Week 673

Sunday, 14th November, 2021

Rather overcast start to a warm day for the Athens Marathon. We went down to the old, Olympic Stadium for the event. It was very busy but enjoyable. I was ready for the event.

The organisation was meticulous … for Greeks …. All down the street, vans delivered competitor’s clothes and emergency packs if required.

The whole event was really enjoyable. We might make it an annual event. As we left the stadium, our old friend and Notary, Elerania from Sifnos contacted me on Instagram and said she was in Athens and would like to meet up for Dinner. The last time we saw her and her family was in central London about 4 years ago and it will be lovely to see her.

Monday, 15th November, 2021

It was a lovely evening as we met Elerania and her brother, Philipo. They came to our hotel and we walked to a local taverna where we drank wine, ate fish and salad and reminisced. We walked back to our hotel on an incredibly warm evening and drank coffee and watched a film on Netflix on my iPad but not until Pauline had watched the latest vote on Strictly.

We walked to a local taverna where we drank wine, ate fish and salad and reminisced. We walked back to our hotel on an incredibly warm evening and drank coffee and watched a film on Netflix on my iPad but not until Pauline had watched the latest vote on Strictly.

Back street Athens – 5.00 am.

Up and out walking at 5.00 am this morning – a warm and quite humid morning. Few people are as mad as me but one or two, lunatic souls were out in the streets as we walked past the ruins of Greece.

Breakfast for stray cats.
Breakfast for stray pigeons

A couple of hours later and back at the hotel, we went for breakfast. It is a buffet breakfast with everything available you can imagine and a lot you can’t. People eating cereals and toast, bacon and fried eggs, poached or scrambled eggs. Salad and smoked salmon. Cheese and ham, yogurt and fruit, croissants and Danish pastries, Greek cakes and biscuits, creamy rice puddings and crème caramels, coffee, tea, orange juice, pomegranate juice, etc. The only thing is that Covid restrictions mean masks and disposable gloves which rather takes the shine off it. 

After breakfast, I had to go online and complete our UK Passenger Locator forms which take forever to do and are rather badly prepared. I did do them on my iPad out on the balcony in lovely, warm sunshine and, an hour later, they were complete. It has been complicated by my email address, which I’ve used for 30 years, suddenly stopping working. I phoned BT three days ago and have spent at least 2 hours on my mobile talking to them without resolution. Just as we were going out to Dinner last night, they phoned again and I’ve had to leave them sorting it out when we get home.

Took Pauline out to the Leather Shop for some more belts she had been thinking about. Three more today brings her total to six new, handmade belts this trip. Goodness knows when she will wear them but, if it makes her happy …

Tuesday, 16th November, 2021

Last night we had Dinner outdoors at a lovely restaurant/old-style taverna on Metropolis Street. Excellent food and I was amused to be an Englishman asking a Greek for a French Sweet in a mixture of all three languages for “Δύο (2) Mille-feuille, please.”

Final day started at 5.00 am and on the warm Athenian streets by 5.30 am. No one could accuse us of wasting our days. We were out for about 90 mins and gentle, light rain started to fall half way through. 

Back for Breakfast and then Pauline packed while I waded through about 900 emails that flooded in as BT restored my email address over night. Feels good to have my main communication mode, other than my mouth, back and working.

We are not flying until this evening so won’t leave for the airport until afternoon. We went down to the City Central Market to buy some more dried herbs. We use them a lot in cooking and the quality of Greek herbs is fantastic. As we walked, hot sun broke through and the sky cleared.

Athens Airport is so quiet. There are only 2 flights to UK – a BA to Heathrow & EasyJet to Gatwick. Almost all others are Domestic, inter-island flights. In 40 years of travelling, never seen it like this before.

Wednesday, 17th November, 2021

I was desperate to get back to Athens and absolutely loved my week there but it is just as enjoyable to come home. Just at the moment that the wheels hit the tarmac at Gatwick, a warm feeling of happiness enveloped me. The whole process of travel had been delightful. The people we had met had been lovely and the experiences of the week had raised my spirits.

Of course, I was aware that I was putting us in some risk and we did take two (negative) tests during the week after travelling on the plane and then crowded Metro trains.

This morning, we had to take our official, Day-2 Tests, photograph them and upload the images to an on-line testing site. Fortunately, we both tested negative again.

After going through the mountain of mail that had built up on the mat, we went out to Sainsburys to buy mountains of fruits and salads as we redouble our diet after a week of self-indulgence. We’ve got just under three weeks until our next trip to France and we are going to visit Pauline’s old College friend for lunch in Milton Keynes before then.

Absolutely beautiful , sunny day today as we go out for our walk but about 10C less than we were enjoying in Athens. I really am a sun worshipper at heart and the hotter the better although I do think age has tempered that a little.

We had to go down into the village and it’s late Autumn setting was lit by lovely sunshine from delicious blue skies. I was still wearing shorts and tee shirt as I did in Athens but it was not uncomfortable. Going to finish off in the Gym.

Thursday, 18th November, 2021

When Theresa May dismissed, deprecatingly, those Citizens of Nowhere who preferred remaining European, she was describing people like me. I have never felt rooted in any particular geographical place. I loved living in the North of England. I loved living in Greece. I love living where I am on the South Coast now but my memories are for people rather than places. I certainly have no longing to return to the place of my birth. I revisit it to remember the people not the place.

I found the village of my birth stultifyingly limiting and unprogressive. Even now I’m older, I have no sentimental longing to return. There was a thread on Twitter recently where people were asked to say how far away from the place of their birth they now lived. It demonstrated that there are two, distinctly divided opinions. Some haven’t moved more than 20 miles from the place of their birth and longed to remain strongly in touch with it. Others, like me, had been desperate to put as much time and space between their childhood experiences and emigrate to Erewhon. I suppose it depends how much you enjoyed your childhood, family life.

Got a Whatsapp message from Kevin in Leeds this morning. He was born in Huddersfield and hasn’t moved far nor has Christine. Heard from Julie yesterday and she lives only a few miles away from the place of her birth. Nigel and I have both ’emigrated’ to other ends of the country. More important are people and memories of people in our lives.

… and now there are three.

Pauline has integrated a number of objects that remind her of her Mum who died at the age of 96 – a lampshade in our bedroom, a moneybox made by her father. Last night she was so upset to smash a glass her Mother had given her many years ago. They are simple, cut glass tumblers of little monetary cost but so much human value.

This morning, we are having the next episode of tests – PCR and Antibody – from the Covid19 Zoe Project. Never has a couple been more tested.

Friday, 19th November, 2021

Quite a busy morning with trips out to Tesco in West Durrington and then shops in Worthing town centre. It is a mild but grey morning. I’m searching for something warmer and brighter. The town was quiet and rather downbeat. A few Christmas decorations were lit up and a Town Cryer announced shopping opportunities to a crowd of about 3 potential shoppers. I am an inveterate people watcher. I love people, our differences and commonalities and seaside towns are wonderful places to indulge that interest.

Not exactly going to town with the Christmas lights

The local shops were stocking their ‘free’ Worthing Lifestyle magazine which advertises a much more up-market view than the reality. We had the debate once again about whether to send Christmas cards or not. Tradition won out because we don’t want our friends feeling cold shouldered by impersonal email contact and it is no great sacrifice to us. Regular readers and receivers of Christmas cards will know that I am obsessed with robins. We have so many living around us all year and I prefer them as an Atheistic substitute to Christian, Christmas scenes. There are not so many around this year that I have not already sent in previous times.

We drove home via the beach and, in spite of the grey light, the tonal quality of the colours was beautiful in its own way.

Drove home for coffee before setting out on the day’s walk. Could do with some sunshine or something to brighten the day.

Saturday, 20th November, 2021

Today I am reflecting on the change, over time, of being grounded in location versus the search for contentment further afield. The history of my ancestors illustrates this change quite well. The literature of the 19th-20th centuries delineate that change and non-more than the writing of D.H.Lawrence who writes of man being grounded in woman at the core of life while being the explorer of new opportunities through The Rainbow and Women in Love.

My family moved to the East Midlands village of Repton, on the borders of Staffordshire and Derbyshire in the 1850s. They were Presbyterian/Methodist, entrepreneurial and political. They quickly established themselves as Millers, Carpenters and Builders. They featured centrally in the life of the village and Congregational Church with music and literature. They became leading politicians in the local district and nearby towns. They featured strongly in changing the conditions of working people and they became teachers.

Repton Mill – home for the Sanders Family in the 19th Century

Of course, in those early days, people didn’t travel much further than their villages. Forms of transport were limited. Horseback or horse & carriage were not conducive to long distance travel. Employment was mainly agricultural and locally based. Increasingly, industrialisation changed this – a change that informs Lawrence’s writing.

The Rainbow tells the story of three generations of the Brangwen family, a dynasty of farmers and craftsmen who live in the East Midlands of England, on the borders of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. The book spans a period of roughly 65 years from the 1840s to 1905, and shows how the love relationships of the Brangwens change against the backdrop of the increasing industrialisation of Britain. The first central character, Tom Brangwen, is a farmer whose experience of the world does not stretch beyond these two counties; while the last, Ursula, his granddaughter, studies at university and becomes a teacher in the progressively urbanised, capitalist and industrial world.

Lawrence’s world was one in which he saw the woman at the centre, the home maker and sexual, emotional source of comfort as the male ventured out to explore the world. Because we live in a world structured by gender, the other sex is forever to some extent a mystery to us (and non-more than to me), with a dimension of experience that we can imagine but never inwardly know. The prevailing theme of Lawrence’s novels is that, in desiring to unite with the other sex, we are desiring to mingle with something that is deeply not ourselves, and which brings us to experience a character and inwardness that challenge us with their strangeness.

Modern invention changed all this for Lawrence’s characters and for members of the Sanders family who are now resident all over the country. Lawrence’s view of male/female relationships looks very outmoded. However, in all great literature, there is the kernel of truth, the delineation of a fundamental condition and the irony for me is that we travel to be grounded once again.

Busy morning down here on the South Coast: Haircut, Lawn Mowing, Patio spray-cleaning, Exercise routine. Got to get all this done in the morning so I can watch a big football match this afternoon.

Week 672

Sunday, 7th November, 2021

Better sleep last night but we were still up at 6.30 am. Out walking in sunshine before 9.00 am. It is a lovely time to be out in a lovely place. While so much of the world still sleeps after a hard week’s work, they leave the countryside and beach to us.

It’s lovely and green around our house and the grass, trees, birds, rabbits, squirrels combine to make it an enjoyable walk.

The sun rises over our beach of shingle.

Our beach is not so easy to walk on because it is loose, deep shingle but the paths along the edge are there to encourage us.

We have done a couple of early hours of exercise because we have guests for Lunch today. I’m looking forward to it. We’re having line-caught, wild sea bass griddled in the garden. Wonderful!

Monday, 8th November, 2021

Had a lovely day yesterday and a really enjoyable Lunch with M & P. We griddled fish outside in glorious sunshine and ate with the conservatory doors open as the sunshine streamed in. Lovely conversation. We talked about plans to visit them in Florida in March next year and about property prices. We are still looking for somewhere to invest from our Greek House sale. We have flitted from UK …. to France … to Spain. What about Florida? Property prices are incredibly cheap.

I was inspired to do some research. I have been looking in Manatee County, Florida near Sarasota on the coast just below Tampa. This property featured above is on at under £400,000.00. It’s on the Lakewood Ranch and comes with this lovely pool and fitness centre, a kitchen you’d need binoculars to see the ends of and 4 bedrooms plus 3 bathrooms. I don’t know how US property is in terms of an investment potential but it could produce a rental income when were are not there.

The world is a wonderful place. Yesterday I posted images of the present. Today I post pictures of the past and the potential future. John Ridley sent me this autumnal photograph of a scene from Ripon.

Lovely sunshine again this morning as we set out for an early walk. Tomorrow, I will have to be up very early to get my exercise in before we drive to Gatwick. Virtually everything is ready …

Tuesday, 9th November, 2021

Many would say I’m mad. Others say I’m obsessive. I prefer to think that I am committed to my goals. So it was that I got up at 4.00 am and was jogging down the road soon after. Got to get my exercise routine largely completed before we fly. Delightful morning. Really warm and quite light. I did my route with a happy heart. Exactly at 4.55 am, the birds started singing. I beat them to it by almost an hour.

Back home by 5.30 am , it was all systems go with last preparations before driving to the airport. First flight since November 2019 and first ever wearing a mask for the entire time. Going to be an interesting experience.

A kiss in the sky over Gatwick.

Everything about the flying experience illustrated how hollowed out it has been by the pandemic. The Long Stay carpark was half empty. Normally, we have to search for spaces. The airport was quiet and our flight half empty. We had 3 seats for 2 people. 

