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.

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