Week 427

Sunday, 26th February, 2017

Grey and slightly damp but mild day. Definitely a day for political discussion, newspapers and football watching. There will be plenty of days for going out in the sunshine….. hopefully.

Natural Hog Casings for homemade sausages.

We try very hard not to buy processed food. I have even tried hard to cut out bacon, salami, mortadella, bresaola and saucisson although I absolutely love them all. Today, Pauline has ordered natural hog casings in order to make her own sausages. We used to do it in our Greek house where quality sausages were just not possible to buy. You could get tinned frankfurters which I’ve never liked or Greek sausages – Lukániko (λουκάνικο ) which tended to be thin, hard and spicy. Additionally, their provenance was always slightly suspect so we learned to do without them.

Had to share with you my favourite cartoon of the year so far. Taken from The Times:





Well, England really only just beat Italy and Man. U. really only just beat Southampton. It’s been a nail biting afternoon. I gave my morning over to researching a tennis tournament in Pefki, Maroussi, Athens this Easter. Could be an interesting trip.

Monday, 27th February, 2017

Let’s Go Fly a Kite!

Clean Monday / Καθαρή Δευτέρα for the first day of Lent, if that means anything to you. To some Greeks it means doing without eating meat, eggs and dairy products. Actually, most, modern Greeks don’t take it too seriously but like the culturally binding routines of Festivals that accompany it.

We are celebrating in the only way we know how. Today is Fish Pie Day. Pauline is making it with lobster, scallops, prawns, cod and salmon. The topping – replacing potato – is slices of fennel topped with grated Gruyère cheese. Oh, I wish it could be Lent every day-ay-ay-ay.

My little brother, Bob, is in Barbados. He’s just tweeted this photo saying it’s raining. I went out to collect the bins after the refuse collectors had been. I was hit by a violent deluge of hail. As soon as I got back inside, the sun came out.

It’s quite unpleasant outside today and feels cold. The temperature only reached 9C/48F and is a meagre 6C/43F at 6.00 pm, grey and damp. It really doesn’t make you want to go outside. Much nicer to sit down inside to a really good Fish Pie.

Tuesday, 28th February, 2017

Glorious day here for February to die on. Bright sun in clear, blue skies. A bit chilly, reading 2C/36F at 7.00 am. We weren’t getting the white stuff that was falling heavily in the Midlands and the North of England thank goodness.

Clean Monday / Καθαρή Δευτέρα on Sifnos was preceded on Sunday by Carnival / Καρναβάλι. We were sent a link to the video of this event. Homespun and amateur, the film shows islanders dressing up and mocking/celebrating Greek culture and traditions. We were delighted that this year’s festival featured our dear friend, Emmanuella who helped us so much on the when we were on the island. We’ve heard from her but we haven’t seen her for over two years. This is a scene with a ‘postman’ in the Artemonas Πλατεία.

It seems so far away as the British government prepare to pull the shutters down on European access. Fear of a post-Brexit interregnum which will allow mass migration from poor areas of Europe to Britain are being addressed with controls which will inform those wishing to come that they will have no security of tenure. From shortly after April 2017, those EU residents who attempt to come to Britain will be not allowed to claim benefits and will be told that their stay is conditional and probably temporary. Britain, expects reciprocal action to be taken against ex-pats living in Europe. Dual nationality may well be abolished under these arrangements.

Wednesday, 1st March, 2017

Happy March, 2017

The daffodils may be almost on their way out and many trees and shrubs budding vigorously. The birds may be singing  optimistically and the grass growing enthusiastically but it’s still very cool outside. Even so, I am delighted to see that our potted French Tarragon is growing back strongly and will not need replacing for this year at least.

The Power Meter sits at the bottom of my monitor accusingly.

For years, the 1st of the month has meant for us reading and recording the electricity, gas and water meters. Usually, that would mean going outside or into the garage to the meters. Here, I have a smart meter mounted just below my computer monitor and, at the click of a button, I can see and record on my spreadsheet the total usage for the month and the years of both gas and electricity individually or combined. This is data for a geek like me that is so wonderful it borders on the orgasmic. Unfortunately, the water meter is set into the front lawn so it is easy for the company to come round and read but is not user-friendly at this time of year.

Of course, it is a lot more expensive to power this 4-bedroomed house compared with the 2-bedroomed Duplex we ran in Surrey. There, the total, annual cost was under £500.00/€590.00. Here it is £850.00/€1000.00. It is still below average for a house of our size in the UK. A lot of our expense goes on drying washing. We never do that outside but always use a tumble dryer which could be seen as an indulgence. Thank goodness, we don’t have to balance heating and eating like a significant number of poor people including those reliant on just their State Pension.

