Week 357

25th October, 2015

We try to do five sessions at the Health Club each week lasting between 90 mins. and 2 hours. During the week I do 25 kilometres – Jane BG would probably call it 25K because she’s youthful and ‘cool’ but I can’t bring myself to do it. I heard a mother call her daughters the other day, Come on Guys! and I thought I’d moved to a different country. It makes me feel antediluvian but I just can’t bring myself to do it. While completing 25 kilometres, I climb 1000 metres and burn 3100 calories. That is nearly two days allowance over the week. Aside from the statistics, it gives me a wonderful sense of self confidence which is really affirming as I grow older.

We did a two hour stint today. En route, we called at the taxi office to cancel our recently booked trip to Gatwick Airport. We will now drive ourselves to the Long Stay Car Park and leave the car for a month for little more than the return taxi fare. At the Health Club, we booked in at 11.00 am which is considered ‘Peak Time’ but nobody seems to care. We pay a considerably reduced rate as ‘off peak’ members but it doesn’t seem to matter. We go for 11.00 am on Sunday because Sunday Politics starts then and helps me through the exercise.

26th October, 2015

Tomorrow is our last chance to meet with the builders before our month away. We are driving down first thing in the morning. Today, we are reviewing all the options that we will have to address in our meeting.

  • Outside landscaping
  • Kitchen Units and Equipment
  • Fitted Bedroom furniture
  • Hall, Study, Cloakroom, Storeroom – wood flooring
  • Kitchen, Dining, Family Room, Utility Room – large tile flooring
  • Bathrooms – tiling colours and extent
  • Automation of Garage Doors

Because we will be away, we will have to make irrevocable decisions tomorrow while on site.

27th October, 2015

Lovely day yesterday. Drove down to Sussex in warm, Autumnal sunshine on empty, tree lined roads. The South Downs which fringe our new village looked delightful.


We know already that we are going to enjoy exploring this area both coastal and inland.

The journey to Angmering took an hour. We arrived at the house by 10.30 am to meet the builder’s sales rep.. The roof is on and they expect the windows and doors to be fitted in the next couple of weeks while we are in Tenerife. They are making such good progress and with a mild winter forecast by the Met.Office today, work may well be finished a month early. If we like the hotel in Tenerife, we will try to book a second month in Jan./Feb. in the lead up to moving in. We just have to use the time in December to research and order furniture before Christmas to be delivered a couple of months later.

We were there for a full-on three hour session. We chose the kitchen units and flooring. Pauline chose this style kitchen although it will be accompanied by large, stone floor tiles and will have an innovative wrap around opaque glass wall covering between upper and lower cabinets.


We chose all the things I listed yesterday plus lots of things I hadn’t mentioned like additional sockets, tv/multimedia panels, etc. Three hours later and at least £25,000 lighter, we staggered out feeling rather drained as we used to do after the first day back at work after the Summer Holidays. Even so, we are very lucky and felt it.

Our instinct was to go out to eat after all that but we fought it and, not having done a gym session today, went back and ate cold chicken with Greek Salad. Afterwards, we were pleased with our choices.

28th October, 2015

Very mild and sunny day today. The temperature reached 18C/65F. We did a wonderfully exhausting two hour session at the Health Club today and then made crab and prawn salad for our meal. Tomorrow, we have to address the weeks ahead by selecting clothes for the month in Tenerife. Pauline will have her hair cut and I will do our accounts based on yesterday’s expenditure.

29th October, 2015

A damp but mild day. We drove over to P&C’s to organise things for our forthcoming trip. It’s not easy packing suitcases whilst living out of suitcases but we’ll cope! We decided to give the Health Club a miss today and our bodies heaved a sigh of gratitude. We took advantage of ‘free’ time to go shopping. We wanted to look at a new, tumble dryer. The last one we bought cost £100.00. The new one will cost £800.00. It is a concept I’m not familiar with and don’t yet understand – a condenser/heat pump tumble dryer.


While we were in Curry’s, we looked for televisions. We will have television points fitted in Lounge, Kitchen/Family Room, Study and each of four bedrooms. Seven televisions seems excessive but, if we are going to do it, we might as well do it properly. Televisions are amazingly cheap now.


This PANASONIC VIERA TX-55CX400B Smart 3D Ultra HD 4k 55″ LED TV is just £749.00, which is half the price we paid for a much inferior model seven or eight years ago.

We went on to look at beds. We sold our wonderful, 2000 pocket sprung bed and we have to replace it with an equal or better. Of the four bedrooms, three will have beds and the fourth, Pauline’s ironing room, will have a sofa-bed. The plan is that we will buy one bed and trial it. If it’s good, we’ll buy two more. If it’s not, it will move to bedroom 3 and we will trial another and so on until we are satisfied.

I cooked today to give Pauline a rest – chicken thighs with garlic and oregano accompanied by roasted green peppers, shallots and celery. I hit lucky and it was delicious. Afterwards, I took Pauline for a late afternoon hairdresser’s appointment in preparation for our month abroad. By the time we get back, Roof, windows and doors should be done and the team will be on ‘first-fix’ electrics. The weather can do what it likes.

30th October, 2015

A damp morning. The family we are staying with are all going to a tennis tournament. We are going to do our exercise in the Health Club. Before that, we are addressing peripheral issues involved in the house build. The problem with buying off-plan or build-your-own, as we have done twice before, is that practical living is not easy to envisage. Really, what one needs is to spend a few weeks in the actual house and then tweak the set up. Because of that, Pauline & I have been trying to imagine usage based on the floor plan. Today we have decided to make a few tweaks before we go away and it is too late. We have decided that we need some extra electrical sockets – three more doubles in the lounge and two more doubles in the study. If we don’t do it now, they will be gouging out plaster to insert them more expensively later. Pauline also wants the radiator in the utility room replacing by a heated towel rail. This has all been marked up on the floor plans and will be sent over to the builders.

This evening, we are joining a large party for dinner at a local Mediterranean-style restaurant. It is simple but pleasant. My only problem is choosing dishes that fit in to my diet. I usually face the dilemma of eating only parts of meals or suspending my personal regime for the occasion. I suspect that I will do the latter tonight.

31st October, 2015

As October comes to an end, everything I read and hear confirms how right we were to sell up and leave Greece. The Greek government are broke and still caught between Scylla and Charybdis. One the one hand, they have their electorate and, on the other, they have their creditors. They tell one group one thing and the other another thing. Unfortunately, they will not get the money unless they do as they are told. Like all Greeks, they are used to getting away with saying one thing and then doing what they want. We learnt that from Stavros. With the Germans, it just won’t wash.

It is no wonder that the Greek housing market continues to suffer. In fact, it has been in free-fall for the past couple of years. As Kathimerini says,

Greece is once again in last position in an international survey on the growth of property prices, posting a 5.9 percent annual decrease in the third quarter of the year, according to the House-Price Index compiled by The Economist. The Greek property market has had the worst performance among the 26 countries monitored in the survey, with Singapore just above Greece with a 3.7 percent yearly decline in the July-September period. Just five out of all the countries monitored have posted a price decline.


To make matters worse, the article calculates that current earnings suggest there is another reduction of 17% built in to the property market. If you’ve invested in property in Greece recently, you’re going to need to live a long time before you see a positive value.

Week 356

18th October, 2015

This is the anniversary of the death of Jane Barnes five years ago today.


She is sorely missed.

Up at 6.00 am and out by 7.30 am on a bright and mild morning. We set off for Oldham in Lancashire. This is something of a packed and flying visit. Our first visit is to the crematorium. Five years ago today we said goodbye to Pauline’s Mum, a lovely, kind and determined lady who lived to the admirable age of 96. On this day each year since then, under the damp and autumnal trees, we visit the crematorium record room to read the listing of her death and to mark it in a moment’s thought.

From Oldham we drove to Meltham – a lovely, Yorkshire village that we lived in in the late 1970s.


On from there we drove to Helme – a nearby and even smaller, Yorkshire village we lived in during the 1980s and 1990s.


From there we drove to Brighouse where we had booked a suite in the Holiday Inn. We arrived in time to watch the rugby and to confirm arrangements for Monday and Tuesday.

19th October, 2016

Up early and, after breakfast (How many breakfasts can we survive?), drove down to Honda.


The car was having a 3 hour service. Paul, the Service Manager, who we’ve known for almost 30 years, drove us into Huddersfield town. There began the longest ‘shopping’ trip I’ve done for many years. We walked the length and breadth of the town in delightful, autumnal sun. I had taken a coat but the day was far too warm for that. It was definitely a shirtsleeves morning.


