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.

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