Week 650

Sunday, 6th June, 2021

Well, there certainly ain’t no sunshine today. Warm but overcast. So emphasises the difference sunshine makes to one’s life. It sort of links the everyday mundanities into a coherent whole … but you don’t always get want you want!

 The Agente Immobiliario in Aguilas, Spain contacted me yesterday while I was out and our hotel in Athens also emailed me about our rolled-over Summer booking. It is so frustrating that I can’t do anything about either at the moment.

WebCam 2 – Kamares

Our island of Sifnos has installed another webcam which pans (after a long time) up the valley and towards our house. It is almost too painful to watch because we know every inch of every road, beach & pathway. We recognise old friends as they drive or walk down to the port. We can monitor the new developments that have taken place since we were last there. Hope falls on stony ground.

Did an hour in the gym and then an hour walking in the emerging sunshine. Lovely and warm on our faces one way and on our backs returning. Only 21C/70F. Quite tired now. My recovery rate does not seem to be improving fast enough. I am only 70 after all.

Monday, 7th June, 2021

Our local beach is fringed with rows of Beach Huts – white sheds. I remember my childhood holidays often included a beach hut so we could spend the day down at the beach and catering for the family of kids. I must admit, those experiences coloured my judgement and I saw them as outmoded features of a bygone age. The Sunday Observer had a report yesterday about the value of these ‘sheds’.

The headline was:

The trend for UK holidays has pushed prices for the UK’s 20,000 candy-coloured seaside cabins through the roof.

and the article featured some ‘sheds’ on the beach in Essex which were bought for £10,500.00 4 years ago and are now on the market for £48,500.00. Some on the North Norfolk coast resort of Wells-next-the Sea, Pauline’s old, family home, are going for just under £100,000.00. Mind you, it is known as Chelsea-on-Sea.

John Ridley posted a photo of his house in North Yorkshire. He bought it from new in 1980. I find it hard to conceive of staying in one place for over 40 years. In that time, we have bought and sold 8 properties and speculated to accumulate. I am one of those that Theresa May sneered at as citizens of nowhere or Erewhon as Samuel Butler entitled his famous novel.

1980 – 2021

We are going out to shop today. Our region has almost no Covid infections. We feel very comfortable out and about although we are still wearing masks. Might go for a walk on the beach later particularly now the kids are back in school.

The lonely sea & the sky.

The beach was a lonely place today. Children back at school and sea mist down on the horizon. The tide was almost in and lapping gently around the rocks. Perhaps I should take a few more risks like Christine Dagg celebrating her 70th birthday with a first-time Glider experience.

An hour in the gym and an hour out walking has left me tired but feeling I’ve fulfilled my commitment. The day has ended with gorgeous, hot sunshine.

Tuesday, 8th June, 2021

Sea mist start to the day again but it presages a hot and sunny one later. Humidity is rising. Looking for pinpricks of light in the gloom, I applied to replace our expiring EHIC cards for the new, GHIC ones. This is more in hope than expectation but hope is all we have. The Global Health Insurance Card reminds us of Brexit but we’ll use it for now.

As soon as travel is freed up, we need to be ready. Hopefully, European and Transatlantic travel will become a possibility again and we can escape this gloom. The application was a fairly simple, on-line affair which took about 5 minutes and promises to deliver our new cards with 10 working days. I.T really has made life so much more simple.

Pauline’s old school friend, who moved out to live on Gozo two or three years ago, messaged me this morning to say it was 28C/83F and very sunny there this morning. I immediately wanted to jump on a plane but it is just not possible currently.

I’ve decided we can’t just wait around for things to happen. We need to get out. We’ve decided to drive down to Southampton for the day and the weather looks like it is genuinely improving over the next few days. We’ve only been to Southampton once since we got here. It’s only about an hour’s drive away as is a lovely city of ancient and modern contrasts. It has the nearest IKEA to our home although one is currently under construction about 10 miles away now.

Southampton Ancient – could be Chester
Southampton Modern

Sainsbury’s and Parcelforce deliveries will keep me at home this morning so a hard stint in the gym will be my initial exercise. It’s 9.20 am and all sea mist burnt off revealing clear, blue sky and strong sunshine. A hot walk will be this afternoon’s activity.

Of course, talk about ‘heat’ is all relative. In 2013, this was the scene around our house shortly after we had employed workers to clear the grounds.

I then went on to employ a little goblin for ‘free’ to spray weed killer on the residual areas so that the grounds – a number of acres – remained clear until we left in October. The sun is so strong that nothing regrows without watering during the summer months.

Well, today went on to reach 25C/77F and I did 2 hrs straight in the gym and then ruined it all by drinking a bottle of wine. I’ve been driven to it by demons. Our region has 21 cases of Covid infection. Sky News is reporting that Greater Manchester is being advised to minimise travel out of the region and that there is concern at a ‘very serious’ Conwy county cluster. It is hard to see what the connection is but there must be something.

Wednesday, 9th June, 2021

A blue, cloudless sky with hot sunshine this morning. It is 19C/66F at 9.00 am but forecast to get somewhere near 25C/77F later. However, it all feels a bit aimless. I am looking for work to do to keep me sane. The garden will need watering. We are having a delivery of fish – just two sides of salmon of about 4kg.  I will need to prepare the car for the drive tomorrow. I will punish myself with another, hard, 2-hr workout in the gym.

Last night, we were casting round for something to watch on TV. The recent BAFTA winner, I May Destroy You, was downloadable from SKY. I felt like I had moved into a parallel universe from the start. Even so, I watched the first 3 episodes but it didn’t get any easier. I tried to give it a genuine chance but the events were so out of my experience that jumping the credibility gap was to0 much.

I was much more gripped by Newsnight on BBC2 and the discussion of the Northern Ireland Protocol. It was clear from the start that Johnson blithely signed the ‘Deal’ knowing that it sold Ireland, the fishing industry and the City of London Financial hegemony down the river in order to say he had got Brexit done and to win an election while arrogantly believing he could renege on it all later and just carry on as if nothing had happened. He actually appeared on camera telling the Irish traders exactly that. Now, it has come back to haunt him and Biden will be forced to sort it out.

Talking about dodgy dealing, the Memory Box threw up a strange record this morning which illustrates completely the dodginess of the Greeks. For the first 10 years of using our Greek house, we didn’t fully understand the supply of services. Electricity, particularly, was extremely cheap.

Then, when we were thinking of selling, we found out why. We had been living on Agricultural Electricity rates for all those years which was strictly illegal but encouraged by our Greek friends as a good way to cheat the system. Greeks are never happier than when cheating the state system. In order to formalise our supply for the purposes of selling, we had to jump through all sorts of hoops and feign ignorance about the rules over previous years. Even the Δημόσια Επιχείρηση Ηλεκτρισμού (Electricity Office) man had to be bribed with bottles of whisky. What strange, invigorating times.

Thursday, 10th June, 2021

Up early on a warm and humid but overcast morning. Orange juice and tea and then straight into the gym where I did a hard 2hrs workout being urged on by a voice in my head. That voice congratulated me on having lost 3 st since my birthday 9 weeks ago. Shower and change and then off to Southampton – a 49 mile/1hr drive. Actually, the traffic was heavy and it took us a little bit longer.

Down at the port, the activity was minimal. A TUI Cruise ship and a Carnival one but little going on. Not much action on the Red Funnel, Isle of White ferry either.

Southampton itself didn’t look so exciting as it can do in hot sunshine. The pandemic has clearly had a big effect on travel and trade. IKEA was very quiet. The streets were distinctly underused. The Leonardo Royal Hotel Southampton Grand Harbour looked far from grand and the Marco Pierre White restaurant inside was closed.

The Leonardo Royal Hotel, Southampton Grand Harbour housing the Marco Pierre White restaurant

There is a jarring of old and new in the architecture which isn’t handled as well as some cities.

Old & New – Southampton

All the mood music seems to be for a stay on relaxation of Covid restrictions which is not good news but, when you see the Red List of rapidly increasing infection rates, it becomes clear why. They are largely concentrated in the North of England in general and Greater Manchester in particular.


The 25 areas placed on Delta variant watchlist are revealed below as this strain is said to be ‘60% more infectious’ than the original:

However, local lock downs have generally proved unsuccessful so it will probably make sense to continue a blanket policy until the R-Rate, which many consider to be between 2.5 – 2.8, is brought below 1.0 again.

Friday, 11th June, 2021

Another morning of Mizzle (mist & drizzle) just as Cornwall is experiencing as well. It reflects my feelings exactly. Very warm, humid night. Nothing much on the horizon today unless you include a trip to Tesco this morning. I have been completing this Blog for 650 weeks of my life but I am beginning to wonder if I can carry on with it.

In the gym, I’ve been watching a terribly harrowing film called 1917 directed by Sam Mendes. It is a true story and deals with people dying without the support of their loved ones. The concept is so unbelievably sad that I found it almost impossible to watch. Not being able to say, Goodbye, has to be one of the worst things in the world.

When we were researching places in Sussex to buy houses, we looked at Horsham. It is rather more expensive because of its easier commuter links and we were attracted by its café culture with excellent restaurants and shops. It was a choice between that and proximity to the beach and, ultimately, the latter won out.

Horsham isn’t far away if we want its facilities but an easy walk to the beach is far more appealing. We had a quick drive to Horsham this afternoon and quickly realised that we made the right decision.

Saturday, 12th June, 2021

Blue sky, sunshine and real warmth. Everything is set for a lovely few days but they feel empty. Never needed friends more than now. My travel app tells me that we have 65 days until we fly to Athens. Will it happen? Who knows? If travel restrictions are eased by mid-July, we will try a French trip but the 3rd Wave of infection, which is surely starting, may extend the shut down even further. This morning, it is reported that British Airways is to put thousands of its staff back on full-time furlough which is an ominous sign. It’s really feeling like imprisonment and that things are getting worse not better.

Highlights of the day: early trip to Sainsburys followed by lawn mowing and patio cleaning. What more could anyone want? A hot and sweaty gym session is coming and then … ???

Inflation is coming but there is so little opportunity for safe savings products at the moment. I’m constantly searching for other possibilities. Reading the Manchester Evening News last night, this appeared.


Manchester Waters transforms a former 26 acre dockland site located between the residential neighbourhood of Castlefield and Salford Quays into a first-class city-living development. Buying ‘off-plan, the apartments start from £124,995 and could ‘expect’ a return of 6% outside capital appreciation. Looks like an exciting proposition that might be worth investigating.

Exactly a year ago today, I snapped this little chap in Tesco carpark. I wonder if he is still alive. Will we be this time next year?

For someone who hadn’t watched a film – even a piece of fiction for absolutely years until 12 months ago, I now escape into unreality at every possibility. Tells you something about how I’m viewing my life. I do two hours in the gym each day and almost watch a full film each time. I subscribe to Amazon Prime, NetflixSky CinemaFilm 4, as well as having BBCiPlayer and ITV Hub.

I can’t decide whether I choose sad films to suit my mood or sad films create my mood. Whatever, sadness seems to pervade the atmosphere at the moment. I am fixated on Ireland currently. Today, I was watching a British/IRA conflict film called ’71. It is my history. The year 1971 was a critical almost momentous year for me but the Irish conflict was just a back drop at the time, a feature on television news.

In retrospect, I should have taken it more seriously. There were a lot of things I should have taken more seriously but youth can never be told. In age, it appears too late. In the film, the young soldier on his virgin mission in Belfast gets in to trouble, is deserted by his friends and forced to fend for himself. Although it makes him stronger, it also breaks him inside. His trust in people is destroyed. It is a cruel lesson for a good person and a shaming lesson for mankind.

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