Week 533

Sunday, 10th March, 2019

A windy night which left us repositioning the garden furniture this morning. Mild and bright but windy. May not swim today but just do our gym work. Big football match this afternoon.

The big Brexit week to come has been prefaced by a number of pieces of news about Greece.

The first and not immediately Brexit-related came concerning American tourists who form a large part of tourism to Greece. Travelling to Europe will become more complicated for Americans beginning in 2021. The European Union announced Americans will need to obtain a visa known as a European Travel Information and Authorization System, or ETIAS, to travel to 26 nations starting in 2021. Among the nations included are France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

The second is for British Expats in Greece. The Head of Greek Customs has made an announcement confirming that, in the case of no-deal, all imports and exports from and to the UK, including 7,000 products imported daily from e-shops, will be subject to the customs checks associated with third country nations. Tariffs will also be imposed. This includes parcels through ELTA and Courier services. Greek businesses will need an EORI number to make declarations.

The third is for tourists. 4,200,000 UK tourists a year will be subject to irritating baggage checks and will be unable to carry more than 10,000 euros cash with them. He says that a no-deal Brexit would cause huge problems. It certainly will if the combined changes persuade the lucrative tourist market to look elsewhere.

Monday, 11th March, 2019

The winds have dropped, temporarily, but they are forecast to be back in the early hours and for the first half of tomorrow. Today is an absolutely lovely day with blue sky and sunshine.

Lovely sunshine on Sifnos yesterday for their annual carnival with the ‘folk’ pageant in Artemonas village. Plenty of people doing ‘silly’ things for the enjoyment of the crowds. Today is a  Bank Holiday for Καθαρά Δευτέρα or ‘Clean Monday’ – the start of Lent. Fasting starts today and traditionally no meat, fish, eggs, dairy products or oil are allowed to be eaten for the 48 days leading up to Easter. And, if you believe that, you’ll believe anything. It’s certainly all Greek to me!

Tuesday, 12th March, 2019

Strong winds this morning. The bins are rattling around. The natural world is in turmoil. We went to bed last night in mental turmoil as we listened to news that May & Cox had returned from Strasbourg with a ‘Deal’ which would ‘get Brexit across the line’ as common parlance would have it. How would the DUP and the ERG groups view it? This was the crucial thing. By midnight, the tiredness of the day had snuffed out the cares of the evening and brought the soothing sleep of night.

At 5.55 am the radio awakes us and the news tells us that the legal text will be available by mid morning but that they have secured ‘legally binding changes’ to the Backstop. That is the worst nightmare. It could bring the hard-line Leavers on board. Depression over orange juice at 7.00 am. By 9.00 am it is announced that the legal text has been released and it says in cold, factual text that the legal position has not changed at all since the last, huge rejection.

Attorney General, aka Rumpole of the Bailey, admits nothing has changed.

As we set off on our trip to the Health Club, Attorney General, codpiece-Cox explains the lack of change to the House of Commons. Working out on the jogger and the exercise bike while watching the proceedings makes the time wizz past. The Tory Benches are full for the Attorney General but sparse when the Prime minister gets up to speak. It soon becomes obvious that she hasn’t got support of her own side never mind the Labour Party. The question is can she squeeze her vote out? Nervous wait until it is announced that the DUP and ERG will not support the deal. Joy but nervous.


The Commons troops through the Lobbies at 7.00 pm and we hear that the Deal will fall. The ‘No’ lobby, we hear, is absolutely packed. The announcement and time to pop the corks as Brexit deal defeated by a huge 149 votes. The next two days will see votes to take ‘No Deal’ off the table and then, on Thursday to vote for an extension to Article 50 which will help facilitate another vote. This is the playing out of the scenario we have been envisaging since A50 was so perceptively triggered without any plan. Brexit is in the Terminal Ward.

Wednesday, 13th March, 2019

After the elation of last night, we were brought back down to earth this morning with the arrival of the post. Our Council Tax demand for the next year came through the door.

Actually, although the increase of 5.6% appears high in percentage terms and certainly high set against the current UK inflation rate of 2.1%, in reality it is not so high financially. Actually, although we’re starting our 4th year here, I couldn’t remember our Banding. When I looked up what Band F valuation was, I found our valuation in 1991 would have been £160,000.00/€187,000.00. If only we had bought it then. Of course, the lunacy of this system is that our house wasn’t built until 25 years after that indicative valuation.

Thursday, 14th March, 2019

A wild and windy morning that was extraordinarily mild – reading 15C/60F. We did our weekly shop at Asda and Tesco before setting off for the Health Club and our 7th consecutive session. Swimming was wonderful but the breeze across our backs was a little chilly as it whipped up spray and dashed it, even colder, down into our faces. We always follow 70 mins in the gym with 30 mins swimming outside and with 10 mins in the sauna. I follow that with 20 mins in the jacuzzi and water massage pool. By the time we leave, we have been there over 2 hours. By the end of all that and a shower, I feel fit, relaxed, excessively clean and fresh and ready for my meal.

My school 10 years ago.

Walked just short of 50 miles this week and 160 in the past month. In the past year, I’ve covered 1900 miles. I am quite pleased with that. In just over 3 weeks, I will be 68 years old and it will be almost exactly 10 years since I retired. On the exact anniversary of that day, I will stand outside my school and take a photo which will be placed in contradistinction to the scene pictured above. You may be surprised to see the difference on April 3rd. Everything changes, I know but I do get flash backs. I don’t long to go back ever. I am very happy with the present and look forward to the future but I do think one’s history informs future stages and keeping things in context is important.

Friday, 15th March, 2019

Almost three years ago, we were moving in to our new home without furniture. We had ordered a dining table and chairs from a shop in Oldham/Manchester but it hadn’t fully arrived. We needed somewhere to sit and eat so we rapidly bought a six-seater garden table and chairs from Argos and put it in the kitchen while we waited.

Chairs arrived without dining table – April 2016

The garden furniture set cost about £300.00/€352.00 and we’ve had it three years. A cost of £100.00/€117,30 per year seems excessive but we needed more comfortable seating outside and so the old has to go. It was only ever a stop-gap. Today, we cleaned it up and stacked it on the drive – 6 x chairs + 1 x glass topped table + umbrella, pole and weight-anchor. It was collected by the local hospice charity, St Barnabas House which we used when we first arrived to donate about £3000.00/€3520.00 worth of artwork.

We went to the Health Club late because of the Hospice Pick-up. We had also been to collect another tranche of Euros bought at £1.00 = €1.18 which was a recent high. We just did 70 mins and not our swim. It wasn’t pleasant weather anyway. Light rain made it feel unpleasant. When we drove home, I cooked a dish of roasted Fennel, Onion, Red Pepper with sliced field mushrooms and dressed with Dill and olive oil. The chicken thighs were dressed with tarragon and Parmigiano Reggiano. It represented an answer to that Friday feeeling.

Saturday, 16th March, 2019

We are told that the weather is moving towards a fine, dry and settled spell. No real signs yet. It feels nice and mild although isn’t especially at 11C/51F and 4C less than yesterday. It is still spitting with rain and fairly grey above. Time for a change – to coin a phrase.

Switzerland – 15/3/2010

This time 9 years ago we were just boarding an Anek Lines vessel at Ancona bound for Patras. The day before, we had driven at top speed through Switzerland (as any sane human being would do) and on to Moderna in Italy where we stayed the night.

Patras bound – 16/3/2010

Only 9 years ago but it all seems a life time away. We still haven’t finalised travelling arrangements this year until Brexit uncertainty is resolved and it appears that we are not alone.

Anyway, back to the grindstone and a 9th consecutive day of exercise. If we don’t turn up, people will be starting to worry for our safety. However, the most amazing thing has happened over the past couple of nights. I have always woken at 6.00 am and gone to bed at midnight. I’ve done this most of my adult life apart from when I was teaching and studying for a Degree at the same time. Then, I rarely slept much at all. For the past two nights, we have gone to bed at 10.00 pm and 9.30 pm and slept like logs throughout. Although it seems a waste of time, we must have been tired.

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