Week 540

Sunday, 28th April, 2019

A quiet morning so we decided to take some travel decisions. We can’t put it off any longer. First, we decided to book a trip to Athens for a week at the end of August. I can tell you that recent reports in Greek news outlets about overcapacity driving down room prices in Athens are unfounded. We are returning to our favourite hotel – The Electra Palace in the centre just off Navarchou Nikodimou – and a suite for €315.00/£275.00 per night. It’s a nice room in a nice hotel in the centre of a capital city but…

Electra Palace Suite

Even the Easyjet flights seem more expensive than usual. Return flights from Gatwick with extra legroom, speedy boarding and 2 x hold luggage costs £762.00/€885.00. Still, it’s only money, isn’t it?

Well it was until we spent some more! We’ve booked four nights in our Yorkshire hotel in October. That puts the Greek price into context. Four nights in a suite in the Holiday Inn will cost us £590.00/€685.00. I must go and see my sister in Bolton and commiserate with her over her team’s relegation. We are now looking for a nice villa with private pool in the Canaries, preferably Gran Canaria, for the month of November.

Erratum: I was wrong about the Greek hotel prices. Last year, we paid €223.00/£193.00 per day for a ‘classic’ room whereas we are only paying €308.00/£266.00 per day for a suite this year.

Monday, 29th April, 2019

Gorgeous morning. Blue sky and strong sunshine. I am watering the lawns today in the face of a prolonged dry spell forecast for our area. I’m also looking for an addition to my automatic watering system to maintain the pots of herbs we are growing. Because we are not having an extended holiday in this Summer, it won’t be a major problem but, after collecting the new car, we may do the occasional short break on the Continent and even 4-5 days will need some watering.

My other jobs this morning have included individually lobbying ever, single voting member of Labour’s NEC who will be meeting and voting on an integral and confirmatory second vote on any Brexit arrangement. There are some 42 of them and I have had to search out their individual Twitter accounts and, failing that, their email addresses. I failed in only 4 cases so feel I covered as much as I could.

Finally, I have to find a villa in the Canaries for the month of November. We keep talking about it and then putting it on the back burner and then returning to it. More evidence of tourists avoiding European bookings or, putting them off has come from Thomas Cook this weekend with bookings to EU countries like Greece sharply down and bookings elsewhere and, notably Greece’s great friend, Turkey, sharply up.

After an enjoyable trip to the gym & swim, we came home to eat cold duck and salads and book a villa in southern Tenerife with sea view and near beaches.

It has a heated pool, 3 x double bedrooms, 3 x bathrooms, kitchen with dishwasher and washing machine, wi-fi internet, British television programming including Sky/BT football, indoor and outdoor eating. It has a lounge which faces the sea with views to La Gomera. It is within walking distance of restaurants, shops and supermarkets.

The cost is £5,200.00/€6015.00 for the month of November. We can cancel with full refund right up to the beginning of October. So, if anything goes wrong in the next 5 months or so, we are covered. We’ve sent a deposit on the app but still await confirmation so we will wait. We have also still got to arrange flights but it feels like we’ve tied up a lot of the lose ends for this year and it feels satisfying.

Tuesday, 30th April, 2019

Another beautiful day to see out April. I should clean the car but I’m finding it difficult to get motivated because we’ve already sold it. We will drive it for just 2 months more so I will have to clean it soon but, perhaps, not today. In this wonderful sunshine, everything is growing away.

The hedges at the front have just grown up and out rapidly but almost imperceptibly. I walked out of the front door this morning into the strong sunshine and was immediately struck by the sight of a healthy, mature hedge. It is about 4ft high but we want to put about another foot on it so we’ll let it grow a bit straggly before trimming it. That’s my excuse anyway. Meanwhile, we are waiting for official confirmation of our Tenerife booking before booking appropriate flights. We will almost certainly go with Easyjet. They are definitely the short haul airline to beat at the moment.

Confirmation of our booking has just come in from a lady called Rita. It is written in Spanish but we quickly translated it and she informed us that not only would they pick us up from the airport but, because we were staying for a month, they would completely wave the charge of €15.00 per day to heat the pool. This is the sort of welcome that could make us the sort of people who could quickly become regulars.

What this does mean is that we can book our flights. So the return flights for two of us will be  £657.88/€762.25 which is made up of:

Even with Easyjet, the cost soon mounts up. However, when you’ve booked a property, it’s nice to tie up the travel.

Wednesday, 1st May, 2019

Kαλό μήνα – Kαλό Máios  – Happy new month – Happy May. You will never see April 2019 again. It has fallen off the ever moving carousel of time. The older one gets, the more significant this carousel and disappearing time become. I was asked the other day why I featured a white rabbit on each first day of the month. I suddenly realised that I didn’t know the origin of the tradition. I asked the internet.

There is no definitive answer but various sources say it originates from Medieval times but don’t give an explanation of its origin. I also learnt that ‘White Rabbits, White Rabbits’ was written in the  Notes and Queries book from 1909. It reads “My two daughters are in the habit of saying ‘Rabbits!’ on the first day of each month. The word must be spoken aloud, and be the first word said in the month. It brings luck for that month. Other children, I find, use the same formula.”

We are enthusiastic travellers but no one could accuse us of being impromptu or impulsive. We micro-plan everything. Nothing is taken for granted. For travel some 6 months ahead, we are just about to book a taxi to the airport and a night at a hotel before our early morning flight.

Sofitel – Gatwick

We used the Sofitel last year because it is very comfortable and directly linked by a pedestrian way to the Departures Terminal. This means, we can drop our bags off the night before and get up at a more acceptable time in the morning of our departure. A Superior Room without breakfast is £145.00/€169.00 (member’s Rate).

Thursday, 2nd May, 2019

A pleasant day of gentle sunshine and 16C/61F. We went out to do our weekly shop at Asda and Tesco and we were delighted that we were offered a large, 1.5 kg joint of fresh Tuna that will make 4 meals for us. It cost £37.50/€43.70  and looks beautiful quality. As we walked in, there was a Hearing test ‘tent’. This is temporary but inside there is a permanent Pharmacy, a Dentist and an Opticians – supermarket health service.

All my adult life I’ve drunk wine. Since the age of 21 – a total of 47 years – I have drunk the best part of a bottle of wine each evening with my main meal of the day. I love wine. I love French, Italian and Spanish wine particularly. A survey I saw this morning chimed with my reasons for drinking almost exactly particularly while we were working.

I could subscribe to all of these.

I spent January not drinking alcohol and I’ve just finished April without alcohol. This time, I’m pledged to not drink alcohol until September if I can do it. I’m doing it mainly to save around 550 calories per day but also to give my liver a rest. Of course, alcohol generates consumption of additional food and calories as well. I’ve often wondered if I was an alcoholic but really knew my addiction was to the ‘pattern’ of the day which ended with that warm fuzz of an empty bottle of wine. When I get into the pattern of sparkling water with my meal, I don’t give alcohol a thought. The only time I do think about it is when I walk past my wine store of some 200 bottles. Perhaps I’ll have to up my consumption when I start again just to deplete the stock a bit.

Before that, I’ve been putting the world to rights by voting for a Remain party in the local elections and then doing my 25th day’s exercise out of the past 26. Felt a bit tired today and even the swimming was an effort but we had been very busy in the morning. This evening, I’ve just topped 16,000 paces for the day.

Friday, 3rd May, 2019

What a lovely day. Sunshine and 17C/63F made swimming, after a full work out, really lovely. We are in the Arun District Council for local elections. It has been Tory for as long as people can remember. Not any more! I knew our votes for Remain would do the trick. The Tories can’t believe they’ve lost control but they are losing it everywhere. Can’t wait to contact my MP, Tory Brexiteer Nick Herbert, tomorrow to let him know we are coming for him next. It is time this message was sent to the Leave parties: up with you we will not put!

This day in 2010 we were gardening in 26C/79F in our Greek home. We then drove down to the fishing village of Faros where we ate lunch at the water’s edge and sipped ice cold white wine as the waves lapped against the shore.

Faros – 2010

While we sat there with our Calamari and Horiatiki, we were actively sorting out the sale of our Yorkshire home prior to moving down to Surrey. How far we’ve come and how much has changed since that day. It’s almost unbelievable.

Saturday, 4th May, 2019

Gorgeously sunny morning although a little chilly at 7C/45F. I don’t know if it’s age or retirement or fitness but, every morning, I can’t wait to get up and on with the day. I always watch a review of the morning’s newspapers at 11.30 pm as they first come out so I know what I want to read first thing in the morning.

There is really only one thing this morning and that is the Local Election Results. I was amused last night by a tweet from a solicitor, former Lib.Dem. parliamentary candidate for Colne Valley and a friend of ours who was at our Wedding 40 years ago. He was raving about the overthrow of the Tory councillors by Lib.Dems. in a small area known as Lindley. The Tory majority had been 2000 votes and it was an achievement but he was describing the win in apocalyptic terms befitting the fall of a Dynasty.

