Week 608

Sunday, 16th August, 2020

We should be arriving here tomorrow. On the left of the shot up Navarchou Nikodimou is our hotel – Electra Palace. On the left, is Pauline’s hairdresser – Michalis Anousakis. We should be walking on this central Athens street but we won’t be and we bitterly regret it.

Ναυάρχου Νικοδήμου/Navarchou Nikodimou, Athina 

Instead, we have been out under grey, steamy skies to for a short, coastal drive. Littlehampton beach area is busy in spite of the weather. A dinghy regatta is going ahead. Bathers are happily swimming in the sea. It must be warm water because many ‘older’ citizens are cavorting in the waves as well as younger ones on surf board and in kayaks.

Our 4 Acre plot of land.

It is 21 years ago this week that we borrowed £50,000.00 and paid £60,000.00 for a field on a remote, Greek island. It was an incredibly scruffy field half way up a mountain and we didn’t have the money. We took this photo from Villa Margarita where we were staying across the valley. Buying a farmer’s field on a Greek island with no money is not a recipe for relaxation. We were in our late 40s and felt that, if we didn’t go for it then, we never would.

Poleitai – For Sale – 1999

We borrowed £50,000.00/€55,300.00 although we were paying £60,000.00/€66,300.00 in Drachmas for 4 acres of Greek land. Above is what it looked like. We both thought ourselves stark raving mad and we were excited/terrified in equal measures. It all happened 21 years ago. It feels like a lifetime.

Monday, 17th August, 2020

A warm night during which, briefly, we had some loud rolls of thunder and bright stripes lightning overhead. I woke a couple of times to hear torrential rain in bursts of two or three minutes duration. This morning it is bright, sunny, warm but fresh. We have to stay at home because we are expecting an all-day delivery of stainless steel, industrial kitchen units for our garden kitchen.

These sort of things are notorious for damage in transit – scratches and dents – because of the brushed steel plate that they are constructed out of.

It was with trepidation that we awaited the delivery van of Tuffnells with our ‘delicate’ cargo. It arrived about 11.30 am and our trouble began. We were concerned about dents and scratches but we found it was attached to an incredibly heavy pallet and every surface was protected by s skin-tight film wrap that had to be peeled off. It took us two hours but we did it. Lookss great and does what we need. Some more to follow and a brushed metal upright freezer as well.

Next will be the electrician, the wifi extension, the television installation and the exercise equipment. Soon, we’ll actually be working out in there.

Tuesday, 18th August, 2020

Actually, a lovely, warm and sunny day.  We didn’t get much above 22C/70F but without a breeze and without the uncomfortable humidity of late, it felt delightful. We were up at 6.00 am and shopping in Sainsbury‘s by 7.00 am. The supermarket was busy with shelf pickers for Click&Collect but few individual shoppers. The IT systems were just cranking up for the day and the same in Asda where Pauline was picking up orders.

Kidoni – Quince

Home before 9.00 am, my job for the day was to set about our bank’s travel insurance arm for prevaricating over a 4 month period and still not paying us out. We have had about £2,000.00/€2,220.00 back from our cancelled trip to Tenerife in May but we are still owed around €4,200.00/£3,790.00. I can tell you that we have been pushed through every imaginable hoop and we will not give up now. 

We have seen the insurance arm of NatWest, which is underwritten by the Direct Line Group, develop self defence routines over the past 4 months making it ever more difficult to prosecute completely justified claims in an attempt to save themselves from pay-outs. Throughout, I have tried to stay polite and reasoned although it has been difficult at times. We will push until we are paid.

Today, we picked lots of ripe and bursting figs. They reminded us of our time in Greece but, eleven years ago, I recorded in my Blog that trees on our fields were producing a fruit we didn’t recognise. Locals told us that it was called Kidoni which I soon found, to my embarrassment, to be Quince.

Kidoni Glyko tou Koutaliou is a favourite with Greeks. It is Quince cooked until soft and then preserved in a sickly syrup. It is eaten with a spoon on its own or topping yoghurt. Greeks love very sweet sweets. 

