Week 421

Sunday, 15th January, 2017

Pauline, Phyllis & Colin – 15/1/17

Half way through January already. I still haven’t found the key to slowing time down. It’s becoming quite scary! Today is wet and cold. The temperature was 3C/37F and didn’t get much above 7C/45F all day. We had hoped for nicer weather because we were driving up to Surrey to collect P&C and bring them back to Sussex with us. They are staying for a few days. Traffic was reasonable and we did the 100 mile round trip in just under 2 hours. It was nice to do a drive of some length.

Pauline cooked a gorgeous, roast chicken with sage & onion stuffing and roast vegetables. Even P&C have given up wine for the moment so it was accompanied by sparkling water. One of the activities while they are with us is helping Colin to master his iPad and another is tracing some of his recent family members. These are two things I can help with although I may have to ask for support from my big sister, Ruth. Tomorrow, we are going to amble down to the seaside for some fresh air and exercise.

Monday, 16th January, 2017

The M25 at its best in the rain.

Woke up to heavy rain and the news that Colin had been up in the night with pain from an operation he recently had on his wrist. It was clearly infected and looked inflamed. He was in real discomfort. We have no Walk-in Centre down here. The nearest one is 16 miles away in Brighton. It is definitely a drawback. It was decided that he needed to visit his doctor back in Surrey. So, after breakfast, our guests packed their bags and I loaded up the car and drove them back. It is a 2 hour round trip but today was horribly wet both from the sky and spray from the road. There was a lot of standing water on the road sides as well. It made the trip quite tiring.

Skiathan Man has so much time on his hands that that he has been able to find contemporary, new Sifnos material which had evaded me completely. If you click on the link, it is fairly wordy but well worth reading. I must admit, I have never hankered after a hair shirt, back to basics, idyllic-simplicity sort of life. As the account from Sifnos illustrates, it is readily available in small and less accessible islands but it never appealed to us. It sought us out occasionally when the water pump failed or the boilers sprang leaks, when the electricity supply went off for hours at the most inopportune moments and when we couldn’t get a phone line.

However, we went out of our way to bring all the creature comforts of a modern, British home to our new Greek building – double glazing, air conditioning, log burning stoves and underfloor heating. We had a huge, sterna or water storage tank and an excellent plumber who came immediately there was a problem. Just having our lovely, 4-wheel drive, air conditioned car to get around in made all the difference. I only have to read the accounts of the Simi men who sit around wearing 4 layers of clothing and a blanket with the shutters closed all day and towels at the windows to soak up the leaks and I shudder and thank my lucky stars.

Tuesday, 17th January, 2017

Our new Medical centre.

Cold but bright morning with lovely, pink-orange sunrise sky followed by strong, low sunlight. We had to be out for a 9.00 am appointment at the Doctors’ surgery. It was my first appointment with a GP for 12 months and our first visit to our new, West Sussex GP. We had taken a urine sample down to the surgery yesterday. I had offered to fill both pots so that Pauline didn’t have high cholesterol but she declined. We had spent an hour or so preparing a medical ‘event’ résumé each. It is quite a shock to realise how many testing processes we’ve taken part in over the past couple of years. The Practice building is huge but still the large carpark  was nearly full.

Everyone we met in the waiting rooms told us that we had been allocated to the best and most in-demand GP in the Practice and she was certainly excellent in her responses to us when we saw her right on time. It turned out that Pauline’s cholesterol level is nothing to worry about. I have been directed to the Osteopathy Department to which I can self-refer for treatment of a sports injury to my arm which I’ve been carrying for 12 months. Everything can be accessed on-line from repeat prescriptions to making appointments and receiving confirmations to reporting INR self testing results and receiving dosage advice. This suits us perfectly.

Wednesday, 18th January, 2017

My own, personal Changing Room.

A bright but cold day which was sunny throughout but didn’t get above 5C/41F. Ironically, 2016 has just been confirmed as the warmest on record. I must admit that I didn’t really notice it myself. I thought Tenerife was always like that. President Trump will do his best to warm things up.

We went out to pick up parcels from Littlehampton this morning. After watching PMQs, we drove to the health Club. Of course, the world is now back at work but it also looks as if New Year’s resolutions have waned quite quickly. As the illicit photograph of the mens’ changing room shows, it was deserted around early afternoon. The often busy, Health Centre coffee shop was also particularly quiet. There will be lots of membership offers by summer.

The Skiathan shocked me by referring to Barty from Paros today. I didn’t realise they knew each other. I haven’t heard from Barty for ages and his Blog ceased to be updated for so long that, even though I had visited it most days, I deleted it from my list. I hope he’s alright.

