Week 388

 29th May, 2016

beach3The sun is out. The sky is blue. It’s beautiful and … we are beginning to feel, once again, like we’re permanently on holiday. The tarragon and sweet basil are loving it and so are we.

If you read the saga of the television aerial installer last week, you will be as surprised as I was when I recall this event. I searched out another, suitable firm in my vicinity and printed out their details so I could call them on Tuesday after the Bank Holiday weekend. I told Pauline and gave her the details to read ang4and approve. (I am nothing if not democratic.) Just as she was saying that she thought they looked a good possibility, the phone rang and it was the original installer phoning – on Bank Holiday Sunday afternoon – to apologise and arrange to come on Tuesday. Taking the least line of resistance, we agreed.

We thought we might drive the three or so miles to the beach in this lovely weather but it soon became apparent that it was a stupid idea for retired people to vie with everyone who was enjoying a long weekend away from work. We came home and sat in the garden which is bathed in sun from early morning to late evening. While we were relaxing, the latest Angmering magazine – a monthly, free, 70 page colour booklet advertising a multitude of local events, clubs and services – arrived through the door. This place is an amazingly energetic and interactive community in the sun.

30th May, 2016

A little more overcast this morning. It was 18C/65F with weak sunshine and a light breeze at 8.00 am. I wanted to mow the lawn but was mindful that people living around us are workers and would be enjoying a Bank Holiday lie-in I refrained until 9.30 am. Nobody should waste the day and stay in bed after that should they? I am cutting the newly laid turf little and often and it certainly appears to be appreciating it. It is luscious, thick, green and growing strongly. Just as a lawn should be.

charitiesI know I have some hobby-horses and opposition to formal charities is one which I have written about before but I can’t resist drawing your attention to this article in The Sunday Times yesterday. It shouldn’t come as any surprise but many will be shocked to read it.

The gist of the article reports that major charities ‘cost’ more to administrate than they provide for their advertised ’causes’. Read the full article here –  Charities’ Gravy Train. Successive governments fail to fund what I believe they should. With a Tory government, things are even worse.

They are failing to adequately fund the National Health Service with a shortage of Doctors and Nurses, the emergency services – Ambulance and Fire, Flood Defences, the Education Service with a shortage of Teachers, the Immigration Service with a lack of air, sea and land border surveillance, the Legal Aid Fund which means the cost of going to law is prohibitive for the majority of citizens, Local Authorities which are having to cut Library services, swimming baths, Community Waste tips, etc. All of this is done surreptitiously, blamed on others or the need for ‘austerity cuts’. All the time, George Gobsborn tells us how well he is doing although he doesn’t make explicit that he is referring to the long term strategic plan of reducing the size and role of the State.  Happy Bank Holiday – to the Bankers!

31st May, 2016

‘Same Day Express Service’ which took a week.

A damp and cool, grey morning for the last day of May which only brightened in the late afternoon. At last, the television aerial installer arrived from Actionaerials. He turned out to be a lovely chap – an ex-publican from Brighton. We have Sky in three rooms downstairs and wanted Freeview on the four, bedroom sets. Seven connectors in the loft – three feeding downstairs and used for Sky and four ‘free’ already feeding the upstairs rooms have been left by the builder. I expected ladders, drills clambering across the loft space, etc.. He took one look and pronounced an aerial in the loft would be all I would need and a power supply with signal booster. The total price would be £200.00/€260.00 for the aerial and power unit + booster + labour would be £144.00/€188.00 making a total of £344.00/€448.00 + VAT. I couldn’t do it because of the pain so Pauline wrote a cheque for £412.80/€537.00 and ‘thanked’ the installer.

cagh1We are going to Greece this summer but I’ve already started to look for a month or so in Tenerife in the winter. We are thinking of spending the month of November in Costa Adeje. Having gone out for the first time last year and done two months straddling the turn of the year, we are looking to move a little upmarket this time and are considering the Costa Adeje Gran Hotel.

cagh2It has a Health Centre and two pools just for adults, free Wi-Fi (now obligatory) and three different restaurants. A month will cost us about £4,500.00/€5850.00 which is not bad for four weeks of warm relaxation – after the gym work! Kids will be in school so at least we shouldn’t have to contend with them and it will be closer to areas of interest like  Los Cristianos, Teide National Park, La Gomera and La Palma. I wonder if we will still be European citizens by the time we go. I am seriously beginning to wonder and panic a bit!

1st June, 2016

Happy June

Goodbye to May and Hello to June 2016. Actually, the white rabbit doesn’t look too thrilled and it is rather cool and grey outside although exceptionally hot weather is forecast for our region at the end of this week.

Good weather at home maybe just what we need if American warnings are heeded. The Times leads with this in today’s edition:

timesTens of thousands of American tourists were warned yesterday that they are at risk of terrorist attacks across Europe this summer, leading to fears that holidays will be cancelled en masse. The US State Department issued an unusually broad travel alert that applies to the whole continent for this month, next month and August. It warns American citizens that they could be in danger at major events, tourist sites, city centres, restaurants and on public transport.

