Week 451

Sunday, 13th August, 2017

Glorious day of warmth and bright sunshine. Had intended to go to the Health Club but the garden was too enticing. We spent the morning in the sunshine reading papers and discussing future plans. Particularly, today, we are discussing garden development.

We intend to have some hard landscaping done to extend and widen the patio  walkways and cut down on the lawn which looks nice but doesn’t get used. We want to take advantage of the climate down here and plant some fruit trees that we couldn’t grow in Yorkshire. Particularly, we are thinking of plum, cherry and peach. We want smaller, controlled trees that don’t require ladders to maintain. Fruit trees come on a huge variety of root stocks for that very purpose. ‘Pixy’ rootstock confines the tree’s growth to 6Ft – 8ft which will be plenty for our garden. We think they should do well here. certainly, the figs are fruiting and the olive tree, slightly unbelievably, is also producing masses of fruit. Whether they come to maturity is still to be seen but it’s a start!

Monday, 14th August, 2017

Lovely, sunny and warm morning. I have been doing some research on my home village of Repton in the East Midlands. In shoring up my memories of my past, my website is being prepared to store historical photographic records of Repton which will be allied to a presentation of the Sanders Family History for which we will be eternally grateful to cousin David. I hope to complete this in the next few days so that I can push ahead with Pauline’s family tree before we go away to Greece.

Talking of Greece, our garden here is fragrant with the smell of fig trees which anyone who has lived with them in the Med. would recognise immediately. Suddenly, the Brown Turkey is producing lots of fruitlets. The Rouge de Bordeaux is only just beginning to produce fruit buds. The smell of the figs today is mixing with the smell of griddled courgette slices. We do so much cooking outside that I ordered a more commercial griddle unit (£200.00/€220.00) and had a power unit installed on the garage wall outside. Today the griddle arrived and we have used it to cook vegetables and salmon. It is excellent for the job but very heavy to carry when I move it to store in the garage.

Tuesday, 15th August, 2017

On the day when the Meteorological Office (UK) told us that the south east of England had experienced its coldest first half of August for 30 years, the temperature reached 25C/77F in lovely, strong sun from delightful, blue skies. I’m sure you will be excited to read that I had a ‘free’ haircut by my wife. I still haven’t paid for a haircut since 1969 and must work out how much I’ve saved in that time.

I cut the lawns and then we went to the Health Club after three days away from it. It’s amazing how much easier exercising is after a few ‘rest’ days. Unfortunately, the better weather brought out the crowds and we were unable to swim outside so it is a two-edged sword. Even so, we felt much better after it. Pauline griddled chicken outside which we ate with salad.

Argassi, Zakynthos 36 years on.

It is 36 years ago this month that our Greek sojourn began with a 3 week holiday on the quiet, under-developed, Ionian island of Zakythnos. In those days, it didn’t have an airport and we flew to Athens and then took a bus to the Peloponnese port of Kylini where we went by ferry to the island. We stayed in a house in Argassi which was a quiet village with two restaurants and a roadside fruit shop. It was our first holiday together, our first time flying and our first time in hot sun. For a couple of days we hated it and wondered how we would survive three weeks. By the end, we didn’t want to go home.

We have spent time in Greece every year since then. I don’t think we will be going back to the now party island, Zakythnos. Anyway, this summer, it is on fire. The authorities have declared a State of Emergency with over 20 serious wild fires breaking out and destroying acres of woodland. As usual, the government minister has declared it to be deliberate arson. Usually, this accusation is accompanied by the theory that developers want to clear designated ‘forest’ for development. The current state of the economy rather belies that and furious islanders have refuted it. The government are rapidly rowing back from these words.

Wednesday, 16th August, 2017

Up and out early this morning. Pauline had a 9.00 am appointment at the Beauty Parlour in Rustington for a facial and neck massage. I can’t think of anything worse but she likes it.

It was a lovely, sunny and warm (22C/70F) day with just a hint of breeze. We got home to drink coffee in the sunshine in the garden. Out to the Health Club for a couple of hours including a successful swim outside in the sunshine.

This evening, we were watching an emotional programme called Long Lost Family where people who have failed to find missing members of the family enlist the help of the professionals. So often it is people who were given up for adoption and are looking for some sense of connection. Usually, it has dominated their lives – the sense of not belonging, of not knowing their origin and a sense of rejection. Finding a relative usually releases a great flood of emotion that has been largely contained all their lives.

The surroundings of Helme Village.

In the programme tonight, a fresh faced man was looking desperately for his Father who he had never met or even seen a picture of. As he was interviewed, my mind kept telling me that his face was familiar. I still don’t know why even now but it soon became apparent that he was from the small, Yorkshire hamlet in the Green Belt on the Pennines where we had lived for years. We lived in Helme village for nearly 20 years and he had been a lad growing up there. For a while our memories rehearsed those years. We left in 2000. So much has happened since then mostly for the better. We feel so lucky when we wake each day and embrace the future.

Thursday, 17th August, 2017

The Summer is running away. Today opened warm but wet but soon turned blue skies and lovely sunshine  with a temperature of 22C/70F. We did our weekly shop and then spent a couple of hours exercising at the Health Club. We have done 10 sessions in the past 14 days averaging one hour continuous cardio workout per day for the past two weeks. Well, I feel fit!

Today there has been a terror attack (Dare I call it that?) in Barcelona. A reference to it popped up on Faceache and it featured a report from The Manchester Evening News. As I browsed the article which conflated the Manchester Bombing at the Ariana Grande concert with the Barcelona attack today. The link was a youngish man who was at the earlier concert and just escaped the bomb blast and then was in the Barcelona area of the terror attack today. As I stared at this report and read the young man’s name, I suddenly realised I knew him. In fact I taught him some 15 years ago. After my report of yesterday’s experience, I’m wondering which coincidence will complete the trilogy.

Friday, 18th August, 2017

Very muggy night and early morning. We have jobs to do today. We will be away on Monday when the refuse collection comes round so we are off  to the local tip to dispose of our own. Later, Pauline completes her beauty routine by having her hair done in Worthing and I will be allowed to sit in a coffee shop with my iPad.

The Joys of west Sussex.

When we were retiring and looking to move south, I fancied living in Kent because I thought it would give us easier access to Europe and, as the Garden of England, might make growing fruit and vegetables more enjoyable. We did tour the Kent coast and didn’t really find anywhere we really liked. Most places we visited were rather run down and under-invested. Pauline fancied Surry followed by Sussex and spent half a year researching places, getting me to visit places. Eventually, we settled on Surrey and a Duplex Apartment. It was fine while we spent half the year in Greece but, as soon as that ceased, we knew communal living wasn’t for us. Pauline decided on Sussex and then West Sussex and then on Littlehampton and then on Angmering. I’m so glad she did.

The Daily Telegraph reviewed a report today published by Prudential Insurance about the best places in Britain to retire to. After considering a number of factors including disability-free life expectancy, access to healthcare, crime levels, pensioner populations, healthy lifestyles and the weather, it pronounced West Sussex as the top choice followed by Dorset. They could have added buoyant house prices and fantastic shopping services to that list plus easy access to Gatwick airport. All of these things combine to make retirement here pleasurable.

Saturday, 19th August, 2017


A quiet day today because we have a long drive tomorrow. It is a warm, mainly sunny day. I valeted the car this morning in strong, hot sunshine and I was just about to mow the lawns when a large, grey cloud came over and dumped a quick but heavy shower on us. Fortunately, I had just put my gleaming car back in the garage and hadn’t got the mower out. After just 20 mins, the sun was back out so we could set up the griddle to cook our meal. Today it is Filet Steak (so long since we ate red meat) with tarragon mustard sauce and onions and mushrooms.

While we were cooking, I had time to check the fig bushes. I’m not sure this fruit will make it to maturity but the budding fruitlets should mature next Autumn as long as I can keep them going over winter.

I am continuing work on the village of my birth/youth – Repton in Derbyshire. At one end of High Street is The Square where our family lived and at the other end is The Cross where the Church and the public school is. I am really only interested in a pictorial record of the village. None of us lives there any more but we all harbour memories, mental video tape of our pasts. I am using two sources:

  • A History of Repton by Robert Bigsby (Pub. 1854)
  • Repton Remembered by Repton Village History Group (Pub. 1987)

They have a wealth of material to play with. We are driving to Lancashire early tomorrow so those pleasures will be deferred until we return.

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