Week 596

Sunday, 24th May, 2020

Lovely, sunny morning and 16C/61F at 8.00 am. The Government are showing all the signs of falling apart under the pressure of dealing with this pandemic which they are wholly unsuitable to do. The architect of Brexit also known as Vote Leave Svengali is the arrogant Dominic Cummings who has acted with impunity while threatening the British population with criminal sanctions.

The Prime Minister, who is well out of his depth, has relied on Cummings for the attention to strategic detail required to keep all the plates spinning. Unfortunately, Cummings lacks any real sense of a politician’s understanding of the electorate. A consequence of this has been the tendency towards favouring a ‘herd immunity’ strategy which would have been more at home in Nazi Germany or Eugenicist America than democratic UK. As a result, they have the deaths of thousands more British people on their hands than were necessary.

These are the ideas dominating this morning’s newspapers and political programmes and will almost certainly result in Cummings going soon which will expose Johnson even more. What is particularly despicable is the sight of Cabinet Ministers coming out to defend Cummings breaking laws he has been instrumental in forcing on the UK public. With Brexit negotiations going badly, life could become particularly interesting very soon.

Leather-Jacket grubs become Crane Flies

More important on the home front is the trouble with an ugly little grub commonly known as Leather-Jackets These grubs, which emerge as adult crane flies, are proliferating. Everyone around here is moving towards carpet lawns. I am suggesting they pop up to see Ruth’s in Bolton if they don’t know how it works. At the moment, I am persisting with grass although I have got some Leather-Jacket damage.

There is no longer an effective chemical treatment on the market and the only way to control them is to regularly scarify the lawn and pick up their larvae. In the past, of course, gardeners would have to be seriously fit to rake an entire lawn every week. I have got one of these manual rakes but I use it very sparingly on small areas of lawn. In previous centuries, fit, young apprentices would be given a couple of days work once a year raking all the moss and thatch from the Master’s lawn.

His Master’s Electric Lawnraker

Nowadays, there is powered help. I have a Bosch Electric Lawnraker. It takes no time at all to thoroughly rake out the front and back lawns without me passing out. however, this will be my exercise for the day. For the first time in the last couple of weeks, we are not going out for our walk.

Monday, 25th May, 2020

Another glorious morning opening up at clear blue sky, strong sun and a windless temperature of 16C/61F at 8.00 am.. Apparently it is Bank Holiday but nobody could be sure. We are going to walk up to a small, local nursery that specialises in herbs. We’re not desperate for anything but it will be a good walk with some interest at the end of it.

Dried Apple Slices

I am permanently having to think about my food intake. I had been able to enjoy good food by working hard at the gym each day. Now, with the Gym closed for the foreseeable future, I find it hard to break out of my eating regime and I’m struggling to readjust and control myself. We are still lots of walking but it is not a complete replacement for our normal routine.

I have always used bananas as a go-to snack when I am desperate. I still do although currently my palate is a little tired of them. Pauline who is ever vigilant, has bought me some packets of Dried Apple Slices. I never eat fresh apples. I don’t like them enough to want to reach for one. Dried Apple Slices, on the other hand, are something very different. I am finding them filling, energy -giving and pleasantly sweet. They are really helping me. Now, all I have to do is control my appetite for Dried Apple Slices because everything has calories. I fear I am a hopeless case.

We have now received half of all our claims for travel/accommodation that we have paid out for this year and we are completely confident that the rest will come back to us although it will take some time. EasyJet will pay us back for at least 4 and possibly six flights although they will make us wait. The Tenerife villa that we should be returning from on Thursday after four weeks away, will be paid out by our insurance company within the next couple of weeks. The Athens hotel suite we are still hoping to occupy but, if we can’t get there because of flights, our insurance company will, once again, reimburse us in full.

We are confident of these things but if, in these insecure times, someone goes out of business, our credit card provider will provide us with a ‘charge-back’ service. All in all, we are fortunate to not be desperate for the money and we can afford to sit back and wait unlike some who have lost their income because of the pandemic and who need that cash immediately to get by.

Tuesday, 26th May, 2020

A hot and sunny day. Up at 6.00 am and out at 7.30 am to Sainsbury‘s. Pauline shopped while I walked to Rustington. Just 15 mins each way amounted to 5,000 paces. Pauline was just returning to the car as I emerged into the darkness of the underground carpark. Back home and after coffee, we set about gardening work. I mowed all the lawns, strimmed all the edges and began to water them with the automatic sprays. Pauline trimmed up the hedges and I swept up the trimmings.

