Week 389

 Sunday, 5th June

Apparently, today is Sunday and a day of rest although you wouldn’t know it if you visited any major supermarket. I marked the day by getting up early and mowing the lawns followed by cleaning the car inside and out. Didn’t you just want to know that? The day was blue sky and bright sun from the moment we got up at about 6.30 am until we came in from playing outside at 7.00 pm. As forecast, the temperature reached a warm 24C/75F but felt hotter because of the humidity.

The iPad Pro with integrated keyboard cover

Now there’s nothing much more to buy for the house, we can now look to indulge ourselves with GADGETS. I love GADGETS! In March 2013, I bought my first iPad and it revolutionised my life. Instead of going out every morning for a copy of The Times and paying £1.00/€1.28 for each copy. Now, by the time we wake up, we both have a full copy of the newspaper delivered to our iPads and those copies are updated throughout the day. The cost is £26.00/€33.00 per month for both our copies plus full access on the web to all ‘Times’ web material. Before the iPad, I would access our bank account on my desktop machine once a week or so. Now, I have accounts in four different Banks all of which I can access from my iPad or my phone and I do every morning. Before the iPad, if I couldn’t think of something as I go about my daily life, I would shrug and put it down to senility. Now, wherever I am, I can and do immediately consult my iPad, interrogate the web and pretend I remembered it all along.

Today I ordered my third iPad. I bought the first in March 2012 for £482.00/€617.00 and my second in August 2014 for £499.00/€639.00. Today, I ordered an iPad pro – 12.9″. It has a considerably larger screen and a much quicker Wi-Fi service. It also takes a keyboard which is integrated in to its cover. This will allow me to leave my old laptop at home when we travel abroad and to Blog, etc. on my iPad. Mind you, it is much more expensive. The iPad costs £679.00/€868.00 and the keyboard cover is £111.00/€142.00 so the total cost is a considerable £790.00/€1011.00.

Monday, 6th June

rspyosUp early on a hot and sunny morning. The sky was pure blue and, by 9.30 am, the temperature had reached 22C/70F. We were at Roundstone Pick-Your-Own Farm at that time (about 3 mins from our house) and in the middle of a huge field of first-flush strawberries. We spent about 20 mins there and another 20 in the rhubarb field. In this weather, it is a delightful activity.

Back for coffee and then out to Littlehampton beach – on Sea Road. It was amazingly busy as the sun brought out  visitors. We walked along the beach road. past the colourful beach huts that seem to be privately owned and down to the East Beach café which is actually a highly acclaimed restaurant. Just a mile and half walk with the same back was lovely in the sunshine and the sea air.

pbeach2Pauline went down to the sea’s edge to test whether it was warm enough for her to force me to swim. As I didn’t do it in Greece until the end of June, there is little chance here although she did declare it warm. I was taking photos on my phone and asked Pauline to re-stoop to the water so I could photograph it. Unfortunately, at that very moment, she was hit by a breaking wave and got her shoes and feet soaking. She took a while to calm down.

Actually, she took it very well and liked the photos which is very unusual. Having dried her off, we took a slow drive home and drank tea in the garden sunshine. I don’t know if I mentioned but I am three weeks into a no-alcohol spell.

pbeach3 pbeach4

huts pbeach5

Tuesday, 7th June

clocksGorgeous day. We were out at 9.30 am in brilliant sunshine and 22C/70F. Humidity was already rising. Off to Currys in Littlehampton to collect my new 12.9-inch iPad Pro and two radio alarms for the bedrooms. On to Worthing sea front and to M&S to pick up some garments that Pauline had ordered. We were home by 11.30 am – just in time to receive delivery of an interesting chair that Pauline had ordered for her Sewing Room. It was ordered from Wayfair – an American concern at a cost of £150.00/€192.00 and has an interesting ‘bentwood’ construction.

chair2I know the Blog has degenerated in to a catalogue of unfettered consumption over the past couple of months. I tried to resist it but that is was what life has been for us over that time. After six months homelessness and a previous six months divesting ourselves of our possessions, we arrived here with virtually nothing apart from sentimental objects and our clothes. Everything, everything from furniture for every room to cooking pots and pans, bathroom furniture, bedroom furniture, lightshades, everything had to be sourced anew. We arrived cash-rich but effects-poor. To some that may seem an exciting challenge but it is not all fun, I can tell you. I for one, am heartily pleased that it is nearly over.

It seems rather obscene to switch from that to the Greek economy (although that is one of the sources of our cash) but Kathimerini reports that the value of Greek supermarket sales posts record decline of 8.8% in March. The first three months of this year proved to be one of the worst quarters ever for the supermarket sector in Greece. Sales value fell 6 percent in January year-on-year, followed by an 8.3 percent drop in February and topped by an 8.8 percent slump in March. Consumers are cutting down on even the most basic of commodities, ranging from milk to washing powder.

If that isn’t a sign of serious decline, Greek cruise ship operators are worried of a lasting impact on the sector from an ongoing strike by port workers protesting the sale of the country’s biggest port Piraeus to the Chinese shipping giant, Cosco, while much needed Chinese tourists will not be arriving in Greece this year as China Airlines cancelled planned scheduled flights to Athens because the Greeks failed to agree to their landing rights.

Wedesday, 8th June

Honda Accord 1984

Hot and humid night in which we heard some rumbles of thunder but saw no rain. This morning, at 9.30 am, the temperature is 24C/75F and sticky. It is a big day for me. I’m having my haircut in the garden. It has to be done before Prime Minister’s Questions at 11.30 am. We are also going to address the issues of (Beware Obscene Consumption) a new car and a winter holiday.

Honda Prelude 1988

I have always bought Honda cars since buying the first in 1984. We took delivery of a brand new Honda Accord and I immediately became addicted to the smell and feel of new cars. The Accord was our first car with power steering and air conditioning and Anti-Lock Brakes. I was hooked. We had just bought a big and expensive new house and we kept the Accord for almost four years. Looking back, I can’t believe how ‘boxy’ those cars were. We traded it in for a Honda Prelude which looks incredibly dated now although I remember being so proud of it at the time.

Honda Prelude 1994

We were feeling richer and we changed the car virtually every year with about 12000 miles on the clock. We always used the same dealer and the same salesman who remains a friend today. I think we had six, new Preludes, gradually moving on to automatics and then Chris phoned us to say that Honda had brought out their first 4-Wheel Drive, utility vehicle and asked us to come and look at it. This was 1995/6. We were in our mid-40s and looking to ‘break out’. We bought the first CRV to arrive in Huddersfield. It was bright, metallic orange. Once again, we replaced it every year and our second was metallic yellow. We drove it to Greece for the six week holidays and that was it. We’ve driven CRVs ever since. We changed them virtually every year until 2009 when we retired. We’ve only had two since then but this one is ready for a swap. It’s really getting dirty.

Honda CRV 1995
Honda CRV 2007
Honda CRV 2012

I intend to keep the new one for another four years so I want as many gizmos as I can. I love gizmos! This one will include on its media screen/sat nav.:

  1. Traffic Sign Recognition
  2. Lane Departure Warning
  3. Blind spot Monitor
  4. Forward collision warning
  5. Collision Mitigation braking System
  6. Lane Keeping Assist
  7. Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control

The whole package will be about £34,600/€44,300.00 and our current car with 27,000 miles on the clock will knock about £14,500.00/€18,600.00 off that.

My driving style has changed immensely since retiring. While working, I drove everywhere at top speed. Have to get there now! I didn’t worry too much about speed limits including on my long drives across Europe. I collected a couple of speeding tickets over thirty years in UK and paid one, on-the-spot fine on the French-Swiss border for driving  at 120mph/193 kph on a 80 mph/130 kph motorway. It cost me €70.00 and a wagged finger. In retirement, I don’t have to get anywhere soon. I actually want to slow my arrival at destinations down – particularly the grave. I use sat. nav. for almost every journey which involves leaving my garage and set Cruise Control or Speed Limiter immediately when I can. To have Cruise Control automatically keep my distance from the car in front would be good. May be it will provide me with a taste of driverless cars in preparation for my ‘gaga days’ in 2050.

Thursday, 9th June

Pottering in the Office

Another beautiful day, warm and sunny, reaching 22C/70F. Pauline has been busy cooking and perfecting lovely dishes. I’ve been pottering. I spent the morning in the sun bringing my new iPad Pro up to speed with my app. requirements and reading the paper.

