Week 431

Sunday, 26th March, 2017

We admit to getting up late today after not going to bed until 2.30 am last night. It’s hard to come down quickly from an evening like last night. Today has opened with glorious blue sky and strong, uninterrupted sunshine and temperatures that reached 17C/63F. We had intended to go to the gym but were too tired. We then intended to go down to the beach but were too tired. We ended up sitting out in the sunshine in our back garden, relaxing and reading the newspapers. So enjoyable.

Pauline cooked a wonderful roast chicken with sage & onion stuffing, roasted carrots and parsnips. So enjoyable. I watched a fairly low key but successful England performance against Lithuania which is where our dining table was made. Perhaps they should stick to that. An early night tonight to prepare for an energetic new week.

As problems arise in Greek-EU negotiations, a recent report informs us that tax evasion in Greece is estimated to be between 11billion euros and 16 billion euros annually. This is estimated to reach 6 to 9 % of Greece’s current GDP which is huge if you’re struggling – even if you’re not.

What this knowledge of the Greek psychology and economy feeds in to is the belief that Greece will need at least 20 years to return to pre-crisis levels. This is the view of Poul Thomsen, the IMF representative in charge of the European program of the International Monetary Fund. He believes that Greece will need many years of assistance from its European partners.

He sharply criticized the Greek governments on the implementation of the austerity programs. The focus of the programs was excessively on the reduction of wages than on reforms of the products markets. He spoke of “terrible resistance in regards to the opening of closed professions. He insisted that Greece, for years, enjoyed pensions like Germany without the economy to support them. Is this going to be another false alarm or will the Greeks find they have suffered needlessly for so many years when they could have been seeking their own solutions?

Monday, 27th March, 2017

Hebe Heartbreaker -subtle or what?
Hebe Frozen Flame

What a beautiful day again with strong, warm sunshine beaming out of clear, blue skies. It is confirmed short sleeved shirt weather which today read 18C/65F. We did a tour of the garden centres close to our house. There are four in total and range from the huge and very commercial to the tiny and homespun. We want some shrubs to replace a few that have failed over winter. They were ‘awkward place’ plants put in by the developers down the side of the drive which is dry and shaded by the side   of the house. I have been considering some of the multitude of Hebes on the market at the moment. There is Hebe Heartbreaker – so called because of its price – and Hebe Frozen Flame which I particularly liked. My wife, of course, disagreed and preferred a Variegated Hebe.

Hebe Variegata

These plants cost about £9.00/€10.50 each which is expensive for what they are and much up on our garden centres in Yorkshire although they were 6 -7 years ago. Because we couldn’t agree, we came away empty handed. I know I’ll get my way soon though so I can wait. We also looked for herbs – Sage, Basil, Dill. It is a little early yet so they will have to wait for a while.

It was such a sunny time in our back garden that we eschewed the Health Club and sat outside for a while. While we did, we prepared our letter of complaint to Southern Rail about the debacle of Saturday evening. With so many commuters complaining about them, I suspect our problems will be considered ‘small beer’ but we will press on and go as far as the Ombudsman if necessary.

Tuesday, 28th March, 2017

Happy Birthday to my little sister, Mary Jane, who is 63 today. Let’s hope she has a lovely day. The weather is certainly beautiful….. Actually, she’s just told me that she is celebrating in Riga where my weather app. tells me it is 5C/41F feels like 0C/32F. Oh well!







Blue sky and sunshine AGAIN here. What is happening? What with BREXIT and GLOBAL WARMING, the world is going mad. We drove the couple of miles down to the beach which turned out to be in shade and chilled by a cold, sea breeze. We weren’t there long.

Maremma Coast

Pauline is cooking Calamari & Greek Salad for our meal. She is doing it outside because our back garden is registering 15C/59F with lovely sunshine. There is something quite delightful and liberating to cooking in the sunshine. No fishy smells pervading the house. The lawn wasn’t keen though.

Tuscan Countryside






We have been continuing to kick ideas around for our European Odyssey this summer. Finding a good hotel in Montepulciano has not proved easy. The place is gorgeous but the infrastructure doesn’t come up to scratch. We have moved on to a province of Tuscany – Grosseto near the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea, in the Maremma.  It is only 3 hrs driving to Ancona which is lovely. We’ve found a good hotel which will allow us to explore the Tuscan countryside and the Maremma coastline. Looks good fun and to think someone told me the other day that I was stuck in a rut. If only I could find a rut!

Wednesday, 29th March, 2017

The Post Arrives

A miserable, damp day as the divorce from Europe begins. No one will win in this as in most divorces. Everybody loses. Just as in family divorce, those who lose most are the children and so it will be with BREXIT. The old have callously sold the young and open-minded, their children and grandchildren down the river. And for what? It feels particularly strained for us. Just over two years ago, we quit Greece and now we are quitting Europe. Next stop is to quit the World!

The Blog – Keep talking Greece – tells us that the effects of BREXIT on Greece will be considerable, costing €1 billion in exports alone. UK is Greeces 7th export market. Tourism is bound to suffer because of the decreasing £/€ level leading to increasingly expensive trips. To add to that is the fear of what may happen to the 60,000 Greeks who live and work in UK. Nothing is secure for them yet.

Thursday, 30th March, 2017

Lovely day for the penultimate one of March. Sunny, warm – humid even – we reached 21C/70F by mid afternoon. This morning we have been cornering the world market in Shloer (light). When I decided to cut back on drinking wine, I looked for a substitute. Shloer is a non-alcoholic grape juice which is so awful that no one can drink more than a couple of glasses each day and that amounts to about 50 calories. This has to be set against a bottle of red wine at about 600 calories. It has definitely helped me kick a bad habit.

The cost is also a lot cheaper. I buy my wine at about half price in France. I probably pay about £5.00/€5.90 per bottle. Shloer cost £2.00/€2.35 per bottle normally but, as we approach celebrations like Easter and Christmas, the supermarkets cut the price. As we approach Easter, Tesco are selling Shloer at £0.99/€1.16. I went out today and bought 100 bottles which have saved me £100.00/€116.00. Can’t get in the garage but I’ve saved money.

Had a wonderful couple of hours at the Health Club today which culminated in half an hour in the sunshine, swimming in the heated, outdoor pool. After completing 90 mins of solid cardio exercise and 30 mins swimming, we followed it by half an hour in the spa. I drove home feeling really clean and fit!

Friday, 31st March, 2017

Helleborus ‘Anna’s Red’
Helleborus ‘Angel Glow’

The last day of March 2017. We will never see it again. Tomorrow is April Brexiteers Day! We have decided to embrace the future by going out to buy plants for our garden. It is exactly one year this week since we moved in and we always said we would give ourselves time before we developed the garden. We need a few replacement plants for the less sunny, drier side of the house that edges the drive to the garage. In this situation, you can’t go wrong with Hellebores (The Lenten Rose). That is what we chose on our trip down to the garden centre.

One plant was marked as £19.99/€23.30 reduced to £14.99/€17.50 and the second was priced at £10.99/€12.90. We also bought a Euphorbia priced at £9.99/€11.70. When we got home, we found that they hadn’t charged us for one of the Helleborus, effectively saving £10.99/€12.90. Oh well. You win some and you win some!

Having just read the sales receipt, it turns out we missed the words ‘multi-buy’ which entitled us to one plant ‘free’. Might go back for some more. Certainly, everything around here is flowering and shooting with gay abandon. I cut the lawns exactly a week ago and they will need doing again this weekend. Today, however, we have done our third, consecutive 2hr workout. We are already becoming addicted to swimming outside. Warm sunshine and warm, clear water with bird song all around make for a lovely experience.

Saturday, 1st April, 2017





Welcome to April 2017. Hope you enjoy it even though Chaucer characterised it as the cruellest month. He was obviously distracted by Brexit.

Busy morning. We’re not going to the Health Club today so I’m trying to stay active. After breakfast, I’ve unstacked the dishwasher, hoovered the entire house and now we are going out to the beach to buy fish for tea.

I wanted Turbot but will have to wait a few days. Everything sold here is bought from local fishermen each morning. This means you can’t predict availability. We are told Turbot may well be available later in the week. Today, we chose thick, Hake cutlets. Today, 4 cutlets cost £16.00/€19.00. We also bought a large, dressed crab for lunch tomorrow.

We went for a brisk walk down the Marina boardwalk. Commercial enterprises are just starting to gear up for Easter Holidays when they will expect lots of tourists. Today, the restaurants and cafes were testing the fire alarms as we walked past. Ambling dogs and their owners stopped and listened with caution.

As we walked down the Marina, with the tide completely out, cloud came over and turned the temperature, which was reaching 16C/61F, down a notch. It’s certainly a lovely place to stretch your legs and breathe fresh air. As we walked 20 mins one way and 20 mins back, we raised our pulse rate and received lots of smiles from people walking the other way. It is an interesting change from Surrey where everybody seems to look the other way and avoid one’s gaze.

Week 430

  Sunday, 19th March, 2017

Will it make me fitter?

It is strange how the thermometer can read the same temperature on different days and yet the days feel very different. Yesterday’s 12C/54F felt so much warmer than today’s 12C/54F. Must be the sea breeze but it feels on the wintry side of Spring today.

Meant to tell you about my new watch. It is called Pebble and links via Bluetooth to my smartphone. This is ‘useful’ because it flags up calendar events, texts, messages and phone calls. It also doubles up as a fitness monitor with steps taken and heart rate monitored over the day. The only trouble is that every time an email comes in, my watch vibrates on my wrist and I receive about 50 emails each day. It can be quite tiresome keeping track of them particularly because the screen is just at the limit of readability for me without glasses. I have become a man in perpetual squint, staring at his watch. Will it make me fitter?

