Week 613

Sunday, 20th September, 2020

We are two thirds of the way through September and the temperature is 26C/79F with plenty of delicious sunshine. This has been a strange six months. We drove down to Shoreham-on-Sea this morning to have a walk and check out the luxurious emporium that we gave £2,500.00/ to a couple of months ago to forward purchase our first two pieces of gym equipment. The X-Trainer is arriving on Thursday. 

The shop is opposite Shoreham Harbour.

It didn’t look terribly inspiring but it was Sunday and they have been closed to the public for six months and mostly working from home. Basically, it is warehouse storage and deserted Reception in a unit on an Industrial Estate. At least Pauline improved the scene.

The shop is opposite Shoreham Harbour.

After being here for more than 4 years, it  still never ceases to amaze us that almost everywhere we go we are next to the sea. Pauline absolutely loves that. For her, it is a dream come true and that makes me very happy

We drove home and spent an hour lounging in the hot sun in the back garden before getting back to work. We have spent a lot of hours searching out evidence, writing up and linking it, proof reading the final document which ran to some 20 pages, printing, proof reading again and repeating this cycle a couple more times before despatching it to the Legal Firm who are acting for us.

I really don’t think it would be cost effective if we were financing this case ourselves. It involves English Legal experts in European Contract Law and, ultimately, Spanish lawyers that they employ. £4,500.00/€4,900.00 is worth fighting for but could easily be eaten up totally and more in costs. Still, we’ve paid in to this insurance scheme for 40 years so we are justified in using it.

Monday, 21st September, 2020

Another lovely day although I didn’t get up until 7.00 am. I was quite tired. It’s funny, though, because, as soon as I’m up, the tiredness falls away. Who could stay tired with this lovely weather? The sun is up. The sky is blue and life is wonderful in spite of this pandemic. At 11.00 am it is already 22C/70F and delicious in the back garden. It bodes well for our walk this afternoon. Strangely, but predictably for Autumn, Greece has a had tornado conditions accompanied by torrential rain with flooding and loss of life. Even if you can get there safely, Greece is not a reliable destination in the Autumn.

Sifnos steps waterfall two days ago

All the noise of the virus second wave in UK and across the rest of Europe is worrying if totally predictable. The government tells everyone to go back to school and to work not for their own health but for the health of the economy. Poor quality ministers are sent out to proselytise with messages of Schools, Offices and public transport are ‘Covid safe’. Anyone who believed them is as bonkers as they are. We then have equally stupid but better paid leaders reporting that ‘nobody predicted this resurgence of the infection rate’ when all the evidence pointed to exactly this conclusion from the start and many of us predicted it. Now we are following the circle back to square one.

Our gym equipment is on its way.

We ordered another piece of kit for our Home Gym this morning. A Lumbar Support Bike has been added to the Treadmill and Cross Trainer. We already have a Digital Skipping Rope and Dumbells. We need an exercise mat as well. I think our Gym fees came to about £1850.00/€2,020 per year. We have spent about £3,500/€3,820.00 on equipment so it seems a reasonable response. Of course, there have been lots of other, developmental costs but they will add to the properties overall value so won’t be in vain …… when we die.

Before our apparatus arrives, we are relying on outdoor exercise. Thank goodness today is so wonderful. We’ve had a 90 mins brisk walk in 26C/79F.  It makes life so much more enjoyable. We haven’t used the central heating since the beginning of Lock Down in the middle of March and I haven’t worn anything except tee shirt and shorts since then either. When I do have to dress properly, I’m going to feel very uncomfortable.

Tuesday, 22nd September, 2020

The Autumn Equinox 2020. How many more will we see? I’ve found that the changing Seasons do that to me these days particularly as the Summer goes. We’ve loved this summer in spite of Lock Down and cancellation of our travel plans and we regret its passing. The end of our 69th summer. Today is officially the first day of Autumn. It is still lovely and warm but we are warned that the week will deteriorate. 

Did my full walk by 9.30 am today. The weather was warm – almost oppressive – and the sun was shining although increasingly weakly. Pauline did her Sainsbury‘s shop and we then went on to Asda. Later, we drove out to Wickes to collect some Loppers for pruning our Fig trees which are already reaching 15ft/4.6 mtrs and then back down the beach side to the Garden Centre for a tub of Growmore. I can’t decide what to do with my Canarian tree which I’ve been nurturing for over two years.

Immigrant from Tenerife.

This week it started flowering. For something which could grow into a 40ft/12mtrs tree with red flowers, I’m not sure how these beautiful, white pompoms fit in. I was going to let it die this Winter but it has become a real friend and I can’t be so cruel. It will get one more Winter in the conservatory window

Crane Fly & Larvae

We have found that our region is particularly susceptible to Leather Jacket problems. If you’ve never heard of them, Leather Jackets are the larvae of Crane Flies. About this time, Crane Fly lay their eggs on the lawn and, within 2 weeks, the larvae known as Leather Jackets will have hatched and begin eating in to the roots of the grass. Soon, whole patches of lawn turn brown as it dies.


The chemical that treated this pest was banned from public sale some time ago. For the past few days, our house inside and out has been invaded by Crane Flies. In the past couple of days, our lawn has been invaded by dozens of Crane Flies. You can be sure that they’ve laid their eggs in it. At the same time, a beautiful Pied Wagtail has taken up residence. It just patiently walks the lawn eating crane flies as it goes. Unfortunately, there are so many that he cannot cope alone so my next action will be to rake the entire lawn before applying a natural predator called Nematodes. These microscopic worms which are applied through the medium of water happily munch their way through the leather Jackets.

Wednesday, 23rd September, 2020

A warm but intermittently damp day with some sunshine. We were out fairly early to Worthing. Pauline had to collect an order from M&S. The 7-level, multi storey carpark only had a few cars on the first 3 levels and nothing beyond. We went up to Level 7 as usual. We’re not keen on crowds. The town was very quiet although the outdoor market which runs down the centre of the main, pedestrianisation was open. People are definitely staying at home.

View from Isolation on top of the Multi-Storey Carpark

Mission accomplished, we drove back via the garden centre in the search for Nematodes. They used to sell them but found it too difficult keeping them alive long enough during this difficult period. I will have to have them sent by delivery …. from Amazon. Jane BG would certainly approve of me using natural killers rather than chemicals. Personally, I’m not bothered as long as my lawns looks good.

The emigrants are preparing to leave.

We’ve been toying with a quick shopping trip to France before Christmas. In fact, we’d chosen next Monday. We mulled over Quarantine restrictions and thought it didn’t really inconvenience us much apart from shopping. I was about to book it but then had second thoughts about the inconvenience that we would come back to and decided it wasn’t worth the bother. So that is the end of that at the moment … until we emigrate.

We were told how easy Brexit would be and that we would have the exact same advantages. We were told that talk of blockages at the ports and food shortages because of import/export problems were all Project Fear. Well, the Tory government are perpetrating their own Project Fear now as they begin to panic themselves. Covid meets Brexit will make a brilliant epitaph on this government’s grave.

Thursday, 24th September, 2020

Strong winds and heavy rain overnight gave way to blue sky and sunshine this morning as we nipped out to Sainsbury‘s for Argos. Our 6mnth old, £150.00/€165.00 Blender had packed up. After replacing the fuse with two separate new ones without improvement, we stuck it a bag and asked Argos for a new one. They offered us our money back but we liked the Blender and a new one will be available tomorrow morning. We will collect it then.

