Week 557

Sunday, 25th August, 2019

The train to Syndagma was not packed nor was it unbearably hot despite the temperature reaching 37C/99F outside. Things do change. The modern train’s air conditioning is such a contrast with those of the 1980s. The Greeks deserting Athens for cooler island beaches is absolutely nothing new.

At the Electra Palace, our suite was still being cleaned so we took ourselves up to the roof terrace and had a drink while drinking in the views.

Roof Terrace – Electra Palace

Settled in with glass of beer, nothing else was possible but to sit glued to Sky Sports and the cricket. We used to think that Botham walked on water. Now we know, Stokes lives on Cloud-9. If I live to see a better innings than that, I will die a happy man!

Out later to our favourite restaurant for a Greek Salad with garlic sauce, small, sweet squid for me and Moussaka for Pauline……with WINE. We even ate an ice cream on the way back to our hotel. Of course, I also watched Newcastle beat Spurs which was a joy. We’d only had 4-5 hrs sleep in the past 48 so bed was an early 10.00 pm (8.00 pm GMT).

Monday, 26th August, 2019

Up at 7.00 am (5.00 am GMT) and a cup of tea, download The Times on two iPads. Leaving our air-conditioned rooms and going up in the lift to the Breakfast Room, the 32C/90F heat at 8.00 am is a shock. Offered a table out on the terrace in full sun, we choose to eat inside in the air conditioned shade.

Pretty as a picture: 1981 – 2019

We first visited Athens in 1981 en route to Zakynthos. Pauline wore this cardigan & top on that occasion and here she is, 38 years later, flying off to Athens wearing the self same outfit. I love little, meaningful vignettes like this.

After breakfast, coffee and politics, we’ve hit the hot streets of Athens. Ermou Street (the Oxford Street of Athens) is much quieter than usual.

The temperature is 36C/97F by 10.00 am so Pauline’s demands to visit shops is easily acceded to because each one belts out air conditioning. She rarely buys anything because Greek quality is so poor but the activity gives her pleasure so I indulge it.

A Loukamades Shop

As we set out this afternoon, the temperature had reached 39C/102F and made walking quite warm. We were going to find a couple of Loukoumades shops because Pauline (thinks) she loves them.

Loukamades frying.

They are fried doughnut balls served in a bath of Greek honey and sprinkled with crushed pistachio nuts. We found the shops – Pauline had Loukamades and I had ice cream. We were both full afterwards and regretted it. We won’t do that again …… until next time.

Tuesday, 27th August, 2019

The temperature fell over night to 29C/84F but air conditioning is a wonderful thing. I woke up full after dinner last night on grilled sea bass and Greek salad but I forced myself to breakfast on fresh orange juice and the most wonderful scrambled eggs. You can always judge a chef on his scrambled eggs. This one is brilliant.

After coffee and BBC Radio4 Today in our suite, we set off for Piraeus. The temperature at 10.30 am as we bought our metro tickets was 34C/93F and, when we got on the train at Monastiraki, we opened the windows for a good blast of air.

Train approaches very hot & deserted Monastiraki

An aggressive beggar boarded the train and really gave passengers a hard time. Some even gave in and paid him. I don’t know if we have hard faces but he only tried once and soon gave up.

We were down in Piraeus in 30 mins and walking along a deserted dock area which would usually be teeming with travellers. Most cafes are now gone. Ticket offices, which once proliferated, have been rationalised back to2 or 3.

An empty Piraeus

As we were walking round and looking at the changes, we received a text from our next door neighbour to say our burglar alarm was going off. She has a key and the alarm code but it was locked in her husbands filing cabinet and he was on the golf course. Eventually, everything was sorted out and our pulses went back to normal but we could have done without it.

Back in Athena, I was captivated by this little lad waiting impatiently for his sugar-rush with a griddled corn on the cob as temperatures soared to 39C/102F, and we were sauntering back to our air-conditioned, 5* Hotel suite. We swam in the indoor pool because the outdoor one was just too exposed and then read and snoozed until Dinner at 7.00 pm. CET / 5.00 pm GMT. Dinner was Greek Salad and Moussaka …. and rest.

We received a text from our Sifnos friend, Elerania Miliotie, saying she couldn’t be in Athens until next Wednesday and asking us to visit for Lunch tomorrow. We have all our days planned but, if we don’t get together in the winter, we will visit them next summer.

Wednesday, 28th August, 2019

Another beautiful day of hot sunshine and clear, blue skies. After breakfast of fresh orange juice and scrambled eggs, we went back to our suite of rooms for a cup of coffee and the newspapers. Then we walked out into the screamingly hot, bright sunshine through the Plaka to Monastiraki Metro Station. Everything there is easy, automated and in English nowadays which makes life comfortable. Because it’s August and most Athenians are out of town, there were still spare seats which was also nice.

