Week 542

Sunday, 12th May, 2019

Another gorgeous morning. They tell me it’s Sunday. I just get up, celebrate the fact that I’m still alive and get on with my orange juice. Really enjoying Sophie Ridge on Sunday on Sky TV. She seems to have arrived at a much better balance than the BBC and the Andrew Marr Show. Interesting to hear the inside story of Labour Party machinations. The Janus head is criticised roundly across twitter. We will not vote for their ‘soft Brexit’ choice. We will vote tactically for Lib. Dems.. I have been putting this out everywhere I can think of on Twatter and also on Faceache.

I am hearing that Corbyn’s stance is likely to be challenged by Tom Watson’s group if he tries to push through a deal with the Conservatives without a second referendum. There are over 100 Labour MPs supporting Tom Watson and his Future Britain Group which would make Corby’s position nigh on impossible.

On a more serious side, we are thinking of taking the new car, when we collect it in early July, out for a test drive along the French coast for a few days. We haven’t a clue where. The furthest we have driven down that coast was to Le Havre. We went in a February many years ago. I remember it was freezing and we sat outside a backstreet fish restaurant and ate the most wonderful, grilled seabass under the warmth of a patio heater. It is an experience that has stayed with me over the past 30 years.

Calais to Rouen is 135 miles – just a morning’s stroll.

We’ve always wanted to see Le Havre and Rouen so that would be an interesting drive. It would take a couple of hours down the A16 and the A28. A nice hotel for a couple of nights and then back to Calais for a night before increasing our wine stock and driving home.

Rouen centre

The new car should arrive on July 2nd as long as the container ship from Japan gets a move on and Prime Minister Farage doesn’t declare war on the Orient before that.

Monday, 13th May, 2019

Sunshine all day and a temperature of 19C/66F. Sun, blue sky and bright light just makes the day feel ‘lighter’ for some reason. That’s one of the things I particularly enjoyed about living in Greece. Of course, there were grey, damp days but the sunshine was never far away. The island we lived on has been establishing an ‘event’ over the past 2 or 3 years which brings people to the economy in that flat time between Easter and Summer.

Sifnos Run – 2019

The Sifnos-Run was held yesterday and seemed to have plenty of entrants. Andrea, the Mayor, was competing again even at his age although he was a young boy when we first met him. We were pleased to see two, old friends popping up in the pictures after the finish.

Nikos & his Grandmother

We first met Margarita and her husband, Nikos in the Summer of 1984 – 35 years ago. We had started travelling to Greece 3 years earlier. Arriving on Sifnos seemed to be the answer that we were looking for. We certainly touched down there at least once every one of those 35 years. We watched little Nikos grow from birth to age 20. Here he is, having taken part in the run, being hugged by his Grandmother with a face showing pride and eternal sadness. We wish them both well.

We are getting on with our lives. There is so much more to see and do. Life on Sifnos was a little restrictive and isolating. We have done so much more and seen so much more by leaving. Today, we got up, opened the blinds to the blinding sun and considered what we would choose to do.  What more could anyone ask for? We chose to go to Asda to buy 3 x 60 ltr bags of ‘potting compost’ and then on to the garden centre, which is 5 mins. drive from the house, to buy some Geraniums.

We chose a premium cultivar Kalliope. Kalliope (Καλλιόπη) or ‘beautifully voiced’ was the lover of Ares, the god of war. She was renowned for her eternal beauty. Just what you want in a geranium! 

Tuesday, 14th May, 2019

I thought I would really miss Yorkshire when we left in 2009 having lived there for nearly 40 years but the feeling soon faded. Thought I would miss Sifnos when we left in 2014 after 30 years there but the feeling has soon faded. After just 3 years, I absolutely love it down here on the south coast.

I spend about 20hrs per week here.
Spot the Bees’ Nest.

Today, our village has been bathed in wall-to-wall sunshine and looked wonderful under the perfect blue sky. The flint & brick properties clad in Wisteria, currently stongly in racemes of flower, and the fading Lilac trees mingle with heady blossom of Photinia  and Laurus Nobilis. I cut the lawns, raked them out and cut them again. They are looking lush, shiny and green. By the time I went to the Health Club, the temperature had reached 22C/70F so the air-conditioning was working overtime.

The residents around here have their own Faceache page on which they ask each other for help and advice about various topics they largely share in common. As we are all new to our properties and new neighbours are coming on stream all the time, the in-comers’ pets take time to orient themselves to their new area. Cats, particularly, seem to disappear regularly as their ‘owners’ panic when they don’t come home. At this point, pictures and plaintive messages are put up on Faceache with requests for help.

Today, it was slightly different. A woman in a new property somewhere in the area posted a photograph of a swarm of honey bees that had entered her back garden and formed a nest suspended from her little daughter’s tricycle. She had contacted the local council offices only to be told that someone would visit in just over a week. A quick post on Faceache today immediately brought three offers of help from local beekeepers.

Wednesday, 15th May, 2019

Another lovely day for mid-May. Blue skies and sunshine with a top temperature of 22C/70F. While we were walking out in shorts and tee-shirts, swimming outside and using sun cream, may areas of the Mediterranean were experiencing ….. SNOW! This on Corsica this morning:

Corsica in mid-May?

The world is really going mad.  As long as it is mad in our favour, I will welcome the changes.