Monday, 20th March, 2017

Coldish and wet – fine rain in 10C/50F. We set off early to drive to Surrey. It turned out to be a bit of a wild goose chase and we came home feeling unfulfilled. We arrived just in time for The Daily Politics at 12.00 pm. Just as we thought the Summer was approaching, the Winter bites back.

Economic Winter is threatening to bite back in Greece as Syriza are caught between a rock and a hard place, with their rhetoric and the reality clashing remorselessly. The Government fails to implement the lenders demands on Labour Reform because they know they are putting their necks in the electoral noose but, in doing so, they are bringing the country’s economy closer to serious danger. At the same time we are told by Kathimerini that:

Hundreds of thousands of properties around Greece are at risk of seeing their value plummet even if the economy returns to steady growth in the coming years. Consequently, these properties may even be put up for demolition.

If that wasn’t enough, a sharp increase in migrants reaching Aegean islands from Turkey has been noted in the past couple of months and the good weather hasn’t even started. Hold on to your Καπέλα!

Tuesday, 21st March, 2017

Beautiful if a little chilly start to the day. Brighton Pier looks imposing in the sunlight. Pleased to see that the Butcher of Belfast, Martin McGuinness, who got his ultimate come-uppance today, didn’t arrange to have that blown up as well as The Grand Hotel. Few rational people will mourn his demise not least among the families of those he murdered or arranged to be murdered in the duplicitous name of Roman Catholicism – just like the paedophile priesthood and the nuns of the Magdalene Laundries ‘caring’ for ‘fallen women’.

This is how The Times saw it.

Inflation is finally showing the Brexit effect as it hit 2.3% and is forecast to touch 3% by year end. I hope it is by September because that is the month when our Teachers Pensions are inflation upgraded.

We are going to hear the Brexiteers begin to squeak as the pips of the economy – food prices, fuel prices, etc. – are squeezed and raised. Now we have officially invoked Article 50, all sorts of demons are going to emerge to bite us. It will be the poor who will feel it first but it will get all of us. Hold on to your hats.

It is exactly a year since we got the keys to our new home. In one sense, it has gone quickly but, in another, it feels like we’ve always lived here. You will know that experience. Today, in the tranquillity of sunny Worthing, we ventured out to the Health Club for a big session of life affirming cardio exercise. Did 650 calories today followed by some dumbbell work on my injured right arm. Not sure if that has helped or not.

Wednesday, 22nd March, 2017

Horrible, dark and wet day here. After PMQs, we are off to the Health Club again but it won’t be a pleasant walk across the huge carpark at David Lloyd’s. Heads down and in to the driving rain – rather like Brexit!

Today, details are revealed of the plans being drawn up for a white paper to be published this summer on what post-Brexit border controls will look like and who will police them. The climate is going to turn radically colder. Apart from controls on our physical borders which will clearly be strengthened, a form of ‘stasi culture’ is to be enforced by making landlords, employers, Health Service officials, Higher Education institutions, etc., be the gatekeepers to our society. The stress will be on Britain’s needs in the labour market. This will be chilling and systematic and single out those not working and paying tax in this country. The real question will be concerning Europe’s response in terms of ex-pats living abroad.

I’ve been with BT Broadband/Phoneline/Sport for a year now. I get completely free, landline phone calls, half price calls to mobiles with call identifier, Fibre optic, superfast broadband and BT Sport. The whole thing was costing us £63.99/€74.00 per month. It is currently supplying me with broadband speeds of 34mbs download / 12mbs upload which are reasonable but not the best. One soon gets used to improved speeds so only the best will do.

At our 12 month contractual anniversary, BT have  (surprise, surprise) written to me to offer an new, upgraded Infinity 2 hub which they guarantee will give me a minimum of 47mbs download and reduce the price as well. Who could refuse. Well, they do want to tie me in to an additional 18 months contract but (whisper it quietly) I was staying with them anyway.

Thursday, 23rd March, 2017

The day has started off wet but soon turned sunny and bright. It is relatively mild at 11C/52F. We are waiting for a carpet fitter to address a small problem with the carpet on our landing. It should only take half an hour before we do our weekly shop and then go on to the Health Club.

The effect of water hardness.

We are having a bit of trouble with the quality of the performance of our dishwasher. Things that are taken out after washing have a ‘granular’ texture to them as if they are carrying a calcium deposit. We have had to check the precise ‘hardness’ of our water supply from Southern Water. Hands up those who know what units hardness is measured in. I certainly didn’t. There are many. Our own water supplier lists 5 and our dishwasher handbook refers to 3 of those. It turns out that our water is pumped from underground sources in the chalk at Burpham, Angmering and Patching. This produces a water quality, on the broadbrush descriptions of Soft/Moderately Hard/Hard/Very Hard, of Hard. It is specifically measured on the Clarke Scale of Water Hardness as 19.95. Bet you’re glad you asked!

