Week 371

31st January, 2016

A gloriously hot and sunny Sunday with clear, blue skies and strong sunshine which reached 28C/82F but the intensity of the sun was too much for Pauline and instead of retreating in to the shade, she put her knickers on her head.

Your one chance to see my wife with her knickers on her head.


Yes, you did read that correctly. Instead of going out to buy a hat to cope with the fierce sunshine of recent days, Parsimonious Pauline has been improvising by putting anything to hand over her hair to shade it. The knickers were clean, newly washed and drying on the rack in the sun. I was short of an illustration for today and persuaded her to improvise a sun hat. It is testament to her that she agreed.

What better way to see January 2016 out than by growing old disgracefully with your knickers on your head.? You should try it!


1st February, 2016


A happy new February to all our readers. The sun is just breaking across the mountains here and we are dreaming of moving into our new house very soon. I receive my State Pension in a couple of months and then I want to live for ever – or until both Teachers’ and State Pension Funds are bled dry. What better ambition can there be in the world?

Don’t let the train (in Greece) give you a strain!

If only Greece’s world could be as happy. They have been infected with a potentially fatal dose of the 1970s British Disease. Europe’s demands for the overhaul of Greece’s pensions system and actually paying their taxes are resulting in thousands of Greeks taking to the streets, to strikes and work stoppages. The week from February 1st to February 5th 2016 is expected to be ‘hell’ especially in terms of transportation. The month will begin with farmers continuing to block highways, national roads, toll stations and customs points.

  • On Tuesday (Feb 2.), personnel working in public transport in Athens will launch a work stoppage from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. No bus, metro, trolley, tram, urban train ISAP.
  • On Wednesday (Feb 3.),  the media will be on 24h strike.
  • On Thursday, (February 4th), public and private sector unions will launch a general strike that will paralyze the country. Even shops are expected to be closed. Athens transport: bus & trolley will operate 9 am – 9 pm. Decisions are expected also by other transport workers.
  • The seamen association (PNO) will launch another 48h strike on Thursday and Friday affecting inter-island travel.

Holidays on Sifnos anyone?

2nd February, 2016

A hot and humid but rather overcast day. We did our exercise routine of gym and swimming and caught up with correspondence.

We have been searching for a new dining table and chairs for our new home. We’ve looked at hundreds. Hundreds have been rejected. Today, purely by coincidence, we found what looks as though it will be the perfect choice. It is in a furniture store – Housing Units in Failsworth, Manchester of all places. The table is reminiscent of the one we took to Greece with us.

A Dining Table made from reclaimed wood.

The one we took to Greece had come from Bulgaria via Yorkshire. This one will come from Lithuania via Lancashire.

3rd February, 2016

Glorious day without a cloud in the sky. After breakfast, I told Pauline I needed my haircut. I know I’ve written about it before but it still fascinates me. I haven’t visited a barber since meeting Pauline 38 years ago. Working on an average cut every 6 weeks at current prices of £20.00 per time, I calculate like this:

38 years x 52 weeks = 1976 weeks.

1976 weeks / 6 weeks = 329.33 cuts.

329.33 cuts x £20.00 = £6586.67.

Me aged 64 + 43 weeks + new haircut!

That’s what a good wife is worth to a man! Actually, you can’t reduce a good wife to monetary value. No sooner had I mentioned ‘haircut’ but Pauline took out of the wardrobe her barbers’ cape and haircutting scissors.

Sitting out on the balcony in scorching sun, I had my hair cut and my eyebrows trimmed. Not only that but she had recently bought a small dustpan & brush from a local shop to sweep the hair from the balcony floor after the cut. You really can’t beat such dedication and attention to detail.

4th February, 2016

The day started off warm and sunny. We walked up the mountain to a supermarket to buy huge, red grapes and sparkling water. By the time we had walked back and made coffee, the sky had clouded over. It was still warm and bright but not hot sun. We decided to have a quiet day. I wrote to lots of old friends and to the Chief Executive of Ancestry.com who is based in California and is interested in my reviews of life in Sifnos. Pauline was washing and ironing in preparation for our departure in a few days.

Cape Verde

As we come towards the end of this chapter, we are planning the next twelve months of life and travel. The Springtime will be dominated by moving and settling in to our new house. The Summer will see us driving across Europe and visiting Kalamata on the southern coastline of the Greek Peloponnese en route to Sifnos. In the Autumn, we will visit Athens as has become our custom and, after Christmas, we will either return here to Tenerife or go further south to Cape Verde. We have been transfixed by so many people in the celebrity world dying recently in their late 60s and early 70s. We are beginning to look at our own ages and reckon up the years left. We’ve got to get on with enjoying life while we can.

5th February, 2016

From a picture of dinghies beached in the sun to ferries docked in the Greek winter.  The Panhellenic Seamen’s Union (PNO), which has been holding rolling strikes for several weeks, on Thursday extended its action, calling a new 48-hour walkout which will keep ferries docked in Greek ports until 6 a.m. Saturday. People stranded on islands may consider themselves lucky to be prevented from reaching the anarchy and chaos of Athens.

Inactivity in Greece
Activity in Greece

Here the newspapers have much more fundamental things to worry about. Consider this headline in The Independent

Global warming could be causing dogs to become depressed.

That Global Warming does so many pernicious things but depressing dogs? Do they worry about it really?

Total Depression

It turns out that cold, wet Winters put owners off taking their dogs out for walks. Oh Dear. Hold the front page! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment with a hot, sunny balcony under clear, blue skies and a delicious cup of coffee. Depression? Tell me about it.

6th February, 2016

Coming to the end of the first week of February already! Bob will be 64 soon, thank goodness.

Where on Earth could this be?

The Times has an article this morning with the headline:

The 50 Best Holidays in Greece

but there is no mention of Serifos, Sifnos, Milos or Paros and, when you see the picture illustration, you know it’s a lazy filler piece which could have been done without leaving the journalist’s desk. Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos & Lefkada, Crete & Rhodes, Santorini & Mykonos are there. Halkidiki features strongly as do the concepts of ‘Adult-Only’ and All-Inclusive’. Neither of these will please the small island hotelier or taverna owner who rely on the less well-heeled or the more inclined to spend their holidays taking a chance on the services they can find.

Week 370

24th January, 2016

We are just starting our 7th week in Tenerife and today has been our first overcast one. It was delightful. One can always have too much of a good thing and a day without hot sun has been a pleasant change. Many will know of the difficulty in reading an iPad in strong sun. If you have a cloudy day, choose a Sunday papers day. Read your iPad in the shade.Also, of course, there was the Marr Show to watch followed by Andrew Neil and The Sunday Politics. This afternoon was meant to showcase Premier League football but the Everton v Swansea match hardly took off and the Arsenal v Chelsea game was punctured early by a sending off.

Still, all round, an enjoyable and different day. Just two more weeks left here and back to moving arrangements. We have planned as much as we can so far. Lots more to do when we get back to the real world.

25th January, 2016

We have been forced to suffer a return to hot and sunny weather with the temperature reaching 27C/81F. My foot is black and blue still but will be ready for a return to the treadmill tomorrow. Today, we’ve gone back to the pool and done a hard, 25 lengths – just under a kilometre.

Don’t book a Greek Ferry to Sifnos.

We are already planning our return drive to Sifnos in the Spring. It is the anniversary of Tsipras and Syriza’s election. Unfortunately, Greek travel is not advisable to the unwary or inexperienced at the moment. The roads are increasingly being blocked by farmers’ tractors and the seas are about to be closed by the seamen’s union. Both are protesting about cuts to their pensions and/or extensions to their working lives. Medical and Legal services are also still up in arms as are Pensioners. At the same time, they hear Television News pedalling the government mythology of ever increasing tourism figures. New Democracy will be back soon with Dora’s brother.

26th January, 2016

Interesting day of delightful, Summer weather. I have to admit that we put off going to the gym until tomorrow. My foot is taking longer than expected to feel comfortable enough for the treadmill. We put in another long, hard swim. I wondered why my arms were creaking.

BT phoned me again this morning to keep me up to speed with the installation of our phone line and Fibre Optic Broadband. Because our house is a new-build, they find it a little more long winded ensuring all the infrastructure is in place. However, three contacts in the three weeks since I ordered it is quite impressive and suggests I am likely to get it on time. With only a couple of weeks left here and then three or four weeks to our house move, I have completed a lot of the preparatory paperwork.

In the wider world, Schengen is disbanded – ostensibly for two years but in that read ‘in perpetuity’ –

Greece has failed to cope with a huge influx of migrants.

and it looks as if Greece will be forced out altogether. With a shambolic migrant management system cracking under intolerable strains and lack of government finances, Germany, amongst others, want Greece to be sealed off from the rest of the EU. It is unclear how this will affect the tourist industry. It could badly reduce it, limit it to Eastern Europeans or just destroy it.

The EU proposal is for Greece to host huge detainment centres/POW camps housing up to 400,000 migrants. It all has a tinge of Nazi nostalgia which is not lost on the Greeks and probably won’t be on Angela Merkel. It won’t do much for happy holidaymakers either!

27th January, 2016

Negra Grande Grapes

Today has been the hottest and sunniest day of our seven weeks here so far. It was so hot that even the ‘orange people’ were heard to complain and seek shade. We did a bit of shopping and a lot of swimming. We lunched on huge, locally grown red grapes – sweet and as big as plums. Just a handful are enough to get one through the day.

I watched Prime minister’s Questions and witnessed ‘Call Me Dave’ seriously rattled by Corbyn  as he picked away at the sore of corporate tax avoidance, the ‘Spare Bedroom Tax’ and the news later of the faltering energy policy. The Tories general lack of empathy with the common person was laid bare. Osborne trumpeted the ‘success’ of the Google tax deal’ yesterday only to see it crumple all over him today as it became obvious that the settlement was paltry. At the same time, the High Court judgement acknowledged what most thought that poor people living in modest accommodation were being threatened by rich posh boys. The Tories were being depicted in the age-old way as on the side of the wealthy and not of the poor. The irritation of Corbyn’s questioning brought a slip from ‘Call Me Dave’ which betrayed the-self-beneath-the-smarm. He blurted out that Corbyn had met a bunch of immigrants. It didn’t really offend me but it showed a latent insensitivity.

Greek Farmers appealing for new subsidies.

Meanwhile, any useful, political consensus was completely breaking down in Greece as ferries were tied up in ports because of the second 48hr seamen’s strike this week. Motorways are being blocked as farmers have stepped up their protests against the government’s plans for pension reform, increasing the number of blockades on national roads with hundreds of tractors converging at key junctions and disrupting traffic. Notaries, Lawyers, Engineers, Doctors and other self-employed professional are striking and taking to the streets. Greece is a country slipping back into crisis. Tenerife seems so calm!

28th January, 2016

Today started a little cloudy and took some time to get going but get going it did with strong sun and no breeze.

Condemned to a life without lettuce!

Had a bit of a shock this morning. I self-test my INR for blood coagulation every couple of weeks irrespective of my official test. My target is INR 2.0 – 3.0. I manage to keep it within that range for months on end and take pride in hitting INR – 2.5 although I know it isn’t much to do with me. I have had to cut so many vegetables that I love out of my diet because they mitigate against my Warfarin medication. Celery, peas, green beans, cabbage, broccoli, sprouts, lettuce, samphire, asparagus, avocado, green herbs like parsley are all high in vitamin K and banned from my diet. It does make my low calorie drive a bit more difficult.

Self-tested this morning and had a reading of INR – 4.8. It absolutely shocked me and I tested again an hour later to check. It gave me INR – 4.7. I emailed my Woking hospital and within an hour or so I had a very reassuring reply and dosage advice. I know how stretched the Anti-coagulation Department is but how wonderful is their response!

29th January, 2016

A day of exercise and enjoyment in the warmth of Tenerife. We are currently being told that we should put in 30 mins of moderate exercise around 5 times per week amounting to 150 mins.. Walking and swmming are the recommended forms of achieving that and we feel gratified to be in step with the advice. Of course, the advice may change and often does but we will attempt to keep up with advice.

Canarian Foundation and Backdrop

We spent more than thirty years looking at the ancient rocks of Sifnos and dreaming about the tales they could tell. We have spent the past couple of months doing something similar with these black, harsh, volcanic formations. The name Canaries has nothing to do with birds even though the islands are home to lots of exotic looking birds. The name Canaris came from the first explorers finding the islands home to packs of wild canines. The name was derived from the latin – Canis. In nearly two months here, I don’t think I have seen more than one dog. Interestingly, we have seen virtually no insects – bees, wasps, even flies. How can that be?

30th January, 2016

The sun goes down over La Gomera.

A gloriously hot and sunny Saturday with clear, blue skies and strong sunshine during the day and long, slow, backlit skies at the going down of the sun.   The day reached 28C/82F but the intensity of the sun was too much for Pauline and we retreated to the shade. We did an hour’s exercise split between the gym and the pool but lost a lot of liquid because of the ambient temperature. The transition from the steamy gym to the cool, salt water pool is delightful and reviving.

Transition from hot day to cool evening.