What has equally amused me is the narrative from Brextremists that the election results above clearly show that the population want Brexit to be done. What part of all the Leave-supporting parties losing support set against the Remain parties hugely gaining support could be read as that would puzzle any sane human being other than to know we really are in a Trumpian, post-truth era.

After newspapers this morning, I will complete my manly duties of vacuuming the house while my wife begins to address the final, little ‘snagging’ details. We are now starting our 4th year here and we only have 2 years of warranty left but we can deal with all sorts of small things ourselves – well my wife can. Every new house has some resettlement problems. We had to have the tiled floor in our en suite re-laid because hairline cracks appeared in a couple of floor tiles. The builders did that and it took three days of work. Slight separation between a skirting board and stairs because of resettlement is an easy job for Pauline to fill and paint/touch up. We have a few, minor paint scrapes on walls over the past 3 years so she’s addressing those as well.

Later, we will go to the Health Club to do our 27th out of 28 consecutive days of exercise. I think 2,700 minutes or 45 hours of cardio-vascular exercise in a month is a reasonable commitment on our part. Actually, it is self-feeding now. I really look forward to it and the thought of not doing it makes me anxious. Anxiety is not good and exercise is so you know what will happen!

Week 539

Sunday, 21st April, 2019

Angmering Wood this morning.

For many years, Easter was spent in Greece with a mad dash to the airport on a Friday night in order to get the Saturday morning ferry to Sifnos. Often, of course, it wouldn’t coincide with Greek Easter at all and, this year, English schools go back on Tuesday and Greek Easter is next weekend. We always returned to Athens from the island a couple of days early because Greek ferries are notoriously unreliable in poor weather. This year, a couple of days in Athens would have been less than enjoyable with poor, cold weather.

Today, we will reach at least 25C/77F and, next week, Easter on Sifnos will hover around 20C/68F. For once, the fates have smiled on us. The countryside all around us looks wonderful.

Brighton Beach Yesterday

The photograph above was featured in this morning’s Sunday Times. You can see why we do not go to the beach on public holidays. Still, with schools going back on Tuesday, the beach is ours to enjoy. For today, we’ve been hard at it in the garden potting up herbs and tidying everything up.

Later, we will be off to the gym and then Pauline will griddle Tuna Steaks out in the garden. I apologise if my posts include quite a lot of food at the moment but I am trying to be hard on my consumption so thoughts of food are higher on my agenda and hunger is never far away.

This morning of April 21st, 1967 Greeks woke up to the rumble of tanks, occasional rifle shots and military hymns playing on the radio. Then it was the ominous, sinister announcement on the radio: “The Hellenic Armed Forces undertake the governance of the country”. The Junta led by Colonel Georgios Papadopoulos, Brigadier General Stylianos Pattakos and Colonel Nikolaos Makarezos  ordered the tanks to roll in Athens. Greek soldiers took over the most crucial spots in the capital, then arrested all key politicians.

Junta take over Greece – April 21st, 1967

The junta suspended 11 articles of the Constitution to establish the regime. Freedom of speech became non-existent, with strict censorship rules for radio, newspapers and, later, television. Isolated from the rest of Europe, condemned by most Greeks and especially those who were in self-exile, it took 7 years and led by a student uprising to force the junta out which opened the way for Constantine Karamanlis to return to Greece and form a democratic government. Those condemning the Climate Change protesters in London at the moment should bear this necessary protest for change in mind.

Monday, 22nd April, 2019

Our Easter meal yesterday after returning from the Health Club was fresh tuna steaks griddled in the garden and served with huge quantities of different salads. Radicchio & Radish, Lettuce & Courgette slices, Rocket & Lemon, Broad Bean. Accompanied by sparkling water because alcohol is off the agenda until September if we can manage it.

Actually, the first month is always the hardest and, particularly when we combine it with a severe reduction in calorie intake and a considerable increase in calorie output but, as we get close to completing that first month, my personality traits kicked in and I find myself craving sparkling water. That is how weird I am!

We ate our meal around 4.30 pm after exercise. The day was still very warm and even more beautiful as the sun went down. We ate in the kitchen but with the patio doors flung open wide for the first time this year.

Sunset in Angmering – 22/04/19

Today has been just as warm but rather sultry – humid almost. We’ve spent the morning gardening and both felt shattered even before we set off for the Health Club but we still went. Actually, Easter Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday have been the quietest days we have experienced in The David Lloyd Club. The past two days have been absolutely delightful swimming in the sunshine and warmth. We are so lucky and constantly remind ourselves.

Tuesday, 23rd April, 2019


Quite a humid and steamy morning. We spent it mulching all our shrubbery beds with the most deliciously scented bark chippings. It was a really satisfying activity which leaves the beds looking and smelling attractive. Actually, I had seriously underestimated how much it would take and we had to dash off to Wickes half way through to buy another 4 bags which allowed us to do the job generously.

As we worked outside, we were constantly visited by cats who were attracted by the scent of the wood bark and wanted a bit of a stroke. Our next door neighbours had a cat called Como (Lake not Perry) but he was found dead on the road after a few months. Having got over that, they collected two ‘rescue’ cats – two, young sisters – one tabby and one jet black. They are named Mimi and Rosetta after characters in Opera. I did point out that, after their first cat suffering a tragic death on the road, it was tempting fate to name a second one after Mimi from  Puccini’s La Bohème. In the opera, of course, Mimi dies tragically young of consumption. Last night, I thought my prediction had come true. I noticed that our neighbours had listed Mimi as missing on the local Facebook site. She had been missing for 24 hrs.

This morning the panic was over and Mimi came round to check out the wood bark, bringing her sister with her and a new friend we had never met before. They all seemed very happy although Mimi did have to show off by climbing the young tree outside our house.

Wednesday, 24th April, 2019

Should have cleaned it fiirst!

A different morning. Grey sky with a few spots of rain – not enough but a start. For once, we hadn’t got lots of jobs to do. I vacuumed the house while Pauline did the dusting. We were actually left with time to do some reading and writing which was nice.

We have been really pushing ourselves since returning from Yorkshire almost 3 weeks ago. Stronger control on the diet and push on the exercise. We have missed just 1 day in the past 19 at the Health Club.

My smartwatch records my activity although I don’t collect the swimming data. The data is bluetoothed to my smartphone where it is presented by day/week/month/year. I am obsessed with achieving a yellow graph bar denoting 10,000+  paces recorded for the day. In the past 7 days, I am averaging 15,007.3 paces per day and I’ve covered 54.5 miles in those 7 days. I’ve covered 2,400 miles in the past year. I burn circa 700 calories in 90 mins in the gym and another 150 calories in 30 mins swimming in the outdoor pool each day. Data, don’t you just love it?

We are starting to feel the muscles straining under the constant exertion but we are determined to push on. This will be continued until we go abroad in September. If physical exercise keeps one alive, we are determined to live forever. Mind you, if United lose to City tonight, I might just end it all this evening!

Thursday, 25th April, 2019

The morning opened grey and lightly damp but was totally transformed to blue sky and sunshine by 9.00 am when we went out on a marathon shopping trip. Asda, Sainsburys, Aldi and, finally, Tesco  took us 2hrs. We definitely fit the latest shopping pattern in that we no longer buy everything in a one-off shop from one supermarket.

Today, we bought bananas and grapes from Asda – one for quality reasons and the other on price.  We bought tomatoes and chicken thighs from Sainsburys because trial and error has taken our preference there. On to Aldi just for smoked mackerel which is better quality and less than half the price of the major supermarkets. Finally, we went on to Tesco for the rest and especially fish. They are still holding whole salmon at less than half price and we bought one plus some lovely, thick cod fillets.

British tourists eschewing Greece.

Interesting reading the Greek Press this morning. Bookings from UK are falling and, although Germans are still the main market, British are falling down the list with Italians now coming second. The evidence quoted from Trivago is that hotel prices are heading down although I could see no evidence of that in our favourite Athenian hotels. One thing you can say about this trend is that Brexit is certainly a major factor and will be for some time to come.

Friday, 26th April, 2019

A cooler day with only a little sunshine. We spent the morning doing paperwork, correspondence and accounts. It was actually nice to do some catch-up work but, all the time, I was concerned that I wasn’t getting steps on my watch.

Skinny Lizzy dressed for the Ball.

We did, of course, do our 20th day of exercise routine in the past 21 days and swimming at the end was a delight. The pool is surrounded by tall, well-clipped yew hedges out of which small and large birds constantly appear, fly off and return soon to dive back into the hedge. Goodness knows how many nests there are in those bushes. Squirrels clamber along the tree branches and tightrope walk the bevelled tops of wooden fences and seagulls straight from the sea fly lazily above us. We finished off with a sauna and jacuzzi/water massage. The wildlife stayed outside.

I don’t know if it is that I sound like a sad, old man but my little sister, skinny Lizzy, sent me a worried text having read in my Blog that I was dieting and pushing my body in the gym. She doesn’t have to worry because it is exactly who I am. Of course, after all this time, she would not really know that. However, it was nice that someone took the trouble to show concern.

Saturday, 27th April, 2019

Mum over the Years

My Mum died 11 years ago today. Even writing that shocks me. I can smell, touch and hear the days surrounding her death and funeral although, I must admit the urge to contact her has faded into a seldom jolt of unthinking impulse. She still lives on in us all and, every time I meet one of my brothers and sisters, she figures significantly in conversation. She had a profound effect on all of us.

Time and memory has always fascinated me. Recently, I was reading a book called Making Time by a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Leeds Beckett University. It confirmed something I had found out unwittingly and to my cost. Quite seriously, one of the reasons I pushed to build a property on a Greek island and live there half the year was because I thought it would help slow time in retirement down. Life on a Greek island is not lived at a fast pace – quite the opposite. Often it could be described as a slow-paced monotony of order, repetition and routine. It is largely uneventful in the grand scheme of things and certainly compared to a busy, professional life in a UK city.

How wrong could I be. No sooner had we arrived back on the island in early April but it seemed we were packing up ready for departure in late September. Back in UK, no sooner had we got back into the routines of our life here than we were planning our travel back to Greece. As Steve Taylor expands on in his book, it is the very nature of routine that speeds time up in the human consciousness. For young children, time seems to go slow because every experience is new. Taylor posits that, the more information our minds take in, the slower time seems to pass.

This partly explains why time passes so slowly for children and seems to speed up as we get older. For children, the world is a fascinating place, full of new experiences and fresh sensations. As we get older, we have fewer new experiences and the world around us becomes more and more familiar. It also explains why short breaks away in new destinations can seem much longer than they are. Hold that thought!

Week 538

Sunday, 14th April, 2019

A pleasant start to this chilly morning was improved by the obvious state of complete panic in the Tory Party portrayed in the Newspaper headlines and illustrated in the political interviews. Lovely to see Iain Duncan-Smith more agitated than normal at the prospect of having to fight European Elections and desperate to depose his Leader. Great to see former Tory MPs and Ministers announcing their defection to The Independent Group and listen to David Lammy out on the front foot.

I am constantly hungry and fighting it. We are really working hard to decrease our calorific input and maximise our calorific output. I have been trying to maintain a regime of activity. This morning, I spent an hour or so spraying the lawns with broadleafed weed killer. By 1.00 pm, I could have eaten the kitchen floor tiles. I have to use Displacement Activity to counter those pangs of hunger. I go to the gym and that is what we did today.

The hard bit.

As my wife, who knows much better than I how my body works tells me, exercise can suppress appetite. Apparently, it generates a hormone called peptide which signals satiety.

The relaxing bit.

I wanted to watch Liverpool v Chelsea this afternoon so we didn’t do our swim. Just 70 mins in the gym and then a relaxing 20 mins in the Spa which combines a jacuzzi & Water Massage area with a steam room and sauna.

Back home, I just had time to griddle some vegetables and chicken thighs outside in the garden. I had been marinating them in lemon juice, garlic, oregano and olive oil since this morning. And so ends another lovely day. Happy week everyone!

Monday, 15th April, 2019

A pleasant, bright morning but with a chill in the breeze. Highlight of the morning – apart from putting the bins out – was a trip to Wickes in Wick.

We were going to buy large packs of bark to mulch the shrubbery beds. Yes, I know, too exciting but contain yourself. W have an offer of 4 x 90 ltr bales for £22.00/€25.50 which, if you are in the bark cognoscenti, you will know is a good deal.

As UK prepares to bask in temperatures warmer than Corfu, Greece has suffered a weather event which is rare for April.

Sunny Athens this afternoon.

Here we are expecting lots of tourists for the Easter week of sunshine and 70F/22C temperatures. Worthing was featured on the television news this evening to celebrate our pier being voted best across UK. Worthing is the new Athens!

Tuesday, 16th April, 2019

Up early for some reason this morning. The world was rather dull and grey at 6.30 am. In my quest to keep active, I immediately think through a series of jobs I will do before the gym. I’ve got my husbandly duties to perform – vacuuming the house. I’ve got my manly duties to perform – valeting the car. I’ve got my senior citizen’s duties to perform – taking my wife to the surgery to collect repeat prescriptions. and then I’ve got my fitness duties to perform – a trip to the Health Club for our 10th, consecutive session of 100 mins continuous exercise.

Lizzie Dripping looks happy.

We think 1000 mins/16.7 hrs of exercise in 10 days is an acceptable level of commitment. Allied to that, we have been scaling back our consumption and drinking no alcohol at all. Because we have altered our plans for this Summer, we are going to try to use it for a Health campaign and are going to try to keep this going until September. Of course, age and retirement fuel these thoughts and intentions in many, people. I read that my sister, Catherine, goes swimming regularly and takes lots of walks with her dogs. My brother, Bob, is always out walking and following his passion for photography. My sister, Ruth who is very old, and her husband go walking with organised groups. My sister Jane BG is an internationally renowned,  x-country runner of note.

Last night I received a text from one of my younger sisters, Skinny Lizzy, with a picture of her out hiking. She is 62 and suffers from arthritis (commonly known as Arthur) although I didn’t know that. I lived with her for the first 18 years of my life but have seen very little of her since. I realise that I know very little of her but she looks lovely and happy which makes me feel happy.

Wednesday, 17th April, 2019

Lovely morning. Great to be alive. Driving up to Surrey to visit P&C for a couple of hours. The hedgerows along the route are alive with urgently new, green leaves and shoots. There is beautiful blossom everywhere which is highlighted in the sunshine. The temperature has reached 19C/66F and I am back in my shorts. One downside is the number of dead badgers we pass on the roadside. I have never seen so many before as I have down here. Until now, I thought they were essentially black and white. Actually, these are mainly tawny coloured with white heads and black patches. Why anyone would want to exterminate them I don’t know. Down here, they can just rely on motorists.

Lightning Strike hits 4 at the base of the Acropolis approach.

We returned from Surrey and arrived back in Sussex by 3.30 pm. Catching up with the news, we heard about the continuing problems with Greek weather. Greece’s National Meteorological Service EMY issued a warning of dangerous weather phenomena forecast to strike Athens and Attica. EMY warns of strong rainfalls, thunderstorms and locally also hail. By 4.30 pm (GT) today, a Greek Blog was reporting four people were injured after a lightning strike hit the ticket office at the base of the Acropolis of Athens during a thunderstorm this afternoon. The injured have been transferred to Evangelismos hospital in the city centre.

By contrast, UK is set to get warmer and to reach 26C/79F by the weekend whereas Athens will founder around 17C/63F. We are looking forward to exploring our area in the sunshine. This is Angmering Wood today.

Angmering Wood

Swimming should be good in this weather and, maybe, we can get started on planting out pots of herbs and salad plants.

Thursday, 18th April, 2019

Lovely morning – sunny and 16C/61F – and I’m out shopping in shorts and tee-shirt at Tesco. We buy a whole, fresh salmon about every 2 weeks and pay around £13.50/€15.65 per kilo. Because it’s Easter holidays, Tesco Fish counter is selling whole, fresh salmon for £5.50/€6.40 per kilo. We bought 3 at a total cost of £46.50/€53.80. It just shows how much over the odds we are paying normally.

Whole fresh salmon at less than half price.

Because we buy so much fresh fish at this counter each week, we have developed a good relationship with the man who is responsible for it. He now goes out of his way to provide us with good service and supplies us with fish which is not on display but held in cold store waiting to be prepared for display. Instead of tiny pieces of fresh Tuna, he supplies us with full joints to slice ourselves. Instead of a handful of fantail prawns, he supplies us with 2kg bags from the back store. He always produces a beautiful display of his fish in the mornings and is very proud of his skill.

As we left the store, I nearly fell over in shock. My mother, Catherine, – who has been dead for 11 years – was walking towards us. I caught my breath, looked away and looked back again. My mother turned out to be one of my little sisters – also Catherine. She only lives 4 or 5 miles away but I’ve only seen her a couple of times in the 3 years we’ve been here. She had just come from the gym and was looking very skinny. We talked for a few minutes and she sounded very happy and contented with her life. I am pleased. I want all my brothers and sisters to be as happy and contented with their lives as I am.

Finished the day with a gorgeous session at the gym & swim where the numbers were massively down. Looks like everyone’s gone away. Even the 23C/73F weather didn’t attract numbers to the outside pool where we swam in quiet isolation. Sauna, jacuzzi, water massage and home for roast salmon with pesto crust and 4 different salads – Samphire, Broadbean, Rocket and Tomato. Wonderful! I’m addicted to salads.

Friday, 19th April, 2019

Across the country, it has been a beautiful day but I’m sure none more beautiful than in Sussex-on-Sea. We have reached 24C/75F this afternoon and the seaside/countryside looks wonderful.


We have tried to be as active as possible while the workers are much more inclined to relax and indulge themselves in the  sunshine. Out at 9.00 am to Littlehampton to buy bags of soil, plant food, lawn weed & feed and some early herb plants to pot up – different sages, different thymes, a couple of (French) tarragon and a couple of rosemary.

When we got home, I mowed the lawns and then set off to the Health Club where we did 70 mins in the gym and then 30 mins outside in the pool. It felt a bit like a hotel pool on the Mediterranean today. Not so many swimming but lots on sunbeds surrounding the pool and even more in the outdoor restaurant just at one end. Still, we managed to have a good swim and then drove home to cook in the garden. Pauline had prepared goujons of cod with 4 different salads and garlic sauce. Dreamy!

Saturday, 20th April, 2019

The beautiful approach to our West Sussex village.

There are some days when one is just glad to be alive. Today is such an occasion. It was almost too tempting to just sit around in the sun but I didn’t give in. The sun was strong; the sky was blue and the temperature was 22C/70F by 10.30am. I went out to wash the car. It took me about an hour. Then, I fed the lawns with a granular, weed&feed mixture that I scattered by hand. I followed that up by watering it all in with an automatic sprinkler system because no rain is forecast for quite a while.

We sat out in the sun for about an hour and then set off for the gym. I have missed one day in past 14 since we returned from Yorkshire. It was reasonably quiet although the weather had brought out the sun-worshippers so we gave swimming a miss. The temperature reached 25C/77F contrasting well with Athens where it reached a mere 16C/61F at the foot of the Acropolis this afternoon. Actually, we were both shattered when we got home. Cold fish and salad for our meal – Smoked Mackerel, Tuna Tartare, Endive Salad & Garlick Sauce, Broadbean Salad – which all felt so right in this weather.

Lovely, Lovely Day.

Week 537

Sunday, 7th April, 2019

The first night of my 69th year was rudely interrupted. Around 2.30 am and in darkness, I found myself hunched over the dressing table in our bedroom, stark naked and howling in pain. My wife – also stark naked – was heavily massaging my inner thigh. Even at that time of night, I hadn’t expected such activity. I had leapt out of bed with the most chronic cramp which felt as if my thigh muscle had turned to a rod of iron. It took me back more than 50 years when Saturday night/Sunday morning was often punctuated with such problems after the rugby game I had played that day but it is rare at my current age.

She’s Eaten It Already!

My wife’s hands managed to soothe the tension and relieve the pain and I gingerly returned to bed but took quite a while to get back to sleep. Consequently, I was tired when the alarm went off at 6.00 am and we lazily stayed there for another hour. As ever, Sunday mornings are newspapers and political programmes and then off to the gym which was incredibly quiet. Half Term has started and a lot of families have gone away.

We did our full routine including a delightful swim outside and then left via the café where Pauline insisted on claiming the ‘free’ birthday cake that I was entitled to as a member of the club. She even took it home to eat after her meal.

She eschewed the ‘free’ coffee that was included in the members’ birthday offer. The meal was tuna steaks griddled outside and accompanied by three, different salads. Looking forward to the laying on of hands again tonight.

Monday, 8th April, 2019

No problems in the night. Didn’t get up once. The day has been lovely with warm temperatures – 18C/65F – and sunny skies. I cut the lawns and pruned back the herbs in pots ready for lots of new growth. Later we went to the gym and also did a wonderful swim under sunny skies with bird song all around.

We should have been in Lancashire. We feel dreadful that we aren’t there for our friend, Pat’s funeral. We have both known her for 45 years or more and she laid claim to be the matchmaker between Pauline & I although she wasn’t really. We continued to indulge her in her view. Pat taught in our school Craft Block – Art & Fabrics, particularly weaving. She married Derek, Head of Chemistry, a saxophonist and karate enthusiast.

We last saw them about three years ago in their Uppermill home and just did not know that Pat had already suffered and fought off two bouts of bowel cancer. They thought they had beaten it but, before Christmas, it was confirmed that it had returned and this time there was no coming back. Pat died two weeks ago at the age of 78. When our generation was young, death at that age would have been considered a success and a ‘good innings’ as it was euphemistically described. Today, it feels cruelly short.

Unfortunately, we were in the north for four days last week and don’t feel able to make the long trek again so shortly afterwards. We have spoken to Derek and our friend, Little Viv, will represent us at the funeral. She sent us a copy of the Order of Service with the photographs I’ve posted above.

Tuesday, 9th April, 2019

A wet, wet day on the south coast. We did a trip through Littlehampton and Wick to Curry’s Superstore where we were collecting Pauline’s new smartwatch, a Garmin Vivofit4. It measures lots of things including her daily paces, interfaces with her smartphone and it also tells the time which is useful. It is, importantly, swimming-proof. As smartwatches go, it is very cheap – £49.99/€58.00 – and does everything she needs.

The road was damp as we drove to Wick and, some way before the roundabout, we hit a traffic jam. Traffic is increasingly heavy around here like most places but this was unusual at 10.30 am. As we got closer, we saw the tell-tale flashing blue lights and closer still two police cars and two ambulances were attending an accident on the roundabout. A middle aged man was on the floor, wrapped in a blanket and being attended to by paramedics. His motorbike was absolutely crushed just nearby. A van and a car were parked at the site. For the rest of the day, we carried that sight round with us in our heads and it wasn’t a happy experience.

Wednesday, 10th April, 2019

This morning has opened with dry and brighter skies and reasonably warm although only 9C/49F. This morning is Politics, Politics,Politics, + PMQs. Wonderful!  Meanwhile, the temperature on Sifnos is double ours as they start to pull away towards Easter. This is the view from the back of the beach in Kamares this morning:

Kamares Beach this morning.

Actually, we reached 14C/57F as we swam outside in lovely sunshine. Just 30 mins per day about 6 times per week leaves me looking like a weather-beaten beachcomber. It’s quite amazing how little daylight and not always sunshine one needs per day to top up the vitamin D. We are certainly lucky to live in an area with one of the highest sunshine rates in the country. My sister drew my attention to this article in the local paper, The Argus:

Worthing has the UK’s best pier.

I must say that the West Sussex coastline is really attractive and enjoyable to walk along. I wouldn’t say the town and pier are a wow. Like so many British seaside towns, it has quite a strong whiff of decay which will always be hard to regenerate until global warming brings the Mediterranean to us.

Thursday, 11th April, 2019

Quite a chilly start to the day. The temperature read 2C/36F on our smartphones although it was just a clear sky with lovely, early sun outside. If you follow the Blog day by day, you will have noticed that I reverted to confusing the days and dates this week. My only excuse is that I copy & paste from one entry to another to save time and sometimes absent mindedly forget to update the paste. I’ve corrected it this morning but not before I committed another, stupid error in the supermarket.

Cornering the red pepper market!

Everything is automated in our shopping. We do self-scan and pay by smartphone at the checkout. It is all so quick, easy and painless. We don’t even feel we are spending money most of the time. We instantly have digital records of our purchases and payments. Even so, Pauline is eagle-eyed and sceptical about everything. Today, as we neared the end of our shop which normally hovers around £100.00/€116.00, Pauline noticed that the handset was reading £138.00/€160.00. I immediately blamed Brexit but Pauline insisted on scrolling back through the handset. It turned out that I had been heavy handed and entered 44 red peppers rather than just 4. Major crisis over, we drove home.

Friday, 12th April, 2019

One of the real bonuses of being retired – and there are many – is that it is possible to visit places in relative peace while the thronging crowds are at work. This morning, we went to our local garden centre at 9.30 am and it was wonderfully empty. The extensive grounds are in full bloom and ready for the Easter crowds.

They didn’t make much out of us. We only went in for a tub of Growmore and to look at the early pots of herbs for future purchase. It was lovely just to be walking in the warm, Spring sunshine.

We did our exercise routine but it is a little less relaxed at the moment. The builders are completely gutting the men’s changing rooms and re-fitting them. When they have finished, they will move on to the Female changing rooms and the women will temporarily move in to the Men’s and the men move into the Women’s – because the builders are male. The men lose out for about 6 weeks. We are cramped up in to less than luxurious conditions while still paying out a large, monthly fee. The male members are revolting!

Saturday, 13th April, 2019

I’m currently working hard on my diet. I had been slipping a bit and had to pull it back. My friend, Brian, has just been diagnosed as pre-Type 2 Diabetic and is worrying about dying. I wrote to him yesterday and it made me reflect on the changes I’ve made since my first diagnosis. Eschewing starchy carbohydrates – bread, pasta, rice, potatoes – has been one of the most important things. The other is discovering a love of salad something which amazes me. In the past, salad was just an adornment for a real meal. Now, I eat the salad first. It is the staple of a meal. This has been a major shift.

Fruit virtually didn’t feature in my eating or drinking at all. Now, the things that get me through the hungry times are pieces of fruit. The fruit bowl on the dining table in the kitchen is permanently full of oranges for juicing in the morning – 2 produce a glassful for breakfast – and bananas which are my go-to if I’m desperate for energy. The other thing which is really useful and enjoyable is grapes. Currently, I am hooked on a black, seedless variety called Sable from South Africa (via Sainsburys/Tesco/Asda). It has a distinctive and delightful flavour. I have to control my intake of these because of the high sugar content.

My youngest brother had a heart attack in his early 30s and my dad died of a heart attack in his late 40s. Having taken my health for granted for years and feeling invincible, as young people do, for much of that time, I am seriously addressing my own mortality. Life is such fun and so enjoyable that I just want more of it – much more.