The Athens Metro – They Know!

We have travelled past Kallithea scores of times and never stopped to explore. Today we found it quite delightful with lots to see. The first site was:

Kallithea Lidl

Kallithea actually turns out to be full of dress shops. I went in more over a one hour walk than I’ve been in to over the past 10 years. Still it gave Pauline pleasure and she didn’t actually buy anything which gave me pleasure so all turned out well.

One of the things that has always amused us about Greeks is their tendency to slip from Greek to English and back again with apparent reason. Often we hear someone end a phone conversation with Endaxi, OK, OK, Yassus, Bye. In UK, you are unlikely to see a shop name employing the Greek Language but look at this from Kallithea:

English Language in Athens suburb.

If this was in Manchester and the shop name was written in Greek, it might create interest but nobody would be able to read it.

Really lovely day ended with a long swim in the pool followed by a vegetarian meal. We didn’t set out to do that and we don’t want to advertise it but we really enjoyed Greek Salad with Garlic Sauce followed by Peas & Artichoke Hearts in tomato sauce.

Thursday, 29th August, 2019

Got up at 6.30 this morning and followed the unfolding news about the nationwide anti-Brexit protests. Even our local town, Worthing, was brought to a standstill by protestors sitting in the road. Up to the rooftop restaurant for Breakfast and then out into the sunshine for a long walk.

Our Suite in the Electra Palace

We went around the Acropolis area. Pauline even found a blouse/shirt that she really liked and bought. Of course, I needed a glass of water when I heard the price – €15.00/£13.60 – but had to manage with beer. The lady who ran the shop was a quite delightful Corfiot who was desperate to converse in English and we indulged her for a while.

Let me take you by the hand & lead you through the streets of Athens…

One of the noticeable innovations in Athens this year is the proliferation of electric scooters. They can be picked up anywhere, paid for by credit card and dumped anywhere when you’ve finished with them.

Ancient & Modern in central Athens

After an interesting couple of hours walking down streets we haven’t visited for years, we went back to our hotel for coffee and newspapers. Then we set off for a walk around the Syndagma area which seemed appropriate given what is happening in London at the moment. The buildings are still showing the horrible degradation resulting from anti-austerity demonstrations with burning scars and paint splashes on beautiful stone/marble facades of buildings and pavements.

Back to the hotel and, having completed our ‘paces’ for the day, we went down to the indoor spa pool for a 30 mins vigorous swim.

Electra Palace Spa Pool

We have become accustomed to returning from our exercise programme to cook and eat our one, main meal of the day. Although we are eating breakfast here, we are sticking to that routine largely. Today, we are going out at 5.00 pm for our meal which will be Greek salad, Garlic Sauce and Roast Chicken. I’m hungry today after our exercise.

Taverna Paradosiako – Simply the Best

Wonderful meal which we ate too fast because we were ravenous. A salad as big as a mountain. A bowl of garlic sauce to feed an army. Half a roast chicken each and a litre of white wine and the bill came to 28.00€/£25.40 in the centre of Athens. We were stuffed and hardly troubled financially. We said our goodbyes for another year and returned to the hotel for coffee and Channel 4 News. This new VPN has proved invaluable and the large screen of my iPad-Pro is a good television substitute. Two hours ahead is a bit of a problem for UK schedules but we cope.

Friday, 30th August, 2019

Up at 6.00 am. Breakfast at 7.00 am. Taxi at 8.00 am. Airport at 9.00 am. Bag-drop  at 9.30 am. Swiss Port Executive Lounge for 40 mins and then down to Gate by 11.15 am. Take off at 12.00 pm. Arrival at Gatwick at 1.20 pm (GMT). Wonderful service from start to finish and particularly from Easyjet which is consistently excellent at the moment.

Leaving our Hotel Lobby.

The flight was delightful – quiet and quick. When we first started to fly to Greece, we would leave late on Friday night after school on some cheap airline and it would often be delayed and take 4.5 hours flying time. We would constantly be worrying whether we would connect with the Sifnos ferry leaving Piraeus at 8.00 am on Saturday. Modern jets now do the trip in 3.20 hrs and are so reliable.

Over the Italian lakes.
The beautiful fields of France.

The drive home was really relaxing and we arrived by 3.30 pm. I picked a kilo of figs and 2 kilos of cherry tomatoes from our back garden and then we went out to Sainsbury to buy essential supplies. Everything from Athens to Angmering has been delightful. Easyjet has been particularly delightful. Pre-booking our seats and buying Speedy Boarding certainly helps but the whole thing is a slick operation nowadays.

Saturday, 31st August, 2019

We were up at 6.00 am (GMT) / 8.00 am (EET) and, rather thankfully, returned to our simple breakfast of porridge and hot water for Pauline and fresh orange juice and tea followed by a huge cup of freshly ground coffee. Pauline gets on putting the clothes we took away in the washer. I’m deactivating the automatic lighting system we use from our Hive hub originally bought in for our central heating.

