Week 224

31st March, 2013

I must apologise to regular readers. It is either Alzheimer’s or lack of alcohol but my dates – even years – have been out for a week. My proof reader only spotted the errors yesterday. I will try harder!

There is a joke doing the round of Berlin bars:

St Peter decides he wants a new coat of whitewash on the Pearly Gates. He asks an Albanian for a quote. The man says,  €600: €300 for the materials and €300 for my labour.

He gets a second quote from a German who says, €900: €300 for the materials, €300 for my labour, and €300 for the tax I have to pay on it.

He then asks a Greek who says, €3,000.
Why so much?, St Peter asks in horror.
The Greek replies, Listen, pal, there’s €1,000 for you, €1,000 for me, €300 for the materials, €300 to get the Germans to look the other way, and €400 to hire an Albanian to do the work.

The Sunday Times ran this cartoon today:


1st April, 2013


Happy April to you all. To Greek friends we say, Kalo Mina. We expect sun and blue skies today and are going out for a walk before the big match. It makes a change not to spend an April Fools’ Day walking round the school corridors as every other small child says, Sir, Sir, your shoelaces are undone. Children of today, they have no imagination!

Pauline & I have now done three calendar months without any alcohol or main carbohydrate like bread, potatoes, pasta, or rice. Today we will celebrate with a glass of red wine with our meal. This, in itself will be a break through. For the past forty years, we invariably drank a bottle of wine with our evening meal and, sometimes, with our mid day meal as well. Our meal today will still not include carbohydrates. It will be lamb and vegetables. I have the wine reaching room temperature as I write.


The lamb was wonderful. I would tell you about the wine but I still can’t feel my fingers.

2nd April, 2013

Wonderful blue skies and strong sun this morning but bitterly cold 4C/39F. Pauline went to feed our neighbour’s cat while she is away for a couple of days. The cat is huge and hairy and called Minnie. I call it Maxi but it snarls at me. Out fairly early in to Woking town centre so that Pauline can buy a few essentials. We then drove to a nearby ASDA and bought enough bananas to keep a monkey quiet for six months. They are our snack of choice at the moment.

By the time we had got home, the post had been and Pauline’s new tax code had arrived to take in to account her State Pension but not taking in to account the new tax limits. It is such an expensive methodology. We should all register our emails with Government offices. We’ve been doing that for years with the Bank, the Power Companies, the Water Company, the Local Authority for our Council Tax, the Teachers Pension Agency, the DVLA, etc.. It is no big deal and would save so much time and money.

3rd April, 2013

Really cold day – 3C/37F. We are told that warmer (but wetter) is on the way. My wife is allowed off the leash. She is going shopping with her sister to M&S. She says it could take two or three hours. Can you imagine it? Three hours in a shop? I’d rather have my fingernails pulled out one by one.

Exactly four years ago today, Pauline & I retired. Two years ago we downsized to a duplex apartment. We set ourselves five years here and then we would move on. We have already decided that a two bedroom is not big enough and we prefer a detached house to apartment living. In addition, Pauline has always had a hankering to live by the sea. We are not in a rush to do anything but we have decided that our next move – within the next three years – will be down to the south coast. We will buy a new-build, three or four bedroom house on the Sussex coast. We want to explore areas around Hastings.

Wonderful meal of steak and mushrooms with asparagus. Delicious and very filling.


4th April, 2013

Summer time and the weather is freezing. We arrived in Tesco car park for the weekly shop and were greeted by a blizzard of snow and biting wind. The temperature showed 1C/34F but the wind chill made it -4C/25F. We walked very briskly from the car and I chanted Best Foot Forward, Plan of Campaign, Sucky Sweet, Chilly Pom Pom! None of this will mean much to anyone who is not a member of my family and didn’t grow up with my Mother. It was the lingua franca of her adolescence or war time slang. Whenever she used one of these terms, we would look at each other in vague disbelief. It used to really wind me up just as she could never send for the Doctor – it was always the Doc. – It was never possible to drive a Mercedes of Jaguar car – it was always a Merc. or a Jag. – and I’m sure there were many more like this which I’ve forgotten.

Apparently, March has been the coldest on record bar that of 1962. I think I remember that winter. I went to Grammar School for the first time in 1962 and it was the year before we had central heating installed in our house. Bob, my brother, and I shared a bedroom and woke one morning to find ice on the inside of the windows. We were tough in those days, you know. The blizzards have gone on throughout the day – in Surrey in April. What am I doing here?