Thursday, 2nd March, 2017

A lovely, lovely day in which one could really believe that Spring had started. Clear blue skies from Dawn to Dusk with strong sunshine which raised temperatures in sheltered areas to 14C/57F although the edge on the breeze reduced that to 10C/50F in most parts. We did our weekly shop at 9.00 am and then completed our third, consecutive hour of cardio workout in the Health Club. Just as we were finishing showering and dressing to leave for home, the Health Club fire alarm went off and everyone traipsed out in to the carpark. Fortunately, we were able to drive away.

We got home and put together a wonderful meal of Cornish dressed crab, scrambled egg, cold water prawns and tomato & cucumber salad. It was one of those dishes that make one feel good to be alive. Having just finished our meal, I walked over to make coffee and the power went off. Everything went dead. I thought I was in Sifnos. We don’t expect this in Britain nowadays. After phoning the power company, it turned out that the house developers up the road had severed a main cable. Must have been a bit of a shock! Anyway, it was back on within 90 mins..

Amazing how much we rely on mains electricity. Couldn’t check Google for the power company’s contact number. Couldn’t distract ourselves with a television. Could heat the coffee. Couldn’t put the heating on. Couldn’t, couldn’t, couldn’t.

Friday, 3rd March, 2017

Our very local Garden Centre.

Took a day off from exercise at the gym today. We went out to our garden centre – literally 5 mins drive away – to look for some ‘fill in’ shrubs for a bed where some have failed and ideas for additional garden furniture. There are garden centres all around us but this is the biggest and the best quality. As we walked round, I was particularly keen on some new, Hebe variations.

We are looking for colour all year round at the side of the house down the drive to the garage. These new Hebes look excellent candidates. They are low growing and strong in colour.

Hebe Magicolour
Hebe White Gem






While we were walking round, Pauline smelled what she thought was Mimosa – a scent she has always loved since our Greek house. It turned out to be Sarcocca Confusa or ‘Sweet Box’. It looks like we are definitely having some of that either side of the front door. In reality, the shrubs on sale were so tempting, we could have bought one of everything if we had the space for it. In age, however, we have learnt not to impulse-buy but purchase after reflection. We will check out gaps in the beds and then return to get the plants we need.

Saturday, 4th March, 2017

Littlehampton Marina

Lovely mild and sunny day. We went down to the Post Office to return another on-line purchase which wasn’t what it seemed and then nipped down to the Marina to have a walk in the fresh, Spring air. Of course, at the weekend, you can always expect quite a throng of visitors and today was the same. Littlehampton Marina is lovely with a wide, open walkway and lots to see. We always like to call in at the fishermen’s huts to see what fish is for sale and see what the little boys are catching with their hooks & lines dropped over the wall.

Lifeguard Training on the seafront.

The beaches and boardwalks are busy with others and their dogs taking the air, even paddling at the sea’s edge. Children scoot past or glide on their roller boots. Old people hobble along behind, pulling in huge lungsful of reviving ozone. Today, there was a special focus of interest as a gaggle of new lifeguards were standing in the sea being inducted by their instructor. Although the air was pleasantly warm, I can’t imagine the sea was. Rather them than me. We drove home for a bowl of home made vegetable soup.

Week 426

Sunday, 19th February, 2017

My little brother is 65 today. Happy Birthday to Bob. Actually, he’s not that little and he is only 10 months younger than me but there have to be bragging rights for the elder brother occasionally. I wish him a very, happy birthday.

Of course, everything is related. Bob’s birthday means he is the same age as me for just a couple of months and, soon, I will hit the downward slope towards 70. I haven’t even got a safety harnesss and I can’t find the brake.

To distract me from the inevitable decline, we are planning travel – driving in Europe during the summer & holidaying in the sun in the winter – and exploring our heritage while at home. Although I already knew it in principle, what has been so instructive is the contrast between families in the 19th/20th Centuries who largely were rooted in place and community and people like me who are rooted in none of these. So many tradesmen have come to our door in the past year and so many have migrated across the country in their lives. Admittedly, the traffic has been largely southwards but not entirely. Anonymity can be liberating and isolating in equal measures.

Just read an entry from the Skopelosnews Blog which chimes with our view  exactly and reminds us of what we miss/don’t miss.

Living on an island is both sweet and sour at the same time. You cannot compare it to living in a city, a village. There is a melancholic feeling about the fact that you are separated from the rest of the country/world because of the sea and only boats can help you bridge that distance.

