Week 292

27th July, 2014

How wonderful life is. A hot and sunny Sunday with the newspapers and Test cricket. Excellent day for England.

Pauline cooked duck legs with grilled vegetables – dreamy.


28th July, 2014

Hot and humid night gave way to early morning thunder storms. Heavy rain gave the grounds a fresh and perfumed sensation. We were busy indoors until mid-day when we drove to the Health Centre. Until then, Pauline was busily contacting developers of new houses towards the south coast and then fielding pushy phone calls from them in follow up.

Really enjoyed exercise at the Health Centre – We spent about an hour and a half ending up in the pool and Jacuzzi. After we got home, Elerania phoned us from Sifnos with news. I was busily watching England declare on 569 for 7 and take the Indians to 25 for 1 before the close. Tomorrow, we are off to France on a shopping trip.

29th July, 2014

Happy Birthday to Jane B G. Hope you’ve got another 40 to come – at least!

Didn’t sleep well last night. It was hot, humid and the foxes outside were screaming at each other. Why do they do that? Why can’t they talk normally like everyone else? Anyway, up at 5.00 am and out of the garage by 6.00 am. We are driving down to the Tunnel for a French shopping trip.

What a wonderful day! Mind you, every day is wonderful at the moment. An hour and a half down to the tunnel. Coffee and read the paper. Half an hour crossing (plus an hour for French time) and we rolled off in Calais about 9.30 am. Of the two, big hypermarkets – Auchan and Carrefour – we prefer the former at the moment. Their fresh fish counter is wonderful as is their huge, delicatessen area with more cooked meats and cheeses than you can imagine.

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Today we stocked up on Sea Bream (Dorade), Salmon (Saumon) and Cod Loins (Pave de Cabillaud). We bought some more Duck which we both love plus half a garden of wonderful salad. It was wine that was our prime purpose today because the car was so stuffed full on the way back from Sifnos. Enough to get us through to our next trip in a couple of months time.

30th July, 2014

The lovely days just keep coming. We have begun to skip through life once again. Is it really possible to feel so free and happy? Today, I went round to try and sort out Phyllis’s email settings on her iPad. I failed miserably. I will have to do some research and go round later in the week to have another try.

Went to the Health Club and did an hour and a half in the Gym and the Pool. Felt absolutely great after that. Came back to find England had declared and left India with an enormous total to get in the last day. They now need 333 with 4 wickets down.


Another very warm evening. We have all the windows and doors open at 10.00 pm. We are told it might cool by the weekend.

I don’t know if I told you but the power shower in our apartment in Surrey is so strong it almost knocks us off our feet. It is such a difference to our pump-fed shower in Sifnos which was perfectly adequate but comparatively weak. We had a huge, corner bath in Greece as well but rarely used it. In fact, we’ve become confirmed fans of showers so much that neither of us has had a bath for over a year. Having written this, I’m going to have a shower now.

31st July, 2014

Survived the power of shower last night and I’m pleased I did. Went out early to pick strawberries and raspberries this morning on a hot and sunny morning that climbed to 26C/79F. The current strawberry crop are still plentiful although we had to work a bit harder for the raspberries. We managed about 4kg of each because we were the first to pick.


It always pays to be early. Pauline bought some more fig & sherry ice cream to go with the fruit and we are a big bowl as soon as we got home. Just no self control!

Got home in time to watch England wrap up the Test victory before Lunch. Really pleased.


Pauline, meanwhile, was emailing every house builder in Sussex, Hampshire & Kent and then spent the rest of the day fielding phone calls from them inviting us down to see their Developments. All the houses we are considering are new-build.newhouse

1st August, 2014


From  the cat (and rabbit) that got the cream, Happy August 2014. Can you tell that the cat is dreaming of goldfish? The rabbit is just dreaming.

A warm, quite humid but slightly cloudy day for the start of August. It is a finance day with most things being done on-line. We have internet banking with three, separate banks plus accounts in two others. I am fed up of having to maintain spreadsheets just to remember where everything is. The aim today and over the next few weeks is to rationalise everything into a couple of institutions.

