Week 505

Sunday, 26th August, 2018

It’s going to rain today. Folklore dictates that Bank Holiday weekends are wet and the weather will not disappoint. Actually, it will be nice to see some more rain. I need something to kick my lawns back to life. Bank Holidays are irrelevant any way. I bank on-line.

Two weeks ago, we picked up our new smartphones – Huawei P20 Pro – which we are given ‘free’ to maintain our EE contracts. We have unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 10Gb of data which we can also use across Europe, US and Australia. Actually, we each pay £43.00/€47.50 per month. I chose the phones particularly for their cameras. Each phone has 3 lenses all by Leica and includes a 40MP lens with a 5x Zoom. That is far superior to my 10 year old, Canon EOS SLR.

If you want to buy these phones on the open market without a contract, they would cost you £799.99/€895.00 and, for a 2 month promotional period, they are offering ‘free’, wireless earphones. They say, as you can see, that these are sold at £149.00/ although I find it hard to believe. They certainly make them hard to ‘claim’ by making people wait 2 weeks after phone purchase and then scanning in their receipt and uploading the jpeg to their website. Not to be put off, I’ve done it this morning.

Monday, 27th August, 2018

Fuscia Janey

Today is fairly cloudy. We didn’t get above 22C/70F all day and with little sunshine. It is the birthday of my Mother-in-Law. Pauline’s Mum was affectionately called ‘Mump’ by us but was known as ‘Janey’ by her family. Today, she would have been 104 although she died 8 years ago at 96. We found a fuschia called ‘Janey’ and have planted it in her memory. She was short and squat and tenacious and the fuschia suits her perfectly. It disappears every winter and, just when we think it is lost for ever, up it pops from arid ground to flourish beautifully. We remember a lovely woman – Janey Barnes (1914 -2010). Thoughts of her still make her smile.

Slug I murdered & its Friend

I did something terrible today. I feel absolutely awful about it. I killed a slug. It was bin day today and, as I took the first bin out on to the roadside, I noticed a huge slug on our drive. I thought, I don’t want that eating our plants and I ‘deliberately’ ran it over with the wheels of the bin. I killed it and thought nothing more until an hour later when I brought the first of our three , empty bins back in and noticed the squashed and exploded slug was being in kissed/nudged back into life by another slug like some dead elephant being revived by members of its tribe. The slug was obviously dead and the ‘friend’ ultimately realised that but I continued to feel guilty for hours. When we went out to the gym, the dead slug remained alone on the drive.

Tuesday, 28th August, 2018

A lovely warm and sunny day which only reached 22C/70F but felt hotter because of the humidity. Although I am sedentary by instinct, in retirement I have become active by design. Today, we did a tour of shops and Doctors’ surgeries followed by the gym. It amounted to 14,000 paces and a feeling of pleasure.

I read a lot. I read newspapers, political blogs and Greek blogs along with many other things in Twitter and Faceache. It is important to keep up with current information in all spheres. I read Greek Blogs everyday in order to keep me in touch with the country I have invested 40 years of my life. If I wanted to go to any country where I would feel at home it would be Greece. Even so, I am still absolutely convinced that our decision to sell and leave was absolutely right in economic terms and I don’t regret it for one minute.

Though Greece slipped to 24th place on the list of the wealthiest countries in the European Union in 2017 from 14th a decade ago, it remains the 19th dearest state in the bloc, data from a Eurostat report on prices for consumer goods and services showed. Incomes and prices have parted to a worrying degree. Despite the economic crisis and the impoverishment of millions of Greeks, prices for consumer goods and services remained high. On the other hand, the country was cheaper in housing with prices last year remaining below the EU. How lucky were we to extricate ourselves from property ownership?

I’ve read a blog from Skiathos for many years. The Skiathan is a very interesting man and worth following although his blog, like mine is diminished by his departure from Greece. I read a Blog from Simon in Birmingham/Corfu which has amazingly connected to people Pauline &  I know from our academic experiences. Simon Baddeley lives in Birmingham and Corfu and is a lecturer in Social Administration. He featured one of Pauline’s Assistants one day quite out of the blue and we were amazed at the coincidence. We first went to Greece in 1981 which surprises me in retrospect but the Skiathan’s wife only went to the island ten years ago.

We used to leave Sifnos towards the end of September and, sometimes, in early October. We virtually never saw rain in August. This year, Greece has experienced exactly that. Every year we saw bad weather on Greek television with hailstones as big as golf balls featured as they destroyed northern crops. This year, it seems to have gone further south than usual. Skopelos lost electric power for hours after numerous lightning strikes. The joy of these blogs is that we recognise and feel the experiences they depict like this shot of the garage of a Greek ferry. We spent so much of our lives in these suffocatingly hot and smelly places.

