Week 494

Sunday, 10th June, 2018

A sultry morning to follow a sultry night. Humidity really makes moderate temperatures feel hot. Just 20C/68F outside but clammy as hell. Breakfast with all the conservatory doors and windows flung open. Water and feed the pots and then settle down for political programmes and the newspapers. Another trip to the gym this afternoon.

After a moderate year of travel last year, we are upping the activity this summer. Valencia, Calais, Dordogne, Athens, Edinburgh, Yorkshire, Tenerife – these trips add up to 80 days away. We’ll need Christmas to rest. Next year, we plan to still build in a couple of months away but add garden design to the mix. Our back garden is not huge but it is 260 sq.metres which is plenty for people who intend to travel a fair amount, be away from home and not available to maintain a garden much. Equally, we have to accept that, if we stay here until the lights go off, we will not want acres of ground to maintain.We have had acres of garden in other places and they dominate one’s life.

I’ve been researching designs of other’s gardens to give us ideas to consider. I like grass and I don’t mind feeding, weeding and mowing it but month long trips away complicate that. Even so, I don’t want to eradicate nature altogether unless we really are radical and install something we have long talked about – an endless pool which is a smallish pool with a strong, counter current that means you can swim as hard as you like but you will never reach the other end. The other thing we want is a permanent, covered, outdoor kitchen because we do so much cooking in the garden.

Monday, 11th June, 2018

Jane & Catherine celebrating the extension of the franchise to all men.

Another hot and sultry day. Apparently, we were the hottest area reaching 26C/79F at peak. We drove out to Worthing at 8.30 this morning because Pauline was having her hair cut. I did my hour in a coffee shop and then we drove home. We did a session at the Health Club and by the end of it I had completed 15,000 paces. We came home to cook whitebait in the garden sunshine.

In 1918, a coalition government passed the Representation of the People Act 1918, enfranchising all men.The Fourth Reform Act extended the franchise to all men over 21, whether or not they owned property and I was pleased to see that two of my sisters saw that as important enough to celebrate by marching in London over the weekend. Apparently, some women were also given the vote as well.

Tuesday, 12th June, 2018

A thinly sunny but humid day of around 21C/70F. We spent the morning out and about. We visited a couple of local garden shed/summerhouse/garden office retailers. We have a nicely secluded patch of just 3ms  x 3ms behind the garage where we can site our outdoor kitchen.

One of the retailers deals in a company called The Malvern Collection from Worcestershire and we think we have found a suitable building from them. We will take power for lights and sockets from the garage and the building will be erected on additional paving which will have to be laid down first.

Eventually, we decided that today was the day for a rest from the gym. We will go for a walk this evening in order to meet our minimum target of 10,000 paces and that will allow us to sleep easy. Tomorrow, we will get back to the grindstone.

Wednesday, 13th June, 2018

Another lovely, warm and sunny day which only reached 22C/70F but felt warmer. Everything is growing so quickly. We have made our first harvest of the Dill which Pauline will chop and freeze for future use. Hopefully, by the time we return from France in August, the next crop will be ready. The Basil, both small leaved Greek and large leaved Italian are developing very quickly and will be turned in to Pesto just before we cross the Channel. That will also give us at least one and, maybe, two more cuttings before we leave for Tenerife in November.

Spent some time this morning with photos that I’d taken of the back garden. I was Photoshopping them to illustrate how it will look after we’ve had it re-developed with additional paving and a garden room for outdoor cooking. I’ve measured up and estimated the materials required. We have a fairly popular paving slab which I’ve been able to price up at a case of 20 for £167.00/€190.00. My estimate is that we will need 260 will cost us around £2200/€2500.00 + other materials + labour. We will also need about £3000.00/€3,400.00 for the garden building. I believe we will do the whole project within about £10,000.00/€11,370.00 which is very pleasing.

Thursday, 14th June, 2018

Saint Sauveur, Nouvelle Aquitaine.

Quite surprised to find it dull and lightly rainy outside this morning. I was due to mow the lawns. So, this morning will be indoors. (Did I really start a sentence with ‘so’? I must be getting younger!) I’ve got lots to do with only a week until we go away. We usually micro-plan our route even though we follow sat.nav..

We sit down with our map-book and AA route print off and lots of coloured highlighters. I check contentious sections with Google Maps Street View. Pauline works out her ideal route and highlights it on the map. She annotates her AA printout and then uses all that information while we are driving to hold a running argument with the sat.nav. directions. As a result, we never get lost. For Pauline, this is one of the happiest parts of any trip. Yes, I know that’s sad but chacun à son goût.

We are going to be away for 5 weeks so we are busily arranging things. My job is to arrange early repeat prescriptions and Pauline’s is everything else. She is ironing and setting aside clothes for 5 weeks ( We do have a washing machine in our rented property.) and saying to me, You can’t wear that! It is a well worn routine that I am very familiar with. We will have a break and go to the gym this afternoon. The rain is stopping so we might even get a swim.

After 70 mins in the gym, we went outside to find the skies had cleared and the sun was beating out of clear blue. We had the pool largely to ourselves and really enjoyed a 30 mins hard swim followed by Sauna, Jacuzzi, Water Massage, shower and home. Goodness, I felt clean! We griddled Sea Bass in the garden, paired it with an icy Sauvignon Blanc and prepared for a relaxing evening. I’m researching supermarkets near our holiday rental.

Friday, 15th June, 2018

Another lovely, warm and sunny day which reached 23C/73F. We did a last full shop before going abroad and then went to the gym. After 70 mins cardio workout, we did a delightful 30 mins in the outdoor pool in gorgeous sunshine. Coming home, Pauline griddled chicken and peppers in the garden – a delightful way to end the (non) working week.

Our back lawn is the meal table for an increasing family of Blackbirds. First it was two adults searching morning, noon and night but now it is two adults plus five youngsters. The young ones are bolder than mum & dad. Eventually, they realise that I’m not ‘bird’ and jump up on to the perimeter fence where they balance noisily and giddily to wait until I’ve returned in doors so that they can go back to collecting slugs and worms. They seem to eat an amazing amount of food like all growing children. I feel bad disturbing them but I will have to mow the lawns tomorrow. There are other lawns nearby to feed from.

Saturday, 16th June, 2018

The Greeks have been struggling with their economic crisis for so long, it has become a way of life. Although they are continually told that it is coming to an end, there are more cuts in pensions and social support along side further sales of National assets in the pipeline. These are bitterly disputed every time but, in spite of regular demonstrations, the government presses on and has so far survived.

The Last Supper for Tsipras?

There has been one theme which has run almost since the break up of Yugoslavia after the death of its hard man president, Tito. The struggle has been over the name Macedonia which the Greeks have always claimed was theirs. It has been bad enough to be the ‘vassal state’ (to coin a phrase) of Germany for so many years. They certainly aren’t prepared to cede the name of Macedonia to near neighbours. Recently, it was looking as if an agreement for the Former Yugolavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was moving towards a conclusion with Republic of Northern Macedonia as an acceptable title.

Many Greeks  are vehemently opposed to this and particularly the opportunistic, right wing, New Democracy party. This week they raised a No Confidence vote in Parliament. Yesterday, the opposition failed in their bid but the government lost another MP and put their coalition under severe strain.  It might be a sign of the tide turning in Greek politics.

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