Week 444

Sunday, 25th June, 2017

After  eight and a half years, we have reached all the 4s. Can you imagine 444 weeks or 3108 days of stream of consciousness dribble. At least the Poison dwarf loves it! And here’s some more.

The day started off grey but soon gave way to blue sky and sunshine although we didn’t get above 20C/68F. After a morning of political programmes and pottering among the pot plants (all the Ps), we did a lovely workout at the gym which was delightfully quiet. These ‘workers’ just don’t have the stamina nowadays!

The Greeks, of course, know instinctively how to do it. The country is being ravaged by a heat wave – 35C+/95F+ – so the refuse collectors have gone on strike. The refuse bins smell in the summer heat at the best of times. You can just imagine how the streets of Athens stink as the heatwave mixes with days old rubbish.

Monday, 26th June, 2017

Gorgeous day here that reached 25C/77F in lovely sunshine. We left for Worthing at 8.30 am. Pauline had a hair appointment at Toni&Guy and I had an appointment at Starbucks coffee shop. Job done, we drove home to learn that the Tories had bribed the DUP with our money to keep themselves in power. I almost feel like joining insurrection on the street myself. In the afternoon, I cut the lawns, trimmed the hedges at the front of the house and tidied everything up.

Pauline cooked the most wonderful meal of Sea Bass on the bone with salad and asparagus followed by fresh strawberries. We reviewed our process for Holiday setting our central heating and made sure we had everything necessary for our car. We have made all arrangements and are ready for the off. Looking forward to it!

Tuesday, 27th June, 2017

Life in our quiet, coastal village proceeds serenely against the backdrop of a National cacophony of chaos. It feels humiliating in the extreme that our government is presiding over such internal and external instability.

At home, the Tory Government has Local Authority infrastructure imploding around itself. Doctors leaders are warning of impending doom in the Health Service in addition to the existing shambles of Social Care. Schools are screaming about inadequate funding and inability to appoint and maintain staff. What links the two is a pay freeze which, in reality, is a pay cut. Set against this is a huge, ‘magic money tree’ bribe of Irish extremists to keep the Tories in power.

On going austerity has been thrown in to sharp relief by the tower block tragedy which has escalated into the narrative of a nationwide cost cutting neglect of standards. There are not enough building inspectors, firemen or fire engines, not enough Local Authority funds or workers. The Tory Government can’t be blamed for it all but they have been caught in charge of the spinning plates and will be blamed just as they can be blamed for the humiliation that is Brexit. Who knows where that will end!

Wednesday, 28th June, 2017

Wet, wet wet! Warm, warm, warm! Who could predict how lovely rain would look. We had almost forgotten it. It started in mid afternoon yesterday, has continued intermittently over night and that pattern is set to be replicated today. The only downside is that the sky is rather depressingly overcast.

I’ve been meaning to feature something that appealed to me in the press a few days ago and which was picked up by tv-tabloid morning programmes today. It is the story of an Indian gentleman called Singh who lives in Newcastle and speaks with a fairly broad, Tyneside accent. He has a ‘convenience’ shop which he chose to badge Singhsbury’s.






Sainsbury’s threatened him with legal action if he didn’t remove it. You can see how closely it looks like one of their superstores and how they might feel threatened. Undeterred, Mr Singh, complied and changed his little shop’s name to Morrisinghs. His reward has been national coverage although he says he can’t cope with any more exposure because he’s working 90 hours per week as it is. At least Morrisons has a sense of humour and are nor pursuing him for threatening their empire.

Thursday, 29th June, 2017

For a year or so now, my INR has been stable. My testing periods are between 6-8 weeks apart, the testing strips are provided for me and I do all the testing myself. This means I can keep on top of my Warfarin dosage and, if I go abroad, there isn’t a problem. My parameters are INR 2.0 – 3.0 and today I tested at 2.7. Almost perfect. I just email my result to the  Anticoagulant Clinic of my local hospital and they provide dosage and future testing advice by return. It is a wonderful service that gives me great confidence. On my part, I always take the medication prescribed. I never fail and I never forget to test and report on the set dates.