Wednesday, 19th August, 2020

A dark, wet morning of heavy rain but warmer – humid even. We were up at 7.00 am and addressing issues we need to sort out before 9.00 am. We have the new ‘outdoor freezer’ arriving on Saturday and the electrician coming for 3 day’s work on Monday. It is time to order gym equipment.

I have been looking at a company called Sportstech which is German. Their equipment looks great if expensive. When I started to do ‘Due Diligence’, I found that there were numerous problems with manuals only in German, poor delivery times, difficult self-construction demands, poor communications with the company and having to phone Germany for much of it.

Pauline, who is much more cautious (aka sensible) than I am, looked for alternatives and came up with a company in Shoreham on Sea about 3 miles down the coast. Their machine is not much more expensive and will delivered, constructed and installed and comes with 3 years on-site service warranty. We ordered it immediately but we won’t receive it until October. The pandemic has led to cancelled gym memberships and surging gym equipment sales for home use. 

The local company don’t sell one of these. We have to look elsewhere and the one above is where we are now.

In Greece, as Covid spikes, Kathimerini reports that:

The Greek cruise ship owners’ association (EKFN) is essentially asking for a ban on cruises this season, invoking the dangers of the pandemic.

and Norway has added Greece and UK to its quarantine list. The question is not about this failed tourist season but the next one or two. As we are constantly told, we will have to learn to live with this virus for some time to come and airlines are adjusting accordingly. Will people turn back to flying next Spring especially if there is a serious second wave of infection this Winter? It is doubtful. 

Thursday, 20th August, 2020

Out at 6.45 am to Tesco. Pleasantly warm on a day that reached 24C/75F by mid afternoon. Shopping was very quiet according to Pauline. I was out walking. When we got home, we were very disappointed and rather bemused to find that NatWest Travel Insurance had rejected our claim for €4,200.00/£3,800.00 lost on a villa rental in Tenerife last May. We now have to take our action to the NatWest Legal Team and, ultimately, the Financial Ombudsman. People like us will pursue this to the bitter end. We have very little to lose.

The day has a slight feel of end of Summer. There was a steamy, mistiness this morning. Squirrels are everywhere amongst the oak trees laden with acorns. The blackberry bushes are really fruiting strongly. The elderberries are being raided by diarrhettic birds who happily proceed to decorate cars.

By early afternoon, Hermes delivered two, more wine rack kits. The are produced in Poland and delivered as kits by Amazon for quite a cheap price. Each one takes 63 bottles. I now have a run of 4 racks but still have many more bottles than slots. I must drink faster.

Friday, 21st August, 2020

Went to bed at 11.30 pm. Up at 3.30 am and outside in the back gaden under a totally clear sky full of the most amazing stars. It felt like a Greek summer’s night at 20C/68F and humid. We drank tea and watch Biden’s Presidential Acceptance Speech on Sky News before going back to bed at 4.30 am for a couple of hours. 

Littlehampton Beach Huts

By 9.00 am, we were driving to the local Tip to get rid of lots of packaging from things delivered this week. It was reasonably quiet at this time of the day. We still have to show some photo ID to prove we are entitled. The wind was fairly gusty and launching large sheets of cardboard in to a skip was fairly hazardous but that complete, we went on to the beach to smell the sea air.

Littlehampton Beach

The smell of the sea and the warmth of the breeze was quite intoxicating. There is something unbeatable about it. In spite of the warmth, it wouldn’t really be described as holiday weather with strong wind and scant sunshine this morning. A few, hardy souls were opening up their beach huts. It reminded me of our family in the late 1950s. We went for 2 or 3 years to a rented villa called red roofs – not sure why. I remember, it always smelled musty as we went in as if it was just used occasionally.

Sutton on Sea – Lincolnshire

We always had a beach chalet for the day on the beach and it was very necessary. The wind off the North sea was cold even to a fit, young man like me. We swam but goodness knows how we managed it. I remember we needed a wind break on the sands to hold back the wind and the flying sand. I really don’t remember it as a joy of childhood although, I’m sure Mum and dad thought they were doing their best.

