Week 616

Sunday, 11th October, 2020

A beautiful morning of clear blue sky and sunshine. A bit chilly at 9C/48F by 7.00 am but quickly warming up. All the national mood music appears to be moving towards increasing travel/relationship restrictions as the pandemic resurges. Not so much a second wave as a resurgence of the first. We think that our trip to France is particularly justified because of this. 

For entry to France, we have to complete a Sworn Statement about almost nothing other than we are physically well. Fortunately, they are not concerned by our mental impairment.

Actually, we will be quite happy quarantining at home. I think the front garden beds are looking as pleasant as at any time this year with their pinks and red basking in low sunlight along the drive.

We have a busy programme ahead with the Treadmill being delivered on Wednesday, the installers coming to build it for us in the gym shortly afterwards, the Landscapers coming to lay extra patio early in November and then we have to drive to Surrey to deliver Xmas cakes and puddings to Pauline’s family for their Xmas Dinners. We, of course will remain on the street so as not to also deliver or receive infection.

Monday, 12th October, 2020

Our current lifestyle encourages pictures of supermarket carparks. This morning at 7.00am, it is Tesco carpark taken by Pauline as she prepared to shop.

Tesco Carpark at 7.00 am – Warn the shepherds!

Pauline went indoors while I walked off into the sunrise. It was remarkably mild and enjoyable walking. Still shorts and tee-shirt weather. I put on extra speed this morning but still failed to beat Pauline back to the car. Must try harder!

We are preparing for quarantine from Wednesday so trying to be as well stocked as possible. After Tesco, we did a quick visit to Asda as well. Tomorrow, we drive to Folkestone for a 9.20 am train. We have to be there at least 45 mins before although we don’t expect it to be as busy as before.

Pre-pandemic traffic

Chaotic Brexit planning has affected the drive to the Tunnel as the M20 turns in to a lorry holding park. On the French side, border officials are giving us a taste of what it will be like next year and it takes much longer to get through security checks as the queues build up. We just hope that the quarantine restrictions will deter many and leave us a free run. We’ll report back tomorrow with photos from the corner of some foreign supermarket carpark.

Tuesday, 13th October, 2020

Up at 5.00 am – raining. Out at 6.00 am – raining. Drive down to Folkestone Channel Tunnel by 8.00 am – raining. Very quiet compared with normal trips.

Empty Terminal Facility at Folkestone
Queueing for the train under the sea.

Train at 9.20 am – dry under the sea. Arrive Coquelles at 9.50 am (10.50 am CET) – raining. Drive to Calais Wine Store – raining. Spend €1,176.00/£1076.00 on wine and pack it in to the car – still raining. Drive off to Cité Europe and shop in Carrefour .

Cité Europe carpark – just a few Asylum seekers around.
Pauline fighting for space in Carrefour

We went off to the Lindt chocolate outlet nearby and spent another €120.00 of self indulgence and then back to the tunnel for an early train. It is still raining as we queue and board the 2.20 departure.. We roll off in Folkestone at 1.50 pm in light rain.

Officially, we are now quarantining. It feels excitingly clandestine. We drive home through a fog of hazy rain and lorry spray arriving at about 3.40 pm. Collecting up the post, I unload the car, and we have a light meal of French supermarket delicacies. After coffee and a short rest, I go into our gym and do an hour’s exercise followed by a warm, relaxing shower. It’s been a good day.

Wednesday, 14th October, 2020


Quite enjoying this. Blue sky, strong sunshine. Why couldn’t it have been yesterday? Anyway, this quarantine thing doesn’t seem to be getting us down. Mind you, it is only 9.00 am on the first day. Already received 6 phone calls. The first 3 were recorded messages from a nice, young lady who was warning me that my Broadband was going to be switched off in 24 – 48 hrs unless I pressed number 1 on my phone. I tried to chat to her but she was an automaton. The other 3 calls were from the delivery firm keeping me updated about where they were with my new treadmill. 

Around 9.00 am, a Prohire lorry drew up outside and 2 fairly burly gentlemen got out and started to struggle with 2 huge and very heavy parcels. This treadmill is absolutely massive. I’m glad we’re not having to assemble it. Unfortunately, we have to wait a couple of weeks for the installers to arrive. We’ll be out of quarantine by then. If we really enjoy it, we might just go back to France to invoke the Quarantine Rule for another couple of weeks and then the government can impose a national, total lockdown  and happy days!

This piece of machinery cost almost £2,000.00 but comes with on-site installation and 3 yrs Home maintenance/Service. It will be the centrepiece of the gym and the most used piece of equipment. We need it to operate perfectly so a professional setup is essential. Anyway, it is so heavy, I would struggle to lift the main section.