Wednesday, 29th August, 2018

Well, it might have rained in Greece but it is certainly raining here this morning against all former predictions. Between 6.30 am – 10.30 am, it came down incessantly. I’m beginning to get a bit worried that, even with rain, my back lawn is not regenerating. Before we go to Tenerife, I may have to get a professional company in to scarify and reseed it. I can’t spend the entire Winter looking out on huge, brown patches.

We went to the Health Club around 12.30 pm by which time the sun was out and the warm world (22C/70F) was restored. We have only failed to do our exercise regime once in the past 18 days. Routine is the important thing here and it no longer feels an imposition. I use the jogging machine for 40 mins while watching the One O’clock News and then I have recently become engrossed in a programme called Murder, Mystery and My Family which is effectively historical research in which two, criminal barristers reinvestigate historical cases of murder where the alleged perpetrator was hanged. They submit their findings to a High Court Judge.

The Rotunda Central Manchester Library

My Masters was a Research Degree in the History of Ideas. The process of discovering and interpreting information from the past is absolutely riveting. Today, while watching the two barristers research their case, I was flashed back 30 years to the hours and days I spent in research for my thesis which was entitled R.H.Tawney and The Medieval Tradition. It was founded in the rise of Marxist Theory informing political thought at the end of the 19th Century and the birth of the Labour Party at the beginning of the new Century. I submitted it, successfully, in 1989 having completed it while I was working full-time as a teacher. In fact, I had been a teacher for nearly 20 years.

Today, 30 years on and many miles away from Manchester, I was on the jogging machine in the Health Club watching a television programme as the two barristers visited the very place where I had spent so long in my own research – The Rotunda Central Manchester Library. Life is full of so many rich coincidences. I got off the jogging machine and kissed my wife who supported me so unswervingly throughout that tortuous process of research. Without her, I would never have completed it.

Thursday, 30th August, 2018

A lovely warm and sunny day reaching 22C/70F – maybe the end of Summer. Certainly, it is quite alarming how quickly the evening light is dying and the morning arriving later each day. The European Union have received an overwhelming expression of opinion from citizens with 8 out of 10 respondents in a European Union online survey supporting the ending of daylight saving time. I must admit, it has been my view for a long time and I would welcome the change. What would be interesting would be if Brexit left UK marooned in the old time-warp while the rest of Europe moved ahead.

Went to the Health Club for a workout today for the 17th day out of the past 18. Yesterday, I wrote about my intellectual, former life. Everything I’ve done since leaving school in 50 years ago has been fairly sedentary. Until then, I was energetic and active every day. I played rugby, did athletics or trained for the two at least 6 days per week while at Grammar School. After that, I was studying and teaching. Both activities involved a lot of sitting down, of writing and reading. Since I retired almost 10 years ago, I have been gradually ramping up the exercise and today my calculator says I have covered a record (for me) 187 miles walking and cycling in the past 28 days.

I was amused to read of the Greek embrace of SIMP – the Sustainable Island Mobility Plan – which

encourages solutions to the mobility issue of the Greek islands by using methods such as the wide limitation of the use of cars, the promotion of carpooling, the introduction of electric vehicles, the reduction of speed limits and the improvement of existing parking spaces as well as the creation of new ones.

Sifnos is being announced as the first SIMP in Europe. Good Luck with that. Like the smoking ban, it will be more ignored than observed. I look forward to the first battery powered ferries to dock in Kamares. They’re on strike again on Monday, anyway so that should cut down on emissions.

Friday, 31st August, 2018

Paradosiako Taverna

We are seeing August out with a lovely, warm and sunny day. The window cleaner has been and left us with sparkling windows but £18.00/€19.90 poorer. It’s worth it though. I’ve mowed what’s left of the lawns and we are tidying up the hedges and weeding the borders to leave the place tidy before we go away next week. The temperature has reached 22C/70F with lovely sunshine.

A three hour stint at the Health Club and home to griddle Tuna Steaks in the garden to be eaten with tomato and cauliflower salads. The last day of Summer is ending well. We will be in Greece in three days and real heat. Looking forward to that. Dinner at Paradosiako, our favourite taverna. Can’t wait.

Saturday, 1st September, 2018

Never an easy month to welcome; we just have to grit our teeth, acknowledge that Summer is over and embrace the Autumn. Happy September to you all.

Certainly the light is changing noticeably. Mornings start later and evenings earlier. Ironically, the weather has spent late August feeling autumnal and gone back to Summer just as the new season begins. This morning is warm and sunny. Ideal to make pupils and teachers not want to go back to school. Oh Dear. How sad! Never mind. We are off to the gym to in an attempt to fight back against the onslaught of infirmity.

I once worked out in an idle moment that we would have, theoretically, emptied our theoretical pension pot if we drew on it for 17 years. With only 7 years to go we are working towards theoretical profit. Of course, it’s all theoretical, fortunately. They will continue to threw money at us if we live to be 100. Over 40 years of pension. Now you’re talking!