Saturday, 22nd August, 2020

It was a breezy but very warm night and I didn’t sleep particularly well. Around 4.00 am, we had a couple of bursts of torrential rain but not for long and when we rose around 6.30 am, the world looked fresh, bright and sunny. We are ordering so much ‘stuff’ at the moment that we are tied at home until things are delivered. Today it was an upright freezer for the outdoor kitchen. 

We’ve gone for the industrial look with the units, freezer and apparatus – Commercial Griddles, Deep Fat Fryer and Hob which will be supplemented with an electric Barbecue Grill. 

The gym equipment has been ordered but the pandemic has made people – like us – so averse to taking the risk in a Commercial Gym that so many are – like us – developing their own at home. 

As I complete my writing for this afternoon, I have had a very unexpected and valuable call from the Legal Services of our Bank’s Black Account. I have referred my ‘failed’ claim to them for pursuit. It cost us nothing other than our normal account fees. They will take up our case and employ Spanish lawyers to prosecute it. They have every confidence of success although it will take a while. Even if they fail ultimately, I will then have an unassailable case against my insurance company. What a way to open the weekend!

Week 607

Sunday, 9th August, 2020

As the Summer hits its high points – and it’s already 23C/74F at 8.00 am in the garden – we are preparing for a long Winter. Well, squirrels do it. Why shouldn’t we? Fail to Prepare and you should Prepare to Fail. Exercise has been magical since the start of the pandemic even though we did, initially, miss the health Club. We know that this magical weather will end and that, although we are in a fortunate part of the country for warmth and sun, there will be wet days and relatively cold days when we won’t want to go our walking.

At 9.00 pm last night, there was a knock on the door and a young man handed over two, black, rubberised tiles each about 0.5 mtrs square. These will be the basis of our gym floor. We had been looking at buying the flooring from an on-line company. The materials alone would have cost us £500.00/€554.00. The work would have taken us days of sweat and frustration. Pauline found a company in Shoreham-by-Sea who have quoted us £561.0/€22.00 to supply and fit the whole floor and they’ll do it in 4 hrs.. Guess what we decided to do.

There are 2 styles in 4 different colours to choose from. We chose the roundal style in black. The sections are thick sop sound deadening and flexible which is good or an elephant like me. They are warm and moppable for those who sweat a lot. The tiles are designed like jigsaw pieces. They interlock with a good beating from a rubber hammer. What it does mean that, in the unlikely event one was damaged, it can be removed a replaced.

As the temperature has climbed to 36F/97F this afternoon, even our thoughts have turned to air conditioning. If this is to be the ‘new normal’, we are going to need some relief. We had it around the house in Greece and now will come to expect it in Sussex.

Monday, 10th August, 2020

A very hot night that didn’t fall below 22C/70F which officially designates it as a ‘tropical’ night. We were up at 6.30 am because we were both thirsty after losing so much liquid over night. We were facing a day of hot temperatures – We reached 32C/90F. – which were acceptable even for Greek summer and we were finishing our preparations for the gym flooring to go down.

Eleven years ago, we had been retired for 4 months and were preparing to drive to our Greek house until October. We had a new car which had been valeted. We were desperately trying to make sure that I had enough drugs to last me over the duration.

Packing drugs in the Dining Room – 2009

Looking at the photo I posted all those years ago, it carries so many connotations for me. The Dining Room is in Quarry Court, Longwood, Huddersfield. The Dining Room features a stripped, oak table that Pauline bought for a few pounds in 1974. The Drinks Cabinet came from my family. When I requested it, my Mother insisted I buy it from her. The chair is one of 4 carved, mahogany Dining chairs that Pauline and I bought from an antique shop in Yorkshire and had reupholstered. All the furniture was left for the house purchaser. The drugs are at my worst point. I no longer take Type 2 medication, Hypertension medication is almost gone and Cholesterol medication is halved.  The whole scene represents a distant existence.

Our route was from Huddersfield to St George’s Dock, Hull and overnight on P&O Ferry to Zebrugge. Drive like bats out of hell non-stop to Ancona … and rest. Luxury Cabin on Superfast for 24 hrs down the Adriatic.

