Week 353

27th September, 2015

Blue sky and strong sun all day although the temperature is beginning to drop this evening. Pauline is enthralled by the night sky, stars, planets and the moon. Harvest moon tonight appeals to me because of the poetry and romance associated with it. For Pauline, it is a scientific occurrence that is fascinating.

It is reported that:

The Moon will turn a rusty hue in the early hours of Monday and may seem larger in the sky. The event is caused by a total lunar eclipse coinciding with another astronomical event called a ‘supermoon’.


We are also told that Surrey will be cloudless at 3.00 am when the eclipse is likely to be viewable. I have a feeling that I may be tired all day tomorrow.

28th September, 2015

Tired this morning. I was in bed at midnight last night and then woken to get up and view the night sky at 3.30 am. It was worth it though and we didn’t even have to leave the bedroom to be able to watch the moon turn red.

We woke again to another beautiful day of blue sky and strong but obviously lower sunshine. The day reached 20C/68F. We continued to tick the jobs off for our move in ten days time. Pauline also produced questions we want to ask about our new house build when we drive down there tomorrow morning.

29th September, 2015

The gorgeous weather continues. We are about to enter our final week here and we are driving down to Sussex this morning to see the progress on our house. The temperature is  20C/68F once again with strong sunshine.  The journey is really enjoyable and the South Downs look wonderful in the sunshine. We arrive in about an hour and discuss the minutiae of kitchen fittings – units, flooring, taps, etc.. We discuss fitted wardrobes, Hall flooring until I can take no more and we fix a follow up meeting before we leave for our month in Tenerife.


We drove down to the village which was bathed in sunshine. There are a couple of pubs – although we never use pubs at all – a Post Office, a Co-Op, a Butchers, Bakers and Odds & Ends shop. There are a couple of restaurants and a church. It is a stereotypical English village with a cross on a triangular green in the centre. All is as it should be. The locals seemed very friendly. Some even spoke to us.

30th September, 2015

Already the end of September. We are in our last week in Woking as citizens. It doesn’t feel as momentous as some house moves we’ve made. After all, we’ve only lived here for two of the four years we’ve owned it. It will be about twenty weeks until our new house is ready to move in to but we will be abroad for about half of that time. In our tradition, I ordered a framed picture of the property to put up in the next Study. It arrived today, only cost me £50.00 and took five days from ordering.


The sun has shone all day again and the temperature reached 23C/73F. We sat outside for an hour or so and Pauline griddled sweet-fleshed sea bass in the garden. We ate it with salad. What a wonderful meal!

1st October, 2015

Happy October!


It’s a glorious morning here in Surrey but I suspect it is across Britain. My old stomping ground of Ripon in North Yorkshire is featured in a lovely photo on the front of The Times this morning.


This is Studley royal park. When Jeremy Corbyn comes to power, it will be renamed Studley Park.

2nd October, 2015

Needed some financial advice. Phoned our private banking manager. Asked a couple of salient questions. Met with a blustering response. Found I knew more about the situation than the banking manager. A bit disconcerting.

Last time we sold a property, we had to split the proceeds between four, separate banks. Each bank guarantee of deposit covers £85,000 per person or £170,000 for our joint accounts. Because it is a Europe-wide guarantee, it is expressed in Euros (€100,000) and then converted to Pounds Sterling. With the declining strength of the Pound, this guarantee will reduce in January to £75,000 per person or £150,000 for a joint account. The one caveat to this is that the FSCS will provide a £1 million protection limit for temporary high balances held with your bank. Proceeds resulting from the life events such as Real Estate transactions (property purchase, sale proceeds, equity release) are categorised as temporary high balances.

One would have thought that a personal banking manager, providing a service we pay highly for and supposedly an expert in exactly this sort of transaction, would have this information at her finger tips. When I read the details out to her directly from the Financial Compensation Services Scheme website, she expressed surprise and pledged to instruct the rest of her colleagues at the bank. Good luck with that! If she applies, she could pass her GCSE Oral with that speech.

3rd October, 2015

The end is nigh. We leave our apartment in five days but the Study has to be dismantled TODAY! I’ve been putting it off. I can do it no longer. Normal Service is going to be disrupted.


The broadband router will remain active until minutes before we leave so I can use Wi-Fi on my laptop and iPad but it’s not the same.

The trees around us are turning to glorious, autumnal colours. The lawns were striped by the gardener yesterday. Why does it always look so nice when one is leaving? But leave we must. The next stage of our journey is beckoning.

RIP Denis Healey – a boyhood hero of mine -who has died at the age of 98. The world of politics will miss your strength.


Week 352

20th September, 2015

Gorgeous day. We were up early and emptying our garage to take everything to the storage for the next few months. We drove through warm sunshine loaded up with boxes. We now only have immediate necessities for the next couple of weeks and clothes which still have to be packed.

We came home and griddled fillet steak and vegetables – shallots, courgettes and mushrooms – outside in the delightful day. Fresh, British strawberries, raspberries and blackberries with a dollop of yoghurt have been our pudding every day for months. They are wonderful and I am addicted.

In Greece, the writing is already on the wall. New Democracy have conceded defeat to Syriza who look to be achieving around 35% of the vote – just short of a parliamentary majority.

The lunatic Golden Dawn have gained around 7.0%. This may well be their nadir and one from which they will subsequently fade over the next few years.

The re-election of Syriza means the bailout terms will be adhered to and anything else the EEC demands. The Single Property Tax (ENFIA) which has been levied over the past two or three years is based on the surface area and not the actual value of the property. This has led to tax rates which have outraged the property owning classes. The annual tax rates come close to 2 percent of the real value of a property, while the real tax rate on the income that a property can fetch often exceeds 50 percent. We were so lucky to get out before they impacted upon us and, in a weird way, grateful to Stavros for completely bungling our building finances which delayed the legalisation of our power supply which delayed the signing off of our property build which delayed the levy of the tax. All those Greeks who own small, old properties – often inherited and unused for years – are paying the price for the indulgence.

21st September, 2015

A damp autumnal day today full of mists and mellow fruitfulness. We’ve now packed and moved almost everything bar our clothes to storage. All services – Burglar Alarm, Electricity, Water, TV/Broadband/Phone have been alerted. Our Buyer’s Welcome Pack has been finished so we can enjoy our last couple of weeks here. We intend to make a trip down to Sussex in the next few days to see how far the build has moved on since the end of August.

Heavy rain, strong winds and low temperatures have hit many areas across Greece on today but something more serious is about to hit middle class self-employed Greeks and that is taxation. Syriza are keen to replace cuts in pensions for the poor with taxation on those who can afford to pay – middle class self-employed Greeks who have avoided paying for years.

Kathimerini reports:

The Greek property market remains a global laggard as the continuing decline in prices means the country still ranks among the worst performers in the world in this respect. According to the latest survey by the ‘Global Property Guide’, on the second quarter of 2015, the local property market had the third worst performance among 40 countries as property prices dropped by 5.92 percent on an annual basis.


Higher property taxes accompanying plummeting property values is a recipe for extreme pain and stasis in the market.

22nd September, 2015

Warm but sporadically heavy rain this morning although we are told the afternoon will dry up. Hope so because we are taking our filing cabinets to the store if the weather’s alright. This morning I’ve been producing a timeline of what is happening to us between now and the middle of December just so I can keep a handle on things.

I’ve also been preparing a picture of our Duplex for framing. We have a tradition of framing and mounting a collection of photographs of the properties we’ve bought and sold over our married lives and I will put them up in the Study of our new house. I will even include the advertising sign that was mounted on the gate of our Greek property for the best part of a year before we sold. It will look good in the new house.

sign  house7

There is a sharp cartoon in Kathimerini today:


and you do have to wonder how much he is benefiting the majority of Greek people.

23rd September, 2015

The Autumn Equinox – equal night and day. I must admit, I make no concessions to it – up at 7.00 am and to bed at midnight is my unerring routine. Today, we all but completed packing and removal of all our goods and chattels with the exception of the clothes we will need in the next few weeks. We still have space in our storage pod so we can get in quite easily to retrieve things if we need them.

