Week 563

Sunday, 6th October, 2019

12 years to go… for us

A lovely, warm sunny day which reached 18C/65F. Morning on Sunday is papers, political discussions and home jobs. I actually spent a couple of hours cleaning the car. A trip to the Health Club which was very quiet and then home, shattered, we went round to our neighbour’s house. Drank a couple of glasses of red wine with them and chatted to neighbours from all around us as we wished Pat Happy 80th Birthday. It was nice to get to know them better. Let’s hope we get to celebrate such a birthday.

I threw in the bomb of Brexit to liven up the conversation and it didn’t disappoint. One chap just walked off to the other side of the room because he couldn’t cope with it. Our next door neighbour is a German lady who has lived in UK for 20 years and worked as an English teacher. She has been resisting regularising her status here because she resents having to do so after 20 years of public service and paying taxes to the UK state coffers and who could blame her? It is shameful that anyone in her position should be asked to do anything at all.

Monday, 7th October, 2019

The guilty body?

Mild morning with brilliant, orange, mackerel sky. A bit of a breeze. We had a couple of tradesfolk attending our property. First to arrive was the Burglar Alarm installers who came to provide a 3 year service. When we went to Greece recently, our alarm went off. We think it could have been a spider. They are invading our house in abundance at the moment. As the service engineer finished his survey without finding anything specific, this little chap walked silently by.

Pauline learns some Plumbing.

Next up was the plumber. We have a flexible, pull-down, swan-neck tap. Recently, it started to leak from the base of its neck. The builders said it would be either a washer or a cartridge that needed replacing. The plumber decided he could fix it but would need a replacement part. He would have to return. At least Pauline was able to see what to do after our warranty runs out. The alarm man decided that it was about time to replace the back-up battery which he didn’t have with him. He would need a replacement battery which he would have to return to fit.

We will need two more appointments before we go away and we’re running out of days. We are off to Yorkshire soon and then to Tenerife until December. So little time yet so much to achieve!

Tuesday, 8th October, 2019

Venice in Greece

A mild -17C/63F – with weak sunshine. Pauline went out early to have her face rearranged at the Beauty Clinic. I stayed at home because my face is beyond repair. We only have three weeks to go before we fly out for a month in the Canarian sunshine. Before that, we will spend a few days in sunny Yorkshire. We are hoping to not need our central heating until we return in December.

Greece has already been hit by some difficult weather. Mount Olympus has seen snowfall but, over the past 24 hrs, the Cyclades islands including Syros and Andros, Sifnos, Tinos and Milos have been hit by strong winds, prolonged thunder and lightning and torrential rain leading to flooding. A video clip of a river running over the main street of Sifnos port, Kamares, was sent to me this morning and this of a venetian street on the island of Syros appeared this afternoon.

We always watch the Lunchtime Politics Live programmed on BBC2 and have become accustomed to setting off for the gym as it finished at 1.00 pm.. Recently, we adjusted our timing so we can watch while we are exercising. It is a great improvement and has made the routine go so much more quickly.

Wednesday, 9th October, 2019

Almost a full moon last night – apparently it will take another 3 days. Awoke to heavy rain in the middle of the night. Awoke at 6.00 am to dry and warm weather. By just after 7.00 am, the sun was up and blue skies slowly emerged. Looks like it will be a nice afternoon for swimming outside.

This time last year, I collected a huge, leathery seed pod from a tree in Tenerife and stuck it in my bag. When we got home, I researched it and found that I had collected seeds from Delonix Regia – The Flamboyant Tree. I read up about cultivation and learnt that one should put the seeds in boiling water for 24hrs. I did that with one half of my seeds and not with the other. The advice was totally vindicated because all those not boiled failed to germinate and all those boiled did germinate.

This is an extremely tender plant/tree. It is native of tropical climes. Although I grew my germinated trees on in pots outside, I knew that even a mild winter here would be a danger to them.  Recently, I brought two specimens indoors. In the following graphic, I feature the view from mid-July on the left set against one from today.

Three months apart.

Although I am doing this for a bit of fun, it has to be taken very seriously – like Brexit. When we are away for a month, P&C are going to look after these fast growing trees. If they can make 3 ft in 3 months, October could be interesting for P&C. This is how a fully grown tree can look.

Delonix Regia – The Flamboyant Tree

I just hope I can get them out of P&C’s conservatory by December and then fit them in the car to bring home.

