Week 215

27th January, 2013

This time four years ago, we were preparing for our latest and last Ofsted inspection. Pauline & I were checking that all our policy documents were current and available and staff were asked to hand in Lesson Plans prior to the inspection days. How far away those days feel now. Almost immediately after Ofsted had found us Satisfactory (the new fail) than I came down with an horrendous bout of flu. The next week I went for a heart scan and they confirmed atrial fibrilliation. Half term holiday was just two weeks away and I was longing for it.

28th January, 2013

Skiathan Man is running out of tea bags. When an English man is reduced to drying tea bags on the wood burner, something has to be done. We have gone on a mercy dash to our local supermarket to buy him some. I found a suitable box and printed off some address labels. We went swimming. It was excellent and we both felt good after it. On to the Post Office to despatch the teabags. He will soon be able to breathe easily again.

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29th January, 2013

We are driving back to our much missed Yorkshire tomorrow. Because of our diets, Pauline is preparing a picnic to be eaten with a flask of fresh coffee sitting in the car high up on the moors between Huddersfield and Oldham. I’m really looking forward to it. We are taking Pauline’s sister, Phyllis, who is going to visit her friend who is in the final stages of terminal cancer. It will be a harrowing visit for her. This afternoon, Pauline is cooking Chicken drumsticks, sausages, asparagus and we will eat it with some salad. We had to pop down to Waitrose to buy our supplies. Amazingly warm out today – 15C/59F. In Athens it is 8C/46F.

Booked a couple of trips to France this afternoon – in February and in April. I had received a £23.00 return trip for car and occupants offer. How could we refuse?

30th January, 2013

Up at 5.00 am – dark wet but warm and clear morning. Out by 6.15 am and off to pick up Phyllis. On to a static M25 brought to a halt by an accident. Three and a half hours later, we were entering Oldham. One of our intentions was to take Pauline’s sister, Phyllis, to visit her friend who is in the final stages of terminal cancer. We arrived at her friend’s front door at about 10.30 am to be told we were half an hour too late. She had just passed away. It was a sad and difficult time for Phyllis saying goodbye to her friend. Pauline & I spent an hour visiting old haunts and then picked Phyllis up. We drove on to the moors where a gale was blowing heavy rain against our car. We parked up and ate the picnic that Pauline had prepared: sausages, chicken drumsticks, salad and hot, fresh coffee. It was lovely and so was the scenery.

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After lunch, we drove to Huddersfield to visit our old neighbour, Jean. It was lovely to see her. I had asked if I could have a few framed photographs back that we had given her when we left. She kindly agreed and after a very brief visit, we left for our drive back to Surrey. All the time, we carried in our heads the thought of another human being – someone I didn’t even know – having left the world today. It both saddens the mind but sharpens the senses. As we move through our sixties, we become only too aware of our mortality.

We were home for around 5.30 pm.. I was tired after 500 miles of almost continuous driving.

31st January, 2013

January going already and February is so short. It’s scarey! This morning, we’ve had an email from a couple who we haven’t seen for thirty years. I remember going to dinner with them in their first home – love’s young dream – as he trained as an accountant. They are younger than us. They look old! What does that tell us about ourselves?

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At least the last day of January has opened with clear blue sky and sun. We are told, however, that the colder weather is returning this weekend. We will see. I’ve just read that we chose the best time to be in Yorkshire and Lancashire this week. Both the Oldham Chronicle and Huddersfield Examiner have told stories of damage done by strong winds which were rising while we were there but became distructive and caused damage and injury later as we left.

1st February, 2013

Happy New February. White Rabbit.

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Unlike Skiathos, the month has started with dark clouds and a bit of rain. We don’t care. There is so much to do indoors today and we are going swimming later. It always makes me laugh that Pauline has a raincoat and umbrella to get to the swimming pool. Clearly, she has appropriate wet and inappropriate wet. We are now completing the fifth week of our self-denial. My clothes are beginning to feel a bit too big. My face is changing. I’m losing my fifth chin. Only another year of this and I might have done the job.

2nd February, 2013

We had a chat with friends from the island today. They rang us because they had picked up our electricity bill which we had already paid through the bank. They were shocked to find we hadn’t been charged the property tax like everybody else. I wasn’t. The final stages of our authorisation were just too late to be registered for this year’s charge. That’s saved a bit of cash. I was shocked and saddened to hear that their pensions had been reduced again. Originally, they had amounted to €2800.00 and now are exactly half that. They are really going to feel it. We would love to help them but they are proud people. To compound their misery, the ferries which are poor enough at this time of the year are on strike for four days.

Today – a beautiful, sunny day – Pauline is going out for a pedicure with her sister while I watch the 6 Nations rugby matches. It is the Calcutta Cup today.

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