Week 382

17th April, 2016

psA beautifully sunny and warm day after quite a chilly night. We went out to the pharmacy in Sainsbury’s because Pauline has an eye infection again. She has had this recurring for years. She has been told it is because she has dry eyes and doesn’t make enough tears. Anyway, treatment cream purchased, we drove back and, as we were parking, met our next door neighbours for the first time. They seem very nice. One is an executive with Last Minute.Com and the other is called John like me so it will be easy to remember his name.

We have a very busy week dominated by house, house, house. Thank goodness we are retired. Actually, Pauline asked if, like her, I felt I was on holiday. Living in a new place with all the freedom of time that we have does feel like permanent holiday. Soon, however, we will sign up at David Lloyd Leisure and will go back to work. Before that, I’m going to get fit watching two football matches.

18th April, 2016

So much for living on the South Coast. We were the coldest in the country last night because we were the only ones without cloud cover. Like on Sifnos, our house here is not polluted by lights and the moon and stars were in full view. The temperature went down to 0C/32F but there was no sign of frost and the morning remains cloudless with strong sun.

mircabWe are expecting a delivery of wall furniture from the Bathstore this morning. Another £1000.00/€1255.00 for mirrored cabinets, mirrors, toilet roll holders, towel rings, etc.. A little man is coming to fit them tomorrow (hopefully) but they will go in the garage until then. Later today, an electrician will come round to install an extra spotlight over the shower so Pauline can highlight her wrinkles while washing.

Moving in to a new property, particularly a new-build property, the services are very often so up to date they need a ten year old to understand them. We have a new cordless phone system which monitors callers and allows us to filter out those we don’t want to speak to. (Note to Poison Dwarf!) There are four handsets for around the house and a setup handbook as thick as an old telephone directory. I have been putting off reading through it and setting the system up until now. All phoners in the first two weeks have been interrogated within an inch of their lives before being put through. Yesterday, I put a couple of hours aside, set up the access, set up the messaging, saved all known contacts in the address book and sat back tired but happy.

Today we are going to get to grips with the burglar alarm and, tomorrow, the intricacies of the dual heating system. For this latter, there are controls for hot water and for radiators plus separate ones for heated towel rails BUT all of these are duplicated and separate upstairs as well as downstairs. I think I can cope with today’s task. I may struggle tomorrow.

19th April, 2016

Sussex has felt like Greece over the past couple of days, not because of the weather, not because of the language but because of the αύριο (mañana) syndrome. The electrician was due on Monday – cried off until Wednesday – and the carpenter was due on Tuesday – cried off until Thursday. Mind you, our woodman on Sifnos said he would rebuild our pergola in April and arrived at the end of September so we are still doing relatively well.

Amazon have tried (or say they have tried) to deliver twice in the past couple of days but ‘failed’. We have been at home so it can only mean they couldn’t find us or couldn’t be bothered looking. I went on the Post Office website to get our address registered. It is a nightmare of complexity. I tried to phone Customer Services to find ….. it is a nightmare of complexity. From recorded message menu to recorded message menu I fumed. Eventually, I deliberately chose the wrong option just to speak to a human being. Didn’t you know, he asked laconically, that the Post Office and Royal Mail are now separate and you want them not us? I confessed I didn’t. He offered to put me through to their Customer Service thus proving they weren’t that separate at all. After 5 minutes of Vivaldi, a recorded message advised me to go to their website where I’d first started and I collapsed in a heap on the Office floor, sobbing.

20th April, 2016

bb2Wall to wall sunshine today. I’m going to give the grass its second cut. Just in time, our brown bin for garden waste was delivered this morning. It’s collected every second week with the recycled one. Brilliant and friendly service down here. For two more days, we are stuck at home with deliveries and tradesmen calling. By Friday, we will be ready for a trip out to Surrey.

