Week 344

26th July, 2015

Another day of rain. The arid, yellowing lawns are already greening up and gardeners’ watering duties suspended. We were just preparing to go out to exercise when Amazon texted me to say they were about to deliver a parcel so enforced rest was observed. In Greece, Varoufakis has claimed that he was authorized by Alexis Tsipras last December to look into a parallel payment system that would operate using wiretapped tax registration numbers (AFMs) and could eventually work as a parallel banking system.


He was assisted by an international hedge fund led by Norman Lamont to plan a payment system that could operate in euros but which could be changed into drachmas “overnight” if necessary. Interesting and illuminating stuff!

27th July, 2015

Love Mondays – now in retirement. It has been an enjoyable and a sultry day. Morning cleaning and tidying the flat. Afternoon working out at the Health Club. Early evening saw a tenth visitor viewing the property. We left ten minutes before the estate agent brought the prospective buyers round. We had organised it so we could do a bit of shopping. We are gorging on boxes of black cherries from Kent, raspberries from Scotland, blackberries and strawberries from Kent. They make a wonderful sweet. We are also enjoying donut-shaped peaches from Spain which we first bought a couple of years ago in Mario’s Supermarket on Sifnos.







The Greeks have already started to attempt to resile from the agreement Tsipras signed. They have attempted to float the hope that they need not sell off power generation. The European taskmasters have come back quite strongly. Kathimerini reports:

the next issue to create friction is whether Greece will have to pass a third bill containing prior actions before completing the agreement with the institutions. European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva suggested that Athens would have to do more in the coming weeks.

“More reforms are expected from the Greek authorities to allow for a swift disbursement under the ESM,” she said at a briefing yesterday.

This will make Tsipras’ job in rallying his rag-tag coalition to face the inevitable. Meanwhile, the ECB is keeping its foot on the neck of the Greek economy and refusing to allow Greece to re-open the Athens Stock Exchange because of fears of capital flight through stock transactions. Kathimerini reports:

Over the weekend Frankfurt reportedly rejected at least three times proposals submitted by the Greek regulating authorities (the Bank of Greece and the Capital Market Commission) asking for the reopening of the bourse, which has now entered its second month of inactivity.

This just increases the Greek humiliation and underlines where the true power lies.

28th July, 2015

We live our lives on fairly calm, tranquil emotions of love and responsibility. We rarely see peaks and troughs but try to maintain a steady equilibrium. I am aware that there are those who prefer to indulge in the highs and lows of emotional experience but that is not me. Today, we were just getting in to our car after an hour’s hard exercise when I noticed a new, estate car reversing rather erratically out of its parking space and going dangerously close to another vehicle parked there. I had to look twice when the estate car hit the other vehicle at some pace. As it pulled away, I could see considerable damage to both vehicles. It looked as if the estate was going to leave without acknowledging the accident.

I didn’t quite take it in when the estate reversed at speed for a second time and hit the same car again. That’s a sign of panic, I thought in an attempt to rationalise what I’d just seen. A man came out of the Health Club and started to remonstrate with the estate driver as they reversed for a third time in to the same parked vehicle. My slow brain suddenly twigged that the actions were deliberate. I was watching, dumbstruck when a woman got out of the estate and started shouting at the man from the Health Club about him cheating on her with a woman down the road even though she, his partner, was suffering from cancer. The drama was all too much for me. We drove home in a daze.

Talking about being in a daze reminds me of what is happening or about to happen to Greek islanders. Not only is VAT being raised on their central earning power in tourism but that wonderful, left wing government is going to make sure they really pay all their taxes – VAT, (Real) Income Tax, (Accurate) Property Tax and all the other taxes that they’ve been trying to avoid for as many years as we’ve been going there. This is the way modern states get their inhabitants to pay for their infrastructure services. Currently, Greece has thousands of unfilled teacher places in its schools. I wonder why?


Ta Nea – the Greek News – is running a report of sweeping inspections and controls in the Aegean and Ionian islands which have thrown up massive incidents of tax evasion. They should have talked to me. I could have pointed them in the right direction. I have written extensively to Trifon Alexiadis, the new deputy finance minister, with some suggested targets to inspect. As I understand it, those caught deliberately evading tax payment will not be fined or blackmailed as before. They will be hauled before the courts with imprisonment at the end of it. This is what is required if the government want to get themselves out of this hole.