No excuse to rest.

At Lunchtime, a Logistics company called Panther are delivering gym equipment – purely through happenstance – from two, separate companies. A Bike from John Lewis and a Cross Trainer JTX are both on the same wagon on the same day and arriving at the same time. It was not co-ordinated. It was a two man delivery because of the size and weight of the packages.

Put the iPad through the WiFi

We managed to open just one box. The bike chassis came out in one piece. Everything else from stabiliser feet to the seat plus adjuster, the display plus column and the pedals had to be assembled. The electrics had to be installed and the computerised screen with Wi-Fi connectivity set up. It took at least 2.5 hours and we were exhausted but elated at the end of it.

However, it is an excellent piece of equipment which will be used by both of us a lot. I have found that I do a period of exercise each day and then a lot of my time subsequently is sedentary. I read my iPad, use my computer to write and Blog, watch television or listen to music. I have thought for a while that I can do many of those things while exercising. I am going to try to cycle while I watch football matches and work on the treadmill while I watch political programmes. I will try to do twice as much exercise without compromising my interests.

Thursday, 24th September, 2020

At 7.00 am and under leaden skies, Pauline went in to Tesco and I did my walk. The fish counter doesn’t open until (.00 am and we need sides of salmon so we already we will go back later. On to Sainsbury‘s (for Argos) via Asda for bananas. Each time Pauline enters a shop, I go for a walk. It’s a good system. We were home by 9.30 am and I was tired but not allowed to rest.

Today we are constructing our new, Cross Trainer which arrived yesterday. The company told us that it was a 2-person job and should take about 45 mins. this is modern life. You pay out £1000.00/€1100.00 and then build it yourself.

Four hours later, we were just finishing. We did it and glowed with pride but we could never have achieved that in 45 mins. Just hooking up the electrics to 45 mins. In fact, after we had finished, I found a video of how to construct the machine by a man who did the same thing every day and he said it took him 90 mins so we felt better about it. Actually, we could have paid an extra £150.00/€165.00 to have it constructed but the sense of achievement makes our efforts well worth it.

We are delighted with the machine which is as good as the one we used in David Lloyd. The Treadmill will arrive in the next couple of weeks and that will be constructed by experts. All the equipment has 3 years warranty and home service so we should be set up for a while. At least we are almost ready for wet weather when we don’t want to exercise outside.

Saturday, 26th September, 2020

Beautiful clear sky last night with huge and bright stars on show and a half moon. I think we went down to 9C/48F over night and only reached 16C/61F at best today. It is also breezy which makes the feel-factor even lower. This evening, we’ve taken the momentous decision to turn the central heating on for the first time since March.

The 6 month gap has made it necessary to reacquaint myself with the app. Because we haven’t been abroad in that 6 month period either, I haven’t needed the app to control the lights but Hive is not difficult and we are soon back on track. I’ve even closed some of the window vents so it must be bad.

Having spent the past two days building gym equipment, the gym was full of packaging – cardboard, polystyrene, BubbleWrap and tape. I was so tired at the end of yesterday and the gym was scattered with tools that I couldn’t be bothered clearing up. That was today’s job. The car has been filled with all the packaging. The tools are all away in the toolbox and Pauline has been in and vacuumed and mopped the floor. It looks good and felt good when we finally got started on our exercise routines. We have a third, major piece of equipment to be delivered and assembled (by experts, thankfully) in the next couple of weeks and then ….. the builders move in to do the hard landscaping on our garden.

No wonder people are complaining about closure of pubs and restaurants at 10.00 pm.. They’ll have to move to Greece where emergency measures have meant a ban on alcohol sales after midnight. Brits can only dream of that.

Week 612

Sunday, 13th September, 2020

As we move in to the second half of September, Summer is back. It really is delightful and the figs still waiting to ripen are relaxing in to their looks. It was only 22C/70F today but felt just wonderfully comfortable. We have had no rain for so long and the sun has been so warm that I am back to watering the lawns. I know ‘Indian Summers’ are not uncommon but they are no less delightful for that. Actually, we have spent more time sitting out in the sunshine in the garden over the past couple of weeks than we have done all year.

Corn stubble has been ploughed in.

We went for our 5 mile walk this afternoon and each time we take a particular route, we walk past huge, farmer’s fields that illustrate the passing of the days, the months and the seasons. We have watched the corn being sowed, breaking through the soil, rising high and green and turning golden yellow to brown. We have watched the harvest and the field covered in marauding birds feeding from the stubble. Today, the stubble had been ploughed in and the soil prepared for winter. And so the rhythms of the farming year mete out the phases of the seasons.

Before our walk we drove, out of curiosity, to a DPD Drop-Off shop in Littlehampton. I had ordered a white, shelving unit for the gym wall under the TV to carry the Sky Box, remotes, water bottles, towels, etc.. They were delivered yesterday by DPD Courier. I leant the package against the wall in the Gym to await a ‘little man’ to fit them at the same time as the radiator.

I had tracked the delivery on the DPD app on my phone. It is very efficient but, yesterday, it told me my package would be delivered by courier at 2.00 pm while, simultaneously, it would be delivered at a Drop-Off shop 3 miles away. They even provided me with a barcode to identify the package at the shop. I assumed they had go their wires crossed but, as we drove out to Sainsbury‘s this morning, we thought we would call at the shop out of curiosity. Pauline went in and emerged with another package. We tore it open on the spot to find the metal work had come from one store and the shelving from a completely different store. Lucky we did really.

You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to buy this locally in well know retailers. In fact, it’s impossible. They seem to be struggling to source their replacement stock because the pandemic has closed production lines down. I have a feeling, this is beginning to happen all over again.

Monday, 14th September, 2020

ull blown Summer in mid September. Today has been glorious from 6.00 am until 7.00 pm as I now write. We receive our weather stats from a sensor in Littlehampton about 3 miles/5 km away and, by mid-morning, we were seeing 28C/83F. Actually, the thermometer in total shade in the sheltered garden read 30.6C/87F. 

I don’t know about you but hot, sunny weather always engenders a spirit of relaxation and self indulgence in me. Could be why I ate and drank too much in Greece. Today, I am in the midst of a Dry September and 25% of a Dry September-October but I was sorely tempted. Of course, someone as stalwart as me did not buckle although lesser mortals may have done. I wonder if my skinny sister, Liz, is really sticking to her pledge? 

For a person who has shared a bottle of wine almost every night of his adult life over Dinner, readers may be surprised to learn that I have not bought a single bottle of wine in UK for at least 25 years – maybe longer. All my wine has come from travels in France and Italy. That was true until today. I have a store of some 400 bottles currently at home but we spoke this morning to an old friend and colleague from Huddersfield. I was forced to act.

Margaret was our SENCO for the last decade of our school careers. We had known her from the early 1980s. Her husband, Tony, taught Geography in another Comp. just down the road. It is hard maintaining a friendship over the length of the country but we meet up twice a year for Dinner and chat. Pauline emailed Margaret to say we had cancelled our trip this Autumn and apologising. She phoned back the next morning sounding rather shaky and fed up.