We had an hour or two in the hot sun outside in the back garden. The temperature reached 26C/79F and felt quite humid and oppressive. The temperature on Sifnos, by contrast, was just 16C/61F. No wonder Greece doesn’t want to let Brits in. It would just be too cold.

Six years ago, the year we left Sifnos, (Can you believe that it is six years since we set foot on the island?), the summer heat had just arrived. On this day in 2014 I wrote:

Because of the heat, we were out working on the land by 9.00 am and finished by 12.30 pm – exhausted and wet with sweat. We have just completed another level and, interestingly, a number of people – friends, taxi drivers, local farmers, lorry drivers all stopped to compliment us on our work. It makes no real difference but it was nice.

Cold pig for lunch. The pork had developed a wonderful flavour over night. Pauline knocked up a quick pear & onion compôte with cinnamon and ginger to go with it. How wonderful! She is so clever. We are also gorging on white-fleshed peaches at the moment.

May 2014 – Sifnos

Next year, 2021, will see my 70th birthday. It is our intention – Covid-19 allowing – to return for a couple of months to visit the ‘Poison Dwarf’. Maybe we can taker her a dose. I suspect she will be immune to all infection even so.

This evening, Sifniots in some vain hope of rescuing their ‘season’, are all out painting white lines.

Painting the white lines in Kamares Harbour.

This is a traditional, pre-Easter tradition which obviously was delayed by ‘lock-down’. Now the (mainly) women have been out this evening painting the white lines between the stone paving in Cycladic style.

Margarita Kalogirou – Stavros’ Mother

The lady out in the late evening sunshine today is Margarita who was always lovely to us, coming up to our house with meals she had cooked particularly Gigantes which she knew was a favourite of mine. We liked her particularly because she couldn’t stand the ‘Poison Dwarf’. Margarita’s husband, Nikos, died about 20 years ago now of heart failure. It is good to see her looking strong and happy.

Margarita supervising white line painting in the port of Kamares.

With their three main tourist bases – UK, Germany & Russia banned from entry, the season’s pickings will be thin and the winter will be hard.

Wednesday, 27th May, 2020

Up at 6.30 am on another glorious, glorious morning. We are at 16C/61F at the outset an 22C/70F by 11.00 am.. After a drink for Breakfast, we nipped round the corner to Roundstone Pick Your Own Farm. Broadbeans, Rhubarb and strawberries are currently available. We were just needing strawberries.

Star of fruit & field

My lovely mother-in-Law, Jane (Janie) Barnes lived to 96. We stayed in the North until she died. Almost exactly 40 years ago, we moved her into her own ‘sheltered’ apartment. We furnished it for her to get her started. When she died, we brought her lampshade that had survived from all those years ago and it is now featuring on our bedroom ceiling. The wine goblets she so proudly bought us we still use regularly. The napkin holder we bought for from Greece has come down here with us for our Dining Table.

When we moved down here and were looking for shrubs to fill our border, we couldn’t resist a Hardy Fuschia called Janie. We planted it in Spring of 2016. It is small just like Jane Barnes. After the first winter, it looked as if it had died. There was nothing to be seen. We came back from a short holiday to find that Janie had risen from the dead. That was another of her characteristics. She was a deceptively tough little fighter. You don’t get to 96 without resilience. She was known affectionately by Pauline & I as ‘Mump’. Well Mump or Fuschia Janie is really going for it this year. May isn’t even out but she has been in full flower for a couple of weeks. You just cannot keep a good Mump down.

Thursday, 28th May, 2020

Up at 6.00 am on another beautiful day in paradise. We are flying home at the end of our month in Tenerife today – well, actually, we are going shopping in Tesco. I drop Pauline off at the doors where she begins queueing at 7.00 am in 2nd place behind the same man who has been first on a Thursday for the last 8 weeks. By the time the doors open, the queue behind Pauline is double-banked to 100 yards away.

A Magnificent Acer.

Every week for the past 8 I have gone on a 5 mile walk round the local area in the sunshine. I start my walk at 7.00 am and try to get back by 8.30 am. I always do the same route because, as I’ve often reported before, I have absolutely no sense of direction or memory of routes I have previously been on. Most people are incredulous when I say that I still require sat.nav. to find my way confidently to shops I’ve visited almost every week in the past 4 years. Before anyone diagnoses Dementia, It has always been like this for me.

Smartphone Sat.Nav..

