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.

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