Week 544

Sunday, 26th May, 2019

Our EU election is almost forgotten in the popular mind but today sees the majority of the rest of Europe go to the polls. Of course, as EU citizens, we are allowed to vote in any member country but additional registration is required. On Thursday when we voted, many – possibly 1000s – of foreign nationals were disenfranchised in spite of being formally and legally registered and entitled. The cock-up or conspiracy theories abound but The Guardian reports:

The government is facing the prospect of being sued by campaigners for EU citizens in the UK and British nationals abroad who were denied a vote in the European parliament elections.

As in so many other things, the Government blamed everything and everyone else including Local Authorities. That is fairly disingenuous. They were repeatedly warned that it would happen but, like about so many things, they were in denial. They didn’t want to admit the elections were taking place. They don’t want to admit Brexit just isn’t doable. I believe that our Government was culpably negligent. The payback will be the opposition parties uniting with disaffected Tories defeating the executive and forcing a General Election. The price of any voting pact will be the cast-iron commitment to a confirmatory referendum with Remain on the ballot. The only other process I can see being viable is to revoke A50.

Monday, 27th May, 2019

Bank Holiday Monday – apparently. It’s 8.40 am and all is quiet. The workers have turned over and are enjoying the bliss of another day off. Actually, we never did that. Days off were days to be enjoyed doing stuff. About 25 years ago, we went to Venice over this long weekend with an Occasional Day attached. That 4 days around San Marco were an absolute delight and one I would happily repeat. Arriving at Marco Polo Airport around midnight and taking a water taxi through the lantern-lit darkness to our hotel in Piazza San Marco was pure magic.

Piazza San Marco

The culture shock returning from the theatrical backdrop that is Venice to the offices and corridors of our old, mill-town school was defining in its contrast. Of course, you can’t live in a theatre and the economic reality of life reasserts itself.

Last night we stayed up until 1.30 am to follow the European Elections. As we have suspected for some time, the mood for Leave has softened considerably as this BBBC/Press Association release illustrates:

In spite of our late night, we were up before 7.00 am and enjoying the sunny day. Today, on a more prosaic level, we have gone out into the sunshine to try to source some Basil plants.  The Garden Centre is all ready to capitalise on Bank Holiday shoppers in the warming weather.

With 10 basil plants -8 Green, Sweet Basil & 2 Purple or Red Rubin Basil – for about £20.00/€22.70. Over the summer, these plants will provide us with material to produce enough pesto to get us through 12 months plus leaves for mixing with salads.

We will be at the Health Club around lunchtime as we were yesterday and the day before that and every day for the past 51 days – just missing 2 in that time. It is usually fairly quiet at holiday time and the facilities are left to odd balls like us.

Tuesday, 28th May, 2019

Wake to Radio4 Today programme at 6.00 am which is essentially focussing on all things Brexit but with other, interesting topics as well. It is on in the bedroom, in the dressing room and, downstairs, in the kitchen and in the office. It starts on the radio alarm and moves to digital radio via television in all the other rooms. It finishes at 9.00 am by which time real life begins but we have suddenly got hooked on Sky’s All Out Politics which runs from 9.00 am – 11.00 am. By 12.15 pm, it is BBC2’s Politics Live until 1.00 pm.

At 1.00 pm, we leave for the gym where we exercise for 90 mins and watch BBC/ITV News followed by the Parliament Channel which we continue at home over the afternoon. At 6.00 pm BBC News (again) is followed by Local News and then one of the highlights of the day with the brilliant Channel 4 News 7.00 pm – 8.00 pm. The day is topped out by ITV News at 10.00 pm, BBC2 Newsnight 10.30 pm – 11.15 pm and Sky Newspaper Review 11.30 pm – 12.00am.

Throughout this period, I am busy on Facebook and Twitter. The problem is where to make the time for anything else. I’ve got to clean the car. My coffee maker has sprung a leak and I’ve got to sort that out. My pressure washer has started playing up and I’ve got to sort that out. The first is 3 yrs old and out of warranty. The second is 6 mnths old but there is no one nearby to service it. And I’ve got to STOP BREXIT!

This is really becoming overload. Having said that, we do seem to be making real headway on the 2nd referendum. Our fitness regime, although time consuming,  is definitely showing signs of improvement. It just feels like turning up to work each day and our bodies factor in the demands of the routine. Strangely, on the 2 days in the past 52 that we couldn’t get there, our bodies felt lethargic and lacking. Even daily exercise can be addictive.

Wednesday, 29th May, 2019

Up and out early to go to our local Honda Dealership. Just 6 weeks until we collect our new car but we have to have ours Serviced and MOTd. They needed the car for an indeterminate span of time so lent us a ‘courtesy car’. It was a brand new Jazz.  It is always interesting to drive a different car for a while.

