Sunday, 15th November, 2020
Heavy rain over night although we slept through it. A nice, sunny start to the morning and we went for a walk round the Development. The woodland path has reverted to a brook temporarily.
We decided that it was a path too far and walked home in the sunshine. We had no sooner opened the door and made some coffee than it began to absolutely throw it down and the torrential rain turned to hail. It didn’t feel that cold but who am I to understand atmospherics?
This is Sifnos this morning – empty, forlorn and also flooded. It is 6 years ago today that we arrived back from Athens where we visited the National Bank of Greece to collect the second and last tranche of the payment for our house. We transferred the money to UK and closed the account even though the Bank manager tried valiantly to persuade us to invest it back in to Greece.
Until 6 years ago, we were spending 180 days in Greece each year which was the maximum time we were allowed without paying taxes to the Greek government. It was a comfortable arrangement. Now, this descent in to Brexit madness means that we would only be allowed 90 days in any one year which would make maintenance of a second home in Europe quite restrictive. This is particularly true of a home which is relatively far away like Greece. Spain, on the other hand, is a different proposition. We can put our car on the ferry from Portsmouth to Santander and drive to a holiday home in just a few hours. Worth considering!
Monday, 16th November, 2020
Up at 6.00 am in preparation for the final day of work in the back garden. The workers arrive at 7.30 am on an overcast but mild morning. Fortunately, it will be dry all day and for most of the week. The workers have left the most difficult area to finish today. It requires quite a lot of paving slab cutting. After 5 days, we will be glad for it to be over so that we can get our home back. We definitely chose the right company to do the job. We are delighted with their work.
However, we are still in our back garden. It is not a very expansive experience. Eleven years ago this week, we were spending this week driving around the Kent coastal area in search of a new property. I was keen to be much nearer to the Tunnel for a quick hop across to the Continent.
We drove down from Yorkshire and stayed with P&C for a couple of days. I can’t believe they have virtually not changed over the past 11 years – well, Pauline hasn’t anyway. Eleven years is a long time. In 11 years, I will be 80 yrs old. Can you imagine it? I do hope I get there!
Just 2 years ago this week, we were in a villa in Golf del Sur, Tenerife. We had a lovely heated pool and gorgeous weather but the shops were quite a long walk away and the property was a bit tired inside.
This time last year, we were in a much more modern and well appointed villa with heated pool in Costa Adeje. We had a wonderful array of shops with a fantastic Supermurcado in easy walking distance. It was a wonderful month. We were booked to return for the months of May and November but both have disappeared into the Covid mists.
Now we need to stay positive, get the vaccination and move on. We’ve probably only got another 20 years of travelling. Need to make the most of it!
Tuesday, 17th November, 2020
We didn’t get up until 7.30 this morning. It is one of the most unusual things that has happened to me for a long time. I haven’t got a clue why but it put me out all morning. Received paperwork from our patio installers who finished yesterday to the effect that we had a 5 year warranty on all the work they had done and a 10 year warranty on the Brett paving slabs. It will all collapse when I’m 80!
Also heard from the legal firm acting to get our money back from the Tenerife villa in May. Their Spanish arm say they are confident of getting the £4,500.00/€5,022.00 back but the cost of doing so would be more than that and ‘costs’ cannot be reclaimed. My bank now have the decision: do they want to pay me from insurance or pursue the villa owner.
Any regular reader of the Blog will not disagree with my self-analysis when I observe that I am really weird. You don’t need to write. I know it. So, when I tell you that I am a huge fan of mouthwash and have been for many years, you will hardly raise an eyebrow.
You might look a little quizzical when I tell you that I know one bottle lasts me 2 weeks and that I don’t buy a bottle from the supermarket when I need one. I buy a carton of 24 bottles at a time delivered to my door. One bottle is usually priced between £5.50/€6.14 in the major supermarkets and, often, you can’t find it there at all. I never pay more than £2.50/€2.79 per bottle when I buy in bulk so a year’s supply costs me around £65.00/€72.50. Sounds a lot when you put it like that but there is a secret ingredient which makes it all worth while. CPC is the magic ingredient and my new best friend.
Of course not all mouthwash producers include it but mine does. I only found this out today so I may have to order some more immediately in case there is a run on the world supply.
Wednesday, 18th November, 2020
It’s so warm, the birds think it is nesting time and Pauline is thinking of putting her bikini on. Well, perhaps this latter is a bit of an exaggeration but it is delightfully warm.
We have the bind of each needing a Driving Licence renewal and Passport renewal all around the end of this year
The Post Office offers a digital passport renewal service at a limited number of branches, but it costs 20% more than doing it on the government website. This involves handing over one’s old passport and having a photo taken. This service costs £91.50 per person so £183.00 for the two of us.
We want to hold on to our passports just in case we can nip over to France one more time in December.
Unfortunately, our Driving Licences also need an updated picture. They can be taken from our Passport records but ours will be too old to use. The Post Office will charge us again for photographs and renewal service at a rate of £21.50 per person so £43.00 for us both.Thank goodness Christmas is cancelled. I couldn’t afford that and £226.00 on Bureaucracy.
Of course, in April next year I will have to take the walk of shame and apply for another renewal of my Driving Licence because I will be 70. It all feels a bit like Greek State machinery. Fortunately, this one is free.
It’s not easy taking photographs whilst you’re driving and nearly 70 you know. We were amazed at the number of businesses in operation and the number of people out walking on the beach path. We had gone in to town for a cheap offer on MOUTHWASH! Fortunately, Pauline was driving.
Thursday, 19th November, 2020
Up at 6.00 am on a coolish morning. Only 9C/48F as we stepped out of the door. As usual, Pauline shopped while I did my 5 mile walk. I went in shorts but put a fleece on because the breeze was distinctly chilly. Pauline paid largely with our Covid Test Project payments. We have now each had 5 negative tests. The next one is in a month.
Home for coffee and the arrival of a plumber. We are coming towards the end of our 5-year warranty on our new property and everybody is reassessing to make sure that all snagging is complete. We were beginning to feel left out because we really didn’t have anything but Pauline decided that the sink pop-ups in two of the bathrooms were sticking and needed replacing. The plumber was booked for this morning but we finally received a call to rebook for next week so we drove out to Littlehampton Post Office.
You have to really search for Post Offices these days even though they perform some really important services to local communities. This one shares its premises with an Opticians just to be economical enough to survive. We wanted to enquire if we need to book an appointment to go and renew our Driving Licences in these Covid times. It is quite a time consuming process which included photography. Anyway, they were quite relaxed about it and told us to turn up when we’re ready. We will go tomorrow morning with our paperwork.
Now the back garden hard standing is finished, we can proceed with placing and adding additional furniture. I ordered a heavy-duty, rustic table for cooking on today – £170.00/€190.00. If it looks good and quality when we get it, I might order a second.
Friday, 20th November, 2020
Up early on a crisp morning. Cold but no real sign of frost. However, we went out to Littlehampton at 9.00 am to the Post Office and I wore CLOTHES for the first time since early March. I have lived in shorts and tee shirts for the past 8 months. Today, I was having my photo taken that will stick in my Driving Licence for the next 10 years. I have to look reasonable. The experience in the Post Office was wonderful. The staff were absolutely delightful. The process was slick and efficient. We were in, processed and out in about 10 mins.
Littlehampton town centre, like Worthing town centre, is populated by the sort of people we hardly ever see in our daily lives. There are many down-at-heel, ethnic minority, disabled, intellectually challenged, mentally unstable characters around. There are many empty shop premises emphasised by the general pandemic-rule closure of most of the rest. The whole atmosphere feels rather anti-social and uncomfortable. Outside the Post Office, a strange man was staggering around, singing something at the top of his voice. Someone else shouted, Tommy, shut up! and he shouted back that he always made a noise when he was happy.
On the way back, we called in at Asda for bananas – they do the best in the area. Usual routine, Pauline goes in to shop and I set off on a walk. Because I knew I wouldn’t have long, I restricted my walk to the carpark which is big but not picturesque. I photographed the electric car charging points. As you can see, it amounts to just 2. As I walked around, I counted up 700 parking spaces. Clearly, this is where the end of the combustion engine is not eagerly anticipated.
Two additional pieces of news this morning when we got home. Although we’ve barely used the heating since March, we have been informed that £200.00/€224.00 ‘Heating Allowance’ will drop into our bank account shortly. It’s bought us an outdoor cooking table. Earlier this year, my Broadband was upgraded to Fibre-to-the-Door which uprated my download service from 32 mbps to 330 mbps in an instant. Now we are told that our area is one of the first to receive full Gigabit service – 1000 mbps – and the work is starting this week. My cup runneth over.
Saturday, 21st November, 2020
Lovely, mild start to the day. We decided that we’d nip down to the beach for a quick breath of ozone and a walk. Actually, when we got there, so many people had had the same idea that we didn’t stay. I just stopped the car to get a photo of the wind surfers convention. There must have been about 30 of them some way out to sea on a turning tide.
I realised immediately why they were there when I go out of the car. The breeze off the sea was strong and cold. We drove home for hot coffee.
I’m afraid to say I spent the rest of the day reading political articles and watching sport – sometimes both at the same time. However, I watched the England v Ireland Rugby match in the gym – fulfilling my pledge to myself to not waste such occasions as a couch potato but combining it with exercise. I was more knackered than the players when they came off with a great English victory.