Sunday, 20th August, 2017
Gorgeous morning at 6.00 am – a bit chilly but with clear, blue sky and a nascent sun. We are up early because we have a longish drive to Lancashire this morning. We are attending a funeral on Monday morning so are staying in the Haydock Holiday Inn. It looks quite pleasant and has a gym and a pool to keep us occupied for two nights. We expect the drive to be 5-6 hours so a 7.30 am start is planned.
The drive was really enjoyable with largely quiet roads. We chose the M40/M6 route over the M1 we normally use. The weather was sunny and warm all the way. We actually got away at 8.00 am and even with a couple of coffee stops still arrived by 1.00 pm. The hotel is set in lovely, rural grounds and we are looking forward to using the gym/pool. First, I was pleased to watch Huddersfield win their second Premier League match.
Monday, 21st August, 2017
We have woken up to a warm but overcast morning which rather reflects the events of the day because we are attending a funeral at mid day. We’ve been up since 7.00 am and had a pleasant breakfast. After the funeral and a get together with Pauline’s relatives, we will return to our hotel to do some exercise and have a swim. Tomorrow morning, we are going to Repton to visit my Mum’s grave on her birthday.
We left for the funeral at 11.00 am and drove the 26 miles to the crematorium in Blackburn – Pleasington Cemetery & Crematorium. It is a beautiful setting, a huge area of grass and trees in an urban connubation. Peaceful and restful, it is ideal for encouraging contemplation.
I’m not a Christian. I am a confirmed atheist. I have so often attended funerals and felt hypocritical but morally obliged to mouth the hymns and acknowledge the prayers. The service (remembrance) today was one of the most appropriate I’ve been to. It was a real ‘family’ celebration of a Mum’s/Wife’s life and what she meant to them. That, in my view, is what funerals should be like.
Tuesday, 22nd August, 2017
A long but interesting day. We had Breakfast at 7.0 am and left at 8.00 am. We drove to Monsom Lane, Repton to visit Mum’s grave. She would have been 94 today.
We did a drive round, re-acquainting ourselves with old haunts and recent changes. The village has become so busy and crowded. Driving through was quite difficult. We drove down to The Square and, as we did, I saw a man come out of ‘our’ house at ’81’. I parked up and stood around. He returned and I took the chance to speak to him. I told him that my family had built it and I had spent my formative years there. Although I could tell he was humouring me, I noticed an accent in his voice. He told me he had only bought the house three years ago and that he was Norwegian. He was more interested in who had lived next door. I was able to tell him about Auntie Kessie although I don’t think that is what he wanted to hear.
I pointed out the ‘Tree of Heaven’ in his front garden and told him Mum had planted it and had been very proud of it. At that point, I think he’d had enough and I apologised for accosting him on the street and let him go. We drove on through Willington towards the M1 and on our route home.
The M1 and the M25 were uncomfortably and unusually quiet until we were held up by four fire engines dealing with a burnt out car. Eventually, we got home around 5.00 pm – a 9 hour journey but largely of our own making. We were certainly tired by then.
Wednesday, 23rd August, 2017
After 9 hrs on the road yesterday, we are certainly jaded and have decided to start back at the Health Club tomorrow. I have to cut the lawns and clean the car today. We have also done our weekly shop. It’s actually a lovely day at 23C/73F with pleasant sunshine.
Not long now until we fly to Greece. That’s why the weather there is changing to strong winds, heavy rain, hail, storms and drops in temperature. The weather in Greece has been as unusual as ours this August. Greece has experienced back-to-back heatwaves reaching quite extreme temperatures and how often do you remember heavy rain in August? Almost never in my experience! Here in UK, we have had one of the coolest, wettest first halves to August for 30 years and it doesn’t really look like improving much any time soon. All we need now is heavy snow across Gran Canaria in November and life will be perfect.
It was reported in the last few days that Greece had seen a 30% drop in travel receipts and arrivals from the United States over the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2016. It may be related to the €/$ rate which has made European travel much more expensive for Americans just as the €/£ rate has arrived at a long term low of £1.00 = €1.08 today and has seen a 25% depreciation of the currency since the Brexit vote. Fortunately, I bought thousands of Euros in anticipation of this decline just after the vote and we are still managing to live on those when we travel.
Thursday, 24th August, 2017
A sunny and warm day which reached 24C/75F in the mid afternoon. We went out to buy fish – Swordfish and Tuna Steaks plus Mackerel fillets – £65.00/€71.00 of future meals. I tested my INR. It is remaining steady at 2.5 and has been within my target for the past 18 months which is pleasing.
We sat in the sun in our garden this morning but it felt lovely to get back in to our pattern of exercise and diet. We went to the Health Club and did 90 mins of cardio exercise and then used the Spa for half an hour. As usual, I easily completed my 10,000 paces target for the day. As a newspaper proclaimed the benefits of 10 mins brisk walk per day, we felt extremely virtuous. We average 65 mins per day every week but completed within 5 exercise days.
Friday, 25th August, 2017
Woke to a beautiful day with lovely, strong sunshine and a temperature that reached 25C/77F eventually. I spent a couple of hours valeting the car after our trip to the North of England. We did another session at the Health Club and griddled swordfish steaks outside for our meal. It was delicious.
We are preparing to fly to Greece shortly. Looking forward to hearing the Greek Language and smelling the Greek smell. In the past few days, Greek media has been reporting hug, new waves of migrants arriving in Greece and, today, they have announced that they will be bowing the knee to Europe and accepting the return of swathes of migrants who landed in Greece first before moving on to Germany, France, Sweden, etc.. The weakest must do the work of the richest.
Saturday, 26th August, 2017
Well, Summer has returned. Lovely, clear blue sky and warm sun today reaching 23C/74F. It was comfortable in our garden to sit out and chat. We are talking through travel for 2018. We have tentatively come to the conclusion that we might rent a villa in the south of France for June-July and then fly to Greece to spend 2 or 3 weeks on an island followed by a week in Athens in September. Currently, we are thinking of Poros where our friend, Elerania’s parents have holiday lets. It is close to Athens as well. We might even pop over there in the next couple of weeks to check it out.