29th July, 2015

Quite a cool morning although very sunny. We were warned that temperatures would drop last night. I must wish Happy Birthday to my sister, Jane BG, who is 63 today – a figure that is greater than her weight by any measure!

She’s been on the run for as long as I can remember. They’ll catch up with her one day. Heard from an old, Sifnos friend today which was nice. I’m feeling a bit nervous because I’m taking Pauline to hospital at St Peter’s for an endoscopy examination. Fortunately, Pauline seems quite calm. I’ll be leaving her there for two or three hours and coming home to try and take my mind off it by watching the Test Match. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Of course, I should have predicted it but the Estate Agent has phoned twice in the last hour. The lady who came to view last night wants to come back for a second viewing on Friday afternoon. Suddenly the phone goes again and someone else wants to come and view this afternoon. I can’t refuse so I’ve got an hour to straighten up before I go to collect Pauline. Just when the Test Match was going so well as England have Australia 93 for 6. Happy Days!

Three hours later, I have collected Pauline from the hospital – a little groggy because of the sedation. We took a slow drive home and just managed to miss the viewing but, half an hour later as we were preparing our meal, the potential buyer wanted an instant second viewing and rather surprised us.

30th July, 2015

Took Pauline in to town to have her hair cut and to perk her up after her ordeal yesterday. I sat in a coffee shop with Wi-Fi and read my paper. As soon as we got home, I enjoyed England turning the screw on the Australians and then went to the Health Club while Pauline prepared Duck and salad for our meal. At lunchtime (a misnomer in our case) tomorrow, we have another ‘second viewing’ of our property which means our morning activities are largely prescribed. We are going to a family barbecue on Sunday so Pauline is busily planning sweet treats to take with us.

In Greece it never rains but it heatwaves – to coin a phrase:


  • Two high-speed ferry boats collided today while setting sail from the Port of Piraeus. The Jet-1 catamaran, headed to Sifnos, Milos, Ios and Santorini with 307 passengers on board, and the Athina flying dolphin, en route for Angistri and Aegina with 60 people on board, collided as they started to sail out of the port.
  • Not content with the economic disaster of recent weeks, the union representing Greece’s air traffic controllers today announced a four-hour walkout on Wednesday, August 5, and warned of further action
  • The government will not only continue to impose the Single Property Tax (ENFIA) on owners but it will also use existing objective values – property rates used for tax purposes that are typically above market prices – to determine the level of the tax payable by owners. The Government intend to front load the tax so that those with properties valued at €300,000+ will pay an extra charge – and only rightly!

The temperature at 10.30 am (Greek Time) was 35C/95F and now, at 11.15 pm (Greek Time), it is 30C/85F. As a number of bloggers wrote today – UNCOMFORTABLE!

31st July, 2015

The last day of July, 2015. It is twelve months since we last clapped eyes on the Poison Dwarf. What Joy! Today was a lovely one for weather and activity. Warm and sunny, we did an early Sainsbury’s shop, watched England win the Test Match by annihilating Australia and then did an hour in the gym. We returned home to find the lady who had come for a second viewing of our property was just leaving. We stopped to have a chat with her. She is delightful and loves the flat. She wants it but hasn’t sold hers yet.

1st August, 2015

Enjoy August, 2015. It’s the only one you’ll ever see.


Do you know what Chuggers are? Apparently, it is the sobriquet allocated to those considered Charity Muggers. It is a concept featured on the front of this morning’s copy of The Times. Charities, it reports, are to face criminal sanctions unless they stop bullying the public for money, the regulator has warned them. Readers, it argues, are no longer willing to support globalised commercial charities which are ruthless in their marketing for new donations.

It may shock some readers to learn but I made a decision early in my university life never to contribute to formal charitable organisations. Originally, I made the decision on, what I considered marxist principles that argued charities were the cover or sticking plaster that allowed government to abnegate its responsibilities. If charities funded a social need, governments were able to walk away from funding it from taxation. I still think that but my original principle has been deepened by the experience of ‘big charity’.

The current controversy centres around an elderly and impoverished charity worker who was constantly bombarded with demands to sign up to contracts to commit all her meagre income to their cause. It is accompanied by background research which shows charity staff being trained in hard – take no prisoners – demand campaigns irrespective of the victims ability to pay. It is accompanied by the huge salaries of those directing the charities and the small proportions of the charities’ income that goes to their stated ’cause’. There is a sense that the charities are not being run for the sake of the headline cause but to support and enrich the structures leading those organisations.

As this research is taken further, dubious practices are uncovered. It is reported that the chairman of the Charity Commission has accused the RSPCA of grotesque conduct and zealotry, warning that Britain’s largest animal welfare charity was inadequately run and governed. He has also claimed that charity money was being diverted to Islamist terrorist-related causes and warned against the danger of a “victim culture” among some Muslims.

Then there is the case of the charity, Kids Company, hailed by politicians and celebrities for its work with some of Britain’s most troubled youngsters, which has been placed under investigation by Scotland Yard’s child abuse command. Former, senior members of Kids Company, claim that there are ‘exaggerations’ in the numbers of people it says it helps.


Instead of claiming to help a few troubled kids, it also lumps in all the other children in their schools plus all the staff and parents – a ruse which grossly inflates the numbers in its ambit and, therefore, more easily justifies its income and expenditure.

I’m not opposed to individual acts of charitable help to other individuals. I have and will continue to do it myself. However, I am opposed to the charitable status given to large organisations and I particularly include religious institutions. People, however deluded, join them of their own volition. Indeed, they are the body of that institution and should finance it with no aid of the state. I am also vehemently opposed to the charitable status of schools. If people must be allowed to buy privilege through education – and I would deny that as well – there is absolutely no justification for those who can’t afford to buy it being forced to subsidise this structured inequality through the sanction of charitable status.

Phew! I feel better after that.


Week 343

19th July, 2015

This day last year we were  shopping in Reims and preparing for the last leg of our European journey from Greece to Surrey. So much has happened in that year – not least in the decline of Greece. Fascinating article in The Sunday Times today about the whole debacle which will leave Greece in austerity limbo and lead to the end of Merkel.

Forcing the Greeks to submit to a diktat already feels like a pyrrhic victory for the Germans. Indeed, she might echo Pyrrhus himself: “One more such victory over the Romans and we are lost.” The deal she struck with Alexis Tsipras has been greeted with derision and dismay on all sides: from Athens to Berlin, from the mandarins of the International Monetary Fund to the middle-class taxpayers of small towns in Germany, to whom Merkel owes her power. “Merkel saves Greece with our money!” howled the front page of Bild.

They are predicting Merkel’s resignation within the next twelve months and Greece’s enslavement for the next twenty years. German newspapers are currently talking about ‘the state formerly known as Greece’ a la FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia).


Merkel celebrates her victory.

20th July, 2015

A young lady who worked with us, retired from teaching yesterday and made us feel absolutely ancient. We suspect that, after the elation of Friday afternoon on the last day of term, she will just be beginning to feel a hint of anti-climax. We certainly did. In fact, we are into our seventh year of retirement and, this time next year, I will be receiving my pension.

On this day six years ago, we were aboard Superfast V sailing down the Adriatic to Patras on another adventure. A lot has happened between then and now but there is still a lot more to go. Certainly, we are looking forward to setting off for Greece shortly.

21st July, 2015

We have done an hour or so of gym exercise for the past nine out of ten days. Today, we decided to have a holiday. We had lots of bitty jobs to complete:

  • Collecting Pauline’s repaired mobile phone from EE in town.
  • Reinstalling all the apps on her reset phone, synching the email accounts and the on-line calendars, etc. with my phone and both of our iPads and three computers.
  • Collecting post from a relative who is away,
  • Planning the route for our day out tomorrow.
  • Preparing food for the picnic. We leave at 6.00 am.
  • Checking the tyres and oil in the car.
  • Catching up on emails to friends.
  • Reading the newspapers – English and Greek.
  • reading about twenty English and Greek Blogs.

When you’re retired, a bunch of small things can fill a day quite easily and leave one wondering how they got done when we were working.

It’s 8.30 in the evening of a wonderful day that has reached a sticky 26C/79F and I am beginning to regret not exercising. Never mind, there will be other days although it was a bit of a shock to read that David Frost’s 31 year old son died jogging yesterday. Gives one pause for thought.

22nd July, 2015

One of those really enjoyable days. The weather has been fine, dry, sunny and warm reaching 25C/77F. Having lived on the island of Sifnos between April and October for fifteen years, I know that July was the month when we felt trapped, confined and limited. It was the month that we went to Athens just to feel alive and ‘normal’ again. Well, today was a wonderfully expansive day when we travelled to Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent and Surrey in less than 12 hrs.

Up at 5.00 am and out an hour later, we were in Lowestoft by 10.30 am at a wet fish shop on the sea front. Dressed crabs, sole, plaice, skate we loaded into the fridges in our car and then on to Great Yarmouth where we visited Pauline’s relatives who were on holiday there.


We were back on the road at mid day and back home by 3.30 pm., tired but happy.

23rd July, 2015

A warm – 24C/75F – but not terribly sunny day today. It didn’t matter. We were too knackered to care. After 7 hours driving yesterday, I was still exhausted this morning when I woke. We did go the Health Club but, after 40 minutes in the gym, I gave up. I just couldn’t do it. We came home. After our trip to the fishing port of Lowestoft yesterday, we had a wonderful fresh crab and smoked salmon salad for our meal today.


An economic section of Euro News Blog headlines:

Domestic tourism in Greece suffers dramatic downturn as debt crisis deepens

Domestic tourism in Greece has suffered a dramatic downturn as a result of the debt crisis with many Greeks unable to afford to take a holiday. The once busy ferry terminals are a clear indication that all is not well. Comparing ferry traffic data with the same period last year, we see that this year passenger numbers are 40 percent down.

Lissandros Tsilidis from the Hellenic Association of Travel Agencies reported:

Consumers are scared. Scared and terrified. They had to decide whether to go on holiday or to stay home and save money. They have chosen to stay at home. I fear that we will be forced to cut staff, as our main revenue of the high season has gone.


One tourist is getting his money’s worth but then he has it for free!


24th July, 2015

We woke to rain like manna from heaven – if you believe in heaven and that manna could come from it, which I don’t – light becoming heavy. the gardens were groaning with delight – if you believe gardens can groan, which is marginally more plausible than concepts of heaven. We did the main, weekly shop at Sainsbury’s – only £100.00 but free to us because we still have vouchers from our Nat.West Points.

Pauline made a lovely meal of Roast Hake with Skordallia (if you don’t know what that is, ask the Poison Dwarf – although she probably won’t know either – and Greek Salad. We spent the rest of the day on correspondence and financial activities.

It never rains but it pours in Greece as well. Last night an earthquake struck around Nisyros island. It was circa 5 on the Richter Scale so significant and was felt in Rhodes and Kos. We spent three weeks on Nisyros in 1991 and enjoyed this volcanic island. We walked across the hot, smoking, volcanic crater and still have two chunks of rock that we brought back. I listened to my short wave radio, enthralled by reports of the kidnap of Gorbachev which led to the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

nys1 nys2

If you want peace and tranquillity, I would recommend Nysiros and Tilos. Also today, Kathimerini features an article headed:

Hotels risk food shortages

 The Greek market may experience food shortages in August if applications to facilitate imports continue to be processed at the current slow rate, the Association of Hellenic Food Enterprises (SEET) warned on Thursday. SEET argued that the first victims will be hotels and tourism in general, as most hotel units do not have the necessary infrastructure to store large quantities of food.

No wonder late bookers are switching to Spain and Turkey.

25th July, 2015

After twelve hours of rain yesterday, the world looked washed and clean and smelling wonderful. Rain in July! It’s years since we’ve seen it. It was still warm today although I’m pleased to say that we are not expecting the 40C/104F+ heat wave that Greece is forecast to be experiencing in the coming week. Four years ago we suffered 43C/109F on a trip to Athens and just walking from the ferry to a taxi was almost beyond me. I had never known such heat and I hope never to again. We did an hour in the Gym today and really enjoyed it. When I suffered in the heat four years ago, I weighed 10.5 st/66Kgs heavier than I do now. It is a great feeling to be so much fitter.

It’s lucky that we hadn’t decided to start our drive across Europe this weekend because the tunnel is blockaded again. I just hope it’s sorted out before we set off. Pauline is having an investigative endoscopy this week. We’ve also go a tenth viewing of our property and a family barbecue later in the week.

