Sunday, 21st April, 2019
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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!