One of the problems with the iPad – and I love mine, would feel lost without it and am already thinking of upgrading it to an iPad Pro – is the fact that it is useless in the sun. This is a limiting factor of smartphones and other tablets as well but not a problem for the paperwhite screen of the Kindle. It means that one can either enjoy the bright light or read. It is limiting and a source of frustration that will, ultimately, have to be addressed. The iPad Pro, on the other hand, will help me to leave my laptop behind and do serious work on the tablet enabled by the larger screen, cover-cum-keyboard and some sort of pointer/mouse.

Week 369

17th January, 2016

Today we started our second week of our second month on Tenerife. On a day when residents of our former Surrey home awoke to find snow had fallen, we sat outside in 24C/75F and whiled away the day. Actually, Pauline did. I, sad man that I am, watched Jeremy Corbyn interviewed by Andrew Marr, The Sunday Politics with Andrew Neil and then two Premiere League matches that didn’t really go as they should. United beat Liverpool with a very dodgy, after-time goal and Arsenal drew 0-0 with Stoke.

I wasn’t glued to the TV screen all day. A lot of the time I was enjoying The Sunday Times. Mum wouldn’t have enjoyed it at all. Page 2 featured the headline:

Post-Christian Britain arrives as majority say they have no religion


I’ve been praying for this for years – most of my life. Mum didn’t believe people would consider going to supermarkets on Sunday let alone eschewing religion. How wrong she was!

18th January, 2016

We are in Tenerife. It is warm and sunny. The waves do crash below our salt water swimming pool. We do eat in the restaurant every night. However, we don’t feel we are on holiday nor do we act as if we are on holiday. What we are doing is using our time living in a pleasant place to fill in between houses. Because we have come with this attitude, we do nothing that the tourists are expected to do –

  • lay around pools all day covered in oil,
  • take part in organised events like wine tastings, cookery demonstrations, boules championships,
  • go on organised excursions to explore the island,
  • book lots of very expensive, essentially meaningless and manufactured visits to waterparks, shopping opportunities, chances to sample local cuisine,
  • dress up for dinner,
  • stay up half the night drinking wine and dreaming of buying a property here when we retire.

We wake at 6.00 am, listen to the Today programme on Radio 4 until 7.00 am when we get up just as we would in UK. We Breakfast on the same things as usual and read the papers, I follow the political programmes, we exercise in the gym and the pool. We do the same correspondence, planning, research, preparation for future events, etc. as we always would. Our daily lives are merely played out in warmer, sunnier climes. This is largely how we treated our life in Greece as well. It has a strangely reassuring feel to it and, even though today was gloriously sunny and warm, we continued our life of serenity.

19th January, 2016

Woke up at 6.00 am and listened to the Today programme until 7.00 am when we got up and ready for Breakfast. The sky was crystal blue from the moment we opened the curtains and the day has been immensely hot (28C/82F) throughout.

View from our balcony 1
View from our balcony

When we get back to UK, we will have to hit the floor running with only a handful of weeks before we move in to our new home so this morning – in between countless cups of coffee and newspaper reading sessions sitting in the sun on our balcony – we brainstormed our To Do list of things that have to be completed prior to moving in. We have to arrange Doctors/INR testers and Dentists. We have researched them all and for the surgery we like we are just outside catchment. I am currently crafting a letter to the Practice Manager and the Senior Partner making a case for them to accept us. We know that potential patients have the right to do that now and receive serious consideration.

I’ve booked BT phone line and broadband but I will need satellite installation to be fed throughout the house to seven televisions. I am currently researching that. Similarly, we will need blinds measuring and fitting throughout the house and we are researching agents for that. We have decided that in the days just before getting the keys, we will need to stay in a nearby hotel so we can receive and consult trades people.

Off for a couple of hours hard exercise in the gym and the pool watched by people filling their faces with sandwiches and glasses of wine in the scorching sun. Back to our room for a shower and sharing a plate of sweet, green grapes before getting back to the To Do list. We have ordered all the flooring – wooden, tiles, carpet – but I have to source a local supplier of our lounge carpet so I can get a swatch for Pauline to match with other furnishings.

Griddled chicken breasts with Greek Salad for Dinner and then some correspondence to write and send out to family and friends. Keeps me busy until Newsnight!

20th January, 2016

January, for us, has proved to have sunnier and warmer weather on Tenerife, so far, than our month in November. Today has probably been the best day of our five and a half weeks here so far. Sky blue sky with strong and very hot sun and just a hint of breeze. We are near Africa and have little experience of the daylight hours here. We have been surprised to find that the sun rises considerably later in the morning and goes down considerably later in the evening than in November. The restaurant opens an hour later here for Breakfast because of the later sunrise.

