Week 561

Sunday, 22nd September, 2019

We were expecting the recent lovely weather to have broken by this morning. It stayed warm – 17C/63F – overnight. I’m still sleeping on top of the bed as opposed to in it not under it. We really are going to have to install air conditioning. It is 22C/70 F this afternoon and dry and pleasant with a bit of weak sunshine.

Brexit could founder here in Shoreham Port.

My sister, the wonderful Jane BG, posted something very interesting on Facebook today. It is an extended read but well worth the effort. Shoreham Port is just down the road from where we live and I certainly didn’t know how Brexit could affect it. This piece makes clear:

Posted from Shoreham Port in West Sussex:

“Just a few observations from a recent Brexit no-deal planning meeting I attended representing Shoreham Port.

1) If there is no deal, all fish and fish products (eg fish fingers) exports will require a Catch Certificate. The DEFRA official present said these can take up to 12 hours to process at the export port. Our biggest fishing concern at Shoreham says that if that is true then that would likely end all exports of live shellfish and fresh fish. Shoreham is the fourth largest fishing port in England and the largest port for scallops in Europe, with much of the catch exported.

2) All timber products exported, including the pallets the fish and shellfish are sitting on, will require a hygiene certificate, essentially saying they have been steam-cleaned.

3) With no deal, foreign fishing boats will be excluded from UK waters and UK fishing vessels will be excluded from EU waters. 80% of the fish sold in fish and chip shops is imported and 65% of the fish landed in UK ports is exported. Essentially, the fish Brits eat generally comes from abroad and the fish we catch is mostly sold on the continent.

4) With no deal, organic food and animal feed cannot be exported to the EU under any circumstances. 95% of Sussex lamb is currently exported, apparently.

5) One government official said we are not to expect delays at ferry ports despite all the extra paperwork. All exports and imports will require the relevant Customs declaration forms and exporters and importers will have to have a variety of forms and certificates.

6) All food, feed, medicines and certain other goods with hygiene, safety and/or a variety of other ‘non-tariff’ requirements will have to go through particular ports with the ability to process them. These ports will have something called a Border Inspection Post. The French have set up a huge Border Inspection Post at Calais, apparently, capable of handling all the traffic from Dover. However, there is no room for stacking HGVs and any trucks without the correct paperwork will be returned to Dover immediately.

7) Our Harbour Master believes Shoreham is the only designated BIP port for fish between Devon to the west and Yorkshire the other way. I’m not sure what that means if EU vessels aren’t allowed in our waters anyway.

If you want to know more visit #Shoreham4eu

Pauline & I after exercise.

Did an early workout today so I could watch Man.Utd. … lose at West Ham and Liverpool beat Chelsea. I’ve missed just 6 sessions in the past 3 months. Even as the darkness falls around 7.30 pm, the temperature has stayed at 18C/65F and really relaxing. Still, looking forward to a warm November in Tenerife. Before that, we are visiting France and Yorkshire.

Monday, 23rd September, 2019

Out early on a warm (18C/65F) and sunny morning. We went to Rustington for Pauline to have her haircut. The news, the conversation was about the fall of Thomas Cook Travel. It has been coming for such a long time. Every time we walked past a Thomas Cook shop, we would ask each other who goes there any more. There would always be one or two old dears who had never used a computer in their lives but they must have been rapidly dying out. The real surprise is that the company had been so slow in adjusting to the changing market. There are about 150,000 UK travellers abroad and 50,000 just in Greece. All will need repatriating at public cost.

Cabinet Maker, Thomas Cook launched one-day rail excursions in 1841.

There are always holiday company failures. It is a precarious business. I remember Court Line and Clarkson’s Travel shocking the nation as it collapsed in the early 1970s but it is the historicity of this oldest company in the world that reverberates.

In a connected but separate observation, the UK has rowed back on its original commitments to EU citizens living and working in UK by stating that their right to UK services – Health Service, etc. – will only be for 6 months in to a No Deal Brexit world. Many European countries, including Spain and Greece, had announced continuing support for UK ex-pats in their country on the expectation that UK would reciprocate. Now, they are already reconsidering that position.

Where the Spanish lead, the Greeks will surely follow.

One can feel this rabid, Brexit mob desperately trying to narrow the world and pull up the drawbridge. Soon, Skiathos will be off limits for UK citizens.

Tuesday, 24th September, 2019

Warm – 17C/63F – overnight but wet and that is how the morning opened. It was dark, wet and gloomy. Across the country, heavy rain was causing flash flooding in towns and cities. Here, it was just refreshing the trees and shrubs and washing our lawns a glistening, deep green.

I test my own INR every Tuesday and report the result to the Hospital Anti-Coag. Dept. about every 7 weeks. Twice a year, they ask me to do a testing check by getting the Doctor/Hospital to test me and match it to my own result. Today was that day. Fortunately, by 8.45 am, the rain had stopped and I went down to the doctors’ surgery for my test. My own test was perfect and it agreed with the doctor’s which is reassuring.

The sun came out literally and metaphorically as we sat and watched the Supreme Court deliver the most damning judgement on this Government and its hapless Prime Minister. Joy of joys! Of course, Johnson had insisted that the prorogation had nothing to do with Brexit and the courts said the same of their judgement so did the supremely brave woman, Gina Miller, who had brought the case and Jolyon Maugham, QC who supported her. Boris Johnson had failed his test.

Winners: Jolyon Maugham & Gina Miller

Meanwhile, Greece is having a difficult time with the collapse of Thomas Cook as only one of its problems. 50, 000 UK tourists alone need repatriating not to mention German ones. Will hotels get their bills paid? Will they find contracts to replace these holes for the new season? An earthquake on southern Crete, a whirlwind causing havoc on the Peloponnese, were both followed by 832 migrants/refugees arriving in 48 hours. All they need is Boris Johnson to pop over to sort things out and they will have the full house.