It is the oxymoron of bitter-sweet and liberation-isolation that can only be understood fully through experience.

Monday, 20th February, 2017

Rather a damp and grey start to the morning. Actually, our morning really started at 4.00 am when I couldn’t sleep. This is something that rarely happens. I woke up feeling hot because the outdoor temperature over night was about 10C/50F. We went downstairs to have a cup of tea. While we were there, we finished watching Testament of Youth. You will no doubt be aware that it is the harrowing memoir of Vera Britain, Shirley Williams’ Mum. It covers her experiences during the First World War and the beginning of her journey towards pacifism. It is the sort of film I weep buckets at and I didn’t disappoint.

Back to bed at 5.00 am and the radio turned on to Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme an hour later. By 7.30 am, we were drinking fresh orange juice and tea and turning to possible events of the day. One of the main jobs today is to consider our wills. We made them more than 30 years ago when we were living in Yorkshire. They are lodged with a solicitor in Huddersfield and we have two executors who live in the South of England. For a while, we had a codicil relating to our Greek property but that is now revoked.

Of course, we have moved home a number of times since we first drew up our will and Sussex is the latest example of that. I have to inform the solicitor. Unfortunately, when I checked the solicitors’ website, it looked distinctly ‘unloved’ and unmaintained. When I contacted them, it appears they were taken over a couple of years ago. Our wills can stay with them and I will check that our executors are still willing to act for us. As it is 31 years since we drew these wills up, some beneficiaries are already dead – our Mothers, for example – but the general thrust remains valid.

I think I inherited this from my father and his ‘Dig for Victory’ movement but I love growing vegetables and don’t really have enough ground here. I had heard that there was an Angmering Allotment Association and I had considered finding out about it. This morning a leaflet came through the door inviting me to apply for a plot. I am sorely tempted but they have very strict rules about maintenance and we have so many plans for travel that I don’t think I could fully comply or make the most of the opportunity. I think it is something that will have to wait for a few years. I just hope that I won’t be too old by the time I’m ready.

Tuesday, 21st February, 2017

An overcast but fairly mild day. We had an electrician here today doing some totally unnecessary, but  indulgently useful work which included installing outdoor, electrical sockets on the external wall of the garage to make cooking outside easier and additional down-lighters in one of the bathrooms so that Pauline can count her wrinkles more accurately.

The electrician that we chose from our local, Checkatrade listing, turned out to be an absolutely lovely lad – (I say ‘lad’. He is 42, married with 3 kids but that says a lot about me now.) – who chatted non-stop as he worked, clearly loved meeting new people and turned out he is married to a barrister. If you know me, you will know that I can illicit the complete life story of any, total stranger within the first ten minutes of meeting and so it was with Darryl. I can tell you how old Darryl’s Gran was when she died and what illness his brother-in-law is suffering from. I can tell you what Darryl weighed twelve months ago, how much he’s lost since then and what sport he’s played since he was at school.

I can even tell you where Daryl will be on Friday, what operation he’s having and how long he’ll be off work. I can tell you where Daryll’s allotment is and what he likes to grow there. I can tell you where he likes to drive on holiday, what the names and ages of his three kids are and what he likes to drink both hot and cold. Of course, because of client confidentiality, I won’t be telling you any of those things but, after an hour with Darryl, I could almost write his biography.

Because of waiting for my new, best friend, Daryll, we couldn’t go to the gym today. To make up for it, I spent some time hoovering the house and then a couple of hours valeting the car inside and out. After Daryll had left, I did all the weeding outside and trimmed back the hedging at the front of the house. While I did these jobs, my wife was otherwise engaged with her newspaper. However, using our new, outdoor facility, she did cook a wonderful batch of whitebait which we ate with salad.

Wednesday, 22nd February, 2017

Went out at 9.00 this morning to a tile shop between Shoreham and Brighton. We have large, floor tiles right across our kitchen and in to our Utility Room. In every other house we’ve lived in, we have had spare, back-up tiles in case of accidents. Here, we have none. Ever mindful of the future, I decided to buy some. They are Johnson ‘Natural Tones, Matt Ecru 600mm x 600. I found a shop about 8 miles away who stocked them. They are so big, they come in boxes of 3 which I picked up today at a cost of £39.00/€46.20. They will now grow cobwebbed and dusty on the shelves in the garage until…

It was nice to explore a different part of our new, home area. The tile store was on the edge of Shoreham Beach although it was rather grey today. We are constantly surprised how close to the shoreline we live and are determined to put more time aside to visit the many interesting places dotted along it. It would be more enjoyable in warmer weather. Today the temperature has remained 10C/50F since early this morning but feels a lot cooler in a strong, breeze.

