Week 456

Sunday, 17th September, 2017

Oh….Oh….Oh….Oh….Oh….Oh….Oh….Oh…..Oh….Oh…. I’m not well. Oh….Oh….Oh….Oh….Oh….Oh….Oh….Oh….

Why do we always feel worse at night than in the morning and worse in bed than when we get up and move around. Last night the ‘flu’mist descended with a vengeance after I had spent the day thinking I had thrown it off. I woke with a sore throat and a snuffle which was an improvement on last night and, now I’m up, I feel a little better again……. but still very ill! Oh….Oh….Oh….Oh….Oh….Oh….Oh….Oh….

Looks like we were lucky in our choice of weeks to go to Athens. The previous week was windy and wet and next week is forecast to be another heatwave. KTG reports that temperatures could reach 40C/104F by Wednesday and that won’t be comfortable in Athens. In fact it will be unbearable. At the same time, it is forecast that we will return to warmer days but it is all relative. My figs are rejoicing at the news.

Monday, 18th September, 2017

Glorious, sunny morning. My synchronised, on-line calendar says I only have one bin to put out this morning so I’ve done that and everything is under control. We are holding a Lunch Party for neighbours on Wednesday so today is an interim shopping day to source ingredients. Cutting the lawns, cleaning the car and going to the Health Club for the first time in 10 days will follow. The hectic life of a retiree is never easy.

Mowed the lawn and then we had a knock at the door and a plasterer had come, quite unannounced, to do some ‘snagging’. It meant that a chunk of our day was looking after him and not going shopping or out to the gym. Watched the Daily Politics on which IDS deliberately, knowingly and quite fallaciously tried to argue that Boris Johnson’s £350 million for the NHS was accurate in the face of all the National Statistical Authorities. By 2.00 pm, we were free to go shopping.

Do you remember Damsons? As we went to Tesco, Pauline said she wanted to make damson jam and they were advertising them. No damsons. We collared the Fruit & Veg. buyer and asked him about them. He wanted to know what damsons were. He checked his database and could find no mention of them. We knew already that Tesco say they sell them. We rather gave up and came away. Unfortunately, one thing I don’t like doing is ‘giving up’.

As soon as I got home, I phoned Tesco Head Office and asked where I could buy the damsons they were selling. I found I was speaking to a special needs, work experience girl who was partially deaf and had a speech impediment – ideal for call centre/customer relations work. She had never heard of damsons and asked how to spell it for her computer search. She was quite buoyant after she had written down the six letters in the right order. She found them on her Tesco Central Store database and she asked me where I lived. That took another 10 mins. explanation and spelling out. I told her I had just come back from the store but she insisted on putting me through.

The lady at West Durrington Superstore Customer Relations was very pleasant. She asked me what damsons were and how to spell it. I told her and that they were on her database as 300 g pks for £2.00. She then said, And were you over charged?  As patiently as I could, I reiterated my earlier explanation that I had been in the store 20 mins ago and could find no damsons, that their specialist on that area had never heard of them and could find no mention of them on his database. Then, just as I was really in despair, as if in a blinding light of epiphany, her voiced returned to the phone and said calmly as if everything prior to this was wiped clean, We received 6 pks this morning, Sir. The next delivery will be on Wednesday.

Tuesday, 19th September, 2017

Gorgeous, sunny morning if only 11C/52F. We are told that temperatures will be returning to the low 20Cs/70Fs in the next few days down here. I’m beginning to feel a lot better today. Thanks for asking. Oh, you didn’t. Optimism is starting to reassert itself. I’ve even been entertaining the idea of buying a small property in the south of France and started to browse possibilities. If only Brexit wasn’t such a sticking point.

Currently, the Commons Treasury Select Committee have warned that British Expats with pensions and insurances are threatened as the Financial Times amongst a number of media outlets reported. This is down to the potential loss of ‘Passporting Arrangements’ which allow pan-European contracts being enforced. It could also seriously affect flights in and out of UK. As the British Chamber of Commerce is warning:

Upon ceasing to be a member state of the EU, the UK ceases to be a beneficiary not only of the Customs Union and the Single Market, but also (i) the European Single Sky; (ii) the European Common Aviation Area Agreement; (iii) all Comprehensive Air Transport Agreements the EU has entered into with a number of other countries like the US and Canada, as well as (iv) all Horizontal Air Transport Agreements the EU has entered into with other countries around the world.

As things currently stand, on 30 March 2019 there will no longer be an Open Sky for the UK other than to the extent provided in pre-existing “old” bilateral Air Services Agreements that the UK entered into and which may remain in force or any newly agreed bilateral Air Service Agreements, and other than as agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement (if any) or otherwise agreed with the EU and the other participating states in the European Common Aviation Area.

Avoid being late by not flying at all. Brilliant!

This scenario is currently being tested out for the government and British people by Ryanair. They appear to be parking their planes at airports rather than flying from them in order to avoid delays and improve their punctuality. They should take a look at the EasyJet method.