By 8.30 am, we were out in a temperature of 21C/69F with pleasant sunshine. Off to the Garden Centre for a huge, 10kg tub of Growmore which nearly dislocated my arm carrying it back to the car and then on to Asda and, finally Tesco. Tesco had a glut of half price salmon sides. We bought a few to take us September.

At the gym this afternoon, I got so engrossed in watching highlights of the 3rd Test that I had to do 30 mins extra on the Jogger just to see the conclusion with Ben Stokes amazing innings to win it. So today I did 70 mins on the Jogger + 30 mins on the bike. Even though I knew how the match ended, I still found myself nervous and elated in equal amounts. Nothing could be more inspirational. Certainly, I hardly realised that I was exercising until the most excruciating cramp hit me and left me in agony.

If you follow the Blog, you will know that I have been growing on the seeds that I collected from a flowering tree in Tenerife last November. They are now about 30 ins high and need potting up. I will bring a couple indoors for the Winter to ensure they survive. Now I have a pod collected from another shrub/tree which I collected in the Acropolis area of Athens and which I would like to have a go at growing.

After all, everyone said that we would never grow figs in our Sussex garden. Not only have we been growing them but we’ve been eating them for quite a few weeks now. So, it will be good to give this new shrub a try. I think I have identified it as Spathodea Campanulata or The African Tulip Tree. I will further bore you if germination is achieved.

Week 556

Sunday, 18th August, 2019

Another lovely day. Another lovely week to come. I’m going to start by cleaning the car. Every weekend for years in the North of England, I would drive down to the local carwash, read my paper in the queue and feel a little uncomfortable as a team of immigrants slaved over my car for 10 mins. They relieved me of about £10.00/€11.00 or so but I felt my working week justified the cost.

Northern Humour

Even in retirement, I continued for many years but now I do my own. I love the exercise. I spend a couple of hours every couple of weeks and save at least £20.00/€22.00 per month.

Pauline is busily cooking ginger biscuits which she loves and then completing preparations for our coming trip abroad. The carparking at Gatwick is booked. The hotel is booked. Clothes are being ironed although I wouldn’t care if she ironed them or not. Shorts and tee-shirts looked better crumpled on me. Because Greece is on the outer edge of satellite reception for UK, I’ve decided to use a VPN.

This is a Virtual Private Network for the uninitiated which disguises where one is operating from. It has been a genuine source of irritation and puzzlement to me why it has not been possible to access most UK media whilst abroad. Fortunately, there has been a notable exception. BBC Radio is open but why can’t everything else be behind a paywall with login access?

I pay for my Times  newspaper and access it through a paywall. I pay my BBC Licence Fee. Why should I be denied access to it while abroad? I pay my Sky TV and BTSport fees. I can access them on my iPad around UK. Why not in Europe? They should be available to me. Now, they will be. It doesn’t cost much financially although I have been concerned about it slowing internet access down a bit. In European hotels, the internet access is getting quicker and more reliable all the time but I don’t want to compromise it if I can avoid it. Early trials don’t suggest my access is slowed down at all. All the hubs have shown up in Addlestone, Surrey so far. The cost is just £60.00/€65.70  per year.

Monday, 19th August, 2019

Up early for a drive to Surrey. We are visiting P&C and delivering a renovated laptop to a student without one. While there, my job was to set up P’s new iPad and clear her old one for a boy without. He hadn’t had in his hands for 2 mins before it was up and working and looking to install Netflix. Who the hell watches Netflix? I have the Parliament Channel on my iPad. Now, that’s more like it!

Brown Turkey finally ripening.

The drive to Surrey and back was delightful and uneventful. It took us about an hour each way. Even the M25 didn’t have its customary holds-up. I did my duty and delivered a working laptop, setup a new iPad and cleaned an old one for reuse all in a couple of hours. When we got back, I had a lengthy job of watering all the patio pots which are still delivering kilos of red & yellow cherry tomatoes. We eat tomato & basil salad virtually every day at the moment. One thing that is pleasing us is that our second fig tree – the Brown Turkey – is finally ripening and we have started to pick. They are delightful! 

Feels strange to have not been to the gym today. It is only the 3rd time in the past 6 weeks. I feel that I’ve let myself down somehow. Anyway, back to work tomorrow. Even so, we are coming up to travelling time. Greece very soon followed by short breaks in France and Yorkshire and then a month in Tenerife. That will destroy my gym routine so I’d better get used to it.

Tuesday, 20th August, 2019

A pleasant, warm day. We have been sorting out travelling arrangements for this week with suitcases out, clothes ironed and timings checked. Out in the garden, we continue to pick figs and tomatoes. We have done a final sowing of salad leaves and the lawns and hedges will be trimmed tomorrow. We have got back in to gym routine and feel much better for it.