2nd August, 2014

Good Samaritan day. Went round to sort the email account on Phyllis’ iPad and to set up Skype for her. That achieved, we did a bit of shopping at Tesco and had the car cleaned. Pauline is constantly fielding phone calls from house builders and our short journey out this morning was interrupted by two more.

Going to the Health Club this afternoon. We don’t usually go at weekends but we are trying to up the activity levels. ………….. Just did 45 mins today but it was enough to make us feel better. The Health Club was reasonably quiet but the roads were full of cyclists. I can’t be doing with them at all. No cycling licence required, no road fund tax paid, no knowledge of the Highway Code to be achieved. These cyclists are laws unto themselves and a nightmare for motorists. Talking of nightmares, I wonder how the Poison Dwarf is getting on?

Week 291

20th July, 2014

Up at 6.00 am Central European Time (7.00 am Greek Time & 5.00 am UK Time) and just had a glass of orange juice. Went down to the pool for a vigorous half hour swim. Can you believe it? We were the only ones there. Swimming was wonderful under the glass canopy and, as we did, a torrential rain storm passed over. Back to our room for showers and a cup of tea. Now Pauline is packing while I down load The Sunday Times to my iPad.

We will leave for Calais soon at about 10.00 am. Although the rain has stopped and the temperature is about 24C/72F, the roads will be still wet and the French reduce speed limits in that condition. Wet motorways are limited down from 130kmh/80mph to 110kmh/70mph and there have been so many reports in UK newspapers of French police targeting speeding British drivers in a revenue raising operation particularly on the A26/E17 so it will be cruise control set to the speed limit and a gentle drive to the coast.


Arrived in Calais at 1.30 pm. Checked in to our Executive room which was enormous. Went for a walk around the eight acres of gardens and then came back in to watch the British Open Golf Championship. Booked a table for Dinner at 7.00 pm.

The meal tonight was:

  • Chicken & Asparagus Tart
  • Medley of fish – Salmon, Scallops, Cod & Shrimps in Mornay Sauce
  • Plum, Apricot & Raspberry Tart with Chantilly Cream
  • Chilled Sauvignon Blanc

Absolutely wonderful end to our European adventure for this summer. And Rory McIlroy won as well. Good weekend!


21st July, 2014

Up at 6.30 am, showered and dressed. Down to breakfast at 7.30 am. (We can’t eat much more and are desperate to go back on our diets,) By 9.00 am, we’re off to Auchan for weekend shop – lots of fish including huge crevettes, cod steaks, salmon steaks and Sea Bream, lots of meat including duck joints and breasts, pork joints and rabbit, lots of wonderful salad vegetables and glorious fruit. We loaded only four boxes of wine because we will be back here in about a week when we have more space in the car. We did buy Pauline two more pairs of shoes from the shop she had bought from before. We also bought two pairs for Elerania because she so admired Pauline’s.

The temperature in Coquelles was 22C/70F as we drove down to the tunnel terminus at 11.00 am and, as soon as we drove off in Kent, it rose to 25C/77F. It was distinctly muggy. An hour and a half later we were back in Surrey and it felt as if we had never been away. Since leaving the island, we had driven 1238 miles/1993 km and 3313 miles/5331 km since leaving our apartment in April. After three hours, Pauline had unpacked everything, I had gone through fifteen week’s post, listened to all our phone messages including three from our Special Friend and two from Elerania, phoned Sky TV to reinstate our Satellite/Phone/Broadband deal which has been reduced by £40.00 per month while we’ve been away and watched the final over of the Test which England lost.

22nd July, 2014

Up at 5.00 am (7.00 am Greek Time) after being woken by the birds. We had slept with all the windows open (without the need for insect nets) because of the temperature. We didn’t realise how wonderful our Development looks in mid-summer. This is just a quickly snatched photo:


By 7.00 am, we had drunk fresh orange juice, tea and were firing up our coffee maker for the first cup in four months of really good, fresh coffee. We have a list of jobs longer than all four of our arms including:

  • Have the car valeted
  • Sign back on at the Health Club
  • Visit Phyllis & Colin
  • Do on-line banking
  • Check and reallocate ISAs
  • Pay the Window Cleaner
  • Book return tunnel tickets to France for next week
  • Catch up on correspondence
  • Search out local Pick Your Own farms.