Having been up early and out exercising, I slept through a lot of the 3hrs 20mins flight although there was terrible turbulence as we crossed the snow covered Alps which woke me up. In Athens airport we have never disembarked, gone through security, collected our bags and got a taxi so fast in our lives. It was all down to lack of passenger demand. A 40 mins taxi ride – €45.00 – to our hotel, the Electra Palace.

More than 30 years ago, I read a book by Austen Kark, former Head of BBC World Service. It was about his love of Greece and described the journey he and his wife had gone through to build a house in Nafplion on the Greek mainland. It inspired us to buy a field and build a house on a small, remote Cycladic island over 20 years ago. Austen Kark was married to Nina Bawden, author of children’s fiction like ‘Carrie’s War’ which I had taught in my early career. As they supervised their house build, they would stay in the ‘Electra Palace Hotel’ in Athens. 

Sadly, Bawden was badly injured in the Potters Bar rail crash in 2002 in which her husband, Austen Kark, was killed. I went on to build my house and stay in exactly the same grand, old hotel in Athens. We have been staying there every year sometimes a number of times each year for the past 20. We really missed not going in 2020 and have returned this week to reconnect. This photo is of the little Lobby.

Wednesday,10th November, 2021

A lovely morning although we were up a little late … 7.00 am (Greek Time) / 5.00 am (UK Time). I ate scrambled egg for Breakfast and felt absolutely ‘stuffed’. Our table overlooked the Acropolis and so does the balcony of our Suite. It is really lovely to be back in Greece, in general, and Athens in particular. I want to share the experience with everyone!

After Breakfast, we went out to Monastiraki Metro Station and bought 5-Day travel passes for €8.00 each.This allows us unlimited travel and we set of for Kalithea in the sunshine.

We walked, went into a supermarket to buy some bottles of wine and then took the Metro back to our hotel. Coffee and newspapers and then out for a long walk through Kolonaki and the Embassy area towards Panepistimio and the University area all in lovely sunshine but quite busy and noisy with City traffic everywhere.

Just a little glass of Vimto.

This evening out to our favourite street-side restaurant for grilled sea bass and salad and another walk before an earlier night to recover. Actually, it will be midnight (Greek Time/10.00 pm UK Time) for Pauline and 1.30 am Greek Time (11.30 pm UK Time) for me. I have to watch Sky Newspaper Review followed by BBC2 Newsnight before I can sleep.

Thursday, 11th November, 2021

A delightful evening visiting old times like the Ithaca Restaurant we ate at one cold night perhaps 20 years ago. We walked down Odos Ermou – Athens Oxford Street – and listened to the buskers and the excited chatter of all the young people. We were young once. Time is running out and we must take every chance that lies ahead. This chap was waiting just for me. I sent the photo by WhatsApp to Kevin. We ate griddled Sea Bass and Greek Salad for Dinner and walked back to our hotel to watch a Netflix film.

Slept quite well although I’m not coping with Breakfast. I’m really going to have to give it a miss. Went out for a sunny walk to look at the Omonia Square development. It wasn’t half as impressive as the Greeks would have us believe. Two years they’ve been working on it. We went round the huge fish and meat market. Pauline bought bags of dried Oregano for her store cupboard and we fended off all sorts of desperate hawkers from restaurants to clothes shops and two determined young women who insisted I was the double of George Clooney and should buy my wife a single stem rose. Funny to see all the Greeks wrapped up as if it was mid-winter whereas I was in shorts and tee shirt. They would never survive in Northern England!

Omonia Square

I spent an hour on the phone to Scotland this afternoon talking to a delightful girl from BT who was working from a shed in her garden as she tried to sort my email delivery out. It often goes wrong when I’m abroad and it is difficult to live without it it. The hour was enjoyable but not completely successful.

At least we managed to enjoy a complimentary bottle of the hotel’s red wine as I talked. Scotland, apparently, was cold and wet this morning and she had the heating on in her shed. I was sitting on the balcony overlooking Athens.

Friday 12th, November, 2021

Metropolis Square

We walked back in the darkness across Metropolis Square from the restaurant last night and then got up at 5.00 am this morning still in darkness. The Acropolis was still lit up and visible from our balcony.

We decided to go out for a walk in the quiet, dark streets that were still wet from the street cleaner’s work overnight. We walked around the base of the Acropolis past the Museum, through Thissio – the home of Theseus, the legendary King of Athens. Few people were about but lots of stray cats and the occasional homeless man, huddled under coats and sleeping on cardboard. We walked for about 90 mins and then returned for breakfast.