I back everything up in triplicate. Belt & Braces has nothing on me. We have used Cloud Storage Backup for years with MS. OneDrive initially and until they limited ‘free’ storage to 5Gb. I then moved on to BT Cloud which came ‘free’ with my internet and gives me 1000 Gb.. It is invaluable because we can back up our PCs, our Laptops, our iPads and our smartphones all to one cloud area and each of us can access the other’s saved material. Today, we bought some additional USB sticks for to back up specific elements separately.

It is all so cheap these days. My first Desktop PC only provided 42MB hard drive although it was only text-based MS-DOS. However, it had to be partitioned at 32MB because that was the maximum a hard drive could cope with at the time. Of course this was about 1987-8 as my starter Amstrad PCW which had no hard drive at all was being replaced. I wrote my entire 50,000 word, Masters’ Dissertation with the Amstrad saving every precious page on floppy disks.

Today, I popped out to Argos and bought 112,000MB of storage for just £27.00/€30.00 and I can carry all of them around in my pocket. I can retrieve information from them almost instantly as opposed to the minutes/ 10s of minutes sometimes required to access fairly simple text-based files from the floppy disks we had for storage back then. Having said all that, I wouldn’t have missed being in at the start of this information revolution for anything. It was exciting, challenging and rewarding beyond belief. I count myself incredibly lucky to have been in at the start.

The next advance will be the redundancy of fixed-link broadband by 5G mobile signal. Until recently, I have been berating the telecoms companies for not delivering fibre to our doors. This would provide us with 200 – 300 mb/s download speeds. Now, it seems %G will provide us with 20,480 Mb/s. It is almost unbelievable and wonderful and …. I want it NOW!

Wednesday, 21st August, 2019

Lovely day of gardening in the morning and gym work in the afternoon. Sunny and warm – 22C/70F – and delightful in the garden, we’ve really enjoyed our time. Pauline has trimmed all the hedges and I’ve swept up after her. The climate is relaxing and pleasant without being taxing and over hot.

Ten years ago, we were spending our first summer of retirement at our house in Sifnos.


We were clearing the garden and painting the outside of the house. Particularly, this week, Pauline was repainting the intricate sliding iron gate at the opening of our drive.

The view from our house – August 2009

It was incredibly time consuming to paint and the hot sun made the paint go thick, gloopy and impossible to apply after a few minutes outside. To add to her problems, Pauline suffered with the extreme heat of August. We forget how uncomfortable that could be in August. Certainly we found it harder to deal with as we grew older.

Thursday, 22nd August, 2019

Mum graduating aged 21 in 1944

I start the day by acknowledging my Mum’s Birthday. Born in 1923, she would be 96 today. She died 11 years ago. I find it hard to believe so much has happened for all of us since she died. I still have the unconscious impulse to phone her to tell her of something I’ve been doing but that impulse has faded and comes less often. I’ve posted two photographs 4 years apart when she was 21 and 25. The first was just as she was graduating in 1921 in London and the second was just as she started teaching at Burton upon Trent Girls High School in 1948. She and her friend and fellow teacher, Margaret were sharing a flat together above Goodall’s Garage in Repton. Joey Crowther, also in the photo was a Biology teacher at the Boys’ Grammar School and was still there 20 years later as I was preparing to leave.

I must admit, I do find my memories of Mum fade rather with time although specific interactions still bite into my thoughts. It is just the same with my general memory. This morning, the GCSE results come out in UK. We were always in Greece on this day and would phone school to find out the important statistics. What it also meant, however, was that we would soon be packing up the car and preparing to leave the island for the long drive home.

Mum, Joey Crowther & Margaret Adams – 1948

We found ourselves talking about this at 6.00 am today as Radio 4 announced exam results day. We started driving across Europe 20 years ago. In the early and younger days, we would try to do the journey with just 2 stops. From the island to Piraeus and then drive across the top of the Peloponnese to Patras where we would have a night at the Patras Palace. One night in a cabin followed on the Patras – Ancona ferry. Then we drove hell for leather round the Italia Lakes and through Switzerland, just stopping in a motorway service station around Aire de Keskastel for a few hours sleep. Next morning, on to Zeebrugge and P&O overnight back to Hull.

To achieve our timetable, we had to leave Sifnos on the Monday so we got back to Yorkshire on the Friday. This gave us time to do the washing, supermarket shopping and look out our suits and briefcases ready for Monday start. It took us a week to acclimatise to the temperature and the time zone. So much of this, which I had forgotten, came back from the trigger of the exam announcement.