Good Old Days

Arrive in Patras and drive to Piraeus to, hopefully, catch ferry to Sifnos that day. The whole journey was to take us 3 days although that didn’t always work. When I think now that I drove at speeds hovering around 100 mph most of the way through Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy with the latter very fatigued and through the darkness of the early hours of the morning. Such brave-foolish things young people do. At least we survived and are still here to tell the tale until Covid-19 gets us!

They were exciting/challenging times but, although I long to get back on my travels, I’m not sure I would want to embrace this challenge again. We had thought of it this year. maybe the pandemic saved us from ourselves.

Tuesday, 11th August, 2020

Another hot, humid night led to a hot and humid early morning. At 7.00 am, as we walked in to Sainsbury‘s, the temperature was 21C/70F. It was the first time I had been in to a supermarket for quite a few weeks. The first thing that hit me was how few actual shoppers were in the aisles which were almost blocked by Click&Collect pickers with their full trolleys. They were all wearing masks although all the ‘directional’ arrow indicators had gone which meant that ‘distancing’ was no longer being strictly observed. Shelves were not really fully stocked. Fish counters, Delicatessen counters, Bakery counters were still not open although we were told last week that Tesco Fish counter will reopen next week. We suspect that supermarkets may take advantage of this pandemic to rationalise a number of facilities out of existence.

By 3.00 pm, the temperature has hit 33C/92F. I have spray-watered the lawns so that they look thick, green and lush. We have produced another batch of smoked salmon. We have been constantly refining our technique until we hit the recipe we both like. We are both amazed at the results of our experiments. The final solution has been a longer cured – 28 hrs – Gravadlax followed by a miniscule amount of smoking. We had been told by all the experts that smoking should be for between 24 – 48 hrs. The result was a product that burnt one’s throat and remained there for days afterwards. There was little taste of salmon and huge amounts of campfire. 

Home smoked salmon

We have refined it down until we do 28 hrs curing in salt, sugar and dill followed by just one hour smoking in apple wood. The final product is wonderful and costs about 25% of the shop packaged equivalent. Winner all round.

Wednesday, 12th August, 2020

As we got up at 6.30 am, the temperature was 22C/70f – so officially another Tropical Night. By 9.00 am it was 24C/75F and outside I was beginning to believe I was hearing the cacophony of cicadas across the garden. All it needed was the braying of a donkey from across the valley, the clip of goat hooves up the road, the long, low, boom of an arriving ferry and …

Out in the garden, the overnight warmth had encouraged even more tomatoes to scream out, Pick me!. I picked them. Just 3 pots of tomato plants have produced 5Kgs of fruit with about the same again to come. However, I really must read the seed packets next year. I bought what I thought were sweet, cascading cherry tomatoes. They are very ripe but not sweet by modern standards. They have cascaded but are much bigger than cherry tomatoes. Similarly, I grew the pepper plants from seed. I thought I was buying ‘bell’ pepper plant seeds. The first one fell off as I examined them this morning. It is in ‘finger’ shape. When I returned to the original seed packet, it clearly said, sweet tasting, elongated, finger peppers. Well, I’m only have a Research Degree. Don’t expect me to read things.

Two young men have arrived to install the gym floor. It is a thick, rubberised carpet of interlocking tiles. Warm, insulating and quiet to exercise on. They are interesting people – Poles who sound like Americans – who are much in demand at the moment. So many others are doing what we are doing and not returning to commercial gyms but developing gyms at home. It might be an extra up front expense but will pay dividends in the future. Certainly, I wouldn’t be surprised if homes in the country/on the coast carry a premium and especially with a home gym attached. People will want to get away from the density of urban dwelling and the risks of close contact exercise. I think we’re on to a winner here!

I am writing this at 2.30 pm. The temperature has hit 32C/90F once again and it feels very wet. Humidity makes everything more difficult. This morning we cut all the lawns, trimmed all the hedging, strimmed all the edges, swept up all the cuttings and watered all the grass. The weather made it twice as tiring.

Thursday, 13th August, 2020

Another hot, ‘Tropical Night’ with bursts of heavy rain opened dry and steamy at 6.00 am. This is a delicious time when so many lie-a-bed and leave the world to us. It looks and smells fresh and wonderful. We arrived at Tesco by 6.55 am as the temperature reached 24C/75F. Our ways parted as Pauline went in to the store and I set off on my walk. It was a very sweaty activity today as it has been for the best part of a week but enjoyable for all that. 

