Week 570

Sunday, 24th November, 2019

Wonderful day of strong sunshine with 26C/79F but interspersed with cloud cover. It is really lovely to get some cloud to graduate the sky. We walked to photograph my favourite garden. We have both turned from elaborate house decoration and fully planted gardens to far more minimalist everywhere. The white, simplicity of Cycladic style is ingrained on our imaginations. Our new house is white, bare walls and our garden is grass with just some utilitarian pots of plants on the patio. 

Gorgeous girl with gorgeous planting.

The lack of rain leaves gardeners here planting for largely arid conditions and mulching everywhere with dark, volcanic pebbles which set off the plants beautifully. Palms and cactus abound. I particularly love these ball cactuses. 

Sunday, of course, the day of packed supermarkets and empty churches and, in this Catholic community, so it is here. Good to see they are getting their priorities right. I am trying to. I’ve done my sunbathing, swimming and my walking and now I will eat fish & salad before watching a difficult match for Man.Utd. against Sheffield Utd. Looks an enjoyable watch.

Monday, 25th November, 2019

Can you believe that we are in the last week of November already. Schools have about 4 weeks left of this term. Whoever thought teaching was arduous? You’ve no sooner started than you’re breaking up. What are these teachers moaning about?  Some of us have to cope with resting in the sunshine.

In Tenerife, the temperature may be a sunny 25C/77F but commerce must go on. After Black Friday – whatever that means – the shops are now decorated out as if the temperature is cold enough for maintaining snow. The Christmas tree has gone up and is illuminated by the sun. It wouldn’t get me in the mood but that’s quite difficult nowadays anyway.

Jingle bells …..

Actually, I did get carried away on seasonal euphoria and bought Pauline a present. She spotted it in an outdoor shop:

I know she’s always wanted a peg bag even though she doesn’t even have a washing line and nothing ever gets pegged out. It’s the thought that counts and the €9.90/£8.45 I paid out.

The best Christmas present ever!

We are going mad tonight and cooking fillet steak. I will take some time to get over that but it is a rare aberration so I will try to be kind to myself. 

Tuesday, 26th November, 2019

As the sun rose outside and, after I had downloaded my newspaper and reviewed my Twitter-feed, I checked the bank account. Nothing much changes apart from standing orders going out because we always pay for time abroad in local currency to avoid additional exchange rate costs. Over the year, as the £/€ rate fluctuates, I buy thousands of pounds worth of euros for future use. I have apps on computer/iPad and smartphone and check the rate many times each day. It has become an addiction I picked up when we were buying for our Greek house and especially when we were selling it. Picking the right rate/time made £1000.00s difference.

Brexit machinations have meant a fluctuating rate which, although I’m not dealing in hundreds of thousands now, still makes a small difference and makes me feel better. What it means is that I am forward-buying all travel expenses which makes it less painful at the time. Today, however, I was shocked to find 2 x £100.00 deposited in our account until I suddenly realised it was the Winter Fuel Allowance for old people.  

This old chap is more than 2 years younger than me!

It does feel rather wrong of me to be receiving help with my heating while sunning myself in the warmth of Tenerife. I absolutely agree that fuel poverty must be alleviated but we really don’t need it. Having said that, we know that means testing leads to many not claiming what is rightfully there’s. 

Wednesday, 27th November, 2019

Sue Wilson

My radio alarm goes off in UK at 5.55 am. It opens on Radio 4 weather forecast and Tweet of the Day followed the Today programme. It has been like that for more than 40 years which means that I don’t actually need the radio to wake me up on time. Here in Tenerife, I have my phone alarm set to 5.55am and my iPad at my bedside to stream radio.

Actually, I didn’t need any of this to wake me this morning because my cousin, Sue Wilson deep in the Dordogne, rather pre-empted my routine by blasting my phone at 5.46 am with a Messenger conversation. She wanted to know who to vote for in her ‘home constituency’ of Market Harborough so she’s either got a postal or a proxy vote. Unfortunately, This middle England constituency is and always has been solidly Tory. The prediction is that Tories will take 55% of the vote with Labour getting 25% and Lib Dem’s on 18%. To reduce the Tory majority, she needs to vote Labour. 

Thursday, 28th November, 2019

We leave this place tomorrow after 28 wonderful days. We have really enjoyed it. The weather has been absolutely outstanding – the best of all the 4 November stays we’ve had. The property we’ve rented has been the best and the area has been by far the most enjoyable. We have loved walking around the area in spite of the hills and we have completed 56 hours of walking and I have covered 160 miles over the stay. I have done 2 x 30 mins swimming each day. I really do feel that 28 hours of swimming have made me fitter.

As relatively recent converts to fish, this place is like heaven. It is available, plentiful and incredibly cheap. Although most of the fish is well known to us, there are still many that we don’t know to sample on our next visit.

Steaks of Blue Butterfish which isn’t blue or buttery but is fish.

We’ve also enjoyed sampling the local wines and cheeses particularly one or two lightly smoked, goat’s milk cheeses.

We had a family planning meeting last night. We were planning our travel for next year. Currently, we expect to be quite busy with a week in Bordeaux in May, a trip of about 5 – 6 weeks in June-July in which we will put the car on the Portsmouth – Bilbao/Santander ferry and then a drive across Spain to the coast of Murcia where we will rent a villa. In August-September we will go to Athens as usual. Mid October will see us back in Yorkshire and then we would be happy to return here next November for another month or maybe 5 weeks. All of that will amount to more than 3 months away from home in the next 12 months.

Friday, 29th November, 2019

We brought to an end one of the most enjoyable months of travel we have had in recent times. It was absolutely delightful and it ended in just the same way. The day was hot – 29C/84F – and sunny. We were up early – me to do some exercise and get out of Pauline’s way while she packed our cases for leaving. We stripped the beds, collected the towels for the cleaners to take away. Pauline cleaned the floors and the kitchen just as she would in her own home. I did man’s work outside by tidying the pool area – a lizard had come down to drink over night and had drowned. I tidied up the patio and laundry house.

VIP Lounge – Tenerife South

Darius, our property manager, arrived right on time to take us to the airport where we immediately exercises our EasyJet Plus privilege of dropping our bags off early having already checked-in on line. We quickly went through our fast track security checks and went down to the VIP Lounge – Sala Montana Roja. This provided us with quiet respite from the hubbub outside plus refreshment and excellent wi-fi.

Our EasyJet flight was an Airbus A321 and we paid a little extra to choose our ‘extra legroom, emergency exit seats months ago. All the extras like early bag drop, accelerated security checks and speedy boarding all came for the modest extra outlay for seat choice.

Easyjet A321

Currently, we love Easyjet. We use it whenever we can. We caught one of the first ever Easyjet flights from Athens in 1995 but it was not very reliable. We tended to prefer Olympic or British Airways.

We were landing at Gatwick almost before we knew it – actually, the flight out was 4 hrs 20 mins but the return was only 3 hrs 40 mins. Our pre-booked taxi was there to meet us and we were home within an hour. Taxi cost £50.00 each way which is a lot cheaper thgan 4 weeks in the Long Stay carpark. I had switched the central heating and hot water on first thing in the morning via my Hive app and the house was toasty and welcoming after the shock of the cold around Gatwick. The hardest part of the journey back was pushing the door open because of all the post on the mat.

We had the most wonderful month and could have stayed for more quite happily but home coming is so welcoming. It makes going away all the more worthwhile!

Friday, 29th November, 2019

A different palm tree on a different shore.

We set out early on a massive shopping round. It was cold but I stuck to my short sleeved tee shirt and shorts. We were at the Post Office Parcel Depot by 8.00 am to be told that the parcel we had missed had been return to China. Next was a frustrating round of shops in Worthing town centre looking for Christmas cards. They seem increasingly hard to source and particularly good ones. I know email, etc., is so much easier but I can’t quite make that leap yet. It seems unfriendly, uncharitable and a little mean spirited. Actually, quite a lot of our older contacts I only know the postal address of and nothing else. It is just a pleasant way of keeping the past alive with a seasonal acknowledgement.

To get to town, we drive down the coast road and you can see how dark and inhospitable it was at that time in the morning. I think we were registering about 6C/43F. The palm trees survive but they’re not happy.

Winter Seascape

Asda, Waitrose, Wilko, Sainsburys, Tesco – we shopped in them all and didn’t get home before mid day some 4 hrs later. We hadn’t eaten either. Still, time for a bit more self-discipline! Football this afternoon and it was good to see Man City held to a draw and local team, Southampton score a later winner for once. Tomorrow, Pauline is going to trial her Christmas Day starter which will remain very hush-hush until she serves it. We will also start back at the gym after a month away. Could be a hard day!

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