Week 410

Sunday, 30th October, 2016


October, 2016 has almost slipped off the end of the conveyor belt of time. Although we will welcome November, the loss of another month must be a source of sadness. The worst thing is that it will soon be forgotten. This Blog is one person’s attempt to shore our memories up against the erosion of time.

I have to make a stark admission this morning. I am what is known in the North of England as a SCRIKER. I cry at the drop of a hat. I have known it most of my life but it has got worse with age. I have always been reduced to tears by music. A Chopin Nocturne invariably gets me. I can dissolve over a Mozart violin section. Opera is the worst. Puccini and Donizetti destroy me. I watch performances on the Sky Arts channel. Last week, I switched it on as background in the Office while I wrote emails and letters to people.

While I was working and half paying attention, it changed to a Chris de Burgh concert and, without focussing on the music at all, I found myself in floods of tears. The heady mix of Irish sentimentality and easy lilt stirred something in me which I couldn’t hold back. You may think this is ‘cheap’ emotion and I have thought about it long and hard. I don’t know the answer but maybe my Irish, maternal ancestry has brought the susceptibility through my genetic makeup. I’m not ashamed of it although it can be a little embarrassing at times. I try to explain it by saying that I am in touch with my feminine side.

Monday, 31st October, 2016

Well, October is going out with spectacular weather. Warm and sunny with clear, blue skies only smudged by traces of planes, high up, leaving and approaching Gatwick – which is what we will be doing this afternoon. We are bound for Tenerife where the temperature is forecast to be a steady 26C/79F all week. It will do just fine as we swim in the salt water pool and stroll along the countryside roads.

Thought I’d share this photo with you that I picked up on some Twitter-feed and which really amused me.


Of course, you can substitute for elephants, Irish and Blacks from the not-so-distant past.

When we sold our Greek house two years ago, even the Notary was surprised to find that we didn’t have to pay any Capital Gains Tax – the difference between the ‘declared’ cost of gsuperbuilding and the ‘declared’ price of selling. I use the word ‘declared’ advisedly. It was a wonderful surprise because, until then, CGT had been at a punishing rate of 20% of any profit. It was dropped in the months before we sold but, in January, it is going to be re-introduced. There is a God! (Well, maybe not.)

Kathimerini also reports more bad news about the Greek economy:

Retail sector suffers, as supermarkets see turnover slump almost 8 percent. Not only is the slump in sales across all sectors of retail commerce showing no signs of recovery, but entrepreneurs are saying that the worst is yet to come. It appears there is no exception to the phenomenon, as it has not spared any section of the market, be it stores selling electronic goods or clothing shops and supermarkets.

Who’d have thought that Greeks wouldn’t have lots of money to spend?

Tuesday, 1st Novcmber, 2016


Happy November, 2016 to most people!

A very early start for the first day of November at the Holiday Inn, Gatwick. Up at 4.00 am and out at 5.00 am. We take the shuttle bus to North Terminal and go to the No1 Lounge for quiet, relaxation, free bacon sandwiches and coffee and strong internet signal. At 8.00 am we fly and at 12.30 pm we are in Tenerife South airport terminal collecting our luggage. We have a taxi taking us to our hotel and then we will relax.

View over the salt water pool

And relax we did in 26C/79F with lovely sunshine flooding across our generous balcony which is furnished with two sun loungers and a table and chairs. We drank the complimentary bottle of Tempranillo with some roasted, salted sweet corn ears after which, we felt even more tired.

We went for a walk around the hotel complex to familiarise ourselves with the facilities. We found the three pools, three restaurants and the gym & spa. We were given two, complimentary hours in the Spa. We returned to make a cup of tea and watch BBC News. We can receive BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Sky News.  It’s enough to keep in touch with the world.

Wednesday, 2nd November, 2016

The backdrop to the day has been similar to yesterday. Blue skies, strong sunshine and 26C/79F. Towards the end of the day a bit of hazy cloud developed but I am writing this at 20.20 hrs and it is dark outside but still 23C/73F. We have the air conditioning on. In UK, the temperature has suddenly tumbled and, at home, it is now just 2C/36F. Sifnos is an uncomfortable 11C/52F.

I know that’s enough about about weather but, when you come somewhere like Tenerife in the Winter, it is mainly for better weather. We travelled yesterday and we can feel that in our bodies today. It has been a relaxing day sunbathing on our balcony. The view from the balcony

The view from our balcony over to La Gomera








We walked out to the nearest supermarket and bought out their supply of sparkling water and mouthwash. When a bit of whispy cloud cover came over in late afternoon, we walked up the coastal path to explore…..absolutely nothing. Tomorrow, we will start to use the fantastic, state-of-the-art gym.

The coastal path in front of our patio.






Thursday, 3rd November, 2016

The planting here is one of the delights.

A little bit of cloud this morning and 25C/78F. We went out for a good walk along the coastal path. By its very nature, the path is a roller coaster of steep descents and just as steep inclines. It has no comparison with a treadmill in the gym. The effort – and we pushed ourselves – combined with the heat and humidity left me soaking wet by the time we got back to the hotel.

