Week 549

Sunday, 30th June, 2019

A warm morning. It is exactly 12 months since we were spending a month in the Dordogne and it didn’t rain in Sussex at all and our luscious lawn died completely. We took the drastic step of completely reseeding it in late September and, 8 months later it is back and even better than before. With an extended period of dry, warm weather on the forecast, I am taking the precaution of watering and feeding it regularly. It is certainly rewarding me for my diligence.

We have now done two harvests of our herbs – Basil (already converted into Pesto portions), Oregano, Thyme, Sage, Tarragon and the cut-&-come-again Lettuce Leaves and Rocket are harvested most days. Cherry tomatoes have set and are fruiting well; bell peppers are flowering and will, hopefully, fruit very soon.

Hydrangea Collection

In the front garden, the hydrangeas are beginning to come into bloom. We grew these in Yorkshire but the Sussex climate is something different all together. So many shrubs that just survived in Yorkshire absolutely thrive in Sussex. However, having spent a large part of our married life taking gardening very seriously with quite large gardens, it is nice now to just keep our environment neat and attractive without spending huge sums of money and doing major landscaping.

Monday, 1st July, 2019

Happy July 2019. Enjoy it because you will never see it again. It has started off warm and sunny. Breakfast with the patio doors open and the aroma of fresh grass and tomato pollen wafting in to the kitchen.

It is 3 months now since we used the central heating at all other than the hot water tank being heated for an hour in the morning and again in the evening. I’ve lived in shorts and tee-shirt for the past 3 months although not the same ones, I hasten to add. I haven’t slept under the sheets for the past fortnight and we do almost all our cooking outside at the moment.

The thing about British weather is that it rarely gets excessively hot and, down here, it rarely gets excessively cold. It is the stereotypical Temperate Climate. This time last year, we were living in a Gite (without air conditioning) in the Dordogne. It was warm – hot even. If it had been this year, we would have been melting in 40C+ temperature. I think we are getting a bit old for that.

We ‘managed’ a considerable number of heatwaves in Greece including one, notable occasion in Piraeus when we went shopping for building materials in 44C/111F as we searched the store yards of Leroy Merlin. I was also very overweight and thought I was going to die. Kathimerini is reporting 

a heat wave with temperatures reaching up to 41C/106F is forecast to strike Greece in the upcoming weak. Temperatures will rise as of Monday, July 1st, and remain high until at least Friday, July 5th 2019. 

Rather them than us.

Tuesday, 2nd July, 2019

Today is a wonderful day. Blue skies, strong sun and a convoy of BT Openreach vans outside our house.

BT Openreach delivering delirium.

BT Openreach??? My first panicky thought was, “Am I going to lose my connection today?” I marched out to confront them. “Good morning, Sir, we are here to deliver fibre connection direct to your doors.

We had received no warning of this although I did start to make a fuss about our download speed last year. I pay for superfast fibre to the cabinet which is said to deliver 42 mbps download speed. Of course, as our development brought extra demands for connections, the contention rate went up and the download speed went down. This morning, I am receiving 31 mbps download and 11mbps upload. When the fibre connection direct to my door is fed through, I could be receiving 1000 mbps download feeds – more than 30x faster than now. It is almost too fast to imagine!

Wednesday, 3rd July, 2019

When you’re retired, every day is a free day. Today is bright, clear blue sky and sun reaching 25C/77F. Quite delightful without being painful. We were up at 6.30 am and out at 8.30 am to our local (3 mins drive) PYO farm.

In 60 mins, we picked 5kgs of black currants and 5 kgs of strawberries. Pauline will make jam later today.

Jam Today!

…. and here it is. Strawberry on the left and Blackcurrant on the right. Raspberry will come later in the week.

Thursday, 4th July, 2019

Gorgeously sunny day that reached 26C/79F. Thursday is shopping day and we visited Tesco, Sainsbury, Aldi and Morrison between 9.00 am – 11.00 am. By the time we got home, a number of our plants in pots outside were wilting in the heat. A good drink revived them and then it was off to the Health Club.

This year, our Health Club subscription costs £1824.00/€2033.00 for the year. In the past 3 months I have missed just 8 days. Attending 76 times each costing us £6.00 /€6.70 for the two of us. To be fair to our club, they are prepared to plough that money back in to development.

Renovated Changing Rooms
Restaurant going out to the Pool

We have recently had a major renovation of the showers and changing facilities. The gym is constantly being refreshed with new apparatus and the restaurant is a thriving facility which is progressive and innovative. All of this is just as well considering how much time we spend there. Even so, many others see the facilities akin to a social meeting place whereas Pauline and I use it merely as somewhere to exercise and do not linger outside that.

Friday, 5th July, 2019

A warm morning – 19C/66F by 8.30 am – which has started sunny but quickly clouded over. The forecast is for the clouds to sweep away by 10.00 am and the temperature to reach 26C/79F at peak. The orders of the morning for me are cleaning the car and mowing and watering the lawns. Pauline is making the next batch of jam. Looks like we will be picking raspberries next week now and jamming subsequently.

On this day last year, we were in Limeuil which is situated at the confluence of the rivers Dordogne and Vézère in the middle of a month away in a gite near Bergerac and on this day two years ago, we were in a Hotel in Lyon as we drove through France to Italy. In recent years our cars windscreens were decorated with (annual – £30.00/€33.50 Swiss vignettes (road tax) and in the past 2 years our windscreen has featured the French Crit’Air which certifies the ‘green’ credentials of our car. We have changed model of car and have had to buy a new Crit’Air. It only costs £3.78/€4.21 including postage from France but it avoids a £61.00/€68.00 fine one can receive if caught without it.

As we were leaving Greece in 2014, it was becoming obvious that the looming crisis was ushering in major, political change. Alexis Tsipras and his left wing coalition party – Syriza – were eventually elected and have successfully managed to keep Greece in the EU against the odds but something the huge majority of Greeks wanted. However, the General Election will be held on Sunday and a scion of the Greek, political aristocracy, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, leader of Nea Demokratia – a centre right party – will ride the time-for-a-change wave and be elected to take on the country’s next stage of recovery. Mitsotakis has pedigree – his father, Konstantinos, was PM in the early 1990s and his sister, Dora Bakoyannis, was Foreign minister in the 2000s. For a country which abolished its monarchy, it is more dominated by familial political classes than UK.

Saturday, 6th July, 2019

Bed at midnight last night. Awake at 6.00 am this morning and up at 6.30 am. By 8.00 am, I was cleaning the car while Pauline was cleaning the house. By 9.30 am, we were on the road to Surrey. We were going to visit P&C at M&K’s house. The temperature was warm and sunny culminating in 26C/79F. We stayed from 11.oo am – 2.30 pm and then drove home. The journey each way was a delight. The traffic was always going in the opposite direction. Towards the coast in the morning as we were driving away and away from the coast in the afternoon as we were driving home.

According to recent research reported in Greek newspapers today, tourism to Greece is showing a marked downturn this year. Reduced air arrival data, an average decline in hotel occupancy of 24% year-on-year with lower occupancy rates and reduced prices coupled with 31% of owners expecting a 20% drop throughout the year. These figures will put the new Prime Minister under pressure. The main reasons for this pressure on Greek tourism are to be found in the economic slowdown seen in many countries from which Greece has traditionally drawn visitors, as well as the special case of Britain with a possible Brexit.