Week 397

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

Sweet Basil & French Tarragon

Lovely morning. We drank coffee on the patio and watched our tomatoes ripen. The Sweet Basil and the French Tarragon have been a real success and, this morning, Pauline has cut the Basil right back and will make enough Basil Oil and Pesto to get us through until we go away. The French Tarragon is a wonderfully fresh, aniseed flavour and, we believe, is rather more vibrant than the packets of cut herb to be bought in the supermarket. It’s probably just biased opinion but it makes us happy. The tarragon is used three or four times a week in cooking at the moment. That is more frequent than we would normally do but one feels duty bound to use it. When we go away, it will be cut back savagely and the cuttings chopped and frozen. Frozen tarragon is incredibly successful.

We have more or less booked up our travel for the year. We are going to Greece August-September followed by Yorkshire in October and then a month in Tenerife in November. By December, we will be pleased to sleep in our own beds again. Next year, the plants will lose out because we intend to drive across Europe for two or three months. It will be nice to see Sifnos again and meet old friends.

Monday, August 1st 2016


Can you believe it? August 2016 already. Have a happy month especially all those environmentalists everywhere.

retinaWe have quite a light week so there will be plenty of trips to the Leisure Centre. In mid-week, I have my annual eye test at the hospital which will mean driving to Ashford Hospital. Ashford Hospital is situated on the A30 to the West of London, close to junction 13 of the M25 and Heathrow Airport which will take us about and hour and a quarter. Pauline will be driving because I have to have very strong drops in my eyes which will allow them to photograph my retinas and will stop me seeing properly for about three hours.

I’ve been having this wonderful service since I was first diagnosed Type 2 Diabetic about seven years ago. Although I am no longer in that category, I was able to secure the annual services of eye and foot care in case of ongoing problems. What disappointed me was the lack of continuity or joined up record keeping as I moved from Yorkshire to Surrey where they didn’t receive my photographic records and, therefore, didn’t maintain a developmental record. I’m hoping things will have moved forward now we’ve come down to Sussex.

Tuesday, August 2nd 2016

I’ve just admonished the postman for the current weather. The first day of August was greeted with persistent drizzle and the night was windy with really heavy rain. August in England’s reputedly sunniest county! The postman looked suitably hangdog and apologised immediately. He wasn’t enjoying it either. The tomatoes and peppers absolutely hate it. Actually, we were feeling very tired this morning having been woken by the burglar alarm going off at 1.30 am. Woken from deep sleep, we both charged downstairs to find no explanation. All windows and doors were locked and there was no sign of attempted entry.

We had a cup of tea and chatted. By 3.00 am, we were back to bed but took a while to get back to sleep. We were still up just after 7.00 am having had about five hours sleep or so and were feeling it. I have been shocked to find that my older self adapts far less well to shortage of sleep than when I was in my twenties. It is still damp and blustery now although very warm. We will only venture out to the leisure Club in the early afternoon.

In the meantime, I am trying to get round the paucity of Hockney prints on the market by looking at alternatives. The one Hockney we are going to buy is The Arrival of Spring – something we always look forward to.

The Arrival of Spring – David Hockney, 2011

I have always like this by Paul Klee and I think I can persuade Pauline to put it in the Lounge.

Small Picture of Fir Trees 1922 – Paul Klee

Pauline is keen on the Klimt so there will something of a trade-off. Actually, I like it very much too. It reminds us of the trees around our very first house in Meltham Mills, West Yorkshire.

Beech Forest 1902 – Gustav Klimt

I also rather like this which is called Morning Luster. It has absolutely no provenance but it just appeals to me. I don’t think I will get away with this in the bargaining process.


Wednesday, August 3rd 2016

I would like to have met Sod. I definitely believe in his Law. It is proved so often in life. Regularly, I go to the Leisure Club, get changed in the Locker Room which is invariably empty, and go in to the gym to exercise. When I come back to shower and change, there is only one person in the room apart from me and it is Sod. By Law, he’s chosen to use the locker immediately above or below mine. There are 200 -300 free lockers but Sod chose that one and we jostle for space to get our clothes out.

Today, Sod was working for the Ashford Hospital Appointments Database. My annual Eye Test was at 3.30 pm in Ashford, Middlesex. We had to leave at about 1.00 pm to allow for hold ups on the M25. Actually, it only took an hour and a quarter on a lovely, quiet and sunny afternoon. But Sod had already arranged that two deliveries designated for our house would arrive at 1.10 pm and 1.15 pm precisely. How does he do that? Fortunately, he hadn’t considered our neighbours who, kindly received the parcels and had them waiting for us when we got home. We were tired and frustrated after our return journey which coincided with rush hour and took an extra hour than the outward journey.

bowl_tomsFortunately, the trip to Ashford Hospital Ophthalmology Department was very successful and will be my last. Two years ago, I ceased to be Diabetic. A year ago, I ceased to be pre-Diabetic. Today, I was signed off by the Ophthalmology Department and declared completely free of all symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy. When we got back from that good news, we celebrated with a bowl of our own, home grown, cherry tomatoes. I would like to say they were incredibly flavoursome. They were nice and we grew them but they didn’t have the explosive sweetness of some that we buy in the supermarket.

Thursday, August 4th 2016

A pleasant, warm morning. We went out at 9.00 am to do the weekly shop. I was looking forward to watching a bit of the Test match until I watched a bit of the Test Match, Where did that England team of last match disappear? At 1.00 pm, we drove to the Leisure Centre and did a hard hour’s work. This is our fourth session this week. We will do our fifth and last tomorrow. Saturday will be a rest day and then it all starts again on Sunday.