We did a long walk up the hilly terrain out of our hotel grounds this morning. We followed this with a session in the gym and another in the pool. It felt good to be pushing ourselves. As we sat out in the sunshine, we both agreed that we had rarely felt so relaxed or carefree in the whole of our memory. We really have nothing to worry about apart from life itself. Our whole lives have been dominated by ‘5 Year Plans’, ‘Annual Goals’, ‘Monthly Savings Plans’, ‘To Do Lists’ for the day, etc.. Often we have seen these as of life and death importance. We are still making To Do lists but they are of minimal significance at all and we are totally relaxed about them. It is a delightful stage of life to have reached.

This is thrown in to sharp relief by our luck/skill/determination to extricate ourselves from our Greek obligations. Stavros really did us a favour. There is persistent talk in the Economic Forum in Davos this week that the Germans want to force Greece out of the EU. There is talk in European political circles about the extremely precarious position of Tsipras as Greek leader. The Greek economy continues to ‘tank’. Ekathimerini headlines:

Greek housing market posts second fastest drop in EU

[The Greek] residential market is dropping at the second fastest rate among all European Union countries. …. this country experienced a 6% annual drop, second only to Latvia’s 7.6% slide.

At the same time, Ernst & Young forecasts that Greek GDP will contract by 2.9% this year. Happy Days. Set against that, we are in clover!

21st January, 2016

Hot, Hot, Hot continues with peerless blue skies. We had a bit too much sun today – sitting outside chatting away and not realising how powerful it was. Did our couple of

Come on BT!

hours in the gym and the pool; back for showers and just sitting down to a cup of tea when my mobile went. BT were telling me that the proposed day for installation of phone line and broadband was hitting a snag and that the had a crack team working on the problem. Not what I wanted to hear but I’ve increasingly learned patience as I grow older. I already knew that the green, fibre optic cabinet was full and had to be extended but I’m sure it will get sorted out.


For Dinner tonight we had Revithia (chickpea soup) followed by ‘suckling pig’ and Greek Salad. After Dinner, Pauline is doing some washing. Being here for a month brings its own logistics. I’m writing emails to friends and looking for good deals to replace our car in the near future.

Someone asked me the other day why I intended to have seven televisions.  Why did I need them? I know you can’t watch seven at one time but they fulfil real uses. Upstairs, one will go in our bedroom. Who can sleep before Newsnight, Question Time or This Week is over? Two more will go in the two, main Guest Bedrooms. We want our guests to feel comfortable. One will go in Bedroom 4 which will be Pauline’s ironing and sewing room. She needs distraction while she’s ironing. Downstairs, one will go in the Lounge. Everyone needs a television in their Lounge. One will go in the Kitchen-Dining-Family room so we can watch the News while we are having our Breakfast or preparing our meal evening meal. One will go in the Study so I can sneak away and watch sport and not annoy Pauline. Hope that explains it.

22nd January, 2016

Hot and sunny throughout the day again. When will it stop. …Only joking. It’s been delightful. Of course, all weather is delightful in its place. The Times featured this photo of England this morning.

Winter Sun

As I seem to do every time I go away, I stubbed my toe on my way out of the pool this afternoon. Of course, I manfully showed no reaction but it really hurt and, as usual, went blue and then black within hours. It swelled up and became painful to put weight on. I know from experience that it will take a day or two before I will be on the running machine which means I will have to watch football this weekend. Life is hard!

23rd January, 2016

It is 7.00 am. I have downloaded The Times. The day lies a tabula rasa ahead. The weather is set fair. This is one of my favourite times. It is a time when I reflect on how lucky I am to be alive.

‘Call Me Dave’ marches on!

‘Call Me Dave’ continues his phoney campaign in Europe cynically believing he can persuade Brits to believe he is negotiating radical change. The is how The Times cartoonist sees it. Unfortunately, the timing of the negotiations seems to be out of step with the developments in Europe. The migrant crisis has already made many question European membership. Now, an attempt to replace Schengen with a quota system will add to his woes. Don’t think he quite thought this through.

Been a lovely day, talking, reading, eating fruit in the sunshine. Just about to settle down to watch West Ham v Man City. Just been reading the Greek government’s protestations that snap elections are not on the agenda which means they will probably be called next week. This may be hastened by the mass protest hitting the streets in reaction to more changes to pensions. I note that Europeans are considering suspending Greece’s membership of Schengen until the migrant flow is brought under control.

Week 368

10th January, 2016

Woke fairly early and made a cup of tea. Went down to Breakfast. As we walked down the stairs instead of taking one of the lifts, the windows were all open on the sea side. The sun was streaming in but the most noticeable thing was the roar of the waves crashing against the black, volcanic rock beneath and beyond the hotel pools and gardens

Hotel Los Gigantes

When we were here six weeks ago, we thought the crashing waves indicated the turning of the tide but it went on today all day. It must have something to do with the seasons or the lunar cycle or something we ought to understand but don’t.

We were tired after travelling yesterday so decided to relax and enjoy the Sunday papers. We sat in the sun for a couple of hours on our balcony which runs round two sides of our room. I watched The Sunday Politics on BBC1 in the middle of the morning and, later saw Leicester being unlucky to be held to a draw by Spurs in the FA Cup. This evening, after Dinner, will feature War & Peace.

11th January, 2016

Pauline’s latest Breakfast favourite – Papaya

It always surprises me how easy it is to switch from huddled inside against the elements to lounging outside in the warmth. All it takes is sunshine. It has been wall to wall today and extremely warm. After Breakfast – Porridge and fresh Papaya fruit for Pauline (lots of Ps there) and a bowl of vanilla yoghurt for me – we drank coffee in the sunshine on our balcony.

After the Daily Politics on BBC1, we went and did a good workout in the gym followed by a hard swim in the saltwater pool. The water temperature almost matched the air temperature and the experience was quite delightful. All around us were the sounds of an enthusiastic Boules match going on in the sand pit, roars of excitement from a match in the Squash courts, clinking of Weights being lifted in the gym, the instructor’s commands being barked out in the Pilates group and the splashing of swimmers in the pool. This may be a time for older travellers but many of them are trying hard to keep the aging process at bay. What better climate could they have to do it in?

We were preparing to go down to Dinner when the most unruly row broke out somewhere outside. We rushed to the balcony and strained to find the source of the noise. It sounded like dozens of birds fighting furiously to the death.


Eventually, we settled on a wire across the square on which were perched two parakeets and, far from fighting, they were courting – with enough squawking to attract the neighbourhood.

12th January, 2016

Sitting on a sun-drenched balcony.

A day of wall to wall sunshine and 24C/75F without a hint of a breeze. We are in danger of turning into the ‘orange people’ of perma-tan land. We sat on our balcony for hours this morning, making plans for the next stage of our life in Sussex, fine tuning requirements for the house, our proposed modus vivendi and such things. We have to sort out doctors and dentists with some urgency.

More importantly, we have to book a Sky installation. I’ve already booked a BT phone line and broadband.  I’ll also take BT Sport as well. I’m going to negotiate a ‘smart’ price for a job lot of seven ‘smart’ televisions and have them installed – one in the lounge, one in the Kitchen/Family room, one in the Study and then one in each bedroom. There is a distribution box in the loft to enable all of that. We still have to source a dining table and chairs, easy chairs for the Family room and side tables for the Lounge. I still have to get the garage door automated. These are the sort of things that we knocked around, sitting idly in the sun. Of course we did an hour or so in the gym and the pool as well.

13th January, 2016

The Tesco of Los Gigantes

A sunny and even hotter day which reached 26C/79F. We rather binged out on hot lethargy although we did a vigorous and non-stop swim for 40 mins..  I have yoghurt and figs for Breakfast. Pauline has porridge and prunes plus fresh papaya. We try to eat only fruit during the day – a banana and a pear. Today we went to the local supermercado and bought juicy, red grapes.

We usually eat our one main meal of the day at 3.00 pm and then just survive on drinks – coffee and tea until the next day’s meal. Dinner in our hotel begins at 6.00 pm and closes at 10.00 pm in the ‘winter’. We have only been here four days and are both still struggling to adjust to the changed Dinner time.  By the time it comes, we are starving, eat to much to compensate and then spend the whole night feeling full. We are trying to develop a new approach for our stay here.

14th January, 2016

The day is forecast to be sultry and very hot. It should reach 30C/86F. I self tested my INR and have just emailed Woking Hospital with a perfect score of 2.5. I woke up with a queasy stomach so Pauline has had the pleasure of me looking away while she eats porridge and prunes followed by papaya. Going to take the day easily and watch Day 1 of the Third Test in South Africa.

