Week 405

Sunday, 25th September, 2016

mobilecaseWhat a lovely, lovely day! Blue skies, strong sun and warm air reaching 21C/69F. Everywhere looks so much more optimistic in this weather. Hope Ruth’s getting used to the snow in Puerto Pollensa. Sundays are political programmes – Marr, Peston and Sunday Politics with the incomparable Andrew Neil. At the same time, The Sunday Times fills the spaces. We went off to the Health Club for a couple of hours between 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm and got back just in time to watch West Ham. thrashed by Swansea. It could have been anyone. We all hate West Ham..

Pauline likes to put her smartphone in a leather case. I prefer mine lighter and unencumbered. Ordered an orange leather one for Pauline. She will be a happy girl. She made a wonderful tomato salad, a beetroot salad, skordalia and cold garlic and tarragon chicken. I love that sort of meal nowadays. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have entertained it.

Monday, 26th September, 2016

Interesting day – a little fresher than yesterday but still reached 20C/68F. Our conveyancing solicitor wrote to us with our final house documents (only 6 months after completion) and included a cheque for £80.00/€93.00 which was left over after disbursements. We were just planning where to spend it on a meal for Pauline’s birthday when we found a parking ticket on our windscreen. We were parked in what we thought was Waitrose carpark while we shopped for about ten minutes. It turned out, it didn’t wbbelong to the supermarket and there was a special ‘badge’ scheme that we should have joined. We had a £25.00/€29.00 fine to pay.

We drove home feeling a little aggrieved. Soon after we got home, we were informed that one of our investments was paying us a bonus of £1250.00/€1441.00. It is all tax free and feels so much nicer because it was unexpected. We ended the morning £1305.00/€1504.00 up. Could be worse.

We should have gone to the gym but chickened out today. Instead we made a meal that the Skiathan would be proud of. It included crispy whitebait with garlic sauce plus fresh crab salad washed down with a tangy and chilled white wine. This is how retirement should be!

Tuesday, 27th September, 2016

A mild but cloudy day. I have set my self the task of giving the car a full valet before we go to the gym. I vacuumed inside, cleaned and treated all the leather, cleaned and shone the glass inside and then gave it the full treatment outside. It starts with a pressure wash to get the loose grime off followed by shampoo and wax spray and a water brush off with a final jet wash to finish. I enrol my assistant to help with the wipe dry and shine. About an hour and it’s done. We go in for coffee and the rain begins to fall. Great!

The trip to the gym was more successful although it was remarkably busy for a Tuesday. We are beginning to find our current routine a bit too easy although tiring. We’ve decided to up our time on the equipment from tomorrow – only by 5 mins – for the rest of this week and then by another 5 mins next week. We are going to France for a few days so we will have a little time to recover.

protestMeanwhile, Greek Police, Fire Brigades and Coast Guard gathered outside the Defence Ministry on Tuesday morning and demanded that Minister, Panos Kammenos, restore wage cuts and avoid further cuts on special payrolls. Thessaloniki bus workers walked off the job for the 11th day in a row on Tuesday, demanding three months in unpaid wages. Almost half of Greek workers fear being sacked in near future. This is not a happy country.

Wednesday, 28th September, 2016

Glorious and warm, sunny day with clear, blue skies. We are told we will reach 24C/75F today. Currently, it is 21C/70F and delightful. I have already cut the lawns this morning and ordered my minion to dead-head the potted geraniums. Everything looks pristine and we can sit in the sun to avoid catching SAD.

Ruth on the right & Lizzie Dripping on the left.








Who needs a remote control on their phone? Good fun, though!

Spoke to Ruth this morning just after she returned from Bolton Hospital Eye Unit where she was having her second cataract operation. She sounded very chipper and said the operation was very straightforward. She’s only been back from her holiday a few days and she sounds happy and vigorous – for someone so old. We are going for coffee at her penthouse apartment in Bolton when we go up in about three weeks. First, we have a trip to France to celebrate Pauline’s birthday.

As a fan of gadgets, I’m really enjoying my new smart phone. It has so many apps available that I’m still learning and learning is what I enjoy. Today, I have found the Peel Smart Remote app pre-installed on my phone. It allows me to control all the televisions in the house – switching on/off, changing channels and volume. We have plenty of remote controls anyway but it’s just nice to do it from my phone. It will also control the air conditioning – but I haven’t got any.