Got back to our hotel room, made a cup of coffee and was about to shower when BBC News reported the best piece of news we’ve heard for months. The High Court has ruled that The House of Commons is supreme and not the Tory Cabinet. We can now tell the idiots who voted to leave that the majority of those they elected to represent them voted to remain. We must repeat the Irish experience and get them to vote again and again until they get it right.

The Spa Pool

We watched the Daily Politics programme on BBC2 as the ‘frustration of Brexit’ discussion really cheered us. We then set off for the gym which here is delightful, well furnished and stocked with machines. It’s attached to a Spa which we will also use. I will sit in the jacuzzi while Pauline has beauty treatments even though she is so beautiful that there is no more scope for improvement. At least she can enjoy treatments she rarely indulges herself in at home. Probably this won’t go further than manicure and pedicure but we will see. As long as it makes her happy.

Two or three, additional, throwaway observations complete the Blog tonight. If you find the presentational effects even more rudimentary than usual, it is because I have chosen to do the whole thing on my iPad Professional while away. It is less precise without a mouse but it saves carrying a laptop around. The food in the three restaurants here is absolutely wonderful. Tonight we ate plates of the freshest, tastiest salad accompanied by plates full of king prawns in their shells. This was followed by grilled veal steaks and cauliflower gratin. The whole meal was accompanied by ….. a bottle of sparkling water. That is the third point I wanted to raise. The first full day here was marked by my decision to give up alcohol for a few months. I have been drinking too much wine and must stop. I’ll keep you posted.

Friday, 4th November, 2016

Before Breakfast
After Breakfast

The Weekly Politics show on BBC2 is always on ridiculously late. It begins at 11.45 pm and ends at 12.30 am. I invariably say I won’t watch it but I always do. And so it was last night. The alarm went off at 6.00 am this morning and so did the Radio 4 Today programme. These are exciting, political times and not to be missed. While drinking morning tea, I took the photos on the left from the balcony. You will soon get (already be) bored by them so I promise to limit future shots.

img_0869Yesterday, we looked out over coffee and watched a huge shoal (pod?) of dolphins swimming playfully past. There must have been twenty or thirty. I took a photo but, as so often happens, the lens didn’t reproduce what the eye could see and not a single dolphin was close enough to discern. I will have to train them to be more photo friendly.

Our room is very comfortable, is cleaned daily with fresh towels every day and the bed linen changed every three days. We were offered every day but thought that excessive. Every evening, they still do that quaint, old thing while we are out at Dinner, of coming in, ‘turning the bed down’ and placing a chocolate on the pillow. I think it’s weird but not a problem.

What is really impressive here is the internet feed. We have two iPads and two smart phones connected permanently to the wi-if and the speed is absolutely excellent. So many hotels nominally say they offer wi-fi but it would be quicker to wade through treacle than browse the internet. Here, the speed and broadband width is excellent. We have a relay point actually in our suite which serves just our requirements. I can send 5mb graphics without any problem. It makes life so much more enjoyable.

Saturday, 5th November, 2016

Remember, remember to go away in November. We left home on  Halloween Day which saved us seeing lots of children. Brr! Children! And now we are avoiding the fireworks hype. Brrr! Guy Fawkes. In replacement, we have had a wonderful, wonderful day. We went out for the morning, leaving from our hotel on the ‘free’ shuttle bus at 10.30 am by which time the thermometer was reading the statutory 26F/79F. We went to Costa Adeje town where our hotel has a sister establishment.

Costa Adeje
Costa Adeje

The pretext of our journey was to look for some soft, leather shoes for me to supplement the ones I bought here in January. Ironically and, perhaps, perversely in this weather, we came away with two, thick, hot, woolley cardigan coats for Pauline. I can normally manage about ten minutes shopping before I am tired and bored. Today I managed nearly two hours and I was close to death!

It was very hot. One of those automated weather data display ticker tape things showed 30C (86F) although I can’t confirm that. The nice thing about Adeje is the yellow sand instead of black, volcanic stone which just doesn’t feel right. It is November and Adeje is very, very busy with tourists. Stavros would give his right arm for this if he could cope with such demand.

Week 409

Sunday, 23rd October, 2016

A brilliant morning of cloudless, blue sky and strong sunshine. At this time of year, that means a cold start. At 7.00 am and while all the ‘workers’ were still in bed, the temperature in our garden was 4C/39F. The Basil is dead but the Tarragon still thrives. We will make one more harvest of it for the freezer before we go away but I doubt it will get through a month without us.

prop_sifI woke up at 6.00 am as usual but, this morning, the first thing that popped into my head was the lucky break we had in securing a good buyer for our Greek property when we did. If we hadn’t, we would have died still owning it. This reverie was provoked by an article I read just before going to bed last night. The desperate Greek Government has been pedalling popularity seeking claims like:

  • Tourism to Greece is getting stronger.
  • The Housing Market is seeing a revival.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah.

It may be that desperate Greeks choose to believe them but they would be foolish if they didn’t look further afield for their data and analysis. I wrote in mid-September about the revision starkly downwards of Greek tourism data and today I draw attention to an independent report concerning the Greek housing market. The report, which can be read in full here greek_prop, is based on a Pricewaterhousecoopers survey. Pwc say that Greek property prices are unlikely to return to pre-peak (2008) values before 2030. The Greek housing market is unlikely to be in supply/demand balance for three decades – 2047. This will not only impact current Greek adults but their children and even their grandchildren.