We think we might try this one. We’ve bought meat from them before and the quality is excellent.

Excellent meal of tomato & Basil salad with gorgeous, giant langoustines in garlic oil. To accompany this on a day of 27C/81F, we drank a chilled bottle of Chenin Blanc. Can I get those letters and emails done? We’ll see.


Just been reviewing our hotels across Europe which were generally very favourable. Booking.com and Expedia requested our views. I quite got a taste for it. There are a fair few Sifnos hotels I’d like to review as well.

23rd July, 2014

Up at 6.30 am today so getting better already. Beautiful summer’s day with clear blue skies and an overnight temperature of 22C/70F which is forecast to rise to 28C/82F during the day. We are going to a PYOF – a Pick Your Own farm. In fact, we might go to two. Unfortunately, we’ve missed asparagus for this year but strawberries, raspberries, black currants and gooseberries are currently being picked along with so many vegetables that we couldn’t eat or store them all.

Booked a return trip to France next week to buy wine and do some more shopping. Booking.com and Expedia have both emailed me to say thank you for all the Reviews and saying they have entitled me to 10% off all future bookings through them. I shall certainly keep writing Hotel reviews!

We signed back on at the Health Club yesterday so we will try to fit in a couple of hours this afternoon. There is so much to do!

It was a glorious morning down on the PYO farm. We picked 2.5 kilos of strawberries, about the same of raspberries, 3 kilos (podded weight) of broad beans which we love and about 2 kilos of French beans. We also bought lovely looking pork joints from the farm shop without having to kill our own pig! We drove back to our home, calling in at Phyllis & Colin’s house on the way to give them half of our fruit. The are both very old and wrinkly and can’t get out much so we thought they’d appreciate the help.

24th July, 2014

Another gorgeous day. The Met. Office are predicting roaring hot temperatures and sunshine well into the middle of August. It will be our first summer in UK for 17 years and it may well be the hottest on record. At least we won’t get the dreadful heatwaves of Greece this year.

As well as driving around Europe, we intend to start flying to cities again. For example, we intend to spend a few days in Bologna soon. Right on cue, a facility has been upgraded on our Private Banking Account. Priority Pass entitles us to enter and use the facilities of all the airports’ Executive Lounges – internet and fax, free refreshments, fast track check-in and boarding, etc.. It also allows us to get away from the general hubbub of the airport.


For example, when we fly to Athens in the winter, we can use all four Executive Lounges –

  • Aristotle Onassis Lounge
  • Swissport Executive Lounge
  • Melina Merkouri Lounge
  • Goldair CIP Lounge

I can see us making good use of this.

Did an hour at the Health Club this morning – the first for almost four months. We had intended to swim at the end but we were so shattered that we came home and devoured a huge bowl of strawberries and raspberries. Pauline has spent the afternoon researching new properties in Kent/Sussex area. We are not in a hurry and have specific requirements. It must be new-build. We want four bedrooms, separate Kitchen, Utility, Living room and, preferably, double Garage. We would like two of the bedrooms to have en suites plus a family bathroom. It must have good, fast broadband and be fully cabled for satellite television. Pauline would quite like a Conservatory but it is not a deal-breaker. We don’t want to spend much more than £500,000. One of our projects is to identify possible areas and drive down to explore their possibilities.


This style of house quite appeals to us both and can be purchased well within our budget. This particular one is just north of Ashford in Kent.

My friend on Paros has been waving to me again. Even in Surrey I can see him standing and waving from Aghia Anna. If  we move further South, he will come even more in to view. Next Spring/Summer we will be much freer to travel – Sifnos/Paros – Poros/Skiathos. Perhaps I can meet up with fellow Bloggers who have felt like friends for so long.

25th July, 2014

A very full day. Up at 6.30 am and out at the supermarket by 8.00 am. Unfortunately, we found that it is a popular time with pensioners. They see it as a social event and idle down the aisles chatting as they go. We had a pre-prepared list and tried to do it all in less than an hour. We were going to go to have the car cleaned but time ran out. Back out to the Pick your Own farm for 10.00 am. We picked another three kilos of raspberries and strawberries and bought some ice cream. Fig & sherry was our favourite although we also liked Belgian chocolate flavour.

