Week 331

26th April, 2015

Up at 6.00 am and out on the M25 by 7.00 am. en route to Yorkshire. It is rather a struggle for Pauline because of her ongoing operation wounds but she’s managing. We have a structured five days of property development visits and meetings with friends and relations. Property Developers are available on Sunday when the rest of the world is not at work so we will do some visits today.

We are looking in a reasonable radius of Leeds for new-build properties. We know almost immediately if a location is right or wrong for us so we easily dismissed a Taylor Wimpey build at Crigglestone and another at Whinmoor, a Ben Bailey build at Crossgates and a David Wilson build in Wakefield. We were quite taken with Harron Homes, a Yorkshire builder’s development in Horbury and may well return to it when more properties are finished.


The weather had been beautiful, sunny and warm throughout the day and the M1 was incredibly quiet so the three hour drive was delightful and relaxing but, after an additional five visits to housing developments, we were ready for a rest so we drove on to our hotel – the Holiday Inn in Brighouse for our one meal of the day and a bottle of wine. And so to bed.

27th April, 2015

Don’t you just love Mondays? We do and especially this one. The weather is beautiful. We are free in sunny Yorkshire which fits us like an old shoe and we are going to see friends. But first we are property searching. Harron Homes in Blackley and Redrow in Horsforth were on the list and the latter was a pleasant surprise.


We drove on to Huddersfield to visit our old friend and Honda car dealer, Chris Wood. We spent and hour or so with him and then back to rest before getting ready for the evening. We were meeting our friends, Margaret & Tony, for dinner at the Golden Cock, Michelin starred restaurant in Farnley Tyas.


It was great to see them and the meal was wonderful. They’ve just bought a property in Spain and are setting off to drive there in a couple of days. We are envious and can’t wait to set off on our travels as well.

28th April, 2015

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Be very careful if you go to Greece this year. Don’t pay up front for anything. Don’t put money in a Greek bank account. Don’t forward pay hoteliers. There is a real risk of default and you losing all your money. We have been so lucky to get out in time. This week, panic set in across the country as pensioners feared not being paid, raided their bank accounts and risked a run on the banks’ reserves. The coalition government are scrabbling around to find the cash and trying to call it in from the country’s institutions and local government. They are constantly running to keep up and losing the race, as The Times cartoon pointed out yesterday:


We feel so sorry for our friends on Sifnos and particularly for our special friends, two proud, middle class Greeks who depend largely on their pensions to get by week to week. Got a lovely email from Elerania this morning.

Drove over to Bolton this morning to visit my beautiful and very young-looking sister, Ruth and her wonderful husband, Kevan. They live in a gorgeous, penthouse apartment in which they look so happy and comfortable. We only stayed an hour because they are busy people but it was lovely to visit.

29th April, 2015

Today is going to be tiring. We are driving over to Oldham in Lancashire to meet our friend and ex-colleague, aka Little Viv who has become a full time carer for her aged mother. There are some good people in the world – certainly much better than me. We had coffee in the new Library coffee shop.


It was nice coffee but rather harrowing hearing Viv’s woes. She could only manage an hour away from her Mum and then she was off. We drove on to Shaw to visit my old friend, Brian and his wife, Val. We spent an hour with them and then drove back to Oldham to visit Pauline’s relatives, Joyce & Harry, whose kids we taught but are now 50 and 55 years old. Time just continues to fly. We drove back to our hotel and collapsed, exhausted. As we approached the M62, there was a warning on our car’s media screen saying 6 mile tailbacks ahead. We took the moors road instead. Even that was beginning to get busy. Thank goodness we did. Two lorries had crashed through the central reservation and nothing moved for seven hours.

30th April, 2015

Up a little later at 7.15 am this morning because we were so tired. After breakfast, we set off for one more property search at Skelmanthorpe – a Redrow development – which turned out to be very close to Emley Moor.


Although the countryside is beautiful, it is too high, exposed and remote for old codgers like us. We set the sat. nav. for Woking and did the most delightful, problem free drive back up the M1 that you could imagine.