Today, I took the lovely, Lavender plants – Stoechas Pedunculata –  that have flowered all summer in pots outside our front door and planted them out in the beds as our own contribution to the communal gardens.


We leave, putting the keys through the letterbox as we go, two weeks today.

24th September, 2015

Interesting day. Lovely, sunny, warm weather. We griddled filet steak and vegetables outside in the garden for our meal. We completed the purchase of our new property by transferring 10% of the purchase price with the other 90% to follow in around 4 – 5 months. It turned out to be a very old fashioned affair in which we could only transfer a maximum of £20,000.00 on-line so we actually had to drive to a bank branch to send the deposit. Haven’t been in a bank for a very long time.

We are going down to see building development on Tuesday. Apparently, the roof is on and windows and doors will soon make it watertight. This will mean that the winter weather won’t hold development up. It is timed for completion by March. We are hoping for earlier.

25th September, 2015

Lovely day full of sun and blue sky. We did a quick trip to the surgery for my blood test – pre-annual review – and free ‘flu jab. Off to Tesco for our weekly shop because we have a fistful of money-off coupons to lure us back plus very cheap petrol. We filled the car for £1.05/€1.42 per litre today. We are having to think very carefully about our shopping needs with only 12 days left here. Today, we griddled squid (calamari) in the garden and ate it with Greek salad.

26th September, 2015

It has been a lovely, long day of sun and blue sky. I must admit to rather an inactive day at my computer to keep up with correspondence and in front of the television to watch two Premiere League matches and the England – Wales rugby match from Twickenham. I did do the cooking and that was outside again – griddled chicken with griddled vegetables.

Pauline continued to pack boxes. My one contribution was to remove the wine racks from the walls – they provide 140 bottle storage and will be useful at the new house although, I’m going to have a wine cooler fitted in the new kitchen.


They store so many bottles, it takes me all week to get through it. We are going to France soon so I will have to moderate my buying until we’re settled again.

Can you believe the report this weekend in Greek Reporter amongst others:

The Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) reports that the phenomenon of illegal accommodation sites is constantly growing in the country, causing great problems for the authorities, due to tax evasion.

Tax evasion? They will have to get a grip on legal accommodation sites first. They are much bigger evaders of tax than the little people trying to make ends meet. I’ve already written to the Greek Finance Authority with my concerns on tax evasion in the tourist industry and, particularly, double or false accounting which has become a way of life.


Week 351

13th September, 2015

Things are moving quite quickly at the moment – for us as well as Jeremy Corbin. We have to ‘Exchange Contracts’ in the next couple of days and ‘Complete’ in the first week of October. From that point on, we are homeless. We don’t yet know whether our buyers are buying all our furniture, some of it or none of it. We don’t know if we will need a furniture removal firm, a white van man or we will just use our car. We were going to stay with Pauline’s sister but she has guests in October so we are desperately casting around for somewhere to stay. Jeremy is desperately casting around for experienced politicians who are prepared to serve in his shadow cabinet.

What we have done this morning is book a month on the south west coast of Tenerife in Los Gigantes which has nothing to do with big beans as the Greeks might think but is the name derived from big cliffs on the shoreline.

ten1  ten2

ten4 ten3

One thing it is not is understated. It’s got a Health Club with Spa & Gym plus indoor and outdoor pools. It will help us pass the month of November!

14th September, 2015

We contacted the solicitor acting for us on our apartment sale. We told her what the estate agent had reported but she said she had heard absolutely nothing. She will find out and get back to us. All morning we heard nothing. We went out for a long session at the Health Club. We did an hour in the Gym and another in the pool, etc.. Absolutely shattered, we drove home. If you know Surrey you will know that it is heavily wooded. It is a paradise for Tree Surgeons. Our route to the Health Club is lined with huge trees and mainly Oak and Horse Chestnut. As we speed under them, the trees bomb us with acorns and conkers which are in abundance this year.

Just as we were preparing our meal – grilled chicken and Greek Salad – the solicitor rang to say the exchange of contracts had gone through. The 10% deposit had been lodged and the sale was now irrevocable. We agreed a completion date of October 7th so we can now make all our arrangements.

To add to the pleasure and simplify the move, our buyers have agreed to buy every single stick of furniture at exactly the prices that we requested. This will mean that we will move the small, personal items that were not for sale by ourselves in our car. We will rent a little extra amount of storage to keep them until our move in February/March next year. When our new house is built, we will furnish it completely anew. What fun!

15th September, 2015

Things are running at full tilt. Informing two sets of solicitors, reading contracts and lots of small print, moving money between accounts to pay deposit on the new house, filling stacking, plastic storage boxes is all going on with urgency. We have fifteen of them from the last English move.


We’ve been to the Storage Pod to rent additional space. Our car, with the seats down, will take 8 storage boxes. I can just lift one full of books and files or full of crockery and glassware. They will be stored for up to 6 months. We leave the apartment three weeks tomorrow.

16th September, 2015

Warm – 24C/75F but very wet today. We managed to get to the storage pod with 8 boxes of books, etc. before the rain came down and then home to do more packing and paperwork. This will be the second day without gym work but we’ll go tomorrow.

pod1 pod2


Cancelling services should be easy. It’s certainly easy starting them with Sky – TV/Phone line/Broadband – answer within a minute if you want to open a new contract. If you want to end an existing one, it takes 20 mins.. Electricity, Council Tax, Water all have to be cancelled. Our Service agreement in our property must be ended and our pre-paid charges returned. We have to notify the TV Licensing Authority, The DVLA for our driver’s Licences, the Banks, and the Post Office for re-addressing of mail. These are all niggly things which take up time but have to be addressed.

We have bought and sold many properties and moved many times but it doesn’t get any easier. We wonder how we found the time when we were working. Still the goal at the end makes it all worthwhile.

17th September, 2015

Lovely, warm and sunny morning spent indoors packing boxes. A trip to the storage this afternoon will see the Study and Kitchen cleared of everything bar essentials for the maintenance of life – computer, scanner colour laser and an electric griddle, coffee maker and kettle.

Eight more boxes taken to the Storage Pod. About eight more to go before we can relax and feel as if we can be ready to leave. Just three weeks to go before we have to be out. We can’t really believe it has gone so quickly but we have to adjust immediately to our new environment.

Talking about adjusting to new environments, the new Labour Party leader is doing just that. Almost every national newspaper is doing its best to rubbish him. After all, he’s just not playing the ‘game’ by their rules.


While all that’s happening, the Greek electorate look like moving back to the centre leaving left and right precariously balanced. In some ways, this is far more dangerous. What Greece needs now is clarity, determination and strength. It needs the programme it has agreed to be pushed through immediately or even sooner.

18th September, 2015

Glorious early Autumn morning but we are still dominated by boxes, packing, boxes, packing. We have 18 or 19 days left to do it but we have always been like this. Things have to be done now. In Greece last year, I was making daily, early morning trips down to the communal bins dumping things that just wouldn’t be suitable for anyone else before our sale went through and we handed over the house to someone else. I find/found it quite cathartic leaving the old behind and moving on – starting afresh. It is so liberating. I wonder how the goldfish are doing in their little world. It seems so far away now.


In between wrapping and packing, I’ve been doing the financial accounts in order to keep a tight grip on the moving costs. It’s good fun and keeps me sane to know things are under control. We will take another 8 boxes to the storage pod this afternoon and the property will heave a huge sigh of relief as space appears.

This evening I am continuing to prepare the Welcome Pack & Guide to living here, using the services, seeking help, managing the electric gates, burglar alarm and identifying all the keys. We are also writing guides to easy use of the white goods, televisions and satellite systems. Our buyer has been living in Australia for years and will find many of these things a little stressful at first. We want her to be happy in her new home.

19th September, 2015

Another lovely, lovely day with warm sunshine. Shopping at Sainsbury’s by 9.30 am and then home to continue the packing. The Welcome Pack & Guide is now complete and accompanied by all the user booklets that came with the washing machine, dishwasher, oven & hob, fridge-freezer, televisions, burglar alarm, heating system and much more.