Friday, 23rd August, 2019

Out early today. First, we took our rubbish to the local tip because we won’t be here to put it out for collection on Monday. Next, we drove to Rustington so that Pauline could visit the Beauty Parlour to have a ‘Facial’. I had the joy of an hour in the Waitrose coffeeshop. While I was there, I tried to use my earbuds to listen to the Sky Politics programme, All Out politics. It was only then, for the first time, that I found my new iPad Pro didn’t have a standard earbud connection jack socket. I’ve had it over a month and not realised. With less than 24 hrs until we go abroad, I had to scramble to get a USB-C adaptor for it.  After Argos relieved me of £9.00/€10.00, I was on my way.

Final trip to the Health Club which was fairly busy today. We worked hard and then came home to griddle Filet Steak in the garden to be served with 3 different salads – tomato, cauliflower & broccoli and green leaf. Unfortunately, I watched the cricket in the kitchen as we cooked and ate. No good for the digestion.

Saturday, 24th August, 2019

Last week of August 2019 coming up. We are going to Gatwick and to Athens. I was expecting to watch England destroy Australia in the Test match but now I’m going to mow the lawns and clean the car. I’m not really sure why I’m doing the latter because it will be left in the Long Stay carpark but at least it will look its best.

Gatwick Long Stay North

As someone who never remembers where he’s parked his car in Tesco’s, the huge expanse of Gatwick Long Stay is a nightmare. It was just the same on Superfast Ferries. Fortunately, I was accompanied by the perfect answer – Pauline. Before we leave the car, she writes in her notebook the Zone number and Section letter so we know exactly where to get off the shuttle bus. I know it sounds obvious although I always think I’ll remember but never do.

Ferry Garage, Car Deck 5, zone C  – but where’s the car?

We used to sit and laugh when, using Pauline’s attention to detail, we got down to the 4th or 5th car deck to sit in our car prior to disembarkation (on the left near the bulkhead) and then watched families searching for their car. Often they would leave in desperation and then reappear two or three times, looking more and more anxious and still carrying bags, children, car keys, etc..

Having taken the car out of our garage this afternoon, I opened the bonnet to check the oil and realised this was the first  time I had ever opened the bonnet in the 2.5 months since we bought it. The engine is pristine but I couldn’t find the dipstick.

Week 555

Sunday, 11th August, 2019

I’ve been awake since 5.00 am. The bedroom window was open on a close night and I was woken by the cooing of wood pigeons in the scots pines across the field and then by the screeching of marauding and ever present herring gulls above the house. Lovely morning and quite warm over night at 19C/66F. We went out for a walk around the local area this morning. We were doing it for a reason. On the grassed area of our development which was built on the site of an old Nursery, an old apple tree was spilling its fruit on the floor as a result of the winds. We filled a bag with a few kilos in readiness for making apple & beetroot chutney.

Nature’s Bounty

While we were there, we noticed the abundance of juicy, ripe blackberries. We went back with Tupperware containers and picked for 30 mins or so which resulted in about 2kg of beautiful fruit and terribly scratched and sore limbs. Pauline is such a wizard in the kitchen that this fruit was turned into jars of jam in no time at all and ready to put on our yoghurt for sweet.

Essence of Hedgerow

After we had pulled all the thorns from our arms and our legs, bathed our wounds and washed away the blackberry stains from our hands, we set off for the Health Club. I was shattered before I started having survived on about 5 hrs sleep and then had an active morning but it has to be done. At least I got home to watch Man. Utd. thrash Chelsea 4-0 in the first game of the new season.

Monday, 12th August, 2019

A little damp today. Still pretty warm and we have had thunder circling the area. Of course, it’s my job to get soaked (possibly get struck by lightning) and put the bins out. With great courage, I pulled through. Then, it was time to go out and source beetroot, red onions and red wine vinegar to combine with the windfall apples we collected the other day and from which Pauline will craft a delicious chutney.

The fundamentals of Beetroot Chutney.

We could have got the constituents from the local, PYO farm but, in the proportions we required, Asda was more economical. Although we’ve done a full, gym workout this afternoon, Pauline will be storing a good few jars of chutney before the end of the day.

Home grown salad

We’ve been enjoying our own, garden produce for a while now. Figs and lots to come, green peppers griddled with swordfish steaks, homegrown tomato & basil salad, lettuce and rocket salad – all but the fish produced by us. A bit romantic, I know, but to eat tomatoes & basil both of which were growing in the garden 5 mins before is a lovely experience.

Tuesday, 13th August, 2019

Up at 6.00 am and out by 7.30 am this morning because we both had Dentist & Hygienist appointments. We had alternate half hour sessions with each one starting at 8.00 am.. Of course, at our age, our teeth don’t change a lot and, once again, we have no follow-up work to do. Our contract entitles us to 2 visits to the Dentist and 2 to the Hygienist per year for a price of £100.00/€108.00 per year.

