Sunday, 28th October, 2018
A beautiful day in West Sussex and a lovely evening on Sifnos in the Greek Cyclades. Here it is a relaxing weekend. There it is Oxi Day. This is the day of ‘No!’ for the Greeks.
At 3 a.m. on the morning of October 28th, 1940, Emanuele Grazzi, the Italian ambassador to Greece, delivered an ultimatum from Benito Mussolini to Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas. Il Duce demanded that Metaxas allow the Italian army free passage to enter and occupy strategic sites in Greece unopposed. Faced with this demand, Metaxas delivered an unequivocal response in French, the diplomatic language of the day, Alors, c’est la guerre. This brief phrase, Then, it is war, was quickly transmuted into the laconic Oxi, the Greek for No, by the citizens of Athens.
At 5:30 a.m., before the ultimatum had even expired, the Italian army poured over the Greek-Albanian border into the mountainous Pindos region of Northern Greece. There they met fierce and unexpected resistance. Within six months, Ioannis Metaxas would be dead; his successor, Alexandros Koryzis would commit suicide; Mussolini would be humiliated; and the Germans would raise the swastika over the Acropolis.
Despite Greece’s ultimate fall to Axis powers, Metaxas’ response resulted in a fatal diversion and delay for the Axis powers in general and the German army specifically. The Battle of Greece was decisive in determining the future course of the Second World War. Today and right across Greece, people celebrate by marching – military, religious and civil groups raise banners and walk before crowds of their neighbours to remember the strength of moral purpose displayed by their forebears in the face of Mussolini and Hitler.
Monday, 29th October, 2018
Up early on a chilly but beautiful morning. Checked my phone which said it was just 3C/37F outside. Went out to test it but the back garden was warm and sunny. My app said that south west Tenerife was 22C/70F at that time and would reach 27C/81F at peak of the day. It also doesn’t fall below 21C/69F at night time. A month of that will do.
This morning, we were up at 6.30 am because we had booked our ‘snagger’ to arrive at 8.00 am. He’d done his job and was gone before 9.00 am and we were on our way to sunny Worthing – and it really was sunny. Pauline had a hair appointment. I had a meeting with Starbucks Coffee. The girl who served me was Polish. She told me that she was 34 and had lived in UK for 16 years. When I asked her about Brexit and how it had affected her, she told me that her parents-in-law had voted ‘Leave’ and that it had caused serious disruption in relationships but both now regretted their vote and hoped to change it. She, herself, had received far more personal abuse since the vote.
Back home, we confirmed our taxi for the airport, finalised our packing list, printed out research papers for the area we are travelling to and had a bowl of home made tomato soup prior to setting off for the gym. We both felt so much better after a couple of hours of exercise and enjoyed our meal of roast duck breast plus tomato salad and cauliflower salad.
Tonight will be relaxing. We will do one more exercise regime tomorrow before setting off for the sunshine. looking forward to it.
Tuesday, 30th October, 2018
Up early on a much warmer morning – 11C/52F – although not quite as sunny. Having had her hair cut yesterday, my darling wife is having a facial this morning at a ‘Beauty Parlour’ in Rustington. Once again, I am sitting in a coffee shop with my iPad. This time, I am in Waitrose café and the coffee is absolutely wonderful. The only problem with these places at this time of the day is that they’re so full of old people. They are shuffling along in slipper type shoes with sticks or trollies to lean on. They sit and complain about the weather – what ever it is – being too hot or too cold, too sunny or too rainy.
I’m constantly trying to guess their age. I am trying to compare them with myself. Do I look and act like them? I don’t think so but maybe I do. I think all old people should have to wear age badges in a prominent position so we can measure ourselves against each other. Have you noticed how a lot of men, as they get older, walk around with their mouth open? Pauline keeps telling me I do that. It looks inane! I’ve been trying to catch myself doing it by checking in shop windows and house mirrors and keep giving myself a good talking to about it. Unfortunately, the action is involuntary and happens when one least expects it.
When she comes out to meet me, Pauline is glowing with health and ‘new’ skin. Close your mouth, she says. We drive home for a bowl of home-made tomato soup and then off to the gym for our last session until December. In the past 12 months, I have averaged more than 10,500 paces every single day and covered almost 2,000 miles. Really enjoyed today’s session and we drove home to a meal of scallops and large, shell-on prawns in garlic oil and served with a tomato salad and a broad bean salad. This could almost be my favourite meal. We spend the rest of the day putting the house to bed for a month and speaking to our neighbours to keep them up to speed. This is our last night in our bed until December.
Wednesday, 31st October, 2018
Last day of October 2018. Enjoy it. You’ll never see it again….unless dementia gets you. In which case, every day could become 31/10/18. It is a lovely, sunny day outside and warm-ish at 11C/52F although it looks as if we’ve had a bit of rain over night.
It doesn’t matter where I go, how I go or when I go, I always get a little manic just before travelling. I am determined that everything is planned and executed to within an inch of its life. I will not forget anything and then have regrets especially when we are away for a month. This morning is just such a time as the deadline approaches. Just a space for PMQs at mid day and then a taxi (£53.50/€61.00) will appear to take us to Sofitel Hotel, Gatwick Airport.
We fly at 9.00 am tomorrow so this makes life easier and more relaxed. The hotel (£150.00/€169.00) is just a covered walkway away from our Departure Terminal. We’ve ‘checked-in’ on-line and we can drop our bags this afternoon so tomorrow morning will be even more comfortable. What can go wrong? Ah!!!
Thursday, 1st November, 2018
Fantastic start to the new month. I woke Pauline at 4.30 pm and said, White Rabbit. She said, Close your mouth. And then went back to sleep. We were up at 5.00 am and in the airport at 5.30 am. Having dropped our bags off the night before, we went straight through to airside and Airport Lounge No1. It was too early really but we knew we wouldn’t eat until the end of the day so we forced down good quality scrambled eggs and really good bacon. We washed it down with lashings of fresh orange juice. High speed internet and digital newspapers for a while.
At 8.00 am, we were going down to gate and onboard by 8.30 am. We have extra legroom and the seats feel great. The captain announces that the flight will only be 3hrs 40 mins which is nearly an hour less than we had been told. We took off at 9.15 am and landed at 1.00 pm after an event less journey. I slept through most of it. Tenerife South was reasonably quiet and our bags came up fairly quickly and together. We walked out into the warmth – 26F/79F – to look for the taxi rank. Our taxi took 15 mins and cost us €16.00/£14.00. He was the normal ‘insane’ taxi driver’ and we felt that he was late for his mother’s deathbed but we eventually arrived in one piece.
We juggled with a large bunch of keys which fell out of the coded key box and then, gradually, got into our villa. As described, it has a large, heated pool outside with all day long sun on the patio. Inside, there is a large kitchen/diner and television room with Freeview channels. There are three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Having dumped our bags, we did the five minute walk to the local ‘supermercado’ and sourced our meal – cheese, biscuits, pickle and some bottles of wine. We followed this with yoghurt.
By 7.00 pm, I only needed 1800 paces to complete my target for the day so we are going to do a short walk of the neighbourhood before settling down to coffee outside round the pool. With UK TV, we can watch Newsnight and the New paper Review before bed. Tomorrow, we have to decide whether to rent a car for the month or take taxis when required. That will be breakfast time discussions. For now, the temperature is 22C/70F here, 9C/48F in West Sussex and 5C/41F in Bolton. Oh to be in Bolton.
Friday, 2nd November, 2018
The night temperature didn’t drop below 22C/70F and the morning broke to a lovely, sunny day. We slept very well for our first night in a strange bed and were up just before 7.00 am. No oranges yet so it was tea and coffee outside around the pool while we downloaded and read our newspapers whilst listening to Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme. By 7.30 am, I was doing my first half hour swim. The water is deliciously warm. We paid €50.00/£44.00 per week to have the pool heated just to take the chill off the water that can appear over night at this time of year. Actually, the diurnal range is incredibly narrow here throughout the year. Today it spanned 22C-26C/70F-79F.
By 9.00 am, we were in full ‘Hunter gather’ mode and out in search of reasonably stocked supermarkets. We decided before we came that we would be reluctant to hire a car and would rely on walking as much as possible. We had researched and identified an area that looked a potential source of groceries. It included a supermarket intriguingly branded Iceland. We set off for what turned out to be an hour long walk and found the supermarket was indeed Iceland and it was well stocked. Amusingly, it also carried many Waitrose-branded lines which we recognised.
We rapidly filled a trolley with lots of fish – salmon, cod and hake fillets, large and small prawns. We bought cheese, pesto, cornichons, houmus, yoghurt, etc. Nearby, we had already identified a fruit and vegetable wholesaler who had a small outlet for private customers. We were able to purchase about 3kgs of large and cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, sweet, juicy grapes and huge papaya for Pauline’s breakfast. We also needed washing powder and other cleaning items, kitchen towels, etc.
By this stage, we had 8 bulging bags and there was no way we could walk home with that. The lady on the supermarket till called a taxi for us and two minutes later we were packed into it with all our shopping in the boot. The young taxi driver drove like his life was coming to an immediate end and we were down the hill at our gate before we had finished breathing. We paid him €10.00/ £8.80 and collected our shopping which had been spread right across his boot. It was worth it though.
Saturday, 3rd November, 2018
Wonderful day although we are absolutely exhausted this evening (19.30). 22C/70F at 7.00 am and 26C/79F at peak. We have been here two, full days and swum for two, complete hours and walked for four hours. We said that we would use this relocation month to up our fitness levels and we have hit the floor walking/swimming. I am having orange juice and tea for breakfast and then doing 30 mins swimming. Coffee and then out for some shopping because everything is closed tomorrow.
Light lunch of tomatoes and humous and the out for a walk to the Marina San Miguel. It means walking round the Amarilla golf course along volcanic, cinder paths to the huge marina. The walk took about an hour and the return felt quicker but was very similar. Why does that so often happen?
Before we went out for our walk, I watched Man.Utd. steal a win over Bournemouth on BT Sport. When we booked this villa, I stipulated some English language television. I was told we would have Freeview channels and I was happy with that. When we arrived, we found we had all of that plus Sky Sports and BT Sports channels. My cup runneth over! The broadband/wifi is fantastic and the TV is supplied by the internet feed as well. Many villas around here are clogged up with huge satellite dishes. Ours has simply upgraded to digital reception. It is clearly the way to go as Sky customers in UK are about to discover with the Q Box.