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.

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