The electrician arrived at 10.30 am and, in under 15 mins, ran a spur from the main light in the Family Bathroom to above the shower, installed a ceiling spotlight and left. At no time did he turn the power off. How did he do that? At 12.00 pm, the Blind Man arrived and fitted full length – wall to ceiling – blinds across the conservatory windows.  Within an hour and £550.00/€700.00 later, he had finished and disappeared into the sunshine.

shademurWe have been having an ongoing struggle with Amazon for a few days. For the third, consecutive day, a delivery driver from Brighton said he had tried and failed to deliver our parcel. He hadn’t even tried. He was Polish and probably paid a pittance but that is no excused for fraud. We complained for the third time to Amazon who gave the driver hell and, an hour later, he found us. Amaze balls! We had ordered three light shades. Two were Murano Glass and perfect. The third was plastic and horrible. It is going back immediately.

21st April, 2016

ttUp early and DISASTER. My e-copy of The Times wouldn’t download./ After deleting the app and resetting my iPad, I resorted to old technology and phoned the newspaper. They had been inundated with calls after updating their app over night. Within ten minutes it was fixed and I was happily reading over my fresh orange juice. Calm restored.

A busy day saw us out at 9.00 am to Rustington to return the rubbish lampshade to Amazon. This is incredibly easy and the money was already refunded to our card account before we handed over the parcel for return. We went on to a bank where we have ISAs to change our address. It required our passports for that. Rustington turns out to be a delightful place with lots of lovely shops and restaurants. We went into the delightful Waitrose there and bought dressed crab for tea. Driving back, Pauline told me that Asda were selling the washing gel she uses for the washing machine at less than half price. I told her we would corner the market and bought six bottles which saved her £27.00/€35.00 and, with the two bottles she’s already got, will last her a year.

pwI went on to Argo to purchase a pressure washer and extension hose so I can clean the car myself instead of paying £10.00/€13.00 every couple of weeks. The washer and hose came to about £150.00/€190.00 which wasn’t bad. Thirty of cleaning the car myself and I’m in profit and I need the exercise. By the time we got home, however, I was tired and decided the car could be cleaned later in the week.

We ate dressed crab and fresh prawns with tomato and cucumber salad. We shared a lovely bottle of chilled claret on a day which got so hot for April. We reached 19C/66F with glorious sunshine. Tomorrow we are driving up to Surrey. It is bound to be cold and raining!

22nd April, 2016

bbwSet off for Surrey at 9.00 am on quite a grey, cold morning. Drove to Chobham to collect the arm of a leather chair we were having restored by a firm there for P&C. Drove on to visit them and stay for a couple of hours of chat then home. We haven’t been in Surrey for a month and the change – bushes and trees now in flower and full leaf is quite extraordinary. Woodland carpeted with bluebells were just magical. Oak trees in their fresh, early ochre leaf colour automatically appear harbingers of full blown summer. By then, our house will be completed and we will be on our travels. That is something to look forward to.

No longer will I have to look forward to receiving my State Pension. Today, I officially became and Old Age Pensioner. I am a proud man!

23rd April, 2016

A quiet day of consolidation at home. I have been rationalising investment accounts as ISAs mature and need my attention. As a savings vehicle, they are becoming increasingly less important now we all have an investment interest free sum of £1000.00 per year per person or £2000.00 per married couple. With interest rates hovering around 1.3%, it takes quite a bit of capital investment to breach the £2000.00 barrier. We will roll our ISA funds over but not take out any more because ‘open’ funds currently offer a marginally better rate. What hurts is the fact that investments are maturing which have been paying 3.5% and it is almost impossible to find homes for them at more than 1.2 – 1.3% without tying them up for years Currently, I’m not prepared to do that.

Sifnos at Prayer. (Supplied by a friend.)

We have also been looking at booking our Greek travel and, in spite of the weakening of the pound, finding it cheaper than last year. There is no question but that the migrant crisis in Greece is harming the tourist trade. There is also the persistent theme of Grexit. The Greeks are being forced to raise their VAT rates and to sell off their national silver. The government is being squeezed ever tighter to raise taxes and cut spending. There are regular rumours of undertones in the governing circles that the fight is not worth the pain and that Greece should just bite the bullet and leave. This could come to a head in peak holiday time. Even though the grip of the orthodox church is ever loosening as they increasingly plead poverty, prayer is all that is left to some on Sifnos.

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