Week 336

31st May, 2015

Farewell to May, 2015. Tomorrow sees the start of June or as Greeks know it,  Δευτέρα Πεντηκοστής, which will be a national holiday. Let’s hope they have something to celebrate. Maybe the tourist arrival will pick up! I wonder if the Sifnos meeting to coordinate the protest against VAT rises had any effect. Our friends there didn’t seem confident. The Greek Government are constantly telling the world that agreement with their creditors is close, has been reached will be signed tomorrow but it is almost entirely for Greek consumption. It is intended to dampen capital flight from the banks. Senior eurozone officials insist that both sides are still far apart in agreeing on the fundamentals of a cash-for-reform deal and say, The showdown is fast approaching and nothing can be ruled out. Very soon we may see staged capital controls.

Sundays are lovely – fresh coffee, newspapers, an hour at the Health Club and an hour or two of Test Cricket from Yorkshire. Who could ask for more?

1st June, 2015


Flaming June started with flaming rain and it was cool. It’s not a problem. We have a busy week and we are forecast to hit 29C/84F by the weekend. Had to go round to see Phyllis today to sort her email account out. Like us, she has switched away from BT as a broadband provider and is now having to pay £1.60 per month for the privilege of keeping her email address.

We meet the agent selling our apartment on Wednesday and have a lot of homework to do prior to signing the contract. We have to provide Freehold/Leasehold evidence, information about Ground Rent and Service Charge, Boundary maps, square footage and then identity checks for anti-money laundering purposes. This is all for selling not buying. We should be used to it. It is our fifth property sale. It is still demanding and stressful.

2nd June, 2015

Pleasant day but doesn’t really feel like the second day of Summer. Took Pauline for her hospital check-up. She is certainly looking and feeling much better but she is still bruised ten weeks after surgery. Watched a bit of the final day of Test Cricket from a reportedly bitterly cold Leeds. It was never likely to end well and it didn’t. Ironically, it was this day in 1975 that I was watching a cricket match on an old,  black & white television. It was high up in Derbyshire – Buxton – and between Derbyshire and Lancashire. The first two days were extremely warm – almost record highs – but this day forty years ago saw the weather change as blizzards of snow swept across the ground and my old television had a great deal more white than black.


Pauline joined me in an hour’s exercise at the Health Club. We have been considering our shares in Barclays Bank which were once priced up near £8.00/€11.00 in 2007, had fallen to £0.50/€0.67 and are currently at £2.70/€3.70. I can see no mileage in them for a long time to come and have taken the decision to sell them.

3rd June, 2015

Warm and sunny day that reached 21C/69F by afternoon. Because the property is going on the market in the next few days, Pauline stayed at home to make sure that everything was spotless and de-cluttered. I went to the Health Club and did a mega, two hour work out in the gym and the pool. I came home in time for a meeting with the estate agent we have appointed to sell the property. At this meeting, we tied up all the details and signed the contract. Tomorrow is expected to be a lovely, sunny and hot day around here so the estate agency have arranged for professional photographers to photograph the property inside and out, measure up and prepare a floor plan.

Some woodpigeons have taken to roosting on a ledge of our property. They poo in gargantuan proportions and it is disgusting as it builds up. Clapping doesn’t shift them at all and I daren’t throw stones for fear of breaking windows. I know that a daft Sifnian tried a bird scarer to adverse effect. A neighbour suggested a water cannon/gun. I researched it and found one on Amazon.


It arrived this morning. I’ve used it tonight and one blast got rid of the birds. Two hours later, there is still no sign of them. It fires a powerful jet up to 60 ft/20ms. This is Boys Own stuff. I may hunt cats tomorrow!

4th June, 2015

Well, one shot from the water cannon scared off the pigeons immediately. They didn’t return last night and haven’t returned tonight. I think it’s worked although I find it hard to conceive. Very warm night tonight on a day that reached 26C/79F. We sat outside for an hour but the sun was just too intense and too hot.  We were visited by the photographer who did all the work for the sales brochure on the house. Two sales executives arrived to familiarise themselves with the layout prior to conducting house viewings. I went off to do a couple of hours at the Health Club and then returned to take Pauline for a check up at the Surgery. Her recovery from the operation, which was ten weeks ago, has not been as fast as we expected. She still has bruising and residual discomfort and is being referred back for a scan.