Wednesday, 25th September, 2019

A second, lovely, grey, wet day. It is so enjoyable. I don’t have to water the plants or the lawns. Nature is heaving a huge sigh of relief. So is the House of Commons which has Boris Johnson by the short & curlies  (Google it.) and he is wriggling desperately.

The Tory government refused to bail Thomas Cook out even though the cost to the public purse would not have been much more than the cost to us of its collapse. The Turkish and Spanish governments were poised to join the Chinese if the UK government underwrote the extra £200 million demanded by the banks. I can only suppose that the Greek government couldn’t raise the cash to join in even though the fall-out from the crash will hit them hard.

It is not the last week of the season that is the real problem. It is the new contracts that would have been negotiated over the winter months which will hit hard. The regular loss of Thomas Cook flights in and out of the Greek airports, the hotel rooms pre-booked providing the Greek economy with security of income over next tourist season that will really be felt and may well drive current contract prices for other operators.

The defeat of Brexit in the next few months may come to the rescue of the Greeks in spite of the Skiathan’s concerns.

Thursday, 26th September, 2019

Out shopping at 8.30 am on a mild – 18C/65F – but rather grey morning. Asda followed by the farm shop, Sainsburys and then Tesco where we visited our favourite counter and its usual great display.

Tesco Fish Counter – 2 miles from the shore.

The Fish Counter Manager is an extremely amenable chap who goes out of his way to provide us with everything we want. In return, we spend a great deal of money with him each week. He is rightly proud of his daily, counter display even though you will notice his spelling isn’t the greatest.

Back home, I studied the Kamares Harbour proposed development. I was contacted by a Greek, Blog reader who has been with me since living on Sifnos. It provides context for the closure of Captain Andreas Fish Taverna.

Proposed concrete desecration of Kamares Harbour, Sifnos.

Renting out a property that will become devalued by the development plan which means a huge redevelopment of concrete that will destroy the old fashioned, quaint port side buildings. The small island, retro-Greek style and atmosphere of this port which has particularly developed since the 1950s

Friday, 27th September, 2019

Heavy rain at the start of the day kept us indoors. Actually, we had decided on that the night before. Pauline was doing the dreaded ironing and I was addressing the financial investments.

Interest rates are falling. They could go negative if the ND-Brexit takes place. It means that I am having to readdress our savings accounts to get the best out of them. Until the febrile atmosphere is a little more settled, I really don’t want to tie stuff up for long. Because of that, I am struggling to get much above 1.4%. It will have to do for now.

I’ve never noticed this free-to-air television channel before. Richard drew my attention to it yesterday and I managed to download a series about Greek travel. I know we’ve done a lot of it but it was nice to see old haunts. The first programme we caught was centred on the Cyclades and included Syros, Naxos, Folegandros, Milos and Sifnos – all islands we have touched or stayed or lived on. We are looking forward to the Dodecanese, the Peloponnese, Northern Greece, Athens and more.  

This morning this was posted on an ex-pat Blog:

The Head of Greek Customs has made an announcement confirming that, in the case of a No-Deal Brexit, all imports and exports from and to the UK, including 7,000 products imported daily from e-shops, will be subject to the customs checks associated with Third Country nations. Tariffs will also be imposed.

This includes parcels through ELTA and Courier services. Greek businesses will need an EORI number to make declarations. 4,200,000 UK tourists a year will be subject to baggage checks and will be unable to carry more than 10,000 euros cash with them. He says that a no-deal Brexit would cause huge problems ….

There will be some ex-pats who voted for Brexit if they got a vote. Very few thought it would make their life harder. It’s looking as if a number of turns of the screw will give them pause for thought.

Saturday, 28th September, 2019

A beautifully sunny but rather blustery start to the day. By mid-morning, we are at 18C/65F and I wouldn’t expect it to get much further but it will do for now. We are away in France for a few days next week and will spend some time wine tasting and buying. It will be my first glass of wine or any alcohol for 31 days which will mean I have achieved around 90 ‘alcohol-free’ days this year so far. We will be away for November and I will certainly abstain over January. I would be pleased if I could get it up to 4 months in 2020.

It is important to take control of one’s own life and not to blame other people even though few could deny the significance of childhood and parents. While still an adherent to the tenets of Marx’ Economic Determinism, I am not a follower of Nihilism but would consider myself an Existentialist. The difference, as the Skiathan would tell you, is a fine one but important. Both camps believe that life is essentially meaningless but the nihilist extends that to everything – politics is meaningless, ethics are meaningless, etc.

Existentialists, who I identify with, believe that it is not enough to offer an absence of structures; not enough to reject existing systems of meaning like political correctness, non-racism, cordiality, cooperation and to offer nothing but the absence of these structures in their place. Life is essentially meaningless and, therefore, we can and should construct our own meaning and value system.

Our current politics is one of nihilism. It is one of rejection of existing systems of meaning. Don’t like the EU? Vote Brexit. What is Brexit. Well, Brexit means Brexit. That, in a nutshell, is nihilism and it has resulted in Trump and Brexit. There is another way. An Existentialist step forward.

Goodness, where did all that come from? Hoping to see the Opposition parties come together in the next few days, while the Tories are pretending to play happy families at their almost-conference, to ditch this government and install a temporary one to seek an extension to Article 50. We then have time for a referendum or a referendum through a general election to get rid of this lunacy about leaving our European heritage. The heritage of Marx, Nietzsche and Sartre.

%d bloggers like this: