Week 345

2nd August, 2015

All the roads are closed for miles around us for the Prudential Ride London-Surrey Cycle Event.


It is an absolutely beautiful day for it – warm and sunny – but it is still annoying if you suffer the tyranny of cyclists clogging up the roads all week and then find them taking over completely on Sunday. I wouldn’t mind if they paid road fund licence fees, took safety tests and carried insurance but they don’t. They think they are a law unto themselves, undertaking traffic, jumping the lights and, in Surrey, riding on the pavements. Most other places in the country, riding on the pavements can be punished with an on-the-spot fine but, in Surrey, it seems to be encouraged. We are trying to get to a barbecue less than five miles away and hoping the cycling stasi have reached nirvana. I’ll let you know. ….. ….

…. Fortunately, a plague of cyclists, as they are known, had gone home for their teas by the time we ventured out for a lovely barbecue in the garden with ten family members. They cooked wonderful steaks and salmon kebabs, chicken kebabs and pork & chorizo sausages. Pauline had made lemon meringue and lemon cheese cake to go with a huge, Eton Mess. The weather was hot and sunny right up until the time we left at 9.00 pm. A lovely day.

3rd August, 2015

Woke up feeling tired and it has remained with me all day. We decided not to go to the Health Club. Had to take Pauline in to town for a eye test and a couple of pairs of new reading glasses. Age comes to us all and so does tiredness. I did some sedate research for Paulines nephew who is considering taking a Degree in Journalism next year. Just reading the courses made me want to start all over again!

Reported in The Times today is the story of Cristiano Ronaldo who was best man for Jorge Mendes, his agent, at his wedding on Sunday. Ronaldo gave him a wedding present of – a Greek island. We don’t know which one yet but it is rumoured to be Sifnos.

4th August, 2015

Overcast day reaching 23C/71F which feels disappointing for August. We have spent an hour on exercise in the gym and the rest just pottering today. Feels lazy but we are retired. In Britain, the government starts to return the Royal Bank of Scotland and, apart for quibbles at its price, there is little opposition. In Greece, a plan to privatize €50 billion worth of Greek state-owned assets is not so popular. In fact, Greeks have an historical aversion to selling off State-owned assets. However, this is how the world looks when you are in hock to the Germans.

5th August, 2015

An overcast day of 24C/75F. We went on a wild goose chase to antique shops in the area looking for a replacement glass shade after one was broken by a house viewer who was trying to open a window.


We had owned the lamp for the whole of our married life – it even featured in our wedding photographs back in 1978. The Estate Agent’s insurance will fund a replacement but we can’t find one. Pauline researched on the net and lined up a number of local antique shops to visit. This morning we drove to three and found that none were still trading. So much for the internet’s currency. Ironically, as soon as we got home, the estate agent phoned through to book another viewing of our property tomorrow.

Articles in Kathimerini and Ta Nea today sound like Greece returning to bad, old ways although they come, in part, from Syriza’s need to address the problems:

  • A 53-year-old woman is accused by the Financial Police of illegally drawing her dead mother’s two pensions and disability benefits for eight years, costing the IKA Social Security Foundation at least 140,000 euros, according to investigators.
  • Tax evasion is most prevalent among businesses that operate at night in tourism destinations, and mostly concerns the failure to issue receipts, according to data from the latest inspections.
  • Greek farmers gear up for protests.
  • Several Greek domestic and international flights were cancelled on Wednesday as air traffic controllers went on strike.

The whole thing does sound rather like déjà vu all over again.

6th August, 2015

An interesting day that started with a Windows 10 upgrade. Yes, I know, I’m a geek. I love to learn new skills, try out new computer platforms, trial new gadgets. Many people, particularly as the get older, don’t want things to change. I am the exact opposite. I constantly want to move forward and leave the past behind. I know I’m only talking about a new, computer platform but it is a test to crack.


Although I’m enjoying navigating my way through the new platform but one unfortunate corollary of the upgrade is that a now defunct version of Ms Excel badged Ms Money – an Accounts software package – will run on the new platform and there will be no upgrade. Pauline has been maintaining our household accounts using this software for 30 years. One of my jobs will be to research and plug that gap. I’m looking at one called BankTree.

We had to leave our property by 12.15 pm to allow a viewing. We combined it with our fourth trip to the Health Club this week. We are trying hard on our eating plan which isn’t difficult with so much lovely fish and bountiful mountains of fresh fruit. We are maxing out on strawberries, raspberries, cherries and peaches. Our meal was smoked salmon, king prawns, small prawns, Greek Salad and Avocado salad. It was accompanied by sparkling water because we are in the first week of an alcohol-free-August. It was delightful for a day that reached 26C/79F.

Of course the day was topped off by Englands demolition of Australia in the fourth Ashes Test at Trent Bridge. Australia were skittled out for a record breaking 60 all out. Stuart Broad was the hero of the day with 8 wickets.


7th August, 2015

A lovely, warm day which brought England within a breath of winning the Test Match and the Ashes. Tomorrow is said to be an even nicer day and England should wrap it up by lunchtime even though we don’t eat lunch.

We have had 2 – 3000 potential migrants knocking on the Channel Tunnel door for the past few months and one or two have managed to get in. UNHCR has bitterly criticised Greece for failing to address its immigrant influx. Tsipras described it as a crisis within a crisis. EU border agency Frontex said that almost 50,000 migrants arrived in the EU in July via Greece, compared to 41,700 in all of 2014. The UNHCR said that the total figure for the year so far stands at around 124,000, which is more than 750 % up on the same period in 2014. How on earth Greece is able to deal with the flood of migrants washing up on its island I don’t know.


Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR director for Europe, said:

The level of suffering we have seen on the islands is unbearable. People arrive thinking they are in the European Union. What we have seen was not anything acceptable in terms of standards of treatment.

The UNHCR director had been visiting the Greek islands of Lesvos, Kos and Chios.

8th August, 2015

A really enjoyable day which reached 26C/79F with strong sunshine. For us, it was a day off work. After five, consecutive days of work out in the gym, we still got up at 7.00 am but read the paper, drank fresh coffee, sat in the sunshine, watched the Test match completed with a comprehensive win by England of the match and the Ashes series.

Phyllis and Colin wanted some help with booking a hotel on Booking.com. I use it all the time – so much so that I now get 10% reductions on all prices. We booked it, printed all the paperwork and nipped to their house with the results. The crucial thing was that I was home in time to watch Man. Utd. win the opening match of the new Premier League season against Spurs.

It was nice to have a day off but I will be back at the Health Club tomorrow. The only problem is that Parliament is in recess so I won’t have a political programme to to distract me from the effort.

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