We are almost half way through October but swimming outside is still absolutely delightful. Today, with sunshine on our backs and under blue skies we swam as squirrels chased other on the surrounding trees and birds feasted on the festoons of orange, Pyracantha berries that are set off brilliantly against the backdrop of the yew hedges. After more than an hour in the gym, swimming in this environment is a relaxing delight. We feel so lucky to have this facility.

Thursday, 10th October, 2019

An absolutely delightful day of warm sunshine and blue skies. We still have Basil thriving outside in pots in our back garden. Admittedly, the large leaved, Italian basil has finished but this hardier, purple-veined, Aramato Basil is still going strong. It tastes and smells exactly the same although its leaves are a little tougher and smaller.

Aromato Basil – (Ocimum Basilicum)

My Broadband is supplied by BT. It is reliable, sufficient and reasonably priced. I get a download speed of around 32Mb and upload of circa 11Mb. However, for a couple of weeks last month, BT Openreach vans have been working in our street quite intensively. Today, I learned that I can now have fibre direct to my door for just £8.00/€9.17 per month extra. It will provide me with a huge increase in performance – almost beyond my expectations.

As our demands on our broadband bandwidth increase all the time with 6 televisions, plus control of heating and lighting services in addition to computers, laptops, iPads, Kindles and smartphones all drawing down from it, the increased speed particularly in wi-fi will be very welcome. It may be that the introduction of 5G will obviate some of this demand but, for now, we will take anything we can get with real gratitude.

Friday, 11th October, 2019

This is one of life’s ironies. Yesterday I wrote of arranging for our BT Broadband to be upgraded from 30Mbs to 300 Mbs. Upgrading from fibre-to-cabinet to fibre-to-home. Eliminating the copper from the street cabinet – even though it isn’t very far -makes such a huge difference. In about 10 days, I will receive new equipment – a new hub and wi-fi extender discs. The irony is that, within 5 hrs of booking this upgrade, our current BT Hub went down. I realised when we checked the Hive hub which piggybacks on the BT one and controls the hot water, central heating and lighting to find it wasn’t working.

BT & Hive Hubs

Unfortunately, I realised it as I was going to bed at midnight. By 1.00 am, I had both hubs up and working so I could sleep without worrying. However, this morning, as we finished our coffee, all our smoke alarms went off.

Three of these can make a hell of a row!

They are incredibly noisy and difficult to silence. There was no smoke or steam or cooking. We can only assume it was a spider that set one off but the noise could be heard out in the garden and up the street even with everything closed.

After a while, even calm people working their way steadily through the problem become rather tense and tetchy. The alarms are mains powered with battery backup. Finding the isolation switch was an adventure. Getting to the toolbox and picking out the correct screwdrivers. Searching out a screwdriver to prise off the cap and then release the battery took a while. Eventually, we were able to stop, reset and reassemble the three units and, as we did, a small, black spider abseiled down from the one on the landing. We tested all and all were working correctly.

In the past week, we have had to address a leaking tap, a misfunctioning burglar alarm, wi-fi and Hive hubs down and misfunctioning smoke alarms. As a backdrop to this, I have contracted a severe head cold which is making my exercise routine more difficult than usual. I refuse to give in to it!

Saturday, 12th October, 2019

A grey damp day. My head cold seemed to get worse as the morning went on. We debated whether to go to the gym or not but I couldn’t let it go and forced myself through it. To cheer myself up and lift the gloom of the day outside, I spent a bit of time researching the immediate area of our home for the month of November.

Our sun terrace looks down to the sea and Costa Adeje.

Apparently, it is possible to walk to Siam Water Park and the Siam Shopping Mall in just over 5 mins and to the centres of Costa Adeje and Playa de las Americas in around 20 mins. This is ideal for us. We like to walk and explore new places.

Zakynthos Town Harbour

Just over 38 years ago, we had got back from our first, Greek venture. Zakynthos was our first island. It didn’t have an airport so we flew to Hellinikon International Airport. From there, we got on a minibus to be driven across the Peloponnese to the port of Killini  and then ferry to Zakynthos Town dominated by the church of St Denis (Dionysius). Zakynthos was all but destroyed during an earthquake in 1953 and, after buildings were rebuilt with earthquakes in mind, a year ago, they were hit by another big one. Quite a bit of damage was caused although not on the earlier scale.

Earthquakes off south west Zakynthos today.

This morning, 2 more 4+ Richter shocks hit the island. They are said to be after shocks from last year.

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