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.

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