We have loved the town of Huddersfield for forty years. It has a solid, post-industrial majesty which seemed to symbolise all that was admirable in the North of England. Returning after five years and looking with ‘cold eyes’, it is now an impoverished place of very poor people. So many town centre shops are empty or taken over by charities, Pound shops of different hue, quick cash shops. Down at heel and probably out of work people shuffle along the pavements and stare through the windows. When looking for a new house, we had considered returning to Huddersfield. We are so glad we resisted that ‘sentimental’ urge.

After 3 hours, I could take it no more. We phoned Paul who came to pick us up. Our car was ready and, after a chat with Chris and Tracy who we’ve also known for thirty years, we returned to our hotel to freshen up before setting off for Oldham. As we did, our sat.nav. warned us of an accident causing six mile tail backs on the M62. It offered us a diversion over the moors which we took although we drove from strong sun into thick fog as we crossed the moorland. We were meeting our old friend, Little Viv – so called because she’s five foot nothing and named Viv.. We had arranged to have a late lunch at The Old Bell Inn in Delph on the edge of the moors.


The meal was delightful and Viv looked healthier than she has for five years. We parted pledging to meet again soon.

20th October, 2015

Up early and off to Shaw after breakfast to see my old friend, Brian. We spend an hour and a half talking over old times and then drive back to Huddersfield in the early afternoon to prepare for our next meeting. Showered and changed, we drive over to Marsden to meet an old colleague of Pauline’s and her husband. After about an hour or so, we set off for a newish restaurant in the village of Meltham where we lived forty years ago. Actually, the restaurant call Quirky’s, is sited in an old, stone building where we once took furniture to be re-upholstered by a restorer. How times have changed!


After a delightful two hours of talk and wonderful food, we parted and drove back to our hotel. We were both exhausted. We have met and talked to more people in the past couple of days than we would normally interact with in six months of retirement. When you get out of the habit of social relations, re-entering the world is very tiring.

21st October, 2015

Slept really well after a gruelling couple of days and we woke at 6.00 am to a lovely, mild morning with plenty of weak sunshine. After breakfast, we packed and set off for Repton to say ‘Hello’ to Mum & Dad before leaving for Surrey. Mum & Dad’s grave looked fine and Grandad & Nana’s grave even had a flowering geranium placed on it. Who would have done that? I wonder.


We left Repton shortly after 1.00 pm and we’re back in West Byfleet by just after 3.00 pm. The weather was lovely and the colours of Autumn were all around us as we drove. The temperature was around  17C/63F. The last 30 miles saw a fine rain falling as the sun disappeared below the horizon and the temperature fell.

22nd October, 2015

Happy Birthday to the twins – Little Mike & Liz. Unbelievably, they are 58 years old today. What is the world coming to?


A mild autumnal day. At the moment, we are not able to garage our car. It is parked in a visitor’s spot at the back of P&C’s house but under a glorious tree decked out with fiery red and orange leaves. The only problem is they fall every night – on our car. Before we can drive the next day, we have a major clean up to do. At 11.00 am we were doing exactly that. We had a wonderful couple of hours at the Health Club which incorporated hard work on the jogging machine with swimming, Jacuzzi and sauna. Felt so good after that. Must do it again tomorrow.

For our meal, we griddled boneless chicken thighs outside with mushrooms and shallots which we ate with Greek Salad. It was delightful to get back in the diet and exercise routine.

23rd October, 2015

Up early because I have my annual health check at 9.20 this morning. Also, we are staying with Mandy & Kieron for a week from this evening so we have to pack things up before we go. When we return, it is to fly to Tenerife for a month. There is no rest for the wicked, as Sarah will tell you.

Went to the Medical Centre for my annual diabetic review. Usually, I have blood pressure, weight and lower limb check. Not this time. I had already had a blood and urine sample analysed. I was informed today that not only was I no longer classed as diabetic but I even fail to reach the ‘pre-diabetic’ classification. I was given the choice of whether to have an annual check up or not. I chose to continue because I like the pressure of someone else monitoring my progress but it is certainly good news and rather life affirming.

24th October, 2015

Went out at 10.30 am to do a bit of shopping and book a taxi to take us to Gatwick airport in a few days. The return trip to Gatwick from here is £90.00. We are travelling in social hours and thought the price was worth paying. Parking at the airport for a month would be very costly. The problem is where to park our car safely and leave it unattended for a month.

Almost as soon as we got back and unpacked, Pauline had second thoughts and checked the Gatwick site. Unbelievably, a month’s parking in the Airport Long Stay is only £120.00. We booked it on the spot. We will have to cancel the taxi tomorrow. We will stay in the Gatwick Holiday Inn the night before we fly so we don’t have to get up too early.


We’ve booked our seats and will check in on-line so all we have to do is drop off our cases.

Week 355

11th October, 2015

The day has broken under a soft, blue sky with hazy sun. The temperature is only 12C/54F but it doesn’t feel cold. I’m still in short sleeved shirts and the duvet is still too warm.

After orange juice and tea with the political knockabout of the Andrew Marr programme, we began to pack for France. Next we will be having the car cleaned and doing our oil and tyre check. We’re leaving for the Tunnel at 8.00 am tomorrow.

The Sunday papers aren’t grabbing me today. Most articles are re-runs of last week’s stories. The most pressing headlines are the strength of the ‘Out’ campaign to persuade the British people to vote to leave Europe and the effect the migrant crisis is having on that argument and the massive – £2 Billion – overspend by the NHS in the first six months of the financial year which may well lead to serious rationing of treatments, drugs and operations. Of course, these two stories are effectively combined in the argument that immigration and Health Tourism are prime causes of stress on NHS services.

12th October, 2015

The morning was still dark when we got up at 6.00 am and light was only in its early stages of the sky as we left at 7.00 am. We left early in anticipation of heavy, rush hour traffic on the M25 but it didn’t materialise. We arrived early, were offered an earlier crossing which we accepted but were immediately told that there was a ‘two hour delay because of migrant activity on the French arrival platform. Coffee and iPad newspapers saw us through an hour and then we were called to drive on to the train.

The day by now was blue sky, strong sun and Autumn warmth. Adding an hour to our watches, we were driving off in Coquelles at 12.30 pm. By 1.00 pm, we were in our hotel Suite with a cup of coffee. In the afternoon, we drove down to Auchan hypermarket to buy some bottles of wine and delicatessen snacks for our meal. We have found that to be the best way to control the proportion and content of our meal. If you’ve ever tried eating out in France, you will know how difficult it is to control a diet. This way, we can.

13th October, 2015

A bright and sunny day but undercut by a sharp edged breeze that brings thoughts of winter into autumn. After breakfast, we drove out along the coast road through Sangatte, Wissant and Wimereaux, stopping just short of Boulogne sur Mer. The strong sun lit the sweeping agricultural lands edging the sea shore and the wind driven waves, highlighting and defining the contours with colours and shadows.


Driving back in the early afternoon, we visited Cite Europe where we bought things for our meal – crevettes, prawns, celeriac remoulade, tomatoes and cucumber. We also researched kitchen products for our new home in Sussex. As we were driving back, Pauline took a call from the hotel to say someone had handed in my necklace. Before you express amazement, I’m not accustomed to wearing jewellery but this is a medical ‘aid’. I take warfarin which is an anticoagulant – a treatment for my condition of Atrial Fibrillation – which means any serious cut could lead to my bleeding to death. I had a necklace message made so, in case of a serious car accident, emergency services would know how to treat me. It had obviously fallen out inthe hotel car park and was handed in. It is inscribed with Pauline’s mobile number which was how they contacted us.

14th October, 2015

Quite a cold morning. Actually, the temperature was nominally 11C/52F but felt much more raw in a sharp edged breeze. After breakfast and the newspapers, we drove down to the beach at Sangatte and walked along the coastal fringe towards Calais.


It certainly blew any sense of comfort out of us as we walked towards what looked like rain clouds over the port. What looked like rain clouds suddenly started to deliver over our heads and we ran faster back down the coastal path than I’ve run for a few years. It did me good. Must do more of it. We drove back for coffee and  watched PMQs on BBC2 which we can still get here. Later we drove out to Cite Europe and Pauline did a bit of ‘clothes shopping’. We also filled up with petrol at £0.98/€1.33 a litre. This is considerably better than UK but rather a long way to come to fill up!

