Week 518

Sunday, 25th November, 2018

The top of our adopted street.

Another glorious Sunday. We have spent the day ;at home on this quiet, golfing development just metres from the sea. The sun has been particularly strong and the temperature reached 25C/77F with no breeze. We have done what we would do at our UK home – sitting on the patio discussing World events. In recent years, we have been amongst other hotel gusts and it is nice to be private and to enjoy the sun and the pool without compromise. This is definitely the way for us in the future.

The bottom of our adopted street.

We leave for Gatwick at the weekend and will do a quick dash to France a few days later to do some shopping before Christmas. I don’t know why I mention that because we couldn’t care less about Christmas other than many places seem to close up. Our discussions today have virtually crystallised our intention to drive down to Girona just over the French/Spanish border for the month of July with a couple of nights in Bordeaux en route. The whole trip will encompass at least five weeks with a couple of hotels plus one in Bordeaux either way.  September in Greece and November in the Canaries plus a couple of city breaks should get us through 2019.

Monday, 26th November, 2018

Our last week of this month away. The pool cleaner arrived late and so we had our first swim of the day late which meant we wouldn’t have time to go out walking and be back in time for Daily Politics (now Politics Live). We just lay out in the sunshine around the pool. We were doing fairly mundane things. Pauline had received our car insurance renewal demand. It was £50.00/€57.00 more than last year. Exactly as last year, she went to our current company’s website and applied as a new customer and saved £50.00/€57.00. It looks as if we will just cancel our existing contract and start a new one as we did last year.

Nick Herbert, MP – Arundel & South Downs

While we were watching Politics Live, we heard that Theresa May was addressing the House of Commons at 3.30 pm. We decided to clear our diaries and watch. In the whole of the Commons, she received support from three MPs and one was ours – Nick Herbert, MP for Arundel & South Downs. We will need to make sure he is toast at the next election. Our constituency was hugely Remain. The Commons is massively opposed to May’s deal but for opposing reasons. The only solution looks like General Election (Tory turkeys voting for Christmas) or a People’s Vote which would be difficult to square with the poor of the North and East. 

I still think this latter choice is the least worse choice which is why I’ve spent so much time canvassing for it. All will come clearer very soon. The worst that can happen is that we leave the EU to placate millions of dispossessed who had and, largely still have, any real idea of the consequences of their decision.

Tuesday, 27th November, 2018

San Blas

One of those typical, Canarian mornings that opened with sunrise behind a huge bank of ominous cloud. Breakfast, download of newspapers, prepare for first swim and the sky is blue, the sun is up. There is not a single cloud in sight. We started the first part of our 27th hour of swimming in 27 days. Completed second half this afternoon. Just three days and three hours left before return to Sussex.

After a swim and coffee, we set off on an hour long walk to a small settlement called San Blas on the coast of south eastern Tenerife. It is essentially residential with an emphasis on holiday rental accompanied by the services that the tourist demographic require.

It sounds ‘snooty’ but the emphasis is on English services for English people who cannot or are not prepared to interface with Spanish/Canarian society. Guinness Pubs, Aberdeen Steak Houses, etc. are the very stuff of Canarian’s supply to this Anglophile demand. The sign below is typical of the Canaries:

There is no effort to be made in San Blas. Just follow the signs and you can access England in the sun.

We walked back in time for Politics Live and the Brexit debate. Another swim in the sunshine and then relaxation. It is funny but, after an hour’s rest in the sun, I was feeling lazy and in need of exercise. I seem to have reset my body clock and may have to live on a permanent treadmill. Worth considering.

Wednesday, 28th November, 2018

A momentous day. Up early and sunshine from dawn to dusk. Early swim, long, 2hr walk followed by second swim. We have now done 28 hrs of swimming and 50 hrs of walking. The photo below was taken a few days ago from the top of our road. I can’t believe that is snow on top of the mountain but it might be.

After 2 x half hour swimming + 2hrs walking, we felt we could settle down to sunbathing and politics in equal measure. Not only did BofE analysis tell us that we will all be poorer under any scenario of Brexit other than Remain but, as I predicted almost two years ago, Labour have said that they expect it unlikely they will force a General Election and the likeliest resolution will be a People’s Vote. John McDonnell said he would vote Remain. Even though I have believed this since the referendum, there have been times of doubt. It is good to see my prediction confirmed.

We celebrated with sea bass en papillotte and roasted peppers with a chilled bottle of Rioja. We leave on Friday so we are having to eat down the fridge/freezer and drink the wine cellar. It’s a nightmare.