Friday, 24th March, 2017

The day has been a glorious one of clear blue skies and strong sun. The temperature only reached 13C/56F but it felt warm and Spring-like. Angmering is full of beautifully flowering Magnolia trees. Surrey was so full of Camelias but Mum would have loved the flowering trees of West Sussex. Our new village is a constant contestant in the Villages in Bloom competitions and the village council work hared along with dozens of volunteers to plant up, water and maintain flower beds, roadside edges and hanging baskets throughout the year. It really is a lovely place to live.

Easily do my 1000 steps.

My new BT router (hub) arrived this morning. A new hub usually meant connecting to my Desktop computer and setting up on the software. Today, it meant linking my Desktop and Pauline’s Desktop via Ethernet cables to the Router and then our two iPads wirelessly and then our two smartphones wirelessly and then six televisions wirelessly. It became a morning’s job. Still, it’s the sort of job I’m happy doing. Just wait until the ‘internet of things’ needs the router linking to the fridge-freezer, the microwave, the washing machine, dishwasher and the heating. We’ll need a weekend to connect a new router. Joy of Joys!

We left for the gym at 1.00 pm and really did a hard session. Usually Friday is a quiet day there because the workers are all too knackered to exercise. Today, it was packed. After an hour in the gym, Pauline swam outside in the heated pool while I relaxed in the Jacuzzi. I had already done my 10,000 steps for the day and could be expect to be carried for the rest. We were home by 3.30 pm to have our meal of smoked mackerel, tuna pate and prawns with tomato salad. I love this sort of food.

Saturday, 25th March, 2017

Oh what a day! We were off to London although not to march on parliament in support of Remaining in Europe. We were helping P&C celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary and it was their idea to go for a meal and then go to a show. We were leaving from Angmering Railway Station on the infamous Southern Rail. It takes about and hour and a half from Angmering to London Victoria and costs around £22.00/€25.50 return.  We added travel on the Underground to our tickets which cost us just short of £48.00/€55.50 for the day which is fantastic. Well it would be if it worked.

The day opened with beautiful sunshine from blue skies although the breeze was chilly. We haven’t used a train in Britain for so many years – maybe 20 – that we drove down to the station and parked our car to make sure we did things correctly. The small, provincial station in Angmering is grubby and run down. The train arrived, was reasonably new, clean and empty. We got seats with a table so we could put our iPads and phones out although the passing scenery was distractingly interesting.

Of course, we arrived with over an hour to spare before we were to meet the others at the Raymond Blanc restaurant, Brasserie Blanc in Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia near the theatre we were going to – The Dominion. We stopped off for a coffee nearby and then went on to join everyone at the restaurant. It is a trendy, little bistro which is relaxing, informal and serves fantastic, quality food.












Having lived together for almost 40 years, Pauline and I chose exactly the same courses. We ate:

  • Rainbow beetroot goat’s curd salad ( smoked gold, candy & red beetroot, goat’s curd, beetroot crisps)
  • Herb-crusted Cod Fillet ( with smooth mash, mussels, saffron sauce)
Herb-crusted Cod Fillet – Delicious!

We did differ on our choice of Sweet. Yes, we ate Sweet for once. Pauline chose Normandy Apple Tart with double creram (Calvados buttered apples, almond cream filling, vanilla ice cream) I chose Chocolate & Almond Torte (vanilla ice cream, crème Anglaise, toasted almonds)

I had eaten two bananas and a few cherry tomatoes that day. I was really ready to eat when we got to the restaurant. It really was a wonderful meal and I ate every bity of it but, on reflection, I didn’t feel uncomfortably full at the end – just nicely satisfied. That is the skill of a professional restaurant.

We left and walked across the road to the theatre. We were going to watch An American in Paris with the delightful Gershwin melodies. We’ve been to The Dominion before to watch We Will Rock You which I hated but this was really enjoyable and well produced with fantastic sets. The Theatre was packed full and no wonder.

I have virtually never taken a ‘Selfie’ because I am not self-obsessed so, when I tried it, it was a disaster. I won’t be trying another in a hurry. I did spot a rather strange boy behind who was trying to get in to our picture. He is known as ‘Bumface’! I suppose it’s better than being a Poison Dwarf.

After a lovely show and a wonderful meal, we said our goodbyes at around 10.20 pm and nipped in to the underground to Oxford Circus and changed for Victoria. All going well. The illuminated board at Victoria station announced that there were two trains returning to Angmering – the 11.07 and the 11.37. The second one was suddenly cancelled but ours was ‘on time’. We waited to be told which platform. And we waited. Suddenly, a worker started shouting that our train had been cancelled as well. He told us that we must take an alternative to Gatwick and Three Bridges – a place I had never heard of.

