Week 591

Sunday, 19th April, 2020

Gorgeous, hot and sunny day – 22C/70F – and delicious. The seedlings in our conservatory windows – basil, tomatoes, peppers, salad leaves, etc., are growing apace. This morning, I’ve been pressure washing all the large, clay pots from last year in readiness for potting everything up. We have managed to recycle the geraniums from last year. The Winter was so mild that they were screaming, “Save me! Save me!” even before the lock-down. Now, it is a necessity.

That Geranium seems a little out of focus!

Soon I will be potting up cherry tomato and bell pepper plants because we expect the main part of our summer to be spent at home which will be an unusual chance to see them through to fruition.

The figs are more than vigorous!

We planted out fig twigs which were single strand and less than 24″/60cm behind the garage in a warm and sheltered spot. Three years later, they are vigorous, multi-branched bushes at a height of 100″/250cm and already presenting lots of fruit for the coming summer. We know from last year that the fruit is extremely sweet and has a wonderful flavour.

Monday, 20th April, 2020

For years we have been paying plenty of cash each month for a private account with our bank. Banking has never been ‘free’. The reason we have been prepared to do it has been for the individual service and extra but peripheral benefits. From ‘free’ overdrafts to Airport Lounge Membership and Mobile Phone Insurance, we generally thought it worth the price on balance.

We have always used their Travel Insurance but never had to claim. It has been important to our confidence particularly when we were away in Greece for 180 days at a time.

The ‘Benefits’ of the peripheral cover.

Suddenly, never has this service been more important. Consulting the website, the travel Advice is absolutely wonderful. It all is predicated on bookings made before March 18th and on FCO advising against all but essential travel within 28 days of travelling. If those conditions are fulfilled, we can claim a full refund. We booked every element of our times away this year before March 18th so we are going to claim every euro back and reassess when travel becomes comfortable.

We are still holding out the hope that we can fly to Athens in late August and go to our favourite hotel. Our commitment there is around £2,000.00/€2,900.00 but our insurers say we can leave that right up until the day of travel and beyond. NatWest assure us that there is no time limit to register your claim. I’ve always spoken highly of them!

Tuesday, 21st April, 2020

Glorious, glorious day which started at 6.00 am. We were out at 7.00 to Sainsburys and, having secured skimmed milk, fresh sweetcorn and fish loins – haddock & cod plus a couple of tuna steaks, we were home long before 8.00 am. We eat tuna and swordfish steaks griddled outside in the garden at least twice a week. Our fish monger on the beach has been closed for 3 weeks and we have run out of supplies. Although we have managed to buy some tiny, pre-packaged steaks today, I have made a real breakthrough. A local supplier of wet fish to hotels and restaurants appeared to be still trading

Our new, local fish supplier.

Speculatively, I emailed them and asked if the current crisis had led to a change of business model and if they would now be delivering to home customers. I was contacted by return and offered ‘free delivery’ to our house of 3 kg joint of fresh yellow fin tuna at a cost of £59.25/€67.50 and a 3 kg joint of fresh swordfish at a cost of £74.85/€85.25. It will be delivered, packed in ice, on Friday morning. Joy of joys!

Deserted beaches of Sifnos destined to remain deserted this year.

The Business Insider website reports that

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the Greek tourism sector hard with 65% of hoteliers saying they could face bankruptcy.

The Hellenic Chamber of Hotels found that 65% of Greek hoteliers said that bankruptcy of their business is either “likely” or “most likely.” They said, “We obviously believe it’s a year that, touristically, will be lost.” The really big question for me is, Will it all come back and will it be in the numbers of the past? I have a feeling that this experience will change people’s view of travelling and that could seriously impact tourism for years to come.

Wednesday, 22nd April, 2020

Another wonderful day of hot sunshine and 24C/75F, we stayed at home doing jobs. I have been doing some gardening including weed killing lawns. Pauline has been hedge trimming. I’ve also cleaned the car. All these exciting jobs I was longing to do. This wonderful weather is set to continue for a while yet. I’ve given the lawns a long and sustained watering today because there is no rain in sight for the near future down here. In Greece, by contrast, the press is reporting April weather of Snow and rainfalls, powerful wind and Saharan dust.

Greek April Holidays?

Any of those keen to get travelling again soon, sources in our government are suggesting that lockdown for older people may have to continue until the new year. Certainly, the E.U. is saying that air travel will be governed by social distancing both in airports and on airplanes with the middle seats being kept free although it is hard to see how much good that will do.

Thursday, 23rd April, 2020

Mid-Summer continues in mid-April. Today was wall-to-wall sunshine with temperatures peaking at 24C/75F. We were up at 6.00 am to go shopping at Tesco. Home by 8.30 am via Asda with shopping to get us through until the middle of next week. We do this on Thursday and Tuesday, Tesco & Sainsbury. We are scrupulous in our hygiene. We arrive early and are either first or in the first few. We wear masks and gloves. We use our phones to scan and pay for our goods. We clean everything minutely as we finish.

We are good at hunter-gatherer techniques. Our neighbours needed flour. We sourced and bought flour for them. Pauline’s sister wanted flower seeds to try out through the summer. We found them and sent them to her in the post. Pauline’s niece said she couldn’t get yeast to make a pizza. We sourced dried yeast in Tesco today and put it in the post to her immediately. It all adds to the fun.

When we got home, I cut the lawns. I cut the grass verges throughout our road. I fed and watered after that. They are looking pleasingly healthy after such a difficult winter. Shiny, green and striped. Even the die-back has been filled in with healthy grass.

Feeding & Weeding

The big moment of the day was the delivery of a spray bar fitment for my watering can. Unlike the normal rose attachment, this provides a bar with small perforations which make weed filler application simple and economical. It arrived by post today and, tomorrow, I will be able to weed treat the grass verges up and down my road.

Friday, 24th April, 2020

I shall miss these wonderful days when they end. The sunshine I mean not the lock down. I cannot imagine what it would be like to spend it in a flat without a garden or just to spend it on one’s own. Pauline and I motivate each other during the day from springing out of bed shortly after 6.00 am to turning out the lights shortly before midnight. This morning we couldn’t go out because we were expecting a delivery. A large joint of Tuna and of Swordfish from a local supplier.

Browns – our new best friends.

When the van arrived and dropped off a 2.6 kg joint of Tuna packed in ice, we were told that they couldn’t source the swordfish this week but would try again next. The price of the fish came to £49.27/€56.30 which we were able to phone through on Mastercard so the whole process was easy. Lovely people and lovely service!

While we were waiting, Pauline was making a batch of vegetable soup and I was downloading the travel insurance claim form and collecting up the necessary evidence to retrieve all the cash for our May holiday. Each morning I take the covers off the garden furniture but, in spite of the glorious sunshine, we hardly allow ourselves much time to relax and enjoy it. Relaxing is for old people. We have to keep motivated and active and, at 11.30 am, we walked down to the village – about 25 mins – to collect Pauline’s prescription. The queue outside was only 5 people and it only took 10 mins to start walking home. This is the new normal.

Our beautiful village.

Back home, we had a bowl of home made soup and then potted up some seedlings of cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and basil. Out for a walk around the area for about an hour and then home to griddle fresh tuna steaks in the garden and to eat them with salad. Absolutely wonderful. Apparently it’s Friday today. Haven’t had that feeling since March, 2009.

Saturday, 25th April, 2020

Shock as the morning opened overcast. Shock over as the sun broke through by 7.30 am and the day got going. We have decided to stay at home today and leave our exercise target unfulfilled for the first time in three weeks.

Staying at home allowed me to have my haircut. This is a tried and tested routine which has been going on for over 40 years. Pauline is brilliant at it and, even more importantly, cheap. I don’t have any pretensions about my appearance. If you could see me, nor would you. Just after finishing my haircut, the door bell rang and our neighbour across the road appeared with a bag of scones which she placed on the hedge.

From our neighbours.

I’m embarrassed to tell you that we ate them immediately. We have so little self control.

We sat in the sun for an hour or so and then I vacuumed the house while Pauline steam cleaned the hard floors downstairs. Our meal on this sunny and warm day will be cold. Smoked salmon, cold, roast salmon tails with pesto topping and tail-on-prawns accompanied by homemade hummus and salad. These are pinpricks of light in our darkness.

%d bloggers like this: