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 Party 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
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.
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
At 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
The 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.
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.
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
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.
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.