15th January, 2016

I spent the entire day yesterday sleeping. When I’m ill, I just shut down and wait for it to pass. I’ve woken up this morning aching in every joint, with a slight temperature and wanting to sleep. I accompany Pauline to Breakfast but just read my newspaper while she eats. I suspect I won’t be going far today. At least I can watch the Test Match. A second day without food won’t harm me at all.

The Test Match was going well. After sleeping most of the morning, I was feeling better. I went mad and had a banana! Joe Root pulled England up in the test.

Rooting for Root

The banana reacted well in my system. I accompanied Pauline to Dinner and ate steak and salad. It’s all going very well. Just noticed that Ruth and I traded in our Barclays shares at around £2.61 per share. Since then, the oil price has plummeted with a subsequent sharp drop in destabilised share prices. Currently, Barclays shares are standing at £1.90.

16th January, 2016

This has been a glorious day of sunshine and hot temperatures – 28C/82F. I am feeling a lot better if not perfect. I went out and bought a pair of shoes to celebrate.

Spanish Shoes

They are soft, Spanish leather and cost me €69.00. I shall enjoy padding about in them.

It is a day on which I have enjoyed watching Stuart Broad destroy South Africa in South Africa by taking six wickets. He was unstoppable.


Week 367

3rd January, 2016

A grey, wet and cool day – one of those days to be ‘tucked up’. We’re going out to the Health Club. I am champing at the bit to watch the cricket. Yet again, I am missing it because I don’t have Sky TV. As I write, Ben Stokes has 232 and Bairstow has his first test century and is at 109.

Ben Stokes
Jonny Bairstow

There don’t even appear to be highlights on terrestrial television which is very frustrating.

Ran through torrential and pretty cold rain to the Health Club today, did an hour and a half’s exercise and then left under a dry and mild sky. Exercise, as Jane BG will confirm, improves everything …. except the seemingly incurable religion called Global Warming. Each of our exercise machines in the gym have their own mini-tv and mine was showing the cricket on Sky Sports 2. It was heaven. I nearly stayed on the jogger longer than usual but, fortunately, they went off for Tea before I passed out.

4th January, 2016

Beautiful day – blue skies, strong, low sun and relatively mild 10C/50F but windless. Quite the opposite in Greece Force 8/9 gales restricting ferry sailings and feeling cold. Not an ideal time to be on a Greek island. We went out to Sainsbury’s this morning and then straight on to the Health Club to exercise and watch the Test match. We have done quite a lot of exercise recently and, after 35 mins., I began to flag. For once, I decided to stop and rest. The cricket was rather slow anyway.

We went to the Jacuzzi and the sauna, showered and went home to make a meal. I cooked roasted peppers and shallots with mushrooms and garlic. With this vegetable mixture, I cooked fillets of duck. The problem is these days that we fight the need for food all day, given and cook in the mid afternoon, eat but, almost immediately, feel full.

As British joblessness seems to be falling steadily month on month, the Greek story is very different. Kathimerini reports that young academics, entrepreneurs are increasingly emigrating to the United States. Certainly, there are plenty of young, Greek doctors in the UK Health Service. It must be a worry for parents of children preparing for Tertiary education. Should they send them abroad to university and will they ever return to the narrow, parochial, goldfish bowl societies of the islands?

5th January, 2016

A day at ‘home’ today catching up on jobs related to our upcoming trip and merging into the ordering furniture for our (hopefully) imminent move to our new house. Pauline is busily trying to fit enough for a month into her recently purchased set of Tripp suitcases.


She is so much better at packing than me that I just leave it to her. I have been organising the essential I.T. tools – Kindle + charger, 2 x iPad + 2 x different chargers, Laptop + mouse + charger, phones charger, cube multi-socket extension lead + adapter. This more than fills the carry-on case. Clothes are ironed, folded according to some biblical rule and laid in a manger suitcase. Before leaving, however, I’ve got a trip to the dentist for my new crown to be fitted and a trip to the south coast to walk round the inside of our new-build house in the midst of its internal fit.

6th January, 2016

Today, for religious freaks, is Epiphany. For party freaks, it’s over and back to work. For politics freaks, it’s Wednesday which means Prime minister’s Questions. It was a little foggy here at 6.00 am but now just grey and dank. The Government took another step towards leaving Europe as ministers were granted a ‘free vote’ in the referendum which is now likely to be held this summer. This means that at least three, senior cabinet ministers will join the ‘Out’ campaign, giving it added credibility. We are seriously in danger of sleepwalking into isolation.

