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!

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