My dentist is a young, intelligent Brazilian man and I thought I would be able to teach him a new word today that I had discovered recently. I had accidentally come across the term Lusophone. It means Portuguese language speaker. It derives from the Romans name for Portugal which was Lusitania and the Roman word for voice which is phone. He thought about that for a while and then said, Ah yes, we pronounce it Looso-pho-nia and we call the Portuguese Losers.

Can’t resist a bargain!

We drove on to Rustington for some stuff from the chemist and bought a couple of Kilos of cherries to snack on and 3 kilos of Victoria plums for Pauline to turn into jam. Last year we picked our own but we haven’t got time this year. We also went in to The Works and bought a copy of the Highway Code. We have meant to for a time because we are both moving rapidly towards 70 and though we ought to refresh our memories and check changes to the law. We may be slow, elderly people but we intend to keep driving for many years to come.

In Surrey, we were always being nearly run over by cyclists on the pavement. The Council allowed/encouraged it. The Highway Code still says emphatically and unequivocally that it is not allowed to ride cycles on the pavement. Down her in Surrey, one is more in danger from being knocked over by aggressive drivers of motability scooters. The Highway Code states clearly that drivers of motability scooters must give precedence to pedestrians on the pavement. I can see that I will be keeping this book with me at all times.

Ten years ago today – 13th August, 2009 – I recorded in my Blog the following:

Ten years ago we asked our bank for a £50,000.00 ‘Bridging Loan’ to buy a field on an island in Greece. We were incredibly lucky to ask a bank manager who not only harboured the same ambition as us – to build a house in Greece – but one who knew our island and where the field was. She helped us have the confidence to go ahead with our project and commit some £200,000.00 that we didn’t have. We quickly paid back the bridging loan and now own the house outright. We retired this summer and, fortuitously, so did she. Sue Riding was lovely to us as Manager of our Nat. West branch. Soon after helping us, she visited our island. She then moved on to work for Coutts Bank. Today I wrote to her with pictures of the house and wishing her happy retirement.

Amazing to think it is 20 years ago since we started this process by instigating a bridging loan but how fortunate the whole process turned out for us!

Wednesday, 14th August, 2019

Strange to see a damp, dark day but that’s what we’ve got today. Pauline was engaged in her final preserves of the year – Victoria Plum Jam. We have both loved Victoria Plums for years but usually the time when they are available has coincided with us being abroad. Last year we picked our own from the orchards round the corner from our house. This year we’ve just bought them from the glut hitting the shops.

Victoria Plum Jam.

I was free to explore our travel plans for next year. We are going to take the ferry from Portsmouth (just 30 miles from here) to Bilbao or Santander and then drive across Spain to Murcia region. I was looking at the drive when we get off the ferry in Spain and where likely stops would be. Nowadays, I try to limit our driving time to about 4hrs per day if I can and that would take us to the city of Zaragoza. Here, I must digress.

There is something about the word Zaragoza that reaches back across the years for me. It is blended in my mind with Zagreb and Zarathustra and linked to a purchase my brother, Bob, made in the 1960s. When I was about 14, Bob went to a jumble sale and bought an old radiogram. The woven speaker cover was fraying and holed but the radio worked and the sound was fine. We used to listen to Dick Barton Special Agent in the darkness of our bedroom and be sorely afraid.

We also used to listen to Pick of the Pops and started to get in touch with popular culture which our family life starved us of. But there was one element that silently imprinted itself on my imagination and that was the cities listed as stations on the dial. They sounded distant, exciting and unreachable. They challenged the sense of myself constrained by the shackles of a small, East Midlands village

For some reason, the cities of Zaragoza and Zagreb spoke to me particularly. I certainly hadn’t a clue where they were and, now I think about it, not much impetus to find out. They existed as distant, future but exciting escapes from my provincial prison. Quite by accident, these chiming words from my past led me to pick up the philosophical work of Friedrich Nietzsche: Thus Spake Zarathustra which turned out to be seminal for my development. In it, Nietzsche states that “God is dead” and that Christianity is decadent and leads mankind into a slave morality concerned with the next life rather than this. My reading of Karl Marx was leading me down a similar path if I really needed leading.

To think that I may visit Zaragoza next year seems to complete a circle of development that will urge me on to visit Zagreb. I realise now that it is in Croatia which is somewhere we have been intending to visit for some time. Having sailed up and down the Croatian coast so many times for years en route to Greece, it would be good to visit and spend some time there.

Thursday, 15th August, 2019

I apologise in advance for the nonsensical religiosity of this entry but today is a big one in Greece. It is colloquially known as the Summer Easter. In the rapidly declining Roman Catholic world, it is known as the Assumption of Mary. In Greece, it is known as the Dormition of Virgin Mary. I always thought of it as Choc.Ice Day.