Thursday, 29th September, 2016

What a difference a day makes. From cloudless, blue skies yesterday to grey, damp and overcast this morning. It is still mild – 17C/63F at 7.00 am. We are reacquainting ourselves with the supermarkets this morning – Asda, Sainsbury’s & Tesco – all for carefully researched items. They are all close together but it takes about and 90 minutes. By the time we get home at 11.00 am, the sun is out and the patio starting to dry out.

A cup of coffee and listening to an important speech from the Secretary of State for International Trade. It is important for clues to the Government’s thinking on Brexit ytnegotiations. The importance of Free Trade is being stressed, suggesting that membership of the Single Market is going to be lost on the alter of abolishing Free Movement.

Do you like tea? I drink a lot of fresh coffee but I also love tea. I love Yorkshire Tea and have done for years. Strangely, our water in Surrey didn’t suit Yorkshire Tea and we had to find an alternative. Here in Sussex, we have returned to Yorkshire Tea and it tastes wonderful. It is so thirst quenching. Yorkshire & Sussex is a marriage made in paradise.

I am dying. Well, we all are but I have been given a timescale. My expected lifespan is between 76 – 79 years which gives me a remaining 11 – 14 years of healthy life. The NHS heart age calculator uses things like my atrial fibrillation and weight and height plus blood pressure and family history of heart disease to predict the age at which I could expect to experience a heat attack or stroke. It is quite shocking although useful to know. The interesting thing to me is that losing more weight would make no difference to my life expectancy at all.

Friday, 30th September, 2016

September 2016 leaves on a warm and sunny day that brought us a few, momentary showers as well. Pauline suddenly became social and attended a Macmillan for Cancer coffee morning at a neighbour’s house in our street. I didn’t. I phoned friends and updated my Facebook page. Now that’s what I consider being ‘social’. I also did the vacuuming of the house. We are so clean and tidy here that there is little to do in that regard.

Another trip to the Health Club this afternoon. It was really busy – on a Friday? That’s unusual. Pauline cooked a delicious cod loin with pesto topping which we ate with cucumber and cherry tomato salad and balsamic vinegar beetroot. Absolutely wonderful. Good, healthy food makes one feel really happy.

As we enter October, we realise that we are away from home for five and a half of the next eight weeks. It’s going to be an interesting time.

Saturday, 1st October, 2016


Happy New Month. White Rabbit! It’s going to be a busy one. We are going to France and Yorkshire. Let’s hope we can tell the difference. Actually, the weather is forecast to be lovely next week in France which will add to the pleasure.

The Northern Echo – October 9th, 1969

It was 47 years ago this week that I was preparing to leave home. I was 18 years old and had spent my post-school holiday working at Pirelli in Burton-upon-Trent and saving money for my future. I thought Pirelli made tyres but it turned out that they also made slippers and it was in that department that I was put to work, packing them in to 80kg boxes and stacking them on shelves in the loading bay. Eventually, after three weeks long experience, I was moved into the loading bay to stack boxes of slippers on to lorries. Before I left, after ten weeks’ work, I was about to graduate to the job of Export Manager but that would have been a step too far. I managed to save £430.00 which was exactly the equivalent of my first term’s grant.

Idyllic Ripon

I was leaving home to go to Ripon Teacher Training College. It wasn’t my first choice by any means. I had pinned my hopes on reading English Lit. at Newcastle University but they wanted A/A/B at ‘A’ Level and I didn’t make it. I spent most of my Sixth Form career playing Contract Bridge in the Prefects’Room. I had always wanted to be a teacher but not yet. I wanted to meet the girls of Newcastle University first. Instead, I had to settle for being one of the first 20 men amongst 600 women to attend Ripon. I loved it and never went home again apart from for one, Summer holiday. This photo from The Northern Echo featured the only 20 men at the, previously, all-womens college. I don’t know how but I am dead centre of the photo next to Kevin.

Week 404

Sunday, 18th September, 2016

Unnatural Autumn Conkers.

A lovely, mild and sunny day. We are not going to the gym today so, after listening to the newspaper review and watching the political interviews, I throw myself into Autumn Tidying. Of course, that is not such a major job here as it has been in other gardens that we’ve owned. It is smaller and not surrounded by trees. No leaves to sweep up. That was always a bind. Actually, horse chestnut trees in the village have been showing early autumnal signs but I read that they are being attacked by a disease imported from Turkey. Not much good comes from there – apart from figs and ‘delight’. I cut the lawns, threw away the old tomato and pepper plants and swept the patio.