Of course everyone going to Brighton, Horsham, Gatwick, Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill, Hassocks, Billingshurst and Pulborough as well as Angmering were urged on to that train. We were crushed, standing, airless and sweating for around 30 minutes to Three Bridges via Gatwick Airport. We didn’t really know where we were going or what to do when we arrived. We had been told at Victoria that there would be buses at Three Bridges to take us on to Angmering. When we got to Three Bridges, harassed guards were urging people on to the Brighton bus. When we asked about Angmering, they looked blankly in to the middle distance.

We went outside where there was a busy taxi rank and I picked the first available white black cab and asked to be taken to Angmering. By this time, it was just before midnight. The driver turned out to be a delightful, Sri Lankan lad who was worried we didn’t realise how far the journey was and how much it would cost. Fortunately, we were reasonably clear about both and we wanted to get home although, what we weren’t aware was that if we had got in to the cab 10 minutes later, the price would have doubled. We arrived back in the Angmering station carpark at almost exactly the time our train had been expected to get us there originally. It cost us an extra £85.00/€99.00 in taxi fare but we made it and by the time we got to bed, 1.00 am had instantly become 2.00 am as the clocks went forward.

Week 429

Sunday, 12th March, 2017

Spring – the Tarragon gets it but the Basil doesn’t.

Quite a grey but mild morning with intermittent, light rain. It is just enough to water in my lawn treatment so I’m happy about that. Unfortunately, I am not happy about everything and the subject that dominates the airwaves today and, probably, for many days to come is BREXIT. The madmen (and women) of the Tory party are determined to push us all over the cliff whatever the landing. I am in full agreement with the words of Richard Dawkins (author of The God Delusion and other rational thinking):

[The Tories] handed over this massively important decision to a simple majority of ill-informed voters. …….The fleeting opinion, on just one day, of a slender majority of an ignorant and misled public is now touted as the sacred and unchangeable word of “the British people”……Not just for the next five years, as in an ordinary election, but long after we are no longer around to reap the consequences.

At least Dawkins is prepared to say what so many others fear will make them unpopular. Happy, pagan Sunday!

Monday, 13th March, 2017

It’s all happening at Littlehampton Beach!

What a wonderful day of blue sky and sunlight from end to end. It was relatively warm (14C/57F) outside and very warm in our sheltered garden. I actually enjoyed cutting the lawns and then we sat out with our coffee and made plans for developing the garden. We were supposed to be going to the Health Club but were enjoying the garden so much that we cancelled and relaxed. You can do that when you’re retired.

I had to be at the Physiotherapy Department at Littlehampton Health Centre to have help with a muscular problem in my right arm that has persisted for more than twelve months. It first appeared after a vigorous work out in the pool in Tenerife in February 2016 and just hasn’t cleared up. We were early so we drove a couple of minutes further to the beach which was quite delightfully lit by the strong sun. We made a pledge to return as soon as another sunny day pops up and we have free time.

Back at the Physio’s, I was pummelled and prodded, stretched and put through my paces. I was given fresh exercises to do at home and a return appointment in three weeks time. If I can get a resolution to my problem, I will happily comply.

Tuesday, 14th March, 2017

Angmering Village Today
Angmering Village Today

A lovely day and one for Springtime jobs. The morning was spent outside weeding the flower beds, power washing the patio flags, cleaning flower pots and garden furniture, etc.. These are enjoyable and optimistic times. The weather is warm – 15C/59F – today and forecast to be warmer tomorrow. The days are getting longer. Tomorrow is a day to ‘beware’ of and the weekend after next the clocks go forward. We open our minds to greet the coming Summer – our 66th.

Over the past few days, Lawns, Flowerbeds and Patio have been spring cleaned. Life seems to be in order. These are wonderful times and, in spite of Brexit, the destruction of Great Britain and the ravages of rampant inflation to come, we will look out to borders further on. Planning our travels for the Summer is almost as good as going on the travels themselves. Finding and booking hotels is just so much fun. We hope to have our synchronised, on-line diaries full for the rest of the year in the next week or so. Keep you posted.

Wednesday, 15th March, 2017

The Summer is Coming!

I told you yesterday, that today would be one to ‘beware of’ and, of course, most of even the least literate of us will be chanting, Beware the Ides of March! The 15th of March is marked in the Roman calendar and, of course, if your name is Julius or even Caesar, you should stay in bed – in a locked room. Last night was clear and beautifully lit by a full moon – not good murdering conditions. Today is brilliantly sunny with a cloudless, blue sky. Thoughts of murder and mortality are far away.

All the news on climate change is good. Trump has appointed a sceptic and may well renege on some of the barmier agreements that Obama signed. It is reported today that we have just had the second warmest winter on record for the Northern Hemisphere which will certainly save on heating bills and a U.S.-based team of scientists reported in the journal, Nature Climate Change that natural variations in the Arctic climate could well be responsible for about 50 % of the overall decline in September sea ice since 1979. Can you believe that weather variations can be part of changing natural patterns?

