Week 214

20th January, 2013

Snowed all day from 8.00 in the morning until 6.00 at night. Everywhere was silent as people hunkered down in the warm. Pauline made delicious casseroled rabbit with banana shallots and girolle mushrooms. Celery and turkey stock gave it the most wonderfully deep flavour. The perfect meal for a winter’s day.

I spent the morning writing up my first entry for the Family History page. I have now re-designed four pages and two Blogs. I have one more to restart soon.


The enjoyable day was a little tarnished by an injury time goal scored by Spurs to hold Manchester United to a draw which they didn’t deserve.

21st January, 2013

Huddersfield and the Pennine route are snowbound this morning. It is a wonderful feeling not having to try to get across the moors to a school which is devoid of pupils who have all gone off sledging. The Daily Telegraph reported that today is Blue Monday. It isn’t if you’re retired in Surrey. Went to the Health Centre for a swim and found half the population of Surrey bunking off work to lounge in the jacuzzi. I don’t know what the world’s coming to. No one wants to work nowadays! Anyway, we got our 600 metres done and tottered home, glowing. We are also glowing with pride for having completed three weeks nil by mouth to alcohol and carbohydrates: bread, potatoes, pasta and rice.

My wife has made pea & bacon soup today. It is delicious. I’m going to work on some web-based albums for my website this afternoon. I have just read my Blog entry for this day four years ago. In 2009, we had just started our final term of teaching and I wrote: Just heard this afternoon – Ofsted in on Monday. Can life get any better?

It really has!

22nd January, 2013

Snow lies all around and a new fall is forecast for this afternoon.  It is 0C/32F outside and 14C/57F on Sifnos. The airports – particularly Gatwick & Heathrow – have been on reduced service and many schools across the country have stayed closed. The public and press are up in arms about it. We will brave the road for a trip to the Health Club and hope that most people have gone back to work today.

Like me, my Dad loved cars. Long before I was born, he was renowned for being the first to own and drive a green, open top sports car in the village. I learnt from cousin David that it was a Morgan. I think I have suddenly stumbled on a possible reason why. In 1887, an innovative engineer called W. J. Stephenson Peach set up engineering workshops at Askew House on Milton Road opposite Desford Terrace, a terrace of houses that our family built and owned. Boys came from all over the country to be trained and Repton School was in the forefront of public schools in its attitude to engineering as a discipline. The range of products emerging from the workshops by the boys — was considerable and included oil, steam and gas engines, road rollers, motor cycles and eventually even simple cars. The chassis was produced at the workshops for the first Morgan three-wheeler, unveiled at the 1910 Motor Show.

Presumably, Desford Terrace was named after the origins of Great, Great Grandfather Richard from Desford in Leicestershire. I remember that two of Sanders & Son’s joiners, Dick Bowring (famous for his grampagrowlers) and Harry Gaskin (who taught me to sweep up) lived there. Below is Askew House as it was. Today it is on the market at £650,000.00. The picture of Desford Terrace is current and one cottage is currently on the market for £235,000.00.

askewhouse.jpg  desfordterrace.jpg

Pauline served up braised pheasant with rosemary and customised ratatouille of peppers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms and beetroot. It was out of this world. Greek yoghurt and raspberry coulis for sweet just finished it off perfectly.

23rd January, 2013

Snowing lightly this morning. It is 1C/34F here and, in Greece, 15C/59F.  ‘Call-me-Dave’ Cameron finally made his speech this morning. It is the first step of the Conservative party sleep walking out of Europe. An in/out referendum by 2018. What fools! I’m going swimming.

I’m getting too good at this swimming. I’m going to have to up the distance. The Health Club restaurant were advertising Homemade Tomato & Red Pepper soup – £1.95. By pure coincidence, Pauline had made exactly that for our Lunch when we got home. We worked out that two huge bowls each had cost £1.00.

Yesterday, I watched the magical performance of Bradford beating Aston Villa in the semi-final of the League cup. This evening, Pauline cooked cod loin with garlic prawns and sugar snap peas for dinner. I knew there was a reason why I married her. After Dinner, I watched a brilliant performance by Swansea City against a dismal Chelsea. A lovely cup final for two sides who have won almost nothing throughout the histories.

24th January, 2013

In the Summer of 1990 (and I have to force myself to acknowledge that it is nearly 23 years ago), Pauline and I had been visiting Sifnos twice a year for five or six years. We felt we knew the Cycladic islands quite well. We had visited about ten of them. We thought we should experience the Dodecanese. I looked at brochures. Laskarina was the top (maybe only) tour operator going there at the time. I thumbed through the brochure pictured below, got an idea of how to get there and what properties were available and we just found a phone number for a travel agency on the island.


Fighting with little Greek at our end and little English at the other, Pauline managed to negotiate a price to rent a house for two or three weeks. This was quite a daring and unusual approach. No travel agent, no charter flight, no travel rep.. We flew through the night to Rhodes and got a bus to Mandraki harbour. We sat drinking coffee for hours waiting for the boat to leave. Even so, we arrived on the harbourside at 12.00 mid day in August heat – shattered. I remember that we waited for nearly an hour for a pickup truck to arrive and we and our bags had to sit in the open back on a makeshift, wooden bench as we were driven up to the Hora.

Twice a day we descended and ascended the Kali Strata, the huge, polished stone steps leading down from the Hora or Chorio to the harbour. I have never been so fit as then. It was fascinating to experience a different Greece, a different approach to building, to cooking and a different feel to life. As a news addict, I had my short wave radio with me and remember listening to reports of the release of Brian Keenan from captivity after being held hostage with Terry Waite for nearly five years.

Simi is still there. There are obviously lots of chances for good holidays on Simi. I remember Tony Banks, former Labour Minister for Sport almost adopted Simi for his holidays in the late 90s. You will notice that I follow a Blog maintained by a lovely bloke called James. I sent him a few of our 1990 photos out of interest and, today, not only did he bother to feature them but he gave our house sale on Sifnos a plug. When it has sold, we will have to rediscover Simi.


25th January, 2013

The Sanders family have played a central role in the life of Repton village since the mid-19th Century. There are dozens of newspaper cuttings in which the are mentioned. Today, I brought some of the more significant ones together in a pinboard presentation of the website.


If I like the look of that, more will follow. Watched a bit of Murray beating Federer in Australia and then went swimming. The Nuffield Health Club is full of fit, young things running between meetings in one room or another. I think that if they don’t run everywhere saying, How are you? Good? all the time, they are sacked. Why don’t they wait for you to say, I’m absolutely knackered or Actually, my back aches or Have you got a bottle of Red? Today, one of the young lads – about 18 with scars all over his knees where he came off his bike in the Iron Man Challenge– said to me, You’re getting faster! It used to take you hours when you started. I forgot I wasn’t in school and gave him a slap. I felt so much better.

26th January, 2013

Our former haunts of Yorkshire and Lancashire were hit by extreme snow yesterday evening. Multiple accidents occurred on the M62 and M6. It was one of those situations where, to get anywhere (like home), one had to put one’s life and car in jeopardy in the knowledge that travelling the next day would see the risk gone. We usually took the foolhardy choice rather than miss our home. Here in Surrey we had nothing.

I feel rather lethargic today. It is lovely and sunny outside and yet I don’t want to engage with it. We are in our 26th day of nil by mouth for alcohol and carbohydrate. I think it is making me rather lacking in energy. I’ve spent the day writing emails and letters. I love writing.

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