Americans take real notice of their government’s advice because they usually give it on sound evidence like finding ‘weapons of mass destruction’. However, the European Football Championships could be a honeypot for ISIS who will exploit lax security in airports but the Americans also tell their citizens to avoid tourist locations such as Mediterranean beach resorts.

lmaTalking about the Mediterranean, the people of Greece are waking up this morning to instant price hikes in all their favourite things – sales tax rate went up from 23% to 24%, while taxes were also raised on services used heavily by Greeks forced to cut back on leisure activities due to the financial crisis. Charges increased on internet, fixed telephone and pay-TV subscriptions. Meanwhile, a huge, 5* hotel – The Athens Ledra (Ledra Marriott) on Syngrou Avenue has gone into administration turfing out guests and closing its doors. Their staff haven’t been paid for 3 months and its debts to banks and the Social Security Foundation (IKA) are said to top 40 million euros.

In UK, the Pound Sterling is falling again as aggregated opinion polls show Vote Leave pulling away to a worryingly significant lead. This is exacerbated by migrants being picked up from small boat crossings in quiet coastline settings around the UK and stories of increased migration through Libya to Italy and a return of the Greek island migrant problem as Turkey realise they may not get what they hoped for from the EU and  start to relax their grip on the smugglers.

2nd June, 2016

Starting to take June for granted already even though it’s grey and a little cool outside. The best we’ve reached is 16F/61C – a  palindromic temperature conversion as I’m sure you’ll recognise. We got up this morning thinking that we had to do nothing other than make our trip to the Leisure Club. After a couple of really hard sessions over the past couple of days, I am aching. We only have to do Friday and then we can rest over the weekend.

As we were moving to our new home in Sussex, we were determined to bring items from our joint history and mix them with fairly modern things which challenge our taste and view of the ‘appropriate’. We have a pendant light shade which we bought for Pauline’s Mum’s new home in 1980.

playersplain    box2

We have a silver cigarette box that belonged to my father. He kept his Players Cigarettes in it. Mum gave it to me in 1984. I had my initials engraved on the top, bought myself an expensive, new lighter and filled the box with cigarettes. Within a week, I went from smoking 4o a day to giving up completely and I have never even considered touching one ever again. The box is a lovely memory conflating Dad’s, Mum’s and my life. I have my Grandfather’s ‘apprentice piece’ – a yew, smoker’s chair – know in the family as ‘The Richard Chair’. As I wrote on the Blog recently, I have the huge, House for Sale sign from the gate of our Greek house.

I wrote about buying our Dining Table & Chairs from a supplier in Oldham where we worked for 40 years and then getting a bedroom furniture company to fit our bedrooms. They turned out to be made in Oldham and the project manager we liaised with told us that Pauline & I used to teach her mother.

Since the bedrooms have been completed, we have been looking for white stools to slip under the kneehole of each dressing table.stoolThinking modern and slightly wacky, I found this white, leather topped, gas-strut stool and we both thought it would be fun. I found it being sold on a number of websites, one of which, bizarrely, turned out to be Tesco Direct. They weren’t expensive and I ordered three. When the confirmation email arrived it said they were being supplied by Lakeland Furniture.

I can’t avoid curiosity and I immediately Googled Lakeland Furniture. Guess where they are based? Oldham! They are housed in one of the old cotton mills that was once housing Littlewoods Mail Order. I blame Pauline, of course, because she is Oldham born and bred. Let’s hope the chairs are just as beautiful and just as reliable.

3rd June, 2016

To say this morning was freezing would be an exaggeration but it is the sort of term one would use for it in June. It was bloody freezing! We were on a major shopping mission this morning. First to Asda for bananas. I live on bananas. I was a monkey in a former life. Asda bananas are streets (or plantations) ahead of the other, major supermarkets in terms of quality and flavour. Listen to a dedicated consumer. They use Fyffes – an Irish company – who import them from Costa Rica.

mirrorMonkey satisfied, we moved on to Sainsbury’s to buy power block/USB charger units for the bedrooms allowing us and guests to charge iPads/Kindles, etc. over night. On to Currys to pick up the final television for the last bedroom. Lastly to Tesco for our major shop of the week. After getting home, I watched a re-run of the ‘Call me Dave’ interview from last night while Pauline was completing the re-spraying of three, big mirrors that we have dragged around with us from house to house for thirty years. We love them and they cost us £50.00/€64.00 a piece all that time ago but they are in a rather dated, varnished pine frame which doesn’t suit our modern style. The one illustrated here in our Hall will stay as it is. Pauline has masked off the other mirrors and is spraying undercoat and matt white top coats before they are hung in the bedrooms. She loves doing that sort of thing.

striped_chairI am actually doing practical things as well today because there is no Daily Politics. I’m hanging pictures in Pauline’s Ironing & Sewing Room. The pictures are an eclectic mix of framed opera posters which I love; a picture of Jemima – a much loved cat of Pauline’s which died in 1980; a picture of our shadows on the Kali Strata of the Greek island of Symi in 1989 and a shot of the Hora on Folegandros that we stayed in a couple of times in the early ’90s. Although we physically shopped all morning, we did a bit more on the net this afternoon. Pauline needs an easy chair in which to contemplate her sewing. We’ve ordered this from Wayfair. I don’t know what you think. A mixture of modern and retro? It cost £150.00/€193.00 but we had a 10% discount from them because of previous purchases.

4th June, 2016

The week has concluded with quite a few things in the house coming together. The wacky, white stools arrived this morning, looked perfect and went straight into the main, three bedrooms. This is bedroom 1 now.