The hospital told me I am the ideal patient. Apparently, lots of people don’t medicate or test as required. Distance medical care is going to become increasingly common with ‘Skype‘-type consultations, on-line ordering of medication and appointment making. Patients are going to have to look after themselves more, taking responsibility for their own health much more than has been expected in the past.

We have spent the day making sure that the house and garden are ready to be left to their own devices and to take care of their own health for a few weeks. The lawns have been cut as short as I dare. The patio plants have been clustered and an automatic watering system installed and tested successfully. In doors, automatic lighting has been installed and the heating system set to ‘Holiday’. Typically, the plants around the house are just beginning to come into their bloom. I’ve given them a talking to and told them to slow down.

Friday, 30th June, 2017

The last day. We will never see June 2017 again. Make the most of it. What better way to mark it than with a trip to the Waste Recycling Site on a sunny morning? We will miss our waste collection next week and – true to dynamic precision planning – this job of self expurgation was No. 29 on our Going Away Jobs List. Filled up with petrol (No. 30) on the way back at a price of £1.11/€1.27 per litre and then did a tyres/oil/washer bottle check before packing and garaging the car. That’s how it goes – one day Littlehampton Waste Disposal Depository and next day Tuscany!

Saturday, 1st July, 2017

Happy new month. We are up at 6.00 am this morning to put the house to bed before leaving for Tunnel crossing to Europe. Must see Europe again before they abolish it! A night in Calais/Coquelles and then on to Reims, Dijon, Lyon, Turin, etc..

The dishwasher has been run through and emptied – by me. The heating/hot water has been set in ‘holiday’ mode. The car is packed with a month’s clothes, etc.. The automatic lights have been set and tested. The final act is to spray each room with fly spray before closing the doors. Lastly, the alarm can be set without fear of live insects flying/crawling across the infra-red sensors and triggering a deafening siren. Make sure the doors are locked and BREATHE!

Lovely drive from Sussex, touching Surrey and into Kent and the Eurotunnel. Warm sunshine but fairly busy roads. We entered an extremely busy tunnel check-in at around 11.00 am. We were on board and moving shortly after mid day and in Coquelles before 2.00 pm (CET). We checked in to the Holiday Inn – a hotel we’ve been using since it was badged Millenium Copthorne many years ago. It is sultry warm as we visit the hypermarkets. Tomorrow, we will drive 2.5 hours to Reims.

Week 443

Sunday, 18th June, 2017

Phew what a scorcher! As readers of the Blog will know, I am something of a weather watcher and recorder. My iPad app and my smartphone app tell me throughout the day the weather in numerous different towns and cities of my choice across the globe. I list all the places I have lived and worked from those in Yorkshire and Lancashire to those in Greece to Surrey to where I live now in West Sussex. Today has been consistently hotter than Greece and Italy throughout the day. We got up to 21C/70F at 7.00 am and, by 2.00 pm, nearly melted as we got out of our air-conditioned car at the Health Club in to 30C/86F. As I write at 11.00 am, it is still 23C/74F and distinctly clammy.

Our pots of herbs are loving the climate they are encountering. Particularly, the basil – both Italian and Greek and the French Tarragon are flourishing really vigorously. What they do need is regularly watering and cutting to encourage new growth. We are in danger of having more than we can cope with. The new figs are really doing well and I will feature them after we come back from our European Tour – assuming they survive.

Monday, 19th June, 2017

A hot day without cloud cover or mitigating breeze. We reached 30 C/86F but spent most of the day at a sweaty 27/81F. Out in the sunshine, the tarmac was liquidising. It reminded us of Sifnos where crude road surfaces rutted and melted on a regular basis. I valeted the car and then used my new, cordless hedge trimmer to …you can guess what. It is lovely, balanced, light and easy to use. we set off for the Health Club but decided en route that we had done enough today and turned round and came home.