Next, we were off to the Health Club for an hour’s exercise although the pool was out of commission today. Back home for fruit and a little blob of ice cream. Talking of little blobs, I’m quite missing the Poison Dwarf! Did some correspondence. Heard from Elerania today and wrote back. Also wrote a letter to Emmanuella & John. Sorted out some annual travel insurance and began to search out hotels for a trip to Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk and Bologna in Italy.

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Very humid and warm – 28C/82F – but much hotter in the sun as we picked fruit. Suddenly at 2.30 pm, the heavens opened announced by bright flashes of lightning and huge claps of thunder. Almost like Greece, the downpour was soon over and the sun came out again as if nothing had happened. Everything smelled wonderful and fresh.

26th July, 2014

After an early breakfast of fresh orange juice and tea, we set about booking the future with a will. First, we booked three nights in Walsingham near to Wells-next-the-Sea where Pauline spent many happy childhood holidays.

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Next we booked our annual pilgrimage to Yorkshire/Lancashire in October. We will spend three nights there. Now we have to fit a trip to Bologna in before Christmas.

After a supermarket shop and a trip to Phyllis & Colin, we were exhausted. We will go back to the Health Club on Monday. This afternoon I have completed communications with Elerania, Emmanuella, Brian, Little Viv and Margaret & Tony. They have all been despatched and we are going to turn our attention to other matters.

Week 290

13th July, 2014

A lovely, gentle and slow day in this peaceful hotel. We went for a late breakfast at 9.00 am and then read the Sunday papers and drank coffee. An hour in the gym followed using the jogging machine and the exercise bike. We went straight from there to spend an hour swimming in the pool.


This evening we have eaten grilled salmon steak with grilled vegetables prior to watching the World Cup Final. Who to root for?

We leave Patras on Tuesday afternoon at 14.30 and arrive in Ancona by 10.30 on Wednesday morning. A quick trip to a local market and then on to Parma for the night. Thursday morning sees us drive to Mulhouse in Alsace where we stay for one night and then on to Reims on the Friday morning for a two night stop. On Sunday morning, we drive to Calais where we will spend the night and go shopping in the hyper-stores on Monday morning before making our crossing through the Chunnel and on our way back up to Surrey. We should be home by about 13.30 depending on the M25 traffic. The whole trip is great fun and something to savour.

14th July, 2014

What a wonderful day! We’ve woken up with not a care in the world, done an hour’s swimming in the deserted pool, eaten breakfast and read the newspapers. Not bad after a late night last night watching the Germans inevitably win. Actually, I was quite pleased for them and the strength of teamwork. It was nice to see Angela Merkel supporting her team just like she’s supported the Greek economy.


Usually, we don’t get back from Greece until the beginning of October. This year, for the first time in almost fifteen years, we are planning a number of trips. This is the short list we are considering:

  • Drive to the Dordogne and stay for a few weeks. The Bergerac wine region appeals. My friend, Brian, had a house there and loved it.
  • Drive or fly to Bologna for a couple of weeks.
  • Revisit Venice. I have long looked forward to that.
  • Fly to Rome, Verona, Florence to sit and stare for a few days.
  • Spend some time in Madrid & Barcelona. We have never been to Spain and think it is about time we did.
  • Visit the Amalfi coast.
  • Go to Sicily.

We probably won’t manage half of those but we’ll make a start. Longer haul for next year could include visiting my childhood friend, Jonathan Kelly, who has just retired from US State R&D in Boston Massachusetts. I haven’t seen him since 1969. We have long talked about Australia & New Zealand and must visit them soon. After all, the world is our lobster! Talking of lobster, that’s what we’re having for Dinner.

15th July, 2014

The middle of July! Where does it all go? I suppose, we have been busy but still the time has flashed by. Now we are up, showered and dressed. We’ve had a cup of tea, watched the BBC News, downloaded the newspaper and we are off to breakfast before packing, checking out and driving down to the port.