Week 350

6th September, 2015

The Blog will catch up with itself in a few days when we are in a position to update. Currently, we are travelling.

7th September, 2015

Early start. Up at 3.00 am and in the car by 4.00 am. At Heathrow – Terminal 5 Long Stay Car Park by 4.30 am and dropped our bags at British Airways desk by 5.00 am. We went through Passport Control and into Departures immediately. We have membership of all the private Lounges through our Bank. We went down to the Aspire Lounge & Spa and had breakfast – bacon and scrambled egg with coffee. The wi-fi there is excellent.


Our flight took off on time at 6.45 am and we arrived in Athens 10 mins early at 12.10 pm. Pauline had bought new, lime green cases which were easy to spot on the carousel when they came from the aircraft and we were soon walking across the concourse to the train for Syndagma. The temperature was 35C/95F. Five minutes later we were in our Hotel – The Electra Palace – and our suite. It was 2.30 pm by the time we took our suitcases up in the lift and put the kettle on for a cup of tea.

When we were settled, we went for a swim in the pool and a jacuzzi relax. We spent the best part of a hour there before returning for a shower and another relax. We went shopping for peanuts, bottles of wine and water. At 7.00 pm, we went to our favourite, street corner taverna. Pauline had grilled sea bass and I had grilled, large squid.


We shared a Greek Salad, garlic dip and bottle of white wine. It was delicious.

8th September, 2015

Up late today – 8.00 am (which is 6.00 am in UK). Went down for breakfast at 9.00 am. It was a struggle to eat. Returned to our room to read the paper but,  by 11.00 am, we walked down to Monastiraki train station and took the train to Piraeus. Athens and the train were very quiet. Few tourist around anywhere. We got off at Piraeus Port station and walked the full arc of ferry docks. We ended up at the Zante Ferries boat for Sifnos – the Andreas Kalvos. That’s where we met up with our Sifnos friends.


Piraeus was different to any other time we have seen it in the past thirty five years. It was dead – the roads, pavements, docks were dead. The cafes which once thrived were all closed. The ticket offices largely gone. The trains were mainly empty. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, crowds of migrants appeared near the train station. They were affluent, controlled and business like. They were led by group leaders who handed out ‘stamped’ travel/identity documents. Everyone carried smartphones which were glued to their ears. Everyone was being directed to ‘Express to Germany’ coaches. Prices were being negotiated – calmly and quietly. These were not desperate people without money but confident, Middle Class people who had money to buy their freedom.

9th September, 2015

Wonderful day. Warm and sunny reaching 32C/90F. After a late breakfast, we set off on a walk to Kolonaki.


It was hot and sweaty by the time we arrived. Shops, restaurants and coffee shops followed by Embassies and more shops and then back to Syndagma. Coffee and newspapers in our hotel suite and then out to Monastiraki and the fruit sellers outside the station entrance. A bag full of big, fat, sweet figs and a kilo of green, seedless grapes cost under 3 Euros. We walked back to our hotel and feasted on fruit.


At 3.00 pm, we went down to the Spa Centre and spent an hour or more in the jacuzzi, pool and sauna. At 7.00 pm we went out to our favourite street corner taverna for Greek Salad, Skordalia (garlic sauce) and grilled salmon. The whole thing with a litre (kilo) of white wine cost 38 euros. This, in a capital city, is amazing.

10th September, 2015

Before breakfast, Pauline made a cup of tea and I tested my INR. It was a near perfect 2.7 which I immediately emailed to Woking Anticoagulation Department. It was 8.15 am in Greece so only 6.15 am in Woking but I got dosage advice by return email. Breakfast at 8.30 am today and then back to our room for coffee and newspapers. At 10.30 am, Pauline went to the Hairdressing Salon across the road –


She has been using it for the past 15 years and has her hair cut by the owner. Every time she books, an assistant rather gingerly whispers the price – this year it was €57.00/£41.00 – which is actually nearly half what she would pay at Sasson’s in London.