Even though we didn’t make it to the gym, I did my 10,000 paces and feel satisfyingly tired. We relaxed this afternoon in the garden with garlic stuffed olives and a bottle of Pino Grigiot. I’ve quite grown to like this Italian/New Zealand mix which is lovely chilled with salad. This evening, I will complete the guidance notes for our European trip next week so that we can get the most out of it. Particularly, I’ve been researching Tuscan properties for longer term rental. It would be nice to have a villa or apartment in Tuscany to rent June – September where we can live our life in a more sophisticated environment than we could in Greece. Greek simplicity is fine for a while  but not for too long. Certainly, you don’t want to be taken ill there!

Tuesday, 20th June, 2017

Greek God – 1980

Weather, weather, weather, weather! We’re British. We’re obsessed with weather and we are in the middle of one of the longest, hottest June spells on record. Our local forecast says tomorrow may well be the hottest June day since the record breaking summer of 1976. Where were you then? I was stuck in a dingy flat in Oldham, Lancashire at the age of 25 and after 4 years of teaching. I couldn’t afford to go on holiday and I was determined to lose weight. I went running, starved myself and pedalled on an exercise bike all day as I read books about the history of the Labour Party. I lost 6 stones in the six weeks school holiday and went back a ‘new man’. Over the next two years, I put it all back on and then lost it all again and…. Yo Yo weight loss/gain started there and lived with me for 40 years.

The last few days have been Greek weather without the frustrations. Today started at 7.00 am and it was 20C/68F. I mowed the lawns and then needed a shower. By 1.00 pm, it was 27C/81F as we set off for the Health Club which turned out to be an oasis of air conditioned cool. We did a hard work out and found the temperature gauge had reached 31C/88F as we left at 3.30 pm. We are already discussing whether we should fit ceiling fans in the bedrooms and possibly even air-conditioning units. Where is Frangiskus when you need him?

Wednesday, 21st June, 2017

It is 10.00 am and a sweaty 27C/81F. It has been a very warm night and, of course, the morning has ushered in the Summer Solstice or Longest Day. Apparently, 34C/93F is forecast for today which could be an all time record for June.

Of course, it is going to be a very long day for the Tory Party which is having its programme for the next two years read out by the queen in Parliament even while it is still trying to buy the support of the Irish DUP. We can only hope that they will be put out of their misery very quickly and a new election called.

It was so hot today that we gave the Gym work a miss and just enjoyed the garden. I put the sprinklers on to water the lawns for about three hours and we enjoyed the sun for a while. We had watched the Queen’s Speech and had confirmed that the impotence of the government had completely neutered it. There is still no agreement with the DUP and, this afternoon, there is a hint that the Scots. Nats. will have a veto over the Great Reform Bill. It’s all going very well!

Thursday, 22nd June, 2017

It’s all down hill from here. The days are getting shorter as we breathe. Today has opened oppressively hot and I was just remarking on the possibility of thunder when thunder began to roll around the sky. It was accompanied by a few, large spots of rain for a couple of minutes. Later in the day, as the temperature rose to a heavy 26C/79F, the sun beat down from blue skies.

We did our weekly shop and then sat down to make some plans for our European trip. We are inveterate makers of Plans and Lists and you can’t beat a good spreadsheet. Today I was looking at jobs that have to be done before we leave and things to see while we are travelling. The jobs list is simple one of necessary arrangements like set internal lighting timers; set plant irrigation timer system; check car tyres, etc.. At the same time, I was continuing to explore places we will visit. We intend to travel from our Tuscan hotel base by train to Florence, Pisa and Lucca.

Today, I was researching Pisa and hope to visit the Palazzo Blu modern art gallery on Lungarno Gambacorti pictured above. In Lucca, it would be lovely to go to Puccini e la sua Lucca opera house and, in Florence to visit the Uffizi Gallery. It would also be nice to just sit in a sunny, Italian piazza and sip a coffee or glass of wine and watch the world go by. We will see which alternative wins out.

Friday, 23rd June, 2017

A slightly fresher start to the day with pleasant sunshine. We spent some time working through the settings of our satellite navigation system. It is a built-in one that comes with our Honda car. We have had that since shortly after we bought our first CRV in 1999. Until a year ago, the Honda badged sat. nav./infotainment unit was sourced in the USA but not from a commercial, across-the-counter name. It was fantastic although it was starting to show its age. Our new car has a built in Garmin-based unit which is very unfriendly and counter-intuitive. It has taken us twelve months to really get to grips with it. This European Tour should be a good test. Unlike earlier sat. nav./infotainment units, this one incorporates internet access but I would much prefer a good sat. nav. and less features.

