Week 216

3rd February, 2013

Poor old Skiathan Man. His parcel of tea is so near and yet so far. We have tracked the parcel all the way to Greece but a 48 hr ferry strike was followed by another and now…. another. Let’s hope he can hold out. I have visions of him crawling down the harbour road with pictures of strong and flavoursome,Yorkshire Tea dancing before him, drawing him on and finally fading into a yellow, Liptons tea bag of tepid, cat wee and here we are in Surrey almost bathing in tea it’s that plentiful.


4th February, 2013

Drove Pauline to town to have her haircut at Headmasters. I spent a pleasant hour with a small Americano (£1.60) and my newspaper. When we got home, the post had arrived. There was one for Pauline from HM Revenue & Customs. They are definitely not good news. Last time we got one, it cost us £4000.00. This time it was just announcing her new tax code in the light of her State Pension which is payable from March. Shame but it has to be paid.

Roast tomato & Red Pepper soup topped with grated Gruyere cheese for lunch and roast pheasant for Dinner this evening. We have now done 35 days without carbohydrates or alcohol. I can’t believe it myself. However, I have dismissed Pauline’s taunt that I was alcohol dependent. There was some truth in the argument that I was addicted to the routine of nice meal must mean nice bottle of wine. It was the routine expectation that I was addicted to rather than the wine itself. I do have an addictive personality. I remember that in my post-student days I found myself addicted to sugary, fizzy drinks. I wouldn’t touch them now. I replaced that addiction with cigarettes. I wouldn’t touch them now. Set against that, I looking forward to a nice bottle of Barolo at the beginning of April.


5th February, 2013

Glorious day in Surrey – clear blue skies and strong sunshine although cold at 3C/37F compared with 15C/59F in Athens. I was reading an article in a Greek Blog – Keep Talking Greece – this morning that said the Greek Health Ministry had decreed that all non-Greek citizens, including EU members, should pay double the Greek Citizen price for Health Care. If it is true and I rather doubt it, it must be urgently challenged in the European Courts. It has to be illegal.

I wrote recently about hearing from friends we have not seen for over thirty years. It set me thinking about the passage of time. As I was going through my bookcase, I came across my Masters Degree Dissertation. It had to be submitted as a bound edition – one copy for the University and one for me.

thesis.jpg  thesis2.jpg  pcw.jpg

I can remember writing it and Pauline typing it. I can remember her slaving over a steaming hot Amstrad PCW and I can’t believe how far we have travelled since then. I can’t believe that it is 25 years since I published that thesis.

6th February, 2013

The British Media today is dominated by the parliamentary vote last night in favour of ‘Gay Marriage’. It is hard to see why the Tories are getting so exercised. As someone pointed out yesterday, they really are ‘on the wrong side of History’. It is interesting to see the Tories – in Government for less than three years – tearing themselves apart over so many issues. They hate Gay Europeans!

It is impossible to run a computer without antivirus protection. Five minutes on the internet would almost certainly bring infection. I have use ‘Norton 360’ for a long time now but it can be expensive. We need to cover three computers here in UK. A warning message came up to tell us it was time to renew our subscription. The price for 3 PCs was £54.00 and I nearly fell in to it. A few minutes searching found me the same product for immediate download on 3 PCs for £23.00. They are their own worst enemies these shyster software companies.


7th February, 2013

Beautiful sunny day but cold. A day off from the Health Club – two hours walking round Tesco is all I can manage in one morning without needing a long lie down.

Nice to hear the Greek Ferry Strike is off for now although there is a General Strike to come. Today I’m turning my thoughts to Personal Financial Investment. Each year since we retired, we have each taken out our full ISA allowance for cash investment. This year the new ISA limit allows us to invest £11,520.00 between us. The problem is that, although we have four years worth still at 4.1% for another year, this time the best I can get is 2.0%. I’m beginning to wonder whether to go into Equities and take a little risk. The best cash ISAs currently on the market are Barclays (2.04%), Halifax (2.05%). At least our Barclays shares have returned to near the £3.00 level. I took a call from our ‘personal’ banking manager this afternoon. It is a waste of time. The Bank can no longer give independent financial advice. They are just intent on pushing their own products.

8th February, 2013

Gloriously sunny day but very cold at 2C/35F whereas Athens is 12C/54F. The pound/euro level is returning from its lows to a more respectable level. I think the right price would be £1.00 = €1.20. It also makes the mental arithmetic much easier.

9th February, 2013

What is wrong with horsemeat? I’d eat it. Well, what is wrong is that people aren’t getting what they bought. It could be dog meat or minced rat. Uncontrolled Suppliers may be sourcing the cheapest protein they can. What is scandalous is that the Government and the end suppliers sat on the information for days before going public – compounding the felony. How did it get past the authorities? What authorities? The cutbacks have decimated them. When disease was found in Ash trees, a fungus called Chalara Fraxinius, the Government knew months before they released information and allowed the fungus to take an untreatable hold. Maybe it would have been untreatable anyway but Government had to find a ‘spin’ for the information before they released it. Who are we to understand?

The scandal in the NHS has been developing for years. Anecdotally, there has been plenty of evidence. Empirically, the Government had mortality rate tables indicating serious problems for three years before opening up pandora’s box. How many people died unnecessarily in that time? Who are we to understand?

Nice photo doing the rounds:


Sterling is strenthening against the Euro to €1.18 today. That’s better.

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