A couple of days ago, Tony was cutting a hedge round their home, lost his footing, a fell down a steep, grass bank, twisting his leg savagely beneath him. He knew he’d broken it as he fell but it has turned out to be a complete break above the ankle which will have to be reset and pinned. It will be a long job in recovery. The two are horse obsessives and drive their horses all over the country to jump. Just looking after them involves huge amounts of work which Margaret will struggle to maintain alone. She finished her conversation with, “I could do with a huge glass of red wine now!”

For that reason, I went on to the Majestic Wine Store site in Huddersfield and ordered 6 bottles of Rioja for Margaret and Tony. They have a property in Spain, love Spanish wine but haven’t been able to get there to buy any. Do you know how much people pay for wine in UK? It’s scandalous. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised to find Majestic offer a first time purchaser reduction and a 6 bottles for the price of 5 inducement deal plus FREE DELIVERY! This is a good deal. I just hope they don’t drink all 6 bottles on day 1!

At 8.00 pm this evening, we are still 26C/79F. Let’s hope it continues for a few more days / weeks / months.

Tuesday, 15th September, 2020

We hit the ground running at 6.00 am. My job every Tuesday, whatever time we get up, is to strip the bed and take the bedding down to the Laundry. That is as far as I am trusted. Pauline doesn’t like pink sheets. She wants them keeping white. After orange and tea, we set off to Sainsbury‘s where we separate. I do my 45 mins walk and try to get back before Pauline emerges from the store. I usually manage it and did so today in spite of the warmth. It was 25C/77F as I walked at 7.00 am. Eventually, by early afternoon, it settled at a delicious 29C/85F and we enjoyed that in the garden.

But before that, shopping completed, we drove home and began our jobs. Pauline made the bed and then joined me outside to tidy up the lettuce frames that have gone over. We raked and reseeded the edges of the roadside lawns outside our house which have faded in this dry summer. I fed all the lawns and then systematically water in the new seed and the lawn feed with my oscillating sprayer. All of this is done in burning sunshine. When we sit down to a snack of smoked salmon and lettuce with aioli dip outside in the garden, Pauline hides under a large, golfing umbrella. She wants a cantilever parasol and she will have one very soon.

British gas Smart Meter

Regular readers will know I am a sucker for data. I love it – tracking it, recording it and analysing it. We have, like so many others, a smart meter. In the early days, I checked it obsessively. Very soon that early enthusiasm palled. Now, I hardly look at it apart from the first day of every month when I take readings for Gas & Electricity and record them on my spreadsheet. I also admit to comparing the same time over the last few years to get some context and comparison.

Pauline cleans everywhere in case an engineer calls.

Today, we got an email announcing some changes to our account and so I opened the app on my iPad to check the current position. I was shocked to find that we were £88.00/€96.00 in credit on our Gas account and £494.00/€538.00 in credit on our electricity account.

I thought I should contact the and didn’t fancy a long, telephone wait. I ent on their website and used the chat facility to discuss my problem with someone called Amjad. (We had a lad called Amjad in school in the late 1970s.) He was one of the expelled Ugandan Asians. He was always affectionately known as Jam-Jar which he didn’t seem to mind in those far off, innocent times. Amjad was working from home with a very slow connection to the office and, ultimately, couldn’t get to the bottom of the situation. An engineer will visit us in a couple of weeks to look at our meter. So much for remote working of which I’m a big champion.

It is still 29C/85F as I complete this at 7.00 pm.

Wednesday, 16th September, 2020

A hot – 26C/79F – and humid day with quite a lot of cloud cover. We have our worker coming tomorrow to fit a radiator in the gym and some shelving to hold the tv box, etc.. Because of that, we did our Tesco shop this morning. By the time I’d completed my 45 mins walk, I was soaking wet from sweaty humidity. 

O Simos

Came home to find an old friend’s face staring out at me from my iPad. It was someone I always knew as Simos but who was really named Nikalaos Pothotas. We knew him because of his taverna on the harbour front. He was the cook and his wife the waiter. It was simple, rustic fare but lifted from the pedestrian by the fact that so much of his produce was his own. He loved it and was proud of what he produced. I will never forget the day we met him leaving his fields as we walked through the land. He rushed across to put freshly picked broad beans in to our hands and encouraged us to taste.

He is the epitome of Greece past. He seems to turn from subsistence farming to cooking for the islanders to serving the tourist industry. He is steeped in the Greek Orthodox religion and often at the centre of his island’s traditions.

The magazine is headed: Agricultural News Magazine for the Farmer
Nikalaos Pothotas Farmer
Aubergines & Tomatoes of Sifnos – the best in the Cyclades.

A bit tired today. After my walk, I’ve had to prepare documents for our legal team who are seeking to reclaim €4,500.00 from a villa owner in Tenerife. If I wasn’t retired and in semi-seclusion, I would almost certainly given up on this but I have plenty of time and I will spend it well by doing my homework.

Thursday, 17th September, 2020

Up at 6.00 am and because our electrician was coming early to do a couple of jobs. Firstly, he was going to fit an upright radiator. It is filled with glycol-fluid which is very efficient to heat up and transmit heat and slow to lose its heat when it is switched off. The radiator is about 5 ft/1.5 mtrs high and incredibly heavy. It requires huge bolts to attach it to the wall. That’s why we needed a little man called Daryl to fit it. He also put up some shelves for me as well. The gym & outdoor kitchen is complete apart from …. the gym equipment. The first piece of apparatus – a professional Cross-Trainer – is due any day now. It will be followed soon after by a Treadmill and a Lumbar Bike.

While Daryl was working out in the Gym, I was doing mental gymnastics in the Office. I am completing the legal submission to reclaim £4,500/€4,925 from an unused villa rental in Tenerife last May. It is a tiring, turgid activity but I am determined to see it to a conclusion so I will give it a few hours today and complete it tomorrow.

I drove Pauline down to Asda to get things she had been researching and then, because it is such a lovely, Summer’s day with clear, blue sky and 24C/75F temperature that we had a lovely walk through the local park.

One of the many local parks.

Home for griddled swordfish steaks and Greek Salad as the warmth and sunshine fell through the open, conservatory doors. If you haven’t already, you really should taste Retirement. It is absolutely wonderful.

Friday, 18th September, 2020

We rose, yet again, at 6.00 am to another beautiful day. Blue sky, sunshine and a temperature of 24C/75F with a slight breeze. Tesco shop for Pauline and 45 mins walk for me. In this warm sunshine walking feels like holiday. Retirement walking feels like luxurious holidays. Still, I’m perspiring by the time I get back to the car to find Pauline lugging heavy bags from her trolley in to the boot. I salve my conscience by reminding myself that it’s good for her figure lifting weights.

Home and unpacking we drank coffee. Actually, I drank coffee. Pauline only ever drinks hot water on these occasions. Then we go out in to the garden. I mow the lawns while Pauline trims up the hedges. I follow behind sweeping up and finish setting the sprinkler going on the main lawn. It is still growing strongly and will do until we get cold nights. After that, we allowed ourselves an hour outside in the sun in the garden. 

A van drew up and delivered another 9 kgs of fish – swordfish, tuna and cod loin packed in ice inside a polystyrene box. The post arrived. It brought yet another phone screen protector for me. It will be my 3rd since August. Each 12-18 months, we are offered a ‘free’ upgrade. I know it’s not totally ‘free’ but it feels it. We both received Samsung P20 5G phones. On the open market, they would each cost £900.00/€985.00 to buy. I wouldn’t be paying out £1800.00/€1970.00 every 18 months for the two of us just for a newer phone but ‘free’ – I do. Of course, we then contribute to the accessories market with new cases to protect the back and screen protectors for the front.