Week 504

Sunday, 19th August, 2018

Well, a grey and mild start to the day. It is just 20C/68F this morning and a little breezy. I’m told it’s Sunday by my phone although it makes little difference to me. It is nice to download a Sunday paper and to watch a bit of Test Match and Football but I can do most of that on so many days that it really doesn’t matter.

Dublin 1979

It mattered to my Mother who would have been 95 on this coming Wednesday. She was a totally committed Roman Catholic and she wanted her 7 children to be so as well. As I developed a thinking mind, I resented it hugely and, the moment I left home at 18, I dropped the ‘pretence’ immediately. Subsequently, all of my siblings have done the same. However, there is a saying that Once a Roman Catholic, always a Roman Catholic and there is some truth in that. For a long time, I didn’t recognise this but Catholicism imbues one with a sense of ‘original sin’ of being subsequently guilty and unworthy. I recognise, intellectually that such a position is not justified but, emotionally, it is much more difficult to jettison.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature. .. It is the opium of the people.

Karl Marx – ‘A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right’.

Dublin 2018

We see that it is accepted most strongly in oppressed and/or impoverished groups – in the Third World, for example, but also in the black minority in Britain and in the Irish. Religion seems to ‘explain’ their poverty and place in inequality. The gradations of social standing from God in his Heaven, the rich man in his castle and the poor man at his gate made All Things Bright & Beautiful.  Of course, Mum derived from Irish stock and inherited her Catholicism. She was by no means stupid but wasn’t prepared to look critically at her beliefs in the way those born further on in the Century are. She was furious when I told her that, just as she had tried to force religion on me so I saw it as my duty as a teacher to advise children to avoid that pernicious, world view.

I have long militated for the eradication of religion’s place in politics and social administration. I have been extremely heartened by the rapid decline in religious observance in Britain. Today, The Sunday Times runs this article:

Young Ireland says Nope to the Pope

On the eve of another papal visit, in pubs and parks Irish people say the Catholic Church has lost its grip on the nation.

It is enough to gladden an old man’s heart, to raise the spirits of Karl Marx and to answer my Mother’s attempts at indoctrination.

Monday, 20th August, 2018

Taken 40 years ago.

Out early on a warm and humid morning which reached 24C/75F. Pauline was having her hair cut before we leave for Greece in a couple of weeks. The sea front was in busy, holidaymaker mode and the sea looked  blue, warm and inviting. Back home, we booked the installation of a new garage door, a trip to the PYO Farm to pick Victoria Plums which Pauline has a passion for and to arrange a visit to Byfleet to visit her sister.

This time last year, we were in Haydock, Lancashire to say goodbye to Pauline’s cousin, Vivienne who had died of cancer. We are thinking of her husband, Richard who has had a year to come to terms with his grief. Neither of us is confident that we can really imagine what it is like to lose our close partner but know it will happen to one of us ultimately.

We set off for our 8th, consecutive visit to do our duty in the gym. It is becoming easy and routine at the moment and we are looking to increase our efforts by adding a piece of machinery – probably rowing – to our exercise regime. It will be good to get back in to swimming soon when the kids go back to school and the indoor pool repair is completed.

However, target driven as I am, I get real pleasure from screens on my smartphone like the one pictured here. I am uncomfortable if my chart has gaps on its daily report. Pleasure is a full row of yellow bars demonstrating my commitment. A daily average of 13,748 paces covering a total of 48.7 miles for this week makes me feel good. Did you know I was weird? It is something that retirement requires to be meaningful – target achievement. We wrinklies have to set our own targets and drive ourselves on to achievement. We are trying so hard to do just that!

Tuesday, 21st August, 2018

Cloudy and humid start to a day which never dipped below 19C/66F over night. We went out early to the local PYO farm just round the corner from our house. Victoria Plums are ready for picking. They are a favourite of ours. In 20 mins, we had two bags containing 8kgs/18lbs of plums. The trees are so prolific and easy to pick from. It was a delight. By the time we drove home, the temperature was 28C/82F although fairly dull and very humid.


Off to the supermarket for huge bags of sugar so the jam can be made. That is Pauline’s job for the rest of the day. A trip to the gym is cancelled. I am watering the lawn and trying to persuade it to regenerate. The plums were so easy to pick, we ended up with too many really. They have been stoned and quartered and cooked up. After the sugar has been added, I become an enthusiastic Chief Taster. I so rarely get to eat anything sweet that ‘normal’ jam now tastes almost unbearably sweet. Gorgeous!

We have two weeks until we leave for Athens and then a further two weeks until we fly to Edinburgh. My cousin in France has been trying to entice me into a cousins’ reunion in the Charente Department of south west France. That is where we visited her about a month ago and, because of that, we are not in a hurry to return. There are only so many places to visit in a lifetime and we are already planning events for next year. We are hoping to revive an Australia trip in the Spring, a month villa rental in July in Girona over the border from France to Spain, an Athens trip allied to an island visit in September and then a month in the Canaries in November. Quite a busy year.