Honda Camera Assisted Parking

We have had satellite navigation in our cars for about fifteen years and a reversing camera built in for about the last ten of those years. It has got to the stage where I would find it difficult to reverse without one now. It is particularly useful in reversing into a car parking space. The driver makes the yellow lines on the camera line up with the white lines on the carpark and Bob’s your uncle (or brother in my case).

Our new car has many improvements but Honda have ‘upgraded’ the reversing camera to default to a ‘dynamic’ setting which makes the whole process scarily difficult. For the past six weeks, we have been trying to adapt to it but failed. Today, after consulting the impenetrable handbook, I finally found how to switch this new function off. Life can be wonderful.

Friday, August 5th 2016

While we were driving to Ashford Hospital on Wednesday, a tyre pressure warning light came on. We pulled off the carriage way and tested the pressure of all four tyres. One was 0.5 psi below the others. I reset the warning system and we carried on our merry way. sncrvToday, we went in to the Dealership to speak to them about it. They told us that it was sensitive enough to be triggered by such a small deflation and there was nothing wrong with our tyre. As we were leaving, we noticed that our old car was still on the forecourt unsold. Rather cheered us up!

The satellite navigation system that we’ve had in Honda cars for the past fifteen years has been replaced (upgraded??) by a Honda version of a ‘Garmin’ system. It is not as friendly although it does provide us with five years of free upgrades. Pauline’s hobby is arguing with the sat. nav.. Mine is slavishly following it. If I’m driving, I have to do it against the background of two women arguing constantly with each other. It’s easier to let Pauline drive so she is too busy to argue with anyone. We completed our fifth session of intense exercise and both felt absolutely shattered. Tomorrow is a rest day.

Saturday, August 6th 2016

winekessLovely day. Hot and sunny with clear, blue skies. It is our day off from the gym although I did cut the lawns and strimmed all the edges. We sat outside with a bottle of chilled, white wine and some garlic stuffed olives. It felt decadent but delightful. Actually, in a bid to get my vitamin D content up, I had a little too much sun.

I retreated into the kitchen to watch the Test Match. It was certainly worth watching. It is nice to think we have a team to be proud of nowadays. Let’s hope it rubs off on the Football team. I’m afraid I can’t get excited about the Olympics and haven’t been able to do for quite a long time now. The systematic, State doping of Russian athletes isn’t a factor in this for me at all. I just find I can’t get interested in the events with some exceptions. At least the English Premier League begins again next weekend. It will help fill in some of the gaps left by the prorogation of parliament and accompanying political discussion and analysis.

Week 396

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

After another hot and sweaty night, we have woken to an overcast but humid start to the day.  Orange juice and tea followed by the Marr Show and an interview with the superficially affable but ultimately sinister and threatening John McDonnell.

As one reads the Sunday newspapers encompassing international terrorism, European disintegration and British political turmoil, WB Yates’ lines from The Second Coming spring quickly to mind:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The darkness drops again but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

What is important, to my mind, is not to run away or turn one’s back on this turmoil and to pretend as one so often hears from older people that it won’t affect them. These issues have to be addressed by all of us. Perhaps we will have to send for Cadet D Pritchard!

On a lighter note (Get it?), we received two more table lamps for our Lounge yesterday. We are very pleased with them. We only have one still to be delivered with one more side table.

Lounge in Progress

The Lounge is still work in progress. We have decided to ditch – after 30 years – our collection of mid to late 19th Century pictures – PreRapaelite, Waterhouse, Whistler, Frederick Lord Leighton, Perugini, etc.. It is time to move on and radically. We are rather taken with the recent work of Hockney since he returned to his Yorkshire roots. Things produced in panel form and, often, using his iPad, like this:

Kerby after Hogarth – David Hockney
A Bigger Picture – David Hockney

Unfortunately, they are so new, they have not arrived in print form yet and we can’t afford the originals. I do have a colour laser but, if Hockney is reading this, we are happy to borrow them.

Monday, July 25th, 2016

gbeachI have always thought that it was dangerous for Greece to rely on one, main income stream. Whenever one talked to those in the tourist industry on Sifnos – which just about included everybody – they displayed extreme complacency based on generations of success. The belief was always that although they would have good and bad years, ultimately, tourist income would continue to be their mainstay.

gbeach2I began to believe that this was complacent for a number of reasons. One was generational. Generations before me – for all sorts of different economic and developmental reasons – looked not much further than Britain’s coastlines. The air travel revolution that began in the 1960s and developed strongly in the 1970s, made European shores easily within reach and those of my generation and just before have not, generally, been as tempted by the Long Haul as the current band of 20 – 40 year olds. Ironically, even those on Greek islands in that age band dream of trips to Thailand, etc.

thaiAnother reason was cultural. Many of the generations born since we joined the EU, saw themselves as European and the ‘simple pleasures’ of Greek Island ‘Hopping’ appealed to the 60s/70s ‘Hippy’ Generation much more than to those who feel the need to explore very different cultures than their own. The Far East has long been a favourite destination to sample more exotic cultures and, gradually, the European tourist base is coming and will become eroded. Add into that mix, European instability, wild currency fluctuation and terrorist threats and the trend is accentuated. Tonight, Kathimerini reports this:

Germany and Britain are Greece’s biggest tourist markets, but tourist spending patterns might be worrying. Bank of Greece data for May showed tourism earnings down 10.4 percent year-on-year as visitors reined in spending.

