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.

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