All of this makes us feel as if we made a deus ex machina escape from the responsibility of Greek property ownership. With that warm glow, I can report that the temperature outside has increased a balmy 300% to 12C/54F. I’m getting out the beachwear for a good afternoon.

Monday, 24th October, 2016

A grey and overcast day that reached just 14C/57F. It has been something of a none day. It seems wrong to write off a day of one’s life like that but we have done routine, greek_money_pitunremarkable activities like go to the Health Club, do domestic chores, read the newspapers, write to friends, watch political programmes. I suppose everyone has to do these things some time. It is just a day to enjoy being alive.

This huge sink hole appeared in Ioannina in northwestern Greece shortly after an earthquake of 5.6 Richter hit the area on Saturday. It is estimated to be to be more than 30 mtrs deep. It is to be hoped that billions of euros can be found at the bottom to drastically reduce the country’s debts.

Tuesday, 25th October, 2016

diary_1944A grey turning to sunny day that reached 16C/61F in the afternoon. Spent a chunk of the day looking through a huge collection of family photos in my archive. I’ve been through them all many times but a small book, that I’ve never seen before, fell out of an envelope. It was Mum’s diary for 1944. It almost felt wrong to be reading it but I couldn’t resist.

Mum was in her first year of teaching at Purley Oaks School in South Croydon and was obviously loving it. Many of her entries merely recorded – A quiet day. – and the whole thing degenerated as she got to August. What was surprising was that she was going to the theatre every week and often twice or three times in a week. I was also able to trace her house which was in Woodcote Road, Wallington, Surrey. Google Earth is a wonderful tool.

Mum’s House – 1944







Mum’s First Teaching Post – 1944

Of course, the war was still in progress and, after a hard day’s teaching and then marking her books, she would go with another woman on ‘Fire warden’ duty. Can you imagine it? She records her duty as Fire Watching on the nights of Sunday / Tuesday / Thursday / Saturday. On other occasions, she had to do Saturday & Sunday from 12.30 pm – 5.30 pm. And the young people of today think they have it hard. Even the phenomenon that is me would feel stretched.

Wednesday, 26th October, 2016

High pressure is sitting over Britain and it has meant mild, stable weather. Yesterday I recorded a grey turning to sunny day that reached 16C/61F in the afternoon. Today was exactly the same. We spent the morning packing for our month away and then we ventured out to the gym. A couple of my sisters contacted me and I have some work to do before replying.

Fascinating to read that the Tsipras government in Greece acted unconstitutionally in re-tendering the Television Licenses for Broadcasters. Back to the drawing board there and, lesvosmaybe, for the government itself soon. To be fair, this was only the left wing trying to readdress the actions of previous, corrupt ruling parties.

All of this happens against the backdrop of the ‘migrant crisis’. A sudden surge in numbers trying to get to Greece before winter seas make it too dangerous are aggregating those already trapped in Greece. Unrest, agitation, fires and fighting are on the increase. The upheaval underscores the problem of overcrowding at Centres on five eastern Aegean islands where more than 15,000 migrants are awaiting the outcome of asylum applications or deportation.

Thursday, 27th October, 2016

argosFor some reason, I am finding my Blog difficult to write this week. This is an almost unique experience over the past eight years. I must try harder!

Quite warm and rather misty this morning but, eventually, sun broke through and bathed the lawn in light. The new, cordless vacuum cleaner that we bought two months ago stopped working this morning. It was soon apparent that it was not going to be revived and I scurried around to find and print out email copies of the sales receipt and warranty. We bought it in Argos for £150.00 and we had already discarded the packaging. It was only ever a ‘second’ machine. It was put in a plastic sack and we took it back to the store. There was no discussion or prevarication. I only had to say that we didn’t want it any more and a full refund was immediately put back on to our credit card account. It makes buying from Argos feel a reassuring process and one that we would be more inclined to repeat.

Ochi Day in Greece – October 28th

We have spent the day completing tasks which are on our To-Do  list before we go away for a month. I have spent a couple of hours cutting the lawns and tidying up the garden. This afternoon, Pauline has cut my hair out in the garden. It will last about six weeks. The packing is virtually done and, tomorrow, Pauline will have her hair cut in Worthing. The packing is well on its way to completion and the taxi is booked to take us to Gatwick. The journey is less than an hour and we will stay in an airport hotel so the early morning flight isn’t troublesome.

Tomorrow in Greece is Ochi Day which marks the Greeks refusal to bend the knee to Mussolini’s forces in 1940. In the light of such admirable strength, it is disappointing that the tax collection authority has had to threaten hotel owners with action for not declaring their earnings. It is an age-old problem that will have to be cracked down on if Greece is ever to pull itself out of the mire. It’s all very well saying no (ochi) to a fascist dictators but quite another thing to cheat your own country of its income stream.

Friday, 28th October, 2016

Tony & Guy Worthing

Out early this morning and off to Worthing by the Sea. Pauline is having her hair cut at Toni & Guy at 10.00 am. I am going to while away an hour in Costa Coffee on the sea front. Pauline’s haircut costs £60.00/€67.00 which always seems a lot but so be it. The town was warm and quiet. We were reading 16C/61F which is not bad as we approach November.