Thursday, 29th November, 2018

Another, glorious day for our last full one this month. We leave for the airport tomorrow morning and Gatwick tomorrow evening. Today was relaxing including another hour of swimming. We were really lazy and sat around the pool in the sunshine. We’ll quite miss this street. It is quiet, sunny and private.

On the street where we’ve lived.

I have written before that we don’t go ‘on holiday’ but just live somewhere else for a while. This is exactly what we’ve been doing here. We’ve really enjoyed ourselves and our destination but we will happily say farewell and move on. We do not have any emotional attachment to the place. It provided us with exactly what we wanted and that is it.

Tomorrow morning we will hail a cab to the airport and fly back to the West Sussex coast for Christmas. As residents of Erehwon, we will start to plan our next residence.

Friday, 30th November, 2018

It doesn’t matter how experienced we are at travelling or how blasé we become or how much we are enjoying the experience, Pauline & I always react in the same way. A couple of days before, we anticipate leaving and want to get on with it. The day of leaving, we are always ready far too early and itching to move. And so it was at the end of this month. This morning, having gone to bed around midnight, I was awake and raring to get going soon after 5.00am. Actually, we didn’t get up until just before 6.00 am, had a liquid breakfast, finished the packing, downloaded our newspapers and emails and went through the routines for leaving. Outside, everything suggested another, lovely day but, when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.

The bright, white speck of light at the top is the space station.

In this case, we are not in a hotel so we made sure all the furniture that we had placed to suit our routines were replaced into the owner’s choice. We cleaned the house although a team of cleaners would almost certainly blitz the villa as soon as we left. Suitcases outside, all doors and windows locked, final check of bags, documents, valuables, etc., and we were off. We took the first taxi which was waiting. Unfortunately, it was driven by a madman who had obviously got anger management problems and was determined to vent his spleen on anyone within 100ms of his car. What it did mean was that the journey to the airport was very quick and cheap – about €15.00 – and we still managed to live to tell the tale.

Sala Montana Roja

Airports are so much more user-friendly nowadays. I remember queuing for hours in what amounted to a cattle shed for tourists at the old, Athens airport. It was almost as if they weren’t interested in our comfort and pleasure. Of course, we were poor, young teachers then. Now, you can turn up and drop your bags any time you choose. We were in the airport 4hrs before flying. Having dropped off our bags, we went through passport control without being checked, went through security in literally 5 mins and then on to the only private lounge in the airport – Sala Montana Roja – which was amazingly quiet. Admittedly, it is not the greatest offering we have seen but it was comfortable, peaceful and provided refreshments. I picked up a bottle of white wine, a bowl of olives and some Iberico Ham and we whiled away about 3 hrs with our iPads.

Pollarded trees in Angmering Square dressed for Xmas.

I don’t know if I told you but I had bought Tui flights because they fitted our timings perfectly. They were actually much more expensive than Easyjet which also flies out of Gatwick or Ryanair which goes from the ungodly Stanstead. The planes, the service both in the airport and on the plane are absolutely excellent. Their punctuality pleased us and we’d happily book with them again. Landing at Gatwick around 7.00 pm, our bags were quickly off and we met our taxi driver. We chose not to chat much as he drove us home on a journey of about an hour We did learn that he had been a taxi driver all his life and, in his spare time, made fitments for dolls’ houses. We didn’t pursue that too much in case it went where we didn’t want to go. What he did do was drive us through our village square which was lit up for Christmas which was nice – or something.

Saturday, 1st December, 2018

We are moving towards that desperate time they call Christmas. Let’s hope we all get through it quickly and welcome in the New Year. Before the end of this year, the Blog will celebrate the start of its 11th year of existence which is an achievement in some way and Pauline and I will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary which is an achievement in some way and next April, we will celebrate 10 years of retirement which is an achievement in some way.

Anyway, don’t be put off by me. You enjoy the new month, the forthcoming celebrations and the welcoming of a new year with all the possibilities that it should bring. Have a lovely weekend. I’m off to Sainsburys.

Tesco Christmas Hangar

Spoke too soon. I’m off to Tesco because Pauline has squillions of pounds in vouchers to redeem by the end of this week. Tesco in West Durrington is like an aircraft hangar with food. Today is supposed to be the busiest shopping day before Christmas according to the BBC but you can’t trust them and their ‘fake’ vicars. Actually, as this hastily snatched photo shows, in spite of all the shoppers, it still looks fairly empty. We bought a turkey as we do every year. It’s not for Christmas day but to make stock for soup and to supplement the gravy on the big day. We bought lots of fish, a big chicken and two tons of vegetables and fruit plus all the ingredients for three Christmas cakes and two Christmas puddings (Don’t ask.).

The whole bill came to about £170.00/€192.00 but we actually paid about £140.00./€158.00 and we had about 15 vouchers giving us points towards our next £25.00/€28.00 off. Most of this largesse is because we’ve been away for a month and Tesco have begun to panic that we’ve left them for a rival. Their rivals are panicking for the same reason and also trying to entice us back. It is lovely to hold a strong hand for a while but they’ll soon all twig.

Week 517

Sunday, 18th November, 2018

A wonderful day started early with juice and tea and newspaper review on Sky News followed by interviews with Corbyn and May. It was followed by a fascinating Marr Show on which, Andrew Marr, a declared Brextremist, lost his cool in an interview with a member of the Labour ‘Shadow’ team. The BBC seem to be burning their boats and going for broke. Will there be any way back for them?

An hour long swim in the sunshine followed by an hour sunning ourselves on the patio. These are great times for family planning – by that I mean planning our family future. We always have ‘5-Year-Plans but, today, we allowed our minds to consider the next 10 – 15 years. Will we both still be here? Will it be just one of us? We have no children.  Do we want to have hundreds of thousands of pounds tied up in property? Should our aim be to use Equity Release, sell up and rent or sell up and downsize? We are going to mull over these options. There is no hurry of course.

The glory of the Canarians skies.

We did a second swim which brought our swimming time to 18 hrs since we arrived. We do (approx) 2 lengths per minute or 120 per hour so we have completed 2,160 lengths since we arrived. I have shoulders like tree trunks after all that. We should complete another 12 hours swimming or 1,440 before we leave which will make a grand total of 3,600 lengths. I must create a spreadsheet for this but not before showing the wonderful sky shining over the pool this evening.

Monday, 19th November, 2018

All together now – Aaagh.

A couple of days ago, I went over a ridge and twisted my knee, ankle and bruised my foot. My foot swelled up and was hot and fiery. My knee was just uncomfortable and throbbing. I tried to pretend to myself that I just needed to walk it off but I found I couldn’t get my shoe on and I couldn’t put weight on one side of my foot.  I could hobble out to the pool which allowed me to increase my swim time to (partially) compensate for lack of walking. I watched an Attenborough programme about penguins last night and suddenly realised what they reminded me of in their walking style although they didn’t seem to have bruised feet.

It doesn’t matter where I go, I always damage my feet. I was regularly doing it in Greece. Once, I cut my foot badly on the entrance to the shower of our cabin on the ferry to get across the Channel as we set off for 6 months. When I got to the house, I got up on the first morning, forgot where I was, walked into the table and broke my toe for at least the third time in my life. Pauline used to panic when I screamed in pain. Nowadays, she just rolls her eyes and gets out the First Aid kit.

There could be worse places of confinement.

Because of my stupidity, I have been less active than I need to be. Fortunately, I have been saved from going stir-crazy by having this lovely pool and by the turn of events in the British, political scene. I have been listening to BBC R4 via my iPad and watching BBC News/Sky News/ITN News/Parliament Channel, plus, joy of joys, I have access to lots of Greek/Italian/French/Spanish channels and their take on Brexit is fascinating.

Tuesday, 20th November, 2018

Wonderful, warm and sunny day. My foot was feeling better and we went for a walk after doing our first, 30 mins swim. After returning to our villa, my foot began to swell so we decided to stay around the pool. Actually, we both had too much sun today because our main activity was swimming. My smartphone told me that, when the temperature reached 24C/75F here, our home village was feeling 4C/39F.

Smartphone balanced on my knee.

Actually, in spite of the fantastic Wi-Fi, I find that I am using my phone round the pool rather than my iPad. The screen on an iPad is terrible in the sunshine. I can’t believe what is available to me while abroad these days. After spending hours of my life outside Greek, newsagents’ sheds waiting for a ferry to deliver day-old copies of The Times, nowadays, the internet brings everything to me instantly.

I remember Pauline despairing as I lay in scorching, hot sunshine on Greek beaches while reading the History of Trade Unionism (1894) by Sidney and Beatrice Webb and Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (1887) by Ferdinand Tönnies. Of course, I had to carry those huge tomes with me on holiday. Today, I had the great pleasure of watching the Governor of the Bank of England being interviewed by Nicky Morgan and the Treasury Select Commitee as it was streamed ‘live’ by The Independent on my smartphone balanced on my knee as I sat in the sunshine round the pool.