Acidic, Greek, Thompson Grapes

Autumn is a time for wonderful grapes, sweet and scented. Unfortunately, our supermarkets seem to be swamped with rather acidic but tasteless, ‘Thompson’ grapes from Greece. They are exported from Andravida on the Patra – Pyrgos road. What we particularly love are the Greek Rozaki grapes which are imported from the Korinthos area. Maybe they will come soon but for how much longer? UK imports more grapes from Greece than all of the other European countries put together. How will BREXIT alter this relationship? We were saying this to a friend from Sifnos who contacted us this morning. It is looking as if we will be completely out by mid-2019. That’s if there is an EU to leave by then. Elections all around Europe are about to throw Spaniards in a lot of works!

Monday, 19th September, 2016

Overcast but mild this morning. We will be going to the gym for a couple of hours around 2.00 pm. Before that, my jobs are to mow the neighbours’ lawn and to tidy the garage. First, we go to Asda to buy ingredients for green tomato chutney and green pepper relish. Neither of my jobs are major and I’m finished within the hour. Pauline is still going through the process of chutney-making as I finish. The kitchen stinks of boiling vinegar but I’m sure it will be worth it.



Mind you, I used to love cheese and chutney but I’m not allowed much cheese nowadays so I will have to rethink that.

Tuesday, 20th September, 2016

Overcast but mild again this morning. We have a forecast of 30C/88F returning next week but we’ll believe that when we see it. My job today is to make some decisions about new smart phones to replace our Sony Experias. Our 2 year contract is up on Friday. We can expect a new, ‘free’ smart phone if we sign a new, 2 year deal. We have been with EE (formerly Everything Everywhere) which expanded out of T-Mobile and Orange and its purchase by BT. Currently, I am torn between these two:

Sony Xperia X / Samsung Galaxy S6 edge

Does it matter? Probably not but we will be stuck with them for two years so attention is required.

We spent our couple of hours at the gym and I know you’ll find this hard to believe but the exercise time shot past because I was able to watch the Liberal Democrats Conference Leadership speech. The continuing Party Conference season will go on for a week or so  and help me through the pain of exercise.

Wednesday, 21st September, 2016

tatoosSigns of aging are everywhere for a 65 year old man. I realise this in the Health Club changing rooms when large proportions of men are covered in body art. I cannot even get close to understanding the need for it. Many/most of these men are not so much younger than me, are fat and well over forty and covered in ink. Why? I, personally, find it even more unprepossessing on middle aged women. Is it just me? Maybe, but we hear that employers don’t want to consider applicants who are covered in body art particularly if they are expected to serve the public. I have the same problem with bolts through noses or plastic saucers in ear lobes.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about Athens being particularly quiet. At the same time people were telling us that Greece was experiencing record numbers of tourists. I’ve learnt to take this with a healthy dose of scepticism. Today, as so often, official figures released show that:


Greek tourism revenues failed to post a turnaround in July, bringing losses in the first seven months to to 345 million euros year-on-year, according to data compiled by the Bank of Greece …Travel receipts in the period from January to July declined by 4.8 percent year-on-year, reaching 6.78 billion euros. In July alone, travel receipts and arrivals went downhill on an annual basis: The drop in takings exceeded 100 million euros, or 3.5 percent, while arrivals shrank by 2 percent from July 2015.

In Greece, you can never take local reports at face value. The official figures almost always contradict them. Let’s hope the Poison Dwarf is enjoying her splendid isolation!

Thursday, 22nd September, 2016

A lovely, sunny day to greet the ‘official’ first day of Autumn. It is the equinox – equal day and night – and marks the start of the slide down into Winter. We are marking this occasion with a visit from my sister, Catherine, and her husband, Lorrie, who are coming for coffee. Later, we will go to the Health Club for a good workout.

mobsamI have decided on the phone I’m going to choose. It will be the Galaxy S6 Edge. It’s not the greatest smart phone in the world but we are not big users of mobile calls or texts. We will have two phones and two contracts which will cost around £62.00 / €72.15 per month and that is enough. It gives us unlimited calls and texts at home and in Europe plus 2Gb of data. A lot of our time is spent at home nowadays and our phones use the house Wi-Fi so the only time we need data is when we are out and about or abroad.

