29th May, 2016
The 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 and 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.
I 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
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.
We 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.
It 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
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:
Tens 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.
Talking 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.
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.Thinking 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.
Monkey 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.
I 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 2 is virtually complete with a re-cycled mirror, painted white by Pauline and the ubiquitous television looks like this:
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 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:
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.