That tightening of the purse strings was most pronounced with a 29.2 percent drop in spending by Britons, where a see-sawing sterling, weakened by the referendum to leave the European Union, made holidays in Greece more expensive.

This may only be a short term manifestation but it will feed in to a long term societal trend which will be underlined by Brexit.

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

I mused over my freshly squeezed orange juice, cup of tea followed by freshly ground cup of coffee that, throughout my working life and even up to three years ago or so my diet was completely wrong for me. I somehow half knew it intuitively without ever focussing down on it. I ate too much of everything but, particularly, lots and lots of bulk carbohydrates which raised my blood sugar only to see it crash as I burnt it off. This made me crave more carbohydrate immediately.

I must be honest with you. I don’t know what I’m talking about. Only girls did Biology in my Grammar School days and they were banished to another school entirely. As a consequence, I never got to understand girls but, more importantly, I never learned how my own body worked. I was basically walking around in a body which I had never been licensed to own.

Shreddies – for years my Breakfast Cereal of choice.

After a huge bowl of Shreddies followed by toast and marmalade for Breakfast, we would drive to school, charge round for about 3 hours and I would sneak a bacon sandwich from the Canteen at Breaktime. An hour and a half later I was shattered and ready for lunch which would often be pasta or just a sandwich. At home, 4 or 5 hours later and, maybe after sneaking a few biscuits during a meeting, we would reward ourselves with a big meal. We only ever bought ready-made food on a Friday (which was ‘Chinese Night’) and we both enjoyed cooking for relaxation. I would open a bottle of wine while I cooked, kidding myself that I would use some in the cooking and then open another with the meal which invariably contained potatoes, pasta or rice and lots and lots of meat. Even as I write this, it seems like another world away.

Today, I have a constant battle with my consumption but usually I win. Only liquids for breakfast. If I get hungry during the morning, I resort to fruit – mainly bananas – and then we go to the gym. When we get back at around 3.00 pm, I am af&nhungry but tired and thirsty so I drink bottled water which fills me and then we eat a meal which usually centres on protein (so I’m told) and, almost always fish or chicken. I’m not allowed green vegetables because of my INR so I have fennel, mushrooms, onions/shallots, peppers roasted or griddled or I have Greek Salad/Tomato & Basil Salad. There are always lots of tomatoes in our meal. This is invariably followed by fresh fruit salad with a topping of yoghurt.

That is my meal for the day but, if and when I am desperate for food, I turn to my other ‘new’ failsafe which is nuts. I buy packets of walnuts, cashew nuts but my favourite is a Fruit & Nut selection. What I had never realised, because I knew nothing about the science, was that protein takes longer to digest and sits in the stomach longer keeping one feeling fuller for longer. It’s a brilliant invention and works wonderfully for me. If you’d offered me these products three or four years ago, I would have told you that you were, well, nuts.

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

The Last Lamp Arrives.

We decided not to go to the gym today. We were both feeling a bit tired after 4 consecutive hard workouts and we were expecting a delivery. It came at about 1.30 pm which would leave us time for a trip to David Lloyd but we decided to slack for one day. The delivery today was the final lamp for our Lounge and the final table arrives on Wednesday. Barring some art work on the walls, we are done. We bought two of these lamps illustrated here from a company called Lights on Lights off. They came in enough boxes to fill a recycling skip. Good company though – reasonable prices and quick despatch. These two only cost £200.00.

We’ve had a little light rain this morning on a hot and muggy day. The recent hot sunshine has really brought the peppers and, particularly, the tomatoes on and we will be picking towards the end of this week. Today, we are having a treat – Calamari and Greek Salad.

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

A philosopher (whose name I have forgotten) once said that Life is not so much about Beginnings or Endings but just muddling through the middle. That’s what we’ve been doing today. It was quite an active day. By 9.00 am we were out shopping at Tesco. After half an hour of charging round the store, we came back and I proceeded to mow the lawns. A short rest at 12.00 mid day with a cup of coffee and then off to the gym. We did a couple of hours in a delightfully quiet gym and then drove home.

My turn to cook today. Roast boned chicken breasts on a bed of home-grown tarragon accompanied by roasted peppers and tomatoes plus fennel braised in white wine with sign4tarragon. It was delightful to prepare, cook and to eat. After that, we allowed ourselves relaxation time with our iPad newspapers.

Three years ago this week, we had finished clearing the land around our Greek house. Pauline had just finished painting our big, iron gate with black, anti-rust paint and I had taken delivery of a ‘For Sale’ sign which I attached to the newly painted gate. The very next day, I received a phone call to tell me that a buyer wanted to come and discuss the property. It took almost twelve months to clinch the deal. Three years on, that sign is on the wall above my head while I type this Blog. It all feels a world away.

Friday, July 29th, 2016


Happy 64th Birthday to Jane BG. We wish her another great year of winning.

A Prize Winning Tomato

I picked my first cherry tomato this morning and I was going to send it her as a present but, before I had packaged and labelled it, ….. I ate it. Well I cut it in half and shared it with my wife. She pronounced it under ripe and in need of a few more days on the vine. Story of my life – just too eager.

We are in the dying days of July 2016. We celebrated by going to the local tip to get rid of more packaging than I could comfortably fit into the car. I had been storing it up in the garage as we unpacked five lamps and four tables. I had two types of waste – cardboard which goes in the cardboard and paper skip and polystyrene and bubble wrap plus plastic which all goes into the ‘General Waste’ skip. Strangely, having dumped the waste and driven away, there is a pleasant sense of achievement and relief. Maybe it’s just me.

An on-line journal – Keep Talking Greece – features a CitiGroup Bank analysis which

insists that Grexit is a real possibility in the next 1 to 3 years. Taking into consideration factors like deeper recession and new political instability, the Citigroup analysts see increase of the Grexit risk……………………The report is pessimistic about the country’s prospects, claiming the predictions of both the Greek government and its lenders on the course of the Greek economy will be proven wrong. The Citigroup believes the economy of Greece will continue in recession, predicting a 7.1% contraction of GDP in 2018 and a spike in inflation of 47%, based on its evaluation that Greece will have a new national currency by then.

Certainly, the Greek governments propensity to talk the economy up could well turn out to be counter productive.

Satuday, July 30th, 2016

Sony Experia M2
Sony Experia XA









Strangely nothing day for the penultimate of July. We went out early to the EE Shop in Worthing to look at possible upgrades for our smart phones which are on contract and coming towards the end of their term. We have two Sony Experia M2s at the moment but I am going to receive two Sony Experia XAs in replacement. I will be able to trade our old ones in for about £70.00 which will be fine after two years use.

Fascinating report referred to in this morning’s Daily Telegraph headlined:

IMF admits disastrous love affair with the euro and apologises for the immolation of Greece

It is well worth a read in the original here.

Week 395

Sunday, 17th July

A hot and sticky day that was 22C/70F at 9.00 am. If you follow the Blog, you will know that I am glued to political programmes on Sunday. The Marr Show had the two, Labour st_7Party challengers. As so many have said, they both look distinctly second division. There is also a thread being spun by the media to the effect that a large proportion of the PLP will move off into a body called ‘The Continuity Labour Party’ if Corbyn wins the Leadership election. With such recent echoes of the SDP, one’s heart sinks but fails to see an alternative. There are no participants with the stature of David Owens, Shirley Williams or Roy Jenkins to lead this break away.

Andrew Neil presented the last Sunday Politics before the summer recess and I will need to find alternative forms of intellectual stimulation for the next few weeks. Failing that, I will have to mow the lawns more regularly as I did this morning. It was so humid that this simple act left me sweating so profusely that I needed a shower before settling down to the Sunday Times.

Talk about sweating profusely, the Greek Hoteliers have a solution to that. In these times of austerity, they are providing air conditioning but asking guests to share. This hotel is on the island of Lefkada in the Ionian Sea:


It gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘air con.’.

Monday, 18th July

Tarragon & Basil

An even hotter and more humid morning after an uncomfortable night. By 9.30 am we were reading 24C/75F and, as the day progressed, we saw 27C/81F. It’s actually quite a moderate temperature but the context exaggerates the effect. In Greece, we could have been experiencing 36C/97F but, in the context of a Greek summer, that feels much more acceptable. Tonight our house is hot and uncomfortable. It is 29C/84F in the Study at 10.00 pm as I write. There is a glorious and silver full moon gleaming as it rises above the roof tops.

Cherry Toms.

We went to the Leisure Club to do a sweaty hour’s work. I had a shower and then we drove the five miles home. By the time we had got back, I needed another shower and now I need another. Before we went out, I cleaned our new car for the first time. We’ve already done 600 miles which seems to have gone very quickly.

The tomatoes and peppers are really appreciating the strong sunshine although watering is crucial. The herbs – Sweet Basil and Tarragon – are really doing well and we have stopped buying any from the supermarket at all. We only have six cherry tomato plants but we hope they will give us a few salads when they ripen. At least they will be ‘organic’.

Tuesday, 19th July

pwpcAt 8.30 am – 22C/70F. By 10.30 am – 26F/79F and by 1.00 pm – 37C/99F. It was uncomfortable but bearable. I spent the morning making sure that plants were well watered and then cleaning the drive after some landscaping over the past few days. My pressure washer came with a patio cleaner attachment which I’ve never tried before. It worked perfectly. I was also provided with a product to put into the dispenser chamber which really seemed to work well, dispersing the grime extremely effectively.

Unexpectedly, two of the five side table lamps arrived for the lounge. They are absolutely delightful. They really add to the room’s atmosphere.








They are both about 61Cm/24″ high and fit really well with the furniture.

In the incredible heat of the afternoon, we went down to Worthing Beach area but only to pick up some orders of Pauline’s from M&S. The beach was very busy with holiday makers which felt strange and the cafes were packed. They even have a Harry Ramsden’s Chip Shop. We remember the original in Yorkshire. Tonight, we have spent sitting outside in the slightly cooler air. Even now – at 11.15 pm – the house is registering 34C/93F. It’s going to be an interesting night.

Wednesday, 20th July

mattcartoonThe day started dull but warm and just got hotter. My job today was to cut the lawns and then clean the patio. We went out to Tesco to buy 8 Sea Bream fillets for a lunch party tomorrow. The sun was strong and hot by 11.00 am and hit 33C/91F, leaving us tired and listless. Pauline was stripping beds, washing bedding and remaking. Rather her than me.

Watched Theresa May’s first Prime Minister’s Questions from Parliament. She is a distinctly unappealing woman. I once went 10 years without visiting a doctor – aged 18 – 28. The UK is now issuing Medical Practices with instructions to remove patients they haven’t see for five years. It won’t happen, of course, because it will cost practices £100.00/ €120.00 per patient per year. I did like this cartoon in The Telegraph this morning, however.

Thursday, 21st July

A hot and humid, sticky morning. We have front and back doors open to produce a through draft of air. Unfortunately, the air rushing through is very warm. We have guests for lunch so it is all hands to the pump tidying up and finishing off the cleaning.

worthing a&e
Worthing A&E

After all our jobs have been completed, we have turned our minds to a subject we’ve been meaning to address ever since we arrived. Where would we go if we urgently needed an A&E? Where would we go if we urgently needed a dentist? Very quickly, it became apparent that our A&E would be at Worthing Hospital which our sat.nav. says would take 16 minutes to drive to. In emergency, I’m sure that will feel like an age but, in retrospect, it is fairly average for the other places we have lived in Surrey and in Yorkshire. As to dentists, it is a much less certain service. We would like to have an NHS Dentist and lots advertise the possibility but, we know from experience, those possibilities seem to evaporate when they are approached. We will see.

Had an enjoyable visit from P&M who stayed about 4 hours. Fortunately, the temperature abated a little and we sat round the dining table, ‘catching up’ and eating Sea Bass and salad followed by Summer Fruits and whipped cream. That was a treat and beautifully cooked by my lovely wife.

Friday, 22nd July

I’m not a great believer in biblical allusions but, when I think about those who voted for ‘Brexit’, the words – Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. – immediately come to mind. This was a case of the short sighted leading the blind and would have been funny if it wasn’t so serious.

Yesterday, on the last day before parliamentary recess – a great day for burying bad news – the government released this information which I source from the BBC and The Daily Telegraph.

Warning of cuts as NHS told to save extra £1.6bn

Patients face “brutal” cuts and longer waits as the NHS is told to make an extra £1.6 billion of savings this year. Waiting time targets for A&E, routine operations and cancer treatment have been relaxed for many hospitals, in an admission that restoring “financial discipline” is more important than prompt treatment. Regulators have told dozens of hospitals they do not have to meet official targets over the next nine months, at the same time as a crackdown on costs, which has seen bosses warned of fines and takeovers by regulators if they do not meet stiff financial controls.

No one is blaming it on Brexit directly but it is symptomatic of a declining economy. Of course, readers of the Daily Mail and The Daily Express are inclined to believe what they are told and don’t have access to the more serious reporting of the ‘broadsheets’.

This morning the following economic data results were reported and I evidence The Times and the BBC.

Brexit causes dramatic drop in economy, data suggests

Britain’s decision to leave the EU has led to a “dramatic deterioration” in economic activity, not seen since the aftermath of the financial crisis. Data from IHS Markit’s Purchasing Manager’s Index, or PMI, shows a fall to 47.7 in July, the lowest level since April in 2009. A reading below 50 indicates contraction. Both manufacturing and service sectors saw a decline in output and orders.

As both the Financial Times and The Independent point out, Brexit has already led to Businesses freezing hiring and investment plans.

The ‘Get Our Country Back’ brigade are unlikely to even consider things like this. They vote on heart not head. Maybe, they will be interested when their immediate pleasures are threatened. Interestingly, a report in The Times this morning suggests that:

‘Staycation’ boost to UK economy as millions of families shun foreign holidays

Millions of British holiday makers are abandoning plans for foreign travel and embarking on “staycations”, figures show, as economists predict the trend will provide a major boost to the UK economy. Tourism boards across the UK are reporting record-breaking numbers of bookings and inquiries over the past few weeks, suggesting workers will pump billions of pounds back into the UK instead of spending their cash abroad.

Brighton Beach is popular!

and it will be the value of their currency, the closing of duty-free services and the increased difficulty to cross European borders which will make them, possibly, think again.

Of course, as in the Irish case, I think the question should be continued to be put before the electorate until they come up with the right answer. The Labour Leadership challenger to Corbyn has been hinting at something similar  – maybe to catch the coat tails of those suffering ‘Buyer’s Remorse’ and, who knows, we may see a realignment on the progressive Left with a ‘Continuity Labour’ breakaway party joining forces with the Liberal Democrats. Stranger things have happened.

Saturday, 23rd July

David & Allison’s Wedding 23 July, 1966

Hot and sunny morning down here in Sussex but my mind is turned back 50 years. It was 50 years ago today that I was in County Donegal, Southern Ireland on my first trip ‘abroad’ while a number of members of my family were assembling for a wedding between Alison and my cousin, David Pritchard. David is, of course, about 40 (or so) years older than me. Maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration but he is very, very old.

So many of the family were represented there that I like this photo and will treasure it. Particularly, it features Mum just 2 years after being widowed. It is nice to see dad’s sisters, Marjorie (David’s Mum), Kath (Peter’s Mum) and Edwina (Sue & Gill’s Mum). A young Robert and Peter and Malcolm are standing on the left along with what I think is Aunty Daisy, Grandad Sanders’ Housekeeper. I think it is Gill standing on the left next to Mum and Sue standing on the right next to Colin?? and near Edwina. The husbands – Eric Pritchard (David’s Dad who worked as an accountant for Reynold’s Chains and chain smoked, if I remember correctly), Arthur Stimpson (Peter & Colin’s Dad who was a Science Teacher) and Ron Wilson (Sue & Gill’s Dad who, I think, worked for the Gas Board). I’m ashamed to say that I don’t know Alison’s family at all.