I like gadgets and this phone also allows me to do Wi-Fi calling when the mobile signal is weak and Wi-Fi charging which obviates the need for a cable. It’s got a 16 mega pixel camera which is as good as my dedicated and expensive SLR camera and it has, reportedly, excellent low-light capabilities. It will be a 2 year contract after which time they will give me two more new smart phones. The Sony Xperias we’ve got now were only released 2 years ago but are worth about £30.00/€35.00 on the trade-in market. The cost to buy the two phones we will pick up soon would be £900.00/€1050.00 from Argos. Once again, they’ll be worthless in two more years.

Had a lovely visit from my sister, Catherine and her husband, Laurie. Coffee and emotion flowed for an hour or so.

September 2016

Of course, family matters spilled in to every conversation and it was amazing to be sitting opposite someone who I’ve met only four or five times over the past 40 years but is intimately involved in my past. As I sat opposite Catherine, I fell back 40 years to my boyhood. Catherine is a lovely girl and I find it humbling to be with her again.

Friday, 23rd September, 2016

Ruler of all she surveys…..and she’s looking at me!

A really hot and sunny day of clear blue skies and no movement of air. Unfortunately, it was shopping morning so I didn’t have much chance to enjoy the weather but it’s not a problem. We have had plenty of sun this summer and we’ve got another month of it in Tenerife soon. I don’t think I’ll fail to get my quota of vitamin D.

Had to take a picture of Pauline to send to our friends on Sifnos so I thought I’d share it with you. It will become part of the Legacy Store. One of my many sisters, and I have six, is in Puerto Pollensa. There are nine of us altogether with about half already in retirement and the other half moving inexorably towards it. Soon the entire clan will be roaming the world looking for interest, excitement and pleasure. Look out world!

Saturday, 24th September, 2016

editorHappy Saturday. Phyllis has pointed out my constant failing to get the date right. I copy and paste from the day before and forget to update. Eventually, after compounding the error for a day or two, I check and revise. I have appointed her Executive Editor of The Blog. It is an honorary and unpaid position – before she asks!

It is a gorgeous, sunny and warm day. I’ve mowed my neighbour’s lawn and watered their plants. We joined forces to plant out some beautiful cyclamen plants that Catherine & Laurie brought us on Thursday. They look lovely.

Our new smart phones arrived this morning and I spent the rest of the day setting them up, copying calendars and contacts across – This is so simple nowadays with Bluetooth. I just had to sit them back to back with the old phone and Bluetooth across from one to the other. In the past, I had to rewrite lots of stuff. I had to set up ‘acceptable’ sounds for Pauline’s ringtone/Text Delivery, etc. Now I have to find which site will offer the best price for our old phones.

Week 403

Sunday, 11th September, 2016

Home from Greece and waking to clear blue skies with forecast of 30C/88F as the week develops. Kids are back at school, parents back at work and the Health Club will be noticeably quieter. Things can only get better. The only fly in the ointment for me is that a strain in my arm that I noticed after swimming in Tenerife last January has suddenly become much more painful and restrictive. Originally, I thought it was a strained muscle but with its persistence and tendency to move up and down my arm, Pauline now thinks it is a trapped nerve. She says I have got to see a doctor. I am reluctant but know I will have to soon. Even so, we are going to the Health Club this afternoon and every day over the next week.

Found this on a blog this morning. Well, it amused me.

The only way is up … in smoke!







Monday, 12th September, 2016

A lovely warm and sunny morning which reached 22C/70F fairly early. I spent most of it outside, cutting the lawns, watering the pots, pruning the hedges and digging up weeds. I even watered my neighbours’ pots of plants. We went to the Health Club for  a couple of hours and both felt better for it. My arm feels a little better although I’m still struggling to put my shirt on at the moment.

pillsWe picked up application forms for our new Doctors’ Surgery. We were allocated to the Practice because the whole area seems to have capacity problems at the moment. Actually, we are allocated the surgery which is about a mile from our house. It looks pleasant enough. When we have completed our application forms, we assume that we will have induction meetings with a GP – if they have time.

I have to request a repeat prescription soon and have my INR tested. For this reason alone, it is important that we settle our Doctor’s services. By the way, you do need to worry a little when the highlight of your day is ordering replacement pill organisers. That’s what I did today. Yes, I knew you’d be envious!

Tuesday, 13th September, 2016

Brighton Beach Today.