Pauline managed to rack up another two hours in M&S today bringing her total there for the week to around five hours. She was being measured for a bra. Fifty years of wearing bras and she finally gets measured. If I have my waist measured, it takes two minutes (and two tape measures). Pauline was the best part of an hour in the fitting room. I began to believe that she was having breast reconstruction surgery rather than being measured for a bra.

To placate me for waiting and buying two bras, she bought me a new Man-Bag for my birthday on Saturday. It replaces one I bought fifteen years ago in Athens which is beginning to show its age. It will carry my iPad, mobile, cheque cards, reading glasses, spare glasses, keys, etc..


5th April, 2013

Still unbearably cold and dark – 3C/37F. However, it is my last day ever being 61 so I am determined to enjoy it. I might have a banana. The Times reports today that scientists say we should eat more bananas to reduce our risk of stroke. Something to do with the potassium although I’ve never been much of a scientist myself. They did think potassium damaged the kidney function but that idea has now been scotched. As Pauline & I get through enough bananas each week to keep a tribe of monkeys happy, we feel totally immune from all strokes. We eat so many bananas, we are becoming experts on types of the fruit, their origins and importers. We completely rejected Dole and found that Fyffe’s Fair Trade were infinitely superior in flavour and, this morning, I found the table below which seems to confirm our refined senses of taste. I’m not surprised. I did The Great British class calculator and found we were in the Elite Group which is a total nonsense but, secretly, I’m not surprised. I always knew we were a cut above the rest and, with bananas, we’ll live for ever as well.

bananas2  bananas

Guess where I took Pauline this afternoon – yes, M&S. She desperately needed a new pair of trousers. I stayed in the car, reading my iPad. Fortunately, she wasn’t more than half an hour but, unfortunately, she likes the trousers so much that she’s ordered another pair to be picked up on Monday. I’ve got M&S on speed dial for my sat.nav. now. It’s second only to Home.

6th April, 2013

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday old bugger………….

I have reached an age I never thought I would and I am grateful. I owe it almost entirely to my wonderful wife, Pauline, who has put up with my bizarre idiosyncrasies for 35 years, humouring me with calm and patience. How she has managed it, I will never know but I owe my life to her. We have stopped buying eacher other cards or presents. A joint bank account since our marriage has rather obviated those. There’s nothing worse than handing over the present followed by the receipt.

I received some lovely cards from others and most notably from my wonderful sister, Ruth, who I know I can always rely on. She sent this:


I also had a considerable number of electronic wishes including from ex-pupils, teaching colleagues and students from my old College. The latter, of course, understand what I am experiencing because we are all of a similar age.

Glorious, warm, sunny day today. We are going out for a walk to get the blood pumping.

Week 223

24th March, 2013

Strange, dark day with very light and wet snow flurries. Nothing settled but only a few miles away we are told things were very different and, in Yorkshire, one young man died last night. The newspapers tonight are reporting record low temperatures of -15C/5F to be reached by Easter. The trans-Pennine M62 was closed last night and this is Northumbria:


25th March, 2013

Light but ineffective snow again this morning. Busy day – Diabetic Review, Visit Santander to discuss April’s ISA, Swimming at the Health Club, Prepare for Residents Management Committee Meeting.

There was something quite wretched about seeing the Greek Cypriots marching to celebrate Greek Independence Day on a day when the palpably were not independent. They were mortgaged to the hilt to the Germans. I have a horrible feeling that this kernel of Euro failure may grow to destroy the whole Euro plan as bank accounts plundered freely by politicians pull the rug from depositors confidence across the whole Union.


The weather was fine but the financial and political climate was definitely not.

26th March, 2013

A grey day. We had a pre-management meeting prior to this evening’s Housing Development Meeting. Pauline & I have done a lot of work for the residents but will not be at the evening meeting so we briefed our neighbour, Vicky. The electric gates at the entrance are an issue and it needs urgently addressing. External lighting needs reviewing. We should be considering appointing a new Management Company.

Just received the Minutes of the Management Meeting and all our hard work has paid off. The representatives siezed the day and brought the Management Company to see our requirements. Our Service Charge payments will be used as we intend them. I’m pleased that Pauline & I took control and drove the Agenda.

27th March, 2013

Finally got the date right. Sorry about that. I’ve been a bit preoccupied with other things this week. It’s been a really good day.