Sea Front view from Worthing multi-storey carpark.

We made a few, shopping stops afterwards – M&S to pick up an order; Wilkos to buy some gardening materials and then Debenhams to buy really exciting things like socks. We park in the multi-storey carpark on Worthing sea front which affords many delightful views like the photo opposite. unfortunately, it also is attractive to seagulls who bombed our car. Stavros knows a thing or two about seagulls. They seem to particularly like his boat for ‘target practice’.

So, when we got home, I had to clean the car before acidic deposits affected the paintwork. While I was doing that, I cooked duck breasts (pretending they were seagull breasts in an act of mini revenge) with mixed, roast vegetables. As we drove out, we called at our new doctors to deliver our completed forms. We were given ‘wee test’ pots to complete and return but that won’t be until December when we get back from Tenerife.

Saturday, 29th October, 2016

suntableA warmish day of 16C/61F – especially if you remember that we are moving into November. The sun streaming through the conservatory windows onto the dining table made the house feel too warm. I took advantage of the lovely sunshine to treat the lawns with Autumn Feed and then tidied up the car and garaged it until December. We won’t need it again until then.

The plants we put in each side of the drive are doing well and have continued to provide a muted and subtle but old fashioned charm. We will take a new look at the possibility of adding to them in the Spring although we will be driving across Europe next year and will not be at home to look after them. The cyclamen that Catherine brought autumngardenus as a present the other week are still flowering strongly with little beacons of light against the dark bark mulch.

Against all the noise of BREXIT and antagonism towards foreigners in the British tabloid press, there is an interesting story about Greece. It suggests that the EU is refusing to send officials to ‘dangerous’ Greek islands despite their migrant promise. The Greek islands are too dangerous for European Union officials and the EU have refused to send asylum experts over – despite their promise to Turkey. Bodes well for next year’s tourist season!

Week 408

Sunday, 16th October, 2016

Rain & Spray like fog on M25.

Up at 6.30 am and out just after 8.00 am. We set off for Monsom Lane, Repton, Derbyshire. The journey is just short of 200 miles. We set off in heavy rain. The M25 was thick with heavy spray. For 8.30 am, the traffic was remarkably heavy.

On to the M1 and the skies cleared. By the time we reached Derbyshire, the sun was out. The Repton countryside looked quite delightful although Autumn appeared to
be a little further advanced than in Sussex. The village was little changed.

img_0774We drove down Boot Hill to Monsom Lane to say Hello to Mum & Dad. The grave looks good and someone had planted small cyclamen in the ground at the front. I always visit at this time to coincide with Pauline’s Mum’s anniversary as well. It is Autumn and usually damp, misty and the grave is poignantly strewn with colourful but dead leaves. It is eight years since she died and the raw emotion is no longer there but has been replaced with region and judgement.

We usually do a quick circle of the village before leaving and that is what we did this morning. The problem was traffic. We couldn’t drive slowly and look because we constantly had someone on our tail. We turned round in The Square and headed for Yorkshire. Past Meadowhall Shopping Centre the motorway is being worked on for more than twelve months. It is going to be a ‘smart’ motorway. It feels anything but at the moment. Check-in at our hotel in Brighouse is 2.00 pm. We arrived, after seven hours, at 1.55 pm. Our suite was ready and we settled down to our newspapers with a glass of wine and some nuts.

Monday, 17th October, 2016

Trio in the Room at the Top

Woke up very tired after yesterday. Down to Breakfast at 8.00 am and then off to Bolton around 10.00 am. We were going to meet up with my big sister, Ruth, and her husband, Kevan. We were there just before 11.00 am and it was lovely to see them. You can see how big Ruth is.

We talked and drank coffee in the Bolton Oasis for a couple of hours and then set off for Oldham. Our destination was the coffee shop at Oldham Library. We were meeting our dear friend, Viv, who ran our Reprographics Department but who is now a Carer for her Mother. As we were walking from the carpark, I noticed an Asian man who I thought I recognised. I speculatively asked him if he attended our school and he confirmed he was Nurul (I remembered his surname, Hacque, and his twin, Abdul.). I remember him as one of two, beautiful, little twin brothers. He said he was 31 which meant he had left 15 years ago. Fully bearded and pushing a pram, Nurul was a lifetime away from the boy I remember …. so is my teaching career. The loss of the years makes me ache!

Tuesday, 18th October, 2016

Saying ‘Hello’ to Mum.

After Breakfast, we set off for Oldham Crematorium. It is the 6th anniversary of Mum Barnes death. She would be 102 now. As so often, the autumnal weather was damp, misty and a little chilly. Soggy brown leaves littered the crematorium’s pathways. Mum’s name, in Itallic Script, was there for this day in the Memorial Book. We don’t stay too long but just enough to concentrate our memories.

On to the here and now. We sourced Colin’s ‘Holland’s Pies’ and oven-bottom muffins which he misses from his Lancashire life.Then on to Shaw to visit my old friend, Brian. He and his wife, Val, are four years older than us but we are still confronting the same things in our lives. I took him a case of wine for his 69th birthday last week. We stayed a couple of hours and then drove back over the Pennines to our hotel.

The Spiced Pear Tea Room, Holmfirth

At around 2.00 pm, we set off for Holmfirth to meet Margaret & Tony. We met for ‘Afternoon Tea’ at the The Spiced Pear. We were amazed to find the converted, stone pub was packed. I had a pot of Yorkshire Tea. The others stuffed their faces with crustless sandwiches, chocolate cakes, scones with jam and clotted cream, etc..

It is always hard to part. We are leaving a previous life and moving forward. It is a bitter-sweet event that tells us we have moved on and can never go back. It hurts. It hurts the sentimental amongst us. It hurts ME!

Wednesday, 19th October, 2016

Up early – 6.00 am – and down to Breakfast at 8.00 am. Coffee, newspapers and the check out of our hotel. We set the sat. nav. at 9.30 am and drive the 200 miles to Byfleet in Surrey. M62 on to M1  and arrive about 1.45 pm. We deliver the Lancashire ‘goodies’ and go down to our doctors’ surgery for the very last time to pick up a prescription. On to Tesco to buy a snack for tea and then the 50 miles to our home in West Sussex. We arrive at 4.00 pm. We arrive tired but happy to be ‘home’.

Went to bed at 10.00 pm!

Thursday, 19th October, 2016

Good enough to eat?

Paid for the early night by waking up at 4.00 am. Had to listen to the Trump v Clinton debate to lull myself back to a fitful sleep but got up three hours later feeling tired. We had to do our shopping so went out earlyish. Back by 11.00 am. We were supposed to be going to the gym but I was completely knackered so we sat around reading and thinking of jobs we should be doing. While we were away in Yorkshire, half a dozen mushrooms appeared on the back lawn. I picked them off carefully so as not to spread the spores. They look as if garlic and olive oil would turn them into a meal. Would you trust my judgement? I wouldn’t! I bet Jane B.G. would know if they are dangerous. Where is she when you need her?

aplHad to ‘Check-in’ for our flights to Tenerife this afternoon. Effortless when it is from the computer chair in my Home Office. Pity we can’t do the ‘Bag Drop’ from here as well. Because we are going for a month and flying at 8.00 am, we are going to take a taxi to an airport hotel at Gatwick so we are on-site already when we drop off our bags and relax in the No1 Gatwick Members’ Lounge. It will make the transition in to ‘holiday mode’ all the easier as we move from this hectic pace of every day retirement.

Friday, 20th October, 2016

Flu jabs today.

A bright and cheery but chilly start to the day. At 8.00 am, it was just 9C/48F. At 8.00 am in Tenerife this morning it was 23C/73F which will do for the next month. We were out fairly early to have our ‘Flu jabs. When we got to the counter to book in, the receptionist queried whether we were both 65 years old and qualifying for ‘free’ treatment. When Pauline confirmed our ages, the receptionist expressed real surprise that we were that old. I saw Pauline’s face light up with pleasure. We sat down to wait and saw an old lady hobble up to the counter and enquire about her ‘Flu jab. Subsequently, she came to sit by me and said,

That’s made me feel better. They’re surprised I’m 65 and I’m really 73.

I didn’t disillusion her .. or Pauline although I did check my own appearance in the mirror and preened a little.

swAs we arrived home, the mail was on the mat and Pauline had the all-clear from her recent mammogram. I know I’ve only got eleven more years to live but, apart from BREXIT, things seem to be going rather well at the moment.

We received our first water bill from Southern Water this morning. Pauline had allocated £250.00 and it came in at £230.00. That’s fine but what was quite shocking was the fact that the charge for fresh water was just £80.00. The rest was accounted for by dirty water disposal and treatment. That was a hell of an expensive penny to spend!

Saturday, 21st October, 2016


Happy 59th Birthday to the twins – Mike & Liz. I hope they enjoy their last year before they come of age – The Third Age!

A delightful day of clear, blue skies and strong, autumnal sun. It’s Saturday and the 59th img_0830birthday of my little, twin sister and brother – Liz & Mike. It is hard to believe and just a little scary! Am I old? I valeted the car and felt shattered after that. Is that age?

We had to go out and collect our last repeat prescription issued by our Surrey Surgery just seven months after we left. Tomorrow we will complete the forms for our new, Angmering Practice although we won’t see them until we return from Tenerife in December.

We ate a glorious meal of whitebait (Merides), garlic sauce (skordalia) and tomato & cucumber salad (Salata). This was accompanied by a chilled, white wine (Domestika?). It was deep fried outside and we ate it outside in the garden in the warm sun. Two football matches today plus the newspapers. Pauline will be watching ‘Strictly’ while I do correspondence.

Week 407

Sunday, 9th October, 2016

pub_angAnother sunny day out of blue skies. Not terribly warm now – only 16C/61F – which is why we are going to spend a month in Tenerife very soon. In the meantime, we’ve got a week of gym work, and a trip to Yorkshire. Our village looks lovely in this sunshine as this picture of the pub in the square demonstrates but there is no substitute for warmth. Although our garden is south facing and flooded with sunshine, it is taking longer to warm up in the mornings and less comfortable to sit out in. Tenerife is 24C/75F and that makes all the difference. Greece is only 23C/73F today. Fortunately, at least, we really haven’t seen snow since moving South five years ago.