A hot and sunny start, as predicted. It registered 22C/70F by 8.00 am and 26C/79F by 10.30 am. It is reported that we were around 32-33C/90 – 92F. This evening and holding throughout the night it is going to be an comfortable 20C/68F. We have all the windows open upstairs to encourage a through movement of air. It is a twisted logic but, even though we live within minutes of the beach and the kids are all supposed to be in school, days like today are impossible to enjoy on the shoreline because the rest of the world is there.

Great Gadgets for the Lazy!
Hotel de la Plage, Wissant.

Fortunately, they are not in our garden so that’s where we spent most of our day. We went shopping for (Red Meat Alert!!!) some sirloin steaks to griddle in the garden for our meal. While we were out, I spotted some gadgets that I’ve been considering for a while. In our Lounge we have five table lamps. As darkness falls, I switch them on but it takes so long I’m in danger of seeing the sun rise before I’ve finished. At night, I have to check the door locks, turn off all lights, part set the alarm, etc.. I have bought some sets of remotely controlled sockets to switch all five lamps on and off with one button or each individual light on an off from the sofa. Cool or what? I’ve done the same with the bedside lights in the bedroom. Can you imagine not having to grope in the dark for the light switches. With the remote close to your false teeth (joke), one button starts a process of illumination.

We sat outside this evening in slightly cooler air – 22C/70F – and under a nearly full moon planning our futures. Immediately, we have booked a few days away in France to celebrate Pauline’s 65th birthday. We hope to have dinner at one of our favourite fish restaurants in Wissant – maybe Hotel de la Plage. This trip will continue a series of travels which started with Athens and will include a few days in Yorkshire and a month in Tenerife.

Wednesday, 14th September, 2016

cabsAnother hot and sunny day. I did house work. Today it was vacuuming. We were waiting for a delivery. We bought four 2-dr mirrored bathroom cabinets from Bathstore at about £200.00/€235.00 each. One soft-close hinge on one of the cabinets has seized up. Pauline phoned them to ask for a replacement hinge. They insisted on sending a complete replacement cabinet. It arrived this morning.

Having emptied the dishwasher and hoovered the house, watered the plants and made the coffee, I was free to indulge my wild side for a few minutes. I spent it downloading and installing a new operating system for our iPads. I haven’t had time to explore the improvements promised but I soon found that, as The Times had warned me, my newspaper wouldn’t download in e-paper format. I have to wait for the newspapers boffins to re-write their software for the new platform.

Sunrise Calendar closing down.

Something else changing but not for the better. Our on-line, interactive calendar which we use across all platforms – our iPads, Internet Explorer on our desktops and on our smart phones – Sunrise is closing down having been taken over by Microsoft. I am urgently looking for an alternative.

Thursday, 15th September, 2016

Half way though the month already. It is hot and humid. We are told we are going to have a downpour by early afternoon so I am not watering my pots or my neighbours’. Thursday is shopping day. Today, we are picking up a parcel at the PO in Angmering village, visiting Sainsburys, Argos and Tesco. They are all within minutes of each other. However, we set off at 9.00 am and get home around 11.00 am. It is 22C/70F as we set off and a sticky  24C/75F as we return. An hour in the sun in the garden with a cup of coffee and it is time for the Daily Politics programme followed by the News at One.

Now it is time for the Health Club. I regularly feel reticent as we set off and then really enjoy the routine and return home tired but extremely satisfied. Although I have the same reaction regularly, I don’t seem to learn from it. It is great to have a wife who urges me on.

ferriesstrikeI cooked when we got home. Today, it is strips of belly pork with tomato & cucumber salad plus broad bean salad and a green pepper salad. Basically, it is a little bit of roast pork with a lot of varied salad. It was nice and we followed it with fresh raspberries & strawberries with ginger yoghurt. Wonderful!

Tourist season is over in Greece so it’s time for indulgence in strike action. Thursday/Friday next week will see an absence of ferries.

Friday, 16th September, 2016

ccThe news is full of the deluge – thunder & lightning followed by torrential rain. Homes in our previous area of Surrey were flooded. In Yorkshire it was equally bad. Here, we had a few minutes rain – enough to bring much needed water to lawns and flower beds – and then nothing more. This morning has been dominated by  a trip to Worthing for Pauline to have her hair cut. I sit in Costa Coffee for an hour and use their Wi-Fi to do some reading. A large cup of coffee costs me a ridiculous £2.60 for an Americano with milk. It wasn’t even that good.

