Week 566

Sunday, 27th October, 2019

A beautiful, sunny day which started off cool but warmed up rapidly. I had to juggle politics with rugby and gardening followed by gym routine and packing to go away for a month.

One of the values of renting a villa rather than a hotel room is that we can wash, dry and iron clothes – well, Pauline can. I haven’t got a clue. It means that we don’t have to carry too much with us. Other than shorts and tee-shirt, I will need little else. One set on and one in the wash would do me although I am told what I must take by my friend.

Our Villa’s Dining Room & Kitchen

We have learnt the hard way to scrutinise the villa’s facilities and this one includes a dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, ironing board and iron, Fridge, Hob, Oven, Microwave, Grill, and Coffee maker. We have developed the rule that anything we rent must provide at least as good as we’ve left at home.

We rarely eat out but really enjoy sourcing good quality ingredients and cooking for ourselves. It provides us both with a pleasurable experience. So, a well equipped kitchen is a prerequisite for us. We enjoy producing our own meals so much that Pauline takes one or two of her favourite knives with us to ensure quality preparation.

We will be picked up by taxi and taken to Gatwick because a month of carparking charges is not cost effective. The hour long journey will cost us £50.00/€58.00 each way. We will be taken to the Sofitel which is just a covered walkway from the North Terminal.

Sofitel Atrium, Gatwick Airport

We can check in at the hotel and then, in the evening, trundle our cases over to the bag-drop area in the terminal and drop them off through the automatic process. After a good night’s sleep, we will walk across to the terminal, go through security to airside and to an Executive Lounge where we will have a bit of breakfast before going down to Gate and setting off. Long ago, we Checked-In online for our flight and printed out boarding passes. It really is all so easy these days. It’s been a long time since we even suffered a delay. (Not wishing to tempt fate.)

Anyway, we have a few days to finish off all the jobs a house needs before being left for a month. I have to cut the lawns, sort out the automatic lighting system and make sure the central heating is set to frost-free. At least nowadays I can control all that from my smartphone.

Monday, 28th October, 2019

A cool but glorious start to the morning. We cooked outside yesterday and will do again today but, with days to go before we leave for a month, we will frost-wrap the fig trees this morning just in case. Shopping this morning and then gardening followed by a full Health Club workout.

Sunbathed in the back garden while Pauline griddled swordfish steaks. Yesterday it was tuna steaks. It is delightful to have such lovely weather. This is officially Half Term down here. We have always associated October Half Term with Autumn leaves. I have vivid memories of an image that summed up the epitome of futility. We drove through the Yorkshire Dales one Half Term week and the weather was blowing a gale. We came across an old man, miles from anywhere, sweeping dry, brown leaves as the strong winds blew them everywhere. What was he doing?

Autumnal Lille

I have other memories of walking the streets of Lille in France kicking through the leaves in the weak sunlight. I am a little ashamed to admit that these memories can make me rather maudlin. It felt wonderful and sad at the same time – the very definition of oxymoron. How many Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter seasons does a man have? It is a reminder not only of passing time, of the inevitability of death but of those loved ones who are gone. It is unbearable and inevitable at the same time.

Tuesday, 29th October, 2019

A nondescript sort of day with occasional, weak sunshine alternating with grey, forbidding skies. Not cold but fresher than it has been. We did a bit of garden tidying and clothes packing against a background of the political landscape playing out on our screens.

Huddersfield – beautiful but stark.

Our last day at the Health Club for a month was tiring. Somehow, it is easier when a run of continuity stretches ahead. Anyway, we did it while watching the Parliament Channel and then came home to cook our meal and watch the Parliament Channel for an hour or two longer. Reading back through my newly restored Blog, I found that this week in 2008, we were blanketed in snow and facing an Ofsted inspection at school. It was going to be a period of maximum stress. A year later, we had retired, spent six months in Greece and returned home to pay off our mortgage and embrace the future. How times and lives can change!

Wednesday, 30th October, 2019

Greece may be coming towards the end of its Μικρό καλοκαίρι (Little or Indian Summer) but we are just preparing to fly out and extend ours. Greece has, quite unusually, experienced a return to Summer weather in Autumn but it now seems to be coming to an end with much needed rains. We are about to fly to Tenerife for some much needed sunshine and warmth.

Resetting the Alarm System.

No Health Club today or for another month. I’ve cleaned the car and garaged it. The Alarm company have sent an engineer round to obviate any problems we might have over the next month. Actually, he has turned out to be a real expert. He has spent 3 hours working on the system and has replaced the sound box outside and three of the five infrared sensors in side the house. We remain in his expert hands for our ongoing security.

We have cleaned out and restored the smoke alarms, set the automatic lighting and heating and put the garden to bed. Our neighbours all around are well aware of our plans and fully in the loop in case of problems. Everything for the trip has been packed. The itinerary has been typed out and printed. We know exactly what to do from the moment that the taxi picks us up to the time we leave our plane in Reina Sofía Airport. That is how we have always operated. Micro-planned down to the last degree.

Oh, I forgot. I’ve got to have my haircut to save Pauline carrying her hairdressing equipment. We have weighed the cases and they are well below our limit but the less we carry the better so I will be forced to spend an immobile hour in the kitchen with a hairdresser’s cape around my neck. Still, I’ll look even more beautiful after that.

Thursday, 31st October, 2019

Up early and finishing packing. By 9.00 am, I was sitting in the kitchen in the ‘Richard Chair’ having my hair cut by my wife while watching All Out Politics on Sky TV. The house and garden are spick and span. The car has been cleaned and garaged. The taxi is booked and we are off to …

Gateway to Europe

Actually, we will stop at the Sofitel Hotel ,where we have already checked-in online. We can drop our bags off between 8.00 pm & midnight and then go back to our hotel and sleep. Tomorrow morning we can walk through security unencumbered by baggage.

We are on the 7th Floor with a lovely view over the amazingly tree-lined countryside of Crawley. The drive here actually gave us the ability to look around at the autumnal Beauty of this area which is dominated by the airport.

7th Floor view over Crawley, Gatwick Airport
Descending to the Lobby in the glass elevator.

Why does travelling always make you tired? From the moment I got in the taxi, I felt exhausted. The taxi driver was a very friendly Northerner from Macclesfield. He had lived on the South coast for more than 20 years but recognised our accents immediately.

Friday, 1st November, 2019

Happy November

The start of a new month as October 2019 drops off the conveyor belt. Welcome to November which we are embracing in a new location. We have greeted the day at 5.00 am with a cup of tea and then checked out of our hotel.

Of course, as the Skiathan will tell you, there is more to celebrate than a new month. Today marks the start of the third Happy Non-Brexit period.

It is early – 5.00 am early. Waking up in a strange bed at this time is never ideal but needs must. Check-out from Hotel, walk down the covered path to Gatwick North Terminal and go through security to Airside. It is wet outside. At this time, the airport is reasonably quiet and we can walk fairly unhindered to our No1 Lounge where we will catch a little bit of Breakfast before going down to gate. We land in Reina Sofía Airport at around 12.35 pm and will be picked up by a driver arranged by our villa owner.

Our dining room for the next month.

Everything went wonderfully smoothly and we took off On time in rain and a temperature of 9C/48F. We landed On time in wonderful sunshine and a temperature of 29C/84F. We were met by villa owner, Darius, who drove us to our villa. It was exactly what we expected which is nice.

Saturday , 2nd November, 2019

Up at 6.30 am on a hot and sticky morning. The temperature hadn’t dropped below 24C/75F last night but we were so tired, we slept soundly until 6.00 am.. Pauline had brought a citrus juicer for me and we bought oranges yesterday along with porridge for Pauline. Breakfast over, we settled down with our newspapers and the rugby. It wasn’t a surprise that we lost and, in a strange way, slightly reassuring that the Tories who had tried to co-opt the English victory for Brexit, we left holding the losing baby.

7.00 am Sunrise as the ferry from La Gomera arrives.

We walked down to Siam Mall and did a full shop at HiperDino supermarket. They had wonderful joints of swordfish and we bought 4 huge ones for half the price we would in UK. We bought salmon steaks and chicken fillets. We took 4 of the biggest red peppers that you have ever seen. In Sainsburys, they would have been half the size and cost £2.40/€2.80. Here, all 4 cost a total of €0.75/£0.65. How can that be? I am going to live solely on peppers for a month.

Looking down from our villa to Siam Mall.

Well, thank goodness we’re going to win the election because, after England and then Man,Utd., I feel I’m on a losing streak! I did find my friend, Jeremy’s office near by ..

My mate, Jeremy’s Office. We’re going to nationalise it.

We came ‘home’ by taxi with all our shopping. The taxi cost just €3.50/£3.02 but I don’t think the driver was best pleased at such a huge fare. At least we had most of our provisions for the next few days and settled down to cook and eat the most wonderful swordfish steaks with Greek Salad and Green Salad. Now Pauline is fully involved in Strictly Come Something and I am out on the terrace doing this Blog.

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