4 Wine Racks = 4 x 63 = 252 bottles

I ordered these wine racks from Amazon. They come flat-packed and require 36 screws. I have had an electric screw driver and an electric drill/screwdriver for more than 10 years and really been terrified of using them. Today, we built 4 wine racks with 144 screws and found that an electric drill/screw driver wasn’t so bad at all.

We also ordered our garden kitchen equipment – stainless steel, professional cabinets and a large, upright freezer. We have had the flooring laid and booked our favourite electrician to install 8 x double electrical sockets which will require a new, consumer unit. We will also have 3 double LED strip lights installed and a lantern with PIR sensor outside. I have worked out how to take wi-fi outside where I will have a large, 55″ TV with a Sky Q Box installed so that life can run seamlessly while we are exercising.

Just today’s harvest.

On this lovely evening in the garden, I’ve been picking tomatoes that have ripened over the day. We are already up to more than 7kgs/15.5 lbs from just 3 pots of plants. We are trying hard to eat them although they are softening fast in this hot weather. Today, our meal consisted of Roast Cod loin accompanied by roast tomato & garlic. That’s all. I ate so much tomato! I am really trying but one can only do so much.

Friday, 14th August, 2020

Up at 7.00 am to a very different day. Hot, steamy and overcast. It was 22C/70F from the start. We have a busy morning which, after Breakfast, starts with a trip to the Tip. We have huge piles of cardboard that came around a number of deliveries recently. Interesting to find that at 9.00 am, the long queues of recent times have now gone. Gone where? I’m not sure but certainly not to France. After emptying the car of rubbish, we drove on to Screwfix for our gym development materials for and then on to Sainsbury‘s. Everywhere was surprisingly quiet. We completed our morning activities with a long walk.

Of course, the shambles of the ludicrously revealing examination system were consciously knocked off the front pages by the viciously political  attack on tourism to France. Private schools grades marked up and State schools grades, particularly in deprived and impoverished areas, marked down. Everything done on the hoof after months when real thought could have been given to the situation. Ultimately, Tories have resorted to the age old method of discrimination. But don’t worry about that. Look at the little dinghy of brown people trying to reach Britain for a better life. 

Just to throw in to the mix another dead cat to bounce, the Tories add more misery to European Travel by forcing those returning from France to quarantine for 2 weeks. FCO advice officially becomes against all but essential travel which automatically negates insurance and leaves people swinging in the wind.

Greece has had a reasonably ‘good pandemic’ with very low death rates particularly on the islands although opening up to tourism has brought worrying, new rates of infection. Of course, Greek islanders only have the Tourist £/$/€ to survive the winter comfortably. They must be very worried about their futures at the moment. 

One of our old favourites – ‘Taverna Kamaron’ – with no queues for a table.

The Cruise industry is absolute dead – so much so that cruise ships are drifting around in the English Channel, apparently abandoned at sea. It is cheaper to anchor there than pay harbour fees. Who knows when it will be safe to go on a cruise again.

Tourists watching cruise ships anchored in the English Channel.

Saturday, 15th August, 2020

An on-off grey and misty day with little sunshine but lots of warmth. It has turned quite wet so we’ve been house-bound. I’ve been fighting with insurance companies while Pauline has been far more constructive. She’s been making strawberry jam and tomato chutney. They are in separate jars and smell very differently but look quite similar.

Tomato Chutney & Strawberry Jam

These lovely flavours will fortify us over the Winter. The summer is still with us – just. It is looking less and less likely that we will do anything significant this year. Let’s hope there is a vaccine before the new year is much developed.

Week 606

Sunday, 2nd August, 2020

A day without going out walking – warm and sunny but not hot. Maximum 22C/70F but very comfortable. This is a planning day. Things are moving rapidly in the outdoor cooking and gym installations.

My neighbour from the house behind us invited me to see his gym room. He has laid rubber flooring, gym equipment, a television and a fridge full of beer. Well, I can manage without the beer but I like the way he’s done things. The out door cooking kitchen will consist of two, stainless steel industrial catering base units plus to similar wall units.