Wednesday, 21st November, 2018

This was the day I got back on track with my exercise. We completed our 21 hours of swimming over 21 days but also got back to a long walk. In fact, although my foot is still bruised and swollen, I managed to get my shoes on and we did a long walk. Not only did it

make me feel psychologically better but the swelling went down and didn’t fully return over the evening’s rest.

We are staying in a rented villa in the middle of a huge golf course that runs from the coastline right up towards the mountains. It seems to be popular with wealthy wrinklies who charge about on electric, golf buggies. What it is characterised by is manicured grass with beautifully managed backdrops. We went for a coastal path walk which is literally 200ms from our villa and within view of the Marina. The only hazard is from misfit golf balls.

Thursday, 22nd November, 2018

A lovely day of exercise and challenge. I managed to do an hour of swimming and two hours of walking. I felt quite tired at the end of it but it was a good, satisfied feeling.

Loooking in to the Future.

The pool cleaner arrived at 8.30 am and we swam as soon as he was gone. Around 10.00 am, we set off for an hour’s walk up to a large supermercado which has just reopened after refurbishment. The sun burned our backs as we walked up – and it is almost entirely an upward gradient from the coastal path where our villa is to Las Chafiras further into the island’s interior.

We bought two, large Pescado Lubina – Sea Bass – priced at €7.25/£6.42 per kilo and two  Pescado Dorado – Gilt Head Bream – priced the same as the Bass. It all came from a wonderfully stocked and beautifully presented fishmonger’s counter. The fish were expertly trimmed, de-scaled and gutted in quick order for this fantastic price. How can they do it so much cheaper than in the UK?

We filled our bags with wine, oranges and grapes, bell peppers as big as breeze blocks, tomatoes (the very stuff of life), herbs and olive oil. At the checkout, the girl called a taxi for us and it arrived by the time we were out of the doors. It took about 10 mins to drive the route it had taken us an hour or so to walk there.

Within a few minutes of unpacking our groceries, we were swimming our second half hour of the day in hot, blinding sun. We ended with smoked salmon, iberico ham, cheese and biscuits for our meal. Nice bottle of Tempranillo to ease it all down. And rest…

Friday, 23rd November, 2018


Gorgeous day. We have managed to do our hour’s swimming and two hour’s walking plus spend plenty of time relaxing around the pool in the sun. The temperature has reached just 24C/75F but, with an absence of breeze off the sea, has felt much warmer in our back garden.

It is weird but there are no seasons here. The lemon tree is covered in small, undeveloped fruit, large, developed and ripening fruit and flowers as well as buds all at the same time. Nothing gets time to rest and rebuild for the next season – because there isn’t one. We have a lovely, flowering

bush which has lit up the patio in constant flower since we arrived. I recognise it as the Marigold Bush or Tagetes. In the warm sunshine , it is constantly attended by small, hover bees.

We have the ubiquitous Palm Trees plus many, different cactus and assorted ‘Succulents’. We also have a number of plants I have never see before and can’t identify. This one is particularly interesting with its lilac/mauve flowers born out of delicious, orange/yellow cases. Set against the black, volcanic rock, it is delicate and beautiful in the sunshine.

Saturday, 24th November, 2018

A lovely, day which started and finished with a swim in our pool. We have now been here 24 days and completed 24 hrs of swimming plus 40 hrs of walking. Today, we did a 2 hr walk to a shop that sells boxes of Spanish nougat and marzipan sweets from Valencia which we can take home and give to our friends for Christmas presents.

We were absolutely shattered after all that exercise followed by an hour or so sunbathing. Sun really does take it out of one. I watched England thrash Australia in the rugby (on Sky) and then Spurs thrash Chelsea in the football (on BT Sport).  Pauline cooked a wonderful meal of chicken joints marinaded in oregano, garlic, lemon and olive oil and accompanied by roasted vegetables – bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and florets of cauliflower. It was lubricated by a delightful bottle of red wine from the local, corner shop and costing €3.50/£3.10.  Bodegas de Abalos proved to be a delightfully fruity accompliment.

Week 516

Sunday, 11th November, 2018

It was 49 years ago last month that I left home. It was a comfortable, middle class home in a small and comfortable, East Midlands village. Repton felt claustrophobic, narrow and suffocating and I was delighted to escape although I was naive, very innocent and unprepared for the real, often cold world I found myself in. Soon, a sense of being out of my depth in an alien environment felt appropriate and right. I wasn’t trying to recreate the cosy, family life I had left and I seldom returned to over the next 40 years or so.

The old men of Ripon.