Arriving home and opening the garage gates remotely – I got out because the codes have been changed – I noticed that one of my sidelight bulbs had gone. Trip to Honda tomorrow. After a lovely meal of chicken and roast vegetables, Pauline stacked the dishwasher and put it on only to find that it wasn’t working. Have to call out the Hotpoint service engineer tomorrow. At least we can make coffee – no we can’t. The coffee maker is showing an error and refusing to budge. Lovely to be home.

1st May, 2015


Welcome to May! It’s started well for us. The dishwasher has righted itself. Pauline had rushed switching it off before we left last Sunday and it just needed to complete its electronic cycle before being restarted. The coffee maker just needed emptying of coffee grounds  in order to proceed and a quick visit to Honda will get the bulb replaced this afternoon. We’ve done a Waitrose shop and bought the world’s total supply of cod, hake, trout and tuna. Now I can settle down with fresh coffee and watch The Daily Politics.

Went back to Honda this afternoon and they talked amongst themselves a lot before deciding that no bulb had gone. It was just a trick of the adaptive headlights which come on the right when you turn right and turns on left when you turn left. So, three problems all evaporate!

2nd May, 2015

Pleasant day without too much sun. Our neighbour has asked us to do cat-sitting duty until Monday so we feel the weight of responsibility on our shoulders. It is a day of newspapers and correspondence as well as Test Match and football. Because we’ve been away and I found it very tiring, I haven’t been to the gym for a week. I start again tomorrow although Pauline will be another week at least.

Pauline has cooked the most wonderful meal of roast loin of cod with roast vegetables – asparagus, shallot, red pepper, fennel, celery, chestnut mushrooms. I couldn’t have done better myself.


Week 330

19th April, 2015

Pleasant, sunny day but with a little chilly edge on the breeze. After a hard hour in the gym, I worked out that I’ve done 6 hours work in the past 8 days and used 3600 calories which is 2 days’ food allowance for me.

Here, with 18  days to go until our General Election poll, Labour is starting to nose in front although no one is likely to get an overall majority. It is making parties’ election pledges and voter decisions difficult. Who can you trust to implement their proposals? Who should you vote for to keep the others out? It’s all very difficult.

It’s beginning to look nigh on impossible in Greece. Most European partners are preparing for Greek default. The first signs will be credit controls on Greek Banks but the medium term will be the definitive impoverishment of the Greek people with massive devaluation and equally massive inflation. Those who argue casually in the cafes and coffee shops about the merits of being in the euro just won’t believe what’s hit them if they fall out of the zone.

20th April, 2015

Lovely, warm and sunny day with clear blue skies – 21C/70F. It is impossible to go anywhere around here without noticing the blossom. It is so outstanding.


We sat outside for a few hours and started to plan our trip for next week. It is the next stage on Pauline’s recovery before we set off for Europe. We are going to Yorkshire for four or five days. We will visit old friends and research our alternative house-buying possibility. We have narrowed our search down to two, entirely separate areas. Our first choice is in Sussex and we hope to return there this week. Our second choice, where a house will save us around £200,000.00, is Yorkshire within reasonably easy reach of Leeds. This is what we will visit next week. One has the climate the other has the economy. Choices, choices!

In the mean time, I have done another hour/600 cals. of exercise today. I’m just getting too fit for my own good. Jane B.G. has got no chance of catching me.

21st April, 2015

Certainly another lovely day. They’re so enjoyable when you’re retired. We’ve decided that Pauline will manage a trip to Yorkshire next week so we sat in the sun to plan a four day break. We are looking for a new house and have narrowed our search down to Sussex or Yorkshire. Unfortunately, the same house in Yorkshire can be £200,000 less than the identical one in Sussex. At the same time, the climate in Sussex is noticeably more pleasant. Such a dilemma!

After yet another hour at the gym, we griddled fish outside with vegetables. There is something different – enhanced – about cooking outside. They don’t do so much of that in Yorkshire.

22nd April, 2015

In spite of her discomfort, I took Pauline to town to have her hair cut. We also called at our mobile providers, EE, to collect our Power Bar which cleverly stores enough power to recharge a mobile phone.