We should have been setting off for Yorkshire this week to visit our parents’ graves, visit wrinkly, old Ruth and Margaret & Little Viv and to see my old friend, Brian’s face again. He hasn’t worked for me for 12 years now but we have managed to meet up at least once and, often, twice a year. It isn’t easy maintaining a relationship at this distance. This morning Brian phoned me and it was really lovely to hear his voice.

Thursday, 15th October, 2020

Happy Birthday to my Dad. He would be 105 today but only managed 49 years before dying of a heart attack. So many wonderful years of life, experience and love lost!


Today should be Tesco and walk. It will not be. We know we could get away without quarantining but we are happy to observe it. We welcome small highlights and a robin sat on our hedge this morning to greet us. He has never been to France and wouldn’t quarantine if he had. Even so, he is very welcome.

At 11.00 am, we will receive our second Covid-Test visitor. We will have 3 more this month and then a further 11 over the following 11 months.

When our Greek house was built 20 years ago, we shipped the kitchen in from IKEA in Leeds. The dishwasher, hob and oven were purchased in Greece, however, from ΚΩΤΣΟΒΟΛΟΣ which is owned by Dixons Group

At the time – 20 years ago – we were thrilled with this.

Particularly, if one is buying in a foreign country, there is a temptation to look for familiar manufacturers. However, we were trying not to break the bank after over spending on the house build. We thought we’d get the kitchen up and running and gradually upgrade in time so we went for a fairly economically priced oven badged Pitsos. The name is not very inspiring but the Greeks appeared to be very proud of it.

Centenary advertisement – The islands were just getting electricity in 1965.

It was a Greek company founded in Athens in 1865. It had been bought up by by Bosch-Siemens by the time we purchased but we didn’t know it at the time.

This week we learnt that the historic Greek factory , PITSOS  a leading manufacturer of household appliances and one of the largest industrial units in the country is to close down by the end of the year and being transferred from Greece to Turkey.


It must be an even greater blow to Greek pride to find their industry moving to Turkey – their perennial and mortal enemy.

Friday, 16th October, 2020


A beautiful, warm and sunny day with blue sky and no breeze. Because it is such a lovely, sunny day, we decided to dispense with quarantine rules and go for a walk around our Development. I know. What criminals! Pauline was a little nervous. She thought they would phone up to check while we were out. Fortunately, I pointed out that we had only provided our mobile phone numbers for that very reason. We had to give two, contact numbers. I gave mine and Pauline’s. Pauline gave hers and mine. Should be fool proof. Unfortunately, the moment we stepped outside and I had locked the door Pauline’s phone went off in her bag. She visibly quaked. 

The conversation went like this:

Pauline: Hello
Caller: This is HMRC.
Pauline: Oh yes.
Caller: You have an unpaid, outstanding tax bill. You must settle this immediately. To contact us press 1 now. Failure to do so will result in automatic arrest.

Pauline visibly relaxed and closed the call. We went on with our walk.

Received our first £100.00/€110.00 payment between us for our initial Covid-19 tests with £50.00 more to come in a few days from last Monday’s tests. Every subsequent test we’ll receive £50.00/€55.00 until they’ve paid us £850.00/€935.00 for all 15 tests. You don’t get actual cash, you nominate somewhere to spend your vouchers. There is a huge choice which includes Amazon and every major supermarket and many more outlets. Normally, we spend at least £100.00/€110.00 per week at Tesco so we’ve accepted vouchers worth £100.00/€110.00 to spend there so far but you can split them between a myriad of High Street and online retailers.

Escapee from Quarantine – between a rock and a hard place.

Saturday, 17th October, 2020


A fairly dull but mild morning. The trees around have suddenly started to show the season with yellow, gold and orange appearing in the leaves. We are on the downward slope of October and, suddenly, I am aware of it. The clocks go back into darkness next weekend. The world goes back into darkness next year.

I did an hour in the gym this morning and we then had a Birthday card to post. Quarantine or not, the post box – a 19th century one set into a stone & mortar wall is only a 10 mins walk away. When we got there, we found the post had gone at 7.00 am and the next collection would be Monday. Never mind, Michael’s birthday isn’t until Wednesday. It should get there.

What is this?

Growing over the same wall was this, astonishing tree. I have never seen anything like it before. I pride myself on knowledge of trees and shrubs, their Common and Botanical or Latin Names although it is 20 years since I was a seriously committed gardener and I have noticed some are slipping away from the memory bank.

Please tell me what this is. Ruth? Liz?

If expert plants women like Ruth & Liz can’t tell me, I’ll be forced to knock on the owner’s door and infect the entire village.

Pauline & I have had 2 Covid-19 tests each so far over the first week. Today, Pauline received news by post that her 1st test was negative. Mine didn’t arrive. They were supposed to be communicating via text or email but it was obviously considered too efficient. Thank goodness the payments are on time.

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