The upside of the collapsed Greek economy is its effect on the illegal immigrant problem in Patras Port. So few lorries can afford to make the crossing that they are averaging a woeful 50 per day over three ferries. There is such reduced opportunity to sneak on to a truck and get to Italy that the migrants have all but vanished. The downside is that Syriza is badly split about the agreement Tsipras was forced to sign. Now he is busily trying to wriggle out of selling off ADMIE, the National Electricity Company to appease his far, far left wingers.


Good luck with that!

Week 342

12th July, 2015

Warm rain falleth this morning. it is quite delightful and soon replaced by light sunshine and dry conditions. We did an hour’s exercise and then watched the Wimbledon Men’s Final. You’ll never believe who won it!

Europe is determined to rub Greeks’ faces in the dust for daring to vote against austerity. Reuters reports this evening:

The Eurogroup … came to the conclusion that there is not yet the basis to start the negotiations on a new program. Greece must pass laws to change its value added tax and pension systems, reform bankruptcy rules and strengthen the independence of its statistics office before bailout talks can even begin.

What is certain is that Greek banks will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

13th July, 2015

Well the Greeks will be slaves to the Germans for the next twenty years – at least. How can they allow that to happen? Where is their pride?


How can the people who voted with such strength to reject austerity, just roll over in abject subjugation? Personally, I would rather be poverty stricken but free!

Varoufakis has revealed in an interview today what many of us had suspected all along – that he favoured Grexit from the outset but that Tsipras stood in the way. Varoufakis wanted to issue euro-denominated IOUs; apply a “haircut” to the bonds Greece issued to the ECB in 2012, reducing Greece’s debt; and seize control of the Bank of Greece from the ECB. Personally, I think this was the best way forward. It would have meant severe pain for 3 – 5 years instead of moderate-severe pain for 15 – 20 years or more. When the Germans take control of tax collection, the Greeks will wonder what’s hit them. The #ThisIsACoup has been trending ever since. Watch this space but it really is appropriate on #poisondwarfnameday.

14th July, 2015

A pleasant but overcast summer’s day. The night was muggy again. In fact, I have slept on top of the sheets for more than a month now. It is quite a joy to see English gardens in bloom for the first time for years.

The ‘Greek negotiation’ has been described as the political and economic waterboarding of a once proud nation. The European Union in general and Germany in particular may come to regret its savagery. It is being characterised as the return of the Junta.

g1 g2

It really is seen as total humiliation as Greek mythology abounds across the media. Caught between Scylla (Germans) and Charybdis (GREXIT) is a favourite but Icarus crashing and burning is another and this is the over riding sentiment:



15th July, 2015

St Swithin’s day opened with warm, light rain. Like all Saints, Swithin will be proved wrong again. There is no chance of 40 days and 40 nights of rain. Just a bit will be welcome. It’s still, warm and muggy. It makes exercise in the gym less comfortable but it has to be done especially because it is the last Prime Minister’s Questions of the Summer. Got to make the most of it.

16th July, 2015

Mid-July and a warm – 24C/75F – and muggy day. We’ve done an hour’s exercise in air conditioned splendour while watching the opening overs of the Second Ashes Test from Lords and keeping an eye on the Greek developments. The Euro has fallen to the unprecedented £1.00 = €1.44 and it’s almost time to buy a few thousand for future use. We have a French trip soon and then a trip to Greece to finance in hard, euro notes. Later in the Winter, we are intending to make an extended stay in Italy/Spain/France and we’ll spend the rest there.

The British government are busy insisting that they will pay no contribution to the Greek Sinking Fund but Mario Drahgi announced an increase in Emergency Liquidity Assistance for Greek banks. They will probably re-open on Monday after three weeks of closure but the withdrawal limit will remain at €60.00 for a while. It is already agreed that this situation with Greek European membership cannot hold for much longer whatever the settlement and the anti-European cause in UK has been vastly strengthened by this debacle.

17th July, 2015

The gardeners are here today, mowing lawns, trimming bushes, watering plants and generally making the place look trim and beautiful. One of our specimen trees is an echo of our Greek garden. Here we have a thirty foot Eucalyptus and it is growing just as well as the one we had in the front of our garden on Sifnos but something which I never saw growing there is currently looking beautiful here – and that is hydrangeas.

euc hyd

They are looking wonderful around here at the moment.