This is a lovely, old hotel and our suite is very comfortable. The corridors feature copies of ancient artefacts and reliefs like this one outside our door. The modern, top floor Restaurant looks out across the city.

The modern, top floor Restaurant looks out across the city and out towards the hills of Athens.

Through the Restaurant window out across the city.

After breakfast this morning, we are going to take the Metro down to the port of Piraeus to renew our acquaintance with the ferry traffic that we have used so much over the years.

Saturday 13th, November, 2021

Beautiful morning. The sun is up. The sky is blue. We’ve already had breakfast even though we pledged last night not to have any because we were so full. It is 7.30 am (GT)/ 5.30 am (UKT) and I’ve found my thoughts straying to what I’ve left behind just as much as what I’m going to do today. Strange but true. 

Yesterday was so warm and sunny. We took the Metro down to Piraeus and walked in the sunshine round the port we know so well. It was very quiet with Ferry boats tied up and few passengers. The colours were beautiful. 

“Deep greens and blues are the colours I choose.Won’t you let me go down in my dreams and rockabye sweet, baby James.” I just love the colours of the Mediterranean/Aegean seas, the warm air and the delicious smells as foreign languages drift over the city.

Fruit Seller outside Monastiraki Station

We took the Metro back to Monastiraki station and bought huge punnets of  sweet, ripe figs to carry back to the hotel. Pauline called at her regular leather shop in the Plaka where she has bought so many bags, sandals, shoes, etc. This time it was belts which all needed shortening and new holes punching. Lovely people who do the whole process from tanning hides in the local factory to selling finished products in their market shop.

The city is preparing for the Athens Marathon tomorrow. I’ve have been hard in training and think I’m ready. Unfortunately, my wife believes I would die in the attempt and, despite the lure of the insurance payout, insists I can only spectate although I could walk the course today.

Week 671

Sunday, 31st October, 2021

I love time. I love to know where I am in time. I love to place myself in the context of time and history. That is one of the reasons for the Blog. People, Places, Time – the stuff of Life! I hate wasting time although I’ve done enough of it in my life. Since Retirement, I’ve learnt to push myself and not to waste time, make the most of what I now see as a finite resource. That is why I am so (probably too) forceful with people.

Today is such a moment when Time is of the Essence. Clocks going back gives us an extra hour – not in bed but to do things. We have driven out in torrential rain at 8.00 am to travel 20 miles to Chichester for our Booster Jab. The roads were awash and many trees were down. The dual carriage way was wheel deep in water, wood and leaves.

When we got there, we had to get through a massive security system They had been besieged by mad anti-vaxxers yesterday and had erected caged barriers manned by burly security men this morning. When we got inside, it was full of ‘old people’ and I was the only one wearing shorts & tee-shirt. I don’t know why! It is gorgeously warm. Lovely volunteer people running the system. We were through and back home by 10.00 am.

John Ridley contacted yesterday to say he’d just had his Booster. Dave Weatherley is having his this week and David Roberts has to wait a fortnight. If we hadn’t demanded it, we might have been well behind the curve.

I have a huge confession to make. Whether it was for comfort food or the elation of getting our booster in time for flying to Athens, but I felt starving and ate some TOAST!!! Already, I feel terrible about it but it can’t be rescinded now. I’m going to have to live with that original sin. It won’t happen again I can assure you.

At the risk of boring you after my return to College roots, the Blog is a useful aide memoire of experiences through time. Until just over 20 years ago, we lived in or around the Pennine villages of Meltham & Helme.

We left in 2000 just as we were designing our Greek house with our Athens architect and starting an exciting, new chapter.

Just 5 years ago, just after we had finished furnishing our new house here in West Sussex, we were spending the month of November in the warmth of sunny Tenerife.

It was our 4th month in two, turbulent years. Nobody could accuse us of standing still and that will be my watchword until the end – keep pushing for new things, old things, new experiences, renewing old experiences, staying alive!

Monday, 1st November, 2021

The irony of it. Loving time and not knowing the date. I’m going mad! Anyway, belated happy November to all my confused readers.

Gorgeous morning of blue sky and warm sunshine. Out for an early, two hour walk. Felt absolutely great – healthy, fit and vigorous. I don’t remember getting up each morning with so much energy since I was 18. Might be a bit of an exaggeration because I can’t really remember what I was like 52 years ago but you get the idea.

When we got back home, all the conservatory doors were thrown open because it was so hot. I had my hair cut in the kitchen. It looks as if we won’t only cook outside but eat outside as well today. Good preparation for next week in Athens. I’ve been planning possible activities / trips while we are there. Of course, I will still have to do my exercise routine in the hotel gym & pools where I will be getting in touch with my feminine side because my wife has bought me pink swimming shorts, but I am also going to use the ancient Olympic Stadium – the Panathenaic Stadium (Παναθηναϊκό Στάδιο) which is within walking distance of our hotel. I’ll walk round the track a few times each morning just to say I’ve done it.

Panathenaic Stadium

We might take a short ferry journey to Aegina Island for a day trip. It is somewhere we’ve never been or Poros Island where Ellerania’s parents own property.

Omonia Square

Throughout the 40 years we have been visiting Athens, the decaying, neoclassical Omonoia Square (Πλατεία Ομονοίας) has been a seedy area of drugs and prostitution. Now it has had a major facelift and I am looking forward to seeing it with fresh eyes.

Tuesday, 2nd November, 2021

Up at 6.30 am after rather a fitful night. Woke at 4.00 am and didn’t go back to sleep. Glorious morning with sharp, clear blue sky and sunshine but quite chilly. We went down to 3C/38F last night and all the semi-ripe figs fell off the trees.

Busy day today. I’ve just written a To Do List of some 14 tasks to be completed or at least started today. In addition, Royal Mail have just sent me a text to say our Day-2 Lateral Flow tests which have to be taken on our return from abroad will be delivered this morning. A lot of the tasks are related to travel including booking the Airport Executive Lounge and deciding clothes to pack so my assistant can iron them. I have to vacuum the house and book a steam cleaning service for all the carpets which are coming up to 6 years old. I must also tidy the Office which is starting to drive me mad with so much out of place.

Don’t know if it is because I am tired after a poor night’s sleep but I’m feeling a little down this morning and I shouldn’t be. There are too many good things going on. Going out for an early walk which I hope will lift me for the rest of the day.

I record my life in words. Kevin Sellers records his in pictures. Must be wonderful to be able to produce such paintings up in the wilds of Northern Scotland although he’s currently in Tasmania where his son lives.

Glorious morning to walk through the park!

It’s not even mid day and I’ve managed half of my list of jobs including booking the Executive Lounge at Gatwick. It is ‘free’ through our Bank Account although there are very few Lounges open at the moment. Of the two, airside ones, I chose No.1 Gatwick North.

It really is such a lovely day that we are determined to spend a lot of it out in the garden including cooking and eating. Mixed fish platter! I’m looking forward to it after all the hard work.

Wednesday, 3rd November, 2021

Much better night’s sleep even though my Full Fibre Broadband went down at 10.00 o’clock last night. Nowadays, that sort of emergency is much more significant than it used to be. Everything in the house is connected in some way to the internet. All the televisions except the primary one in the Lounge are fed by the internet. Our home phone works exclusively over the internet – VOIP …Voice Over Internet Protocol. We have no copper wire phone line. Our central heating and home security is controlled over the internet. All communication is over the internet. I have a mobile phone which uses 5G but, most of the time, I’ve set it up to take its signal from the nearest wi-fi.

I have the fastest broadband that it’s possible to get in UK currently. A large chunk of the country doesn’t get much above 50mps download speed. Mine is 1000 mps. I pay for a premium service. Last night, I immediately chatted with BT Helpdesk on my mobile and was promised the service would be back up by 2.40 am but, if it wasn’t, a broadband dongle would be couriered to me for this morning to get my service back up.


I did wake feeling a little bit anxious a couple of times but managed to quell my concerns and get back to sleep. This morning such sweet messages sent by …. The steady blue light on my Broadband Hub. Normal service was resumed. Not only that but the world outside was bathed in beautiful sunlight. The day will be good. I feel more relaxed knowing that the travel planning is complete. The Day-2 Tests arrived yesterday afternoon and will be ready for our return. My assistant has agreed my choice of clothes for Athens and is busily ironing them in preparation for packing. All is well with the world.

Done a lovely walk in beautiful sunshine this morning. Got a real spring in my step. Ah, the power of the internet!

Now travelling is back on the agenda, Spanish Property is coming back in to focus. Right Move sent me an invitation to an on-line Property Show which immediately threw up interesting contenders.

The Harbour – Águilas, Murcia, Spain

Really good value properties overlooking the Harbour and Marina of Águilas with its lovely micro-climate. I am quite taken by a newish, 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom, top floor apartment with large, rooftop sun terrace for just £90,000.00.

Thursday, 4th November, 2021

Quite chilly, grey morning. Up early with lots to do. Out shopping to Asda & Sainsburys. I was the only one in shorts and tee-shirt. Back home, I had to write what Kevin described as an Encyclical for him to read out at the College Reunion tomorrow in Ripon. I will not be there because it is a long drive just days before I go abroad. I have told them that I will try to make it next year – just 50 years since I last saw them all. There is so much time to catch up!

I find these sorts of things easy and enjoyable to write. I spent about 40 mins on it and sent it over to Kevin with the instruction that it should be read to the backing of a recording of Handel’s Ode to Joy – the European Union Anthem. I tried to weave in comedic anecdotes about as many members of the original group of men I could remember. Kevin reminded me that I coined the original term, The Company of 24 although I don’t really remember it. Kevin will enjoy being in the limelight as he hams up presentation of my address.

Going out for our walk, the temperature was really cold in the sea breeze and I was forced to put on a long sleeved tee-shirt to keep comfortable.

By the time we had done our couple of hours and got back home, BT had already delivered my supplementary Broadband Hub which is independent of the existing one. It receives its feed from the 4G mobile network. This mobile network will be free to me so I can take it on my travels and plug it into my car to increase my internet sphere.

Continuing to look at properties on the Murcia coast on RightMove, I found this new build, 2 bed property for £130,000.00 just above Mazzaron where our friend, Margaret used to own and just below the more ‘popular’ resorts of BenidormAlicante and Torrevieja. It would have to be checked out and be a viable, rental property to be worthwhile.

Friday, 5th November, 2021

Glorious morning of clear, blue sky and gorgeous sunshine highlighting flight trails high above the garden. We have a frost – light but obvious on the roofs and grass. Just the right day for an insulation firm coming to look at treating the Gym ceiling. Got to make sure the wine store is safe! I’m also looking for some patio heaters so that we can continue to eat out in the garden over winter.

Long ago – maybe 30 years ago – we were in Le Touquet during a Winter Half Term and chose a Fish restaurant to eat at on a very cold day. Being young(er) and more enthusiastic, we chose to eat outside on the terrace. It was heated by huge, patio heaters and I have an abiding memory of eating delicious seabass in the open air comfortably heated by bottled gas burners. In Greece, Winters can be very cold but Greeks still eat outdoors with coats and scarves on. After all these years, it is rather in our blood.

Early walk in glorious sunshine for a couple of hours before the insulation man arrives. There is real evidence of increased air traffic across the sky from Heathrow and Gatwick towards the Continent. Looking forward to being up there myself next week. If you click this photograph to enlarge it, you will see that our helicopter security team tracked our progress on our walk and you will also see our next home in the process of being built to the left.

A couple of things to tie up before we go away. The insulation contract has been agreed at £1500.00 and will be done in about three weeks. Secondly, it looks as if I’ve managed to get 2/3rds of the Parkingeye fine my relatives received rescinded and I’m just left to retrieve the initial payment of £60.00 returned plus the ex-gratia bunch of flowers. I have contacted them again this morning and will not allow them to get away with any of it. Lovely people at Parkingeye …. except when they’re not! 

Saturday, 6th November, 2021

What a weird night that was. Got to bed around 11.30 pm and woke at 4.00 am. Drinking endless cups of tea, watching Sky News and reading The Times from my iPad until the sun rose. It was too late to go back to bed so freshly squeezed orange juice and freshly ground coffee provided a platform for an early walk.

The College reunion yesterday was a rather spartan affair. I understand that this was largely down to fears of Covid and that it may be back to better numbers next time. Kevin, who has taken to communicating with me on Whatsapp, kindly sent me some pictures of some people who were there and I was likely to know.

Keith Lowry & Kevin Dagg
Derek (FA Bus) Coulson & Chris Tolley
John Ridley & Dave Weatherly

Also present were Andy Henderson and Dave Roberts plus a couple of others I couldn’t put a name to. In a way, I’m rather glad I didn’t make this year my first to attend because I think I would have been rather disappointed. Maybe next year ….