This morning I had walked for about 20 mins and was thinking about the sights, sounds and smells I encountered on my way – a tiny, nondescript baby wren hopped out of the bushes to talk to me without any fear whatsoever. A young, grey squirrel almost ran over my foot as it darted out of the undergrowth. Suddenly, on an ordinary residential street, I realised that I was approaching the magnificent image of a mature, Acer tree. Pauline tells me to fix things like that as landmarks in my memory to use to retrace my steps.

I never saw that Acer again. Suddenly, I woke from my thoughts and realised I didn’t know where I was going. I found myself walking down the side of a dual carriageway on the way to BRIGHTON! I admit it. I did have a bit of a panic at that moment. I had no real idea of how to get back to Tesco where the car was parked. I didn’t want to have to phone Pauline to come and collect me. After all, I didn’t know where to tell her to come to.

One for Sorrow

A symbol of my predicament lay dead on its back on the edge of the pavement. I can’t stand magpies generally. They have become ubiquitously dominant birds in our gardens although they do get bullied by seagulls. It looked unusually beautiful in death as its iridescent plumage shone out against the dull concrete. I took out my phone to photograph it and suddenly remembered we had put a sat.nav. app on my phone. I have hardly ever used Waze but it picks up one’s location and talks one through the directions to walk back to ….. TESCO. Isn’t life wonderful?

Friday, 29th May, 2020

Up a little late at 7.15 am to yet another warm, sunny day. Are we still in Greece? As every day blended in to every other day of clear, blue skies, and strong sunshine, we actually found ourselves longing for some rain, a little chilly wind, a change of season perhaps. According to the Met. Office, we are heading for the sunniest Spring on record – and one of the driest and warmest. Relentlessly it seems, the sun keeps beaming down in apparent disregard for those trying to abide by Lock-Down advice and stay at home as much as possible. It looks like the Spring months of March, April and May will have seen record amounts of sunshine.

We have spent so much time walking in sunshine, queueing for shops in sunshine and sitting in our back garden in sunshine. I am beginning to look like a walnut – certainly more brown than at this time in Greece where much of the time was spent trying to avoid the sun.

Don’t want you to get too excited but I am having my haircut this morning out on the patio. There is quite a strong breeze so I probably won’t have to sweep up afterwards. Half my head will be floating across the valley by the afternoon. The weather forecaster is predicting new clouds of Saharan dust falling over the next few days. If my hair arrives first, it could prove puzzling to local farmers.

Discussions with the Notary about our house sale this morning. I always find that unsettling. Here we are, sailing blissfully along and reality keeps trying to intrude. Never mind. All will be as it will be

Blog Entry – 29/5/2013
View from our house – May 2013

Sitting under the pergola overlooking the port and reading was the order of the day. Of course, there is rather a different mindset when the sun shines intensely and incessantly for more than half the year. In UK the appearance of strong sun is more of a rarity and to be made the most of. As a consequence, we tend to stay out far too long and burn. This Spring, we have been able to enjoy it Greek-style in confident knowledge that it will appear again tomorrow.

All the way from China.

Last night we went to bed at 12.00 am. This morning, I opened the front door at 7.15 am to find a huge box standing in front of me. It must have been dropped off by Yodel after midnight or before 7.00 am. it was our replacement griddle. the last one has done 4 year’s service but the heat controller has failed. I searched for a new one. It was identical to the first but half the price. It came from China but arrived within 5 days. This afternoon, it cooked the most perfect swordfish steak which we ate with homegrown salad. Delicious!

Saturday, 30th May, 2020

The penultimate day of May, 2020 has opened as a scorcher. As June approaches, we realise that we are sleepwalking through our 69th Summer without realising it. While closing down and claiming back for travel/stay bookings, we are closing down the Summer. We still have a faint hope of Athens at the end of August but it is no more than that.

Which way to the beach?

This morning, a scorching hot and sunny morning on the south coast of England, we set out around 10.00 am to Middleton beach. It is about 5 miles/8.5 kms away.The houses surrounding the beach are quintessentially affluent.

Sea Lane, Middleton on Sea

The beach is quiet and beautifully open. We walked for 30 mins towards Bognor Regis and 30 mins back again. We said, Good morning to lots of people and Hello, to lots of dogs who don’t understand time.

Middleton Beach – packed beyond belief.

Once again, the day has shot past. Our meal was Cod fillets wrapped in Parma Ham with Asparagus Spears and roast Cherry tomatoes. It was absolutely wonderful. I then had a lengthy job watering all our plant pots and trees in the garden.

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