Many companies charge around £25.00 but ours is giving them away freely to contract customers. You recharge it via a USB connection to a computer/laptop or iPad charging plug. If it is empty when you need it, you can just go in to the nearest EE shop and get a charged replacement. This is the answer to  electric cars – swap a spent battery for a forecourt charged battery. The battery fitting would have to be snap-in-snap-out. It could be quicker than filling a full tank with petrol. I’m spotting a gap in the market here!

23rd April, 2015

There is a serious possibility of the sky, imminently, falling in on Greece and its islands. They have a series of increasingly sizable debts to repay to the IMF and the ECB over the next three months. The Times this morning headlines: Greeks face bankruptcy as cash runs out for wages and pensions and goes on:

Greece will go bust next week, potentially pushing the highly indebted country into default and out of the eurozone and plunging the European Union into an unprecedented crisis. The head of the Greek treasury admitted yesterday that the government could not pay its bills, including the salaries and pensions of millions of public sector workers that are due at the end of the month.

To avoid default, Athens must pay the despised creditors of the International Monetary Fund and the eurozone before its own citizens. Such an outcome would be deeply humiliating for the leftist government, elected on the pledge to put Greeks first. Dimitris Mardas, the deputy finance minister, said the treasury coffers were €400 million short of the €1.9 billion needed to honour payroll obligations to state employees. “We have been running on empty since February.

The Greek government and Press are almost certainly not telling their population the full truth about how much they are having to rob Peter to pay Paul but the islands are already starting to see and be surprised by the unusually early visits of IKA (tax & employment) inspectors. It’s certainly no dream on Symi. The Blog, Keep Talking Greece, reports:

Greece’s Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis has warned that Greece did not have the resources to repay two loans to the European Central Bank loans, amounting to some €7.6 billion, which fall due next July and August. However he underlined that a Greek default on loans to International Monetary Fund was out of question.

What this means is that the big trouble could be put off until the most sensitive point of the year – peak tourist season. This is when financial controls could hit hoteliers, café/restaurant owners, ferry schedules, etc.. Moving money in and out of the country will be the first control but collapse of infrastructure and travel arrangements will not be far behind.

24th April, 2015

Warm but hazy for much of the day. Pauline had her first post-operative Doctor’s check up. As the doctor confirmed, it is taking a bit longer to get back to normal than we had hoped and had been led to expect. We still expect to make our trip to Yorkshire but we will take things easy – as you can when you’re retired.

Yesterday was St George’s Day – the Englander’s day. In Scotland, Ireland and, particularly, Greece, the national day is a big thing but, as an Englishman, I just can’t raise any interest in England or England Day. Maybe because of the General Election coverage, there was a half hearted attempt to acknowledge the day and St George’s flag but not much.


On reflection, I’m quite proud to be so English that I don’t need to assert and reaffirm it. I am much more confident identifying myself as a European.

25th April, 2015

We woke to find it had rained. How wonderful! How delicious the grass and trees looked – refreshed and sparkling. It is weeks since we saw rain. The forecast is for more in the coming days. Even so, it is still extremely warm.

Yesterday was the Name Day of our Sifnos bank manager, Georgia, and today we have a photo of Eleraniatown:


Can’t wait to see them again!

Week 329

12th April, 2015

Καλή Ανάσταση, Χρόνια Πολλά και Καλό Πάσχα!

to our Greek friends. Hope you’ve had a great day.


It has been wonderful here – warm and sunny. We’ve been sitting outside for large chunks of it – when we weren’t watching United destroy City. Everybody’s back from their skiing holidays so the gym was much more busy this morning. I did 9 Kms this morning on running machine and bike combined and felt I could do more. I knock off about 600 calories which seems fairly meagre in the grand scheme of things. I went on my own and we’ve cancelled our stay in Brighton already. We don’t think Pauline is quite ready for it yet. At best we will have a day out.

13th April, 2015

Went to have the car cleaned this morning and to get a loose fitting dress for Pauline. As we walked through the car park, we spotted a Greek car parked up. carg

It was bought in Larissa – Northern Greece – but would have done our journey to Patras and Ancona and then on across Europe. We are rather itching to get going but mustn’t rush Pauline. We will drive down to Sussex tomorrow but that is the extent of our ambition at the moment. As part of the Tories Election pledges, they announce the intention to make access to the National Health services in UK requiring two things from all comers: passports will have to be shown and proof of time spent living abroad will have to be evidenced. This will apply to EU and non-EU residents and will prevent Health tourism from non-EU citizens and galvanise countries inside the EU who are currently failing to compensate UK NHS for treatment their citizens have received here. This is a Tory policy I almost like!