Today was so warm and sunny that we ditched the gym for the natural variation of the beach. We drove the 5 min trip to Goring beach and walked in the wonderful, Spring sunshine.

It takes about half an hour to walk from Goring Beach by the fisherman’s hut to Worthing Pier. The round trip of an hour may well become our regular, pre-gym exercise. The difficulty is the dog walkers who block the pathways. Fortunately, they are banned from May 1st for the rest of the season. Then we only have to compete with the Summer Holiday children on scooters and skateboards although they are pretty easy to shoulder to the floor. We may well be away for most of the school holidays anyway.

The theme of the moment concerns air quality. Here population density is still quite low and air quality high. At night time, the sky is not polluted by city lights and moon and stars are clear. We feel extremely lucky – in spite of BREXIT.

Thursday, 16th March, 2017

There is often a snag.

A definitely cooler day which struggled to reveal the sun. The morning started a little misty. We had a visit from a ‘snagger’ who was replacing a kitchen draw front because of a bubble in the paint finish. It might sound a small item but this draw cabinet cost £700.00/€805.00 and who would pay that for an item with a flaw? Our Builders are great and gave us a comprehensive, 5 year warranty on everything. We intend to take full advantage of every day of that warranty.

A lovely chap brought the new drawer front and spent an hour drilling and fitting it. We are very happy with the service and are now assured that this ‘blemish’ will not deteriorate in a few years time.

A girl who I taught English in my second year of teaching and her brother a year later both turned out to be my future wife’s cousins. They were delightful kids who worked hard and did well. The girl wrote to me yesterday and told me that she had just had her 57th birthday. It was an eye watering thought. How old am I? She included her middle initial in her email. On enquiring what it stood for she told me and foolishly asked my middle name. Foolishly because I gave her chapter and verse.

The Richard Chair

My middle name is Richard. It is a Sanders tradition that the eldest, male child is called Richard. Back in the early 1700s, it was the first name. Later in the 1900s, Richard became a middle name. We have a chair, an apprentice piece, made by my Great Grandfather which came to me because I am John Richard. It is known as The Richard Chair. It will go to my brother’s male heir when I die. I had it restored about twenty years ago so it looks as good as new even though it is over 100 years old.

Last week I bought a ‘Fitbit‘ watch/Fitness Monitor for about £100.00/€115.00. Within about two days, I realised it wouldn’t be right for me. Today, I bought a replacement – a Pebble watch which connects to my smart phone and notifies me of phone calls, texts and emails, calendar events, footsteps walked, heartrate measured and distance covered. All that is possible for £40.00/€46.00. It’s charging up now and I hope to feature it tomorrow.

Friday, 17th March, 2017

Pleasant day but not warm. Today is 12C/54F but with a sharp edge on the sea breeze. This is what we can expect for the next week.

BREXIT is going so well. Little Englanders are feeling sooo happy but is the Plan for Britain Working? Not it’s not! We could end up with Europe and UK splitting in their constituent parts. What does it matter? We’re all going to hell in a handcart and it seems the English electorate don’t care. A poll in The Telegraph tomorrow indicates that people would prefer Brexit above the Union with Scotland, et al..

Set sail for the Summer!

I’m constantly receiving emails from the Calais Wine Store. At one time, we were buying from them at at least a 50% discount. Now, it is almost not worth it and soon, as they have admitted, they will have to close down. Britain will soon become the costly man of Europe for lots of products that the Brexit maniacs thought were British.

On the bright side, today is the Equilux when day and night are equal. I must admit that I had always believed that to be the Equinox around March 21st but I have been introduced to this concept. The Equilux occurs a few days before the Spring Equinox and a few days after the Autumn Equinox. This date varies depending on where on Earth you are, and indeed Equiluxes do not occur at all close to the equator.

Saturday, 18th March, 2017

A lazy day of Sport and Newspapers. The biggest problem of the day was unstacking the dishwasher (my job) only to find that Pauline had completely rearranged every kitchen cupboard since the last time I’d used them. A simple job took me three times as long. However, I wouldn’t want my readers to dwell on my misfortune for too long. I did recover over the day – until England lost.

By evening, I had been sitting around so much, I was bounding around with energy. We decided to go down to the harbour for a walk and some fresh air. The temperature at 8.00 pm was 11C/52F although the sea breeze chilled that. We were surprised to find lots of people walking their dogs and their children. It was enjoyable, however, and we’ve resolved to do it regularly.

Week 428

Sunday, 5th March, 2017

Not a pleasant day outside. Not cold but intermittently wet. Who cares. Today is an ‘in’ day. I am being forced to watch the politics programmes and the Chancellor, as he does every time, telling us that he cannot reveal what will be in his Budget. Why do they invite them on? I know it is probably the only time they will agree to be interviewed but only because they have a cast iron case for answering no questions. Watching it is almost as bad as sitting outside in the rain.