We have managed to program in all our hotels from France to Italy to Switzerland to France. At least this year will allow us to use our Mobile Contracts in Europe freely including data roaming which helps. If you’ve ever driven across Europe, you will know that BBC radio is a problem. FM radio doesn’t really survive the Channel and DAB is even worse. LW is the only possibility and I have know it last until I was in sight of the swiss alps although it is barely distinguishable from the reception background ‘noise’. When I was listening to the Test Match, I would put up with any interference.

Today our car is one year old. For about 30 years, we would be waving it goodbye this week and picking up our new one but we have only done 6900 miles this year which is around half what we would normally have driven when we were working. It will probably do 3 year’s service before we trade it in.

Saturday, 24th June, 2017

Sun in a Glass

The sun has gone. The breeze has lowered the temperature markedly. The sky is overcast. My breakfast recalled the sunshine in the most wonderful, fresh orange juice. The juice of two oranges releases a skyful of sunshine.

The next month will involve a lot of driving and quite a few hotels. It won’t be easy to wash and dry clothes so the car will be packed with enough to get us through. They are laid out on a bed in a guest room having been painstakingly ironed by Pauline. Now she is harvesting herbs from pots on the patio. Italian and Greek Basil have both grown really well. They have been savaged and turned into Pesto. Later, it will be portioned up and stored in the chest freezer in the garage. Dill, Oregano, Tarragon and Thyme will all be chopped and frozen for winter use. I will feed the herb stumps which will, hopefully, regenerate for another crop.

We bought patio furniture in a hurry a year ago when we had no table and chairs in our kitchen. Now it is outside, it is not ideal and I’ve been looking around for replacements. I’ve known of a company called Rattan Direct for some time and would like to see the quality of their products in reality. I checked the showroom. There is one ….. in Bolton. I feel a visit to see my sister coming on. Now, however, it’s time for the gym!

Week 442

Sunday, 11th June, 2017

Ferdinand Tönnies

As Ruth will clearly remember, in 1887 Ferdinand Tönnies published Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft or ‘Community & Association’ which first described the contra-distinction between the pre-modern sense of community or family and neighbourhood and the modern concept of atomization in individualism. Gemeinschaft is characterised as the old notion of social relationship in community and is set against what we now consider the norm of organised individualism or society. This latter concept derives its origins from Hobbes concept of the social contract described in Leviathan and Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations which expounded upon how rational self-interest and competition can lead to economic prosperity.

It is this movement from the old to the new which has always meant so much to me. Born into a large family in a small village, I longed to escape into the anonymity of elsewhere. The fact that it turned out to be Yorkshire, in general, and Huddersfield, in particular, we will gloss over. However, having moved a number of times and lived in different parts of UK and Europe, I very definitely feel myself a ‘Citizen of Nowhere’ or Citizen of the World’ in the modern parlance rather than rooted in community – Bolton, for example. It is liberating and isolating in equal measure.

Wednesday, 14th June, 2017

As France humiliated England by beating them with 10 men, so Theresa May managed to humiliate herself in front of Macron by losing control of her notes in the breeze. This morning, the European Parliament humiliated UK by crowing about our floundering politicians and offering us a chance to turn back from Brexit but on less favourable terms.

It is with those concepts in mind that I look forward to European travel this year – driving through France, Switzerland and Italy; travelling to Greece; holidaying in the Canary Islands.

Monday, 12th June, 2017

We eat more fish than ever. Red meat is virtually never entertained. In fact, discussing it this morning, we could not remember when we last ate Beef, Lamb or Pork. It can certainly be counted in months. We have almost fallen into this diet without consciously choosing it. I know, medical advice warns of the dangers of eating too much red meat and that may have, subconsciously, influenced us but we didn’t sit down one day and make a formal decision to change. We eat lots of salmon – hot and cold, cod, sea bass, bream, sole, prawns, squid and whitebait. Really, the only meat we eat is chicken, duck and pheasant.