By mid day, we were walking down the shopping street which is Ermou and then through the Plaka, via the meat and fish market, where everything was so cheap but few were buying, to Omonia Square where the pavements and doorways were crowded with immigrants.

fishath  fish

More than ever, Athens looked down-at-heel, impoverished and ill at ease with itself. So many shops and restaurants that we have frequented over the years have just disappeared and many remaining are quiet and desperate to draw tourists in. We walked back up Stadiou Street to Syndagma and back to our hotel for a cup of tea.

Mid afternoon, we had a good swim, jacuzzi and sauna. We fly back to London tomorrow afternoon. I’m a B.A. Club member and I use an app on my phone & iPad to manage our bookings. Using the app, I selected our seats – emergency exit/extra legroom, window and centre. Now, 24hrs before, we are ‘checking-in’ on-line and collecting our boarding passes on our mobile phones.

Just as we were about to go out Dinner, we received a phone call to say that our buyers had signed the contract for our apartment and will be paying the 10% deposit tomorrow. We were elated. Tonight we ate Greek Salad, Garlic Sauce and griddled Sea Bass all washed down with dry and ice-cold white wine. It was delicious. Our sweet was sweet, green grapes and a glass of ouzo. Heaven. When we got back to our hotel room, as usual, a chocolate in a small box was placed by either side of our bed.

11th September, 2015

A lovely morning – especially for retired teachers. Greek schools restart this morning. Across the block from our hotel, a local school has its windows flung open and the small school yard which is marked out as a basketball court, has been set up with a sound system. Trailing electrical leads snake down from an upstairs window to the microphone which will relay the speeches of a local dignitary, the Headteacher and the ubiquitous member of the Orthodox Church.


The television morning news programmes – and I favour the Skai channel’s Proti Grammi (First Programme), are playing heavily on shortages of teachers in Greece and the inability of some schools to reopen because of it.

Of course, we are playing heavily on the fact that we no longer need to teach. After breakfast, we finished packing, paid our bill and walked up to the Metro station at Syndagma. We took a clean and empty train to the airport for the extravagant (not) sum of Euros 14 for the two of us instead of a cramped and hairy journey by taxi for a minimum of Euros 40. At the airport, we immediately dropped our bags at the BA desk and went to the airside lounge – the Melina Mecouri Lounge – where we had comfortable seats, lovely free coffee and good wi-fi courtesy of our card membership.


We often complain about our monthly bank account charges but these Lounge facilities are worth it on their own. The charge would be £35.00 each – £70.00 – for every time we used them on this trip alone, we used three Lounges – potentially £210.00 – which is almost total, annual charge. The peace and quiet and free flowing red wine would make me want to pay it anyway.

We boarded our flight on time and without fuss. It always takes longer leaving Greece than arriving – something to do with prevailing winds. We set off at 2.45 pm (G.T.) and will land at 4.45 pm (B.T.).

We landed five minutes early, soon collected our bags. The Long Stay car park bus arrived and we were soon in our car. That is when we had our first hiccup. Our sat.nav. Proposed routing us on the M4 whereas we would have expected M5. Immediately, our screen flashed up 6 mile queues ahead. We returned to Terminal 5 and started again but this time forcing it to follow the M5. It was Friday night and rush hour so traffic was heavy and slow but we were home in half an hour.

12th September, 2015

Tired this morning but shopping called. We were in Sainsbury’s by 9.30 am. We have a trip to France next week but, now the legal process on the sale of our property has been accelerated, the timing is all wrong so we have to change our travel dates. I use Booking.com for the hotel bookings (naturally!). They make life so easy. We’ve managed to defer our hotel and channel tunnel crossing by three or four weeks which means we will have moved out by then. The proposed ‘Completion’ date on our property is Pauline’s birthday – October 5th. We will probably negotiate a couple of extra days and then bank the money and go away.

We are looking at taking an extended ‘sun’ holiday in November – three or four weeks – where we can be warm, swim outside, use a Health Club and walk along the beach. We are currently considering West coast Teneriffe in a hotel that bans children and has good quality internet provision. They don’t come cheap but at least that tends to ensure peace and quiet. Our neighbour near to us has an apartment out their and has been advising us on areas. We did go to Fuerteventura many years ago so a different Canary Island might be interesting while we are homeless.