We have our new tickets but still have to ‘check-in’ at least two hours before departure. The ship sails at 14.30 but we will be on by 1.00 pm and off to our cabin. It has a  fridge well stocked with complimentary goodies, a television that shows Greek and Italian stations plus BBC News & CNN. It is furnished with a big and very comfortable double bed, a dining table and chairs and a sofa and easy chairs. The bathroom is well appointed with powerful shower and a hairdryer for Pauline. Meals are complimentary for Luxury travellers.


We will hole up there and won’t really see other passengers until we disembark tomorrow morning by which time the ship’s number will have been swelled by passengers from Igoumenitsa.

16th July, 2014

Great crossing and, after a wonderful sleep, a lovely, waiter-served breakfast and gallons of fresh coffee, we arrived at the port of Ancona at about 11.00 am. We drove straight off and took the road to Bologna and Parma where we stayed in a lovely hotel for the night.


We were there by 3.00 pm and had intended to go for a walk but the temperature had hit 34C/93F and the sun was intense. We settled for reading the newspapers in our air-conditioned room.

Italian hotels cannot serve poor food, it is against their religion and the restaurant in our hotel is no exception. We ate a Starter of Caprese Salata – buffalo mozzarella, beefsteak tomato, basil and olive oil,


oven roast, wild salmon with grilled vegetables and a bottle of local wine. It was to die for! Coffee in our room and an early night.

17th July, 2014

Up at 6.00 am and, after a light breakfast, we made an early start for our five hour drive to Alsace. It was warm and sunny as we left, got hotter as we navigated the Milano ring road during morning rush hour and, as we drove past the Lakes and into Switzerland, still featuring snowy peaks, the temperature rose to 27C/81F then 30C/86F.

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The drive so far has been delightful and we arrived at Mulhouse in France by 1.00 pm. Our room was ready and there was a complimentary bottle of champagne in the fridge. We went straight off to the basement pool for a long swim and Jacuzzi to get the drive out of us.


Now, at 4.30 pm, we can open the champagne and relax. We have a four hour drive to Reims tomorrow.

18th July, 2014

No breakfast today just a cup of tea. On the road by 8.30 am. Temperature at 8.30 am 24C/75F but as we ambled along an empty motorway past Colmar and on towards Reims, the temperature hit 34C/93F.


With so little traffic on our five hour journey, I just set cruise control and sat back. Having only to hold the steering wheel, I was in danger of falling asleep. Fortunately, the car radio soon picked up BBC Radio 4 and Test Match Special so I could be entertained throughout the drive.

While we were driving, Elerania phoned from her Sifnos office to ask how we were and where we were up to on the journey. She told us our buyers were absolutely over the moon with the house which was wonderful. She is a lovely girl and a wonderful Notary. We were incredibly lucky to switch our case to her. She really understood and fully sympathised with our situation. We stopped just once for coffee en route and arrived at our hotel in Reims – Best Western Hotel de la Paix – by 1.30 pm.


We had booked a spot in the underground car park and were soon stretching our limbs in the pool. The TV carries British channels which is rather nice.


We are going to have a day off from driving and spend it walking around Reims tomorrow.

19th July, 2014

Lovely, relaxing day. Up at 7.00 am and into the pool for 30 mins swim. Back to our room for orange juice, tea and coffee. Listened to BBC Radio 4 and downloaded The Times which was full of high temperatures and Lightning strikes across UK. We reached 33C/92F today and it was a little muggy.

Went out shopping in the centre of Reims but, although the area is fascinating and interesting, there was little that caught our eye.


Our meal today was rabbit terrrine, chicken & tarragon terrine, mixed olives and a wonderful melting white cheese that I can’t remember the name of. We drank a wonderful red – St Chinian Sacre Coeur – something I’ve never found before.


I shall certainly look for it again. Last leg of the European journey tomorrow when we do three hours to Coquelles, Calais. We will stay the night and then do our week’s shopping before diving under the sea a driving back up to Surrey. It really is so lovely to see well-stocked supermarkets again!

Week 289

6th July, 2014

Lovely day. Our special friends came round for the morning and brought us a present each. That was nice. While we were drinking coffee, the Notary phoned – on a Sunday – to tell us of developments. After our friends had left, we went swimming in Kamares Bay where the water was a bit cooler than of late because of the recent winds.