15th October, 2015

A cold day that never got above 9C/48F and felt really raw in the morning. We drove out towards Calais market but immediately found the motorway blocked by queues of parked lorries in a ‘stack’ and slip roads on to the motorway blocked by police. Twitter feed reported ‘migrant trouble’ and delays in the tunnel. Fortunately, our sat.nav. allows us to program it to avoid motorways and we meandered through the suburbs and back streets to the town. As you can see from the Town Hall shot, it was distinctly cold and grey.


Later, we went to the wine store to stock up with Phyllis’ favourite Sauvignon Blanc and then on to Auchan for shell fish for this evening’s snack. The evening closed with long, low rays of sun across the hotel lawns out on to which small, brown rabbits emerged from from the shrubbery to enjoy a rich grass Dinner before hunkering down for a chilly night.

Today would have been my Dad’s 100th birthday.


He only missed it by 51 years. What a loss of life and experiences to him and to Mum who spent many lonely years without him. Dad had quite a Victorian upbringing and outlook on life. I wonder if he would ever have embraced the digital age.

16th October, 2015

Tired this morning as we got up for breakfast. We return to Surrey today and, as yet, there is no migrant trouble at the tunnel. Spoke too soon. We checked out of our hotel after breakfast and bought some fish for our meal  tonight from Auchan en route to the tunnel where we were told that there had been a migrant problem early this morning although things were getting back to normal. To be honest, we saw less evidence of illegal migrants around the area than we have for a number of years. What was obvious was the amount of new, security fencing going up.

fence1 fence2

Even so, we managed to get on to an earlier train than we’d booked and we settled down to coffee and our iPad newspapers to wait for departure.

Back in Surrey by mid-afternoon, we spent the afternoon planning our next trip. We leave on Sunday for a flying visit to Yorkshire. Often, we indulge ourselves with an extended stay but we just don’t have the time this Autumn. It is timed to coincide with the anniversary of Pauline’s Mum’s death. We always mark that by visiting the crematorium and reading her entry in the book. We will also visit my Mum’s grave in Repton. Neither of us believe in god or life-after-death but we use these anniversaries to focus our thoughts, however fleetingly, on their lives and contributions to ours.

17th October, 2015

We are hurtling down the month of October and, yesterday, I received a reminder that I am also hurtling down the years from a ‘Friend in the North’ and a photo of 1973/4. I hardly recognised this hairy monster myself.


The sweet age of 23! Where did those achingly gauche days go? Maybe we will rediscover them one day soon.

Week 354

4th October, 2015

Everything moves on. Here, the Autumn marches in front of us and the evening temperatures emphasise the change.


We are moving on in the coming week. This morning, our buyers’ Daughter & Son-in-Law came round for a familiarisation session. I had already prepared a ‘Welcome’ folder and it explained everything they wanted to know. They seemed very happy. The buyer arrives from Australia next weekend – long after we have moved out. We can now relax for the last few days here. Everything is in store. Everybody in the legal process is tied in. All we wait for is the prescribed timeline to run its course – like the seasons – and we will become itinerant for about six months.

We are going to get back to our gym work prior to trips to France, Yorkshire and a month – maybe two – in Tenerife. We want to emerge from the winter fitter and leaner and ready for the completion of our new house. February/March will be spent researching flooring and furniture suppliers and we hope to move in in mid-March/early April. Life could be worse!

5th October, 2015

Happy Birthday to my darling wife.


I can no longer sing to her When you’re 64 because she is. As you can tell from the photo, she doesn’t look her age. We are going to celebrate by a trip to the Health Club for an hour and then out for lunch. We are looking forward to Guinea Fowl Kiev at the Maybury Inn.

6th October, 2015

A grey, showery but humid day. We went to the Storage Pod to leave belongings and then on to Phyllis & Colin to deliver racks of clothes. We will move in with them tomorrow afternoon. We are incredibly lucky to have their kindness. We have been saying our goodbyes to all the people we have known around here. Our neighbours and friends who have supported us and shared their concerns. Now, it all falls away and we move on – leaving all cares and responsibilities behind us.

