Week 618

Sunday, 25th October, 2020


Warm, grey, intermittently wet. This is going to be an ‘in’ day. Apart from increasingly anodyne political programmes and increasingly acerbic newspapers, I have to interface with the real world. Today, I am checking my records for how long it has been since our legal firm started a claim for €4,500.00 from the villa owner in Tenerife who wasn’t able to provide the service we had paid for. Actually, it turns out to be less than a month. I will give them another fortnight before I apply pressure.

Today for Lunch we ate Artichokes & Peas – something we loved in Greece. It is simple, healthy and delicious.

Artichokes & Peas

In reality, if we were eating out in Sifnos this morning, we would have been offered Revithia or Chickpea Soup. The traditional dish of Sunday (Κυριακή).


Both are delightful but they emphasise the impoverished simplicity of island subsistence. Of course, it is easy to make a benefit of that rusticity but choice is what matters. We have the freedom to choose one over the other.

John Fidler

This afternoon on Faceache, up popped John Fidler – our old Head of History. Haven’t seen him for at least 15 years. His wife died a year ago. He is looking well.

Monday, 26th October, 2020


Beautiful morning with clear, blue sky and strong sunshine. Quite mild as well although only reading 12C/54F. We have to break out of Quarantine for a few moments again this morning to collect some new, INR test strips from the Pharmacy in the village. They are expensive – 24 test strips cost circa £90.00/€99.50 although a little less without VAT which I don’t have to pay. I use 2 packs a year and get one on prescription and the other I fund myself because I test more often than many to keep on top of my condition.

Had an email from my skinny sister last night. Now most of my sisters are skinny but this one is really skinny – so skinny that God threads her through the eye of a needle. Anyway, enough of abuse. She is a lovely girl and she was a Biology teacher so I turned to her a couple of weeks ago to help me identify this tree that I had spotted growing in a village garden.

Clerodendrum Trichotomum, (Harlequin Glorybower, or Peanut Butter Tree)

Of course, there’s a lot to be said for being skinny. Last night, JaneBG emailed me to say she had identified this plant from a website she knew. Clerodendrum Trichotomum, the Harlequin GlorybowerGlorytree or Peanut Butter Tree, is a species of flowering plant in the family LamiaceaeClerodendrum is derived from Greek, and means ‘chance tree’. Trichotomum is also derived from Greek, and means ‘three-forked’ or ‘triple-branched’. It is native to China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, India, and the Philippines. It is a large, deciduous shrub, growing 3–6 metres (10–20 ft) high with fragrant flowers. I want one!

Tuesday, 27th October, 2020


Last day of Quarantine. Must book another trip to France! Feels weird now but we have ‘hardly’ left our house for 2 weeks. We filled up our car before we set off to Folkestone and the tunnel to France and still have a 200 mile/322 km range left in our tank. It will be nice to do a reasonably long drive again soon.

Angmering’s bustling High Street

Talking about long drives, a man called Peter has driven all the way from Kent this morning, getting lost on our High Street, to assemble our Treadmill which has been sitting in huge boxes in the gym for a couple of weeks. His drive will have been at least 90 mins and the job will take him a couple of hours. The cost is built in to our purchase price but, if we had needed to purchase it separately, the charge would only have been £120.00/€133.00.

So often I am shocked by what turns up from almost nowhere. Even Faceache produces skeletons from the most unlikely ground. This morning it was this, old man. I haven’t seen him for 6 years and yet once I trusted him with my life and my money. He appeared this morning on a video which featured his nephew, Γεώργιος, the Captain’s Bar owner, Λευτέρης, along with the potter, Αδώνης.

This old man is Σταυρός and the video clip showed all the best and worst of Greek island life in one, fleeting moment. Σταυρός was never collegiate, never easily friendly. It is one of the reasons we appealed to each other. Ironically, he has lived all his life in the goldfish bowl that is island society where interpersonal relationships are at a premium.