One of the things about leaving employment and embracing retirement has been the lack of ‘targets to achieve’. Every day in Education there was something to achieve. In the early days it was learning to cope with a difficult class in a large inner city school. Climbing the slippery pole of career was always there. In later life it may have been managing a difficult meeting or cajoling funding out of somebody but there was always something to aim for.

Retirement means setting your own targets. I have done that in a number of ways by setting writing projects to complete, financial targets to achieve, health targets to work towards. I am someone who needs to think as he gets up in the morning, What am I going to get through today? I need to have an aim. Pauline & I have a To Do List and today felt really satisfied by reducing it.

  • The Development we live on had some items to be addressed. We were able to lay that to rest today.
  • My contribution to the Family History research has left me using Derbyshire Records Office to find information about Mabel Lilian Sanders née Flook, the Grandmother non of us ever met because she was taken in to the Pastures Hospital in Mickleover in 1930 never to be seen again although she didn’t die until 1962. I phoned the Records Office again today and they assured me I would receive papers next week.
  • Fixed an appointment in early April to open two new ISAs and switched the money – £11520.00 which is the maximum for 2013/14 – electronically from a savings account ready for that. We will now have each invested our maximum ISA each year for five years.
  • Spoke to our mobile phone provider – EE (T-Mobile+Orange) about our tariff and adjusted it to make it more useful. Excellent Company who gave exactly what I wanted even though I had to phone India and speak to someone who spoke only broken English.
  • Did our 30 lengths swimming and got home feeling good if a little tired.

We are down, now, to one meal a day and, even then, as soon as we start to eat we are full. We had freshly squeezed orange juice and tea for breakfast. Just before we went swimming, we had a banana and a couple of dried figs. For Dinner, we had Duck Breast with a red currant sauce and some pea shoot salad. It was wonderful. On Monday, we will have done three calendar months of our new regime and we will celebrate with a glass of wine.

28th March, 2013

A bitterly cold day:  4C/39F (Feels -4/25F). Today is Tesco day. We had some phone calls to deal with before we go out. Taylor Wimpey representatives phone to find out whether we are happy. We have been making quite a few waves recently but it has paid off. Now, they phone us rather than the other way round.

When we got to Tesco, at about 10.00 am, it was packed. The huge car park had virtually no spaces left. I thought I had got it wrong and it was Christmas Eve. There was a time when one went to a supermarket to buy things. In exchange for groceries, one paid money. Nowadays, the supermarkets pay us to shop there. We continually have money off vouchers posted to us through the mail, by email, etc. Then there are the in store offers – spend £40.00 and get £5.00 off, two bundles of asparagus for the price of one – and the comparison promises – We will refund the difference with other supermarkets. We spent just £65.00 today and paid only £48.00 – a 26% saving. Soon it will be free.

tesco1 tesco2

Our meal today was smoked salmon, prawns lightly dressed with garlic mayonaise and Waldorf salad. On Monday, I shall have a glass of claret.

Happy Birthday to sister, Mary Jane.  59 years old today.


29th March, 2013

A beautiful morning. Delightful, strong sun. Everyone here from the thrusting, striving, achieving community are still in bed. No walking urgently down to Woking station for the 6.30 am commuter train to the City.They feel they have earned a holiday. Pauline & I are up with the larks as usual having earned nothing but enjoying everything.

Pauline is making Lemon Marmalade. I love it but when will we eat it. We’ve given up bread. Actually, Monday will be three calendar months without carbohydrates. Might celebrate with a piece of toast.


I had a lovely suit made about 10 years ago now. Cost me about £350.00. By the time I was ready to wear it, I had piled weight on and it was already uncomfortable. I had to have another made immediately. I never slimmed in to the initial suit. My aim is to get in to it in the Autumn when we go on holiday. I will report my success or failure honestly.

30th March, 2013

Clocks go forward tonight (well 1.00 am tomorrow actually but who is going to stay up for that?) although it really doesn’t matter any more. I remember when we were working that clocks forward meant an hour less in bed and clocks back meant more sleep. In retirement, who cares? You can’t waste your time in bed. There’s too much living to do!


We used to spend the first hour of the Summer time adjusting all our clocks. Not now. They all adjust themselves with the exception of the oven and our watches. Time has moved on.

Ruth has just phoned to tell me that Liz has fallen at work and badly broken her wrist. Today she is having an operation under general anaesthetic to repair the damage. We wish her luck.