Pauline & I taught in the Lancashire, Pennine town of Oldham for most of our 40 years. It was always an impoverished place and, particularly as the mills closed, alternative jobs were few and far between and an Asian community who had been lured to Oldham by the mill work were gradually left in difficulties as they lost employment. My school drew on a wide catchment area which included one which was listed in the government’s poverty report as THE poorest ward in England. Coldhurst ward has now been replaced as the poorest in England by Werneth also in Oldham and it’s been joined by a 3rd, Oldham ward of St. Mary’s.

Werneth in Oldham

The real irony is that Werneth was, during the Industrial Revolution, part of an affluent area of Oldham known as the ‘Grand West End’. In the 14th century, a manor house in Werneth was owned by a family called Oldham. Werneth is based on a coal field which was extensively mined from the early 19th century and, during the industrial revolution, the Platt Brothers were based in Werneth as they designed and built cotton-spinning machinery for the many mills in Oldham and south Lancashire. The tide of history moves in and then recedes. Werneth and Oldham have waited a long time for the waves of affluence to break once again on its streets.

Thursday, 16th May, 2019

A warm and sunny day that reached 21C/70F. Because of a real lack of rain down here, I spent a couple of hours watering the lawns and flower beds. We had gone out to do our weekly shop at Tesco early this morning. Shopping at that time is lovely and quiet and so much quicker.

Cheap & Brilliant.

Back home, the watering took care of itself. Over the years, I have had an assortment of very expensive sprinkler systems but today my apparatus cost £5.50/€6.30 from Argos. It works brilliantly. And while the sprinkler did its job, I spent an hour or so lobbying MPs on Brexit.

The internet and the social platforms – particularly Facebook and Twitter are such instant and democratising tools. As I drive down through the village at 10.00 am, having already skimmed The Times, The Telegraph, The Independent and The Guardian plus half a dozen News Blogs, I see elderly gentlemen returning from the local papershop with their folded copies of The Telegraph in one hand and their dog lead in the other. They are the final, analogue generation.

They received their political information strained through the muslin of formal media outlets – radio, television and newsprint. Apart from writing Letters to the Editor, their ability to influence political events was largely restricted to the ballot box. Now, we are energised and enfranchised by the internet. If a politician speaks on radio or television, I can reply immediately by email or Twitter.

Here, within 5 mins of receiving a Remain Labour email, I was able to respond by circulating my amended copy to every Leave MP in Labour. It basically pointed out that the Janus approach of the party was driving voters away. In the analogue age, any response from me would have taken so long, I wouldn’t have bothered. Now it is a joy. The interesting thing is that it works. Views do change with pressure from people like me.

Friday, 17th May, 2019

Out early on a grey and cool morning. After such a good run of weather, today seems depressingly dark. We were going to Worthing to pick up 3 pairs of shoes. Why we need 3 pairs of shoes, goodness only knows. I have more shoes than space to store them or time to wear them but Pauline is obsessed with buying shoes and when they are not for herself, they are for me. When I challenge her about it she just brushes it off with, Well, they’re cheap and will be useful in the long run. I know I go to the gym every day but I now have 3 pairs of trainers. I will be jogging until I’m 90 just to get full value.

While we were walking through the town, we went down Bank Passage and I noticed a Gentlemen’s Barber Shop. Look at the price of a haircut. I last had my hair cut by a barber in September, 1969 and it cost 10 shillings – £0.50/€0.58 – but £8.50/€9.71! People tell me that this is actually quite cheap but I would need first aid if I had to pay it. My wife is worth so much – as a barber.

Do you remember men’s barbers back in the 1960s? A seated row of men. A fraternity of conversation in a smoke-filled atmosphere with piles of hair clippings on the floor, wafts of clove-scented pomade in spray bottles on the shelves along with ‘Something for the weekend, Sir?’. Old Mr. Coates had the barber’s shop in my home village and the memories of it make me shudder. He was particularly good at ‘pudding basin’ cuts for boys. I’m going to block this memory out!

Saturday, 18th May, 2019

Slightly brighter and warmer today – 16C/61F – but not so exciting. A bit like the idea of Boris Johnson as prime minister! It must be the reason why I am cooking today – comfort food. I am cooking duck cassoulet. We are gradually reducing our stocks of French duck legs & breasts. Soon be time to return for new supplies.

When we do go back to France, it will be in the new car. I was preparing my finances this morning for that event. We have virtually never bought a car on borrowed money in the past 40 years – unless you include borrowed from ourselves. I remember friends in my youth buying cars on hire-purchase. By the time they had paid off the debt, they were going back for a newer car and another long term debt. Basically, a large chunk of their income was deducted immediately throughout their working lives just to drive a car. We always tried to get ahead of that and save throughout our ownership so that we could buy the next. That always put us in the driving seat, to coin a phrase. It certainly allowed us to drive a better bargain on a new car.

E-Call & Emergency Stop

I was interested to see that our new model includes Honda E-Call & Emergency Stop Signal. That sounds impressive, I thought. Good for Honda! Then I read that this is a safety system required by EU Regulation. There is no mention of the requirement of our mobile phone having to be present so I’m not really sure of the connectivity here but the chart above describes its modus operandi.

There is an SOS button which one can press manually if the car hasn’t sent the signal automatically. What you can’t do is turn the signal off. Over all, however, I love these innovations. Anything which will make life safer automatically will be beneficial for me. My only question is: What happens if Brexit does go ahead? Will we lose European connectivity? Like most other things Brexit, nobody seems to know.

%d bloggers like this: