Week 319

1st February, 2015

wrf_15

January 2015 is dead. Welcome February! It is a lovely, sunny morning although fairly chilly. I’m undergoing the arduous, Sunday ritual of reading the papers on my iPad, updating my Blogs and websites and watching football. Pauline is fielding enquiries from house developers which come in even on a Sunday and making marmalade. Jointly, we will do a session at the Health Club. I will try to make it coincide with the Sunday Politics programme with Andrew Neil on BBC1. The jogging machine and the exercise bike each have individual televisions to watch and I get so engrossed in the political process that the exercise is over too soon.

2nd February, 2015

Set out early on a sunny but bitterly cold morning to St. Peter’s Hospital.

StPeters2

It was 0C/32F and felt colder. The car’s warning systems flashed ICE on the dashboard display and was dinging to draw our attention to it. Funny really because there was no frost but we had been told to beware black ice. We were going to take Pauline to see a specialist – a consultation for which she has been waiting for three or four weeks. It is a non-emergency but significant. The result is that she has to have keyhole surgery and the wait could be up to eighteen weeks. We pleaded that we had booked travel tickets and were told that it was only the maximum timeframe and that she might get a much earlier cancellation anyway. The operation will be in Ashford Hospital. If it came to it, she could go privately. We’ll see.

Excellent session at the gym today and then back for homemade soup followed by roast salmon with a pesto crust and button mushrooms. Worth working for. This afternoon, we have the next ISAs maturing and I can move them into a larger ISA pot. Life will be so much more manageable when they are all amalgamated under one roof and waiting to strike when a big investment rate is announced. Chance would be a fine thing.

3rd February, 2015

Woke up to an inch or so of snow and bitterly cold. Drove out of the garage at 7.00 am, making virgin tracks, en route for the Post Office parcel collection point. We were battling through Surrey people with little experience of snow. Our life in Yorkshire and daily travel across the Pennines have made us quite accepting of such driving conditions but Surrey workers found the colour white bewildering and traffic crawled along. We made it there and back eventually but then decided not to go to the Health Club today because we were expecting another delivery and didn’t want a repeat of today.

Quite a number of desperate to sell housing agents phoned in today and we might go to look at one or two if the weather looks comfortable. I’ve been doing a quick guide to Athens for some relations who are calling in there soon. Pauline has got her marmalade in to jars and stored away.

marmalade

Can life get any more stressful?

4th February, 2015

A cold but dry day. We did a huge session at the Health Club after which I, for one, was totally exhausted. Pauline barely perspired. It knocked me out for the rest of the day. We had one of my favourite meals – roast pheasant in a mustard sauce with onions, carrots and cauliflower –  and it nearly revived me.

pheasant3

5th February, 2015

Well, already the Greek bravado is unravelling. Syriza are admirably pledged to hit the big earners with tax rises, to increase property tax year on year and to unify all earnings which will mean getting everything on-line and centralised in its control but, will it run out of money before they can act? The media is speculating about Cyprus-style credit controls on the Banks to stem the flood of money out of the country. To its credit, the government are looking at pan-European checks and controls on accounts that Greeks hold abroad. I can certainly provide some assistance in pointing them in the right direction.

The Sunday Times last weekend was warning holiday makers who wanted to book Greek holidays not to book too soon in case the currency came under threat and, if and when they travelled, to take currency with them rather than rely on Greek Banks which could easily have liquidity problems. This may be posturing but, if you’re a fan of economic ‘game theory’ as Varoufakis is reported to be, these are the tactics one can expect.

Varoufakis

As our NHS becomes a political football with rumours of its demise, Pauline has been called for a pre-op meeting at the hospital three days after she was first seen by a specialist. It is both amazing and wonderful in equal measure. She may actually have her operation within a month of seeing the GP. Even when we were using BUPA the timetable wasn’t much better. At the same time, the old chestnut is being more seriously examined of forcing those who reside outside UK to pay for NHS treatment and so that patients have to get it back from the country in which they reside. It’s only surprising they didn’t enforce it earlier.

6th February, 2015

Bitterly cold day exacerbated by a cutting wind. Quick shop at Tesco – mainly vegetables, milk and coffee beans. The total came to £58.00/€78.15 but was reduced to £45.00/€60.60 by all the vouchers we had been enticed with.

Had to go to Woking Walk-in for my annual eye check. It’s absolutely necessary but a bit of a pain. I have to arrive half an hour before the check and have drops put in. When my pupils are so dilated that I can’t read my newspaper on the iPad, I am called back in for eyeball flash photography. The photographs are compared with last year’s to identify any changes. I don’t think there really are any. I’ve been half blind for years. My doctor will get the results in a month.

Pauline fancies some short breaks in European cities in the next couple of months and is currently researching 4 day (3 night) trips to Rome and to Barcelona. Seems a nice idea to brighten the winter days up.

7th February, 2015

My sister suggests Barcelona over Rome. Personally, I would always prefer Italy to Spain but we will give both a try in the next few weeks. The Euro has settled for the weekend at £1.00 = €1.35 which is its cheapest for quite a few years and is partially a result of the impasse reached over the Greek problem. Who blinks first will be important but, whether it’s Greece or Germany, only trouble can follow.

Here, we are constantly being told that the Baby Bulge, retiring generation have never had it so good whereas young people are really struggling to afford a property, etc.. When we were in our early years of buying a house, we were paying interest rates of 12-14% and had to beg for an interview with the bank manager to get a loan. Today, we are told that mortgage rates may soon fall below 1.00% for two year loans and 2.00% for five year loans. -I looked at the current price for the television we bought a few years ago for £1200.00/€1,620.00 – which is now £350.00/€472.00 and the £1500.00/€2022.00 fridge-freezer is reduced to £600.00/€810.00. This young generation have never had it so good – to coin a phrase!

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