Week 222

17th March, 2013

A poor, grey, cool day. One of those days when you go to bed wishing you had achieved more. Sunday papers, a couple of mediocre football games and a bit of writing. Intended to go out for a walk but didn’t get round to it and bitterly regret that.

As you can see, my webspace provider, 1&1, have also provided a narrowly-based WordPress-style blogging platform for the past four years or so. This week, they have been updating the blogosphere to a fully blown WordPress platform which will be much more responsive to users’ needs but has meant being off-line for a few days. I am still struggling to come to terms with it but, if regular readers will bear with me, I will get the hang of it soon.

18th March, 2013

A wet day and a mission to help Phyllis & Colin use their iPad to convert Tesco vouchers into an RAC membership. It was remarkably simple and they must have saved £100.00 +. Feeling pleased with our good deed, we went for a wonderful swim at the Health Club although we could have done just as well outside in torrential rain. Home for homemade chicken soup.

Later, after doing some paperwork, we had tarragon salmon with garlic mushrroms for dinner but neither of us was really hungry. This diet seems to have killed our appetites stone dead. It is now eleven weeks without a single slice of bread or plate of spaghetti or bowl of risotto. Eleven weeks without a glass of beer or bottle of wine or any alcohol for that matter. I just wonder how we coped with it all.

The evening closed with news about Cyprus and its banks. This is likely to hit depositors confidence across the eurozone and particularly across southern Europe.

19th March, 2013

Poor old Skiathan Man! He gives up his Saturday to prepare for a children’s party and then his Sunday to help run it and, by Monday, he is ill and, by Tuesday, confined to barracks. They say, Never work with children & animals. What they don’t tell you is that both but particularly the former are the source of infectious diseases. As a teacher, I was regularly ill with recurring infections that were going round the pupil population. In the four years since I left teaching, I haven’t suffered one, single infection.

I found myself reaching for a book of poetry this evening. It was those of Thomas Hardy. Once a favourite of mine, I hadn’t picked him up for ten years or more. There never seemed enough time for such tranquility and reflection. Now, he is ideal. I read:

A Confession To A Friend
YOUR troubles shrink not, though I feel them less
Here, far away, than when I tarried near;
I even smile old smiles—with listlessness—
Yet smiles they are, not ghastly mockeries mere.
A thought too strange to house within my brain
Haunting its outer precincts I discern:
—That I will not show zeal again to learn
Your griefs, and, sharing them, renew my pain….
It goes, like murky bird or buccaneer
That shapes its lawless figure on the main,
And each new impulse tends to make outflee
The unseemly instinct that had lodgment here;
Yet, comrade old, can bitterer knowledge be
Than that, though banned, such instinct was in me!

HardyPoems  hardyinscription

The inscription is rather a moving one and dates back more than thirty six years to when we were young.

20th March, 2013

A grey and overcast day. I’m just about getting to grips with my new blogging platform but finding it still a little uncomfortable/challenging/exciting at the same time. Unfortunately, today is financial review day. Me and the Chancellor. New ISAs will be coming up in the next couple of weeks and the choices are becoming harder. I have even been considering equities this year. However, I think the market is riding quite high at the moment, possibly due for a correction soon and so not the time to leap in. Playing it safe again this year. To be honest with you, I need more money to be able to take risks and haven’t really got it at the moment so safety first is the watchword.

Santander 2 year fix at 2.8% is about the best I can find and that is what I think I will go for. We still have a number of ISAs at 4% for another year from the past but that really is from better days. We also use an on-line investment account that pays an annual bonus which makes it worthwhile. Unfortunately, as soon as that bonus runs out, it is not cost effective and one account has to be emptied and closed down while another is opened in another name – Pauline one year and me the next. It is bonkers really but financial institutions think they attract new customers this way. They don’t seem to realise that the ‘churn’ is massive as the bonus ceases. Perhaps it’s me that’s unusual in remembering to switch.

I would never be tempted to vote Tory and feel the same way about George Osborne as I do about having teeth pulled. (I did buy wallpaper from his father.) Today, however, I ask you to raise a glass to the sainted Chancellor who went out of his way to give me a bigger State Pension. I am 65 in April 2016 and was due to lose out on the new, improved State Pension – currently set at £144.00 but destined to be nearer £160.00 by the time it kicks in. It was going to be paid in April 2017 but has been brought forward by one year just to include me. Cheers to Saint George!


