Week 420

Sunday,8th January, 2017

Sunny Skopelos

A mild day but rather grey here. In Greece, the story is different. KTG have this headline:

Snow chaos: Two dead, hundreds trapped in highway, islands in state of emergency.

Rethymnon, Crete

Our route, along the new, Athens – Corinth Highway, was blocked by traffic failing to cope with the heavy snow. Skopelos has the signs of real snowfall. Obviously, Northern Greece is suffering and we know that -17C/1.4F is being experienced in one area that is suffering with a power cut. Two older people are known to have died with hypothermia and refugees are suffering in tents in Northern camps. Even the southern islands such as Crete are experiencing winter snow as are the Dodekanese where many more migrants are camping out. Even many Greeks themselves are not really equipped to deal with these conditions because they are so rare. The residents of apartment blocks in Athens have been so impoverished by the economic crisis that communities have failed to maintain heating for the buildings so individual residents have very little recourse even though a new law has just been passed to address that.

Monday,9th January, 2017

Sunny Artemonas

Just an ordinary day of routine jobs and activities. My wife is on the floor in the kitchen, re-grouting the join between floor tiles and skirting board where re-settlement has left a slight gap. Yesterday, she was re-waxing the kitchen table. She loves doing things like this and is very skilled at it. I am measuring up prior to booking a ‘little man’ to come and put shelves up in our store cupboard under the stairs and, finally, ordering the shelving for the garage. The routine of the Daily Politics re-starts today and then we go to the Health Club for our daily workout.

The Commercial Centre

On Sifnos, life is certainly not routine. After Friday’s Theofania ‘celebrations’ when three, hardy, young souls threw themselves into the icy, harbourside sea for the joy of finding a small crucifix-shaped artefact, the islanders are now coping with snow and freezing temperatures. The hazy picture on the left will mean nothing to most readers but does to us. The windmills seen through the snow-mist are at the side of the two supermarkets we shopped at almost daily. We never saw them like this and few people have. The new school is near here. Wonder if it is open today….. Well, as Mayor Andrea confirmed, school was closed!

Tuesday,10th January, 2017

Another mild day – 10C/50F at 8.00 am – with reasonably blue sky and low, winter sun. After a trip out to Asda, I’ve been doing some Ancestry research. Actually, I have been cannibalising previous work with a view to consolidating our family tree before moving on to the Coghlan line and then the Barnes family. I’ve also got so much reading to do that I must get on with it. I am struggling to get through The Times and The Telegraph each day as well as the numerous Blogs I follow as well as local papers in the evening. Over Christmas, I downloaded Tim Shipman’s acclaimed political commentary on Brexit, All Out War. I still haven’t read it but must do now before we actually leave.

We’ve done a hard session in the gym today. The Health Club is predictably busy because New Year’s resolutions are still in place. The changing rooms were busy for both of us. Still, we did our job and then drove home to a meal of duck breast, green peppers, shallots, and button mushrooms cooked by me. It was, of course, delicious.

Wednesday, 11th January, 2017

At 7.30 am, the sun is just about to rise in a clear sky but the temperature is already 10C/50F. Just as well because we are going out to Worthing for the morning. Pauline has ordered clothes which we have to collect and we are going to Specsavers to pick up our new glasses. I remember how excited I was to get my first pair at the age of 7 in 1958. They were ‘free’, National Health ‘specs’ with the wire loops that hooked behind the ears with a ball-stop end which has left a permanent impression on my skin. I was desperate to wear glasses because I thought it was a sign of maturity rather than short sightedness. Of course, it was a good job they were free because I broke them most months – ususally by sitting on them – and had to wait another 8 weeks for replacements.

In Worthing shopping area by the sea front, we spent an hour or so this morning. The temperature soared to 14C/57F but felt much colder with a brisk breeze off the sea. Pauline picked up two pairs of trousers which we promptly returned in the afternoon. We got back from Worthing in time to watch the first PMQs of the New Year and to get the perfect Corbyn soundbites:

Our NHS is in crisis but the PM is in denial.

Mocking the PM’s launch of the ‘shared society, Corbyn pointed out that the definition of a ‘shared society’ is:

people sharing hospital corridors on trolleys.