More demanded of Greeks

The European creditors who now govern Greece are demanding a great deal more in tax from the Greek people who are not accustomed to paying it and much deeper cuts in Government spending which Greek governments are accustomed to spending, whether they’ve got it or not, to bribe the electorate. Additionally, they are demanding much more vigour in selling off state assets which the government and the people don’t want to privatise. Throughout the whole process, everyone is having to be coerced, like some reluctant juvenile, to do the right thing against their inclination which is to do nothing.

Monday, 10th October, 2016

Blue sky, bright sunshine but chilly this morning although, by early afternoon, we had reached 17C/63F. Apart from a couple of hours at the Health Club, we have spent the day aortaquietly reading through and dealing with medical matters. We both have significant tests, offered by our Surrey Health Authority, coming up tomorrow. Pauline has a mammogram and I have an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening. I understand mammogram but have no idea about my investigation.

Apparently, all men aged 65 years old are offered this scan by the NHS. Abdominal aortic aneurysm is a localized enlargement of the abdominal aorta. Over enlargement can lead to rupture which often results in death. If that’s right, and I have no reason to doubt it, I’m all in favour of undergoing this scan.

As soon as these investigations are concluded, we will put in our formal application to our new, GP surgery. It is within walking distance of our house in the village. In the future, that could be significant. The local A&E takes 20 mins to drive to which is becoming fairly standard in the latest moves at rationalisation. At least I can give and receive INR information by email these days.

Tuesday, 11th October, 2016

Villages Medical Centre – Send, Surrey

Up and out early this morning We were driving to The Villages Medical Centre in Send, Surrey.  It is an absolutely delightful, country village location. If one was going to receive bad news, that would be the sort of restful place one would wish to get it.

I am a naturally inquisitive person when it comes to meeting others. Pauline says I only need a couple of minutes with a complete stranger to elicit their entire biography. I introduced myself to the two practice nurses dealing with me and immediately found one of them, working in this idyllic, Surrey village, was originally from Yorkshire. I realised then that she couldn’t be all bad although she did have cold hands as she smeared my belly with gel. Within minutes of running the scanner over my hairy, gelled-up belly, she pronounced that I was completely normal. I asked for certificate to prove that to my wife who would otherwise be reluctant to accept that her husband and ‘normal’ could be synonymous but, apparently,  the NHS didn’t run to that.

We drove on to Byfleet to have coffee with P&C and to deliver their wine which we had bought in France last week. Then we went on to the Woking Walk-in Centre for Pauline’s mammogram. The day remained nice and sunny throughout which made the journey home pleasant but we were both really tired when we finally sat down to our chicken salad meal.

Wednesday, 12th October, 2016

petrolThe day opened grey and overcast but soon cleared to blue sky and pleasant sun with the temperature reaching 14C/57F. We still haven’t got a new, permanent doctor down here yet so we are going to Tesco for our ‘free’ flu’ jab. Every little helps! We are both tired after yesterday but we will force ourselves to the gym after Prime Minister’s Question Time, of course.

Brexit is dominating everything as the Pound Sterling plummets. All our imports will shoot up in price and inflation will hit our economy. We are already seeing sharp rises in petrol/diesel prices and there are many more to come. This, of course, will increase prices of everything because transportation costs will rise. The value of the pound has hugely fallen which doesn’t just mean foreign travel will be hit but all our imports will go up in price. Effectively, we will be importing inflation. The lunatics who voted for this don’t really comprehend the effects to come.

Thursday, 13th October, 2016

Rabbit is a wonderfully fat-free meat.

A largely grey day which reached 17C/63F but felt cooler in the breeze. I cut the lawns which had grown rich and green. At least it’s only once a week now instead of twice. We went to the Health Club. Pauline, who is a little under the weather, found the workout hard. Ironically, I loved it today.

When we went to France, we bought rabbit carcasses and, yesterday, I casseroled one in dry cider with a bulb of garlic and rosemary. Today, we ate them with roast carrots, parsnips and green beans. The result was gloriously delicious.

Friday, 14th October, 2016

Repton Village of my childhood.

Went out to have our ‘Flu jabs at Tesco. We checked on Wednesday and were told that we could have it at 10.00 am today. We arrived well in time only to be told that the nurse would not be available and we had been misinformed. I absolutely hate professional incompetence like that. I start to quickly feel the red mist rising and I had to walk away before I was openly rude to them. Pauline smoothed things over and booked an appointment for next Friday. Actually, we may be able to arrange it while we are in Yorkshire next week.

Dave & Sue with Jonathan

Got home to a large, brown envelope marked – Photos Please Do Not Bend. It was from an acquaintance from my past and someone I haven’t seen since 1969 some 47 years ago. I have to type these figures just to understand them for myself. Dave Beasley is 12 years older than me and was a mentor to me in my youthful village life in my home village of Repton in Derbyshire. He retired after a serious, industrial accident in his early 40s and took a small holding in rural Wales. Now 77 and still in Wales with his wife, Sue, he has sent me a photograph which depicts them with my village friend, Jonathan, who has lived in Boston, Massachusetts for the past 40 years or so. Dave and Sue look just the same but older as we all do. Jonathan is the spitting image of his father, Edward. Dave & Sue’s property looks delightful.