I use mine to take photographs every day. I get so wrapped up in what I’m doing, I drop mine all the time which is why I try to protect it. I have already smashed 3 screen protectors which are thin glass sheets but very effective. However, it has already cost me £75.00/€82.00 so ‘free’ is starting to look ‘cheap’. Pauline is given the nerve-wracking job of applying to the phone screen while I get back to the completion of our legal submission in our claim for return of our Tenerife villa rental in May. It will go to our Brief this weekend and then it is up to him.

Kamares, Sifnos (Τώρα) Now

From our sunny, Sussex back garden to the back yard of our previous home with typical, September weather.

Saturday, 19th September, 2020

Neither of us could sleep this morning. We were up for the third, consecutive morning at 6.00 am. We had to go to Worthing this morning for a 9.00 am appointment. On the day before the last Lock-Down, Pauline managed to secure a hair appointment and it turned out to be a good decision. A day after Lock-Down formally ended, she secured another appointment. Her next one is due in a fortnight but the worsening situation pushed her to phone and get squeezed in this morning. I leave you to work out the implication of that. Her next will be in December.

End of the Pier Show for the Summer

Soon after 8.30 am, I was walking on the promenade – 45 mins each way. With sun in my face one way and on my back on the return, it was a hot walk. Not even a sea breeze today and a temperature of 24C/75F. 

Quietness can be disturbing.

Back in the car parked at the open air top of the multi storey carpark overlooking the sea just before 10.00 am and there can’t have been more than a couple of dozen cars parked on all 10 levels combined. It is quite astonishing. We used to go up to the top automatically just to find a space. Now you have to look hard to find another car. The cleaner said how surprised he was to see us parking so high up. Since the pandemic, the top three floors haven’t been used at all. Certainly the town was quiet and Pauline’s hairdresser told her many, older clients were too scared to go back.

We are constantly shown London streets packed with shoppers and diners. Our neighbour returned to work for a day and was shocked to find the capital she is so familiar with looked like a Ghost Town. And so we approach the next Lock Down.

Our gym is prepared and we have now had word that the first piece of equipment will arrive on Thursday. It will come well before we expect any uncomfortable weather to descend on us so that will be a comfort.

Week 611

Sunday, 6th September, 2020

Sunday political programmes are back! Thank goodness for that. Perhaps ‘goodness’ was the wrong choice of epithet for an atheist on a Sunday but never mind. After a good indulgence along with the newspapers, I turn my thoughts to my job for today. In the past week, I’ve cleaned the car, mowed the lawns twice, pressure washed the patio flags and completed all my jobs in the house.

Today, I have set myself the task of renovating the teak, garden table we bought when we first moved in over 4 years ago. Remember, I have no practical skills or confidence that I can acquire them. I have never used an electric Sander in spite of my name.

A sander for a Sanders.

I bought one for Pauline two or three years ago as a present. She wanted to renovate a piece of furniture. She did the job and I then stored the sander in the loft of the garage. It hasn’t been out until today. With some trepidation, I took it down and waited for Pauline to show me how to fit the sanding belt. The rest is history. I successfully sanded a table top. Genius!

Unfortunately, just as I finished and was preparing to relax, Pauline appeared in the garden with our next door neighbour. He had been asking other neighbours around how to deal with his lawn which is covered in weeds. They told him to come and see me. I have no particular skill with grass but I do have time and I chose to tend the strip of grass outside our property by the side of the road. In the early Spring, it was thin, poor quality and basically stressed. It isn’t my responsibility but that of the entire community which is led by a Management Group. I only took it on because it looked bad and, with lock-down, I had time on my hands.

I raked, cut, fed, watered and weed-killed that piece of lawn. In the hot dry Summer, I ran a sprinkler over it every other day until the road ran like a river. I worried that others would see it as a waste of resources but nobody said anything and, if you could see it now, you might bring your golf putter to try it out. It looks healthy, lush, green and strong. There are no weeds or bald patches. It looks cared for. That’s why my neighbour was directed towards me and I went through the process I had followed. I gave him a bottle of Weedol – broad leaf weed killer, told him to stop cutting his lawn so low and to rake and feed it.

Our neighbour left and, when Pauline returned, she pointed out that I was covered from head to toe in a dark, mahogany, fine dust. I was so intent on accomplishing my sanding task that I hadn’t bothered fitting the dust collection bag or wearing the mask. Typical boy. I wasn’t allowed in the house until I had been sprayed clean and then I had to have an immediate shower. Such a waste of water!

Monday, 7th September, 2020

Only 10C/50F at 7.00 am today and fairly overcast. Fortunately, within a couple of hours the sky cleared and sun came out to lift our spirits. We have to wait in for yet another delivery – a Tilt TV Bracket and an HDMI cable for mounting the old television on the gym wall and connecting it up to a Sky-Q box. That over, we will go out for a long walk in the sunshine – perhaps along the beach.

My one other job today is to contact my doctor. She is a German called Martina Houska. Really good GP. I haven’t seen her for almost 18 months. It is a sign of the times. I don’t need to see her but I am due a ‘Medication Review’ before I can order my repeat prescription. I have 4 sets of medication. Warfarin for Atrial Fibrillation. Atorvastatin because of my age and Doxazosin and Losartan for Blood Pressure. I have to phone the surgery to make an appointment for the GP to phone me and conduct the review. You can see why doctors are really enjoying the pandemic. No smelly, old men like me in their consulting room.

The new TV for the lounge arrives on Thursday and the current one will be moved into the gym where it will be mounted on the wall. How to get a signal outside in a separate building is my next challenge. My ideal solution would be to ‘see’ the wi-fi signal from my router in my Office just 20 metres away but through 2 walls and some fresh air. This will allow me to link a Sky-Q Box and that would give us everything we need.

The revolutionary Sky-Q Box.

For those of you who don’t know the Sky-Q system, it is well worth investigating. It has major advantages of large storage. I always have to remind myself that I have 2,000,000,000,000 Mb of storage in my main Sky-Q box. Of course, that equates to 2,000,000 Gigabytes or 2 Terabytes of storage. So storage isn’t a problem. Actually, everything is so quickly downloadable that I will never need that capacity. However, I can watch one programme and download 6 others at the same time. I have never felt the need to do that but it frees one up to time-shift without hesitation.

I like to watch politicians interviewed, to watch parliamentary debates, to watch political discussion and analysis. Since lock-down, I have forced myself to watch and almost enjoy some drama on television and, even, the occasional film. So many of these things are put out at clashing times and I can now set up permanent future recordings – like Parliament ChannelPolitics LiveNewsnightNewspaper Review, etc.. The Q-Box allows one to pause live television but also to pause something one is watching in one room and moving to watch it in another room. Anything downloaded on the large, main Q-Box is available on any mini satellite Q-Box around the house. That’s what I want to do in the gym.

Tuesday, 8th September, 2020

An absolutely delightful day of blue sky and sunshine although we only reached 22C/70F. It felt much warmer in our sheltered garden. We didn’t seem to do a lot today because we had our electrician back to finish off the gym.