Wednesday, 22nd August, 2018

Mum & Me in Foremark Woods 1953

Today, my Mum would have been 95 years old. Unfortunately, she died 10 years ago and the pain is rapidly greying into recession. In the photo, I was 2½ years old and she was 30. It is so unsettling how these experiences and memories have run away into the mists of time. It is exactly what will happen to me and my darling wife and to all of you. We cannot escape it but it is so difficult to embrace and accept it.

Living one’s life in the here-and-now is the only option but these pinch points of memory are painful in the extreme and even more so as reality is replaced with the chimera of memory. I remember my relationship with my Mother in the awkwardness of its reality and, talking to my sisters some years on, I am surprised and vaguely shocked that our memories and judgements have an uncomfortable similarity. I wasn’t as odd and mad as I have thought over these past 50 years. Still, I find myself hard to live with.

In the here and now, my lawn is still a dying mess after no rain for the five weeks I was away. I can’t quite decide what to do about it or how far to go to revive it. I may have to re-seed whole areas of it this Autumn although I’m going to be away for a lot of that too. I may have to get a professional company in to advise me although, if we redesign the garden anyway, I don’t want to go mad with the original lawn. What a dilemma!

Thursday, 23rd August, 2018

Woke early – 5.00 am – after a hot and humid night. Left for Surrey around 9.30 am. We were visiting C&P in Byfleet. The first three quarters of the 50 mile journey were pastoral and delightfully quiet. The last section should have joined the M25 but our sat.nav. warned us of a 40 mins delay on our section so we detoured through Cobham which is a delightful town but can be frustratingly busy to navigate. A journey which usually takes us an hour actually took us 90 mins and the frustration made me tired.

It was nice to return to the area. After all, it is only two and a half years since we left, having completed five years living in the area. It is strange how one drops back, almost unconsciously, into the routes and routines of places once so familiar. It was nice to see C&P again. As we talked, I dropped back into the routine of sitting talking and upgrading their iPad as I did so. They never do it for themselves. I’m not sure if they know how to. Anyway, that was always my job – downloading and updating the operating system, updating the apps, cleaning up the messages, etc..

We stayed around three hours and then drove back incorporating the M25 leg without any hold-ups in that direction. Even so, after sleeping for only 5 hours last night and then doing some 2½ hours busy driving, I was tired. Pauline did the cooking – roast cod loin with garlic and white wine fantail prawns and more salad. Two glasses of wine and I was ready for a sleep.

Friday, 24th August, 2018

Woke up at 5.00 am for the 3rd time this week and didn’t really get back to sleep. Beautiful, sunny day with clear, blue sky although a little edge on the air this morning. In the modern way of things and quite without any formal intention, we shop in almost every different supermarket there is according to what my wife considers best quality and best value.







Bananas are my go-to energy replacement food and, although it will sound pretentiously fussy, the bananas from Asda are a quality level higher than all the other suppliers in terms of taste. We eat a box of cherry tomatoes per day on average and are addicted to a variety called Vittoria which we buy in Sainsbury’s. Our salads always include capers which Pauline buys in large jars from Waitrose. The salad is dressed with Kalamata Olive Oil which is great value from Aldi. Any fish that we don’t get from the local fisherman’s shack is bought in Tesco although Morrisons is the only one to always have a supply of fresh, locally caught Octopus and we buy supplies of Whitebait from Iceland.

Because of this, we had a busy morning visiting supermarkets. We also went to the Post Office ‘Sorting Office’ to collect a parcel that we missed while we were out yesterday. The parcel was two more, pairs of shorts for me. I haven’t worn any, normal clothes since the beginning of June. I haven’t slept under the bedsheets in that time either. We are off to Athens and later a month in Tenerife which could well see me extending the naked legs and short sleeved T-shirts until the beginning of December. Long may it last. Global Warming is working for me at least.

Saturday, 25h August, 2018

Another pleasant start to the day with lots of sunshine. The day just struggled to 22C/70F but felt really lovely. It has been quite quiet. Pauline has done a 3rd harvest of our basil pots and made another, huge batch of Pesto which is then bagged up in 50g packs which is enough for one meal for two people. We have about a dozen plants of Italian – large leafed – sweet basil and Greek – small leaved. We already have enough Pesto to get us through the next twelve months but we may have one more cutting in late September.






I have been catching up with correspondence. I wrote to my Sifnos friend, Martin, who I haven’t seen for quite a few years now but we have agreed to visit him to catch up. Instead of just sitting down to watch football now, I try to time my exercise in the gym so I can watch at the same time as sweating. Actually, I really enjoy it and it makes me feel quite virtuous. Today has been another lovely day. We are so lucky. We say that to each other almost every day. If only we could freeze time NOW.