The hour passed quickly however. I was certainly amused to see a young mother with small baby choose to sit in the most conspicuous seat in the coffee shop next to the front window looking on to the busy street, whip out her chest and start feeding her child. It was rather a ‘look at me’ moment. It gave me indigestion!

Worthing A&E – 20 mins drive away.

We drove home and watched the Daily Politics which centred on the UKIP conference from Bournemouth. Unsurprisingly, Diane James was elected to follow Farage who will, no doubt, find it hard to take a back seat.

We have been meaning to check out our local A&E for emergency purposes. It is Worthing Hospital We decided to investigate and drive there. In early afternoon traffic, it took us exactly 20 mins each way. That feels quite a long time if you have a serious, medical condition. That would be the only reason for going to A&E anyway. Pauline tells me that is fairly average.

Friday, 17th September, 2016

It looks as if the hottest September week for a century has been this summer’s swansong. Noticeably cooler this morning – on 13C/55F at 8.00 am – and quite a shock to the system. The tomatoes and peppers have anticipated this change and stopped ripening. This morning, I cleaned the plants of all remaining fruit and prepared to ready the garden for cooler times. With the cherry tomatoes, the yellow variety started slower but have gone on longer – a bit like me. I just love the dark, shiny green of the peppers. All of this fruit, however, is destined to become chutney.

pepppersAutumn tomsAutumn

Received an appointment for an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening . Apparently, it is offered to all men aged 65 and subsequently on a three monthly or annual basis to those who are found to be at risk. Pauline wanted to know why only men were offered this test. As I pointed out to her, men are much more likely to suffer from an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm and I’d never been offered a ‘smear test’ or a mammogram. She didn’t look impressed.

Still, it’s been a great week. Lovely and warm and sunny. We didn’t get the heavy rain which was forecast and we will soon be in the warmth of Tenerife for a month to keep the winter at bay. Actually, the flowering Yuccas and huge palm trees in the gardens around here suggest that the winter will have no comparison with that of Yorkshire. They wouldn’t survive if it did.

Week 402

Sunday, 4th September, 2016

moneyIt’s nice to start a new week with a Lottery win ………. even if it is only £25.00/€30.00. It will buy us a reasonable bottle of wine in Athens.

Quite a breezy night here although a warmish 18C/65F. I have to do the hovering this morning. I’ve done it once last week. How clean does the house have to be? The tomatoes and peppers are destined for chutney when we get back from our travels. The basil might just yield one more pack of pesto and the tarragon may go though the winter. It will be interesting to see.

quizWe have booked a month Half Board in a Luxury 5* Hotel in Tenerife for November. Even as we did this, we were keeping our fingers crossed that it would be the sort of hotel we like. It was reassuring today as I read the Sunday TimesTravel Section to find that the weekly prize this week is 5 days B&B in exactly the same hotel. I

The hotel has a number of restaurants, a number of pools – including a salt water one – and a Fitness Centre. It has Wi-Fi throughout and easy access to neighbouring areas. We are looking forward to sun and warmth with plenty of activity and four weeks spent surrounded by Sunday Times readers.


Monday, 5th September, 2016

Welcome to Gatwick

Left our house at 1.00 am and set off for Gatwick Long Stay Carpark. Everyone should travel at this time in the morning. The roads are a delight. By 2.30 am, we were in the airport just as heavy rain began to fall.

Travelling by air is so easy nowadays even by Easyjet. Buy on-line; choose seats on-line; check-in on-line. Even the bag drop in the airport is now done on-line and a luggage label generated by machine printers. Travellers have to attach their own labels and put them on to the conveyor belt.

A quiet Athens Airport

We flew on time at 5.30 am and arrived 30 mins early after a lovely flight interrupted by a brief bout of turbulence which I largely slept through. Arriving in Athens just after 10.30 am, our cases were off almost instantly. The airport was very, very quiet. We walked across the road to the train station and paid €8.00 each to Syndagma. Why would you go by taxi? An hour later, we were walking across Syndagma Square and the short walk to our hotel, calling at a corner shop for a bottle of wine and some peanuts.

Our hotel is the 5* Electra Palace Hotel where we have stayed for years. They are nice people who provide a good service in a comfortable hotel although it is rather dated. The Electra Group have bought the building next door which, ironically, used to house the Teachers’ Centre. They have built a beautiful and luxurious new hotel called the Electra Metropolis. It doesn’t open for a couple of weeks but we managed to have a look and speak to the Night Manager en route to our restaurant this evening. We were walking to our favourite street side taverna which we’ve been visiting since it first opened 20 years ago.

Evgenia roadside taverna.

If you walked past Evgenia Taverna as a first time visitor to Athens, you wouldn’t look twice. On the corner of a normally busy road and opposite a normally busy Carpark, this restaurant is a quintissential Athens taverna. Family run, this hotel is basic, tasty and moderately priced with friendly people running it.

We had a Greek Salad and Skordalia followed by Sea Bass for Pauline and Kalamarakia Tiganita for me. We were offered fruit to fish our meal but just couldn’t manage it. Walked back to our hotel to watch Greek News and have a much needed early night.

Tuesday, 6th September, 2016

Didn’t wake until 7.15 am. Must have been catching up on lost sleep. The Internet wi-if here is good and we quickly download our newspapers before going down to breakfast. The hotel seems quieter than usual. The airport yesterday was very quiet and so was the train to Athens. The Syndagma area was quiet and the taverna we ate at had tables aplenty. What is going on? Official figures report record arrivals at the airport. Our eyes suggest some scepticism.

Would you travel on a train like this?






Only one Cafenion left!

We went down to Piraeus to meet friends from Sifnos. It was a shocking trip. The vandalism of the Metro and the areas it runs through is much more extreme than previously. Piraeus itself is shockingly ‘shut down’ as all those ticket offices and cafes we frequented have disappeared. There is just one remaining cafenion and that was quiet. The port itself had few takers for ferries although, admittedly, it was past the early morning rush. However, we have seen it much busier than this.

imageWe returned to Athens and Pauline went on the customary search for shoes and leather belts. We have some suppliers that she returns to consistently but she only purchased a couple of belts today. And back to the comfort of our hotel.

We had to be rescued by a technician this morning after the room safe failed to open. We had stored 2 x iPad, a Kindle, our sets of Bank cards, €2000.00, 2 x smart phones. It turns out that the batteries needed replacing in the back-up lock.

Electra Palace Hotel
Our Room 215













Red wine can sometimes be good for you.

We went for a swim and jacuzzi and then relaxed with a lovely bottle of red wine and some peanuts.

We went for a walk and then out to eat – Salad, Green Beans, Chicken and Garlic Sauce. Soon we were absolutely stuffed. As we were eating, the skies opened and rain bucketed down. Just as suddenly, it stopped and the sun came out. We walked back to our hotel for coffee.


Wednesday, 7th September, 2016

Warm, dark and wet.

Woke up and thought I was dead. Couldn’t feel any of my extremities. It was so warm last night that Pauline set the air con to freezing. It worked. The man next to her and who sleeps on top of the sheets was frozen with rigor mortis. There was light rain in the air and all those who normally breakfast in the garden were moved into the Breakfast Room putting pressure on tables and serving staff.

We have been led to believe that monsoon conditions could be in force today so we have planned to visit the Acropolis Museum in Dionysiou Aeropagitou Street. We have never been before. In fact, it was 30 years of visiting Greece before we actually went round the Acropolis itself. I’m sorry to report that I was completely underwhelmed and I don’t have great hopes of today but I will go with an open mind.

Threat of rain brought many to the Museum
Old stones and old people.

Well, the rain didn’t really materialise. Apparently, it badly savaged the southern Peloponnese but left Athens alone and soon blue skies and strong sun returned. However, we pressed on with our trip to the museum in dull light and threats of rain. Most tourists had heard the weather forecast and decided to brave the museum trip themselves. We found ourselves in a huge building and paying the princely sum of €5.00 each to walk round a pile of old stones with a large and smelly mass of humanity. I told you I would keep an open mind.

Really, after you’ve looked and marvelled at 20 old pots, statues, stone horses and dogs, the mind begins to drift. I find myself people-watching. I’m much more interested in the living than the dead. I met this gorgeous girl on my way. She’s not set in stone! She might be one day if she pre-deceases me which is unlikely.


We did the whole museum although we rather ran round the second floor as our interest waned. It took us 30 years in Greece to visit the Acropolis itself never mind the museum. Actually, if you talk to most Athenians, you find they have not been their either.

Went out to eat at 8.00 pm. We had whitebait, fried baby squid, garlic sauce, Fava (bean dip) and a Ltr of white wine and the bill came to just €37.00/£31.00. We were stuffed and we walked back to the hotel to watch ERT News about the flooding in Kalamata and drink coffee in comfort.

Thursday, 8th September, 2016

Packets of herbs at the Central Market

Lovely, sunny and warm morning. We went down to breakfast although neither of us can eat much more. After a while reading our newspapers, we walked down to the Dimotiki Agora to buy large packets of herbs – particularly oregano and bay leaves. Half a kilo of dried, Greek oregano for €5.00/£4.20 will get us through until our next visit.

On the walk back, Pauline managed to buy three more leather belts of different colours. How many belts does one woman need? I bought three post cards to send to our friends in the North. I bought them from a periptero but, of course, they don’t supply stamps. You have to go to the Post Office for those.

Slow progress to buy three stamps.

In central Athens, the Post Office is always packed. We just wanted three stamps. Many people wanted to send money or receive money, send parcels, have business envelopes franked. There must have been 4o people queuing up as we arrived and got our number ticket. It was NUMBER 255. We got it at 12.53 pm. By 1.30 pm, we were still queuing. A man who had been there for an hour gave up the will to live and left. As he walked out, he gave us his number. It was NUMBER 249. The sign still showed for customer NUMBER 225. Later, someone else handed us ticket NUMBER 242. The sign was calling NUMBER 230. Workers were having chats, going off to get coffees and the customers just waited patiently. It was like a scene out of 1960s Britain.

What’s in a number? 1 hour – 3 Stamps.

Eventually, after we had had a long chat with other customers who all apologised for the state of modern Greece and I even had a discussion about Lord Byron with one poor, disabled woman who was lucky to find a seat, we got served. Most of us were standing for about an hour in hot and sweaty conditions and some of us for three stamps for postcards to England. It is hard to defend this position in the age of Internet, mobile phones glued to every Greeks heads, satellite televisions, etc, etc. Why does it take humans to dispense stamps? It can only be to protect jobs. And the poor, Greek people continue to be battered down by these anomalies.

Actually, I’ve since been contacted by a Greek reader of the Blog. He wrote: You can order your stamps online and receive them at home during the endless English winter so next time you’re in Athens you won’t have to queue. Thanks for that, Nikos!

Friday, 9th September, 2016

La Pasteria. Athens airport

After Breakfast – please make it the last! – we went up to the roof garden and sat around the pool reading our newspapers until around 11.30 am. It was hot and we were glad to return to our room and complete our packing before going down to the Lobby to check-out. We walked up to the Metro at Syndagma after using the hotel’s Wi-Fi for a while. The metro was very busy. We had to stand for quite a few stops before a seat became available. There were still plenty of beggars hopping on and off the train – accordion players, tissue sellers, cup holders, biro sellers, etc.. Eventually, we reached the airport stop and crossed into the departures concourse. Our flight bag drop was going to be available in a couple of hours. We went upstairs to the restaurant to have lunch. It’s called LA PASTERIA but we had sea bass fillets and salad.

Melina Mecouri Business Lounge

We used two, business lounges. The first on Landside – Aristotelis Onasis Lounge – and on airside – Melina Mercouri Lounge. They are delightful with a free buffet of wine and food plus internet services and charging points for our iPads plus quiet relaxation. Our time passed too quickly and we were soon down to gate. The walk there is about 20 minutes.

The wait at gate was, once again, short and we were soon flying. EasyJet flights have come a long way. Also, in the early days, flights could be up to 4 hrs 20 mins to Athens. This time, our flight was 3 hrs 10 mins and quite delightful. We watched a wonderful and prolonged lightening display en route and landed at London Gatwick at just after 10.00 pm. A shuttle bus to the Long Stay Car Park and we drove home for 11.40 pm.

Saturday, 10th September, 2016


Land of Hope & Glory?

It is shocking to recall that today marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Pauline’s brother, Jack, who is pictured here with their mother.

In bed by 1.00 am this morning, we were up at 7.30 am and on a tour of four supermarkets for our weekly shop – Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s and Tesco. Food to feed us for a month. The weather here is forecast to be in the 30sC/upper 80sF this week. We are both tired after travelling and don’t feel like doing much today. Our next door neighbours are off to Australia so we have been left in charge. We have the responsibility of watering plants and organising rubbish collections.

I must be getting old. Found myself watching and enjoying the Last Night of the Proms. I even caught myself joining in with the singing of Jerusalem. I really must be more careful!