Sunday, 20th November, 2016
As The Skiathan reminded me, Sunday is for newspapers. It is also for a surfeit of political analysis and discussion. Add to that warmth and sunshine and our cup runneth over. We hope Skiathan Man, his wife and young sprog are having a happy day.
Unfortunately, we have no Sky Sports here so I miss the football and the cricket. Actually, it is Channel 4 that we miss most. Channel 4 News is fantastic, often cutting edge, regularly abrasive and just unmissable except here where we are missing it. Particularly now, with the political world rocking and reeling and the potential for another three years of it, sharp and independent minds are needed more than ever.
The newspapers are absorbing reading on Brexit, Trumpism, the Italian referendum. Matteo Renzi is taking a Cameroon suicide pill by appealing to the electorate who look like booting him out. Then there is the French election which, if not won by Marine Le Penn, may force the alternative (Sarkozy?) to tack to the right. The same will be true in Germany to an extent. Merkel is having to row back on her open door immigration policy in order to nullify criticism at home. Even the Netherlands are seeing insurgency of the extremely right.
However, my pick of the weekend (with apologies to Jane BG) is the Sunday Times article by Dominic Lawson headed:
Trump is dumping the climate fetish. What about you, Mrs May?
He predicts that the Trump team will simply withdraw America from the UN Convention on Climate Change and says that just as Obama used an ‘Executive Agreement’ bypassing democratic agreement to give consent to the Paris Accord, so Trump will reverse it by the mandate of his election which promised to revive coal mining and received full support of the US Rustbelt states. While we are punishing ourselves, China is massively building its economy based on ever increasing coal fired power. As they buy up our infrastructure, we should reflect on that.
Monday, 21st November, 2016
This time last year we were completing our first month in … Tenerife. I was preparing material for my Christmas newsletter. Today we are approaching our final week of another month in … Tenerife and am preparing material for my Christmas newsletter. I have been doing that for about 20 years now. Once I start a project, I tend not to give up. In just under 4 weeks, the Blog will be 8 years old. There are not so many around who have been so persistent. Some would call it obstinate. I call it tenacious. Today, the Blog ‘memories’ really come into their own as I review the events of 2016.
I have been told off by my sister, Jane BG, for not accepting the prevailing ‘climate change’ doctrine. In most situations, of course, I would defer to her. She knows about weather. She is, after all, a Biologist. What ever she is, she is very, very fit.
Tuesday, 22nd November, 2016
A bit cooler today – only 25C/77F – and breezy in the early morning. It’s been a strange day around. The gardens here are just fabulous. I want to take them home with me. Just a few photos. Actually, some of the most exciting don’t flower but scream out their exotic forms and textures but, today, I’ve just picked flowering plants.
After walking through these gardens and taking photographs, we walked on up the coast road. We stopped to look at a development of concrete that was being laid just as we arrived three weeks ago. Today it was a swimming pool – not finished but getting there and employing many Canarians. Tourism drives everything here. There is nothing else – which makes it rather soulless but very determined to offer the best product they can. In comparison with Greece where people, places and tradition capture and hold a heart, the Canaries offer fantastic, high quality hotels, fantastic and quality food, wonderful swimming pools and all year round perfect weather – not too hot and never uncomfortably cold. In the Canaries, whether it’s January or July, living outside is a delight. In Greece, the winter cold can pierce to the bone.
As we leaned over the fence and looked at the development, a very pretty, petite lady sidled up and affected to look but clearly wanted to talk. Within 10 minutes, we knew so much about her. It sounds a bit creepy but it wasn’t. If you’d asked me her age, I would have estimated 55 – 60 years. She told us she was 69. Her husband had died of motor neurone disease at age 38 and she was left to run his manufacturing business in Maidenhead as well as bring up two kids. She explained that she has paid her kids way through private education but doesn’t feel they are grateful or even care. She told us that she loved her kids but she didn’t really like them. With a look of shock on her face, she said, I’ve never told anyone that before. By this time, I was trying to decide how much to charge her for the consultation but The Daily Politics called and we rushed off our separate ways.
