Week 601

Sunday, 28th June, 2020

It is as if they knew. The Blog Gods I mean. Week 601 almost never happened. Since Christmas Day, 2008, the Blog has been hosted by a web hosting company called 1&1 which morphed into Inonos. It is a WordPress build which has been not only hosted but managed by Inonos. It enabled me to work almost without any prior knowledge. After all, I wanted to write a virtual stream-of-consciousness dribble without having to worry about the platform. I have done so with only one, major blip which I eventually solved. Today, it was much more serious.

The hosting company have not updated the WordPress version. I think because they want to stop managing it and cut customers loose to manage their own. I found Week 601 could not be published. The hosts make it increasingly difficult to contact them. Eventually, I was coaxed to cut myself loose of their management and branch out on my own. I did so ….. and lost 11 years of memories. Strangely, Pauline was much more upset than me. I had almost accepted it. A few minutes later, I returned to my site, refreshed it and …. IT WAS UP AND RUNNING!!!! Well, obviously, you can see it.

Memories will go on…..and on…..and on…..and on ….

Monday, 29th June, 2020

I’ve spent the entire day installing, upgrading and customising our new smartphones which were delivered today. Copying our old phones across to our new ones is so easy now that it took a couple of minutes. Setting things up into groups, re-establish accounts and passwords took a little longer. Actually, the import of of the process was so great that I could barely believe it.

As I went through my day, I kept returning in my mind to what might have been. In my head, I had really given up my Blog. What that really meant was that I was giving up on memories of the past 11 years of my life. That was worrying because it is fantastic to just refer back to be reminded of those events even if I couldn’t remember them actually. You ought to try reaching back to events from 2008/09 just to realise how difficult it is whatever the quality of your memory.

Tuesday, 30th June, 2020

Today started at 6.00 am as we got up to go to Sainsbury’s. No more queuing now. We arrived at 7.00 am and Pauline went straight in. Today, instead of starting my walk, I sat in the car and read The Times because it was raining outside. We drove home by 8.30 am and prepared to meet a Goundwork estimator who came round to give us a quote for flagging an area of garden. We have a very basic garden flag called Brett Broadway Buff Riven. It is an economy item but really useful and effective. When it rains, these flags are non-slip and quick to drain.

Brett Broadway Buff Riven

We look forward to the estimate and getting on with the work. As for me, after 11 years of recording my Blog, I have to learn new routines. I can tell you, I’m not complaining. Actually, I can hardly believe it is happening. Sounds straightforward but it is actually quite challenging.

Wednesday, 1st July, 2020


Happy new month to everyone – apart from Brexiteers who are condemned to rot in perpetuity. Looks like there will be a release of continental travel although not for Greece and who can blame them. If I was living on a covid-pure island, I would be tempted to keep the drawbridge up even if it did mean short term economic woes. If I was a Brit (I suppose I am.), I would be wary of flying to Greece with all the risks it carries with it and can you imagine 32C/90F of sunshine and heat and having to walk round in a face mask. Is that a relaxing holiday? I don’t think so.

Wonderful fillet Steak

I woke up at 5.30 am thinking, My Blog’s working! I have to tell you that it feels almost miraculous. When 11 years of memories are gone, it can feel quite daunting. To have them suddenly reappear is wonderful. As we walked out to Asda to source some of their finest fillet steaks, I was walking on air. Something which takes 5 minutes to drive, took us 30 minutes to walk. The shop itself was almost deserted. We bought 6 steaks, put them into our favourite Carluccio’s bag and set off on the half hour home.

We eat red meat very rarely but we’ve both been surprised to find how much we have enjoyed this steak. It is in great demand and it is difficult to source. If you see any, it is best to corner the market immediately. We ate it with just some fresh, green salad picked from the garden plus a lovely, cherry tomato salad.

I spent a chunk of the afternoon cleaning up our ‘old’ mobiles, removing all security setups and returning them to factory settings. They are going to a smartphone purchaser tomorrow who will pay us £116.00/€129.00 each for them. The new phones are free and £232.00/€258.00 for the last pair of ‘free’ ones feels like a nice return. I know we will have paid for them through our contracts but that’s gone now.

For some time now, Pauline has been complaining that her volume button on her iPad was not working. I must admit, I thought it was out of warranty and that we would have to get her a new one. I finally turned my mind to it today and found she still had 14 days on her warranty. I phoned Apple in Brighton. They appear so restricted in manpower that they try to force callers to deal with an ‘intelligent’ answer machine. I got nowhere and was reduced to talking gobbledygook in order to force the automaton to direct me to a human being.

After 20 mins waiting on the line a transatlantic voice went through my identity check and proceeded to ask the problem I was raising. I told her the fault and she proceeded to dial in to the iPad and run a diagnostic test. In the downtime while I was waiting, I asked her where she was. In the Philipines, Sir, she said. The nearest Apple centre is 9 miles/15 km down the road in Brighton and yet the iPad was being diagnosed 7,000 miles/11,000 km away in the Philipines. To cap it all, she asked me to remove Pauline’s iPad cover which immediately released the volume button and allowed it to work perfectly. Thank goodness she was so far away. She couldn’t see my embarrassment.