Filet steak with onions and mushrooms for our meal and then preparing things for Monday.

7th July, 2014

We were up at 6.00 am and, in the cool of the morning, had a long chat with the Cat. We then cleared the patio of thousands of mating & dying flying ants that had appeared over night. Up to the Notary at 9.00 am and then off to the Accountant. Some important paperwork was back from Athens but still in the hands of the courier who lives in Faros. We went there immediately to pick it up. Everybody was amazed.

You went to Faros yourself?

It felt like we had sailed for South America single handed rather than drive five minutes to the next village. With the necessary paperwork in sweaty hands, we drove back to the Notary who gave us more documents to be photocopied and then taken up to the KEP (Public Administration) Office where Eleni stamped and countersigned them for free and suggested we keep her signature because it would be valuable one day.

Now we are going to Captain Andreas’ Taverna for Lunch to relax before another meeting tonight. Life is so hard when you’re retired! Evening meeting with the Notary and our special friend.

8th July, 2014

Oh what a night, what a night it was …..

Dramatic events at the Notary’s office last night. It was the celebration of our 30th year on Sifnos and, accompanied by our special friend, by the Notary, Elerania and by the buyers of our house, we exchanged contracts and received payment for our house which we started as a project 14 long years ago. It has been a wonderful experience but it is definitely time to leave the goldfish swimming around the bowl. We will depart in September but return as tourists in May and stay with our friends for a couple of months.

Although we knew exactly what was going to happen last night, it was still quite stressful. We drank a bottle of champagne in double quick time when we got home (can I call it that any more?). Today was extremely busy. We went to the Notary’s office and received a copy of the contract which we had to get photocopied. We took a copy to the accountant’s office with a box of cakes from Gerentopoulos


and another copy to the electricity shop but it was closed because of strike action. We will go tomorrow and try again.

We went to the Banks to deposit money and transfer it to our FedEx Bank – Moneycorp who will convert it into Sterling and send it to our British Bank. We will invest it in British property over the winter and ride the property wave in UK for a change. It is a strange feeling living in the house now but not owning it now but it is also very freeing! Our friends are coming round for drinks this evening. It will be nice to see Elerania in a social rather than official capacity.

9th July, 2014

Can life get much better than this? Up early on a still and hot morning which, ultimately reached 34C/93F. After breakfast – first for the cat and then us – we planned our attack as we so often have to in Greece. The finances from our house sale are being sent to our UK account via a FedEx Bank. First to the National Bank. We were soon sent home for an avalanche of paperwork – UK Electricity Bills (proof of address), UK Teachers Pensions P60s for last year (proof of paying taxes in UK), National Insurance Numbers (Equivalent of Greek Social Security Numbers), UK Tax Numbers (proof we knew our tax numbers), Passports (proof of place of birth). I managed to access everything on-line, cut and paste and mock-up convincing printouts. Second time round we passed the test and the button was pressed to send our money to UK.

On to Piraeus Bank where we already have on-line banking and a random-pin generator which didn’t seem to be working. We had the finances despatched manually in the bank and then they discovered that my rpg need to be ‘activated’ before it could be used. They helped me to do that in the Bank. We left as our money winged its way to our UK bank.

As we were leaving Piraeus Bank, John from Oraia Sifnos taverna came in. I haven’t seen him for a couple of years but, when we first came to Sifnos, 30 years ago, John was 20 years old and serving in Boulis Café/restaurant on the water front. He asked what I did and, when he learned I was a teacher, that was what he called me. Hey, teacher! he would call out when he saw me. That’s how he greeted me today. As we walked back to our car, we stumbled on Dimitris who did our outside tiling and did it very well. He and his wife came over for drinks last year. It was nice to see him and we might meet up over the next few weeks.

We have been helped by so many good people in the past three months that I would like to place on public record:

  • Elerania Miliotie, the Notary has been indefatigably spectacular.
  • Our Special Friend has been a constant source of support for the past three years
  • Kostis Dimitriades, the architect, has been a wonderful source of support and specialist inside information.
  • Smaragda and Margarita at the Accountants have chased and found everything.
  • Pigi & George in the National Bank and Georgia in the Piraeus Bank have been incredibly facilitating.
  • Giannis Chouz late of Germanos and now back at the Post Office has been overwhelmingly friendly and helpful. I owe him a huge debt. I may offer to sponsor his football team next season.