Week 503

Sunday, 12th August, 2018

Sometimes one has to admit one is an old codger. I plead guilty. On Friday, I went in to the EE shop which is in our local Sainsburys. We have had EE contracts for the past 6 six years and been fairly happy with the service provision. At the end of our last mobile contracts which provided us with 2, Samsung S6 mobiles, we were entitled to new phones if we renewed our contracts. I chose Huawei P20 Pro smartphones for both of us. If you wanted to buy them without a contract today, they would cost you £1600.00/€1790.00 for the two.Going into the EE shop was preferable because we wouldn’t have to wait for them to be posted and have to wait in to receive them plus I could get an Assistant to clone our old phones and save me a few hours. Or so I thought….

We came home with our new phones on Friday and I spent the rest of that day and most of Saturday updating and re-organising all our apps for Organisation – calendars, newspapers, media, etc / Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Chrome, etc. / Finance & Investments / Files & Cloud Storage … and so it goes on. Our phones are insured through a ‘free service’ of our Bank Account so I logged on to alter the details. As I entered the IMEI number to identify the phones, the site told me that Pauline’s was a metallic Huawei P20 Pro but mine was just a cheaper and smaller Huawei P20. Bear in mind, I had just spent 2 days setting it up.

I checked the two phones and, sure enough, mine was distinctly smaller. I checked the box which was identical to Pauline’s with one exception of 3 letters – Pro – and that made all the difference. I felt a bit of an idiot and stupid old codger. Even so the EE Assistant hadn’t noticed either. A trip back to the shop in the middle of Sunday morning and I emerged with a new, Huawei P20 Pro phone and I spent the rest of the day setting it up.

I am a politics geek and a news junkie. I need access to information media at all times. Radio, TV, Newspapers and Politics Blogs over the internet are essential. As soon as we leave the UK on our travels, that is what I become anxious about. How will I access the news? Driving across UK is not a problem but, the moment we roll out of the Tunnel into France, I start to have a problem. Our car provides DAB/VHF/MW/LW radio. In UK, I use DAB. In the early stages of France, DAB is lost but VHF is possible but not for long. I then switch to the poor quality Long Wave which goes a remarkably long way. We could pick up Radio 4 in the Dordogne but it often became lost in the interference of power lines and other obstructions.

While we were driving back at the end July, I was musing on this and suddenly had an epiphany. Our car infotainment unit offers Bluetooth connection. My smartphone offers Bluetooth connection. Perhaps I could Bluetooth the radio on my phone through the speakers of my cars infotainment unit. Today, with my new phone, I established that this process worked. I shouldn’t have a problem next time we drive through Europe.

Monday, 13th August, 2018

Early start because we both had appointments with the ‘dreaded’ Hygienist at our Dentist’s surgery conveniently located in Sainsbury’s next to the EE store. Personally, I hate all Hygienists with a passion too strong to fully express. We have Dental Plans which cover a 12 month period for about £100.00/€121.00 which provided for 2 x dental checkup per year and 2 x hygienist visits per year. She keeps trying to cajole me into 4 x hygienist visits per year but there is as little chance of that as .. (Fill in your own impossibility.). Pauline and I have both bought and been using water jet, tooth picks three or four times a day to keep our teeth clean after food and drink. According to the Hygienist, it has made a major difference so has been worthwhile.

After 20 mins of agony, we went out to do yet more shopping. We eat one, large pack of cherry tomatoes per day on average so we bought another 4 to get us through to next shopping on Friday. Haddock loins with fantail prawns for our meal today with, tomato salad, cucumber & dill salad and rocket salad. Looking forward to it already. Before we go to the gym, I have contacted a couple of firms of garage door installers to come and quote us for an automated, roller door.

Really enjoyed our workout followed by jacuzzi and water jet massage. We were out for about 2.5 hrs. Came home to cook a lovely meal and a bit of relaxation. I have had a garage door company confirm a visit later in the week and I will require at least one more before I choose.

Tuesday, 14th August, 2018

Lovely, warm start to the day. We are in charge of next door’s cat, Como (named after the Italian Lake not the American singer), for the next 4 days. It is quite a responsibility. Our first job is feeding him this evening. Made a note on our online, interactive calendar. Just hope Como reads it and comes home.

Our car has a built in, Garmin Sat.Nav.. It is possible and now time to update the maps. This is done by installing Garmin Direct app on my PC and then downloading the maps – about 3 gb of data onto a usb stick. Then, one has to plug the USB stick into one of the car’s two USB ports and upload the data. Download from the PC takes about an hour. Upload to the car takes about 3 hours apparently. In that time, the sat. nav. cannot be switched off which means the engine must be running continually. This means I need to be with/in the car for those 3 hours.

Did a good workout at the gym, came home and griddled duck breast slices and vegetables – onion, courgette, red pepper and mushrooms in the garden and then completed the car sat. nav. upgrade. It actually took less than 30 mins.. I’ve been putting it off for months because of the inconvenience I was pre-warned about. The meal was lovely and the sat.nav. easy so all went well at the end of the day. Now, at 7.00 pm, the next door’s cat is fed, we have been fed and the sun is shining warmly. The day reached a pleasant 23C/74F. The world is peaceful.

