15th May, 2016
Came 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.
I 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
Gloriously 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, bedside 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.
We 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
We’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
A 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. The 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
Up 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 is 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.