Part of the outdoor kitchen.

In the gym area, we will have a Treadmill, a lumbar bike and a cross trainer.

The flooring will be an interlocking rubberised tile system. his will provide some flexibility and extra warmth. We will need an electrician, to come and assess the installation. We will probably install the floor matting ourselves. We will need a kitchen fitter to install the kitchen units and then a tv installation man to put a tv on the wall. We expect the whole thing to be up and running by late September just in time for the cooler, wetter weather to appear and make outside exercise more difficult.

The whole thing won’t cost much more than a couple of years gym membership for the two of us. Of course, we won’t have a pool. We are still talking that over but it seems a bit over indulgent at the moment.

Monday, 3rd August, 2020

A busy and warm, rather close morning. We were up early and the temperature had soon risen to 24C/75F with a sticky humidity.

A couple of days ago, my next door neighbour who was born in West Yorkshire, told me that his rhubarb plant he had stuck behind his garage 4 years ago had really  grown for the first time. It is on the other side of the fence to where I planted my fig trees that are now an embarrassing 15ft/4.6 mtrs tall and weighed down with fruit Earlier in the year, I was flooding the fig trees with water to encourage swollen, juicy fruit. It has worked too well. The trees have shot up and the figs are as big as apples.

All that watering has had an equal effect on his rhubarb. Just after breakfast, my neighbour who is also called John, called round with an armful of rhubarb. Two hours later, Pauline had turned it in to Rhubarb & Ginger jam to eat with yoghurt. Delicious!

We should be walking into the foyer of the Electra Palace, Athens in just over three weeks. We won’t be and I informed them of that this morning. 

We have been staying in Electra Group Hotels in Athens for more 30 years – The Electra Hotel on Ermou Street, The Electra Palace Hotel on N. Nikodimou Street and The Mitropolis Hotel on Mitropoleos.

We have been in Greece every year since 1981. The Electra Palace was a haunt of children’s author, Nina Bawden and her husband, Austen Kark who was managing director of The BBC World Service. They renovated an old house in Nafplio.

It may look rather staid but its cool and calm atmosphere is the perfect retreat from a day in the hot and noisy streets of Athens.

The hotel responded to my communication by immediately providing me with a voucher for the full value of my booking – €1,400.00 for 4 nights stay + an extra 10% which can be used at any time and will be repaid in full if I don’t use it within 18 months. So many British companies could learn from this. It immediately makes me want to return as soon as possible.

Tuesday, 4th August, 2020

Started the day like every recent Tuesday by getting up at 6.00 am and driving out by 6.50 am so that Pauline can enter Sainsbury‘s by 7.00 am. It provided us with the least contact with ‘people’ that we can manage while still conducting our lives. As regulars will know, I did my walk and arrived back 40 mins later with a bit of a sweat on.

Very sunny but incredibly humid day. Back home by 8.00 am, we tried to sit outside to discuss some things we have to make decisions on but found it almost too intense to remain there. To add to the humidity, I’ve been watering everywhere until the steam rises.

Quite productive – Grown from seed.

The topic for discussion of our garden meeting today was our investment portfolio. We have five savings/investment accounts which were paying us a reasonable if not fabulous return until recently. In the last couple of months all have reduced their returns to a massive 0.35% per annum. Nobody can countenance that. With the UK CPI at 0.6%, the savings would actually be losing money. I have never allowed them to do that.

I am going to do something unprecedented for me and use the-safe-as-houses, inflation-beating NS&I. National Savings & Investments  has always seemed so staid that I’ve looked for other investments vehicles. Now, I am retrenching. They have a number of benefits:

  • Boring but safe as houses;
  • Inflation busting investment rate of 1.15% (Can hardly believe I’m writing that!);
  • We can hold joint investment accounts so Pauline can easily access all when I die;
  • We are not limited to a 2 x £85,000 = £170,000 FCS Compensation Scheme;
  • Instant access without loss of earnings

The one downside of this is having to give up the ISA shelter on a good chunk of the investment which we’ve built up over the past 20 years. However, 0.35% is untenable. Time to move on.

Wednesday, 5th August, 2020

Lovely day but once again it is hot and humid. We have been planning our new, home gym. We have builders and electricians coming round tomorrow with a start date of November. After breakfast, we finalised our plans in anticipation of our coming meeting. Then, we set off on a walk down to the Post Office in our local village centre.

Life is crawling back to ‘normal’ for some.

Thursday, 6th August, 2020

Glorious, August day. We were up at 5.45 am and out by 6.30 am. We were on our way to Tesco in West Durrington at the start of a morning of shopping. Pauline did £100.00/€111.00 of shopping for ‘free’ while I did my walk. Why was it for ‘free’ – well, because we had built up around £100.00/€111.00 of vouchers converted from Clubcard Points and these were cashed-in. We have about £50.00/€55.50 worth of vouchers for Sainsbury‘s as well so I am pushing Pauline to use rather than hoard these things before they are lost in inflation.

I have written recently of feeling trapped with travelling becoming so difficult for people like me. The Daily Telegraph is running a number of articles today which seriously undercut any confidence that might be returning to tourism this summer.

This one appears to suggest that the threat will come from the Greeks themselves – imposing travel bans or prohibitive quarantines because of rising infection rates – some imported but now, increasingly home-grown. 

Other countries and particularly France may require UK quarantine on return from abroad. There is a sense in which this is seen as threatening behaviour by UK Plc as part of Brexit negotiation – or failure of it by the Bungling Brits. It is definitely time for us to make a second trip to France in case it is our last chance.

I am writing at 7.00 pm and the temperature is 29C/85F. It feels very hot, still and sultry. The night will be hot and tomorrow even hotter. This is what we like if we can’t travel.

Friday, 7th August, 2020

After a Greek night of heat and humidity, we were up at 6.00 am and out to Worthing town centre via the beach by 7.30 am. We had a click & collect from M&S to make. The beach and the town streets are extremely quiet.

Even the tide was out although it wasn’t yet 8.00 am. The temperature was 27C/81F and the sun was strong. The sea – far out – was like glass and really reflected the sky.

We collected our purchase, nipped in to Waitrose for some Feta Cheese and Kalamata olives and were back home by 9.00 am. 

After coffee, I set about watering roadside lawn, front lawn and Drive side-beds. Meanwhile, I was picking tomatoes from the plants I grew from seed believing them to be cherry tomato plants. They are nothing of the sort. We would not buy this sort of size fruit from the market. They are also incredibly prolific. We have so many that Pauline is thinking of roasting them with garlic and putting them in jars for anti-pasti.

We don’t usually eat lunch but today was one of those lovely days of wonderful weather combined with some excellent news from the past 24hrs (which I’m banned from reporting) which just had to be celebrated. Our lunch included lettuce, tomatoes and figs picked a few minutes earlier from our garden. Anyone who has done that knows this sense of achievement adds a frisson of euphoria to the flavour.

Saturday, 8th August, 2020

2013 – £17.60
2020 – £46.50

On this seriously hot, Greek day, the humidity was high and the temperature was 27/81F by 7.30 am and, ultimately reached 34C/93F. The humidity was there all day and was energy sapping. Even so, we did plenty of work. I cut all the lawns again and watered everywhere.

Our meal was griddled Tuna steaks with Greek Salad. Real echo of the past. On this day 7 year ago, I recorded our change from buying litres of Italian olive oil on our drive home to buying 5ltr cans of Greek oil to bring home in the car. This was our favourite and cost €19.50/£17.60 for 5ltrs. It is delightful with salad but, at that price, we used it with so many types of cooking.

Today, of course, we don’t have the opportunity of carrying 20ltrs of oil back to our Sussex home but we still prefer Greek oil. Pauline sourced Kalamata oil in ½ltr of bottles for £4.20/€4.65 (£42.00/€46.50 for 5ltrs). The price is irrelevant now but the oil is delicious and we don’t cook with it but dress our salads instead. However, it is difficult to beat Greek olive oil.

As I write at 8.00 pm, the temperature is a wet and sweaty 28C/82F. It is on nights like this we wish we had installed air-conditioning in the bedroom.