Bedroom 1








Bedroom 2 is virtually complete with a re-cycled mirror, painted white by Pauline and the ubiquitous television looks like this:

Bedroom 2
Bedroom 2

Bedroom 3 is in the front of the house, is the same size as Bedroom 2 but needs a bit of work yet and currently looks like this:

Bedroom 3








Bedroom 4 is the smallest of the four and we don’t really need it. Buying good quality, new-build properties with two or three bedrooms is not as easy as one might think. Ours is given over to Pauline for Ironing & Sewing and her cookery book collection. Currently it looks like this:

Bedroom 4
Bedroom 4

I don’t know if you notice an overwhelming ‘whiteness’. This will be counterpointed with pictures which will be put up next.

We had a huge pile of cardboard from recent deliveries bunging up the garage. We took it to the local tip and then drove on to the beach at Ferring which was almost deserted. It was absolutely delightful.

Ferring Beach


Week 387

22nd May, 2016

A warm and relaxing day of newspapers and little else. The new week will see us restart our exercise program now we are not tied to the house. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday at the Leisure Centre and then Thursday visiting Surrey. We are still waiting for confirmation of the delivery of the new sideboard and that is it.

23rd May, 2016

Ruth2Happy 67th Birthday to my sister, Ruth. It looks like she’s spending it in the Lake District with rather nice weather. Hope she’s having a lovely day.

We are certainly enjoying a very warm and sunny day down here. We reached 76F/24C in the shade as we cooked and ate our meal out in the garden. Griddled Pacific Salmon with Greek Salad was just delightful. Earlier, I had considered negotiating a new trade deal with Brazil or setting up a trading business in India but, in the end, I settled for sweeping out the garage and taking a final box of rubbish to the local tip. Actually, I’m sure it was more rewarding.

Tomorrow, we will go to the Leisure Centre and relaunch our health campaign with renewed vigour. In Greece, meanwhile, the newspapers are reporting Fears of protracted strike at Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports. Port Authorities are due to go on strike to protest privatisation plans on Thursday, prompting fears of a prolonged period of inactivity at the ports. Potential tourists be warned!

24th May, 2016

tvwThe gorgeous days keep coming. Hot and sunny from 6.00 am right through until now as I write at 6.30 pm. The thermometer in the shade hit 23C/72F. I was so excited, I cleaned the car. We went out to Curry’s to buy three, smallish TVs for three of the bedrooms. They are only 24″ screens with white surrounds and Freeview receivers built in. They cost £420.00/€550.00 in total. Now I have to get a terrestrial aerial installed to supply the signal.

Our meal was cooked out in the garden again. We so enjoyed the griddled salmon yesterday that we repeated it today. Wild, Pacific salmon is such a wonderful flavour (at £13.30 per Kg.) compared with farmed, Scottish salmon (at £12.00 per Kg.). Griddled, the oil-rich skin goes charred and crunchy. Absolutely wonderful.

25th May, 2016

tarragonsweetbasilWe have really rediscovered tarragon in a big way. Years ago I wasn’t keen but now we use it to flavour chicken and salmon regularly. We probably overuse it but it’s our choice. Living in Yorkshire, I failed miserably to grow it in the garden but down here is a different matter and today I bought three plants for growing on in pots. We have a nursery that specialises in herb and vegetable plants just 400 metres from our house and it is there we went today. Culberry Nursery is fairly homespun but all the more interesting for that. In addition to Tarragon, I bought Sweet Basil plants and Sweet Bell Pepper plants. I will grow them in pots this year just for a bit of fun. I’ll probably add some cherry tomatoes as well.

A local firm is coming to install an aerial so I can receive Freeview in each of the bedrooms. The televisions arrive on Saturday and we will have moved another step on. Meanwhile, we are going back to Surrey tomorrow to pick up my repeat prescription from the Surgery which we have nor resigned from yet. We haven’t had time to choose a surgery down here yet and we will do that over the next month. It will have to be done before we go away. We will go out for lunch with Pauline’s sister and niece. I’m on a no alcohol phase – hopefully lasting three months – so I am driving. However, typically, Pauline says she won’t drink either to show solidarity.

26th May, 2016

Woke up early to a beautiful, sunny morning. At 9.30 am, we set off for Surrey. It should take us almost exactly one hour according to our experience and our sat.nav.. We didn’t calculate in an accident on the M25 which virtually doubled our journey time as we sat and rhodoscrawled nose to bumper. I knew I should have gone to the loo again before I left home. By the time we reached our doctors’ surgery in Woking, it was all I could do to control my walk to the door.

With my repeat prescription in hand and my relieved state in mind, I felt able to look around my old stomping ground. Unlike where we are in Sussex which seems to have an abundance of wisteria, where we were in Surrey is now dominated by vast and brashly colourful rhododendrons. The traffic and the driving style is aggressive and selfish. Drivers approaching a roundabout dive, kamikaze-style for the advantage.

H&SWe survived the traffic and called at P&C’s house before leaving for a gastro pub where were going for lunch together. It was called the Hand & Spear in Weybridge. We went to the restaurant and were seated in the conservatory. Pauline & I ordered roast pigeon with beetroot and beetroot jus for our starter followed by slow roasted lamb with celeriac fondant. It was very well cooked and very enjoyable although I feel bound to say that Pauline would have cooked it better. We didn’t have a sweet or coffee. We had two bottles of sparkling water and a bottle of white wine. The bill came to £175.00/€230.00 which was not unreasonable and we really enjoyed the conviviality of the event but neither of us would leap to eat there again.

Our drive back to our Surrey home took 55 minutes and was a delight. The sun was shining all the way and the temperature was 22C/70F. The traffic and driving was almost polite and the world spread out in good order.

27th May, 2016

gc2Warm and sunny day that was 20C/68F at 8.30 am and reached 22C/70F by mid day but felt a great deal hotter because of the high humidity. We were out at the huge garden centre about a mile away from our house to buy some new pots for the patio and some extra plants. To add to the herbs – Tarragon, Sweet Basil and the Green Bell c3Pepper plants – I bought yesterday, I picked up some ‘trailing’ cherry tomatoes – yellow and red – especially developed for growing in tubs or hanging baskets. If I get them looking like the illustration, I’ll show you. Otherwise, you’ll never hear of them again.

We went on to a local industrial park to a GPO office to collect a parcel we missed yesterday. While we were there, we spotted a builders’ merchants which we knew stocked the liquid wax Pauline has used on our dining table. It was so good, we bought enough for two more years’ treatments. If you’re a regular to this Blog, you will know my proclivity for ‘forward buying’.

28th May, 2016

About 3.00 am we were woken by the sound of torrential rain. Although it only lasted about five minutes, we went downstairs and made a cup of tea. Back to bed at 4.00 am on an uncomfortably warm night. We weren’t surprised to learn this morning that other places near us had experienced thunder and lightning. We must have been just on the edge. Story of my life!

slpTired when we woke, as usual, at 6.00 am. Still, the day was fine and sunny and waiting to be started. We are tied to the house today. Curry’s are delivering televisions for the bedrooms and the aerial installer may just turn up at the third time of asking – if he can be bothered. Pauline and I are finally getting around to contacting friends and family to confirm our new address and keep them up to speed with our lives. It is a mixture of emails (where we can) and letters where necessary.  Fortunately, a computer makes it all a lot easier. In total, we had more than sixty people/families to contact. A stock letter slightly tweaked for each contact is fairly quick. A stock email with multiple addressees is similarly economical with time. I really like my address label printer that churns out multiple, transparent, adhesive address labels in short time.

As I write this Blog at 6.00 pm in sultry heat and with one eye on the Championship Play Off final between Hull and Sheffield Wednesday, the TVs have arrived and been set up but the aerial installer has not and is now sacked. I will choose another company after the Bank Holiday weekend.

Week 386

15th May, 2016

table1Came down to the mild and delightful smell of beeswax in the Kitchen/Family Room. Our huge and heavy dining table came from Lithuania via Oldham in Lancashire. It is made from reclaimed wood and seats eight diners with plenty of elbow room. The wood has dried out a bit in transit and storage and needed some wax.

Pauline, who does all things practical, was girding her loins to spend a couple of days rubbing a tin of beeswax in to the wood and then another couple of days, rubbing it off. After considerable research, she found this tin of liquid wax that just had to be ‘painted on’ with a brush and left to soak in for an hour. Because of this, she had time to give the table three coats of liquid wax, leaving an hour in between each coat and still serve our meal on it in the early evening.

waxI had the hard job of putting pictures up on the wall. I call it the pre-Alzheimer’s prescription. I put up the framed photos of all our houses and, in doing so, bring all the memories of other decades flooding back. I put our academic certificates up on the wall in the Office and it immediately sparked a conversation of the late nights of essay writing we both spent completing our degrees and of the long periods of time I spent in the Manchester Library rotunda researching my Masters thesis which Pauline typed up on our Amstrad PCW with the dot-matrix printer taking noisy hours to print out.

It has been a source of amusement to those who have known me over the years that I have a very poor memory for the most simple things. I can remember whole chunks of poetry that I learned when I was 18, the central thrust of Rene Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy  which I studied when I was doing my BA more than 40 years ago and the arguments addressed in Ferdinand Tönnies : Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft or the thread of The History of Trade Unionism, 1666-1920, by Sidney and Beatrice Webb, both of which were my summer holiday reading on a Greek beach in 1985.

What I can’t remember, is how to get to B&Q from my current home even though I have been there five times in the past month. I couldn’t remember how to get my wife to my Family home to meet my Mother 35 years ago. Thank goodness for Sat. Nav.. I can never stray too far from the car because I have no memory of where I parked it. Pauline & I maintain synchronised, on-line calendars so I can keep tabs on the week’s/month’s events. I keep this Blog as a form of aide memoire. As TS Eliot, in The Wasteland, says:

These fragments I have shored against my ruins.

My framed photos on the walls do the same for me.

16th May, 2016

lunchGloriously sunny day. We are full of the joys of life. Up early and on with jobs. Our to the Post Office to pick up a parcel and post a letter. Back for coffee and then lawn mowing for me and cleaning for Pauline. I followed my job with pressure washing the drive to get rid of the residue of builders’ mud. All of this was done in strong, hot sunshine.

We griddled salmon steaks outside and ate them outside with Greek Salad in the sunshine. The bedroom furniture fitters are due before 8.00 am tomorrow so we are tidying the rooms up for them. Four days of work should see the job done and we can get on with a normal life.

Just to underline our lucky escape from Sifnos island is the confirmation by KTG of the:

Scrapping VAT deductions on the islands:  Sweeping price increases in goods and services are expected on the islands (Syros, Thassos, Andros, Tinos, Karpathos, Milos, Skyros, Alonnisos and Sifnos) as of 1. July 2016, as the VAT deduction of 30% will be scrapped.