The Greek government are toughing it out.


They are, nominally at least, defaulting on their payment to the IMF tomorrow and choosing to roll up all their payments until the end of the month. Even then, they won’t be able to afford repayment without a bailout. There is now a real risk of a ‘run’ on the banks. The concomitant of that will be a shortage of all the basics of life which will make a ‘holiday’ more like a battle.

5th June, 2015

Hot and humid day which reached 26F/79 at mid afternoon. We were having our first meeting with our dentist. It involved an inspection and two x-rays each and cost us £148.00.  No National Health practice availability around here in affluent Surrey. While we were at the dentist, our Estate Agent was conducting the first viewing of our apartment.

The Greeks are taking their task of attracting as many tourists as possible this season really seriously. Here’s a selection of newspaper headlines:

  • The Daily Telegraph Who will put Greece out of its misery? It’s time they left the  euro.
  • The IndependentGreece crisis: Alexis Tsipras dismisses ‘irrational’ proposals for country’s debt repayment
  • The Times – Tsipras turns to Putin and accuses West of sabotage
  • The Express – Now British holiday flights face delays as Greek cash crisis starts to bite

I don’t think this is going to do it.

6th June, 2015

A warm day of sun and cloud which has reached 21C/69F at 10.00 am. We did a quick trip to Tesco, had the car cleaned while we were there and came back to clean the inside, check tyre pressure and oil levels prior to setting off for Europe.

Our Sifnos friends told us last night that the owners of our Greek house had applied in the recent Community meeting for street lighting to be installed near to the house. That’s exactly what we were planning to do this year but, with cash(credit) controls imminent, getting our money out of Greece was by far the best thing to do last year. We will be back soon to see what is going on.

Week 335

24th May, 2015

Doesn’t time fly when you’re enjoying yourself! The last week of May has arrived. After yesterday, we needed a bit of a rest. Fortunately, May Bank Holiday is the focus for sport, sport, sport. Today, the Premier League has been completed with Hull being relegated. There are so many things from Hull that deserve relegation! Formula 1 Monaco saw Lewis Hamilton cheated out of a victory and, at Lords, the England team fought back to raise a challenge to New Zealand in the first Test match of the Summer. One of us had to do something today and it fell to Pauline to produce a meal of dressed crab, smoked salmonand salad.


Beautiful flavours for a lovely day! 2

5th May, 2015

Bank Holiday Monday. All the workers are still in bed catching up on beauty sleep. It means nothing when you’re retired. Up at 7.00 am as usual.Lovely day again although not too warm – 17C/63F  at 10.00 am and reaching 22C/70F by mid afternoon. We are going to the Health Club for a good workout and then coming home to contact estate agents to arrange valuations over the next few days. Next week, we expect to put the property on the market and then see how things go before we set off for Europe.

26th May, 2015

A much nicer day than we expected. We cooked outside and sat in the sun to drink a bottle of wine. Three Estate Agencies came to value our property. They were remarkably similar in estimate price which was reassuring and, although we haven’t told them yet, we have easily chosen one to represent us. They all told us that demand for properties is strong but supply of sellers weak. It is a seller’s market which is good. They were all confident of finding a buyer for our property within six weeks but told us that the period after that to ‘completion’ would be 10 – 16 weeks. This will take us to the end of October or beginning of November which is getting to the point where we want to be. We can go abroad without worry. I read lots of Greek island Blogs each day/week (see my side bar menu) and it has been striking that they rarely mention two, major, newsworthy items. I don’t really understand how they can so blatantly ignore the real world although I know from my own experience that island life creates a separate, isolated world somewhat insulated from reality. Islands can become like goldfish bowls where the actors begin to feel they are life’s major players rather than just goldfish. The Greek economy is rarely discussed other than very tangentially. One blog recently dismissed the discussion as so much hot air which would evaporate and life would go on as it always does. I suspect a rude awakening but, maybe, he will be proved right. The other news item that has been noticeably missing from island blogs even on the Dodecanese side is the influx of migrants washing up on Greek shores day after day this Spring. I suspect that both items are not considered conducive to tourism. I believe that the origins of the ‘Greek Disease’ can be found in this myopia. Ignore problems and they will go away. The sun will still shine. While the second proposition is likely to be well founded, the first is quite definitely not.