14th April, 2015

An absolutely gorgeous day of blue sky and wall to wall sunshine with a temperature of 22C/70F. We set off for the Sussex coast at 9.00 am and arrived in the delightful town of Angmering an hour later.

ang1 ang2

We were looking at new houses and may just have found one. It won’t be ready for a few months so we will need to time the marketing of our Duplex correctly so we are not living on the streets for the interregnum. Back home by 1.30 pm, we were cooking griddled chicken and vegetables outside by mid-afternoon and fending off next door’s cat who appeared absolutely starving. It has been a lovely day but Pauline really flagged this evening.

15th April, 2015

This morning has opened to another Summer’s day which eventually reaches 23C/74F of dazzling sunshine. We went off to pick up a parcel – a new dress for Pauline – from the Post Office and then on to Waitrose for fresh fish for our meal. We griddled a medley of Hake, Trout and (Greek) Sea Bass fillets along with courgette, fennel and mushroom. We did this outside with a chilled bottle of  Prosseco. Wonderful!


I earned it by doing an hour’s workout first. It will probably be another couple of weeks before Pauline can restart exercise.

Greece’s sovereign debt rating has been slashed further into “junk” territory as the true extent of the country’s financial woes were laid bare today. Figures from the Athens’ finance ministry revealed the economy has slipped further into the red following the election. Separate data from the country’s official statistics authority also showed a gaping hole in the public finances, with the budget deficit stooping to 3.5pc of GDP in 2014, while the primary budget surplus was only 0.4pc. The Greek housing market remained bottom in the Eurozone with an annual decline of 6.6 %  for new residences and 10.9 %  for older properties.

15th April, 2015

Athens made an informal approach to the International Monetary Fund about delaying loan repayments, only to be told that rescheduling was not possible. The IMF is owed nearly €1bn in two payments due in May. UK markets are factoring in Grexit, as bonds yields in Athens soar on the back of concerns over a potential Greek default.

It’s been another lovely, warm day here. I’ve done an hour’s work out whereas Pauline has had a little bit of  a relapse with some discomfort. She is having to take things more slowly than she would wish. I had my INR test and it was well in my target spread. It has been there since early November. I must be doing something right!

16th April, 2015

A delicious, early Summer’s day of pleasant sunshine although a touch cooler than yesterday. We were at 16C/61F by 10.00 am with an edge on the breeze. The trees are in that first flush of lime green colour that characterises new leaf.


It looks wonderful against the blue sky. Pauline and I haven’t see this time in England for the past seven years and it is quite a revelation. People in UK think Mediterranean, wall-to-wall sunshine is something to be envied. When you have it, British, seasonal variation is something to be longed for. Having said that, It will be nice to snatch a few weeks of sunshine when Pauline is up to it.

17th April, 2015

Apparently, this is lining up to be the warmest April in UK for many years – decades. What a time to choose to be in Surrey! We seem to do a lot outside at the moment – reading, cooking, etc. just as we would have done in Greece.

Did another hard hour in the gym while Pauline talked to her beautiful sister. We had a very healthy meal of smoked salmon, prawns and Waldorf salad. It made a lovely, fresh tasting meal.

Week 328

5th April, 2015

Pleasant sunny day. Spent it reading the papers and watching football. Pauline was struggling to cope. She needs to take everything rather more slowly than she likes.

Ruth phoned, which was nice. She is 68 this May which really shakes me. She looks so young. I can’t believe it.

6th April, 2015

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me………..
When I’m 75.

Easter Day fell on March 25th in 1951 so I didn’t see it. As a consequence, this is my 63rd Easter Day. As if it makes any difference. I’ve been to the Health Club and done a hard hour in a totally deserted Gym and then come back to spend a couple of hours in the sun in our garden. The temperature is 21C/72F with cloudless, blue skies and no breeze. My Birthday treat – I’ve been looking forward to it for more than two years – is pizza. Pauline is making one Prosciutto & Mozzarella and one vegetarian.

pizza1 pizza2

We will share them both. Back to the diet regime tomorrow.