I wanted to go to Newcastle University to read English Lit. but I couldn’t bring myself to work hard enough at my Grammar School where A Level preparation definitely didn’t suit my learning style. I was good at and hard working in Rugby and Contract Bridge. Instead, I went to Ripon College in North Yorkshire to train as a teacher which is what I had considered from early, teenage years. Although I harboured a real sense of failure over those three years, I loved being there. The work was undemanding – easy, actually – and it gave me the space I hadn’t had at home to learn what sort of person I was going to be rather than what my Mother wanted me to be.

I learnt how to get on with people and, particularly, girls who I knew virtually nothing about having attended an all-boys school. I failed spectacularly many times but learned how to cope with failure. I had some real successes and understood the joy my talents could bring me. I grew up. While teaching full time, I had completed an English Lit. B.A. through the Open University and went on to complete a M.A. History of Ideas research degree at Huddersfield University soon after. I’ve always done things the hard way as my Primary School teacher told me when I was 7 years old.

The youth of 1969 – 72.

It was when I got married in 1978 that I last saw friends from college. I don’t know why but I’ve always just moved on with my life and not had much inclination to go back. Just as I rarely went back to my family home, so I’ve just been back for a few minutes to show my wife where I was at college. That college was an all female, Church of England training college. I was a male, (nominally) Roman Catholic. It was a time when English and Maths teachers were in desperately short supply and the college were instructed to grab men off the streets. I was one of just 20 men within a college of 650 young women. It was a culture shock but not one I rejected.

Each year, some of the men meet in Ripon to remember their experiences. It is always on the second Saturday of November. I am usually abroad as I am now. These photos were taken last Saturday at the event in Leeds. I am rather shocked at the effects of the aging process. It is 45 years since I last saw them but I think I’m the only one who hasn’t aged.

Monday, 12th November, 2018


After another hour’s swim, we did a long walk around the area. We walked over a lot of manholes which Pauline is very wary of. In Athens once and in torrential rain we were walking along the pavement when Pauline suddenly disappeared down a submerged manhole where the cover had been dislodged by the force of water. It could have been the last time I saw her. She could have been badly injured. I managed to react to her shriek and haul her out of a hole. Since then, she has always skipped over manholes. I, on the other hand have caught Jeremy Corbyn disease. You may know that he collects (photographs of) manhole covers. I feature the most common one on the pavements around here. It caught my eye because it mentions BT.

Looking it up, I found that BT were intimately involved in Telephony/Broadband infrastructure for a number of years in the Canary Islands. In our rented villa, the broadband speed is excellent. So many of the villas have huge satellite dishes which are now redundant because UK TV is available over the internet. Here, we have Freeview + Sky Sports + BT Sports all over broadband plus super fast wi-fi. Everything comes through a supplier called Movistar.

Internet and English language TV were stipulations of mine in booking this villa for a month but the quality of both is absolutely excellent. I am able to transport my life seamlessly to this location and continue as if nothing has happened apart from an improvement in weather. Another stipulation was a private pool and this has proved a massive success. Although we paid extra for the pool to be heated, it has allowed us to transport our Health Club routine without a hitch. Over the weekend, we had an electrician arrive to replace a light and today saw the arrival of the pool cleaner/maintenance man and the gardener. We are certainly getting our money’s worth.

Tuesday, 13th November, 2018

Another delightful day. I can hardly believe that we have so many satisfying experiences. Maybe it is just frame of mind. We hardly complete a day without being really satisfied and fulfilled. Up at 7.00 am to lovely, warm sunshine. Juice & tea and then outside for a 30 mins swim. Coffee in the sunshine and reading.

HiperDino Express Golf Supermarket

I prepared roast tomatoes with garlic, onion and oregano. This will accompany roast haddock loins for our afternoon meal. Watched the Daily Politics before setting off on a long, coastal walk round the Marina to a supermercado we had found the other day. Hyper Dino Express Golf was neither Hyper, Express nor Golf but who knows if it was Dino. We needed cherry tomatoes and grapes and celery. It took just under an hour to walk there and the same back. When we got ‘home’, we had a cup of tea and then did our second 30 mins swim. We will not rest!

As the afternoon came to an end, clouds rolled in and threatened rain. At 9.00 pm, it is still 22C/70F but who knows what will happen over night.

Wednesday, 14th November, 2018

A lovely day of sunshine, swimming and walking punctuated by engrossing bouts of political reportage. We are pushing ourselves and our muscles are beginning to push back. As we did our morning walk, which followed 30 mins swimming, my calves were tight and painful. We had to really fight on through it.  We returned in time to watch PMQs and eat tomato and humous salad and then we were out again for a second walk before returning to do a second 30 mins swim. After all that, we really feel we are due a restful evening. Unfortunately, there is not much on TV so we catch up on correspondence – in this case, emails.

Before that, Pauline had pre-prepared a cold meal of salmon with pesto topping accompanied by cauliflower salad dressed with olive oil and lemon. Absolutely delicious. With it we drank a bottle of chilled Rioja BlancoBodega de Abalos – which I know absolutely nothing about other than it costs a staggering price of €3.50/£3.05 for a delightfully light and citrus-edged white wine. All my life, I have drunk and acquired a knowledge-base of mainly red, French and Italian wines. In the early days, I flirted with Greek but not for long. It is really good fun to buy wine and feel out of my comfort zone. There are so many lovely surprises.

Thursday, 15th November, 2018

Up at 7.00 am and swimming by 7.30 am. The pool man was due by 8.30 am and we were going out by 9.00 am.. It was a lovely, warm and sunny morning. We set off for an hour long walk to an area called Chafiras where there is a major and well stocked supermarket. It is not a HiperDino but a MegaDino and it has a wonderful, fresh fish counter plus a large, wine stock.

We bought half a kilo of swordfish (Espada) which cost us €6.05/£5.30, two, huge sea bass (Lubina) weighing one kilo between them and costing €6.03/£5.28, plus two, large white fish fillets of a deep water fish related to the Hake species and called Brótola which cost €6.75/£5.92. We also bought 6 bottles of wine – to get us through the evening – two, huge papayas, four packs of tomatoes and a few, household items and the whole bill came to a total of €64.00/£56.10. Quite unbelievable. The cashier even called a taxi for us to take our shopping home.

Of course, by the time we got home, all hell was let loose in the Commons. Rubbish Raab had resigned earlier, Greasy Gove had been offered but not accepted Raab’s post. May was fighting, largely unsupported by those behind her.Her case seems unwinnable  and a People’s Vote much closer. I suspect it is likely to be run in May next year as Brexit is ‘frozen in time’ by the EU. It is not a foregone conclusion but I respect Remain will win.

All this for €18.83/£16.50!

What really amuses me is the reaction of our fishing industry in UK. They voted overwhelmingly to Leave the EU. They did so because they believed that the Common Fisheries Policy allowed ‘foreign’ fishermen to take a lot of the fish stock from their, home waters. Take Back Control was the mantra but they forgot one thing. Taking back control for themselves meant ceding back controls to the other, European nations. Where do our fishermen sell 80% of their stock – to France & Spain and, of course, their response will be to apply tariffs thus making ‘our’ fish less attractive and border controls will slow down the shipping process which puts a perishable commodity like fish at real risk. This was the stupidity of a binary brexit vote. Even the people deeply involved in the industry are shocked to discover the ramifications of their decision.

Friday, 16th November, 2018

I started the day at 6.00 am like it ended yesterday at midnight – glued to the news. The British government doesn’t implode every day of the week so current developments are fascinating. Greasy Gove is playing it true to his name and hasn’t resigned …. yet. He’s still hoping to get the top job although he would be a nightmare. It was 11.00 am before we surfaced from the TV room and did our first swim of the day.

I have to be honest with you, we didn’t walk today for the first time in over two weeks. We moved just metres between the TV, the pool, the sun beds and the dining table. Actually, we both agreed that it made a lovely change although I did feel guilty all day. Even so, sun is a wonderful, life-affirming commodity and we certainly soaked it in today. Our villa and its pool are south facing and receive sunshine all day long. We did two half hour swims and spent most of the rest lounging on the sun beds. We didn’t waste our time completely. We planned out the Christmas meal and started to work on our travel for 2019. So exhausting!

Saturday, 17th November, 2018

A pool on a pool.

Up just after 7.00 am and looked out on the patio/pool to find hints that it may have rained a little last night. Cutting up and squeezing oranges, making tea, slicing papaya and banana – all the daily breakfast routines – laughed about how well the Canarians organised their weather. Never falls much below 20C/68F or much above 26C/79F and just rains occasionally, lightly and at night.

One of my signature dishes.

Drinking our breakfast and downloading copies of The Times digital edition, our attention is suddenly drawn to a roar outside. It soon becomes obvious, we are being deluged by a ‘tropical’ storm. We are relatively new to the Canaries having visited 30 years ago for a week and done 4 months in the past 3 years. Certainly, we have never seen rain like this. We actually have a pool on our pool cover. It is really good fun. If we’d come for a tourist week of sunshine, we would be very upset but having come for a month of living in a different location, this is just great fun.It rained heavily, on and off all morning.