The clip illustrated all the faux bon homie that oils the cogs of this intense sphere. The potter played out the pretence of being a magician with that most lavish of props – a small bottle of water. The magician ‘conned’ the younger man – Γεώργιος – into staring closely into the bottle of water which was ‘surprisingly’ squeezed so a fountain showered his face. Cue uncontrollable laughter. Γεώργιος is not stupid and will have known this was about to happen but he played along to provide the crowd with the excuse to laugh. However, playing the fool is not in Σταυρός repertoire nor is heartfelt bon homie. He affects a superficial smiling acknowledgement while withholding genuine friendship. Looking straight ahead, he tries to retain his separation. We took too long to learn this technique.

We have now had 3 Covid-19 tests each. This morning the results of the second test – 12 days ago – arrived. Both were negative. Only another 13 tests to go. On Friday, Pauline will pay our Tesco bill with vouchers for £150.00/€166.00 from the first two tests. At this rate, they can go on testing me in perpetuity.

Wednesday, 28th October, 2020

My Bleeding Elbow!

Life after Quarantine – DAY 1. Beautiful nearly full moon last night and lovely bright sunny morning today but still not cold. Our figs and our Mediterranean tree are still enjoying life to the full. Our first job this morning was to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!

Actually, we have so much cardboard and polystyrene stored from yesterday’s construction of our new treadmill that it will take two trips to the Local Authority tip to be disposed of. Ours was closed today so we had to drive a few miles down the coast to another. As we arrived, it started to rain quite heavily so I told Pauline I would empty the car because she would be shopping afterwards and I didn’t want her to get soaked. As I hurry to carry huge sheets of cardboard that obscure the path, my foot hits a slippery curb and I find myself flat on my face on the tarmac.

Solitude of Autumn

There is no fool like an old fool as I was able to demonstrate. As I picked myself up, I found I had scraped my elbow, my hand and my chin. The damage was superficial although, when you are as body-beautiful as me, even the slightest graze is significant. I will need comforting for quite a few days.

We drove on to Sainsburys to do some shopping for the first time in two weeks. Pauline shopped but I went off for a walk as I used to. The weather is typically Autumnal. The rain had only lasted a couple of minutes and a weak sun had reappeared. The damp streets and pavements are beginning to be lightly peppered with leaves and the trees are starting to turn from the green of summer. Certainly taking two weeks off has emphasised the changes on my resumed walking programme.

We weren’t forced to remain at home. We chose to do it and broke out, ‘slightly’ for a few minutes on a couple of occasions. Just imagine what a prisoner, who has been incarcerated for years, feels on final release. I can understand how it can be quite challenging. We were tempted to cavort in Sainsburys underground carpark with a gay abandon we felt so free. Something counselled us not to but we’ve always been boring like that.

Thursday, 29th October, 2020

We won’t be returning to France before the end of the year by the looks of it. France are in a condition of much tighter restrictions now as is Germany. Almost certainly, the UK government will have to move towards more national controls in the next month. We are pleased we squeezed in our trip a fortnight ago and we also feel justified in cancelling our gym membership and starting the testing programme. We had our 4th test this morning. We were visited by an ex-B.A. Cabin Crew. She was a lovely girl who had been made redundant and wanted to keep active.

Pauline and I met her at the door wearing out face visors. I nearly couldn’t persuade Pauline to wear hers at all because it came with a blue headband reading Face Shield. She decided she had to pick the blue strip off before she could wear it. It took her hours but, ultimately, she could bring herself to use it. She would have changed her socks if they had clashed with her visor!

When our visitor arrived, it was raining and she didn’t want to intrude inside our house. We were already prepared for that and had our visors on. She was pleased to be invited in and that we had thought about safety. She said very few people consider it even when they know she is coming. It all took about mins and we have another 12 tests over the next 11 months.

We now know that epidemiologists are forecasting that the infection/death rate from this virus could stay high right through to March/April next year so we certainly have to take it seriously. It will definitely alter conceptions of foreign travel for a long time to come. I believe Europeans currently reliant on Tourism for their economy will have to look for alternatives for a number of years to come.

Ochi Day’ (in more senses than one) on Sifnos

Due to the measures for the coronavirus in Sifnos and all over Greece, no big festive events and parade were held for the anniversary of October 28th which celebrates Ochi Day – the day in 1940 when Greek Prime Minister, Ioannis Metaxas, refused the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini demanding access to his country for the occupying forces. Not only did the weather not play ball but parades were banned and the whole thing was reduced to a gaggle of island representatives in the square.

Friday, 30th October, 2020

Three of these binned today.

Supposed to be a dry day today  which is why we switched our shopping from Thursday. I dropped Pauline at the door of Tesco Superstore at 7.00 am just as light rain began to fall. I parked up and set off for my walk but hadn’t gone more than 200mtrs when my phone buzzed with a text message to say that I would be receiving a DPD delivery of an item for the gym at 8.00 am. I phoned Pauline and she re-emerged with only one bag of shopping so we could meet the deadline. 

Coffee and parcel received and we were back off to Tesco for the rest of the shopping. Pauline says shelves were poorly stocked and restrictions had been re-imposed on some items like flour which bore echoes of the national lockdown. We live in a very low infection area but we are told that it is increasing and customers are obviously fearing the worst. Paying the bill of £120.00/€134.00 (including 3 sides of Scottish salmon) cost us only £20.00/€22.50 actually because the rest was cancelled by the first of our Covid test vouchers. We have £50.00/€67.00 more already and, before we shop next week, we will have another £50.00/€67.00. It’s a great, part time job.

Back home to unpack and more coffee. I still have lots of waste packaging from gym items to dispose of. I also need to get rid of some huge, old wine racks. I thought of offering them to skinny Liz but she swears she’s teetotal. Actually, I thinks she swears a lot about many things but that’s another matter. So, with the car packed of cardboard, polystyrene and wine racks, we set off for the local Tip. It doesn’t seem to matter when you go, it is always busy. The roads were incredibly busy but it is always nice to arrive home and think, All that rubbish has gone. The lightness of being rubbish-free is wonderful.

We managed to slip a quick trip to Sainsburys in to the drive home for things unavailable in Tesco. We have been in our home for 4 years 8 months. We have a 5 year everything covered warranty. We haven’t had to ask for much to be attended to. Others have had new windows and roofs, etc.. Today, we asked for two sink pop-ups to be replaced because they are sticking. The cost must be less than £20.00. We are scanning round to look for things that could be replaced but can’t find them. Even all the white goods are working well. By April, 2021, we will be on our own. Save Us! We’ll have to send for Skinny Lizzie and Help the Aged!

Saturday, 31st October, 2020

The end of October already and another National Lockdown mooted. We are in danger of seeing our lives peter out not with a bang but with a whimper. I’m sure many of you will be aware that is a quotation from T.S.Eliot’s 1925 poem, The Hollow Men which he finishes with:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper. 

‘The Hollow Men’ – T.S.Eliot, 1925

I am not against the Lock Down. In fact, I believe it should have been instituted over Half Term with at least a week either side as well. Because it wasn’t, the general consensus seems to be that many more people will die and the inevitable Lock Down will have to be longer.

However, once again we will feel increasingly isolated and detached from the real world. We will feel restricted and unenriched by travel and new experiences. We will be looking for vicarious substitutes to replace the real. Our communications will be increasingly important again. The Radio, Television and Internet will provide the boundaries to our world.

I don’t know about you but I am struggling with password overload. I have around 10 that I use on a regular basis and I can hold all of them in my memory bank. In fact, I don’t even pause to recall They come to me instantly. I have something around 50 different sites and passwords that I need in a year and I would really struggle to retain all of them. I use Norton 36 Premium which has a number of useful tools in addition to internet security. One of them is the Password Manager or Vault. This is working all the time in the background and recognises sites and fills in the password when required. It is a wonderful idea. It also supplies me with cloud storage and a secure VPN – Virtual Private Network – for privacy whilst browsing. I find it really user-friendly ad a must have.

High tide in Littlehampton at 11.00 this morning. We drove down to see the huge waves crashing on the beach. Unfortunately, we got there to find torrential fine rain and a mist which reduced visibility to around 100ms.. We did a swift drive past and came home to a quiet, dry kitchen.

Littlehampton Beach – 31/10/2020

By 2.00 pm, the skies had cleared and the sun was out. We drove back down to the beach for a quick blow in the sunshine. It was absolutely delightful.

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