What am I going to do with all that money? And while teachers are held to a 1% pay rise (effectively a 2% pay cut after inflation and with no automatic increments), teachers pensions are increased by 2.5%. This government really hates public service unless it is called Charity and offered free.

21st March, 2013

Usually the Spring Equinox but that was yesterday this year. As an article in The Times points out, the start of Summer will be greeted by heavy snow in parts of Britain today. Not Surrey, fortunately. The weather report suggests heavy snow from Northern Midlands up to Scotland.

Four years ago, when I had only been running the Blog for a few months, I reported the death of my Router. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I don’t report the same thing shortly. I’m having one or two blips at the moment – particularly dropping wireless connections for laptops and iPads. It has just meant taking the router down and re-starting so far but may be indicative of a more serious malaise.


I have noticed that the movement of my Blog to the WordPress platform has produced some unintended consequences. Apostrophes have often been replaced with question marks. I will spend some time editing it but it will take time so please be patient.

22nd March, 2013

A pleasant, mild March day in Surrey – although not quite reaching the dizzy heights of the Sporades – is contrasted with the swathes of snow blanketing the country from the Midlands northwards. In our previous life in chilly Huddersfield we lived at the bottom of a hill which imprisoned us if there was only a moderate fall of snow. The Huddersfield Examiner today has plenty of tales of snow disruption this morning. Pictures of the areas either side of our previous home show the effect.

snow snow2

23rd March, 2013

We woke to find light, wet snow falling quite persistently. As I write at mid day, the snow continues to fall but has made no impact on the landscape. It is too light and wet to settle. In Huddersfield, poor old Harold has had a real battle.


You should see the weather in Greece.

Week 221

10th March, 2013

Happy Mothers’ Day!

mums1.jpg  mumb.jpg

11th March, 2013

The temperature is 0C/32F in Surrey with light snow falling. Skiathos reached 23.5C/ 74F yesterday. It really isn’t fair. I’m going swimming in spite of the weather.

I am a fairly grounded sort of  person to the point of being boring. I don’t believe in gods, angels, fairies, astrology or anything else so intangible. Occasionally, inexplicable things hit me. A friend we met on our Greek island and who five years or so ago relocated to Cheltenham where he works in a Bookshop, was in my thoughts all day yesterday. We had intended visiting him over the winter but didn’t make it. We haven’t met for those five years although we do keep in touch by email. We haven’t written since Christmas. Suddenly, having though so much of him yesterday, an email pops up from him this morning. Exactly the same thing happened with my friend, Jonathan, in America last week. Coincidences can be uncanny and a little unnerving.

I love fresh coffee and have a wonderful espresso machine which provides perfect coffee everytime with ese coffee pods. I use a mail order company to supply the pods which cost £0.17 each – a far cry from the £2.00 or so for a coffee in one of the chains in town. My favourites are Cafe Toscano (Tradizione con gusto) an arabica-robusta blend and another arabica – Caffe Bravi (Roma). I’ve order 300. Should get me through the week.

toscano.jpg  roma.jpg

12th March, 2013

A bitingly cold day. The media is full of people sleeping in their cars all night stuck in deep snow less than an hour away from here. We have none. A tiring and expensive morning. Shopping! Need I say more? Well, I bought new shoes – at M&S of all places. Can you believe paying so much for a pair of casual shoes. I can remember when you could buy a house for that price! Well, not quite but it’s a lot. They were made in China.


On to Specsavers to collect and pay for my glasses plus two pairs of reading glasses for Pauline. Another £300.00 or so. For glasses. I remember when you could buy a monocle and still have change for new buttons! I had rimless specs with reaction lenses. Pauline had two pairs of reading glasses – one tinted for reading outside in the sun and one for doing computer work. How decadent is that? I remember when we could only afford one candle to read by and that had to be shared.


By this stage, Pauline was well in to her shopping mode and I was exhausted. Superdrug, Boots, etc.. I saw my life ebbing away. Shopping Centres are an abomination and the Peacock Centre in Woking is no exception.

13th March, 2013

Had to go for my 6 monthly diabetic blood test this morning. The traffic was terrible. The surgery car park was full. My appointment was for 10.00 am but I was called early. The nurse had writing on the back of her hand. I asked what it was. She told me it said “toga”. It was to remind her to hire one for her daughter who has to have one for school because it is ‘Greek’ week. I suggested it would be more appropriate to dress as a pauper but she didn’t see the funny side.