Thursday, 19th January, 2017

Worthing Beach at sunset today.

These are glorious days – cold but glorious. Today, once again, we peaked at 5C/41F but were bathed in sunshine all day. In our sheltered back garden here in West Sussex, it was warm enough to sit out and drink coffee. It is really boosting to be in this place.

We did our third, consecutive day of hard, gym workout. I have been feeling tired all week. We have found that my blood pressure is rather low. Certainly lower than Pauline’s. I am currently taking blood pressure medication each day. I take Losartan and Doxazosin to combat high blood pressure. All my Diabetes medication was withdrawn over 12 months ago and we have had a feeling that the remaining medication was becoming less helpful. I think there is a case for reducing it at least.

In Greece, the better weather may have returned but a return to better, economic conditions seems a long way off. Last wee, I reported on the distant prospect of house values recovering any time soon. Today, it is reported that Poul Thomsen,  Director of the European Department of the IMF estimates that it will take 21 years until unemployment will return to levels before Greece was hit by the economic crisis. Unemployment in Greece will return to pre-bailout levels of 7.8% average in the years 2001-2007 by 2038. This, of course, has a knock-on effect for the whole economy. I look forward to it coming right by the time I am 86!

Friday, 20th January, 2017

Sunrise at 7.15 am raises the curtain on a wonderful, new day.

The temperature at 7.00 am was 0C/32F and it didn’t manage better than 4C/39F all day. However, this was the price for a gorgeous day which was presaged by the sunrise featured on the left. We’ve been at home today because a number of different tradesmen have been arriving to address small, ‘snagging’ issues – a clip broke when the dishwasher service man removed the kitchen plinth, a patio door hasn’t been fitting particularly well and the seal on the en suite shower door had sprung out. We had a leak from a joint in the guttering and a small scratch on a pane of glass in a window of Bedroom 4. Nothing was desperate but, when you’ve paid out a lot of money and you’ve got a 5 year warranty, why not use it?

The heating has been on and off all day. At the back of the house, the temperature has been tropical as the sun streamed through the conservatory windows and doors. At the front, it got quite chilly as the central heating went off. I was sitting around typing most of the day and that’s not conducive to generating heat. I was printing hard copies of our financial records for the second half of last year for filing. Our records of every, day to day transaction go back to 1978. The early ones, of course, were recorded in ‘accounts books’ but, from January 1993, every, single item of our expenditure has been recorded on a digital accounting programme. It is an ‘historical’ record which runs comfortably alongside the Blog in cataloguing our lives.

I use two, Brother Laser Printers – a mono and a colour. They cost next to nothing to buy these days. In the late 1990s I paid £3,500.00 for a colour printer the size of a washing machine. Today, we have two in one office and they needed new toner. I use a supplier called Toner_Giant who deliver next day without extra cost. I could buy Brother ‘official’ products. The mono costs £101.00/€117.00 alone. A ‘compatible’ and equally good replacement cost just £25.00/€29.00. The colour toner came to £100.00/€116.00 instead of £250.00/€290.00. Progress is wonderful!

Saturday, 21st January, 2017

We did a terrible thing this morning. We stayed in bed until 8.00 am. Don’t know why but we must have been tired. It won’t happen again! At 11.00 am, the sky is blue, the sun is shining but the temperature is just 2C/36F. Indoors, by contrast, it is a constant 22C/70F. I’ve begun to think about Tenerife again if life doesn’t warm up soon.

Yesterday, I wrote about our record keeping over the past 40 years with the past 24 on a computer. Since January 1993, Pauline has been using Microsoft Money which has been perfect for recording every day spending, saving in multiple accounts. It’s facility and flexibility is quite sophisticated. It is a derivative of Ms Excel spreadsheet. The software was discontinued in 2009 and doesn’t operate on Windows 10. I did phone Microsoft in America when I first moved up to Windows 10 and they worked on my machine remotely, putting a patch into the operating system but, as soon as I did my first, major upgrade, the  patch ceased to work and I gave up. For this reason, we are still using Windows 7 on our laptops.

Pauline’s laptop is becoming particularly clunky and we want to keep it alive as long as possible so she is going to relegate it to a specialised ‘accounts’ machine and we have ordered her a new one from HP. Most laptops look very much the same although Pauline insists on a 17″ screen. She’s always insisted on big ones. You can pay anything from £350.00/€405.00 – £2000.00/€2320.00 for a machine but this will be lightly used so, this morning, we chose at the lower end. With a wireless mouse, this new laptop cost just £450.00/€520.00. It will arrive on Monday and the accounts machine moved up to Pauline’s Study/Ironing Room.

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