The Prime Minister was left with no defence but to brazen it out and it is becoming increasingly obvious, even to those who rarely pay attention, that the Tories are determined to run down the NHS until we beg to be allowed to pay for it.

Thursday, 12th January, 2017

We made a good choice of day to be confined to the house. Although the morning opened pleasantly enough, by 11.00 am, light rain began to fall and, a couple of hours later, heavy rain set in and lasted for 5 or 6 hours. As the light faded and the temperature began to drop, the rain lightened and turned to wet snow. At 7.00 pm, it is covering the roof tops but Yorkshiremen are laughing at it.

The Dishwasher’s working again!

We were confined to the house because two people were calling. Firstly, and very pleasingly, the Dishwasher Service man came and fitted a new heating unit and pump to our 8 month old AEG dishwasher. It is built in to the kitchen units and we have had the plinths adjusted so he could get the machine in and out. Actually, I began to quite enjoy washing up by hand – once in a while – but I will feel equally pleased to see a machine do it all for me again. The AEG man took about an hour and a half before stepping out in to inclement weather for his next job.

Another Meccano Kit!

Later in the day and stepping out in to increasingly heavy and cold rain, a nice, young, Romanian lad in a white van. He lugged three packs of garage shelving parts wrapped tightly in heavy duty plastic and brown, gaffa tape to my door, asked for a signature and was off to his next drop before I realised that I could only just lift one of the packs with great difficulty into the garage. We now have tomorrow morning’s job mapped out. I’ve got my power drill charged up in readiness. I just have to work out how to use it.

I had a box of Meccano for a Christmas present when I was 7 years old. I struggled to use it from a technical and an imaginative point of view. Such a great disappointment for my father. This garage shelving kit makes me feel 7 years old again but I’m sure Pauline will sort it out. She loves heavy construction.

Friday, 13th January, 2017

Wessendenhead, Meltham, West Yorkshire

Lucky for some – particularly if they don’t have to go to work. There was a slight smattering of snow over night and that soon disappeared although it has been a chilly day in which we didn’t get above 9C/48F. As you can see, one of our old, stomping grounds was true to type with plenty of white stuff. It is one of those days to be at home. I spent the morning doing some research work on Ancestry. This afternoon, we decided to address the garage shelving unit that had arrived yesterday. The hardest part for me was getting all the plastic binding off the packages. It is obviously machine-applied and very strong and tight. I got there in the end and then sat down to read the construction instructions.

The first step was to get my wife involved. There is nothing I can’t do when she puts her mind to it and so it was today. Actually, it took a lot longer than expected but what is two hours in the great scheme of things. I had a real feeling of self-satisfaction when she finished it.

Saturday, 14th January, 2017

The Laundry is a foreign & distant land.

Gorgeous sunrise this morning at 7.30 am but it stayed pretty cold all day not getting much above 6C/43F. We have guests staying over the next few days so cleaning and shining the house was the order of the day. Actually, very little needed to be done. There are just two of us wandering around a brand new house which is cleaned and vacuumed most days anyway but ‘guests’ concentrate the energies and the critical faculties.

Every morning, Pauline provides the breakfast and I unstack the dishwasher. I download the newspapers on both iPads and I make the coffee. Since I bought a new, cordless vac., I have set myself the task of vacuuming the floors whereas, Pauline uses her new, steam cleaner to clean the tiled and wooden floors. My job is to do all lawn cutting and plant watering, car valeting and garage maintenance. Because she is so much better than me, Pauline does the bulk of the cooking although I really do enjoy it.

Pauline is responsible for washing and ironing. I have no idea how to use the washing machine or tumble dryer and keep saying I must learn. I don’t think I have ever really used an iron in my life and the thought of learning it scares me. My territory is the Office and the technology we use there. How to install and maintain the colour and the mono laser printers; how to use the label printer and the scanner; passwords for significant computers and websites are my persistent worry. I am constantly writing guides on how to use everything and how to access everything for Pauline in case I die in the night. I’ve always been optimistic! I’m going to have to get her to do that for the Laundry. She just says, The manuals are in the filing cabinet. Unfortunately, she’s responsible for filing so I’m sure I’ll struggle to find them. It is the inevitable downside of a long, close and interdependent relationship. Ideally, Pauline will pass away as I utter my dying words: We spent the last of our savings on Claret yesterday.

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