The gym really hurt today but we stuck it out and Pauline saved the day by cooking a lovely meal of Roast Pheasant, with roast shallots and carrots. Absolutely delicious!

Thursday, 23rd February, 2017

East Sussex this morning.

Today, as we know, is Doris Day. Storm ‘Doris’ has hit Britain. Scotland has blizzards, Blackpool has storm force gales, London has trees uprooted, trains and flights cancelled. Even East Sussex has strong wind bringing high tides and Angmering in West Sussex felt the effects. Our garden chair blew over!

What the wind did do was blow the clouds away,  reveal blue sky and sunshine. Sheltered from the wind, the temperature was 12C/54F which is good for mid-February. We have visited Sainsburys, Waitrose and Tesco this morning. All were wonderfully quiet. Old people obviously decided not to venture out in this dangerously breezy sunshine. If only it was always like this.

Curry is torture.

I have never liked hot and spicy flavours – Chilli, Curry, Paprika – even though I tried to when my friends in the 70’s & 80’s were raving about them. How hot can you take your curry? was the test of manhood which I failed every time. I have always gravitated towards French and Italian styles, ingredients and flavours.

In age, I have increasingly favoured dishes flavoured by herbs rather than salt, pepper or the condiments of the devil listed above. I do make an exception for garlic which I adore. Currently, Sage, Basil, Dill, Oregano, Rosemary, and Tarragon are favourites. Interestingly, the world is coming back to me. A report in The Independent this morning says:

Half of UK’s curry houses could shut over the next decade due to British healthy eating trends.

It suggests that we are looking for shorter menus with lighter, healthier options with more fish and vegetable dishes.

They always say that, if you stand still long enough, everything comes back round. I should be in fashion at least twice in my lifetime!

Friday, 24th February, 2017

A lovely, sunny and quite mild day reaching 11C/52F although there was an edge the coastal breeze. We have had none of the difficulties reported around the rest of the country caused by the storm. Nice picture in The Times of sheep’s response to cold wind. I know just how they feel … and taste!

We are often woken to the sounds of sea gulls outside screeching at each other. They are not a problem and still new enough to us to be quite a delight. People who have lived around here for years, can often be heard complaining about them and consider them vermin just like many people in the countryside consider squirrels and rabbits. I’m sure seagulls can be annoying at times. They seem to choose wisely the people they want to attack – children holding ice creams aloft like trophies, pensioners unwrapping sandwiches, etc.. The gulls singled out Stavros’ boat to carpet-bomb while leaving all others clean.

Chairs lined up. Yay!

In Worthing, as we fill our car boot with shopping, gulls will waddle up expectantly almost begging for contributions. When they are not forthcoming, they can be found trying to get in to discarded sandwich wrappers and crisp bags that drift round the car park in the breeze. The local newspaper has recently featured this more enterprising bird which has gone back to source. He/she has got into the habit of sneaking in to local shops and emerging with unopened bags of Cheese & Onion.

As you can see from the photo above, the weekend is starting well with everything in its place and lined up. there is nothing like being straight.

Saturday, 25th February, 2017

A grey day which reached 12C/54F but felt colder. We are told that it has been an unseasonably warm winter which is why crocuses and daffodils are full bloom and almost going over long before the start of March. To be honest, it has almost crept up on us unnoticed. Now we’ve been told, the public spaces are noticeably filled with colour and our flower beds are definitely bursting with buds of new growth. It is a delightfully optimistic sight.

Angmering Station

We are planning a trip to London to visit the Hockney Exhibition at The Tate Gallery soon so we drove to our local station to check parking and pick up times and prices. It is a lovely, parochial place which is easy to use. A train to London Victoria takes and hour and a half and costs just £23.00/€27.14 return. We rarely use trains but this will certainly be preferable to driving through central London.

We went on to the Health Club for a couple of hours work out and then drove home where we had a weekend, indulgent treat for our meal – pork spare ribs with broad beans and garlic mushrooms. It was absolutely wonderful.

Week 425

Sunday, 12th February, 2017

Last of the chilly days. I think we struggled up to 5C/41F and the sun broke through for a while. We are told that warm days will be back tomorrow which should reach double today at 10C/50F. I’m looking forward to getting out in the garden again – weeding and mowing the lawns. Just shows you how much time I’ve got on my hands.

It was an indoors day for me but not for this daft dog. It was snapped playing on the sea shore. I’ve never been keen on dogs unless they are well roasted with garlic and olive oil but this one almost looks acceptable.