Wednesday, 15th August, 2018

Overlooking Genoa Port – July 2017

A lovely day which reached 23C/74F. We have spent a lovely day doing ordinary things like mowing and feeding the lawns and exercising at the Health Club. At the same time, the Italians are still reeling from the collapse of a major, highway bridge just a few hundred metres from where we were exactly a year ago. July last year, we were staying in the Holiday Inn Genoa overlooking the port and just a few hundred metres from the bridge that has collapsed. We loved Genoa but there but for fate go we!

We bought the first Honda CRV to arrive at our Dealership in Huddersfield back in 1998. We proceeded to have a new one each year for quite a while until we got much nearer to retirement. I think we have had 13 over 4 different models over the years. Our current car has done just 17,000 miles in 27 months. However, we have been keenly anticipating the new model – the 5th generation – which is due out in early 2019.

It is a hybrid engine with continuously variable transmission powering all-wheel-drive. It features automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist as standard. It will have a hybrid engine option for the first time. Honda calls the new system Intelligent Multi Mode Drive (i-MMD), and it comprises a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and two electric motors and gives automatic stop-start action. Looking forward to that and we’ve now learned it will be only 30mm wider than the current one so, with the new, garage door, it will continue to be garaged.

Thursday, 16th August, 2018

A warm but damp start to the day. It improved but didn’t register above 19C/66F. Fortunately, I had cut and fed the lawns yesterday so the rain was very welcome. We did our weekly, Tesco shop and then a full workout at the gym.

By the time we got home, the sun was out and the day was lovely. We cooked roast salmon and pesto served with salad for our tea and the day ran down quietly. We never cease to be amazed at how lucky we are to have this time together. Nearly 10 years now of comfortable and interesting retirement. Preceding generations could only have dreamed of such luxury. We leave for Athens in a couple of weeks and our hotel, The Athens Electra Palace, has been voted the best placed hotel to book for people visiting Athens. We have been using it for so many years that we almost take it for granted but we are not surprised by its rating.

We have been there so many times, it feels like a home from home and Athens, that once felt dirty, noisy and a bit aggressive, now feels warm, homely and very familiar.

Friday, 17th August, 2018

Up early this morning on a lovely, bright and sunny morning but one which had just a touch of Autumn in the air. Yesterday at 7.00 am, the temperature was 19C/66F but this morning read only 13C/55F. That’s come a bit too soon but it is only two weeks until September. (Back to school – Ha Ha!). At 8.30 am, the garage door company arrived to measure up and give me an estimate for a new, automated, roller door which will give me 10″/25.5cm more width on the entrance. This will make all the difference in putting the car away each night.

The cost is more than I at first anticipated because we have a non-standard door width opening. Apparently, it is wider than standard. Goodness knows how people drove through anything narrower. They would need to be a midget in a Smart Car to make it.

Anyway, I have offered the old door to our neighbour across the road who has dented his and he is pleased to accept it. For years we have had automated garage doors and it will be good to get back to that. This door sits neatly on the inside of the garage and rolls up into a box over the lintel. We will have two fobs for the operation plus a control on the wall.

The world is full of ‘old people’. Well, my world is. It struck me as I stood at the checkout of Sainsburys at 9.30 this morning. Looking round, everyone apart from the workers was grey haired, wrinkled and rather slow. I was getting increasingly agitated as I tried to negotiate slow thinking, slow acting, slow, slow, old people. Am I being insensitive and unkind? I’m sure I am and I’m equally sure that it will come to me … but please not yet!

Saturday, 18th August, 2018

Yesterday morning felt slightly Autumnal. Last night was warm and humid. This morning at 6.30am, I was listening to Farming Today on BBC Radio 4 coming from a Herefordshire farm and the commentator pointed out rows of swallows roosting on the telegraph wires. Anyone with country knowledge knows that that is a sure sign of Summer drawing to a close and the onset of Autumn. At home, as a boy, I would watch from my bedroom window as the numbers of swallows got so many that the phone wires seemed to sag under their weight as they twittered away before leaving en masse for a warmer, African winter. It still feels too soon so let’s hope it’s a false start.

When we started to live in Greece until well through the Autumn, we were always shocked by how the weather seemed to know that September had arrived. It continued to provide lovely weather but with almost instant inconsistences. If you monitor Greece and the Greek economy like I do – sad person that I am, you will be hearing the constant refrains about surging tourist arrivals and the imminent possibility of the country escaping the close attentions of its European creditors. The intention is to create an atmosphere of rising optimism even though many, perhaps most, Greeks are still hurting from their reduced circumstances.