It is now lovely and light with 3 LED strip lights, lots of sockets all round and just has the vertical radiator to be mounted when the correct brackets arrive. The TV will be in on Thursday and the first piece of gym equipment arrives in about 2 weeks. The gym equipment is really difficult to get hold of because, no matter how much one is prepared to pay, the pandemic has made home-gyms so popular that the manufacturers are stretched to capacity. Our electrician is a quite delightful young man who loves taking his family camping. His wife is a trained teacher and Home-Schools their kids. We are so glad we chose him 4 years ago and that he was still available to come back this summer.

The blousy days of late Summer.

Our walk today was past the wheat fields which were harvested about a month ago. They are still carpeted in stubble and edged with a fence screened by overgrown weeds like Creeping Thistle – Cirsium Arvense – and Nettle – Urtica Dioica along with cultivars like Buddleia or Butterfly Bush and other escapees from local gardens. As we walked, a bit of hazy cloud drew over but had, magically, disappeared by the time we got home for tea in the garden. Not bad this Retirement as long as you’ve got someone to share it with.

Wednesday, 9th September, 2020

Lovely warm and sunny day. I did my walk an hour later today. It was a mistake. I didn’t set out until 8.00 am and had to fight my way through streams of kids laughing there way down the road to the local school. It does make you wonder what kids are for. Thank goodness we didn’t have any. Pauline was shopping in Sainsbury‘s. and we met back at the peace and tranquillity of the car.

At home we had a number of jobs. Pauline had finished preparing a side of salmon for smoking. We have refined that down to just one hour in apple wood embers. It is quick and easy process after the 48 hours of curing. I had the plants to water including the tree I’ve been growing from a seed pod I picked in Tenerife in 2018.

Royal Poinciana or Flamboyant (Delonix Regia) Tree

It is now 5 ft / 1.5 mtr and back in a pot having spent some time in the open soil. I am in a dilemma about its future. I suspect it will not survive even a south coast winter although I don’t really know. I’m tempted to give it one more winter in the conservatory window before planting it out for its last summer season.

Royal Poinciana or Delonix Regia

It really doesn’t look as if I will see it at this stage. Unfortunately, I’ve become attached to it and feel responsibility for its welfare. Abandoning it to the winter weather really does feel harsh.

Thursday, 10th September, 2020

Pauline’s brother, Jack, died on this day 14 years ago.

Up at 6.00 am on a lovely, bright and warm morning. Tesco at 7.00 am for Pauline and a 45 mins brisk walk for me. It was delightful in the sunshine. Home for a drink and to unpack and then off to Rustington. There is a fantastic Greengrocer’s (I can’t believe I’m writing that word.) there and we are desperate for some Victoria Plums. We love them but can’t be bothered to PYO this year and we are not going to make jam so we just want enough for gorging on.

The shop had the plums and we bought just 2 kilos but they also had ‘Canadian’ Cherries. They were quite expensive at £13.00/ per kilo but we bought 1.5 kgs because they were such a wonderful flavour. Fruit is my snack of choice during the day. Bananas. dates, figs, dried apricots, dried apple, fresh cherries and plums all help me control my appetite and, as soon as we got home, we spent a couple of hours sunbathing in the garden with our new bowls of fruit. Lovely sunshine and 24C/75F of warmth. Our sheltered back garden feels even warmer.

The old, 55″, LG Television

When we felt that we had had enough sun, we came in and prepared for a visit from Currys-PCWorld KnowHow team. The old television had to be disconnected and the sideboard emptied so it could be easily moved to get at the audio-visual panel on the wall behind.

Fantastic Track & Trace.

We had a 4hr slot between 1430 – 1830 for delivery of our new TV including setup and removal of all the packaging. I had wanted the old television moving and wall mounting in the gym. Currys told me they didn’t offer that service. I spent a couple of hours following the van’s progress towards me but they arrived by 4.00 pm.

As soon as the men arrived and unpacked the new tv, I told them of that problem. Oh, we’ll do that for £40.00/€43.30. Excellent, I said. The set up the new tv and I chatted away as is my nature. One of the lads was from Basingstoke and the other, a body builder, was from Larnarca. As soon as I told him about our adventures in Greece, he said “Not £40.00. You are a nice person and we’ll only charge £30.00.”

The new, 65″ Samsung Television

They did a great job and I still gave them £40.00 for their troubles. It clearly meant a lot to them and I was pleased to give it to them.

Friday, 11th September, 2020

Another really lovely day – one in which it feels so good to be alive and retired. The weather is delightful. We have been sitting out in delightful sunshine this afternoon after a long walk. Before that, we did a quick trip to Asda for some more half-price Shloer to keep me going through Dry September and, maybe even October as well.

We will be at home for Christmas alone for the first time in more years than I can remember. It must be around 30 years we have been travelling down to Surrey bring Pauline’s Mum with us to spend Christmas with Pauline’s family. It will feel strange but necessary this year to stay at home. If I stay dry until December, I will have done six months of 2020 without alcohol although not consecutively. Even so, I will be fairly proud of that.

Pauline’s niece, who we usually spend Christmas with, had no sooner landed in Portugal than a quarantine was announced for her return. We are certainly becoming increasingly pessimistic about another shopping trip to France before the Tunnel implodes at the turn of the year but still holding out a hope. The Greek newspapers have reported that the Greek Tourism Season has come to an end – in the first week of September! Tourism was down this year by 80% and

Athens under Covid

the post August bulge is usually the icing on the cake for winter earnings. Having seen no August bulge which is almost a licence to print money, the Greeks were hoping for a something to get them through the Winter. An increasing number of countries imposing quarantines on return from Greece has killed that hope and Greeks in general but islanders in particular will have to tighten belts, hunker down and hope that things change to allow a 2001 season of earning. I have some doubts although I too hope we can travel. We would like to be back on Sifnos for our 70th birthdays.

Wi-fi Range Extender

The day has ended really well. Having had the television mounted on the gym wall yesterday at a negligible cost, I tried to connect it to our broadband across the garden. I was very doubtful but shouldn’t have worried. It worked like a dream. As a result, I plugged a Sky-Q Box in to join it and was watching Sky programmes within minutes. I didn’t even need my BT wi-fi range extender disc. Something which had running round my mind for the last couple of weeks has instantly resolved itself and been wiped from my worry list.

Saturday, 12th September, 2020

First relaxed morning for quite a while. We didn’t get up until 7.00 am. We had no one coming, no deliveries and no appointments to go to. Felt strange and a bit lazy as if I was on holiday. Actually, I prefer to be active nowadays so, after juice and coffee, we decided to enjoy the warm sunshine down at the beach.

The tourists have gone!

It was delightfully quiet with just a few fishermen and crabbers around and the occasional walkers like us. We walked briskly for 45 mins each way, gazing at the sea, the marauding gulls, a flotilla of local yachts doing a weekend regatta, the boating Lake owners hauling out their plastic swans for Autumn cleaning and a fish snack seller quietly waiting to pounce on the last tourist stragglers.

Spot the Rock.

A couple of hours in the warm sunshine by the sea is enough to raise anyone’s spirits and we drove home for coffee. We are so lucky in our retirement and acknowledge it regularly but Covid-19 is severely cramping our style. We have cancelled our regular check-up dentist appointments as too risky. Only severe pain will get us there at the moment. What we have agreed to is a quite invasive and time-consuming survey for the Office for National Statistics (ONS). I don’t know how many were selected but we were written to and then telephoned to persuade us to take part.

