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.
Our 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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.