This is in addition to all the other increases:

Value Added Tax rise from 23% up to 24% as of 1. July 2016
Fuel prices: Hikes in special consumption tax
Beer: retail price will be increased
Cigarettes, e-cigarettes, tobacco: special fee: estimated30-50 cents per package
Phone land lines: additional fee of 5%
Cable TV: an extra fee of 10%
Hotels & Rooms To Let: A special fee will be added on accommodation bills

It is going to make islanders feel that they are living their lives under siege – a siege waged by Germany against this tiny nation. With 60,000 or so migrants camped out around the country and islands, life will not be comfortable this summer.

17th May, 2016

The bedroom fitter arrived at 7.30 am on a dry, sunny and fairly mild May morning. He has four rooms to install wardrobes with internal furniture as well, dressing table runs, tbsbedside cabinets, etc.. It feels like a tall order to us but he seems confident. He is a local man – from near Brighton – employed by the Lancashire company.

While the fitter is working, I’m looking at storage shelving for the garage. I get all the ‘sexy’ jobs. Heavy duty, metal staging is what we need. I have to store car products and tools. I’m not quite sure why because, although I’ve got every tool under the sun neatly stored in three, graded-size tool boxes, I have little idea and zero confidence in using them. Still, a man has to do….

18th May, 2016

We’ve got rain and it feels lovely. We’ve hardly seen any for months. At least I got the lawns cut on Monday but they are really growing fast. Of course, it is new-ish turf so that may explain its vigour. According to the forecast, we will have some rain today and a bit more tomorrow so the garden will be expressing its gratitude.

cartoon6We have the bedroom fitter working on bedroom 2 today and I’m watching The State Opening of Parliament and The Queen’s Speech on television. It is going to be a policy-lite speech because it is taking place against the backdrop of the European Referendum which is still quite close and will see the prime minister  leave if the vote takes us out. Even if it is close, he may have to go because the governing party is stuffed full of euro-sceptics who will demand a new formulation. Farage has even suggested that, if the vote is narrowly to stay, another referendum will follow on its heels. This is brilliantly illustrated in today’s cartoon in The Times.

19th May, 2016

wisteriaWe’ve moved to a small village which is clearly skilled at one thing at least – growing wisteria. So many of the brick & flint walls of cottages here are clad in abundantly flowering wisteria. We have never seen it so vigorous and successful. It is absolutely lovely right now.

The bedroom fitter is completing day 3 of 4. He is fitting out wardrobes, bedside tables and a dressing table in bedroom 3. Tomorrow he will complete Pauline’s ironing/sewing room. The furniture components have all been produced and prepared in Oldham,  – which was featured on Radio 4 yesterday as the most deprived town in England – boxed up and shipped down here. Our garage has become increasingly full of cardboard and off-cuts of wood as the days have progressed. Today, I have filled the car boot with rubbish and we have driven off to the communal tip to dispose of it. Two more trips should do it over the weekend.

20th May, 2016

wasteA delightfully sunny and warm day. The bedroom fitter arrived at 7.00 am for the fourth consecutive day and worked solidly until 3.00 pm without a break. By this time, he had completed the fitting of all four bedrooms, cleared out his tools , vacuumed each room and left for his drive home to Brighton. For his four days work, we paid him £850.00/€1100.00. For the bedroom furniture, we paid an additional £11,000.00/€14,300.00. Everything is now done and we have our house back. We were left with a garage full of packaging and off-cuts which I packed in to the back of the car. We drove to the local waste disposal site and dumped it. sbf2The site is staffed with a great team workers of  who are keen to help people carry waste materials from their cars and put them in to the correct bins. It is all so easy and convenient.

We came home via Tesco supermarket where we bought a side of salmon, 4 sea bream fillets, a kilo of calamari and some cod loins. It’s going to be a fishy few days.

21st May, 2016

climp3Up early on a rather overcast but warm morning. Loaded up the car with the last, remaining off cuts of wood from the bedroom fitter and drove to the local waste tip to dump it. At last the garage can get back to an empty state and the car can be put away. After leaving the tip, we drove 3 miles on to Climping Beach. It is a lovely, natural area with gorgeous, old houses clad in wisteria and leading down to a shingle beach which climp2is quiet and lovely to walk on. Now that our house is in full working order and most deliveries have arrived, we can spend time exploring these places before we set off for Europe.

Came home to put some more pictures up and finish tidying the garage. I am going to fit two shelf racks for storage at the back of the garage and can now seriously think about ordering them. A reader of the Blog contacted me with a suggested supplier and that is the one I am going to go with.

Week 385

8th May, 2016

Up at 6.30 am after a very warm night. Opening up the conservatory doors to allow the sunshine straight into the family room, the temperature was already reaching 20C/68F. After fresh orange juice and tea, we celebrated the start of the new week by driving to the Littlehampton Waste Disposal site to get rid of all the cardboard and wood generated by our unpacking and garage clearance.

sign3salegateI was re-reading my Blog from this time two years ago and found that we were starting the same process but in reverse in our Greek house. We had already agreed the sale but had to keep it quiet. We knew that we wouldn’t be taking much back to Surrey with us in the back of our car. We arranged to sell or leave all the furniture and fittings. Things like Kitchen and Dining equipment, pictures, televisions, computers, etc.,  were given to friends and helpers. Still that left a huge amount to be got rid of and we had to do that without drawing attention to ourselves. Almost every morning, we would get up early and make a trip down to the communal bins or up to the waste tip to dump unwanted items. We didn’t want to compromise our sale in any way by indicating its imminence. The plan worked, thank goodness.