27th May, 2015

Gorgeous day which reached 22C/70F but felt much hotter in our sheltered ‘garden quad’. Pauline entertained the final two estate agents while I did two hours at the Health Club – an hour in the gym and a second in the pool/steam room/Jacuzzi/sauna. We then sat out with garlic stuffed olives and a glass of wine in the sunshine as we reviewed our valuations.


We have been in this property for four years although we’ve only lived in it for two. All five valuers are remarkably close in their evaluation this time. Quite astonishingly, the property has increased by 65% in that time. It has totally justified our decision to buy and move down here. We firmly expect to sell and move by the end of November.

28th May, 2015

Another lovely day. We did a morning shop at Sainsbury’s. Our bill of £118.00 was paid for by £100.00 of vouchers and £8.00 of bonuses. It cost us precisely nothing. The same will be the case for another five weeks of Sainsbury’s shopping whenever they are over the next two years.

We had intended to go to the gym but were so late back that we had other things to fit in. We have received the paperwork confirming discussions that we’ve had over the past couple of days with estate agents. Although their market valuations are fairly close together, their charges are quite disparate. One charges 0.7% of sale price, four charge 1% and one charges 2.25%. Rather counter-intuitively, we’ve decided to go with the most expensive.


We believe that they can squeeze more out of the market than the others especially with their offices in Central London. Owners who live here tend to walk the 10 minutes to the station and then take the train for 30 mins. to Waterloo. It is ideal for the commuters. We will soon see if our judgement and their confidence is justified.

29th May, 2015

We started off with rain today. Eventually, it became sunny and warm. It rained torrentially at midday but I was undertaking a two hour work out at the Health Club and just came out to find a very clean car in the car park.

The day didn’t start well. Pauline woke me at 5.00 am. She had been woken herself by a rapidly racing pulse. Her heart rate was 188/104 with a pulse rate of 103. For someone who was sleeping, that is rather alarming and, for Pauline, totally out of the normal. At 8.00 am, we phoned our Doctor’s Surgery and got an appointment for 9.30 am. Pauline was given an ECG and had a blood test. The ECG result was fine and the blood result will be next week. We were relieved to find that there was nothing alarming immediately.

The cost of selling a property is huge so it is a decision that must not be rushed. We made a decision yesterday, slept on it and had one or two questions for the agent we had selected. We phoned them and satisfied ourselves that we have made the right decision. We will meet them next week and sign the paperwork before going away.

30th May, 2015

A pleasant day – reasonably sunny although not particularly warm. We decided to give the Health Club a miss today. We did paperwork connected with the sale of the property. I also revelled in being able to watch the Second Test from Leeds and a rather one-sided FA Cup Final in which Arsenal thrashed Villa 4-0.


With news of thousands more migrants being plucked out of the Mediterranean in the past 24 hours, the controversy is having an adverse effect on tourism to Greece where tourists are complaining of streets littered with migrants particularly on Dodecanese islands. Righteous indignation from Greeks at the insensitivity of tourist complaints doesn’t sit too well with those who have saved all year for a couple of weeks of escapism. The Times ran an article today about the Greek islands but focussed on Serifos & Milos. Sifnos was conspicuous by its absence. They’ve obviously met The Poison Dwarf as well.

Week 334

17th May, 2015

Woke up on this fine morning to find a huge fox sunbathing on the lawn at the fringe of our wood.


It was totally unperturbed about us but its coat shone in the sunlight. It was clearly healthy and well fed.

Pauline received an email to inform us that we had won the lottery again. It turned out to be only £25.00/€34.35 but it’s better than nothing.

18th May, 2015

A warm but distinctly damp morning which gave way to strong, afternoon sun. We went out to sort Phyllis’ broadband service out. It’s working now but the email address she was being offered is so perversely ridiculous that she is prepared to pay BT money to continue using her original one.

We spent a couple of hours doing something which were doing in Sifnos exactly a year ago. We were de-cluttering our house prior to marketing/sale of it. We’ve bought and sold five houses now and our routine is fairly well honed. It’s amazing how cathartic bagging up and disposing of one’s past can be. Actually, I’m going to rent 20 sq. ft. of storage space to get some things – including 35 large, framed pictures that I haven’t got round to selling – out of the property to increase the sense of space here.


We are going out to the south coast to re-visit a development later this week. Next week we will go through three estate agency valuations and make a decision who to go with.

As I warned some weeks ago, tourists and tourist companies are starting to take fright at the fragile state of the Greek banking industry. Bloomberg is reporting that Greek Bonds have tumbled on speculation that the government has really only days until the cash runs out and that German tourists, in particular, are now hesitating about committing bookings to the country.

19th May, 2015

This has been a strange day. It started off with a Thunder and lightning storm and was followed by huge hailstones. Later the skies cleared to brilliant blue with strong sun.

I was supposed to be going to the Health Club but, as I drove there, my head started going ‘gongy’ and I felt, briefly, disorientated. I had to stop the car and turn round and go home by which time the spell was over but it was a little alarming at the time. Pauline wondered if I had experienced a small stroke but I have no after effect symptoms. Pauline’s health is still not perfect. She has all the signs of being ‘run down’ with eye infection, mouth ulcers and still sore at the site of her operation. We may have to put Greece off until September. It will give us more time for house hunting/buying anyway.

20th May, 2015

Superfast Ferries have confirmed the current cost of our return tickets to Patras from Ancona. It is €1300.00/£930.00 which is more than usual in spite of  improved currency exchange.

superfast patras

We first travelled with them in 2000. This year, they are advertising the fact that it is their twentieth year. We certainly didn’t realise at the time how new they were when we chose them. Today, I booked our Eurotunnel crossing which remains very similar to last year in price. Britain does have – temporarily at least – sub zero inflation.

Pauline’s health is still a little fragile but improving. Today, she accompanied me to the Health Club and she did some ‘light walking’ for an hour. She got through it without mishap but was really feeling the effects afterwards. She also cooked the most wonderful meal for us today. We had casseroled pheasant with roasted fennel and shallots. I was in heaven. I was certainly pleased to have no follow on of yesterday’s health scare although I did get a nice text from Ruth referring to it.

21st May, 2015

A glorious morning with warm sun and blue sky. The gardeners are here already mowing the lawns and strimming the edges. We have a busy day. As part of our de-cluttering phase, we are going to the central refuse tip to get rid of weeded out waste. We are going on to book a storage room for additional but immediately unnecessary possessions. After a last Tesco shop for some time, we are going to do a Health Club session. After that, I can collapse in front of the First Test at Lords against the New Zealanders.

Enjoyed the first Test Cricket for 16 years. Lunched on Lobster and prawn salad with cold Prosecco and collapsed happy.

22nd May, 2015

A pleasant day of cloud and sun with temperatures around 19C/66F. We finally got round to renting storage space in Brooklands, Weybridge. It will cost us £102.00/€143.00 for three months.


We expect to need six months at the most. We will be taking a large collection of framed pictures and a number of huge, plastic storage boxes full of ‘stuff’ which we don’t want to throw away but won’t need before we move. The apartment will heave a great sigh of relief when they are gone.

Next week we will invite three or four estate agents to value our property. We are told that even average property prices have increased by £21,000.00/€29,500.00 since it was last valued. However, as soon as we have a valuation, we will make a decision about how much we want to spend on the next property. Most people of our age are looking to downsize. Not so many are looking to go the other way but we think it is the best investment for our money at the moment. We are going down to the Sussex/Hampshire coastal area later next week to look at property developments.

23rd May, 2015


Happy Birthday to Ruth – an excellent, if old, sister:

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep


As she says, we’ll all be nodding by the fire soon enough! I feel like it now after the day we’ve had. It was like being back at work. Having booked the self-storage pod, we were up early and set to with a will, boxing up lots of ‘stuff’ that is cluttering our Duplex but we don’t want to throw away. Added to that, I stacked 35 huge and very heavy framed pictures that we brought from our Yorkshire house. We put the seats flat in our ‘4×4’ and filled it with ‘stuff’ and then drove the three or so miles to our storage building. It is an excellent, bright and modern facility hyper-controlled by multiple passwords, locks, lifts and CCTV monitored corridors. The owner, it turns out, is Italian who had owned a restaurant in central London and who originates from Puglia. This is somewhere we are keen to visit so we have pledged to stay connected to him for future reference.

By mid-afternoon, we had loaded and unloaded the car a number of times, set the locks on our storage unit and driven away just as light rain fell. There had been some rain at Lords but the cricket was still quite dire. We ate smoked salmon and prawns with Greek salad and collapsed exhausted.

