15th February, 2015
We are entering a mild, dry and sunny week as a prelude to the official announcement of Spring. Unfortunately, we have the mild and dry but not the sun this morning. In fact, we expect clear skies and sunshine from Tuesday onwards. This is perfect timing because we are off to France.
Our friendly Honda salesman phoned yesterday to ask us if we would like a new car. The incentive was ‘free money’. He was offering us 0% interest on the cost. There was a time when I would have taken it immediately but not now. We used to do 14,000 each year and change our car each year. I love the smell and feel of new leather and metal from a new car, the tautness of its chassis and the bright shine of its paintwork. The cost of a new car each year was just one of those things we factored into our budget.
In retirement, priorities change and so does our car usage. In spite of two return trips to Greece plus umpteen trips to France, the south coast, Norfolk and Yorkshire, we have only clocked up 18,000 in 28 months. We don’t need 0% interest money because our own, invested cash is paying so little we might as well borrow from ourselves as we did for most of our car purchases. This will be the first ever new car that will have lasted three years in our possession and then we’ll swap it at the end of the year or even at the start of 2016.
16th February, 2015
The dominant political thinking in UK is that Greece will leave the Eurozone but not yet. Today or in the next few days there will be a delaying fudge allowing both sides to return to their supporters crying victory. The screw has been turned on Merkel over the weekend with local voting showing a strong rise in anti-bailout sentiment for Greece so she cannot go too far. There has been voluble support demonstrated for Syriza in Greece increasing expectations that they will stick to their election, anti-austerity manifesto.
Ultimately, it is believed that Markel will stiffen her resolve not to support Greeks who don’t want to pay back what they borrowed and Syriza may wriggle on the hook but will split into constituent parts – Maoists, Trotskyites, Communists, etc. This will be followed by the ultimate run on the banks, credit controls and an unplanned Grexit. This, in turn, will produce a massive devaluation in returning to the Drachma. Social instability will see the rise of the balmy party – Golden Dawn – with all that entails.There again, it may all turn out well with Greeks and Germans staging a love-in.
17th February, 2015
Beautiful, clear day at 6.30 this morning as we drove out of the garage and down to the Channel Tunnel. How light it is now at this time in the morning. By 7.00 am, the cloudless blue sky was illuminated by strong sunshine. We were at the check-in well in time for a coffee, passport control and lining up to go. We were Letter W for the crossing. At 8.12 am we saw this notice:
At 8.13 am, we saw this notice:
At 8.14 am, we were advised that there would be a two hour delay because a train had unexpectedly ‘stopped’ in the tunnel and had to be ‘retrieved’. We spent the time reading our iPad newspapers and drinking coffee. Instead of crossing at 8.50 am (GMT), it wasn’t until 10.50 am (GMT) that we finally set off. This is virtually midday in France, of course, so our shopping trip became much more rushed that it should have been. However, it was all achieved safely, wine from the Calais Wine Store, fresh fish – cod, salmon and haddock, meat – rabbit, duck and pork, vegetables plus some olive oil to tide us over from Auchan in Coquelles. Back on the car train for 15.20 (GMT), we were home an hour and a half or so later and unpacking. A bit rushed but a reasonable day.
18th February, 2015
Beautiful, sunny and mild day again this morning. Crocus heads are straining eagerly towards the sky; birds are madly anticipating mating and squirrels charge around like mad things.
Talking about mad things, sounds like Syriza will have caved in to European pressure by Friday and normal servitude will have been restored. The Germans have insisted and the Greeks have bent the knee. They’ll dress it up as a partial victory back home but it will, ultimately, be total climb down in order to ‘get the money’. We, on the other hand, are stepping up at the Health Club in order to lose pounds!
Absolutely knackered after 40 mins on the treadmill and the Greek’s negotiating position doesn’t seem to be much more spritely either. The Euro weakened to £1.00 = €1.36 suggesting deepening pessimism across European markets. Will Greece end up in the hands of the Russians or remain under the boot of the Germans. We will soon know.
19th February, 2015
I’ve always liked this day because my younger brother, Bob’s birthday today makes us the same age for a couple of months. It’s great to see him reaching 63. It must be hard, though, because he’s still out there in the workforce developing databases. Anyway, we wish him happy birthday.
Tested my Broadband speed to advise a neighbour this morning. Since my upgrade from copper to fibre connection, I have gone from 5 Mbs Download / 1 Mbs Upload to 35 Mbs Download / 10 Mbs Upload. This is a fantastic improvement for £10.00 / €13.60 per month.
20th February, 2015
A morning that started off bright and sunny but had turned fairly grey by the time we ventured out at 10.00 am. Not out long – a quick turn round Tesco’s, fill up with petrol at £1.00 /€1.36 per litre and off home. We’ve done three really hard workouts at the Health Club this week so we’re having a day off to do some correspondence and watch the Greek debacle unfold. Thought Syriza had more backbone than it has eventually displayed. Tsipras and his gang have been shown to be the 1968 Campus Debating Society in power.
The jackboot of Germany has won again. Must be hard for Sifniots to swallow.
21st February, 2015
Woke up to a bright but chilly morning. Our trees all around the grounds are alive with birds anticipating Spring. As the day unfolded, we put on our computers and laptops to find Internet Explorer wasn’t working. It was hanging up for both of us. It’s my job to sort these problems out. How do you get on the internet without internet explorer? Fortunately, I had installed Google Chrome as well on all machines. I found a conversation going on on-line about internet explorer failing to work. It seemed to coincide with users of Norton Virus/internet security which we use. A quick update of Norton 360 and Internet Explorer was up and running successfully again. Phew!
Had a day off work yesterday so it’s back to the Health Club this lunchtime for a good workout. Chicken with tarragon and lemon is slow cooking in the oven for when we get back.
First, we have to earn it.