We are in a fortunate position. We have agreed a price for our new property although we don’t need to pay for it for six months. Our capital will make more than £7000.00 in the time it sits in our account. That makes us happy and will go towards the furnishing of our new home. Next week we will be in France on a shopping trip and then a week in Yorkshire. Soon afterwards, we fly off for a month in Tenerife. Home for December and then off for another month abroad before we settle down to planning the furnishing of our new home in West Sussex.

This evening we have recorded readings for Water – Affinity Water, Electricity – Scottish Power and heating generated by our Development’s plant. In six months’ time, we will be looking for new suppliers to service our new property but, until then, we can sit back and relax.

7th October, 2015

A second grey, showery but humid day. I went to bed at midnight last night but was awake, listening to Radio 4 News at 5.00 am and thinking through the jobs we have to do. Everything hinges on a phone call from our solicitor to say that the buyers’ solicitor has transferred the money and it is on its way to our bank account. Then we leave in our own time because the buyer will not be around for a few days.

Pauline is defrosting the fridge/freezer. I’ve emptied and cleaned the coffee maker. The bed has been stripped and the linen bagged up. The bathrooms are empty, the bedrooms are empty, the study is empty and we are gradually withdrawing to the Kitchen and Lounge.I am the gopher as Pauline barks out the orders. Our neighbour, Rosina, knocked lightly on the door at 7.30 am, on her way to work. It was nice of her to call and say goodbye. Our other neighbour – General Vicky – has driven back from Nottinghamshire to say goodbye.

f1 f2 f3

Unlike many other houses we have bought and sold, the leaving process is not really an emotional one here just a logistical one. The sooner now we’re gone the better.

11.30 am and the solicitor has confirmed the ‘Completion’. The money has been transferred. I’ve checked our bank accounts and it has arrived. We’ve been to see General Vicky to say goodbye. The estate agent has phoned to congratulate us and to thank us for our custom. The phone lines have been unplugged, the broadband router is about to be disconnected. We are going out for lunch and onward. Farewell world. Welcome new horizons!

Well those horizons weren’t far off. We got as far as the nearest gastro-pub filled with ladies who like to lunch. Kalamari starters followed by sea bass fillets on a bed of roasted vegetables. A lovely and expensive bottle of Pinot Grigio was ordered but failed to arrive in time for the starter course. I hailed a passing waitress who apologised and brought our £25.00 bottle of white wine. It was a bottle that I buy for £4.00 abroad.


It was delicious with the fish. Pauline ate a sickly chocolate pudding and I had a cheese board selection. When the bill arrived, the wine had not been added and, do you know, I didn’t remind them. I hate being grossly overcharged on the wine. Mind you, I don’t mind being grossly undercharged.

8th October, 2015

A new morning has dawned chilly but beautifully bright with clear, blue skies and strong sun. It is strange waking in a different bed, a different room. We both slept well but we were shattered after the adrenalin packed day we completed yesterday. Today, we will deal with the aftermath. I’ve got to move money to investment accounts to make the most of this six month hiatus. We have to sort out all the ‘stuff’ we have brought with us so we don’t clog up our relations’ house.

We will spend a couple of hours at the Health Club today and most days until we leave for Sussex. We’ve got three trips coming up before Christmas and we’ve chosen our hotels carefully so that they’ve got gyms and pools. While our lives are disrupted, we must keep some things constant.

9th October, 2015

Another glorious start to the day. Let’s face it, they usually are when you’re retired. The sun is up. The sky is blue and we’ve got so much left to do ….. This morning, I have spent an hour charging up, updating and working out Colin’s new, Garmin sat. nav. I don’t know why I abbreviate the words but anything more seems less appropriate.


After a hard couple of hours in the gym and the pool, we drove back to our temporary home and griddled large kalamari with peppers and onions outside in the garden which was bathed in sunshine and a temperature of 20C/68F.


We’ve spent the afternoon going through furniture brochures for our new house.

10th October, 2015

As the sun streamed in, we spent the morning making future plans and enjoying these brief moments of not having the responsibilities of property ownership. A trip to Asda for beef steaks. The sell a wonderful quality Aberdeen Angus Filet steak which we griddle medium rare.


It melts in the mouth with gorgeous flavour. It goes so well with Greek salad. We spent an hour and a half at the Health Club in the gym and the pool and then back for griddled Sea Bass filets, mushrooms and onions with salad.


We cooked outside again. The middle of October is delightful here. Now, we are off for a week in France. We hope the season will continue.