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.
I 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
Up 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
Light 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.
The 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 was 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
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
Friday 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.
Delightful 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 wishing 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.