The Greeks are about to be welcomed to the normal world of VAT. The islands were said to keep variable rates but that rumour has been scotched with the announcement of no exemptions. As commentators have pointed out, the imposition has lots of anomalies. In Britain, it was a different rate on hot pasties compared with cold ones. In Greece the VAT changes that came into force on Thursday saw spaghetti placed in the 13 percent value-added tax bracket while its stuffed-pasta sibling tortellini incurred a 23 percent rate. Cereal grains stay in the 13 percent bracket, but boxed breakfast cereals climb to 23 percent. Salmon remains at 13 percent, but beef shifts to 23 percent. These and other unpleasant surprises await shoppers once all enterprises have managed to change the VAT rates on merchandise according to the government’s decisions.

18th July, 2015

The day is glorious with clear blue, Mediterranean skies  but a moderated temperature of 24C/75F. Even though it’s Saturday, we’ve decided to go to the Health Club before sitting down to a lovely meal of mixed shellfish – crayfish, crevettes, prawns and crab with Greek Salad.

This photo illustrates perfectly the subjugation of Greece – – tired, beaten and depressed.

I trawl lots of Greek Blogs and so many islanders talk of the urgent need to regenerate the tourist industry quickly in order to salvage this season. In UK, the pound is doing its bit by rising to its highest against the euro for seven years and, this weekend, sits at a really cheap £1.00 = €1.44. We are receiving contradictory information in the media with travel firms desperately trying to market holiday packages at 50% reduction to make up for all the cancellations while the media chit-chat continues to warn of travel to Greece because of shortages and likelihood of political protests.


Week 341

5th July, 2015

A long day and a long night. We were in Greece all of the time – well virtually. Lots of Greek friends were in touch – I even got a tweet from Skiathan Man! We followed every twist and turn even from our running machine at the Health Club. The one thing you can say about the Greeks is that they don’t lack courage. I still believed they would nudge ‘Yes’ right up to the point when a huge majority for ‘No’ was announced. Just shows how much I know. Now they have to live with the consequences.

6th July, 2015

We danced all night in Syndagma Square via CNN and BBC News, sharing the display of defiance with the revellers but silently offering thanks to Plutus. A 60% – 40% result will offer a dire future to our older friends and may well decimate Greeks wealth and property values but Greece has oscillated between far Right and Far Left, Generals and Communists, over a long history. It is unlikely to stop now. It is the chance of the Left to support the Poor and to tax the Wealth creators to pay for it. Oh hell!

syn2 syn1

Ironically, it is exactly one year ago today that a Greek gave us oodles of his cash for our house on Sifnos and we certainly wouldn’t have got that now. Even if we had, the terrible exchange rate would have severely reduced it and we wouldn’t have been able to get it out of the country. It may even have been sequestered by a desperate, left wing government. The British Government are issuing emergency advice to British travellers and to ex-pats who receive their pensions through Greek banks. British tourists are rejecting Greece largely but those go are advised to take lots of cash and all required medicines.

7th July, 2015

We have been through and stayed in Calais, France so many times since the 1980s and we have charted the rise of the ‘illegal immigrant’ problem as they swarm the roads, fields and parks in desperate attempts to board vehicles bound for Britain .


We have spent a great deal of time in Patras, Greece over the past fifteen years and watched the port become over run by ‘illegal migrants’ desperate to get on ferries to Italy.

Yesterday, we were utterly amazed to find the ‘illegal migrant’ problem had arrived in leafy Surrey. As we drove through West Byfleet, dodging the Mercedes, BMWs and Porches, we both drew the same conclusion at seeing a group of young men sitting on the grass verge and seconds later, we flagged a police Jeep down and he shot off to pick them up. Illegal immigrants in West Byfleet? They’ll be allowing citizens to chew gum next!

In the mean time, a meeting of all European Heads of State has been called for Sunday to co-ordinate the humanitarian aid the Greek people will need in the event of an exit from the European Union and the Euro and the collapse of their banks. The infrastructure is already collapsing. More and more enterprises in the private sector, from all fields and around the country, are telling staff not to come in to work, cutting their hours or even placing them on forced leave. Tourism professionals in northern Greece and on the Aegean islands have been forced to start accept transactions with international holidaymakers in their own national currencies. The cash economy emerging after the closure of Greece’s banks is beginning to paralyze the country’s vital olive oil industry as farmers demand cash for supplies that distributors are unable to pay.