I found space in the car for The House for Sale sign which I thought would be a good memory. This week, it will go up in our downstairs Office on the wall with framed photos of all the houses we have lived in together throughout our marriage.

It is still light at 9.00 pm and extremely warm – 23C/73F, close and sticky. The temperature has reached 27C/81F today. We sat outside for an hour or so to eat our meal and had to put the sun canopy up to beat off the sun. The winter and summer duvet covers have been changed – from 10 tog to 3 tog – and I will still probably sleep on top of it. The changing year has suddenly crept up on us. Still light at 9.00 pm.! You wouldn’t get that in Greece.

9th May, 2016

crv3Up at 7.00 am on a warm and windless morning although the forecast was for the arrival of rain. After breakfast and a few minutes reading The Times, I was outside with the Henry vacuum cleaner, a glass spray and a leather cleaner spray working on the car’s interior. We can’t believe that we’ve kept it for nearly 4 years and already done 27,000 miles. We have never done anything like that before. Actually, the car has been an excellent one in spite of having crossed Europe four times in its life, and is still ‘nearly new’. We will trade it in sometime during the Summer and buy a new, slightly updated model which will cost something like £35,000.00/€44,000.00. If we keep it the same length of time, our next new car will see us approaching 70!

After a quick cup of coffee, I was out again mowing the lawns. I’m so pleased that I forked out for a rechargeable, cordless mower. It is so liberating. I fly around the lawns and cut 160 m2 of grass in under half an hour. It is left striped but green and luscious. What more could you want?

It is a sultry evening. As I write at 10.00 pm, the temperature in the Office is 26C/79F. We are still casting around for furniture for the lounge. The bedroom furniture is being delivered on Thursday and fitted throughout next week. Our fitter has texted to say he will come and fit the bathroom furniture, which is clogging up the garage, towards the end of the week. Hopefully, by June, we will almost be at stasis and ready to go away. What will we do when this house is sorted. We’ll have to sell it and start another.

Ta Nea reports today under the headline:

Εξοδο της Ελλάδας από το ευρώ ζητούν οι Γερμανοί Φιλελεύθεροι
(German Liberals seek exit of Greeks from the Euro.)

The German Liberal Party argue that the only way forward for Greece is through a ‘haircut’ accompanied by leaving the Euro (however temporarily) and a deep devaluation. Economically, it is the only way they will dig their way out of this hole. It will be painful but would not mean the continual downward spiral that they are currently in.

10th May, 2016

fryerLight rain this morning at 7.00 am soon gave way to warm sunshine and 18C/65F. We had some shopping to collect and a couple of parcels to wait in for so the Leisure Centre fell off the end of the agenda. We picked up a new microwave and a deep fat fryer. We don’t use the latter much but love to eat Calamari with salad.

microThe microwave was ordered from Curry’s. In 1980, I bought Pauline what I thought was a dream Christmas present. It was a Phillips microwave that was a big as a house. It cost a whacking £450.00/€571.00. Now, 36 years on, this microwave cost just £110.00 Goodness knows how the comparison works when allowing for inflation over those years. – Actually, I’ve just used a Historical UK inflation calculator to calculate that our original machine would cost £2056.50/€2610.00 in today’s terms. The fryer is a plastic copy of the professional one we left in Greece. This one cost just £30.00/€38.00 and will only be used outside in the garden.

The heavy rain we were told would hit us this morning failed to materialise and, this evening, the temperature in the Office as I type this up, has reached an uncomfortable 27C/81F.

11th May, 2016

A warm but deliciously wet morning. Everything is looking green and luscious. Had to do my ‘official’ INR test this morning. As I haven’t ‘officially’ left my current doctor and registered with a new one down here, I have emailed my results to Woking Anticoagulation Dept.. Having missed a couple of days, we must get to the gym today and make sure that it coincides with PMQs at mid day. We are expecting a fitter to arrive over the next couple of afternoons to sort out the bathroom furniture.

I’m rather enjoying playing with the newly discovered Historical UK inflation rates and calculator. I started teaching in September 1972. I was paid by cheque and my first one sidebwas for £60.00/€76.00. How could I forget. We had to work a month in advance before we got paid and, in order to live, I had to borrow £60.00 from Lloyd’s Bank. It took me six months to pay it off. The £60.00, of course, was take-home pay for the month. We used to calculate – as a rough guide – that we were paying 30% of our headline pay in Income Tax + Graduated Pension + National Insurance. So, my headline pay will have been circa £90.00/€1152.00 per month or £13,824.00/€17,492.00 per year. Actually, a starting salary for teachers today is significantly better although still not much at £22,244.

We have finally found and ordered a sideboard for the lounge. It seems to have taken forever. We celebrated with a lovely meal of roast cod loin, roasted field mushrooms stuffed with feta cheese and drizzled with basil oil, accompanied by roasted shallots and yellow peppers. We drank a wonderfully scented but sharp bottle of chilled white wine with the meal and the day descended in to a haze of happiness.

12th May, 2016

We decided against the stag’s head!

A busy, busy day. The bedroom furniture is being delivered this morning prior to being fitted next week. The delivery is pre-timed for 7.00 – 9.00 am. We have strict instructions to clear the rooms before they come. As we’ve only got beds in them, there is little to do. We already have wardrobes in Bedroom 1 and are having dressing table and bedside tables built in. In the other three bedrooms, wardrobes, bedside tables and dressing tables are being fitted. It is a huge lorry load that arrives. It was wet over night so Pauline has fitted covers over the carpet all the way upstairs and in to the rooms.

The lorry arrived at 8.00 am. It was dry and warm outside. Two men – one Polish – began to do the trek from the lorry to the bedrooms with each item labelled and numbered. We have already been told that it will take four full days to fit so the amount of stuff coming in is not so surprising. It has taken them over an hour to unload. Now we have to do the weekly shop. Life for we high flyers is unbounded.

Talking about high flyers, we have met and received at our house so many good people doing so many fairly ordinary jobs (albeit ones I could/would not do) but who have good Honours Degrees. The man who delivered and fitted my British Gas Smart Meter had a 2:1 Honours Degree in Hospitality & Recreation from Birmingham. The lad who came to screw bathroom furniture on the walls has a Physics Degree from Bangor. The lorry driver who delivered and fitted our Office furniture had a degree. The electrician who fitted our media distribution points had a degree. Of course all education is essentially rewarding but, if you end up with a developed mind which fails to be stretched at work, it runs the risk of frustration and dissatisfaction. Not only that, you also end up with a large debt. An excellent cartoon last week depicted an old man celebrating his 80th birthday and asking his wife: What to pay off first – the mortgage or the student loan? It may be funny but it could be accurate.

13th May, 2016

t&gwFriday 13th – Unlucky for some. Let’s hope it’s not for Pauline. She’s going to Toni & Guy in Worthing to have her hair cut. She would have to take the train to London to find a Vidal Sassoon salon which she would prefer but is hoping this will do. Failing that, we may have to fly to Athens. She really likes her hairdresser there. I am being given an hour or so to explore the Worthing shops and, maybe, even the sea front. We have four days ‘free’ before the next wave of work begins. On Tuesday, the bedroom fitters will be in for the rest of the week. We are hoping we can be confident enough to leave them while we go to the Leisure Centre each day but we’ll have to ply them with coffee and biscuits.

Now the bulk of our spending on the house is done, – We have a few lamps and side tables for the Lounge to find. –  I am turning my attention to replacing the car. It’s on its way to 4 years old and has done 27200 miles/43775 Km. I have been told that it is currently worth £14,500.00/€18,500.00. The new one will cost me £35,000.00/€44,500.00 so I will need to make up £20,000.00/€25,500.00. I have always bought from the same dealer and the same salesman in Huddersfield since 1984 – usually each year until retirement. Even after moving south, I returned to Yorkshire to replace my car although not as frequently. This time, I will probably buy & sell on-line for the first time. I feel quite disloyal but it is hard, economic sense.

wpierDelightful morning in Worthing. walked down to the beachside and the pier and then did some shopping while Pauline had her haircut. She booked the Manager and he turned out to be ‘Sassoon’ – trained. She was delighted with his skill so we may be alright for a year or two now. It only cost £60.00/€76.00 as well so it was win-win for me. The weather was hot and sunny although the headline temperature was only 22C/70F. It was humid which made it feel hotter.

14th May, 2016


Quite a change in temperature today although still sunny. Yesterday, 22C/70F and very humid. Today 14C/57F with a chill in the wind. We were warned that there was a possibility of frost in the North.

Every property we have lived in has been photographed, framed and put on the wall of the next one. Our Office is stuffed full of a desktop computer, 2 laptops, a scanner, 2 laser printers, a label printer, 2 iPads, 2 Kindles, a Sky box and television, an internet hub, a smart meter monitor,  2 desks, 2 filing cabinets, a cupboard, a book case and 2 computer chairs. Not o2wishing to leave any bare walls, I’ve now put up our previous homes including our Greek house Sale sign.

The Office is somewhere we spend a lot of our time. I am Blogging, website designing, and writing while Pauline is doing the day to day accounts, shopping and corresponding. We have always had this sort of facility in all homes – including the Greek one – as well as at work. It is important to me to have designated thinking and writing space.

Talking about Greece, it’s economy shrank 0.4 % in the first quarter compared to the last three months of 2015. In addition, House transactions in Greece are grinding to a standstill in 2016. The first few of months of 2016 find residential property sales in even worse shape than last year, according to the Bank of Greece.

Week 384

1st May, 2016

Καλό μήνα

New week, new month. Happy May to all our readers and a special Καλό μήνα, καλό Πάσχα to our Greek friends. We have got a beautifully clear and sunny sky and I am having my hair cut in the garden by my beautiful wife. I’m not terribly keen on sitting still so long so my face will begin to look like this rabbit’s before she’s finished.

It has been a lovely, warm day. My hair has blown away across the garden. I hope it will form the basis for some bird’s nest – preferably a robin. Roast chicken and root vegetables for our meal was delicious. We remember when the price of chicken made it a luxury to be eaten very occasionally in the 1950s whereas fish was fairly cheap. Now it is the opposite. Pauline still buys the best fresh chicken she can find and it certainly rewards her with excellent quality and flavour. Today a bird of 1.8kg cost £7.57/€9.70 from Tesco ‘Finest’ range. It was delicious. It will make two meals for us so is very cost effective.

Watched three Premier League matches while reading the Sunday Times this afternoon as the sunshine belted in through the open, conservatory doors. It was a strange experience not to be rooting for United to win and to feel pleasure when Leicester pulled off a well fought draw. There is little, now, that can stop them winning the title.

2nd May, 2016

canoscanBank Holiday for many but just another day for us. We have been to David Lloyd Leisure Centre to sign a 12 month contract. It will cost us £129.50 per month. That is for ‘off-peak’ usage which suits us fine. We will use it 5 days per week and concentrate on the gym, pools and health spa. There is an on-site hairdresser and beauty treatment centre which Pauline may use and a restaurant/café with televisions and Wi-Fi which will be useful. There are also lots of ‘free’ classes which Pauline may book up for like ‘Zumba’.

Built-in obsolescence is a terrible thing – as I keep reminding my wife. I’ve had a simple but efficient scanner for a few years. Suddenly, with the recent upgrade of Windows 10, it has ceased to work and there is no new driver for it available. I’ve been looking for a new scanner. Cannon, which makes my current machine has produced an identical model but with an updated driver and they will charge me £50.00/€64.00 for the privilege of using it with the new Windows. Even so, I’ve ordered one to pick up tomorrow at Currys/PCWorld.

3rd May, 2016

sdbdLovely, sunny, cloudless day – rather mirroring the mood of the people of Leicester. We have a little man coming round to do some work this afternoon so we feel rather ‘confined to Barracks’ while awaiting his appearance. Tomorrow, we have our ‘induction’ at the Leisure Centre by our ‘personal trainer’. Sounds fun!

Today our new sideboard was delivered. It had come all the way from Spain and we had waited for weeks. The deliverers unpacked it in our lounge and ….. it was damaged. We couldn’t believe it. We paid £650.00/€821.00 six weeks ago and waited with rising anticipation. To find it damaged and have more time to wait is unbearable. Our dilemma is that we looked for a long time before choosing it and failed to find anything else we liked more. We are reluctant to go back to the drawing board but not prepared to wait much longer.

4th May, 2016

On this gloriously bright and sunny day, we both woke up early and turned and said to each other, “We need to go back to the drawing board.”. I had my orange juice and then emailed the suppliers to tell them to refund £650.00 to our account and collect the damaged sideboard. They replied immediately saying the refund would be made but it was cheaper for us to donate the sideboard to a charity which is what we will do. We will now look for a replacement. We are deliberately focussing on modern, slightly quirky, maybe designer in their use of materials. I wonder what you think of these:

side5 side4 side3 side2 side1

Alright, perhaps they’re not your cup of tea but they seem right for a new-build house. The only problem is that they are not viewable in store. They are all internet-only companies.

Did our induction session at the Leisure Club this morning and came home and grilled chicken and shallots outside in the sunshine. Life is definitely good at the moment.

5th May, 2016

gym2 gym1Glorious, glorious, glorious morning on the Sussex coast. At 7.00 am, the newly mown lawn was bathed in warm sunshine and the temperature was 11C/52F. We are looking for 21C/69F today moving towards 24C/75F by Sunday. It’s going to be an enjoyable few days.

Jobs this morning include a trip to Currys PC World to collect my new scanner and then in to Tesco next door for the weekly shop. Back for coffee and then out to the Leisure Centre for a work out and swim. I think we will use the outdoor heated pool today in this sunshine.

Great session at the Leisure Centre timed to coincide with the Daily Politics. It is almost two months since we did a gym session and we began with some trepidation but we needn’t have worried. It was fine and very enjoyable. Admittedly, we didn’t overdo it and, afterwards, just luxuriated in the huge Jacuzzi pool. It was very enjoyable. Driving home in glorious Summer weather, we reflected on how happy we are and how reassured that we had chosen exactly the  right place to settle.

6th May, 2016

saunaGlorious Summer’s day. Yesterday actually reached 23C/73F as we left the Leisure Centre. Today is 26C/79F in the shade in our back garden. Quite delightful! We griddled sea bass fillets on the patio and ate them with Greek Salad. We did about 90 mins. of workout and came home to relax in the sun.

marinaEverything about the David Lloyd Leisure Centre is on a magnitude of ten compared with our previous Nuffield Health Club. The sauna is big enough to hold a party in and so hot I could manage less than ten minutes. It is less friendly and personal but it is exactly what I like. I just want to do my exercise and leave. I am not looking for community. I’ve got a wife! Tomorrow we are going to Littlehampton Marina which is about two miles away. We aim to be there in time for the fishermen landing their catches and selling it from huts on the shore.

7th May, 2016

A hot and sultry day in which we were fairly active. We worked on continuing to unpack boxes from our move. This coming week will see a lot of bathroom furniture installed – our fitter has been in Las Vegas for a couple of weeks and will need to build his cash reserves back up so is keen for extra work.

When they are installed in the three bathrooms, we can move ‘stuff’ out of boxes and into the cupboards. The newly produced bedroom furniture is being delivered on Thursday and installed the week after. We only have wardrobes in our bedroom at the moment and none in the other three rooms. They are being fitted and then each of the four bedrooms will have bedside cabinets installed and a run of dressing table furniture with chairs and mirrors. After that, I can have the bedroom televisions installed.

greekpostI’m rather glad I’m not in Greece yet. There is a general strike which will paralyse the country and, particularly, its transport system. Hope you’re not expecting to travel by ferry this weekend to an island. You better stay at home! There is a general air of gloom surrounding the security of the current government at the moment. With their arms bent far up their backs by the Germans, they are having to force through more tax rises and more pension cuts. There is something of resigned despair emanating from poor and middle class Greeks. This accompanying poster has been hijacked by the British Leave Campaign to make their own case but it has been snatched from a Reuters article in a similar vein. There is definitely a sense in the air that a new, Greek crisis might be looming in mid-Summer.