Meanwhile, things have become so perilous in Greece that Kathimerini reports

 Tour Operators (and any sensible tourists will act with the same caution) after the drachma clauses seen in tourism contracts, are now forcing hoteliers in Greece to sign contracts with a Greek default clause.  ….. Furthermore, the financial terms of contracts will depend on the planned value-added tax hikes on tourism.

Their competitors are rubbing their hands with glee. To add the atmosphere of dangerous chaos, The Times runs a story this morning headed,

Greek hospitals run out of sheets, painkillers and cash to pay nurses!

In it they catalogue the parlous state the State Healthcare system has fallen into and quote an Athenian surgeon:

We are at a breaking point. There is no money to repair medical equipment, no money for ambulances to use for petrol, no money to hire nurses and no money to buy modern surgical supplies.

One wonders where this will end – particularly if they exit the European Monetary Union.

Week 333

10th May, 2015

A warm day of sun and cloud devoted to the newspapers. Obviously the majority of serious newspapers were concentrating on post election match analysis.


To a left leaning voter like myself, it was blindingly obvious that Labour had deserted the centre ground. They had shunned – even provoked – business and seen a return to centrist, statist actions that belonged in the pre-Thatcher era. There can be no going back and that will include in the choice of a new leader. Social Democracy will have to be at the heart of the new party’s appeal to the electorate. It could be a long haul.

11th May, 2015

A warm day which reached 20C/68F. We did an early trip to Sainsbury’s in Knaphill and I then did an hour at the Health Centre. I timed it to combine with political discussion of Cameron’s new cabinet and Labour’s struggle for the party leadership. The time soon flies with gripping viewing like that. The warmer weather combined with my exertions meant I left dripping in sweat and hotter than the environment. We had a lovely, light meal of smoked salmon, prawns and salad.

Pauline has spent the afternoon ordering dresses on-line. She certainly needs something to perk her up. She is still at less than full health and vigour. It is amazing how surgery has affected her. It is almost eight weeks since her operation. We are champing at the bit to get travelling but can’t make arrangements until she is up to it.

12th May, 2015

Pleasant day of sun and cloud reaching only 18C/65F. Pauline spent her morning liaising with the Management Company for our Development while I exercised at the gym. We had fish and salad for lunch and planned travel in the next few weeks. Starting to feel a little hemmed in and missing our drive across Europe. Got to get going soon.

Will Greece still be open for business? Kathimerini reports this morning that, although Greece managed to cobble together a repayment to the IMF today,

it finds itself in a state of quarantine, as is anything related to the “Greek risk,” due to the ongoing uncertainty and the danger of a serious liquidity accident. Foreign banks and stockbrokerages have either drastically cut or altogether stopped conducting transactions with their Greek peers over fears of the complications an accident or capital controls would generate.

This is just one step from the Cypriot debacle when full capital controls left citizens unable to use cash machines and eventually limited to withdrawals of pitifully small amounts of money.

13th May, 2015

Absolutely gorgeous Summer’s day with temperatures reaching 24C/75F. We spent it busily visiting people and places before sitting out this afternoon. Drove to town for Pauline to pick up a dress she’d ordered but not before three others had been delivered to our door. Actually, she ultimately only liked two of the four. We spent a couple of hours at Phyllis’s house trying to set up her new EE Broadband hub but it ended in a frustrated call to EE who hadn’t completed the connection.

About 1.00 pm, we drove on to the nearest garden centre to buy a couple of ceramic planters and some lovely mixed lavenders to fill them with a bag of compost and a bag of gravel.

lav1 lav2

hyd1 hyd2

lup grelav

We got captivated by a large, white hydrangea and a similar blue one, threw in a yellow lupin and a mauve, Greek lavender and we’d spent £150.00. Still, it’s all in a good cause and they do express quintessential, English Summer!

14th May, 2015

The gardener arrived early, spent the morning cutting the lawns. I asked him to plant our new purchases. We went off to see Phyllis and try to get her broadband up and running. It is a simple business but I still couldn’t manage it. Eventually, we found out that the phone company

hadn’t done their job correctly and we just have to wait for that to be effected. It’s pretty poor service and rather frustrating. They would fit in as a Greek operator. When we got home, the gardener had finished his job and the skies had opened, watering in the new plants perfectly.

Pauline spent a couple of hours doing house work while I spent the same time at the Health Club – an hour on the treadmill and an hour in the pool/Steam Room, Sauna. Felt great when I got home for a meal of tomato & basil soup followed by roast chicken and vegetables.

15th May, 2015

We had the most wonderful, heavy rain last night providing much needed drinks to the natural world. The lavenders that we had planted thanked us with a fine display this morning.


The day has been mild and dry. We did an early Tesco shop and then some house cleaning and tidying. Pauline cooked a wonderful meal of roast hake with roast vegetables – onion, fennel and mushroom.

If you compare us with Greece, we have no concerns about the regularity of pension payments – our teachers’ pensions or our State pensions – which are never late and often early if a Bank Holiday or weekend intervenes. In Greece, Public Sector pay was paid mid-May but there are real concerns about end of May and June payments. Just imagine how that must feel! One wonders whether big-ticket projects like the new, Sifnos school will have the finance to complete and continue if the supply of central finance dries up. We know our island friends are very worried about the future.

16th May, 2015

Lovely, sunny and warm – 22C/70F – day. The grounds around us look beautiful. The lawns were striped on Thursday. Birds are singing everywhere and bushes are flowering in abundance. Pauline did some de-cluttering of the house (late Spring Cleaning?) today while I did a hard hour’s workout at the Health Club.

We use a Bank credit card that provides us with ‘points’ for each pound we spend using it. As everything we spend is done through our credit card account and then paid off at the end of the month, we rack up quite a collection of points. These points can be traded in for flights and its predecessor was the Airmiles company. They can also be traded in for commodities through named companies, sold for cash or vouchers. Last year, we used our points to buy return British Airways flights to Athens but it is an expensive way to do it. This year, we have already have amassed enough points to be sold for £350.00/€481.00 cash but, alternatively, we can buy £700.00/€962.00 worth of Sainsbury’s vouchers and that is what I’ve done.


It will pay our supermarket bill for a month which can’t be bad.

Conversely, Channel 4 News revealed tonight that they had obtained a copy of a confidential Greek government briefing paper which states categorically that, if they don’t receive additional bailout money in the next three weeks, they will be insolvent and then the banking system will go into meltdown. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Week 332

3rd May, 2015

The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath.
It is twice blessed –
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.

Woke to light, refreshing rain washing the world which is shining with the electric green of the surrounding trees. We have had so little rain in the past three months, I found myself really appreciating it. Rain + lovely warmth = growth and burgeoning gardens. Haven’t seen those for years.

Did my first big session at the gym for a week because of our Yorkshire trip. It felt really good. Came home to roast chicken and roast vegetables and then watched Chelsea win the Championship while trying to read The Sunday Times. The Royal Baby and the General Election – the General Election and The Royal Baby only interspersed with items forecasting the demise of Greece. Love the papers!

4th May, 2015

Bank Holiday Monday – so much so that a number of banks are open to day. After an hour at the gym we have relaxed. Still and warm (20C/68F), we have been sitting and cooking outside. Grilled strips of pork with grilled vegetables. To start, we had home made Revithia – Chickpea soup. Actually, we were finishing off the traditionally Sunday soup which Pauline made for yesterday. We are still using bags of skinless, dried chickpeas which we bought in Mario‘s supermarket last summer.


5th May, 2015

It rained overnight and we’ve woken, once again, to a clean and vitalised new world. I’ve taken Pauline for her check-up at the hospital and the sun has come out but the car is only registering 14C/57F. This is the point where Greece moves away from us as a moratorium is placed on rain until September and sticky heat soon becomes the norm.

I suffer from atrial fibrillation and, last March, just as we were leaving for our European drive, my doctor prescribed Digoxin. It is a purified cardiac glycoside which slows the heart rate down. It’s related to Digitalis – the Foxglove.


Now the medical expertise on a Greek island like Sifnos, for anything other than a grazed knee, is almost non-existent. Pauline told me after she had done a little research that I shouldn’t take it until we got back to England and NHS support. By the time I got back here, my problem had sorted itself out (I wonder why!) and I didn’t need the drug. Imagine my relief when I read an article from The European Heart Journal which reported a study of studies in Germany which found that:

The research, involving more than 320,000 heart patients, showed an increased risk of death from any cause among those taking digoxin for congestive heart failure or, particularly, atrial fibrillation, compared with those not taking it.

AF or not, I’ve just returned, soaking in sweat, from a hard hour in the gym. Pauline’s griddling tuna steaks while I watch the election debate on WELFARE. You can’t beat it!

6th May, 2015

Sun and blustery showers today. We’ve got our next door neighbour, Colonel Wellington, coming round this afternoon for help with her accounts. First, I’ve got some correspondence to do and work on our own financial arrangements. I’ve also got a Health Club session this lunchtime to coincide with The Daily Politics – the last before the election. It’s going to be an exciting few days.

I read on a Greek blog the other day the view expressed that the demise of Greece has been predicted for at least seven years but it is still there. I agree with that but the position has never been so precarious as it is at the moment. It is threatening everything that Samaras had achieved. The economy is, once again, in downturn and that is forecast to continue through next year as well. The relations between government and EU could hardly be worse. One would think that it has to come to a head – or will they just carry on kicking the can down the road?

I swore I would never do it but I’ve caved in at last. The latest move towards healthy eating is to cut down on olive oil. We’ve taken receipt of an oil mister.


Filled with Greek olive oil, it sprays food with a fine mist which costs a small percentage of the calories we usually anoint our food with. Shame but it has to be done.

7th May, 2015

Early to the Polling Station this morning following the time old adage – Vote Early Vote Often! We had to grit our teeth because our polling station was in a Catholic Church but we forced ourselves for the sake of Marxism. Lovely day as we walked down the pleached larch avenue in the sunshine at 18C/65F to place our cross alongside None of the Above.

e1 e2 e3

We drove on to the real voting booths of life at Asda and Tesco. They are beginning to illustrate the true lessons of the tougher sales market by cutting back quite drastically on prices and stock. My coffee beans normally cost £13.50 per kilo bag. I usually buy 2 kilos each time at £27.00. Today and for the next two months, Tesco will sell them at £20.00 – a saving of around 35%. We eat lots of yoghurt for our sweet. For a few years we have bought Rachael’s low fat yoghurt.


Tesco no longer stock it. They may live to regret that decision if I’m not overstating my powers.

Went for my bi-annual blood test and was a bit shocked to find myself surrounded by boxes announcing Vaginal Speculum with Locking Nut. It wasn’t the vaginal part that worried me it was the ‘locking nut’ that sounded a bit scary. Anyway, the nice girl taking my blood sample reassured me that I wouldn’t be in danger and the whole procedure was over very quickly.

8th May, 2015

Well it’s been a long night – and day but the Nasty Party are back without their muzzle. It’s going to be a hard time for many poor people in Britain over the next 5 – maybe 10 – years. Greece lurches to the Left while Britain lurches to the Right. Both may be outside Europe before too long. I’m depressed!

At least I’m not a property owner in Greece anymore where huge tax increases are about to be loaded on to hotel bills and eating out. The rises will be particularly big on the islands. At the same time, electronic payments and records will force reluctant businesses to make all their transactions transparent and ones in which the tax is actually accounted for rather than pocketed. The Greek tourist industry believes this is killing the golden goose and they may well be right although that is no good reason to give them preferential treatment in these difficult times. It is all over the British and European papers which is not the best publicity. At the same time, Kathimerini reports today that:

Demand in the local housing market has dropped to almost zero and many Greeks are avoiding property purchases due to the high taxation involved, according to a survey carried out by the University of Macedonia for Skai TV. Additionally, a remarkable 37 % of citizens responded that they would not buy a residence even if they had the money for it

How fortunate do we feel!

9th May, 2015

A wonderful day to end the week. Warm – 21C/70F – and sunny and delightful. We have never seen the grounds where we live in May before. They are glorious and colourful and currently decorated by Lilac,  rhododendron and cytisus  or broom bushes. The nuns who used to live in these grounds certainly had good gardeners.

cytisus_broom lilac rhododendrons

I did my fifth hour in seven days at the Health Club and felt great after it. Pauline is at least a week away from managing light exercise so I’m still doing it alone. The upside of this is that I return to a beautifully prepared meal. Today it was basil & tomato soup followed by braised saddle of rabbit with mushrooms and shallots. Who could complain about that?