been much more appropriate. I may have to divorce my wife. I will certainly have to restrain her. Yesterday, in addition to all the other cooking, she made an apricot and cream sponge sandwich cake. I was going to put a picture of it on my Blog today but we ate it. (The cake not the Blog.) I will never lose weight at this rate. We had to put in an especially hard swim today but now I can’t walk.

Had a lovely, long phone call from our Greek Amanuensis last night. We caught up with lots of island gossip. Stories of torrential rain abound. We had sent our friends a large box of presents we bought at Fortnum & Masons – Different sorts of teas, speciality coffees, high quality chocolates, fudge, biscuits, etc.. It arrived on the F/b Adamas Korais on Wednesday and they had great fun opening each, individually wrapped item. We had to say a massive thank you for their very special help and friendship. They told us that another of our friends, the Notary, had suffered a fall in her office and is quite badly injured. We will speak to her tonight.

22nd December, 2012

This is the season of goodwill to all men. It seems to include Greeks. Reading Kathimerini over the last couple of days, the news about Greece is unbelievably positive. You might like these articles:

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Who would have thought that Samaras could do it. He’s held the most unlikely coalition together for almost six months against the opposition of almost 50% of the constituency. The Germans have been the Greeks’ bogeymen and to hear them recognise Samaras’ achievement will mean a lot – as will the suggestion that they need not fear another austerity package. Whether or not it is true, the Greeks feel they have been subjected to new austerity measures every few months for the past three years. After all, they’re even having to paying tax on their earnings now. Where will it end?

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