30th November, 2014
November closes with the news that Autumn 2014 has been the third warmest on record. Monday sees the official start of Winter and we are warned that, temporarily at least, we can expect some seasonal weather. There is a lot to say for Seasons. They give life enjoyable variety. It is still very mild in Surrey. We went out today in short sleeved shirts quite happily. The one thing I am not particularly keen on is dark early mornings and dark early evenings. One thing Winter does provide is an excuse to eat soup. Pauline made the most wonderful celeriac soup today.
I survive on six or so hours of sleep each night and we get up unwaveringly at 7.00 am. I would like to see the sun when I rise but, currently, we are waiting around for a couple of hours for true daylight to arrive. Admittedly we are surrounded by trees but the sun was already well on its way down by 3.00 pm. The shortest day is still three weeks away.
1st December, 2014
Happy December 2014. Let’s hope we don’t see any snow again this year. The Blog has 24 days until its 6th birthday. Let’s hope it lives that long.
Our grounds are host to dozens of Mahonias which are coming into full bloom right now. The are a delightful, even majestic shrub and put on a great display against a woodland backdrop.
Fascinating to see the Greeks up in arms about the most basic, economic changes that still don’t even bring them in to line with the rest of Europe. Raising the retirement age to 62. People in Britain would kill for such an achievement. The British have to work to 67 now and many can’t conceive of retiring at all. Putting up the VAT on hotel bills from 6.5% to 13%. Let them live in the real world! It should go up to the full rate. Anyone who can make an annual living on ten or twelve weeks occupancy a year is profiteering and shouldn’t be given concessions like this. This is why the coalition is struggling. The Greeks need to embrace reality.
2nd December, 2014
Up to a grey and damp start although not cold. Off to the Channel Tunnel just after 9.00 am for a short stay in France. We wait for all those poor people going to work to free up the roads before we leave. It takes just over an hour to Folkestone and half an hour checking in and driving on followed by half an hour crossing under the sea. Certainly much better than going by ferry. The train leaves at 11.30 am and, with time difference, we drive off at 1.00 pm. We will check in at our hotel before going out to do some shopping.
Lovely journey and crossing. Checked in, dropped off our bags and went shopping to Citè Europe. We decided to have a picnic meal in our room and bought various cheeses, cooked meats, salads and wines. It was a delightful indulgence. Back to the diet tomorrow! We bought white wine for Phyllis & Colin, red Bordeaux for us along with cases of champagne for Christmas.
3rd December, 2014
A hearty breakfast, check out of our hotel and off to Auchan in Coquelles.
We bought rabbit, duck, pork, huge loins of cabillaud (aka Cod), the biggest atlantic salmon in the fish market which will now feature in our Christmas meal starter. We stocked up on onions, shallots, garlic and salad vegetables.
Off to the Tunnel and an early afternoon crossing. We boarded at about 11.50 am and left at 12.20 pm.
We entered England about 11.50 am and the drive back of just over an hour was a delight. To hear the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement massively cutting Stamp Duty on house sales was a real welcome home.
4th December, 2014
An article quoted in Keep Talking Greece today reports that Italy, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria are seen as equally corrupt among EU countries as if that almost absolves the Greeks of duplicity. We certainly saw massive corruption at first hand in our time living there but it has become so endemic that those involved see it as normal and acceptable. No wonder the Germans insist on maintaining a boot on their throats until they really straighten up.
Off to the Health Club to straighten ourselves up this morning, delivering wine to our relatives on the way. Got to get out of the house without next door’s cat sneaking in and out of the chilly, damp air. Poor old Minnie. She should have been born in the Mediterranean.
She’s cunning enough for it!
5th December, 2014
Spoke to my big sister yesterday. She keeps up with the Blog and observed that for someone intent on losing weight, I certainly feature food a lot. It’s true. The difference is that nowadays all my consumption is ‘costed’ against my daily allowance and any exercise I take. Today, after an hour’s vigorous exercise at the Health Club, our only meal of the day was salad and cold pork followed by fruit and yoghurt. I eat a lot less and much more healthily. It is really working and much less effort than it used to be.
The Director of the British Museum said today that he hoped the Greeks would be happy that he was loaning out the Elgin Marbles to the Hermitage Museum in Russia. I don’t think so!