Thursday, 2nd July, 2020

Up and out early to be at Tesco for 6.55 am. One or two shoppers were already going in as we arrived. Pauline went in with her trolley, surgical gloves and mask on. I set off for my walk. The weather was warm but with weak sunshine. I walked for 45 mins and then met Pauline back at the car. She reported the Store to be fairly quiet and with significantly fewer people wearing PPE. This is going to be the most dangerous time.

The government wants us to think it’s all over so that they can get the economy back to work. People, therefore, and especially the thick ones, think it’s all over because “Boris says” and act with gay abandon. This is a mirror of the American style where right wingers shouted loudly about exercising their rights to freedom and trusting in God. (Something of a paradox there.) Now, many of those shouting the loudest actually have Covid19 themselves. Ignorant self confidence is no defence against a virulent pandemic. One only has to listen to the horrendous reports of those caught up in Intensive Care Units to know caution should come first. We would rather follow caution and live to fight another day.

The garden and the car have never been so well maintained. The house has never been so clean and tidy, our fridges and freezers have never been so well stocked and our current accounts so well filled. Lockdown has had these effects but they are only possible because we are retired with comfortable pensions. One only has to think of those furloughed and doubtful if their job will still be available in the near future. It must be dreadful for them. Talking of money, we walked down in to the village to post off our old smartphones to a company call Handtec who have agreed to send us £232.00/€258.00 in return. There is absolutely nothing wrong with either of our phones, not a scratch or blemish so they will easily sell them on.

In our garden as, I suppose, in many gardens up and down this isolated land, it is hydrange time. We have always loved them although they were not so successful in the North. Here, they can be seen in abundance all round the village.

Friday, 3rd July, 2020

A beautiful morning. The sunshine got us up at 6.30 am. Sunshine encourages a positive outlook on life and the day ahead. It turned out to be more positive than we expected. Our insurance claim, which we initiated in the first week of May for around €5000.00/£4,500.00 looks like it will be paid back in full very soon. Pauline had a conversation with the assessors this morning and it was a really positive conclusion.

High Class Restaurants – Absolute Heaven!

Now we will have to consider our trip to Athens towards the end of next month. We paid up front in January just under £2,000.00/€2,220.00 for 5 days. We really don’t know what to do about it. I supposed you really could describe us as the ‘worried well’. However, it is hard to imagine enjoying the baking heat of Athens whilst wearing a mask, eating outside at our favourite tavernas and worrying to sit for 4 hrs in close proximity on an aircraft having got through procedures in a busy airport. If UK FCO advice changes to allow it and Greek government allow it then we will have a difficult decision to make. It is particularly poignant for two reasons. We have been to Greece at least once every year since 1980 and next week will mark 6 years since we sold our Greek house and land and left Sifnos.

We are long standing customers of the Electra Palace Hotel in Athens and expect to have our booking shifted to next year but we’d rather have the money now and decided what we want to do with it rather than someone else. The flights are about £530.00/€590.00 and we would lose that. Because I am (diet controlled) Type 2 and have medication for atrial fibrillation plus medication to control my blood pressure, we believe I am at greater risk than otherwise. On that basis, we will consult our doctor to provide ‘official’ medical grounds to claim on our insurance. Still, our insurance company tell us there is no time limit for claims so we can decided nearer the time.

Saturday, 4th July, 2020

A warm, wet morning. Not a problem. We have indoor jobs to do. Pauline has been sent out into the garden to harvest piles of basil and make pesto. Homemade pesto is unbelievable but high in calories so we have had to learn to control ourselves. We are also starting on our first attempt to create our own, smoked salmon.

Stage 1

The first stage is to cure the fish as Gravadlax. We have done this before but weren’t completely satisfied with it. For a side of salmon, which tends to come in at 1.5kg/3.3lb, we skin the fillet, trim off the thin end at the tail leaving it about 1kg/2.2lb for curing. The fish is then cured in a mixture of:

  • a cup of sugar,
  • a cup of salt,
  • a tbsp of freshly ground pepper
  • a handful of chopped dillweed
Stage 2

Half of this mixture is placed on a sheet of clingfilm and then the fish sits on top. The other half of the mixture is spread on the topside of the fish which is then tightly wrapped in the clingfilm. It is placed on a baking tray with another tray weighted down on top and put in the fridge for 24hrs. The fish is turned occasionally and, after taking it out,

Stage 3

After 24hrs curing in the fridge, the fish is removed from the fridge, unwrapped and wash clean in cold running water. It is patted dry with a paper towels and then returned to the fridge uncovered for another 24hrs. This process produces a sticky surface coating known as the pellicle. This stickiness encourages the smoking process to adhere to the fish.

The cold smoker engine.

After 24 hrs in the fridge, the fish is placed on a rack in the smoker and the sawdust is lit at one corner. Over the next 12 – 24 hrs, the sawdust smoulders around the maze-shaped container, smoking the fish. The first stage will be completed by 11.00 am on Sunday. We should be trying our first home=smoked salmon on Tuesday.

The rain is over and we are going for a 6 mile/10 km walk. I haven’t been to a pub voluntarily since the late 1960s and I will not be going now whoever deems it to be safe. Why would anyone want to cram into a noisy, crowded, uncomfortable environment full of strangers to pay over the odds for an alcoholic drink when one can enjoy a lovely bottle of red wine at a reasonable price and talk quietly with people one chooses to be with? I just don’t see it at all.

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