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As I said, David preceded me at Burton Grammar School where he was particularly known for his musical acumen. I thought I would find a picture of him from Grammar School days. I spent hours searching for music prize pupils called Pritchard to no avail. I waded through and dismissed Rugby, Cricket and Athletics teams but was pretty sure he wasn’t particularly sporty. After about 2 or 3 hours and just about to give up, a page popped on to my screen featuring the CCF of 1958 with this little chap on the 2nd Left of the middle row.

While I was there, I couldn’t resist these photos of Dad  85 years ago and me almost 50 years ago.

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Week 394

Sunday, 10th July

A day at home. Political programmes until they came out of my ears followed by a surfeit of sport with Hamilton winning the British Grand Prix and Murray winning Wimbledon. To top it all, the French failed to win the football and, as everyone knows, we all hate the French!

Monday, 11th July

TMayBritain is doing its level best to emulate Greece in being the most ridiculous state in (or out of) Europe. Until lunchtime, we didn’t have a Prime Minister and then we got an unelected one who will have to negotiate our leaving of Europe even though she wanted to (just about) remain. Of course, ‘lunatic behaviour’ is measured against the ‘norm’ and the Labour Party should be providing that yard stick in Opposition but are managing to look even more lunatic than the Tories, which isn’t easy.

As The Times says this morning, families are asking, Is it Umbria or Cumbria for holiday this year? in the light of the rapid depreciation of sterling. Soon the ‘Got to get our country back’ brigade will realise how stupid they have been as prices rise, companies leave the UK, jobs disappear and the prospects for Britain decline. They won’t even be able to give ‘their country’ away! Plebiscites are ripe country for the electorate to be sold a pup. What makes this one worse is that those dodgy traders of knee-jerk emotions have melted away, deserting their responsibilities and leaving the naive or foolish electorate to rue the day.

Tuesday, 12th July

From the ridiculous to the sublime. We know that we are going to have trouble when we buy a house within a mile of a huge garden centre. We have been gardening addicts throughout our married lives and have deliberately tried to reign in our instincts here. Today, we cracked.

hydrasWe have noticed how some plants do particularly well in gardens in our area. Wisteria is not for us on the brick face of a new build property but hydrangeas are a different matter. They seem to love the terroir in Sussex. We went out on a mission and the garden centre didn’t make it easy. They stocked about 20 different species of hydrangea and we will have room for only 3 or 4. What to choose? These three are the ones we managed to narrow it down to so far.

  • Hydrangea Macrophylla – Lady in Red.
  • Hydrangea Macrophylla – Hot Red Violet.
  • Hydrangea Macrophylla – Hanabi Pink.

Might squeeze one or two more in later. Because we gave all our gardening equipment away before we vacated our last property, I’ve even had to go out and buy a spade.

Wednesday, 13th July

hdccA day largely at home today. We did go out and buy another Hydrangea – Macrophylla – Cotton Candy. We then went on to plant out the four hydrangeas that we’d bought over the past couple of days at the front of the house – around the front door. We had just finished gardening when the sunny sky went dark and threw a heavy bout of rain down on us removing the need to water our new plants in. They looked at home immediately.

Interesting to see that the normally over optimistic National Tourist Office of Greece which talks up arrival numbers all year until the final figures come out and reveal the truth has produced a dose of realism early in the season. Kathimerini reports that: There are signs of fatigue in Greek tourism with hotel occupancy levels in Athens at very low levels. They explain it by referring to the migrant crisis discouraging potential tourists and the American government warning their citizens against travelling to Europe because of potential ‘security problems’.

Thursday, 14th July


A warm and sunny day with no breeze. We were tied to the house by the imminent delivery of four side tables for the Lounge. We had been given the expressly un-user friendly delivery slot of 7.00 am – 6.00 pm. Actually, they were delivered at 11.00 am. Until then, we were glued to the government (night of the long knives) re-shuffle. Great to see Gobsbourne, Gove and Organ Morgan dumped. What about Bambi at Health? Surely he should have been lobotomised.

It was all so gripping that I had to fight with my conscience over whether to watch some of the Test Match. Largely, the politics won although I caught a little cricket at times.  We also did our weekly shop at Tesco. One of the thing about being retired is that one is free when all the grey, wrinkly people are free. One tends to shop while the home-for-the-bewildered releases its residents to shop, urging them to shuffle slowly, bent over a shopping trolley while blocking whole yards/metres of shelving with the help of their friends. Today, because we didn’t get out until mid afternoon, the supermarket was quiet, nearly empty and a delight for energetic shoppers. We have taken note.

Friday, 15th July

phormLovely warm – humid even – and sunny day. I told you that the fight against a desire to buy plants and design gardens was one we were always likely to loose. Today, we went out and spent another £200.00/€240.00 or so at the garden centre. Today we bought feature plants like Phormium Maori Queen and broad leaved, mauve flowering Hebe and three more hydrangeas. We spent two or three hours preparing the ground and planting out.

I now have an established routine in the garden. Each morning I water my tomatoes and peppers which are all heavy with fruit. The sweet basil and tarragon are romping away. We’ve been cutting and cooking with them for two or three weeks.  Twice each week – at least – I mow the front and back lawns and strim the edges. I treat the grass which is lush and healthy recently laid turf, with a green up feed. It grows fast and stays very green. It is completely weed-free and appears to be without the dreaded moss because its drainage is so good. The plants we have added are in beds at the front and side of the house and have been chosen to be self-sustaining so that we can go abroad for a couple of months without worrying.

Saturday, 16th July

erdoganWent to bed last night on the feverish reporting of a Turkish military coup. Erdogan, who has been gradually tightening his grip on power by forcing the secular state to submit to a form of Islamic rule, denying basic rights to some citizens and controlling or shutting down the press, has been provoking this for some time.

By the time we woke at 6.00 am, the coup was all but over. Thousands of military were being rounded up and some being lynched by the mob. Erdogan, from his iPhone ‘facetime’ address to a television station managed to rally citizens to come out and demonstrate support for him. Interestingly, they all seemed to be male. Women, of course, have no political part to play in an Islamic country. They stay at home.

British Airways promptly cancelled all flights in and out of Turkey while EasyJet and Thomson went ahead as normal although they did tell their customers to Turkey to ‘stay indoors’. Great holiday – fly to a war zone and hunker down!

However, you must admit that it’s been a strangely unsettling month. At home, after the sheer madness of UK having voted to leave the E.U., the two, major parties are imploding. Only the Tories innate lust for power has kept them slightly on track. The Labour Party appears to, be in its death throws with no real chance of providing effective opposition. Abroad, a madman (aka sexually confused Asian male) slaughtered 50 people in a US ‘gay’ nightclub and then a criminally deviant Asian male runs a truck over 200 people who are celebrating a national holiday out with their families on the French Riviera. The Turkish army attempt to depose an autocratic but elected State  President of the most strategically important country to the continent of Europe. One is left grasping for stability and certainties however flawed.

Hardy Fuschia ‘Janey’

We went out and bought yet more plants. Three Weigelas with variegated leaves edged with mauve, which we didn’t intend to buy, were added to a gorgeous Hebe which we didn’t intend to buy. We told each other that we must leave but, like some addicted gamblers, we spotted hardy fuschia ‘Janey’ and we could not resist. Anyone who knows us will also know that Janey was the name of Pauline’s mum. We bought two and she looks great in our garden. Of course, we also needed some compost to help the planting and some bags of bark to top dress the bed. Fortunately, we have no more space and will not be returning to that garden centre – unless something drastic happens like the Labour Party surviving or Erdogan publicly outing himself.

Week 393

Sunday, 3rd July

A lovely, sunny day – as it should be in July. We are at home with the Sunday papers, consecutive expositions (Marr Show, Peston on Sunday & The Sunday Politics) of the current shambles of the British political scene and a delivery of a new piece of furniture all the way from Madrid. Pauline is feeling a little under the weather and has been for a day or two. It seems to be a touch of ‘flu but it is lingering.

It is nice to have a restful day today because the week ahead is busy. France at the beginning of the week followed by Surrey at the end of the week will mean we are away from home for quite a few days although that may be a blessing in disguise. A ‘snagging’ problem has arisen with one or two of the floor tiles in one of the bathrooms. The builders will be in for about three days and we will just leave them to it.

sideboardOur new sideboard/lounge cupboard was delivered today by two delightful, Polish lads who had been on a terrible journey from Wolverhampton to Southampton and then on to us, arriving at 2.30 pm. They looked shattered and said they had another five deliveries before they could head of back to the Midlands. The M25 had been a nightmare coming down and they were dreading the return.

Now we can look for sidetables and lamps to finish of the room. After that, spending will be complete on the new house until Pauline thinks of something else. I get my own way on technology and she gets her’s on furniture. Reciprocity in all things is a recipe for success.

Monday, 4th July

A lovely, sunny day. My tomatoes, peppers and herbs are rejoicing in sympathy with the Americans on their Independence Day. The only difference is that, unlike the Americans, the vegetables will only be liberated when we eat them.

Theresa May, the runaway Tory Leadership candidate, has said over the weekend, as The Times reports today, that expats could lose right to live abroad:

Millions of EU citizens living in the UK and Britons settled in Europe face an uncertain future after Theresa May warned that their status would be part of the Brexit negotiations.

An innocent, young 15 yr old tours Southern Ireland in July, 1966

Exactly 50 years ago this month, I went abroad for the first time – to the Republic of Ireland. With others from my home village, Repton, I stood on the station in Burton upon Trent in brilliant sunshine listening to the latest N0.1 Hit Single – Out of Time by Chris Farlowe and then the England win in the World Cup Final. Who chose that day to travel?  We took a train to Holyhead and then a ferry to Dun Laoghaire. I have no idea how much the ferry cost but a return exactly 50 years later only costs £75.00. It takes less than two hours. I’m sure our journey 50 years ago was over night- at least eight hours. I remember that it was a very rough crossing and there were drunken Irishmen being sick everywhere.

When we arrived in Dublin, it was just three months since a bomb exploded on Dublin’s main thoroughfare and Nelson’s Pillar in O’Connell Street was blown up by the IRA. From there we went down to Loch Derg in Co. Donegal where this photo was taken. Dave Beasley (75 this year) is holding the horse. I am sitting – left of picture – and Jimmy ??? is sitting next to me. My boyhood friend, Jonathan Kelly, is in blue standing at the side of the horse. I’ve no idea who was sitting on the horse.

Today, I am still in touch with Jonathan who has lived in Boston, Massachusetts for 40 years and Dave who has lived in Wales for just as long. Jonathan emailed me last week and Dave phoned my two days ago. Even so, I find it impossible to reach back over those 50 years and really reclaim a sense of the times.

Tuesday, 5th July

Early at the Tunnel
Our wines are 50% of the UK price.

A lovely morning began with early mist presaging a hot and sunny  day. We were up at 6.00 am and out by 7.00 am and on the road to the Channel Tunnel. One and a half hours later, we were in checking in to the Tunnel in Folkestone. By 10.30 am (CET), we were driving towards our regular hotel – the Holiday Inn Coquelles. We’ve been going there for nearly 30m years when it was a Millenium CopthorneHotel.

It’s still good but this will be one of our last visits because of the  Referendum vote which will make our trip uneconomical. We drove on to the Calais Wine Superstore, once owned by Tesco, which has already told us that the referendum vote will mean it will have to close in the next couple of years when we no longer are able to buy goods ‘tax free’ abroad. This accompanying photograph may mark the end of the UK in Europe.

Wednesday, 6th July

End of the UK in Europe

Lovely, hot and sunny morning as we rose late at 6.30 am. Down to breakfast at 8.00 am and then out shopping at 10.00 am. Auchan in Coquelles was our shopping centre and we loaded our trolley with duck joints, huge peppers, garlic, shallots, salad vegetables, cold meats, olive oil, and a few cases of wine. The was car loaded up and the we were off to the Tunnel where we got an earlier train at 12.30 am.

All the infrastructure that we have enjoyed for 20 years or more will be deemed effectively useless over the next three years because of a group of career driven chancers. The UK has been cast adrift and left to fend alone. The lunatics truly have control of the asylum.

We arrived in UK at 12.00 am (GMT) and began our drive to West Sussex. We were home by 1.30 pm after a lovely drive in hot sunshine with little traffic. Retirement travel can be delightful!

Thursday, 7th July

This will get Pauline through the weekend!

A warm and muggy but rather overcast day. We were up at 6.00 am and had a visitor at 7.00 am. The tiler called to complete a ‘snagging’ issue in the Family Bathroom.

I had unpacked the boot of the car and racked up the wine I bought yesterday – just 150 bottles – to see us through the weekend. We also bought 48 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc for P&C. I bought a Chilean one which I know the like for £2.49 per bottle. In the UK, the same wine sells for £5.99 per bottle. I also chose them a Loire Sauvignon Blanc which sells in UK for £7.99 per bottle and we got it for £2.99 per bottle. All in all, we saved P&C £204.00 on 48 bottles of wine. Of course, all this will disappear soon as import duties have to be paid on leaving the EU.

We are in position to complete the Lounge furnishings now that the sideboard has arrived. This morning, Pauline ordered four side tables with a fifth having to wait until it comes back into stock. Some nice table lamps will complete the room.

Jimmy Frizzel at Boundary Park

When I first moved to Oldham, in 1972, to begin my teaching career, I was a Derby County supporter. A young man teaching History in the same school tried to convert me to support Oldham Athletic (Latics). Actually, they were playing quite well at the time. Peter Corser (who became a curator of museum in Durham and must be retired now) and I spent some enjoyable afternoons and evenings at Boundary Park although our seats were just in front of a ‘pillock’ who took and played his trumpet when he got excited virtually deafening us for hours and, sometimes, days afterwards.

The manager was Jimmy Frizzell who lasted an amazing 12 years in the job. The local ‘rag’ – The Oldham Chronicle – featured him regularly. He has featured for the last time. Yesterday he died aged 79. The conveyor belt of life rumbles on and his final trumpet has sounded.

Friday, 8th July

Up early after a warm and humid night. We set off for Surrey to collect a prescription from our doctor  whose services we have not ‘dispensed’ with yet. We drove on to P&C’s house to deliver their wine we bought from our recent trip to France. In pounds sterling, their 72 bottles only cost £135.00 which is a saving on UK prices of £204.00. Soon, it will no longer be worth making this trip. Those who voted Brexit clearly believe this is a sacrifice worth making. I disagree and so will they as they see their standard of living fall and the cost of their existence rise.

Fruits of the Summer

The trip to Surrey was delightful and took just an hour. As we drove back to Sussex, we spotted a huge tailback as a result of an ‘incident’ on the M25. Fortunately, Pauline managed to navigate us around this to join the motorway one junction later and missing the miles of stationary traffic completely. Sat. Navs. are wonderful but not as wonderful as wives!

We were back in our Sussex home in good time to make our meal – griddled chicken with Greek Salad followed by fresh strawberries and raspberries with a little, vanilla ice cream. It is amazing. I love going off and travelling – near and far – but returning home is really delightful however recently we established it.

Saturday, 9th July

A little piece of Greece.

Two years ago this weekend, we sold our Greek property and left Sifnos. It would be wrong to pretend that we don’t miss it at times because we do but developments in Greece, in UK and in Europe since then have completely justified our decision.

Not only did Greece totally surrender to the Germans but they are still struggling under credit controls, increasing taxation allied to decreasing salaries and pensions. Having successfully repatriated our house sale to our UK banks (no mean feat in itself), it has provided us with an upsized property in Sussex and comforting liquidity going forward. All of this now has to be viewed through the prism of Brexit which would have really put us in a difficult position and will continue to make life difficult for expatriates. I don’t believe in God/Fate/Luck but we definitely benefitted from something which brought us a good buyer at the right moment. With one leap, we escaped the goldfish bowl and left the minnows gaping for air.

That is not to say that we will desert Greece. We will be going back soon but without the responsibility of ownership or citizenship. We will not be subject to the wilfulness of Greek politicians, the obstinacy of Greek workers or the duplicity of Greek ‘friends’. A traveller rather than a dweller suits us just fine and allows us to dip in and out as we feel like it. A lot has happened in that two years and all (with the exception of Brexit) for the better.