This afternoon, I’ve weeded the front garden and cut the lawn as well as sharpening the edges with a half-moon tool. I mowed the back lawn  and watered my extensive plant collection. It is so extensive, I need three photos to illustrate it. This is gardening on a grand scale!

Sweet Basil
French Tarragon
Sweet Bell Peppers & Tumbling Tom Cherry Tomatoes

They are loving this sunny, warm weather and both peppers and tomatoes are just beginning to flower.

In the really ‘big’ world, things are distinctly precarious. The three most recent opinion polls in UK are showing an increasing desire to leave the EU. Not only that but a poll by Pew Research Centre in Washington DC and reported in The Times today says that the French are second most hostile nation to the EU, beaten only by the Greeks. The French want us to leave Europe and the Dutch are pushing for a referendum after we go.

Kathimerini reports:

Fears are rising about the possible breakdown of a deal between the European Union and Turkey for the return of migrants after legal committees in Greece upheld dozens of appeals by refugees against their deportation…..Meanwhile there are also concerns about a pickup in arrivals from neighbouring Turkey.

With thousands of migrants already camped out on Greek islands, in Piraeus and the old Athens airport, bookings are inevitably suffering.

….The total number of refugees in Greece is 57,458, according to government figures made public on Tuesday….migrants are living in makeshift camps or state-run facilities on the Aegean islands or mainland Greece….. tensions have been rising. On Tuesday suspected far-right protesters attacked a group of migrants near a state-run camp on Chios…. On Lesvos and Samos, brawls between groups of migrants have escalated in recent days, with protesters setting fire to bedding and tents in camps.

It is a parlous state from which there is little view of an early resolution.

Friday, 10th June

Slightly cooler and more cloudy morning. Just the weather to get jobs done in. First up, we must wish Pauline’s brother-in-law, Colin, happy 80th birthday. This year he’s sharing it with the queen.

European Health Insurance Card

First job this morning is to renew our EHIC cards which ran out in January and which we had forgotten about. In fact, our second month in Tenerife in Jan./Feb. wouldn’t have been covered by it. Fortunately, we have comprehensive health cover any way but it is better to be safe. We rather forget the European Health Insurance Card because it was useless in Greece. There was little healthcare on the island and, what there was, we had to pay for. It is different in more developed countries like Spain, France and Italy, although the whole thing may become a moot point in a couple of weeks if the vote is to leave the EU. Optimistically, I’ve set up a reminder in our on-line diaries in 5 years time to tell us to renew our cards.

Drove back to Surrey this afternoon to help Pauline’s Brother-in-Law, Colin, celebrate his 80th birthday. Pauline’s niece, Mandy, had set up a surprise party with lots of his old friends attending and his favourite artist, Rod Stewart, performing in the garden. Well, actually, Rod was otherwise engaged so a tribute act from Grimsby had been booked. He turned out to be amazingly good and the older people there really enjoyed it.

Mandy had supplied more food than could be needed for feeding the 5000 and Pauline spent two days making sweets for the buffet. Strawberry Tart, Lemon Meringue Pie, Chocolate Torte with Raspberries and whipped cream, Blackcurrant Cheesecake, Coffee and Hazelnut Meringue Cake. They looked delicious. It was a warm evening and the party went on until nearly midnight in the garden. We drove back to Sussex, watched a Brexit Referendum Interview with Farage and got to bed about 2.00 pm.

Saturday, 11th June

We were tired this morning but the radio didn’t know that and came on at 6.00 am as usual. Weekend shopping is not usually great and we try to do it on Friday before the Great Unwashed are out but we were busy yesterday and it had to be done. It is an incredibly hot (26C/79F) and humid morning. It was so noticeable as we walked out of  air-conditioned Tesco and into the atmosphere. It was like walking down the plane steps into the Mediterranean climate.

This place that we have chosen to live in is reputed to be the sunniest in Britain and we are beginning to believe it. Two miles from our house is the Highdown Vineyard which describes its climactic advantages:

The open site enjoys free draining chalk soil and gentle westerly breezes, which ensure a good airflow through the vineyard. Its proximity to the sea means it doesn’t usually suffer from the late frosts which beset so many English vineyards. The site also benefits from being in an area with some of the lowest rainfall and highest sunshine in the country.

Highdown Vineyard Shop
The Vines and their Owners

Maybe I could get in to a new career! They’re bound to need a taster. I’m experienced.

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