The carbohydrate grouping of bread, potatoes, pasta and rice and derivatives have been off my list for about four years now after I discovered that they built up my blood sugar temporarily and then it crashed soon afterwards leading to my eating again to satisfy it. The other element of denial is green vegetable which contains large amounts of vitamin K. This militates against the blood thinning chemical, Warfarin, that I take for Atrial Fibrillation. I don’t eat no green vegetable but I do it rarely and it is all the more exciting when I do. Today, for example, I positively drooled over a small portion of green, French Beans.

Of course, additionally, we have done formal exercise for a number of years and more intensively in the past couple or so. A blogger I read religiously boasted of ignoring such exercise and diet and taunted us that he was doing so while eating pizza. That is so unkind it can barely be lived with. Occasionally, if I dream of breaking out from the straightjacket that I have fashioned for myself, I dream of PIZZA or Rissotto. I don’t follow that dream just as I have never smoked a cigarette since 9.30 pm on the 15th October, 1984 when I sat in a Masters tutorial and decided to give up my 40 a day habit. I fear that one slip could lead to total collapse.

Roast salmon topped with (homemade) pesto crust with tomato & (peeled) cucumber salad was the order of today followed by a small amount of apple and yoghurt. It has an extremely ‘clean’ taste and a distinct lack of heaviness that carbohydrate engenders. I find that it doesn’t make me feel sluggish or bloated and doesn’t lead to sugar rushes and crashes which encourage repeated needs to eat.

Tuesday, 13th June, 2017

Glorious day of blue sky and sunshine and 22C/70F. We have spent most of it outside. We have done a really enjoyable gym session but the garden has called today. We cooked Whitebait out there this afternoon which we ate with salad and a New Zealand Pinot Grigio. No Pizza! Life is sweet!

You can’t beat a good spreadsheet and I don’t try to. I have spreadsheets to tabulate and record so many things. With only a couple of weeks to go, my most pressing spreadsheet records places in Europe, hotels in places in Europe, distances to drive between hotels, nights booked in hotels and places of interest to visit while there.

Today, I have been researching trips out from our hotel in Tuscany. Trying to park in major tourist towns in Italy is not advisable so we will travel from Lucca to Florence and Pisa by train. The Italian train company is incredibly cheap and quick with a 90 mins trip costing just €12.00/£10.50 and leaving every 20 mins.. A trip to Pisa takes just 30 mins and costs €6.00/£5.25. The last train journey we made was an absolute nightmare. If these are cocked up, it will be more genitalia than Trenitalia! We are already researching long term lets in Tuscany for next year. This summer, we will check them out and make a decision.

Wednesday, 14th June, 2017

It’s one of those days. The sky is clear. The sun is strong and the temperature is 27C/80F. We decided to take a break from the gym and to drive down to the trawler shop on Littlehampton Pier. It was delightful to walk on and not too busy because the schools are back. We had a good walk in the Marina and drew the sea air into our nostrils before calling at the fish shack to buy two, big, fresh, Sea bass for our meal.

Some mothers were on the beach and supervising their pre-school children as they swam in the sea. Cockle & Whelk stalls were open in anticipation of the season and older people sat around the coffee shops on the edge of the beach. Rather like Sifnos, it is a place waiting to happen. I met this gorgeous girl on my walk along the promenade.

Thursday, 15th June, 2017

Another lovely day to mark mid-June. Already, the Summer is galloping along. The temperature in our back garden this morning was 25C/76F in the shade. There was just a hint of a breeze off the sea. We did a full supermarket shop and then a big Health Club session. I am, currently, absolutely knackered but happy. We have eaten Roast Cod Loin with King Prawns and fresh Dill (from our pots) with Asparagus and Broadbean Salad. Michael would have loved it!