Amusingly, the new Greek Finance Minister, Euclid Tsakalotos, who was expected to formally produce new proposals, arrived with three or four lines hand written on a sheet of hotel notepaper. The Council has demanded firm proposals by Thursday which will be agreed or rejected on Sunday. At that point a decision will be made one way or the other. 

8th July, 2015

A warm but windy day of sunshine and showers. I’m ashamed to say that this is the third consecutive day without a trip to the gym. I have been feeling a little under the weather although that is no excuse. Circumstances have also conspired against us as well. I will definitely do an hour and a half tomorrow.

Watched the Budget speech and analysis today. Public Sector workers are having their pay rises pegged to 1% per annum for the next four years. As a Public Sector worker for nearly 40 years, I predict a riot! People who retire from the Public Sector, like teachers, have their Pensions protected from the exigencies of inflation but tend to be left behind by the general growth in wages of the colleagues they have left in work. We have been retired for just over six years in which time pay has been frozen. We have gained considerably compared with our still working ex-colleagues. In that respect, there has never been a better time to be retired although investment income has been negligible. It looks as if we will more than hold our own for the next four years as well. Thank goodness we’re not Greek!

9th July, 2015

The world is an unstable place as those in Greece and Tunisia will acknowledge. Today, the Greeks are expected to submit their survival proposals to the EU. At the same time, the British Government is ordering the evacuation of British tourists in Tunisia. Lucky Brits enjoy sun, strawberries, champagne, Wimbledon and Test cricket. The contrast couldn’t be greater. We have some similarities. Kathimerini reports today:

Coast guard officers intercepted more than 1,650 undocumented immigrants off various islands in the Aegean within 48 hours.

and the BBC was announcing illegal immigrants running across the M25 in Surrey this morning. However the scale of the problem bears no comparison. The Greek economy is close to being destroyed. It is reported today by Reuters that some Greek banks have been so damaged by the chaotic situation that they may have to be closed and merged with stronger rivals. The big four — National Bank of Greece, Eurobank, Piraeus and Alpha Bank — might be reduced to two. The Greek economy is in ruins. We put hundreds of thousands of Euros through the NBG and Piraeus Bank.


My blood runs cold when I think of what could have gone wrong.

10th July, 2015

Wonderful day of sunshine and Test cricket. England set Australia a total of 412 runs to win with two days remaining. Can’t help thinking a bit more persistence and a few hours batting tomorrow could have raised that to an unassailable 500 but it should be enough. Greece are going to capitulate and agree terms that 61% of the referendum vote rejected 5 days ago:

  • VAT or Sales Tax will rise to 23%.
  • Tax reductions/exemptions for the islands will go.
  • Measures to ensure tax on earnings is paid will be introduced.
  • Preferential tax treatment of farmers in the income tax code will go.
  • Introduce reform of the income tax code for farmers and the self- employed.
  • Subsidies for excise on diesel oil for farmers will be abolished.
  • Heating oil subsidies will be halved.
  • The hated solidarity surcharge on earnings will be raised.
  • Property tax rates will be adjusted upwards.
  • Increase the rate of the tonnage tax and phase out special tax treatments of the shipping industry
  • Reduce the expenditure ceiling for military spending by €100 million in 2015 and by €200 million in 2016.
  • Raise the corporate tax rate from 26% to 28%.

Pension Reform

  • Create strong disincentives to early retirement, including the adjustment of early retirement penalties
  • Lift the retirement age to 67 years.
  • Integrate into ETEA all supplementary pension funds and ensure they are only financed by own contributions.
  • Increase the health contributions for pensioners from 4% to 6%.
  • Broaden and modernise the contribution and pension base for all self-employed, including by switching from notional to actual income.

In addition, there is much on privatisation of major, state industries including the power industry and on the breaking of professional monopolies and freeing up of the labour market. Few advanced, post-industrial countries would find much to object to in these changes but one has to wonder what the referendum meant when all of most of this was roundly rejected.

11th July, 2015

What a lovely day – warm (26C/79F) and sunny and delightfully free of any pressing engagements. We did an hour at the gym but the rest of the day was given over to the Test Match. England really looked like a team and they humiliated Australia. Only rightly. Coincidentally, it looks like that is exactly what Europe is about to do to Greece. Today is the anniversary of our leaving Sifnos. I thought I would be sad but, with everything that has happened, I am just relieved. I just imagine how we would be feeling now in the current climate if we hadn’t sold.