View from high above Agios Symeon
Map of Sifnos

Our house on Sifnos was built just above Agia Marina and high above us on the mountain was the monastery of Agios Symeon. On this day every year pilgrims – which means huge numbers of islanders and tourists – would drive/walk past our house and on up to the monastery for the Festival celebrations. I always wanted Pauline to stand at our gate with bottles of water and a tray of Choc Ices to capitalise on this deluded nonsense. We could have made a fortune.

The map of Sifnos still features on our hall wall and it holds great affection for us. However, doesn’t this tradition of small world introspection, of old world ritual and tradition illustrate the yawning gap between us and that goldfish bowl world we left behind. It hurts me to say and even think it but, even when we were there, we would hold our breath and allow these things to pass us by rather than getting involved and criticising as I would in UK. The Tsipras government has made a concerted effort to loosen the Greek institutions’ attachment to the Orthodox submission – sorry, religion – but there is a long way to go.

Friday, 16th August, 2019

Warm but overcast day. We were out by 9.00 am driving down to the fisherman’s hut on the Marina.

Looking for Fish on Littlehampton Marina

We wanted a joint of sword fish. It produces 8 big slices for about £40.00. It was waiting for us when we arrived.  Wonderful quality for a reasonable price.

Swordfish with homegrown Peppers & Tomatoes

We did our daily trip to the Health Club for a couple of hours work and then came home for a lovely meal of roast cod loin with salad. Unfortunately, the Test Match was stopped for rain and the rain soon appeared over Sussex shortly after 4.00 pm.. It’s Friday so the workers will already be celebrating.

Saturday, 17th August, 2019

Busy day although we didn’t get up until nearly 7.00 am.. My job this morning was picking tomatoes from our patio plants, harvesting Tarragon, Thyme and Sage and then washing, stripping, chopping and freezing them for the winter use. Ought to be good fun but immensely back breaking and fiddly. The plants will produce one more cutting before the Winter. While I was doing that, Pauline was upstairs in the ironing-room getting clothes ready for our upcoming trip. I finished the morning by vacuuming the house.

Sage & Thyme with Tarragon to come.

Of to the Health Club for what turned out to be a really enjoyable session and then home for roast salmon and salad and the test match followed by Man. City v Spurs which ended in a 2-2 draw because of the video referee spotting a handball. Excellent.

Week 554

Sunday, 4th August, 2019

Warm and humid morning – 20C/68F by 7.30 am. Unlike the North, we are going through a very dry spell and I water all the plants early, irrigate the figs and then set the sprinkler system for the lawn. The morning disappears quickly particularly because I’m reading the paper, writing on Twitter and watching the cricket simultaneously.

On this day 10 years ago, I recorded in my Blog:

Got up early to water the fruit trees. Last year we had one lemon from two trees. This year we have four. We have one orange tree and one tangerine but they are not fruiting yet. On the next level up the field we have about a dozen olive trees and on the level above that we have six peach trees, four apricots and three pears. On the level above that we have another dozen olive trees.

Well, even if the climate keeps warming – and I’m willing it on – I don’t think I’ll be growing lemons in Sussex in my life time.

Rather than sit around watching the cricket, I am going to the gym so that I can move while watching it. It seems to make sense to sweat and pant and still enjoy the game.

Monday, 5th August, 2019

Interesting day which started of damp but warm and became intensely sunny and … warm. We only reached 23C/74F but it felt delightful.

I’ve been reviewing my Blog records from 10 years ago which is quite enjoyable and interesting to me because I have no memory. It was in August a decade ago that we discovered these fruit appearing on trees in our Greek garden.

Kydóni (Kυδώνι) or Quince

We probably should have known them but we were blissfully ignorant of what a Quince looked like. We knew the word but little else. Anyway, we picked them and combined the fruit with a tonne of sugar and produced a product which was really just coloured sugar with not much hint of quince. Good fun to try anyway.

Went to the Health club although we were both reluctant today. Both came back having enjoyed it and feeling so much better. I, personally, feel so much more confident in myself after surviving a 90 mins workout routine.

Fascinating to read the facts on the ground from The Skiathan who talks about arrivals being 17% down on last year. Not surprised because of the Brexit-effect on the exchange rate and reluctance of Brits to travel abroad this year in case they are unable to return home afterwards. More surprised to read of the weather conditions – Strong winds (normal for August) followed by strong rains absolutely atypical for this month. What is going on?

Tuesday, 6th August, 2019

Very pleasant day hovering around 22C/70F throughout the daylight hours. We went out to Rustington early because Pauline was having her hair cut. I had an appointment with Waitrose coffee shop for an hour. We were supposed to be going on to the Health Club but changed our minds at the last minute and drove out to Climping Beach for a walk. It was absolutely deserted even in the middle of School holidays.