We are going for an early swim this morning because I am due at the dentist this afternoon to receive a small crown in return for£560.00/€765.00. This is the profession to be in. It beats bank robbery!…..
……….. a lovely swim, Jacuzzi and sauna and then on to the dentist. It takes him ten minutes to fit the crown and me two minutes to pay the money. Actually, he has done a good job and I am satisfied. As I am leaving, he remembers to wish us ‘happy holiday’ and good luck with our house move. He also hands me the plaster cast made of my teeth which he said I could keep as a memento. They are hideous and will go in the bin tomorrow.

teethset2 teethset

We went on to Benson’s for Beds to discuss the purchase of three beds and bedheads. Each bed is currently discounted by £100.00/€136.00. After this initial discount of £300.00/€408.00, the price was £4150.00/€5660.00. I asked the very pleasant young man who professed to be ‘The Manager’ for a better deal and promptly was offered an additional reduction of £550.00. Quite quickly, we agreed to purchase. ‘The Manager’ then asked how we would like to pay and suggested interest-free credit over 36 months. I asked if there was a discount for cash and he told us there wasn’t so 36 months of very little it is.

7th January, 2016

Up early and out in a day of blue skies and strong, low sun to drive to the south coast to view our new house. All the ‘extras’ we had requested were ticked off and we rechecked the lounge dimensions prior to buying the furniture. It now looks like it will be the first week of March before we are in so about eight weeks away. That’s fine. It will give us more time to source furniture and services.

We drove straight from Sussex to Slough to order our lounge furniture which is guaranteed delivery within eleven weeks but could be done earlier. If we didn’t order today, it would be mid-February before we could do it. We chose the sofas (2x 3-seater + chair + footstool). The style is illustrated below:


The salesman insisted we pay it off interest-free over 4 years. We couldn’t reduce the price by paying it off upfront. Oh well!

8th January, 2016

Kathimerini reports under the heading –

House prices set to fall further

Property prices in Greece may have plunged in recent years, but a comparison with other crisis-riven countries in the Eurozone suggests that the market has some distance to slide yet before it bottoms out….. property sector professionals who insist that the market has yet to bottom out and that prices remain relatively high, especially when compared to the purchasing power of households, might just be correct.

For those hanging on for a lower price, and we’ve met one or two of them ourselves, you’re going to be waiting for a few years more. Suddenly, life becomes too short.

This morning, I phoned BT to sort out a new phone line, broadband installation and BT Sport for our new house. The building manager advised me yesterday that BT lead-in times were long and I should get on with it. I followed his advice and BT said they could do it next week if I wanted. I actually found myself trying to delay them a few weeks.

It’s certainly a grey and chilly morning outside. I’m looking forward to Canarian warmth and sunshine. We are off to Gatwick this afternoon. Before that, I have to cancel our Health Club contract from the end of February and pack the car.

Our only difficulty this morning was balancing the dual priorities of having enough in our cases to get us through a month while not overstretching the weight limit for the flight. I had ordered a luggage weighing tool a couple of weeks ago and it hadn’t arrived. We guessed the weights, and I went out to pack the car. Outside the door was a parcel….containg the luggage weighing tool.

Luggage Scales

By that stage, I couldn’t be bothered.

Left for Gatwick at midday in light rain. We drove to the Long Stay Car Park. We are staying at the Holiday Inn prior to flying tomorrow.

Holiday Inn, Gatwick

This is a relaxing way to travel. We relaxed, had Dinner and an early night.

9th January, 2016

For once in our life, we got up at the leisurely hour of 8.00 am, had Breakfast at 9.00 am and drank coffee in our Suite until we took the shuttle bus to the airport at midday. The airport was extremely busy and we dropped off our bags and went straight to the Aspire Lounge which, unusually, was also fairly busy. There one can help oneself to the buffet lunch, wine, coffee, etc but we were too full from Breakfast and just made use of the relative comfort of the surroundings and good, wi-fi connection.

Our flight left on time, was very comfortable over the 4 hrs. 20 mins duration and completely uneventful which is what we want from a flight. The transfer to Los Gigantes is about 40 mins through narrow, winding streets and we arrived just as Dinner was finishing.

Hotel Los Gigantes

Staff took our cases to our room and whipped us in for Dinner before it closed. We were given our room ‘keys’ and some correspondence which turned out to be cards and letters from old friends we haven’t seen for more than thirty years. That was a lovely start. When we got to our room we found two bottles of champagne and a bottle of red wine with glasses waiting for us. We were absolutely shattered and went to bed immediately.