Major Eric Sanders – 1946

I have been looking through a box of memorabilia which hasn’t been opened for quite a few years. While I was reminding myself of some photographs of a trip to Ireland in 1966, a metal square fell out on to the office floor. As I picked it up, I realised that it was a small, framed photograph of Major Eric Sanders aka ‘Dad’ taken in 1946 as he was demobbed. He was 31 years old. Incredible to think what he had to go through in the deserts of Palestine. How foreign it must have been to a young man from a small, Midlands village.

How lucky I have been in my life to choose most of my experiences, to go abroad at leisure and in comfort and to live beyond the age of 49. He always blamed the heat of the desert for his hair loss and told us stories of frying eggs & bacon on sun-heated Land Rover bonnets and stones. The things that I’ve never forgotten were the really important ones like a penchant he developed in the army for smearing bacon with marmalade and drinking chicory-based ‘Camp’ coffee. Mum had to pretend she liked it for years when they were first married. In spite of this, Dad died when I was 14 and long before I really got to know him. I regret that.

Monday, 13th February, 2017

Well it’s all change. By 10.00 am we were reading 10C/50F and later the sheltered, back garden reached a dizzy 16C/61F. I celebrated by cutting the lawns for the first time for two months. It felt and smelt good. No politics this week. Parliament has broken up for Half Term. We don’t want them overdoing it. We did a really hard couple of hours at the Health Club. We struck up a conversation with a couple who we’d seen there before but never spoken to. He was a retired Banker aged 86 and his wife was 85. They had spent time working out in the gym and followed it with a swim. They travel around the world and particularly enjoyed Greece in their younger days but, in age, they want more luxurious hotels in the Canaries. We would love to emulate them at that age.

Spot the hand of ‘The Nasty Party’.

The current angst in Britain with the state of the NHS is always addressed by the Tories with the refrain: We are putting in Billions more and just what we were asked for. They imply that funding is increasing exponentially under their management. We know it is not true. We can see it is not true but few of us have the facts at our fingertips when we articulate the case.

This graphic from the Institute for Fiscal Studies provides all you need to know about why you have to wait in A&E for hours or lie on a trolley in a corridor for hours or have your surgery cancelled because of lack of beds. The real question is, what is the motive. Am I cynical in suspecting that we are being softened up for a charging policy? Is this a long term aim of the Tories to weaken the country’s trust in a cradle to grave service and move people to private practices?

Tuesday, 14th February, 2017

Harbingers of Spring.

A rather grey day which only reached 10C/50F. Snowdrops are out in force around here. There are some buds coming through on the hydrangeas at the front of the house and yesterday’s weather did give us a suggestion that Spring isn’t too far away.

This is a day for loved ones – if you get sucked in to all that commercial guff. My wife and I agreed nearly 40 years ago that Birthday, Christmas, Anniversary and Valentine’s Day recognition through presents was completely unnecessary. You can’t get more romantic than that. Today has been renamed by me as Poison Dwarf Day. We celebrated the occasion by going for an extra long workout at the Health Club.


A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about our first draft stopovers en route to Ancona Port this Summer. In the past, we would drive like-bats-out-of-hell and do the journey in 18 hrs. Latterly, we would take it a bit slower but still look at it as basically a journey to Greece and then a journey home. Now, we won’t have much of a timetable and can take up to a month each way. We have returned to the plan over the past few days and it currently lines up like this:


Calais – Reims – Dijon – Lyon – Turin – Genoa – Montepulciano – Ancona


Ancona – Parma – Bellinzona – Mulhouse – Reims – Calais

I am now identifying hotels for each stop and how many nights we want to be there. This is the sort of research I enjoy.

Wednesday, 15th February, 2017

The day started beautifully bright and sunny. The sun glistened on the dew of the newly striped lawn. I was going to go out and do some weeding of the beds around the house but, by the time I was ready, the sun had disappeared and dull greyness pervaded the sky. Instead, I turned my mind to something which has been troubling me for some time. Like the typical prevaricator I am, I really have to grit my teeth to address such things.

The Sanders Family – 1925

I’ve spent the morning scrabbling around my computer and cloud backup as well as my filing system to find a document produced by cousin, David, which pulled together our Family’s History. He sent it to me quite some time ago when life was in such a state of flux that, even though I was excited to get it, I decided to deal with it later. As I moved house and my computer failed and was replaced, I am still struggling to locate it. I absolutely hate misplacing things! I am going to have to beg for another copy soon.

