Week 316

11th January, 2015

Glorious morning of blue skies and sunshine but cool with a hint of frost. Roles are completely reversed today. Sifnos is three times warmer than us. 6C/42F at 10.00 am compared with an island temperature of 18C/64F. We are going to generate some heat in the Gym this morning.

I had a disturbed night and woke at 4.30 am thinking about the Skiathan‘s problem. Actually, I was thinking how I would cope with it if Pauline was ill. To tell the truth, you never really know until it happens. I just hope I would be strong and not fall apart. I like to think I would fight for every scrap of medical support available. There is mounting evidence that that is exactly what one has to do. Of course, unlike the Skiathan, we don’t have a young child to look after and shelter from the storm. Radio 4 came on at 6.00 am as usual and distracted my thoughts. The Skiathan does not have that luxury.

12th January, 2015

Horribly cold, snowy weather with Force 8 gales are set to hit the Cyclades in the next two or three days just as snow is forecast in Northern England. Down here, the weather is comparatively Mediterranean – well not too bad anyway.

Had my six monthly medical review this morning and was told that I am close to leaving Type 2 Diabetes behind. This is what Pauline has been saying could happen for the past two years but I didn’t really believe. I would like to say that it’s been a long, hard slog but, in reality, it hasn’t. At least it will give me the incentive to continue the campaign. On that note, we drove straight to the Health Club for an hour’s exercise. I was too enthusiastic and felt absolutely shattered when I got home.

My review was with the Practice Diabetes Nurse. The waiting room was packed with old people coughing and sneezing, shuffling with sticks and bent over. Is this the future? Tomorrow I will have a follow-up phone call from the doctor. It is a fantastic surgery which is privately sponsored by a charitable trust founded around finance from the Bedser Twins (England’s fast bowlers in the 1930s and ’40s) and Harry Secombe (1950s star) of The Goons.

bedsers bsecombe

This seems to make a big difference to its ability to offer services other practices can’t afford.

13th January, 2015

Have to put off managing the country today because we have to shop at Tesco, host the Burglar Alarm engineer for our six monthly service and receive a follow-up phone call from my doctor after my annual review. I just hope there’s no major terrorist attack forcing me to convene and chair the COBRA Committee. This always happens when I’m in Tesco.

A beautifully sunny and pleasantly mild day which has just been improved as I am delighted to confirm, after my doctor phoned this afternoon, that I am no longer a diabetic. I find it hard to believe but it is official. Now where’s that wine?

14th January, 2015

Lovely sunny day but cold. At 10.00 am, it is only 3C/37F which is seriously chilly. The sharp light under glorious blue skies makes one glad to be alive. Not going to the Gym today. We’ve got too much to do.

My job is to upgrade our broadband facility to superfast fibre optic and to complete the transfer of another pair of ISAs. The derisory interest rate is beginning to look almost acceptable as CPI falls to 0.5%. We will actually be making a +1.00% improvement. We are being told that deflationary pressure in UK is good while underlying inflation – RPI – stands at 1.6% and Europe, the basket case, is in a deflationary spiral which could be difficult to pull out of. Unfortunately, as Europe is currently our biggest trading partner, you can’t really separate the two. What is incredible and why we are so pleased to be out of it, the Euro has fallen to nearly €1.30 = £1.00. My Foreign Exchange Bank has just texted me to say that Sterling is at a six year high against the Euro. There is still a real chance that Greece will elect a left wing alliance called Syriza who will default on its debt and find itself pushed out of the E.U.

syriza

Syriza is and has been offering the Greek people an alleviation of what they perceive as their suffering – having to pay taxes, reducing over generous pensions, breaking closed shop monopolies that have been handed down through families, demanding backhanders for state services, ignoring building and planning regulations, etc. Reality says that, if this really is Syriza’s policy, it will fall at the first hurdle. Polling suggests Syriza really will win this time:

“The difference is between a rough three and four percentage points and I don’t see it closing,” said professor Dimitris Keridis, who teaches political science at Athens’s Panteion University. “Samaras is facing the inevitability of defeat.”

When we were home owners there, it is what we most dreaded. Markets are likely to plummet. Banks are likely to haemorrhage, capital controls are likely to be required. It will be Cyprus  revisited. It will certainly put the wind up right wing hoteliers!

15th January, 2015

Mid-January already and incredibly mild outside with lovely sun. The gardeners are preparing the grounds for the Spring. I think there may be a little local difficulty before then but we must be optimistic.

I contacted Sky and they will upgrade my broadband to 42Mbs with a new, wireless router for free. In six months time, it will cost me just £10.00/ €13.00 per month extra and the whole process will take ten days. Joy of Joys!

hub

Well you heard it here first and today it happened. The Euro moved to its weakest against the Dollar and Sterling for seven years, moving to £1.00 = €1.31 this morning making the Euro worth £0.76. The immediate reason was that Switzerland unexpectedly unpegged the franc from its anchor to baseline euro because they are worried about a Greek debacle pulling the euro too low. Of course, many are worried about that and the Swiss franc has soared as Euro countries have sort refuge. For us, travelling across Europe this year will be considerably cheaper whereas living in Greece will be considerably more expensive for imports.

16th January, 2015

The Euro holds at £1.00 = €131 and reports from Greece this morning tell us that so concerned are Greeks that the outflow of money is causing serious liquidity problems for the four, main banks. Two – probably Alpha and Eurobank – have already been cited as seeking  emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) with the other two expected to follow shortly. There are still nine days to the election which gives plenty of time for money to flow abroad.

The Health Club was incredibly busy today. All these people on New Year resolutions. We know they’ve got no staying power or, as my friend, Sam used to say in his annual lecture, STICKABILITY. Two or three weeks and their hectic work and social lives will have kicked in as they increasingly don’t manage to find time for the gym. We junior retireds, on the other hand, have all the staying power required although quite how we’ll deal with it when we are abroad this year, we still have to figure out. We no longer have a Greek garden to clear.

17th January, 2015

The morning has opened with a heavy frost but it has soon been despatched by a lovely, sunny sky. We put the central heating on for half an hour – a noteworthy event – but it soon got too hot. Pauline received a parcel from Lakeland this morning. It is a vegetable spaghetti maker or a new version of that old classic spiral cutter for fruit and vegetables. It will save us doing it all manually. Yesterday, our meal was Courgette Bolognese with blanched, al dente strips of courgette instead of spaghetti.

spiral

It actually proves to be a delightful and low calorie alternative. We will use it with courgette, carrot, parsnip, celeriac and cucumber possibly peppers and celery. It only cost £30.00 / €39.32 and helps me continue the struggle. We have a mandolin but this is a little less lethal.

We’ve just completed a really hard session at the Gym instead of eating lunch. I am absolutely exhausted. Fortunately, there is a football match to watch this afternoon. I am cooking. It is roasted vegetables – celery, fennel, carrot, onion, tomato, mushroom – and chicken breasts. Everything left over will go in to tomorrow’s soup.

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