Saturday, 15th October, 2016

Dad, aged 16 at Burton upon Trent Grammar School. He is the tall one in the centre back row.

Mid October has started under grey and lowering skies but, by 10.00 am, blue has appeared and so has the sun. Today would have been my Dad’s 101st birthday. Unfortunately, he survived to see less than half of those. He died, aged 49, of a heart attack in Burton upon Trent hospital. When asked if I have any history of heart disease in the family, I hold my breath and hope I take after my Mother. I will be saying ‘Hello’ to them both tomorrow when I visit their graves in Repton.

Today, I have to valet the car in preparation for our trip tomorrow. Pauline is making the Christmas Cake this morning and then packing this afternoon while I watch Chelsea getting thrashed by Leicester (hopefully). We are looking forward to reconnecting with friends and relatives over the next, few days.

Week 406

Sunday, 2nd October, 2016

A lovely, warm and sunny day with blue sky and high, white clouds. After the political programmes and before the football, we sat out in the sun in the garden. We deliberately chose a house with a south-facing garden which gives us long days of sunshine. It also helps us to grow patio plants successfully. Of course, one can’t fight the seasons and, as we open the conservatory doors onto our breakfast table each morning, we are beginning to notice the early air has a little bite to it. Today, I cut the basil plants back to the base and Pauline made the last batch of pesto using our plants this season.

sbb3Watched a programme about Rick Stein’s connection with and appreciation of John Betjeman last night. Suddenly saw a volume of poems that was said to be a ‘First Edition’ of Summoned by Bells featured. It reminded me that I have a first edition, signed and numbered as 1/125 with the location of Repton in 1960 included in the inscription. I think Mum gave it to me. I know that Betjeman used to visit and stay with Dr Hodson who lived about 100 yards up the High Street and he could be seen playing croquet on the lawn. It has been carried with me from house to house for 40 years and probably will be for the eleven years I have left.

Monday, 3rd October, 2016

Yet another lovely day of sunshine and blue sky. We are told that last month was one of the warmest Septembers on record and I can quite believe it. It was a great month not to be a teacher. Let’s hope my last 11 Septembers are as good if not better. About this time, we begin play the game about when we move into long sleeved shirts; when we feel it necessary to put the central heating on for the first time; when the continental quilt will be needed on the bed. No signs of any of those as yet.

We are going to France soon and we’ve decided not to go to the Health Club but to get jobs done. I have to mow the lawns, check the car for oil, water and tyre pressure and make bsfsure we have all our necessary documents.  Pauline is washing and ironing in preparation for packing.

A couple of weeks ago I reflected on the Greek media’s reports of the fall in tourism this year. This weekend, they reported the serious drop in holidays, holiday lengths and spending by the Greek population itself. The number of Greeks not affording a holiday at all and those cutting the number of nights away meant that spending by Greeks fell by a whacking 15% this year. It is not surprising with so many out of work or experiencing more pension cuts.

The Tories, here, are busily making it clear that we are not just leaving Europe but we are really LEAVING EUROPE. This will almost certainly mean import/export duties coming in to cross-border transactions as well as visas for Britons travelling to Europe and Europeans travelling to Britain. It may well mean deporting some foreign nationals who are deemed surplus to our workforce requirements and borders being much more strictly controlled with entry based on our requirements for skilled workers. This is all going to turn very ugly.

Tuesday, 4th October, 2016

Still the lovely weather continues with blue skies and strong sun flooding our back garden from dawn until dusk. The early morning – 7.00 am – and the evening – 7.00 pm – are tinged with the sharp edge of cool air of Autumn but the days are warm with Summer sun and delightful.

Vic Roebuck died in 2010

Like, I suspect, so many men of my age, I have been on a odyssey to reconnect with influentially formative figures from my past. My hero Rugby and English teacher from Grammar School was Vic Roebuck. I managed to write to him and thank him for all he had done for me just months before he died aged 82 in 2010. He was sad after losing his wife but still fighting to keep fit and serving Burton upon Trent Rugby Union Club.



David McAndrew – I last saw in 1972

Having failed to get in to Newcastle University in 1969, I settled, as a male Roman Catholic, for a Teacher Training place at an all-female, Church of England, Training College. I was one of the first 20 men amongst 600 women. I saw Ripon training College as very much second best but I absolutely loved it. My English tutor, David McAndrew, introduced me to serious poetry and writing. Particularly, he introduced me to the Cumbrian poet, Norman Nicholson. In an idle moment, I googled David and up he popped celebrating his new collection of poems, Gesture from Fragments at the Ripon Writers’ Group. He must be mid-80s but looks remarkably the same as I remember him when I last saw him in July 1972 – only 44 years ago. I wrote, speculatively, to him and received an email back immediately.


Harry Chambers – Poetry Tutor – O.U. 1975     Died aged 75 in 2012

As I started teaching, I felt as if I had to redress my failure. I applied for an Open University degree course. It would take a lot of my earnings, all my spare time and energy and many late nights writing assignments. It was worth it. I loved it and began to take a pride in myself. My third year course was 2oth Century Poetry. My tutor was a middle aged man called Harry Chambers. I had never heard of him but, it turns out, he was a legend in the publishing world of modern poetry. He was a close friend of Seamus Heaney, a confidant of Philip Larkin and a promoter of burgeoning, young talent that eventually became the establishment. The year after I graduated he moved his publishing company, Peterloo Poets, to Cornwall. He left a profound impression on me.

Professor Bill  Stafford


While I am doing this, I should pay tribute to the man who, probably, had the most profound influence upon my intellectual development. Soon after I had graduated from the Open University, I began to feel uncomfortable with my inability to understand the political world around me with any real perspective. We were living in Huddersfield and I saw an advert in the Huddersfield Examiner for applications from ‘mature’ students for a research degree – a Master of Arts in The History of Ideas. I didn’t even know what it was but it sounded challenging and I wrote to the young man who was supervising the course. It was Dr Bill Stafford. My research was into the rise in the influence of Marxist thought in late 19th Century Britain, the Rise of the Labour Party and the political writings of R.H.Tawney. Bill is now Emeritus Professor William Stafford.

Wednesday, 5th October, 2016

Sunrise over the South Downs

Up at 5.30 am. Why is it still dark? By 6.30 am, the daylight is breaking on a glorious morning. By 7.00 am, we are fighting against a strong sun in our eyes as we drive across to Folkestone and the Tunnel. As we always do, we arrive early, and get offered an earlier crossing.

I took some photos on my new phone and the quality seems reasonably good although I really must go back to my digital SLR camera. The phone and the iPad cameras are just so much more convenient. Certainly, the people parked in front of us on the train could not have posed much better than these, unsuspecting victims.

30 mins crossing
Arriving at our delightful hotel in Coquelles.

As we drive to our hotel in Coquelles, the gorgeous grounds are flooded in sunlight as the rabbits enjoy a mid morning lunch of grass flavoured grass. We have booked a suite for a couple of days to celebrate Pauline’s coming of ‘old’ age. We have been coming to this hotel for 25 years. In that time it has been under two or three owners. Originally, it was French and subsequently Millenium Copthorne. Now it is IHG.

I am an IHG member and get discounts, upgrades and free nights. Here, we have an upgrade. We will stay in an IHG hotel in Yorkshire and at the airport on the way to Tenerife. Each stay adds benefits to my account.

The Channel is widening as we stand here.

Having checked in and unpacked, we drive out to Cite Europe shopping complex where Pauline buys ……more shoes, in fact, three more pairs of shoes. Well it is her birthday. As we drive back to the hotel via Auchan supermarket, this delightful scene across the road presents itself. A French farmer ploughing his field against the backdrop of The Channel complete with ferries and the white cliffs of Dover. The Channel seems to be widening as we stand there. All the mood music from the other side is strident. Let’s hope it is only a negotiation position being struck at the outset!

Thursday, 6th October, 2016

Wonderful Wimereux

I’ve woken to a nascent,blue sky and another wonderful day. Pauline has woken to being 65 + 1 day. Nightmare! Hotel breakfast to which we are so unused that we are full before we start. Back to our room for coffee and newspapers before we set out for the coast road and the Calais to Boulogne via Wissant, Tardinghen, Audinghen and Wimereaux. In beautiful sunlight, the journey was a delight. We revisited old haunts and found new ones.

Our old haunt in Wissant.

After a lovely day in the sunshine, we went back to our suite and ate a meal of prawns, celeriac dip, tomatoes and cured ham with a bottle of chilled, white Burgundy. This bottle cost £10.00/€11.11 but would cost £21.00/€23.34 in UK. We are aware now that this facility will only be available for another 18 months. They are all considering their futures even now.


Friday, 7th October, 2016

Up at 7.00 am (6.00 am GMT) and down to breakfast at 8.00 am. Breakfast is an alien concept and hard to stomach but the feeling that ‘we’ve paid for it so we’ll eat it’ still prevails. Feeling painfully full, we stagger back to our room to drink coffee and read the newspapers.

Migrant Smugglers apprehended on M25

At 9.30 am, we check-out and drive to Auchan where we do our weekly shop plus packs of duck breasts, duck legs, rabbit, etc.. Salad and fresh fruit abounds in our shopping trolley. We set off for the Tunnel about 10 mins away. A cup of coffee and a toilet break and we are queuing up for the train. Off and on to English motorway by 12.00 GMT, we set off on our 90 mins drive to home. En route as we join the M25, we see a large lorry full of boxes (We now know of frozen roast potatoes.) being searched and about 15 migrant stowaways being removed. They have endured temperatures of -25C for hours. The Daily Mail newspaper reports later confirm that.

Home by 2.00 pm, we read through correspondence, unload the car and sink back into our sofas. It doesn’t matter where we travel, coming ‘home’ is great!

Saturday, 8th October, 2016

Is it a sign of age to be tired after being away for a few days? If so, I’m not tired at all. Even so, we both lazed around a bit this morning. I did rack up all the bottles of wine we bought. It came to 140 bottles for us, 48 for P&C and another dozen for friends. Our car swallows 200 bottles of wine without trying. Our wine store also gives us ‘free crossings’ through the tunnel so the process is painless.

For me ….
…..For you.









After that, we went to the Health Club for a good workout. Really enjoyed it after days away indulging ourselves.