Back in the real world, if you wanted a visual explanation of the General Election result, it is provided by the party leaders’ response to the tower block fire in London last night. Theresa May went down to speak to the firefighters and left without speaking to bewildered residents. Jeremy Corbyn went in to the groups of survivors, cuddling, consoling and offering help. May has learnt nothing from her Election debacle when she spoke in a sterile environment to carefully selected party workers while Corbyn was wowing the crowds on his tour of the country and interacting with everyman.

Rising interest rates are being signalled by 3 members of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee as UK is hit by a perfect storm of a falling economy and a rising inflation. The former militates against raising interest rates while the latter demands it. What a position from which to approach Brexit!

Friday, 16th June, 2017

High Summer meets mid-June as the temperatures rise towards the 30sC. We decided to do a couple of gym sessions over the weekend and allow ourselves time at home today. Lawns cut, car washed. House vacuumed and hard floors steam cleaned. We feel seriously in control of our environment. Our meal of griddled chicken and salad was cooked outside in the garden under strong sunshine.

The backdrop or mood music of the day has been created by the increasingly febrile reaction of sufferers and activists, reacting to or hyping up the tower block fire in Kensington. The pressure point has focussed on mortality numbers which have been under-reported / played down and have moved, under pressure, from 6 to 17 to 30 and now 70. Celebrities, using their ‘status’, have appeared on the media openly challenging these numbers and reporting first hand accounts of 100 – 200 deaths. The media has been quick to shut them down. One celebrity had been booked to appear on Newsnight but was quickly replaced because she had challenged the official line earlier in the day. The political Blogs are alive with rumours of ‘D’ Notices being imposed upon the media by the government to limit the furore. If it is true, they will fail.

Saturday, 17th June, 2017

A delicious, Summer’s day which saw a temperature of 27C/81F here. We spent the morning in the garden and I put the sprinkler system on for a couple of hours. By 2.00 pm, we were working hard in the gym which was quiet as workers made the most of the sun. This evening is rather uncomfortably warm and we know that temperatures tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday are forecast to touch 30C/86F so we need to pace ourselves.

At 2.oo pm yesterday, I ordered a cordless hedge cutter on-line from GTECH. At 10.00 am this morning, it was delivered to my door. It came ready charged but I will try it out next week so as not to annoy the neighbours with the noise. Looks an excellent machine though. We now have their vacuum cleaner plus hand held, their lawn mower and their hedge trimmer. They are so convenient without an electrical cord that I would recommend them to anyone. I had a slight problem with one element of the vacuum cleaner which has a 2 year warranty. I phoned for advice and received a replacement the next day.

As a ‘new man’ who revels in house work – well, using gadgets, actually, – I celebrate this day every year for a special reason. It is on this day in 1980 that someone went out of control in his car on the bend as we approached our school and cut our first new car – a 2 month old, pageant blue mini – in to pieces. Pauline was badly cut and bruised. I was thought to be dead but revived and I spent two weeks in  hospital unconscious with brain bruising. It took the best part of a year to recover from that set back and I would never have done it without the patience and dedicated love of my wonderful wife.

Looking out as the sun beats down from a clear, blue sky on our lush, green lawns with birds singing heartily and with so much life left to live, I reflect on the 37 years of time I might have lost just there. For that reason, I empathise and celebrate with the Skiathan and his wife whether they are eating pizza or not. She has fought back from Stage 4 cancer and critical surgery and is now cancer-free. Life can feel very good at times not least when you fear losing it!

Week 441

Sunday, 4th June, 2017

A slightly fresher feel to the day which is also a little breezier. Only 17C/63F in pleasant sunshine. We are going to the health Club for another workout this afternoon. We’ve found that the weekends are currently quieter than during the week so the experience is much more enjoyable.

I rarely go to see the doctor. Other than ongoing treatment, I feel remarkably healthy. My blood pressure is 112/72 with a pulse of 68. However, recent chest pains have returned and Pauline is going to seek an early appointment tomorrow just to eliminate any concerns. With a father who died very young of a heart attack and a younger brother who had a heart attack in his mid-30s, it is sensible to be cautious. The fact that I am on permanent warfarin should help but I may need an ECG to put my mind at rest. It’s amazing how a small seed of doubt can grow into a central concern.