Greece-Turkey bilateral trade at £3.05 bln / €3.4 bln in 2017

However, just as hopes may be rising of a better future, a perfect storm may be about to crash around them. Close neighbours and trading partners, Turkey, are feeling the heat as the Turkish lira crashes. Greek companies that export to Turkey are concerned that the collapse against the euro and the deterioration of consumer and business confidence in the neighbouring country will affect their exports this year. Greece currently has a trade surplus with Turkey but there are fears that this could be reversed if the Turkish economy dips into recession.

Another neighbour of Greece, Italy, is bracing for a debt crisis like the one it suffered in 2011, fears that have been exacerbated by the problems in Turkey. Moody’s and another big ratings agency, Fitch, will announce if they are going to downgrade Rome. That comes at an awkward time as the economy is slowing and the European Central Bank is reducing the size of its monthly bond-buying program. On both sides, Greece is facing a potential reduction in demand for its products. Total reliance on tourism is a dangerous thing.

Week 502

Sunday, 5th August, 2018

Up early on another beautiful morning. After breakfast, we went down to the beach for a walk.  It was absolutely delightful. We walked for about an hour from Goring to Worthing Pier. The sun was strong and the crowds were absent at 9.30 am..

Packed beaches in Worthing.

As a child, I remember going with my parents to the seaside, and being told to “smell the ozone”, as it was healthy and good for me. You could certainly smell the “ozone” this morning. We took huge lungsful of it as we walked along. Actually, I’ve since found out that the distinctive (seaside) smell is not ozone, it is dimethyl sulphide and inhaling it is not necessarily good for you.

Be that as it may, we did our walk and then went home and into our sun-filled garden to empty our crabs of their bounty. A 0.5 kg of crab meat was mixed with a 0.5 kg of cod to make a 1kg of delicious, Crab Pâté. Garden cleaned of crab shell, we headed off to the Health Club and did our full session. Back home and in scorching sunshine, we griddled swordfish steaks in the garden and ate them with wonderful tomato salad.

The day has finished with us saying to each other – I’ve really enjoyed today. – as we seem to do at the end of most days. What more can one ask of retirement or any life stage? We are enjoying life so much that I am constantly checking over my shoulder to see if some harbinger of doom is lurking. If it can happen to a Chuckle Brother, it can happen to anyone.

Monday, 6th August, 2018

Absolutely blazing hot morning which reached 29C/84F by mid morning and 30C+/86F+ in the afternoon. We had a man from British Gas booked to come and replace the ridiculously complicated analogue controls for the central heating with Hive digital ones. While I was waiting, I mowed the lawns and ran the water sptinkler on them for a couple of hours. Because we missed our window cleaner while we were away in France, I did all the windows and the door at the front of the house.

When the engineer did arrive, it turned out to be a lad from a few houses away who had been assigned to our installation. The original controls were replaced by digital ones linked to my internet hub. We have dual zone heating and hot water which separately controls upstairs and downstairs. Now, all of that can be controlled from my iPad, smartphone and computer across the net and from anywhere in the world. Although that sounds fanciful and pointless, it would have been very useful when we were in France for five weeks and will be very useful while we are in Tenerife for a month in November.

It is also so easy to use compared with the intricacies of the older controls. Of course, after one has absorbed the ease of on-line control of the heating, one can go on to extend the uses to power plugs and light bulbs. Anyone who goes away for any length of time will be familiar with the needs to install timers for lighting to foil/fool burglars and, maybe sound/radio to give the deception of house occupation. It also appeals to gadget geeks and computer freaks. Guilty!

There are some occasions when one takes a leap of faith and immediately regrets it. As an instinctive ‘early-adopter’, I have been through that many times. This has proved an instant justification for taking that risk.

Tuesday, 7th August, 2018

Another beautiful day – how long can we say that? – It was 31C/88F as we set off for the Roundstone PYO Farm which is less than a mile away from home. The farm is huge – big enough to use a small set of tractor drawn carriages to take people to the varied picking fields. Strawberries are mainly over but raspberries are in full swing along with soft fruit such as red/white/black currants, blackberries, rhubarb, plums, runner and French beans, cabbages, cauliflowers, sweetcorn, courgettes, beetroot, onion etc..

We only wanted raspberries today because Pauline is making jam. In less than 40 mins, we picked 5kgs of luscious raspberries in scorching sunshine, paid just over £5.00 per kilo (Tesco is £12.00) for around 5kgs and drove home. We went off to Tesco to buy 5kgs of sugar and the jam will be made tomorrow because we are not going to the Health Club. Tomorrow, we are having Lunch with our next door neighbours.

As I opened my local paper on-line yesterday, I was shocked to find onw of my 6 sisters staring out at me. She reminds me of my Mother which is shocking enough in itself.

Nothing surprises me greatly anymore but this really did come out of the blue. It shows how isolated members of my family are from each other.