A childhood friend of mine who has lived in Boston, Masachussetts for the past 40 years wrote to me recently. Although he is older than me, he can’t afford to retire yet because the safety net state services we in UK are afforded are not a available in the US. He has to pay his own medical fees when he retires. Can you imagine it. His wife, a teacher, doesn’t get a State pension to supplement her teaching pension. It’s not all bad here.

14th March, 2013

Out for the Dentist this morning. We joined an NHS Dentistry Practice about five miles from our home as soon as we moved to Surrey. We were delighted with the young, Indian girl dentist that we were allocated to but, by the time we had been to Greece and back, she had moved on to a ‘more permanent position’. It turned out that she had recently qualified when we met her. Our next dentist was a young West Indian girl who had just qualified. She was quite good but, by the time we had been to Greece and returned, she had moved on to something more permanent and we were allocated a young, Chinese girl who has just qualified. We are tired of being used as classroom resources by young trainees and we have decided that we will find a private dentistry practice with a little more stability.

We spent the afternoon trimming the hedging bushes outside our Duplex, weeding the surrounding beds and sweeping up. The early morning rain had gone and given way to blue skies and strong sunshine. The quadrangle in which we were working was positively warm. Rather than a fortnight’s work on an acre of garden as we have had to do in the past, nowadays it feels good to get it all done in an afternoon.

Pauline cooked cod loin with oven roasted tomatoes and sugar snap peas. It was a lovely meal for Dinner but I am struggling to eat anything at the moment. A wonderful cup of fresh coffee to finish. It so completely rounds off the tastes of a meal and there was news today of its health benefits. A recent Japanese study has confirmed the findings of an earlier, European study which found that those drinking between one and three cups of fresh coffee per day were 15% less likely to suffer strokes. Oh good!

15th March, 2013

Grey day but not cold – about 12C/54F – as we set off for the weekly supermarket shop. Not a lot to buy today but it still took an hour to get through. Every aisle had some spotty youth with a huge trolley taking things off the shelves for an internet customer. The incidence of this has expanded exponentially since we moved down here amongst the cash-rich but time-poor people of Surrey. There is no axiom of ‘Customers First’ amongst these characters. They are part of a ‘spotty youth internet shoppers union’ which is forced to spend part of its time discussing last night’s party, part of its time discussing tonight’s party and the rest of its time blocking every shelf on every aisle while it substitues items you ordered on the internet for far less appropriate but much more expensive ones that you didn’t order.

Called in on Phyllis & Colin on the way back. Did a bit of work on Phyllis’s iPad to help her buy something on line and Colin wanted to review a rail trip to Scotland so they didn’t have to do the lengthy drive. Back home we had received mail. Ours included our Council Tax demand which had gone up by 50% on last year. Even I know that no Local Authority has been bold enough to go above 2% – 3% increases. It turns out that they think our property is empty which allows them to levy 150% tax. We have written to them to put them straight.

Lovely swim today although the pool was quite busy which always puts us off. We don’t go at the weekend because a lot of chldren like to swim and, as you know, we hate children. I, certainly, couldn’t eat a whole one.

16th March, 2013

Raining again. Today is a home day. Reading the paper, watching football and rugby – I have to get fit somehow – and getting up to date with correspondence. My friend in America has finally been made redundant. Government spending on defence procurement is significantly down and his work in research and development is equally being rolled back. Add to that fact that he is 64 years old and he was expecting it. His wife retired from teaching last summer so they can embrace retirement together. I wish him well.

Everton v Man City football and Wales v England rugby this afternoon with a bowl of home made vegetable soup. Have I got the energy?

Nice to see Everton humble Manchester City 2 – 0 in spite of losing a man. What on earth England were thinking nobody knows. The were utterly humiliated by Wales.

Week 220

3rd March, 2013

Strangely quiet and overcast day. Not cold but not inviting outside. The Sunday Times is the focus of the morning.

I can’t get Mum’s voice out of my head today. For so many years we argued about Catholicism and the iniquity of the priesthood. I bated her about the prevalence of homosexuality in an organisation which preached so vehemently against it. Her response was that stock RC answer – The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. – We all carry original sin around with us and must fight it all the time. There’s always one bad apple but don’t judge us all by that. What would she be thinking now? Cardinal Keith O’Brien, head of the Catholic Church in Scotland and the most senior figure in the church in the UK, a man who has condemned homosexuality from the pulpit has admitted to that cardinal sin himself. And this can be set against a backdrop of sexual abuse by clergy across the country and the world. There is only one thing sinking faster than christianity and that is the Lib. Dems..

4th March, 2013

Frost on Skiathos but Spring in Surrey. Glorious morning of riotous sunshine out of crystal clear blue skies. Not warm yet but 10C/50F and warmer, we are told, is on the way.

I am no supporter of the Greens or of Environmentalism. I hate wind turbines with a passion. I would convert them to Roman Catholicism and dump them in the sea – off Australia. The Times this morning runs an article which has done more to raise my blood pressure than anything for a long time. Not only are these ugly scars on the landscape useless when the wind isn’t blowing but, when it blows too strongly and too much electricity is generated – more than is required – we are paying huge amopunts of money for the turbines to be turned off. Whatever the weather and whatever the demand, we are paying unnecessarily. Any party that offers to end this iniquity will get my vote.


5th March, 2013

Oh, what a perfect day. Glorious blue sky, strong, warm sun – 16C/61F – birds singing and darting everywhere. We had a number of trips on our agenda. First was a trip to Woking. The Peacock CentreSpecsavers. New distance glasses for me and reading glasses for Pauline. Pauline likes reading sun glasses for reading outside. I wanted glasses I can’t break if I sit on. We both achieved our ideal for about £300.00.

Home for coffee and to do a few jobs then off through the sunfilled streets lined with trees in full blossom to Weybridge and then Walton on Thames. Not exciting shopping but a delicious bounce of Spring everywhere.

The big match tonight – Man U. vs Real Madrid. Another chance to put the ‘Chosen One’ in his place – hopefully.

6th March, 2013

Lazy morning after a day out yesterday. The big match didn’t go the way I and many others hoped but life goes on. Did my 30 lengths at the pool this morning and felt better in doing it than at any other time since we started it at the beginning of November last year. We have started the tenth week of denial – no alcohol and no carbohydrate. Today is a fish day in honour of Jane Bennett. She’s not dead but can’t have long because she is a vegetarian. Do they eat fish? It all gets too intricately political for me to understand. Pauline is making smoked haddock chowder for lunch and I am cooking salmon fillets with oven-dried tomato topping accompanied by garlic mushrooms. It is the sort of thing that I would serve with a chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc but not today. Maybe when I celebrate my 81st birthday. Apparently then I will have exceeded the National Average. Unfortunately, by then the National Average will have moved to 120. Anyway, the longer I live, the more I claw back from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme which makes life all the more worth living.

chowder1.jpg  salmon.jpg  odtoms.jpg

It has consistently been warmer here than Athens throughout the day. Certainly, Surrey can be delightful in the Spring. Our previous home in Huddersfield today registered less than one third of the Surrery temperature throughout the day. T-shirts here and top coats there. The difference – 200 miles.

7th March, 2013

Rain this morning. It was rather nice to see it. Warm but wet. Tesco shop this morning. An hour and a half of misery and then we call at Phyllis & Colin’s house for a cup of coffee before making our way home.

Letter from our friends on Sifnos today. Puts us to shame. Our Greek friend has written it in faultless English. Lovely to get though. In Greek Orthodox, Easter isn’t until May 5th. Lent starts soon so today is Tsiknopempti or Charred Thursday which is a celebration of meat. I have to say that there is still plenty of meat available and consumed by Greeks during Lent, in my experience, but not so conspicuously. The name of the day is based on the custom of roasting meat. According to the tradition the meat has to be barbecued, and as a result it’s smell ” the tsikna” overwhelms every neighborhood. The smell marks the name of this Pempti (Thursday in Greek) and it is called Tsiknopempti.I’m very glad I have no religion or I would be giving up alcohol and bread and rice and pasta and potatoes ……………oh I have for 66 days already! What a godly boy!


8th March, 2013

Wet, wet, wet today. Actually rather nice. We have had so little of it recently. Outside, tarmacers are redoing the surface of our lane which was only resurfaced a month or so ago. Almost as soon as we had a beautiful and smooth new surface, yellow markings appeared to highlight small areas. Now, the road surfacing team are back. It will soon be dug up again. It is the Lib. Dem. approach to road maintenance – piecemeal, illogical and amateurish!

9th March, 2013

Happy 58th Birthday to Cathy, my younger sister.


She has changed careers in later life and is clearly making a success of it. She offers a counselling service and works in a swish new School Academy. It is nice to see her blossoming in later life.