Salmon & Asparagus – Marriage made in Heaven!

Well, we’ve been to the gym and done 90 mins hard workout without any signs of distress so I think things must be alright. We’ve decided not to seek a doctor’s opinion at the moment but to monitor the situation. Came home and had the most wonderful meal cooked by my wonderful wife. It did include sin but who wouldn’t on a Sunday. My sin was to have fresh asparagus which I’m not supposed to eat because of its high vitamin K content. Boiled and dressed with Kalamata olive oil plus lemon juice and cracked black pepper. The taste is nigh on orgasmic. Asparagus with roast, wild salmon just cannot be beaten!

Monday, 5th June, 2017

Yesterday it was reported that we had had one of the warmest and driest Springs on record. Today started fresher and breezier and, although we got to 18C/65F, by late afternoon we had persistent, light rain which is continuing as I write at 10.00 pm.

Health & Safety Gone Mad!

This morning, I spent a couple of hours searching through my store of old, family photos for some things one of my sisters had requested. Just by the way, I came across this early snap of my father in around 1929. He is middle of the back row in a white shirt. It looks as if he is 13-14 and is a less beautiful version of me. What struck me was the diligent attention to Health & Safety policy. Who carried out the risk assessment?

I also found four, long letters that I wrote in 1993 from the Cycladic island of Folegandros to my mother. We started to spend a few weeks there as Hotel Kamari and Sifnos started to become uncomfortable and noisy. If you are looking for a quiet, unassuming, traditional Greek Island, Folegandros could well be for you.

Did our third, consecutive day of exercise at the gym. We are talking about extending our sessions by adding work on additional pieces of equipment. Last time I used the rowing machine, I was too enthusiastic and pulled a muscle in my back. We are considering trying again but working our way in to it more carefully. I would like to build the circuit up to two full hours eventually. If I give myself a few minutes of ‘recovery’, I feel that I could go again but I am relaxing in the Jacuzzi by then. Must try harder!

Tuesday, 6th June, 2017

A blustery but mild night with sporadic, driving rain. One of the few mornings that I haven’t got up and walked straight outside barefooted. Surprising how wet rain is! Turned my mind to other things – barefoot in Tuscany, gadding about Genoa, Touring in Turin – and feeling optimistic. What more could a man want?

Tomkin cherry tomatoes

If we are what we eat, I am a tomato. They are my go-to food of choice. I have eaten untold kilos of Piccolo cherry tomatoes  over the past two or three years. Usually, they originate in Italy or Spain. I have found a new variety which, I hope, will become a staple. In Asda, I speculatively bought a pack of Tomkin tomatoes grown in Lancashire of all places. They are sensational in flavour, sweetness and skin toughness. If Brexit does actually happen, at least I will have a source of tomatoes. Some consolation although not much.

Wednesday, 7th June, 2017

Mild – 18C/65F – but breezy day. I pushed myself to work harder. I spent 2 hrs fully valeting the car. Working outside in the sunshine was enjoyable. We spent the afternoon at the Health Club where I was keen to increase my output. I’m going to do it incrementally rather than all in one go. Increased the time on the running machine to 45 mins and on the bike to 25 mins and then did some weight-stress pulley work ( I don’t know what the apparatus is called really. The one pictured on the left is rather like a ‘home’ versin of it.) for 10 mins followed by 25 mins in the pool. It left me about 20 mins in the Jacuzzi/Hydro Massage Centre.

What I was particularly encouraged about was that I recovered quickly from this routine and started thinking about doing it again tomorrow. I came home with the intention of spray treating the lawn which I wouldn’t have considered until recently after exercise.

Over today, we have moved closer to making a decision about going away to the Canaries for November. It may turn out to be Gran Canaria where we’ve found a nice, 5* hotel. It has two, heated, outdoor pools, a gym, two restaurants, lovely big suites with fridges, tea & coffee making facilities, a sofa and easy chairs, flat screen television with satellite channels, Wi-Fi, safe, sea view balcony with table and chairs and sun beds/parasols. These are the things we look for in a month away so we can continue our life but elsewhere. Is it worth £6,000.00/ €6,907.00? We think it probably is.