Wednesday, 8th August, 2018

We are not going to the gym today for the first time in 10 days. We are going out to have lunch at our neighbour’s house. Before that, I have been exploring a problem we have with our car and garage.

For most of our life, we have had large, double garages and usually with large, double doors remotely controlled. It makes life so easy and convenient. Here, we only have a single garage with a single, (narrow feeling), manually operated, up-and-over door. Our car is large and wide and has a tolerance of about 5″ either side as we drive through the doorway. This is made particularly narrow by the door mechanism being bolted on to the side walls with their aluminium struts and guides. Driving in and out without accident requires two of us – one steering and the other shouting from behind – even though we have reversing sensors and a reversing camera with guidelines.

A must-have, new model of our Honda CRV comes out at the end of this year and, horror of horrors, it is wider than our current model. I think this will be our 12th or 13th new CRV and they have gradually become more ‘butch’ in design to suit the American market. This has meant putting on more bulk. Short of demolishing the garage and rebuilding it, I was coming to the conclusion that we would have to park on our drive as all our neighbours do on theirs. Throughout our lives, we have been the exception to the rule in many things and putting our car in the garage has been one of those things.

My wife, who is extremely practical, looks like she’s solved the problem. A motorised and remote controlled, roller shutter door which doesn’t fit on the inside entrance pillars but behind the entrance and takes up little extra room at all looks like the way to go. I have done some research of providers and the cost is remarkably little. Delivered, installed and with two, remote control units, the cost is around £1000.00/€12,00.00. You can’t say fairer than that although I will try to beat them down a bit by getting three quotes and playing one off against the other .

Thursday, 9th August, 2018

Well, how lovely to wake up to rain. That’s exactly how we felt in Greece when we got an unexpected downpour. Like manna from heaven if either actually existed. Quite a bit cooler today. Didn’t get above 20C/68F and with only weak sunshine.

We went out to do our weekly, Tesco shop. We bought sides of salmon, tuna steaks, plus 4 bags of frozen, calamari tubes along with lots of other things. As usual, we do scan-as-you-shop which really suits us. We have a running total of purchases and expenditure on a handset which we clip on to our trolley. At the end, our bags are full of purchases and we transmit our handset to the till which takes our payment – in our case, through our mobile – and w leave without troubling the shop staff at all.


Of course, there is the possibility for theft and fraud. Either not scanning some items or scanning in cheaper items for more expensive ones is a weakness with the system. There has been a huge rise in the sale of (cheap) carrots, apparently, because people were scanning them in instead of (expensive) avocados. The supermarkets noticed that they were selling many more carrots than had ever been in their stock. Actually, I prefer carrots to avocados.

To counteract fraud and theft, the stores do periodically and, apparently, randomly check the till receipt with the goods in the customer’s trolley. Today, it was our turn. You can imagine Pauline’s horror when it turned out I had forgotten to scan not one but four bags of frozen squid. I must admit, I was slightly embarrassed myself. Actually, four bags of frozen squid would not my first choice for a theft and the supermarket assistant just smiled it off but what it will do is ensure we are checked quite a few times over the next few visits. We will have to make a number of quick visits to buy single items so we aren’t held up for long periods. Awkward!

Friday, 10th August, 2018

The morning started off beautifully when we got up at 6.00 am but, soon, clouded over and light rain fell intermittently and is forecast to throughout the day. Missing the warm sunshine already so we have turned our minds to going abroad. Amazingly, it is only 2 weeks since we returned from France. The papers this morning are full of torrential rain and flooded streets in France & Switzerland yesterday. Thank goodness we were driving back in that. We are paying for our Tenerife villa today. It is a 3 bedroomed property with its own heated pool on the south eastern coast of  Tenerife which we have rented for the month of November. The cost is quite reasonable compared to a hotel £3,500.00/€3,900.00 + flights which are very cheap.

The villa is within walking distance of the sea and shops, restaurants, etc. and it fulfils my three, main requirements of wifi, pool and English language tv. It has a large kitchen with dishwasher, washing machine and there is a barbecue outside on the patio. More importantly, its location will more or less guarantee us sun and warmth in November and that is worth paying for.

Busy itinerary today. Out to a garage door showroom in Lancing. I bet they don’t have any boils! On to the EE shop to, hopefully, collect our new smartphones and then back home to set them up by exchanging all our aps and information from old to new phones. Finally, we will go to the gym for the 11th day out of the last 12. Impressive or what? OK, what!

Saturday, 11th August, 2018

A second day of not going to the gym. Beginning to feel a bit stir crazy. We’ve been trying to catch up with jobs at home. I’ve been updating our new phones so that all the services we use them for regularly are restored. Although I tried to resist it, I’ve conceded that it would be best to use a case to protect our phones from accidental damage by fitting a case. I’ve found the ‘official’ one which allows one to access the it from the front screen. ‘Officially’, the cover cost £19.99. From Ebay, the cost is £3,85 postage ‘free’. I’ve ordered two.