We have agreed because we will be regularly tested for the next 12 months. In the first month, a study worker will visit us 5 times and test each of us. For the next 11 months, we will be visited every month and a test conducted. It seems that will be helpful to us and to them so we have little to lose. We hope to leverage an early vaccination out of them if it becomes available. We are off for our ‘Flu jab soon.

Week 610

Sunday, 30th August, 2020

Beautiful morning of bright sunshine and blue sky contrasting with the radiant, lush green of the lawn. Just 17C/63F but a joy to behold. Sundays are not particularly joyous days in my calendar so this is very welcome. 

Of course, Sundays will forever be associated in my mind with enforced Church attendance and deliberate indoctrination akin to the Chinese brainwashing treatment of the Uighurs. I hated it with a passion and couldn’t wait to get away from it. Funnily enough, the moment I did get away, something happened that I’ve scarcely admitted to myself never mind to others. It all came back to me last night as we watched an interesting, coming-of-age film on television. It was called Lady Bird.

Who the hell was Vieuxtemps?

The girl, called Christine but self styled Lady bird, growing up in a newly impoverished Catholic home and attending a convent school, manages to get a scholarship to university in spite of her middle class impoverishment. She is desperate to get away but, in her first week at university and after a difficult ‘Freshers’ experience, goes to church to seek solace. This triggered in me an immediate recollection and flood of emotion. Having been desperate to leave home, village, church, I found myself wandering the College campus alone and feeling alone. I found myself walking to the local Catholic Church. 

I can remember feeling utterly ashamed. I heard Stephen Dedalus recounting, Non Serviam in my ears. I can feel that shame flooding over me now as I recount it. I managed to stop myself going in to that church and have never gone in to any other than for politeness/social necessity – funerals, weddings, christenings, etc. However, it just goes to show how effective indoctrination can be.

We all carry baggage round with us and, the longer we live, the heavier our baggage becomes. I have been fighting a losing battle with music for years and have just started to come come back from the brink but it is still a struggle. Last week was dedicated to Violin Concertos by Bruch, Mendelssohn and Vieuxtemps. The latter was a 19th century Belgian composer who I’d never heard of. This week will be Beethoven Cello Sonatas. I’ve played them once this morning and I’m loving them all over again. I haven’t played this for almost 40 years.

Short walk in the sunshine this afternoon. The temperature has reached just 19C/66F but feels very pleasant. We didn’t stay out long and returned to eat cheese and biscuits with homemade tomato chutney and a lovely, chilled Savignon Blanc in the garden. This is the way to spend Sunday even if we are living in a populist prison.

Monday, 31st August, 2020

Roll Up!

Pleasant start to the morning which reached only 19C/66F and gradually became overcast. It felt warm enough as I pressure washed the patio in readiness for the work we are going to have done. The patio will be increased by its current size again and, after 4 years exposure, we would like the two sections to blend in fairly quickly.

In August on Sifnos, posters would go up for a visiting circus. We never went to see it. I have no interest in tawdry shows. This August in Angmering, these posters have been going up. It feels as 3rd World as Greece did. Who goes to circuses? Well, quite a few people it seems. From our garden, which is less than a mile from the local Rugby Club ground, we could hear music and the voice of an announcer over a public-address system so we walked down to have a look.

All the fun of the fair!

I must admit that, in spite of the idyllic setting, it all looked fairly tawdry even so. Bread and circuses will not distract me from the cause. However, on our village website there were lots of people emoting about the experience they and their children had just enjoyed and who could deny them?

I wrote recently that I didn’t think the effect of this pandemic would be confined to one summer and that flying alone would take two or three years to pick up. A report from Moody’s, the Credit Rating Agency, has backed that up. However, they believe those worst hit by a slump in tourism like Greece and Cyprus, will weather that storm by dint of their EU membership.

The decline in tourism in the countries of the European South is likely to last beyond 2020, but they can weather a prolonged tourism slump thanks to the adjustment they have made in recent years and the significant support from the policies of the European Central Bank and the EU recovery fund ….

Moody’s Credit Rating
Kamares Beach, Sifnos

It won’t fill the beaches, tavernas or bars but it will provide a buffer and encourage these countries to develop a more robust and diverse commercial sector. 

Tuesday, 1st September, 2020

September 2020

This is really getting ridiculous. The summer gone but we’ve been nowhere. I can’t bear it! The signs have been all around for a few days now but here is September. I woke Pauline at 1.00 am to say, “White Rabbit”. It is an indulgence that only the retired can afford. Just 5 hours later, we were up and off to Sainsbury‘s and Argos by 7.00 am.

Something else I can’t bear is waiting in for people to arrive. It’s been happening a lot recently. Since Friday, we’ve been waiting for a fence repairer to shore up one of our posts in the garden that was over tested by the strong winds last week. Unfortunately, it seems a lot of others are in the same boat around here. He was trying to come on Friday, put it off to Saturday after another big job which took so long that he phoned to say he wouldn’t be able to come until Tuesday because of Bank Holiday. He was supposed to be with us about 10.00 am and actually arrived around 2.00 pm.. At least he came and the job is well done. It took around 25 mins and cost us £70.00 but we can now breathe again and so can our neighbour.

Regular readers may know that the 1st of each month is the time for ritual recording of data. They will also know of our penchant for data of all kinds. We were married at the end of 1978 and Pauline started her many accounts books in which she itemised and recorded all our spending. That continued for 14 years and then, in January 1993, we switched to a digital accounting system and, 27 years later, that is still going strong. While we were busy working, the accounting records were updated each weekend. Now they are updated most mornings. We use Microsoft Money which was last revised 16 years ago and I have regularly had to contact Microsoft for a ‘software patch’ to shoehorn it in to another new operating system. There will probably come a time when we have to migrate to something else but, please, not yet.

We’ve got the Power!

As well as maintaining my INR results since January 2009 and our weight and blood pressure, I have always logged our power usage in the various properties in which we’ve lived. This is always done on the first of the month. As the graph above illustrates, our usage here over the past 4 or so years has been fairly constant other than for the troughs denoting time away. Only another 30 years of records to maintain. Please.

Turned out to be an absolutely delightful day with sunshine and blue sky. The temperature hovered around 22C/70F and there wasn’t even the hint of a breeze now I’ve had the fence fixed. We are looking for an ‘Indian Summer’ with all the kids back at school and adults back in their offices leaving the rest of the world to the ones who really matter. This is the time to duck and let the pigs fly by.

Wednesday, 2nd September, 2020

Lovely morning. We were up early. Well, there’s no time to lose. Pauline trimmed all the hedges and I, of course, swept up after her. I mowed and edged all the lawns and, of course, swept up after myself. This is what marriage is founded on – give and keep giving.

The man who came round yesterday to shore up a broken fence post, came back today at Pauline’s request. Between the side of our house and the garage is a passage which is where we store our ‘Wheelie Bins’ reasonably discreetly but which also serves as a bit of a wind tunnel. Pauline decided that she wanted it gated off before our patio was extended to shelter the garden from the wind and the sight of bins. He is a local man and obviously keen for the work so he came back today with all the materials to complete the job in under an hour. It has turned out to be a reasonable experience for him with a couple of hours’ work earning him about £400.00/€451.00.

New Covid cases continue to rise in Greece with 233 announced today. Scotland is enforcing quarantine on those returning already because of an entire plane-load of Scots returning from Laganas on Zakynthos are being forced to stay at home after a number tested positive. It will be no surprise if the same is confirmed by England on Thursday.

Zakynthos Town & Harbour

Almost exactly 40 years ago – August 1980 to be precise -we were spending three weeks in Zakynthos and arrived in this harbour by ferry from Killini on the Peloponnese. Just 4o years ago, we were tourist lining the streets to photograph the procession from St Denis’ Church (Agios Dionisos) having booked our first Greek Holiday through the long gone SunMed.

Couldn’t find the 1980 edition.

This was our first foreign holiday together, our first ever flight and our first time in Greece. We went on to revisit every year until this one. Zakynthos was in the early stages of welcoming tourists and few could dreamt of this year’s events. We owe so much of our married lives experience to that three week stay on Zakynthos back in August 1980.

Thursday, 3rd September, 2020

Quite a grey but warm start to the morning. The temperature did not drop below 17C/63F overnight and is hovering around 21C/70F in a fairly gloomy sky. A strong, warm breeze got up last night although not strong enough or warm enough to classify as Meltemi (Μελτέμι). That should probably have finished by now anyway. 

Sunny Sifnos this morning.

We were shocked how immediately the weather acknowledged the change of month. After years of leaving at the end of August, our first 6 month stint took us into October. The Greeks had always told us that September was the best month with warm seas, warm, sunny weather and a quiet island. Well the island went quiet but most of the rest was very patchy. Rain, low cloud, heavy mists and chilly evenings all screamed Autumn.  At least it turns out that those returning this week will not have to quarantine which is a better welcome home as long as they’re not going to Wales or Scotland.

My sad, August, Googlemap Timeline.

At least those people will have been somewhere. Google has sent me its chart of my travel destinations for the month of August. It’s so extensive, I wonder how I’ve coped!

Friday, 4th September, 2020

Had a phone call last night from our Bank’s Insurance Providers who I’ve been negotiating with since early May over a failed villa rental for around £4,500.00. The Bank believe that we should be getting our money back from the villa owner even though there was an upfront T&C of No Refunds which we accepted in the confidence of our insurance back-up.

For years we have been paying Bank Account fees and really not exploiting many of the attendant services. We have certainly used the ‘free’

  • Travel Insurance
  • European Car Breakdown Cover
  • House Emergency Service
  • Mobile Phone Insurance
  • Airport Lounge Access

We have never used

  • ID Theft Assistance
  • Preferential Money Exchange rates because we could always get cheaper.
  • Concierge Service for Special Events
  • 40% off Cinema tickets
  • 25% off Concert Tickets.

Now is our chance to extract full value. The Law is expensive and litigating in Europe will be even more so. Either way, we can’t lose. If legal action prevails, we get paid out. If it fails, the insurance arm are duty bound to pay out. The only thing is time. We’ve got plenty of that …. as far as we know.

Early Autumn by the Sea

We used our time today to visit the beach on a warm-ish afternoon. We found a quiet spot but many areas were teaming with parents and kids – many swimming in the sea.

Saturday, 5th September, 2020

A really delightful day of blue sky and warm sunshine with a few, fluffy white clouds. Could be Summer. The temperature actually reached 23.9C/75F. We were up early again.

Quick trip to Sainsburys and then on to Asda. The latter is because my price monitor (Pauline) has found that my non-alcoholic, low calorie drink of choice is currently half price. Shloer Light is usually £2.20/€2.48 per bottle. Currently, it is exactly half price. This comes round about every couple of months and I then swoop. I never buy it at full price. Twenty bottles today and, maybe, another 20 tomorrow will see me through until the next offer. I’ve already got a store of 40 bottles. They will get me through dry October & November. That will make just over 5 months without alcohol in 2020.

The risks of relying on Tourism.

I was looking for some information and trawling through YouTube for a video of instruction when up popped a ‘Live’ VBlog from the centre of Costa Adeje. Two English-speaking residents were walking the streets in blazing heat but wearing face masks constantly telling us how uncomfortable they were and pointing out all the closed shops and restaurants, streets completely empty of tourists and with very few cars. The presenters were trying to persuade us that there couldn’t be a better time to visit but it wasn’t convincing. We had booked the month of November in Costa Adeje. Fortunately we got all our money back for that.

Week 609

Sunday, 23th August, 2020

Mum aged 25 – Birthday photo 1948

Apologies to Mum for forgetting to acknowledge her Birthday yesterday. I rarely forget. She would have been 97 yesterday although she died 12 years ago at the age of 85. To my hopelessly poor judgement, she looks a very young 25 here but I suppose this was still a reasonably innocent time. She is pictured here with her Mum – Lily Coghlan – who was 53 in this shot. I don’t know who the precocious little girl is/was.

Mum is within a year of moving North to the Midlands and our home village of Repton. She came specifically to teach Art at Burton upon Trent Girls’ High School and begin an independent life.  Within 2 years of this photo, she had met dad and would be married in 1950. How lives change!

Reclining Nude – Augustus John (1950s Porn.)

Mum was an Art teacher and we were encouraged (made) to paint pictures at home. Now I think back, there were amazingly few books in the house but she had some related to what she said was her favourite ‘modern’ painter – Augustus John, 1878 – 1961 a Welsh painter, draughtsman, etcher and exponent of Post-Impressionism. I remember being shocked and excited to find she had a book of nude sketches by Augustus John in the bookshelf in the Sitting Room where we were not allowed to go. I learned later that Augustus John was particularly known for his many mistresses and subsequent scores of children.

Aubrey Beardsley – ‘The Climax’. – Make of that what you will.

She also had Osbert Lancaster cartoons and Aubrey Beardsley, an English illustrator. His black ink drawings emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic. Suddenly, I’m beginning to draw some dangerous connections here and plumbing depths about my Mother – places I’d rather not go.

Time to mow the lawns!

Monday, 24th August, 2020

Today is dominated by the visit of an electrician who will be with us for about three days. He is installing:

Consumer Unit
4 x Double Sockets
3 x Strip Lights
2 x Heating Tubes
PIR lamp outside

The biggest part of the job is running cable from the house outside in to the garden. The electrician was soon off for a longer masonry drill bit to go through the wall.

Old-Style Fluorescent Tubes

The most interesting thing today is the light fittings. Do you remember these things – Fluorescent Tubes filled with a powder and, I think, an inert gas (Don’t quote me on that.) each of which were started by their own, individual motor. Usually, the motor seemed to fail before the tube. We had them in garages, offices, schools, etc.

LED Strip Light

I haven’t even thought about one for 20 years. Suddenly, our gym needs good, sharp lighting. Fluorescent Tubes are the first thing that came to mind. I’m not sure our electrician has ever heard of them. Ah Yes, he said. These LED Strip Lights, he said, never need replacing. Youngsters have so little measure of ‘never’. They have at least a life of 25,000 hours which will last us around 20 years at 4 hours per day. If I have to by replacements at the age of 89, at least I will have had time to save up.

One delightful thing about our young electrician was to find out that he and all his family are committed ant-Brexit campaigners. I knew I liked him immediately. Actually, his wife turns out to be a trained teacher and they home-school their children. Intelligent, hard working people who understand the value and dignity of immigration desperate to retain Freedom of Movement for themselves and for others. You can always rely on a bright spark.

Tuesday, 25th August, 2020

The last week of August….. Let that sink in. While we were teaching and driving to Greece for the Summer Holidays, this is the week we would have been leaving the island and starting the long drive back across Europe to arrive home for the weekend and having just enough time to prepare for start of term next week. The journey of three days or so would help us to adjust to the battles ahead. 

Talking of battles, I’ve been having one for a few days with a company supplying industrial kitchen units. I paid for them and most were delivered last week. We’re absolutely delighted with what we’d bought. Unfortunately, one unit didn’t appear although they had taken our money for it. I phoned to enquire and I could never get anyone to answer the phone. It just rang forever and cut off. I began to get suspicious. Eventually I got through. The switchboard said they would get someone to check the warehouse and phone me back. I heard nothing. This whole process was repeated three times over three separate days. It was taking me hours.

Meanwhile I did some ‘due diligence’ on the company and the reviews were horrendous. It is one of the dangers of distance buying but it will be with us for a long time to come. I feel very old when I acknowledge a desire to deal face to face but, sometimes, I do. Anyway, yesteday afternoon i finally managed to get through to someone more senior at the company who checked my account, checked my order and said I would get it on Friday. Even then, I admit to being a little sceptical but, this morning, I received confirmation and a tracking link for Tufnell’s the Deliverers. This is the reward for persistence but I wonder when I would ever have achieved that while we were working. I rarely had 6 hours to waste other than when I was at school.

Joyce & Harry’s Wedding – 1956

This morning I received a photo of an event in 1956. I was 5 years old and Pauline just 4½. Pauline is centre front row and, as usual, trying to cover her face. Joyce is Pauline’s much, much older cousin. I’m sure Richard will be touched by this photo.

Wednesday, 26th August, 2020

Very windy night again and very warm again. We were awake quite a lot and, consequently, got up late – 7.15 am. It is a beautiful, warm and sunny day with no wind at all. We have a very busy day.

We had our Insurance Claim for our villa rental in May transferred to the Bank’s Legal Department who emailed me a Contract Dispute form to complete and return. It is amazing how long these things take to get absolutely right. This morning we completed it and sent it off. I’m not sure how we would have managed that without PDF editing software, a scanner and image editing software. For many/most it would have proved insurmountable.

On this day last year I was with this gorgeous girl in Gatwick Airport early in the morning preparing to fly to Athens for a week. Where are we now? Stranded on terra firma on a sea-locked, crushingly isolated, Brexit voting prison island with Covid19 controls. This has virtually made our mind up to buy another property abroad.

By 10.00 am, our first delivery had arrived. Fresh fish from our local wet fishery. We tend to order ever 3-4 weeks and portion and store/freeze.

The quality is fantastic with the Tuna at sushi-grade. The cod in large, loin joints is almost like a different fish to the fillets sold in supermarkets. The texture and flavour is magnificent. That order took Pauline about an hour to portion, parcel up, label and freeze. I was completing the legal submission as she worked. We finished just in time for Tufnell‘s the Deliverers to call with the final steel cabinet for our outside kitchen.

We spent a chunk of the afternoon stripping our new cabinet of skin-tight polythene wrapping. After we had finished and moved it in to place, Pauline spent for ever cleaning and shining it. We now have a run of brushed steel cabinets, upright freezer, griddle, hob and deep fat fryer soon to be supplemented by electric bar barbecue. 

We’ve got a man coming round to check on the fence this evening and the electrician is going to spend another day next week finishing off our work. 

Thursday, 27th August, 2020

Although she died 10 years ago, we never forget Mump as she became known. Today she would be celebrating her 106th birthday. Pauline still has the dress but she doesn’t have her Mum and she misses her hugely.

Mump circa 1990

Another busy day which started at 6.00 am with a lovely, clear sky on a warm morning. Out to Tesco for 7.00 am start. I did my walk which was really enjoyable. The trees around are absolutely laden with fruit and I don’t just mean fruit trees. I did pass a garden where trees we bending under the weight of gorgeous, red apples and our PYO farm is currently having its acres of Victoria Plums stripped for jam making but, all along my walk today, Blackberries are burgeoning along with Sambucas or Elderberries. The oak trees are full of acorns and so many others I’m not even sure I know the names off are producing seed balls ready for the new season. They say such fecundity presages a bad Winter. It may be an old wive’s tale. I really hope so. We have had enough bad winters on the Pennines to last us a lifetime.

This is my favourite.

The strong winds of the past couple of days have all but destroyed my ‘finger’ pepper plants. In reality, they needed another two or three weeks but I’ve been forced to take what I can now. They were covered in small fruit and lots of flowers but I don’t think they will make it to maturity now. They were grown from seed so really didn’t cost me much and we will eat them roasted stuffed with Feta cheese. However, I probably won’t do this again.

Friday, 28th August, 2020

Woke in the night to a cloud burst sustained for about 20 mins. Still warm and a bit sticky. Woke at 6.00 am to blue sky and sunshine and still mild. We are hoping to have a Fence company come round to repair a suspect post which is our responsibility. For that reason, we are going nowhere so we are in the Office on-line shopping … again.

Pauline is searching for a radiator for the gym. We are not going to the expense of extending the central heating out there so it will be wall-mounted electric.

Just to keep the Gym frost-free.

While Pauline is doing that, I’m researching a new television for the Lounge. Currently, we have a 55″ LG television in there and it will go out on the gym wall. I hope to fit a wi-fi extender and install my 5th Sky Q box so we can exercise and watch political programmes seamlessly.

We have quite a lot of televisions in the house but I am no aficionado of their quality. It really doesn’t worry me as long as it works well. We have one LG in the Lounge and five more Samsungs around the house. The picture quality of the LG is inferior to all the others but it will be fine for a gym. The new one I’m proposing to buy says it has ‘Adaptive Sound automatically adjusts to what you’re watching, so your entertainment feels more immersive‘. It also features ‘Multi View lets you watch your TV whilst commenting on social media, all at once on the big screen.’ so I can Tweet politicians while they are lying through interviews.

Saturday, 29th August, 2020

Our monthly Village magazine

A bit cooler this morning – 16C/61F – but sunny and doesn’t feel bad at all. If you are a regular reader of the Blog, you will know that we are in the middle of a spending spree It is sublimated frustration at not being able to travel which is forcing us to appraise our home situation. At the same time, purchasing has been largely on the web because of the pandemic and this is fraught with difficulties because pre-Covid websites are still advertising products that have not been manufacture for months and turn out to be out of stock with a long replenish lead in time. 

Because of this, we have been forced back on to localism. Our electrician is a lovely lad who lives down Sea Lane just a mile or two away from us with his ex-teacher wife and 3 Home-Schooled kids. We were considering buying our gym equipment from Sportstech, a German firm but learned of the long wait times and difficulty with returning problem purchases. We turned to a company from Shoreham-by-Sea which is about 5 miles away. They have a shorter lead in time, deliver and construct on-site and provide comprehensive warranty and servicing for our area. It makes me feel a little old but also reassured.

Our local, Family-run Fencing Business.

In just the same way, our errant fence post will be fixed by a local fencing firm which we’ve got out of the monthly village magazine, All About Angmering. He was supposed to come yesterday but it absolutely threw it down so we will see him on Tuesday. You have to go with the local flow.