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!

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