Week 252

13th October, 2013

It rained all night and looks like raining all day. There is something wonderful about rain – especially when you haven’t experienced it for six months.

No football this weekend after the England win on Friday so the Sunday papers are more prominent. Unfortunately, it is a poor weekend for news. European scroungers are high on the agenda. Those coming from Europe are, apparently, costing the NHS £1.5 billion per year and the Tories are doing a deal with the Germans to put a stop to it. When you see what we are entitled to in Greece, you realise that reciprocity is not how it sounds. The Sunday Independent is suggesting that a National Health Service free at the point of use will soon be ‘usustainable’ for UK citizens anyway so the matter will cease to be a talking point while The Sunday Times reports that

THE top medical official responsible for running the NHS in London has admitted that the service is at times unsafe for patients because doctors and nurses are spread too thinly.

It is all jolly stuff but has to have a kernel of truth and that is worrying.

14th October, 2013

It is a grey and overcast day. Our neighbour, Colonel Wellington, is coming round for coffee after just returning from a sailing holiday in the Ionian islands. Then, we must go swimming. I need some activity after a wet and lazy weekend.

Lovely to hear the BBC trying to interview members of Golden Dawn in Athens. Now the (jack)boot is on the other foot. They are the hunted ones running away. They literally ran inside their office and locked the door leaving John Humphreys on the pavement. Classic!

I’ve spent the afternoon preparing to switch from a Sky TV/Telephone/Broadband package to just TV from Sky and the phone/Broadband from BT. The big draw is illustrated by available performance. Currently, I get a download of 5Mbs and upload of just 0.7Mbs. Contrast that with BT’s fibre optic offering of download – 76Mbs and upload- 17Mbs. In addition, I get BT Sport channels for free. Admittedly, it will cost me £20.00 or so a month more but who’s counting?

15th October, 2013

Today would have been Dad’s 98th birthday. Unfortunately, he has missed half of those years by dying at the incredibly early age of 49 when I was just 14. It is impossible to know how our relationship would have developed in advancing age or whether I would have felt compelled to have followed him into the family business but we will never know. I don’t know when this photo of him was taken exactly but it can’t be too long before he died. He was at a reception for architects at The Bull’s Head.


I will be visiting his grave in Repton on Saturday morning. We set off for Yorkshire at 5.30 am tomorrow.

A weak sun is out this morning, shining through an increasingly autumnal looking line of trees. The temperature is decidedly cool at 9C/48F. We particularly begin to feel its divergence from Greek weather where Athens is 25C/77F and Skiathos is 22C/70F. The difference is that Skiathan Man can laze around outside while I have to do it indoors.

16th October, 2013

Set off from Surrey at 5.30 am and a temperature of only 6C/43F with forecasts of thick fog and heavy rain. We experienced neither. Nor did we see much traffic over the two and a half hour’s journey. We stopped off in Leeds to visit June, Pauline’s brother’s wife and then to call in at IKEA. By 1.00 pm we had checked in to the Holiday Inn, Brighouse and were in the pool having a good, long swim.

hib1 hib2

By mid-afternoon, it was pouring with rain so we relaxed, booked Dinner in the restaurant and settled down to relax. Tomorrow will be a very busy day.

17th October, 2013

What a lovely day we had. Up early and off to Honda to have our car serviced and to chat to our friend, Chris Woods.


In mid-morning, we drove to Bolton to visit Ruth & Kevan. What a lovely girl she is! Ruth not Kevan. Ruth fed us smoked salmon salad which is exactly my sort of thing. We stayed for an hour and a half – the time just flew past. Even so, it was strange to leave saying, See you next year. but that is exactly what life is like now for us.

We drove back to Huddersfield to visit our former neighbour, Jean but, unfortunately, she wasn’t in. We left a card and might return tomorrow. When we got back to the hotel, we were too tired to swim so settled down to a cup of tea and a snooze before changing to go out to Dinner with old friends. We dined at Bradleys restaurant with our friends, Margaret and her husband & Little Viv.


The meal was wonderful. I had Rosemary Marinated Pigeon Breast as a starter followed by a main course of Roast Partridge with lovely vegetables. To be honest, the company was so engaging that I ate the meal without fully appreciating it but it is a delightful restaurant.


We spent about three hours over the meal and parted by agreeing to meet again in March instead of waiting twelve months.

18th October, 2013

Woke up early – 6.00 am – to a grey morning. We will not be having breakfast for a second day. We are off across the Pennines to Oldham and a busy set of visits.

What a day! We drove through thick fog and heavily damp air across the moors from Huddersfield to Oldham where we arrived at 9.00 am. We drove straight to the site of our old school which now looks like this:


In some respects, this gives us final closure. We will never return here because there is no here to return to.

By 9.30 am we were in the new Tesco Megastore to buy two dozen Holland’s meat pies for Colin. He has been craving them and can’t source them in Surrey at all.


Next we drove to Greenwoods at the bottom of Vulcan Street to but two dozen Oven Bottom Muffins.


Guess who they were for. Yes, for Colin. You can take the man out of Oldham but you can’t take Oldham out of the man.

On to Shaw to visit my friend, Brian – ex-drugs squad, ex-murder squad, ex-school attendance enforcer. He has down sized since retiring and sold his cottage in France. We spent a lovely hour or so chatting and reminiscing and then it was time to move on again.

This time we moved on to the Crematorium to remember Pauline’s Mum on the third anniversary of her death.


1914 – 2010

On again to Joyce & Harry to collect their homework. They were asked to make notes about Pauline’s family history. They had done just that and we have lots of leads to follow up.

19th October, 2013

Up early and settled our hotel bill. After complaining to the Desk Manager about being charged £30.00 for three days internet access after it being free in all our hotels across Europe, it was removed from our bill. Restores one’s faith in something. We drove on to Hinchcliffe’s Farm Shop in Netherton for meat and game.


Next we headed to Repton, Derbyshire in the heart of the where I was born and where my parents are buried. I know my sister, Ruth visited recently and put some potted plants on their grave. We arrived to a scene that Keats described as:

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
    Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
    With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;

I aarived to find grave robbers had got there first and all that was left was a bare begonia rootball minus the pot.


If someone was so desperate, I hope they found happiness in it. I said a brief ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye’ to Mum and Dad and we set off for Surrey.

They journey was wonderful although I can’t get the fact that I am leaving Mum behind out of my head. The traffic was so light that we were ‘home’ in no time.


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