These people, for no real gain on their own part, have gone out of there way to help us right some wrongs and move on. They have contributed to our success and I pay tribute to them.

10th July, 2014

Like yesterday, the morning has opened warm and still unlike the cat who was jumping around everywhere demanding food. We are going out to the Notary’s office and then following up some business in Apollonia. Later, people will come to the house for drinks.

When we go out this morning, I am going to photograph Pauline in the dress that she wore in her first year on Sifnos thirty years ago. Like her, it is a classic!

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At least she didn’t get it from Boden! I, of course was wearing the latest, nearly-new fashion.

We are going out to Dinner tonight. Our Special Friend is supposed to be coming up first for a chat. We are really tired after quite a stressful three days so we will have an early night especially as there is no football.

Interesting meal. The Poison Dwarf and her acolytes were also present. It helped to underline the rightness of leaving. Rania said she would say ‘Goodbye’ the following day when they were not present and we understood.

11th July, 2014

We were up early to say our goodbyes to the cat who seemed blissfully unaware of the moment. We put the last things in the car and waited for the new owners to arrive. They were right on time at 10.30 am and we gave each other hugs and kisses and left them to enjoy their new home. The Notary said they would be the subject of great jealousy because so many expressed interest in buying “the best house on the island” but they were the only ones who could afford it.  We are certainly glad we sold it to Greeks who will own it for the rest of their lives, bring up a family there and pass it on to their children. We were very happy with the price they paid and certainly didn’t want it to fall in to the hands of some strange tourist!

We drove down to the port and parked up to wait for Speedrunner. Our Special Friends and the Notary went out of their ways to be there and say, Goodbye for now. We have arranged to stay for a couple of months with the former next summer and then go to spend time on Poros with the latter. Even Stavros came down to wave us off which was nice. We drove on to the ferry and walked up to the VIP Lounge. It was beautifully air conditioned and almost empty. We ate smoked salmon sandwiches with a bottle of cold white wine and toasted ‘absent friends’. I had hardly finished the newspaper on my iPad when we pulled into Piraeus.

Friday night traffic in Piraeus was quite heavy but we were soon on the National Road and reached Patras two and a half hours later – just after 6.00 pm. As we drove, our special friends phoned to check we were ok. Just five miles further is the small village of Kaminia which has two hotels owned by the same family. The Poseidon Hotel and The Poseidon Palace Hotel front on the Gulf of Patras and are separated by a large citrus orchard. The latter is five star and features a wonderful pool, gym, steam room and sauna. The restaurant is fantastic and the rooms are large and comfortable. If you know Patras, this hotel is an oasis of luxury and calm. This will be our fifth time there. It is so much cheaper than four year’s ago. We moved from Patras Palace which was near to the old port and rapidly went down hill as the new port opened.

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Sifnos is a desert for good fish and we have felt starved of it. Our first meal was grilled Sea Bream and an iced bottle of champagne to celebrate. We even resisted dancing the Gay Gordons! After all, we had left the goldfish behind. Just as we went to bed, our friend phoned to send Love and wish us well.

12th July, 2014

We slept so well and woke early and refreshed. Breakfast is buffet-style and as varied as one’s imagination. Unfortunately, we are not so equipped to take advantage of it now but, still, it was enjoyable. We drove down to the port and visited Superfast offices to collect our revised tickets. Originally, we were booked for the end of September and we were concerned that the few Luxury cabins would already be booked in July. Not a bit. We had full availability. We opted to sail on Tuesday.

Back at the hotel, we swam in the pool for an hour – until we were tired then made coffee and read the papers. Later, we went out for (what we considered) a six mile walk and returned rather tired. We order grilled mixed fish – salmon, swordfish, baby squids, mussels and octopus – with grilled vegetables – peppers, aubergines, oyster mushrooms, etc. – in our room. I managed to keep up with British radio and the Test Match. I was thrilled to hear Root and Anderson do so well.