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.

fox

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.

storage

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.

pod

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

Ruth

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
.

W.B.Yeats

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.

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