I am writing at 2.00 pm and the sun is out as if nothing had happened. We are going out to do double swimming before our meal which will be roast hake and (my) roasted vine tomatoes with olive oil, garlic, diced onion and oregano. This will be well worth doing a 60 mins swim to earn. After our meal, there is a rugby match to watch. Pauline’s got ‘Come Dancing’ on her agenda and, while she’s otherwise engaged, I am writing to my MP again to demand he supports a People’s Vote. The support for Remain around West Sussex in general and our village in particular is palpable.

Week 515

Sunday, 4th November, 2018

A warm, humid but cloudier day. We were up at 6.50 am for orange juice and tea. Next was a half hour swim and then coffee. Watched barrow-boy Banks on Marr and then out for a walk. We are staying in a very quiet, underdeveloped area around a golf course. Our villa is very much of a type which middle class Brits built/bought a few years ago and now let out to produce income. Our villa has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a large kitchen/diner/lounge/tv room adjacent to a covered patio dining area and a 12m pool. The surrounding streets are lined with such properties.

All around are gardens planted with succulents, yucatan palms, yucca plants, etc. and infilled with macerated volcanic rock. Many have echoes of ‘Old England’ as ex-pats cling to their memories of their homeland. Bistro gravy granules, Auntie Bessie’s Yorkshire Puddings and Oak-leaf tinned pressed ham are popular here along with copies of The Sun. The Canaries are not renowned for culture. We only go for the weather.

Monday, 5th November, 2018

Starting my swim around the Canary Islands

Up early this morning just before 7.00 am. Lucky we were because, as we drank our orange juice and tea, a figure appeared outside on our patio. We had left the gate locked but, as he took out his cleaning equipment and went to the pool, he announced that he would come every Monday and Thursday at the same time because he was the pool cleaner. Fortunately, I had my shorts on or he may never have come back again.

The cleaner stayed about 30 mins and then left as quietly as he’d arrived. We had our first swim of the day. I find it is great ‘thinking’ time. Today, I was reflecting on my recent achievement in swimming round the British coastline. I went on to congratulate myself for taking on the total coast lines of the Canary Islands in my spare time. Crowds cheered me on in my personal battle with the waves, jellyfish and things.

Everyone can dream!

In spite of appalling conditions, I battled on and finally reached …. the other end of the pool. By this evening, we have completed 4 hrs of swimming and 8 hrs of walking in our first 4 days. We have celebrated with roast trout  accompanied by cauliflower salad and tomato salad. It was all supported with a bottle of Los Mollinos (Tempranillo) which cost a death defying €3.50/£3.00 from our local, corner store.

I slept like a log last night and I can feel the same coming on this evening. We are exhausted! Don’t think this is a holiday. It is warm ‘Boot Camp’ with knobs on. Having said that, we did pledge to ourselves to fulfil certain commitments and you can be sure we will do it. We never give in.

Tomorrow, we will start with a swim followed by an hour’s walk to another town up the nearby mountain where we will shop and then take a taxi back because we will be laden with bags. When will it end?

Tuesday, 6th November, 2018

Lots of fruit on a scruffy Lemon Tree

When we got up at 7.00 am, there were signs that it had rained lightly in the night. It was quite a shock for us and, probably, for the plants around the garden. They are, of course, mainly plants that are happy in arid conditions.

The roadsides are decorated with Oleanders and Bougainvilleas that we know well from our Greek garden but the gardens here are decorated with Agaves, Cactus, Palm, etc.. Here we have a scruffy Lemon Tree which is covered in fruit, a Mediterranean Rhododendron known as Carex Paniculata and lots of Cactus and Palms.

All the garden beds are mulched with black, volcanic rock reduced to pebble-sized nuggets. It sets the planting off beautifully and seems wholly appropriate to the location. We are in a golf course location and the coarse grass is maintained with frequent use of automatic sprinkler irrigation but gardens seem to cope without water other than a very infrequent rainfall.

Wednesday, 7th November, 2018

Nice feet … shame about ….

I am writing this on Thursday morning because I couldn’t walk on Wednesday evening and thought I was going to die until I watched United win in Europe in Fergie Time. Even then, I was so tired that I dragged myself the 5 mtrs to bed and slept for about 7 hours which is unheard of.

The morning started with juice, tea and a 30 mins swim. I then took a photo of a beautiful, red dragon fly that settled on our pool cover which turned out to be my feet. They are beautiful feet but the sunshine made seeing my phone screen so hard that I missed the dragon fly completely.

