Week 558

Sunday, 1st September, 2019

September and Back to School. How wonderful. I’m not going! Actually, after a lovely trip to Athens, I am going to school myself on my diet. I’m going back to calorie counting with the app I used to use and which integrates nicely with my smart watch and phone. I have it installed on my Desktop PC, on both my iPads and my smartphone. It integrates with my Garmin smart watch and focuses on calories out through exercise/living while I record everything I eat and drink for calories in.

I can constantly see the balance and, therefore, how much more activity I need to do or how much less food I can indulge. When I return to strict calorie counting, I am always shocked how close to the limit that I go unconsciously and it provides me with the necessary jolt to my conscience and forces me to confront my self-indulgence. The one thing it does underline is the value of exercise. If there is something I want to eat ort drink, I have to earn it by putting in the exercise and you would be amazed how much exercise is required for only small indulgences. Fortunately, I have schooled myself to enjoy very low calorie food.

As schools go back, children and their parents disappear from the Health Club and, particularly, the outdoor pool. The grown-ups can have it to themselves again which is a real bonus. That will help with my calories-out column.

Maria Nadali taking over from Andreas Babounis as Mayor of Sifnos.

Great to see Sifnos elect a woman mayor this time. The new Mayor of Sifnos, Mrs. Maria Nadali, has been sworn in for the next term and taking over from our old friend, Andreas Babounis who we have know since his early teenage years. How old are we?

Monday, 2nd September, 2019

Up early with a cooler start to the morning – only 12C/54F. It is unlikely that the patio vegetables – cherry tomatoes and bell-peppers – will progress any further. I’ve picked all the remaining ripe fruit and I will clear the plants. Autumn cleaning is in order so I’ve been pressure washing the patio flags, cutting the lawns a little higher and clearing annual plants away. I’ve always liked sweeping the old away and starting afresh and this fills me with pleasure.

The last of the sweet fruits.

The one thing I do not intend to sweep away is my identity. I am a confirmed European. British? Maybe. English? Not bothered. If I am not European, I am a citizen of Erewhon. We are living in a parliamentary democracy. We are not governed by plebiscite. The referendum was advisory but parliament is sovereign. Brexiteers just don’t understand this. You can’t ignore the democratic structure just because you fear you won’t get your way. If you can’t persuade parliament to Brexit, there will be no Brexit and that is what we are working hard for.

Talking about working hard, the gym was almost deserted today. Teachers back to school. Parents preparing children for school tomorrow. The grown-ups are back in charge and, hopefully with Brexit as well in the near future.

Tuesday, 3rd September, 2019

The problem today is fitting exercise around politics. Today is the start of the fight back after a summer of politicking by the minority, Tory Government and the unelected Prime Minister. We were pre-informed for Johnson to threaten rebels with deselection and an early election. What we got was a panic-stricken Boris Johnson rushing in to Downing Street, losing his public school arrogant swagger and ‘bottling it’.

A vision of panic!

The election will come and it will be a referendum on Brexit and he’ll probably lose it. It is interesting to read how complacent some ex-pats have become about Brexit. Brits living in Spain say they voted Brexit to keep all the foreigners out. Suddenly their pensions are cut by 20% because of currency exchange depreciation and the hard line being taken by the Home Secretary, Preti (sinister) Patel, against Europeans in UK will bring a heavy backlash in Europe. You only have to read the sensitive response of the men behind Symi Dream to know how dangerous and unsettling all this is.

Wednesday, 4th September, 2019

This morning has opened with heavy, driving rain. Warm – 17C/64F – but wet. Sometimes rain can be glorious, cleansing, refreshing and revitalising. My lawns certainly think so. The England Test Team will be slightly less enthusiastic. For Pifflewaffleblustermeister, Boris Johnson, the weather has changed in a decidedly uncomfortable way. Last night was an absolute joy as arrogant, public school sense of entitlement crumbled in bluster and buffoonery followed by panic.

Panicky Pifflewaffle Blustermeister, Boris Johnson
Johnson’s side-kick , Jacob Rees-Smug

We are looking for an extension to provide time preferably for another referendum but, failing that, for a general election which would become a Brexit Referendum in itself.

As forecast, the rain stopped; the skies cleared to blue and the sun shone strongly with the temperature reaching 22C/70F. We went out to the Health Club and worked hard. I have missed my target on only 4 occasions in the past 2 months including trips to France and Athens. Spent my time exercising in the gym watching my built-in television screen and switching between cricket and parliamentary debates.

The vote to block leaving Europe without a deal passed with a larger majority than the night before and will now go to the Lords before returning to the Commons for the final vote. Then, we can seek an extension to Article 50 in Brussels and bring this terrible shower down before running an election campaign on Revoke, Remain & Reform.

Thursday, 5th September, 2019

A mild but not hot day of cloud and sunshine. All the mundane things of shopping and exercise were done. However, the real stories of the day were in Westminster. After an uncontested summer of bravado, the adults have turned up and are teaching the juvenile clown what will actually happen.

Boris Johnson – The Great White Hope – is disintegrating before our eyes. His Government has caved under united pressure across the House against a No deal Brexit. He petulantly expelled 21 senior members of his party for defying him. In doing so, he turned a majority of one into a minority of 23. This morning, to add to his woes, his own brother, Jo, decided he couldn’t stomach Johnson’s treatment of fellow Tories and was opposed to his Brexit policy and resigned. A minority of 23 turned into a minority of 25.

Electioneering without an Election

As if this wasn’t too much for The Great White Hope, he went to Wakefield to launch an election campaign without an election. Sensibly, all the Opposition parties have agreed not to have an election until a No Deal Brexit is outlawed and an extension sought and provided by Europe. This extension will only be provided for either a referendum or an election. I think we should be asking for a referendum although Johnson’s rambling, barely coherent ‘speech’ in front of a group of conscripted trainee police, one of whom fainted behind him without causing him pause to act, should give us all hope in any future election.

Friday, 6th September, 2019

It is actually beginning to feel a bit like Autumn. The mornings are just a little darker at 6.00 am. The evenings are darker just that little bit earlier each week. However, still 7 weeks until the clocks go back. This morning was the first one which started in single figures – 9C/48F – although we are still picking figs from our garden. I’ve decided that we will get no more tomatoes or peppers as the night get colder and I’ve harvested all the remaining fruits ripe or not. Pauline is going to use the tomatoes and peppers to make her own anti-pasti and the green tomatoes to make a bit of chutney. Waste not want not as Ruth used to say.

The Summer is over!

Pauline was making Bread and her beloved ginger biscuits. I was in full garden tidying mode including lawn raking with my wonderful, electric lawn rake, pot cleaning and storing. Talking about storage, we are looking for some additional  patio storage to put garden tools, furniture cushions and so on away.

A couple of these will do.

You can tell it’s Autumn. After returning home from the gym to cook our meal, it started with one of our Greek favourites – Peas with Artichoke Hearts in tomato sauce (Arakas me Aginares ). This was followed by Greek salad, tail-on prawns and smoked salmon. You just can’t beat it.

Saturday, 7th September, 2019

Not cold today but dry although we didn’t get above 19C/66F. It feels like Autumn is confirmed. We were always told that September in Greece was the best weather and you can have lovely days but we did 6 Septembers in Greece and, in each one, the Start of September turned out as if the switch had been pulled and things changed. I took this picture 10 years ago from our Greek house in the first week of September 2009. It is typical of the possibilities of Greek Autumn.

View from our home above Kamares – September 2009

We did only one year when we stayed into October and realised two things. The weather was extremely unpredictable and, from an island like Sifnos, the ferry timetabled dwindled rapidly and became less reliable in line with the weather. We didn’t need that and chose to make our normal exit around the second week of September from then on.

Our Greek cat family.

One of our problems was the sentimental one of a family of feral cats who had adopted us and relied heavily on us for 6 months each year. We just had to harden our hearts and hope they returned next year which they always did.

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