Wednesday, 23rd November, 2016
I’m sorry to report that, in spite of the warm weather outside, I have been glued to the Autumn Financial Statement. For us, it had little to offer. It confirmed that the band of earning before which tax is first levied will rise to £12,500.00/€14,730 per person. Pauline & I will have our first £25,000.00/€29,460.00 of income without paying tax. Investment income is poor to non-existent currently. The government will offer a bond at 2.3% fixed for 3 years. Unfortunately, we can only invest £6,000.00/€7,080.00 jointly which is neither here nor there. With inflation set to hit 2.8% over the next two years, it is the bulk of our savings we need to shelter. Nothing erodes value more than inflation. Perhaps we should buy another property but we really don’t want the hassle.
Since we retired, nearly 8 years ago, earnings have remained fairly flat. The OBR forecasts that this will remain the case for the rest of the decade. This is significant for pensioners. Although our pensions are inflation proofed, if salaries go ahead, pensioners begin to feel left behind. Never, in modern times, have earnings remained static for so long. The other hint worth noting but which will have been missed by many pensioners is a rushed allusion to readdressing the Triple Lock on State Pensions after the next election. Some are developing the thesis that the Boomers have had a life in clover and the young have been left out in the desert. The BBC are pushing this thesis almost as hard as their climate change religion. Certainly, it will have to be in the 2020 manifestos of any party proposing it and pensioners will be able to vote accordingly.
Thursday, 24th November, 2016
We have spent the day walking – or so it seems. Went out for a long walk round the headland after breakfast in strong and hot sunshine. It was lovely to feel free and healthy with time to do what we want, go where we want and when we want together. We were out for a couple of hours and timed our return for the start of The Daily Politics.
After that and the BBC News, we set off for the gym. We did a solid hour of cardio-work (See, I’ve even got the jargon now.) on the treadmill and the bike. The heat was so intense we could have done with a mop to clean up the floor around the equipment after we had
finished. The gym is a long walk across the hotel campus back to our room and we were pleased to observe how quickly we recovered from our exertions.
The OBR has reported today that relative wage growth has not been worse since the 1920s. Partly this is explained by immigration, partly explained by part time, zero hours and poor quality jobs and partly explained by the anticipation of Brexit. This is what I touched on yesterday. The problem is that the static rates of pay are projected to stay up to and after the end of the decade but set against a newly rising inflation rate because of Brexit’s effect on the exchange rate.
Friday, 25th November, 2016
Lovely morning but a little fresher today – only 20C/68F at 7.00 am.. Looks like it’s going to be a nice day though. I read the local papers from places I used to live in every night. This morning, The Times reports what Oldhamers already knew that Oldham council has bought a new gritter. They really know how to push the boat out there. The council are running a competition to name a gritter, and Gritty McGritface is thankfully unlikely to make the cut. The children in the town have already come up with Gritney Spears and, my favourite, Freddie Salted.
We’ve done another lovely walk this morning with beautiful views along the coastal path.
Quite a few tourists had the same idea so it wasn’t as tranquil as we would have hoped but still enjoyable. When we got back, we drank coffee, watched the Daily Politics and headed down to the gym. By this time, the week’s exertions were beginning to be felt and both decided on a shorter session followed by an hour or so sitting in the sun.
Friday, 25th November, 2016
To put things into perspective, this is the end of the penultimate week of November 2016. Just 4 days left of our time in Tenerife. Just 4 weeks until Christmas and the start of the Blog’s 9th year. Just 5 weeks until our 38th wedding anniversary and the end of 2016.
Feeling the weight of chronology on our shoulders, we ventured out into the day. It was a warm, sunny but breezy day in which the sea was whipped up and white horses could be seen across to La Gomera. We went for a long walk to enjoy the air and spray from the sea and sunshine on our faces. All around the hotel grounds, people can be seen settling down on sun beds and will be there for up to 8 hours as the perma-tan deepens. Later in the day, we, ourselves, sit on our balcony and enjoy the sun but an hour or so is all we can manage.