Always lovely to receive a brown envelope from HM Revenue & Customs particularly after we had two demands of unpaid tax over recent years. Fortunately today, we were just being informed of a raise in the tax-free allowance which will be £11,500/€13,530.00 from April. This is particularly noteworthy because our allowance is still rising towards the £12,000.00/€14,120.00 that was promised by the UK government whereas the Greek’s tax-free allowance has been cut to £7345.00/€8636.00 and their creditors are demanding another reduction over the next 12 months.

Yesterday’s press featured a leaked EU document which they headlined:

Britons in Europe will face BACKLASH from bloc’s members after Brexit.

This suggested that BRITISH nationals living in a country in the European Union could well face reprisals over the UK’s treatment of foreigners. The European Parliament’s legal affairs committee drew up the internal document that looked at the impact of Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc and indicates that the 1.2 million Britons living with the EU could pay a price for Theresa May’s failure to offer a secure future for EU nationals in the UK.

It is not really a time to be property owning abroad at the moment and may not be again. There are likely to be serious issues around reciprocity of Healthcare, Pensions, Cash movement and Bank Guarantees, Personal Identity and Social Security. Already, moves are being prepared to restrict those living abroad from returning to Britain for ‘free’ Healthcare. This is bound to provoke a response in Europe. Brexit will not be responded to economically but politically in order to shore up ‘The Grand Project’.

Thursday, 16th February, 2017

You can’t beat meat wrapped in entrails.

The day has started warm but grey although it is forecast to become sunny as the day develops. Although not a ‘Vegan, Vegetarian or tree hugger’, I will not be observing Τσικνοπέμπτη unlike the Greeks who mark the start of Lent by gorging on barbecued meat wrapped in entrails. It was always one of their more sophisticated habits we declined. We will be going for the over indulgent Tuna Pate & Tomato Salad. I know but you only live once. In the UK, start of Lent weekend is at the end of next week but we are celebrating early by shopping at Tesco, going to the gym and generally living it up as usual.

Friday, 17th February, 2017

Spring is coming! Spring is coming! Don’t Panic, Mr Mainwaring! Don’t Panic! Yesterday, we topped at 14C/57F and the forecast is for 16C or 17C/61F or 63F. This is excellent for February in England. The lawns have reacted well to being cut. Shrubs everywhere are budding up. Even the flowers in the hall are blooming. The cyclamen that Catherine brought us in October have flowered continuously and continue to do so. Optimism abounds ….. apart from bloody Brexit!

Already, this morning we have reached 10C/50F and I’m going outside to clean the car. What fun!

From L-R: Jimmy. Mick, Me & Dave.

Continuing to go through my Memorabilia Boxfile, where I found a photograph of Dad from 71 years ago earlier in the week, today I turned up a very faded, ‘Box Brownie’ photo of me 51 years ago with my scoutmaster, Dave Beasley, Michael Holmes who lived in High Street, Repton and Jimmy Philips who lived on the council estate at the far edge of the village. We had travelled to Dublin and then on to County Donegal in southern Ireland. I have wonderful but hazy memories of the trip. It was when I confirmed myself as a smoker and revelled in Sweet Afton which eventually made me very sick.

Saturday, 18th February, 2017

Lovely, warm day which reached 14C/57F as we left the Health Club at 4.00 pm after another couple of hours hard work. It was the fourth session this week and I found I was just beginning to cramp in my calves as I was finishing. Is it my age? Must try harder!

Worthing Pier

Pauline cooked what is becoming one of my favourite dishes for our meal today. Fish Pie should be off the agenda because I can’t eat potato but, with an inventive twist. This ‘pie’ was made up of Salmon, Cod, Scallops & Prawns in a Béchamel Sauce and topped with long, thin slices of Courgette topped by a light sprinkling of grated Parmesan. Pauline has a Jacket Potato with hers. I don’t.

We are told that we will be warmer than Greece over the next week. We have an electrician coming to do a few, small jobs but we have also resolved to go down in to Worthing and walk down the Pier which we have not yet done. It looks interesting and will post pictures as soon as I can.

Week 424

Sunday, 5th February, 2017

Larkin’s second volume of poetry published in 1955.

For those of us indoctrinated in to the Roman Catholic religion, rejection is never enough. It forms us and informs the rest of our lives no matter how we struggle to break free. Nominally, I rejected its shackles from early puberty but even now, in my early dotage, it squats inside me filling my every waking and many sleeping moments with a sense of guilt derived from original sin. Contemplative Sundays seem to have returned to my life in retirement. Outside, my neighbours are cleaning cars, weeding gardens, shopping, and all the other jobs they have to fit in to the weekends but which I have been free all week to complete. Interestingly, I have taken, recently at the weekend, to returning to volumes of poetry on the shelves in my office.

Of all the poets that I’m familiar with, Philip Larkin speaks for me, almost my words in almost the tone my thinking sounds in my head. I love the musicality and strength of Eliot, the sad, romantic lilt of Yeats, the homespun vision of Norman Nicholson and the animal vibrancy of Hughes but I don’t feel they read my mind. Larkin does. I hate to depress you because I am certainly not but this was my poem for today. I won’t bore you by quoting it all but give you enough to understand its central tenet.

Next, Please

Always too eager for future, we
Pick up bad habits of expectancy.
Something is always approaching; every day
Till then we say,

Watching from a bluff the tiny, clear,
Sparkling armada of promises draw near.
How slow they are! And how much time they waste,
Refusing to make haste! …………..

Only one ship is seeking us, a black-
Sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back
A huge and birdless silence. In her wake
No waters breed or break.

It is a strongly contemplative theme on the blank, futility of life. It is the sort of theme that an escapee from Catholicism may wield around their head in slaying their demons. As Larkin said, Nothing, like something, happens anywhere.

Monday, 6th February, 2017

Old Technology!

Lovely bright and sunny but fairly cold morning. A hint of frost soon warmed up but only reached 9C/48F. A copy of Yellow Pages dropped through the door this morning. I haven’t seen one or used one for a few years. It immediately struck me how ‘old technology’ it is. Whoever bought it and now runs it did a bad deal. How many people, younger than 95, turn to an already out of date book for the most up to date catalogue of contacts? How forward looking is a firm you might employ which hasn’t bothered to put up a website? My copy went straight in to the ‘Recycling Bin’. At least I’m Green and not Yellow!

Everyone goes to the gym in January. They manage to keep their resolution for a few weeks. Unfortunately for us, it means the facilities are more crowded than normal. We were hoping the start of February would see a downturn but not so far. Today, we had a struggle to find jogging machines free and there must be 30 – 40 of them in there. We had a struggle to get exercise bikes and there must be 20 – 30 of them. We had to pack in to a crowded Jacuzzi which holds 20 or more in 5 different bays and then get too close for comfort to strangers in the sauna. Why aren’t they in work? Does nobody work these days? Brexit will sort them out!

As prices soar along with interest rates, life will get much harder for the marginalised. We will become the poorer neighbour of America instead of being the awkward relation of the European Union. An article I read on a political blog this morning argued that we will learn to accept and even love cheap, American, GM crops which scientists agree are safe but Europe has set its mind against. It is a fascinating paradox that those who argue Climate Change deniers ignore majority opinion in the scientific world are so often the same people who deny the safety of GM products in the face of majority opinion in the scientific world. In the end, we all tend to believe what we choose and objective reality falls in to the abyss.

Tuesday, 7th February, 2017

A glorious, sunny and warm day which reached 14C/57F as we walked through Littlehampton this morning. We were searching for replacement LED bulbs, one of which has failed in our Kitchen ceiling. This has happened to us in three, separate, new-build homes and is so difficult to reconcile. In our kitchen, we have 4 LED downlighters. We have a number in each bathroom as well. One in the kitchen expired yesterday which is surprising as they have only been in operation for 10 months, are described as ‘long life’ and cost £7.00 per unit. It is described as 4w / equivalent 40w. What on earth does that mean?

Our bulbs are ‘white’ light but are they white ‘daylight’?, ‘soft’ white? or ‘warm’ white? I did a search and found that they had already been superseded by 35w and 50w bulbs. I rejected these and went out shopping. After visiting four, new lighting shops, I accepted that I would need to replace all four in order to get a match. the others can be moved to other rooms. This nonsense has been propagated by the EU in the name of the environment and is as bonkers as its supporters!

Wednesday, 8th February, 2017


I think I have written before that Pauline and I are, essentially, Jack Spratt & his wife. Pauline is keen on cleaning and I am obsessed with tidying. In that and many other respects, we make a fantastic team. Pauline is incredibly practical but, given a letter to write, she will sit pondering what to say for ages. I love writing but I couldn’t paint a door or change a bulb in a new, LED down-lighter. Pauline takes all that in her stride and even relishes it. What more could a man want? It is important and rewarding that we complement each other.

My wife has said for a long time that I was on the early end of the Autistic spectrum – Aspergic. Tidiness, arranging and lining things up is an example of autistic behaviour. I laugh when I catch myself doing it but I fear it is getting worse. Three light switches in the hall of our house control lights that can also be controlled by three switches upstairs. I have started trying to make sure that the switches upstairs are all up/down and that the same occurs downstairs.  Sometimes, the synchronisation means running up and down stairs to get everything just so. I don’t feel distressed if I don’t get this right but I’m amused by a good solution.

Oh No!

When I lay the table for a meal, I make sure that table mats are evenly spaced and parallel and perpendicular to the table edges. When I leave the dining table, I make sure the chairs are left under the table and in line. In the Health Club changing room this afternoon, I caught myself straightening a bench so it lined up with the lockers. I line my papers  and pencils up on my desk and sort my books on the shelf in to subject or height order. I wouldn’t want you to think that I’m completely barmy.  I’m pretty sure I’ve always done it but I have more time to observe it and indulge it now. It does mean that we have a very tidy house.

Thursday, 9th February, 2017

A cold and overcast day although we are told it will get colder over the weekend. We did our weekly shop at Tesco. and then drove home to receive a visit from an electrician who we want to do a couple of jobs for us. Pauline wants an extra down lighter in her bathroom. I want a couple of weather proof, external sockets outside on the garage wall because we cook out there a lot. I use an electric griddle and a double ring hob. Pauline uses a pressure cooker to make stock quite often. It can produce a strong and pervasive smell which permeates the kitchen but soon blows away in the garden.

Talking about pervasive smells, Greece and Grexit along with the ‘Poison Dwarf’ are back on the agenda. Across Europe, media is reporting that a recent IMF report says Greek debt is unsustainable and that the fund’s participation in any future bailout would be conditional on a new round of austerity measures or on other lenders cancelling their debts — a circumstance considered highly unlikely.

The IMF anticipates that without a new bailout package, Greek debt will grow to almost three times its GDP over the next five years as the interest on loan repayments increases from 2.5 per cent to 7 per cent. Yields on Greek ten-year bonds jumped to 8 per cent on Tuesday as investors considered the possibility that Athens could go bankrupt. Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, has said that a decision by the IMF to pull out of the bailout programme would derail plans to keep Greece afloat.

Friday, 10th February, 2017

Angmering Village in Winter.

An even colder day which barely got above 4C/39F. To make things even more enjoyable, there was a spell of soft and very wetting rain. It wasn’t a day for going out but we did risk a trip to the Health Club for a couple of hours.

I felt really tired after exercise today. We fed on a meal of bean salad with cold fish. Sounds great doesn’t it? Well, it was really lovely. The full meal was fit for a king:

  • Tuna Pate (Homemade)
  • Cold, smoked Mackerel
  • Prawns
  • Salad of Cannellini Beans in Garlic Mayonnaise
  • Cucumber & Hummus

This was accompanied by sparkling water. I love this sort of meal now. I don’t know why but fish currently dominates our diet. The freezer is stuffed full of Chicken, Duck, Pheasant, Beef Steak but we go out and buy, Salmon, Cod, Crab, Prawns, Whitebait, Kalamari. Things will turn round in time.

Saturday, 11th February, 2017

We come to live in the sunniest county in Britain and see…….. SNOW! Well, it was light, wet stuff which lasted 10 minutes but it was still a shock. Back to normal now but I blame this Global Warming and Brexit. We were recently given an olive tree. It is sitting in a pot in our back garden. It’s looking a bit shocked now!

Who could do without olive oil? It would be hard although we all may have to in a couple of years. In fact, that day may come even sooner because there have been major problems with the olive oil market this season. Drought and disease have combined to cause a ‘disaster’ for the olive oil industry and prices are set to soar in Britain’s high street supermarkets, according to a new report out this week.

Even if Greece’s output hasn’t been too bad, they manage to pull disaster from the jaws of success by shipping much of their raw product in tankers straight to Italy where it is bottled, rebadged ‘Produce of Italy’ and a 50% price premium added. Around 60 % of Greece’s olive oil output is shipped to Italy. Apparently, Greek entrepreneurs who tried to export their own country’s oil found no one in Greece to make the bottles which they had to buy from Italy. They had difficulty getting loans to pay for the bottles, and then they were hit with the taxes. Due to Greece’s economic issues, the government asked businesses to estimate and pay the taxes they would owe in 2016 ahead of time — in 2015. It’s no basis for a business model in a sector where olive oil alone represents nearly a tenth of Greece’s agricultural output.

I’m going to have another look at Rapeseed oil which has been touted as the healthier, home-grown option, with a light and nutty flavour. Be great if it was calorie-free, wouldn’t it?