Thursday, 8th June, 2017

A lovely day which saw the breeze drop and the temperature reach 18C/65F. It was shopping day for us – Asda, Waitrose & Tesco. It took two hours and felt like it. Another session at the Health Club left us feeling fairly self-righteous and clean but tired and aching. We’ve done 7 out of the last 9 days.

The day started, of course, by going down the road to the local Community Centre to vote. Let’s hope Jeremy appreciates our support! Just as the election campaign was announced, a middle aged woman called Brenda was stopped on the street and asked if she had heard about it. Her response to the interviewer went viral both as a source of ridicule and a symbol of the person in the street’s indifference. Oh, not another one, she exclaimed. It’s ridiculous. There’s just too much politics now.

This is important!

People like me despair at that sort of response. The idea that politics is something you do for a few minutes every five years is the great problem with democracy and the reason why so many politicians are able to take us all for fools. Politics affects every single phase of our days and our lives from the price of our weekly shop to the cost of our house; from the safety of our movement on the streets to the effectiveness of our transport; from the quality of the air that we breathe to the safety of the water that we drink. Politics ensures our dust bins are emptied and our fire brigade comes to save our burning house, that police face off terrorists and catch our burglars. Politics addresses the privileges of the rich and the needs of the poor. Brenda would be the first to complain if these things went wrong for her and so should we be. Go out and vote and change the world!

While I was in the gym, I was watching Countdown, the alpha-numeric quiz show which helps me concentrate on mental exercise while I’m doing the physical. The presenter, Nick Hewer, volunteered the fact that he couldn’t see the point in food other than the necessity of life. What it was he ate was of little importance to him as long as he maintained his energy levels and his health. For us, this is so perverse. He may eat to live. We very definitely live to eat. The joy of travel is the food. The joy of cooking is the food. The joy of shopping is the food. I didn’t marry a cordon bleu chef for nothing ….. as well as her astonishing beauty.

It is now just after 10.00 pm and the Exit Polls suggest that the Tories may lose seats and not have an over all majority. There may be a god after all. Of course, as the night develops, this projection may not be sustained but whatever happens, The Labour Party are back on the scene and can affect the Brexit negotiations. I might need a banana to cope with this!

Friday, 9th June, 2017

Just an hour after the polls closed last night, the heavens opened and thunder and lightning tore the skies asunder. It was a Shakespearean harbinger of a UK political storm. The Exit polls predicted that the Tories had failed to force their ‘nastiness’ on the country. Everyone was laughing loudly and declaring that it just couldn’t be right.  It was and you don’t have to look far to realise why. Public Sector workers have seen their pay cut for 8 years. Young people have been saddled with life-changing debts just for the sake of an education which didn’t give so many of them reasonable jobs. A large proportion of the country didn’t want a ‘hard’Brexit out of the Single Market and it looks as if they now won’t get it.

The Labour Party are on the march as we return to two party politics. They have polled 40% of the vote. UKIP are finished and the Greens have made no advances. The Liberals threw their big chance for returning to prominence although it was good to see them gain a few seats. What this does mean is that the Tories are beholden to the Irish who don’t want a hard border and will mean compromising on Freedom of Movement and the Single Market. The DUP want to keep the Pension Triple Lock amusingly. They are also opposed to the Climate Change movement. They will extract a tough penalty for their support.

Saturday, 10th June, 2017

Gran Canaria

Surprisingly lovely and warm day reaching 22C/70F with clear blue sky and strong sun. Almost no breeze today. Tonight, the sky is bright and clear at 10.00 pm and still rather muggy at 18C/65F. We have been to the Health Club for a couple of hours and then cooked Calamari and Greek salad out in the garden. It has felt like a lovely day over all and you can’t ask more than that.

Tonight we booked a month away in Gran Canaria for November. We have never been there before so it will have novelty value at least. It has a gym, spa, two heated, outdoor pools and lots of walks so we can continue our programme as if we are at home. It also has the all important Wi-Fi in the suites so normality will reign.