Been talking to my friend, Martin from Sifnos, this morning. Really must get to see him soon.


Lovely pizzas but I realise that I’m not missing anything. It’s all in the head. That’s where it’s going to stay in future.

7th April, 2015

The most delightful, Summer’s day today – cloudless, warm and still. I started the day unstacking the dishwasher, making tea and delivering it to Pauline in bed. Gulped my own tea down and then began hovering the entire flat. Made fresh coffee for us both while we read our newspapers and then I went out to do a really good hour at the gym.

Pauline cooked duck legs with griddled onion and mushroom for our meal.


It was good to get back into the regime after yesterday. When you’re 64+1 day, you have to look after yourself – doesn’t one? Really strange thing happened yesterday. Someone hacked into the Blog and made a derogatory reference to Ruth. Fortunately, I spotted it early and returned it to the original.

8th April, 2015

Summer continues (20C/68F) and so does Pauline’s convalescence. Today, in warm, strong sunshine she had her first real outing. I took her to a local garden centre – Squires in Horsell outside Woking.


She walked painfully slowly for a maximum of 10 minutes before I took her home. When we got back, she admitted that she had been surprised how tired she felt in that simple exertion. Of course, it is so often like that. Recuperating from illness in the security of one’s own home, one builds up a fall confidence which evaporates as soon as one tests oneself in the hurly burly of life or even the peacefulness of a sunny garden centre. And so it was with Pauline.

We are planning a trip to Sussex soon and another to Yorkshire in three weeks during which she rediscovers her strength. The wounds are still scarily deep and look as if it will be some time before can go abroad. Even so, we are beginning to make plans for just that.

9th April, 2015

A gorgeous 22C/72F today with strong sun. Pauline’s rehabilitation continues with a brief trip to the supermarket and to Marks& Spencer. She is struggling with tight fitting clothes over still painful operation wounds and we went to find her something light and loose-fitting. Fortunately, we emerged triumphantly clutching just the garment.

I went on to the Health Club for an hour of strenuous activity. I try to time my exercise to fit in with The Daily Politics on BBC2 at 12.00 pm – 1.00 pm. It is always riveting but even more so now the election is in full swing. I get so engrossed in the debates that I am surprised to find an hour has flown by. Sometimes, I find myself not stopping until the arguments are completed.

Back home Pauline is outside in the sunshine of our garden quad.,  preparing to griddle chicken breasts in lemon and garlic with griddled vegetables – fennel, onion, courgette, mushroom and asparagus.


This is currently my ideal meal.

10th April, 2015

At 10.00 pm last night, I reached for my phone to make a call only to find it wasn’t there. Panic!!! When did I last see it? Where was I? How long ago? Realisation – I last saw it at lunchtime when I was in the gym at the Health Club about 10 hours ago. My phone is a Sony Experia with a 4G contract.


I use it as much to check my bank account, the currency rate, my emails and texts as I do to make calls. It isn’t the most expensive model I could have but it’s worth about £250.00.

While I was charging round the house panicking and shouting , Don’t Panic! , Pauline was calmly phoning the Health Club which closes at 11.00 pm. In answer to her question, someone on the desk said just as calmly, Oh, Yes, Madam. We put it in the safe. Your husband can collect it tomorrow. So that’s alright then. I told them not to panic.

This morning in 22C/72F warmth and hazy sunshine, I left for my hour’s exercise and to be reunited with my mobile phone. I have it now and I’m still calm.

11th April, 2015

Just as sunny but rather cooler today. We’ve reached 14C/57F which is probably respectable for the time of year but feels comparatively less comfortable. Short sleeves have suddenly started to feel less appropriate.

Pauline will be taking the next, major step in her recuperation next week. We are going down to Sussex to look at a new property and staying in Brighton overnight. It will be interesting to see how she copes. Just using a seat belt is difficult at the moment. We are going to Angmering and Littlehampton. My birthday card at the beginning of the week featured a shot of Littlehampton.


Who knows, it may be prophetic.