A couple of football matches this afternoon but not before I am forced, forced to eat a homemade sausage. Only in the name of road testing, of course. Yesterday, Pauline made 2 kilos of Pork & Sage sausages. She had a bit of a struggle getting the hog skin casings on to the injection nozzle but, eventually managed it and produced these beauties pictured. I have to tell you that they taste wonderful. We don’t buy commercial ones any more but these would put me off them anyway.

Sgt. Pepper – 50 years old in June.

This year, it will be 50 years since the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I think I have written before that my life which was once dominated by music is now almost totally bereft of it. I have actually worried that there was something wrong with me as I kept trying to listen and continually found it such a struggle I have given up.

I have to admit that I was never really a devotee of ‘pop music’ although, as an intelligent boy growing up in the 1950s – 60s, I had and still have a fairly encyclopaedic knowledge of songs and artistes of that period. It stopped dead in 1972 when I started teaching and discovered Chopin.

My brother, Bob, was far more ‘alternative’ and counter culture in his musical persuasions. While I was listening to The Beatles, he was in to The Rolling Stones and John Mayall & the Blues Breakers. I wasn’t passionate about pop music then like many others of my generation were. I hated discos and dancing although I was enticed by the girls who congregated there. There were two, seminal moments of sheer epiphany for me. I will never forget hearing The Moody Blues ‘Go Now’ in 1965 for the first time and almost being knocked off my feet. A year later, I really was stunned by the emotional power of Lorraine Ellison‘s ‘Stay With Me’. I thought that I was probably the only person it spoke to until I heard top performers choose her record to be in their Desert Island Discs.





By the early 1970s, as a harassed teacher, I became addicted to Chopin’s Etudes & Nocturnes. I played them to death and, by the time I was moving into the 1980s, I was teaching myself opera and became passionate about Mozart, Donizetti and Puccini. That continued well in to the 2000s. Why have I lost it completely now?

Monday, 6th March, 2017

Standing Room Only at Starbucks

A pleasant day of sun and sea breeze which reached 11C/52F. We were out early to Worthing so that Pauline could have her hair cut at Toni & Guy. She had a 9.30 appointment. Her haircut at £59.00/€68.20 is less than she was paying at Vidal Sasoon in the North ten years ago.

I had a similar appointment with the coffee and Wi-Fi at Starbucks. As you can see from my photo, it was standing room only.

Worthing Pier – across the road from M&S

The coffee was poor compared with the ones my machine makes back home and they charge around £2.50/€2.90 for it. The flavour is bland and the strength is ‘weak’. There was only one, poor girl running the place although she wasn’t over run with customers. The Wi-Fi is good.

An hour later, we walked a couple of streets to the sea front by the pier to go to M&S where I really indulged myself with a pack of socks. Is it me or do socks wear out a lot more quickly these days? It was as we walked back to the carpark that a couple of remarkable things happened. By ‘remarkable’ I mean worth remarking on although not extraordinary.

  • To get to the multi-storey carpark, we have to walk through a shopping centre which contains a betting shop with gaming machines. As we approached it, a man on a motability scooter drove up at pace, parked outside the shop and the driver got off and ran in to place a bet.
  • We have to pay for the carpark before we go up to our car. The cost for 2 hours was £2.00/€2.32 . Pauline put the first £1.00 coin in and it got stuck. Nothing we could do would dislodge it. Eventually, we pressed the intercom button and an ‘operative’ was dispatched to open up the machine. Pauline was given her £1.00 coin back and told to try again. This time, the machine demanded £3.00/€3.48. We had stayed 2 mins too long.

Life’s strange really. Isn’t it?

Tuesday, 7th March, 2017

Found this little demon in Rustington!

A gorgeous day of blue sky and sunshine. Not hot but we did reach 12C/54F which felt delightful. The trees and shrubs are bursting with green buds. Early flowering trees are doing their job and the birds are calling as if they have just been released from eternal darkness. Another early trip out to Rustington via Asda and Sainsbury’s.

Rustington town centre in the Spring sunshine is lovely. Pauline was going to check-out and provisionally book a facial at the Beauty Clinic. Haircut (£59.00/€68.20) followed by Facial (£52.00/€60.10) – what will come next? You can see how happy it makes her – the little demon!

Back in time for The Daily Politics and homemade vegetable soup and then off to the gym. A solid hour of cardio and a relax in the giant Jacuzzi and then home for Greek Salad/ Ελληνική σαλάτα and Whitebait/μαρίδα or Αθηναίοι. The fish was cooked out in the garden in glorious sunshine and tasted all the better for it. We have a day off tomorrow because it is the Budget.

Wednesday, 8th March, 2017

Spring has definitely Sprung!

A warm night has opened on a warm but grey day with horrible, fine, ‘wetting’ rain. Today is our ‘Half Term’ as we are staying at home and we couldn’t have chosen a better day to do it. Actually, I went outside last night and, under the moonlight, could still hear birds desperately calling for mates at 10.00 pm. I know the feeling! Spring has definitely sprung.

Today, however, is a different matter. Dull and damp outside, let’s hope the Budget gives us lots of tax breaks and pensioner handouts. We certainly deserve them. To hell with all these bleating youngsters. When they’ve haven’t experienced astronomic inflation rates and mortgage rates, they don’t know they’re born! I had been teaching for 4 years and still on a very poor salary when the UK inflation rate hit 26.9%. Married in 1978, we were buying our first new house together and stretching ourselves to the limit when the mortgage rate was hitting 15.5% and didn’t drop below 11% for a decade. Now, mortgage free, it is our turn.

Files all lined up!

And when it’s your turn, there’s nothing better in the morning than superfast broadband and a large cup of freshly brewed, frothy, cinnamon-topped coffee with complete freedom to direct the course of one’s day. Today, for me, I am going to follow PMQs with the Budget speech and analysis. I am going to spend my afternoon, planning Spring and Summer time travelling. Let’s leave the youngsters to figure out how they can avoid work by going on Gap Years or taking Career Breaks. Life is hard when your young. That’s why retirement is so much fun.

Thursday, 9th March, 2017

Only about 55 years apart .

Happy 62nd Birthday to my little sister, Catherine. It’s good to see that she is so happy and healthy but to actually acknowledge her age means I have to accept my own. We were both born in a small, East Midlands village in the 1950s. Catherine lives, merely by accident, within a few miles of me in West Sussex. Coincidence is a strange beast!

At least she had a lovely day to celebrate getting closer to her state pension although she will have to wait another 4 years which is quite ridiculous. Pauline got hers when she was 61. Catherine won’t get hers until she is 66. That’s what the huge, WASPI demonstration in central London was about yesterday.


Storm across Kamares

Today has been a wonderfully warm and sunny, Spring day. We reached 16C/61F at mid afternoon and even now, at 7.00 pm, it is 12C/54F. Actually, this is exactly the same temperature as Sifnos this evening. I thought I would feature an attractive photo of the schizophrenic weather as a storm crossed Kamares bay this morning.

We’ve done our weekly shop. Each time, we try to buy items for the Food Bank collection box which stands at the Checkout. We tend to buy tins of meat because they are durable and easily manageable for the organisation. It’s quite hard to buy without seeing individuals who might be benefitting and we get to the barmy point when we hope they are not bored with our contributions or think we should be buying pasta or rice to complement the meat. The ‘Needs’ list by the collection point never changes so we go on buying tins of meat. Be interesting to know who it does help.

Friday, 10th March, 2017

Our local beach

A misty, moisty morning. Although we reached 14C/57F, it didn’t feel so pleasant outside this morning. Pauline went out to have a ‘facial’ at a Rustington Beauty Parlour. I stayed at home and felt the isolation of a silent house. Later, we did a couple of hours in the gym before coming home to a meal of smoked mackerel, prawns and garlic bean salad.

We are expecting Brexit to be formally triggered next week. Today, I am eating strawberries grown in Spain and wondering how long I will still get these. As I am about to book Greek hotels for our summer trip, the pound sterling falls to £1.00 = €1.14 and I curse those simple minded Brexiteers.

Saturday, 11th March, 2017

Oh I do love to be beside the seaside…

A pleasant day leavened by England’s thrashing of Scotland in the rugby this afternoon. Spring weather seems to be bringing people out in to the shops. This is something not to be encouraged when we are out shopping. I marked this turn in the season by treating the lawns to a liberal top dressing of enrichment laced with weed killer. Only time will tell if that £20.00 feast was justified.

We aren’t going to the Health Club this weekend so we’re trying to cram in lots of jobs that we have started but not completed over the past few weeks. We are in the middle of booking hotels for our pan-European odyssey and working out timings and mileages between stops. The days are gone when we just crossed the Channel and then drove like bats out of hell until we hit the docks in Ancona some 15 or so hours later. Now we can take our time and enjoy the trip.

Spring sunshine in a Guest Bedroom

Another job I have to do is look to move savings into longer term, higher returning vehicles. It is almost time to ditch ISAs – certainly ‘cash’ ones and move in to Bonds as inflation attacks savings. This is particularly the case while returns on investments are low and we have a joint, tax-free amount of £2000.00/€2,300.00 unearned income a year. Now our house buying and furnishing process is complete, we can lock some capital up for a while and defend its value from the ravages of inflation. Because we have a Final Salary Pension, we didn’t need an annuity, thank goodness. As it is, I played the game of working out what size pension pot we would have needed to provide our level of pensions and according to actuaries, it turned out to be around the £1 million / €1,140,000.00 mark which is extraordinary in itself. Pauline and I set ourselves the target of living long enough to empty that imaginary pot. Our digital accounts tell us that we have almost halved it already. Must keep living!