Climping Beach

We drove on to Middleton and then Elmer by Sea before driving home via Middleton Farm Shop who were selling their farm grown cherries as well as Corn on the Cob which we bought 6 of for our lunches.

Nine years ago, we were in Greece and coming towards the end of a period of building work, Particularly, we were having our patio walled and tiled. We had been in to Athens to order the materials from Leroy Merlin on Piraeus Street and then booked a team of workers to do the job. For a week or so, we were almost trapped in our home while the patio was out of bounds. When it was finished, we began to wonder why we hadn’t done it earlier. I think the materials and labour cost us about £7,000.00/€7,600.00 all complete but was well worth it.

Wednesday, 7th August, 2019

Self Portrait – 2013

Found this photo when I was tidying up an old laptop to give to a girl we met the other day who couldn’t afford one for her A Level work in school. It is an excellent Toshiba laptop with a 17″ screen which Pauline has replaced with a new one so it is surplus to requirements and should be put to use. The girl is actually doing a web design course using Macromedia Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Flash which I have on this laptop as well as MS Office Pro. Everything she could possibly want but can’t afford. The one thing it didn’t have was an up to date operating system. I decided to upgrade it from Windows 7 to Windows 10 but hit a snag half way through and have spent the rest of the day trying to rectify it.

After login, Windows 10 hangs up on a DOS screen.

If anyone out there knows how to do it, please let me know. (jrsanders@btinternet.com) It’s in a good cause and it’s driving me mad. The software downloaded and installed perfectly smoothly. It boots up to login and takes the password but then goes straight to the screen above. There is no way round it. I’ve tried bypassing it by tapping f8 (and f5, f2, f12) but to no avail.

Thursday, 8th August, 2019

Warm but unremarkable weather today. We have been very active. Up at 6.30 am. After breakfast, we went out to the local Post Office, Asda, Sainsburys & Tesco. Home for coffee and then lawn mowing and hedge trimming. Coffee and then out to the Health Club. Driving home by 3.30 pm and … rest.

Five years ago today, we were back in Surrey and preparing to market our duplex apartment. All of our working lives we had pushed ourselves to the limit to purchase properties that would help us in the next stages of our lives. There are times when, in retrospect, I admit that we should have sold and moved on but I was too happy to do it.

The Pinnacles in Surrey

When we marketed our 5 bedroom house in Yorkshire, it took a full year until we saw a buyer. When we bought our 2 bedroom duplex apartment in Surrey (off-plan), we stayed in it for 4 years and then sold it in weeks for double its purchase price. It allowed us to buy and fully furnish our 4 bedroom house in Sussex without a problem. It was so helpful.

Friday, 9th August, 2019

A lovely, sunny and warm – 24C/75F – day. I spent the morning working on the laptop I wrote about a couple of days ago. I was preparing one of our spare laptops for a girl we met who couldn’t afford one. She is embarking on her 6th form career doing IT development designing websites but had to rely on occasional time with her sister’s laptop to do her work. We couldn’t stand by and let that happen. As I updated the laptop – a 17″ screen Toshiba – by upgrading Windows 7 with Windows 10, it threw up a problem that made it ‘hang’ on a plain, white screen with a bit of DoS text. Having logged in, it defaulted to this screen:

                                         It looked impossible to move beyond this.

After hours of trial and error plus trawling through ‘Help’ sites, I found that a key combination of RESTART+SHIFT leads one to a 3-choice menu which allowed me to clean Windows 10 off and reinstall it. If I wasn’t such a ‘stable genius’ à la Trump, I would have given up. As it is, I persevered and, 2 or 3 hours later, had a fully working laptop looking like this:

I even managed to ‘blag’ my way through a ‘free’ installation of MS Office Pro 2016, a Macromedia suite of Dreamweaver, Fireworks & Flash and a copy of Adobe Acrobat writer. She should be really able to get her work done now with an excellent laptop and over £1000.00/€1080.00 worth of software installed.

Saturday, 10th August, 2019

This house has been far out at sea all night,   
The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills,
Winds stampeding the fields under the window
Floundering black astride and blinding wet

From Wind by Ted Hughes

It has been a very blustery night. It is one of the downsides to living on the coast. However, much of the country has experienced it to a greater or lesser extent. Actually, the temperature did not fall below 16C/61F over night but there were severe power outages in many parts which has led to the joke that, to prevent Brexit, Britain was being switched off and back on again to reboot it.

We went down to the beach before 9.00 am for a breath of fresh air and to see the effect of the wind on the sea. It was weirdly warm but breezy.

Summer in Worthing

We walked on the beach and watched wind surfers dicing with huge waves as the water crashed on the shore.

Winter Seascape?

The fish shop was closed so we presumed that the trawlers had not docked this morning. We were hoping to buy/order a swordfish joint. We will have to return on Monday.