Honda Jazz Automatic – Courtesy Car

We have driven the developing editions of Honda CRV 4-wheel drive, automatics since 1997/8. Powerful engine, large cars with high driving positions, revering cameras have become so standard for us that, to get into something low (standard) to the road with reduced engine power and NO REVERSING CAMERA was something of a culture shock. Just getting to the first roundabout and putting my foot down only to find myself not accelerating away from the on-coming traffic was instructive. What was nice was the ‘new car’ smell. It was that as much as anything which persuaded us to change our car so often in the past.

The other thing we had to do today was to organise the transfer of our ‘cherished number plate’ to the new car. It used to be a really longwinded procedure in the past with forms to be filled out and posted off with a couple of weeks wait before the returned paperwork arrived. Now it can be done online and is almost instant.

Really good to see serial liar, Boris Johnson put on a path to the High Court to answer for his blatant but convincing (to the totally gullible) lie about £350 million a week currently sent to the EU which he said would be diverted to the NHS. It has been a long time coming but is well-deserved and underlines the fact that the Referendum was won on the back of duping the ill educated and poorly informed.

Thursday, 30th May, 2019

Lovely morning. We were out early to do our weekly shopping. Asda followed by Tesco. Home and then made a momentous decision. We weren’t going to the Health Club today. We both felt desperate but decided it was the right decision and got on  with it.

We spent the afternoon in the sunshine of the garden. We potted up 10 basil plants, sowed more Rocket and Cut-&-Come-Again Salad Leaves, cut the lawns, watered and fed the Fig and Olive trees and succession sowed salad and rocket leaves.

We harvested our first Rocket and could immediately tell the difference. Our bought Rocket from Israel was harsh, strongly peppered and strident in its quality. The home-grown, picked young was soft, delicate and lightly peppered. Delightful with griddled Tuna. The Government ‘Health Tsar’ was featured today trying to ‘nudge’ families away from highly processed foods in order to raise health levels and reduce mortality rates. We feel so lucky to have spent our lives avoiding processed foods and embracing fresh, home-made meals.

Friday, 31st May, 2019

We have seen May out with the most beautiful day which you could be excused in mistaking for mid-summer. Warm, sunny and brilliant with green grass, burgeoning hedgerows and cloudless, blue skies. Swimming outside at the end of our workout really felt as if we were on holiday. Actually, as we discussed it, we agreed that we are permanently on holiday. It is certainly impossible to differentiate between different days in different places as we trot through retirement.

Coquelles/Calais – Ancona, Italy = 976 miles

My watch app tells me that I have walked 50.2 miles in the past week and 198 miles in the past 28 days. At the end of this month, it tells me that I have walked an amazing 2030 miles in the past 12 months. Can you imagine setting out on a walk of 2030 miles? I checked it out and I found that I could have walked the whole of the drive we used to make from Calais in France to Ancona on the Italian coast and back again and still had another 80 miles to spare.

Saturday, 1st June, 2019

Happy June

Glorious day to welcome in the new month. We can hear mowers going all around as the workers find precious time to catch up with garden jobs that the real population – the retired or lame, sick & lazy – do during the week. We had an early breakfast in the sunshine and then potted up our tomato and pepper plants.

It’s all just a bit of fun which we’ve decided to do as we’re not going away for any extended period of time until the Autumn. When we first moved here I had real success with cherry tomato plants in pots and I’ve gone back to those. I bought some self-watering planting trays which will hold 3 plants each.

We’ve potted up 3 yellow cherry and 3 red cherry plants plus one each of the ‘bell’ peppers illustrated below. I haven’t tried those outside Greece so it will be interesting to see how they do. With our climate, I can’t see any reason why they don’t succeed but I will let you know. I know you’re on tenterhooks!

 We lived in Huddersfield for 40 years and have lots of friends still there. We go back at least once and, maybe, twice per year to meet many of them. One of our friends is tasked with seeking out a new eatery to meet up and eat in every time. She does it very well but it would be nice to beat her to it sometimes.

For quite a few years, I have followed Blogs from expats in Greece. One such is a lad who lived on Skiathos. I was in Greece reading about the experiences of another Englishman in Greece. I read one day of his plight as he ran out of Yorkshire teabags long before he could return to replenish them. I sent him a box as soon as I got home. I have followed his story and that of his Polish partner – especially through the nightmare that is cancer. Even though he has blocked me on Twitter because he is, inexplicably, a Faragist and can’t take me posting the truths about Brexit, I still follow The Skiathan’s Blog most days in a strange, addictive loyalty.

The Scullery Kitchen & Bar, Huddersfield.

This morning it paid off because he featured a couple – Judith & Steven Butcher – who had either owned or worked at a taverna on Skiathos but now had returned to UK to open up a restaurant in Huddersfield. The Scullery Kitchen & Bar looks like a good choice for our next meeting in October. I would even like to see Skiathan Man there to dicuss the inevitable defeat of Brexit. It would be nice to meet him after all these years.

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