Wednesday, 20th September, 2017

A grey day although fairly mild. Had to be out for a blood test this morning prior to my annual review next week. Went on to Tesco and managed to corner the market of Damsons. They had 2 kilos delivered over night and we bought them all. Many jars of damson jam will follow over the next few days.

We have friends coming round for Lunch and have decided to put on Mεζέδες (Mezethes). We are going to eat Χταπόδι Σαλάτα (Octopus Salad), Mαρίδa (Whitebait), Σολομός σε φιλό (Salmon in Filo), Pεβυθοκεφτεδες (Chickpea Balls), Σκόρδaλia (Garlic Sauce) Σπαράγγι (Asparagus) and Χωριάτικη (Greek or Village Salad). No Greek wines, I’m afraid, just Italian. Of course, everything is cooked by Pauline. My jobs, as menial support, have been to do the vacuuming and lay the table which I have done expertly. Our figs and olives outside are getting decidedly excited.

The meal was really enjoyable not least because I hadn’t eaten for 18 hrs having submitted to a 12 hr fasting blood test this morning. The company and the conversation was fascinating. Our friends have done very different and interesting things and lived in a number of different places. I do find these things quite stressful and tiring because I don’t do them very often. Maybe I should but I’m lazy in that respect.

Thursday, 21st September, 2017

A lovely morning which reached 21C/70F but turned wet in late afternoon. We had three tasks to complete this morning as we went out into the sunshine. We had to buy jam jars for Pauline’s afternoon project of making damson jam; we had to find a new dentist and had chosen a practice which has opened inside our local Sainsbury’s store; we wanted to buy some more cyclamen to supplement the ones that Catherine had bought us this time last year.

In Hobbycraft we found the jars – 2 dozen for £20.00/€22.70 – for jam and some more for chutney later. On to the dentist. It is in demand and appointments are not readily available. Good or bad sign? At least people go there in numbers. We signed up for an Annual Plan which cost us £100.00/€113.60 per year each and allows for two check ups per year plus 20% off standard treatment charges. We have no idea if that is good value or not but we will see if we live for another 12 months. Finally, we went on to the garden centre and found an amazing array of cyclamen – 8 different colours in three different sizes. We always go by the mantra – If you’re going to have one, have a big one. – and bought 3 large white and 3 large red for £20.00/€22.70. Planting them will be a weekend job.

My cold symptoms have returned with a vengeance over night and Pauline is in the middle of infection too so we are in a sorry, wheezy state. I really thought I would have fought it off much more quickly than this. It is now a week since I first felt symptoms. The trouble is that, because we were away for a week prior to this, it is now two weeks since we did gym work and we are becoming rather stir crazy.

Friday, 22nd September, 2017

Sunrise on the shoreline this morning.

Up at 6.30 am. The plasterer arrived an hour later to do some ‘snagging’ work. The painter will appear to complete the job some time this morning. We have a 5 year warranty on everything in and outside our new house including the white goods, kitchen units and fitted furniture that came with it. We have just over 3½ years left. It is rather reassuring. Unlike other new-builds we have bought, we have had remarkably few problems and, unlike our previous, Taylor Wimpey property which only had a 2 yr cover and in which we had to fight like mad to get things done, David Wilson Homes are a dream to work with.

Heuchera Rio

This is the start of the Autumn Equinox. Day and night are equal in the sense of daylight and darkness. Ironically, it was our coldest night of recent months going down to 8C/46F. The sky was clear and sparkling with stars and the morning has brought blue sky criss-crossed by plane trails lit up by gorgeous sunshine. If the painter arrives early enough, we are hoping to walk on the beach and shop at the fisherman’s hut.

As the day developed, our plans changed because the painter kept us waiting all morning. Eventually, we had to cancel the coastal walk and settle for a trip to the garden centre nearby. We wanted something colourfully leaved that will manage partial shade. We settled for a collection of Heuchera. They have really been developed since we first used them nearly 40 years ago. We chose Rio (illustrated), Marmalade and Lime Marmalade. They will be a useful addition to our driveside beds.

Saturday, 23rd September, 2017

This has been the most beautiful day of warmth and sunshine. We went down to Littlehampton Beach to buy some fish. The sun was delightful and the beach deserted. The occasional person passed us as we walked down the Marina but, essentially, we had it to ourselves.

We walked for a while and it felt good to be out in the sea air and the sunshine. A couple of older men were fishing under the board walk. A family of Mum, Dad, two kids and a dog were walking with a pushchair on the beach at the edge of the water enjoying the freedom of a huge, open space.

Walking here in these conditions make us reflect how lucky we are. Prime Location the property selling site today listed the top ten places to retire to. It placed West Sussex at the number 1 spot saying it is ranked strongly for good weather and disability-free life expectancy.

We walked back to the fishermen’s shack to buy some fish from the fresh catch. Littlehampton Lobsters, Brighton Crabs, locally caught Sea Bass, Brill and Turbot lay on ice along side Monkfish with their mouths agape and silent, silver Mackerel. It is lovely to see and it had quite a crowd of shoppers outside.

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