We paid €200.00/£174.00 to have the pool heated for 4 weeks. It really makes getting in so much easier. The pool is also cleaned twice a week. It is suggested that the pool is kept covered when not in use so we don’t lose the value of the heating and the water is kept clean of leaves and insects. We swim 30 mins in the morning and 30 mins in the afternoon. Each time we get out, we pull the cover back over. It is a deep pool with 7ft at one end and 5 ft atthe other. Clearly, the owners like diving in. It is 12.5 mtrs long which provides a good swimming length and gets sun all day long. There is a sizeable patio with four sun beds and a covered verandah with a dining table and six chairs.

Hard Walking!

After our morning swim and some newspaper reading in the sun, we decided to go for a walk acros the moon. Well, much of the landscape here is lunar. We were heading somewhere I’ve never heard of from somewhere I’ve barely heard of and there were two ways to get there. The first was walking along side a fast, main road for about 9.5 kms.. The second was going across country on a footpath across unreconstructed, volcanic terrain.

I was not about to embark upon 9.5 kms. so the lunar landscape it was. It was amazing how hard and unforgiving volcanic rock can be to walk on. By the time we got home – some two hours on – my feet and ankles were feeling real pain and, as the evening wore on, I found that I could hardly stand and walk. I went to bed rather worried that I may be laid up for a few days. Actually, my legs were sore but a few hours sleep saw them recover almost totally.

Thursday, 8th November, 2018

A glorious day from start to end. Hot and sunny with not a cloud to be seen. We were up at 7.00 am and the pool cleaner arrived at 8.00 am. By 9,00 am, we were doing our first, 30 mins swim. We also walked through the golf course area for an hour and a half up to a large supermarket. We took a taxi home.

Some actually come to play golf!

We have now been here a complete week and, in those 7 days, we have done 7 hrs swimming and 14 hrs walking. This is exactly what we planned when we booked this place. Having spent 4 months in all-inclusive, 5* hotels over the past three years,  we believed that we could best maintain our lifestyle by renting and doing it ourselves. We love the fact that we can swim unhindered whenever we choose and cook and eat what we want when we want. It suits us well.

Friday, 9th November, 2018

A lovely, warm and sunny day. Swimming, walking, dreaming in the sunshine. What else is there? After our first swim, we set off for a coastal walk towards a fishing village called Los Abrigos. I must admit that the black, volcanic deposit doesn’t shout ‘beach’ to me but the Spanish are so good about paving coastal walks and supportive of the proliferation of personal swimming pools that the beaches are largely irrelevant.

Our walk provided us with today’s 2hr session and we were certainly ready for a sit in the sun when we got back. Actually, our relaxation in privacy was abruptly interrupted by the arrival of Anna, our Management’s agent who was checking we were happy with the property. She was Spanish but had lived in the south of England for 10 years and spoke excellent English.

When she’d gone, we did our second swim of the day and the cooked swordfish steaks to eat with tomato salad and cauliflower salad accompanied by a delightfully dry but wonderfully flavoured white wine which I’d never tried before and which cost €3.50/£3.06. You really can’t ask more than that .. of wine or life. We feel so lucky and yet every time I say that, my tough little wife says, Well, we’ve earned it! Personally, I still feel unworthy.

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

A wonderful day. Up early for juice, tea and a swim. As we finished our swim, a call came from the front gate. It was an electrician ,,,, from Wigan. Actually, he had not come directly from there but had left his home town 25 years ago and works as a handyman here on southern Tenerife. He was here to fix a faulty bathroom light which he managed in no time and was on his way to a tiling job down the road. He said he hasn’t been back to Wigan for years. Why would you?

We are completing our 10th full day here. Just another 20 left. So far, we have met our targets of 2 hrs walking and 1 hr swimming per day. It feels very satisfying although we did break one of our less strictly observed rules and eat red meat today. Pauline cooked slow-roasted, pulled pork with roasted onions, peppers and mushrooms. It was absolutely delightful. Of course, we didn’t even begin to eat it before we had achieved our other targets. At 4.00 pm, I still had 2500 paces and 30 mins swimming left to do.

A view to cheer when England’s wet.

I had watched Cardif beat Brighton followed by a very good England rugby match and I was still waiting for Crystal Palace v Spurs in the torrential rain to take place. We ser off down the road and walked the coastal path just far enough to achieve the target. Back for our second swim of the day and the pork was ready. What a lovely meal. It’s great when you haven’t eaten meat for a while.

A lovely day is closing with Pauline watching Strictly Come Dancing and, maybe, we’ll watch a soppy film on Film 4 before review of the newspapers on Sky and bed at midnight. It is a real bonus that the Canaries follow our time zone.