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!

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