Sunday, 17th July, 2022
Our village is quickly expanding to become a small town with all the new house building going on. The long term villagers are up in arms. Comers-in like us have no case to argue. The village was long noted for its Horticulture – Salads, herbs and fruits in particular. The whole area had huge swathes of glasshouses and many now stand empty or have been demolished.
One such site of salad supply to the nation was just a few hundred yards down the road from us. I don’t think it has been functioning all the six years we’ve been here and it won’t be ever again because it was knocked down while we were away in France in preparation for another 40 ‘luxury’ homes.
It is on our walking route and we’ve been noticing signs for a while but it doesn’t take long to redesign the landscape – just a lot of huge diggers. Can you imagine how this would have been achieved a century ago without all these earth moving giants? So many men and so much effort!
Of course there are lots of things to help sell these houses not least their location by the sea. The peaceful picture above is how the builders choose to entice buyers of houses some of which will sell at around £¾ million. If they had been down on the beach yesterday, this is what they would have seen:
Schools break up down here on Thursday so we should be able to enjoy a quiet beach for the first half of the week. With the forecast temperatures, we might even have a swim. There’s a first for everything.
Monday, 18th July, 2022
Hot day almost up to Greek standards. Went for a walk in full heat and luxuriated in it. Everywhere is bone dry and brown – apart from our lawn grass.
Everywhere was so quiet this morning. The village was deserted. The tide was so far out I would have been exhausted before I got to swim.
I was sent a memento this morning. It looks so juvenile now although it was great fun at the time – 51 years ago now. I collaborated on the production of the College Charity Mag. called Mavis. It was named by the artist and my room mate, Nigel, after an off-the-wall joke he told.
Two Hippopotamus in the mud. One raises it’s head and says in a low, guttural voice:
Mavis, I keep thinking it’s Thursday.
Riponites of my generation may recognise this with some fondness. erasing the years is futile. Embracing old friendships is warm and enjoyable. Good Luck, Kevin!
Tuesday, 19th July, 2022
Hot night which didn’t fall below 26C/79F – really like a Greek Summer night. Up at 6.30 am to start a lovely, hot, Greek day. I was made for these days. They are just right for me. This is why I built a house in Greece and why I felt so at home there. Did my 10 mile walk in the peak of the heat – 40.2F/104F and felt great.
The garden has needed lots of watering. I am happy with that and it gives me a focus for the afternoon. Unfortunately, something else has overtaken the trivia of the day. My friend, Kevin, has had an emergency colonoscopy and had 5 polyps cut out but a 6th, huge one, has been left for further investigation which seems rather sinister. They want to know if it has spread elsewhere in his body. It is a massive shock which I completely understand and I can’t do anything to ameliorate. I have telephoned Christine who is shell-shocked although pretending to appear calm. She isn’t and I understand it.
Stupidly, the whole process knocks my mood. Christine & Kevin are deep in my consciousness – buried deliberately in the past. Resurrecting them is painful and provocative. It will be 50 years since we attended their wedding service in the sunshine of North Yorkshire. It was a ground breaking moment for me.
To return to day-to-day reality, our goose-neck tap fitting has started leaking slowly. Can’t be doing with that. Tried to fix it myself but failed so have to pay £100.00 to have it sorted out by a plumber.
Wednesday, 20th July, 2022
Lovely start to the morning. Raised my spirits immediately. It takes so little. Thought of Kevin and how he slept last night.
There are many people coping with just this sort of situation but I want to sort it out for them and I can’t. It shouldn’t happen to anyone! Kevin’s daughter, Julia, and my god daughter (for whatever that means) contacted me last night and thanked me for supporting her Dad and sent me her love. It was delightful and heart warming although it was unnecessary. She’s a lovely girl. In fact, Kevin & Christine have proved fantastic parents who have produced delightful kids with a really strong family coherence – something which I envy them.
From the start of the day to the end, I’ve carried sad thoughts with me. I’ve done my 10 mile walk, cleaned the car and communicated with Nigel in Bridlington. Pauline has harvested Basil from the garden, made another huge batch of Pesto, made a dozen jars of Raspberry Jam and cooked our meal – Roast salmon with Pesto Crust and salad. We’ve still got 30 lettuces ready for cutting. I just can’t eat them quickly enough!
The day has been warm and sunny although not quite reaching yesterday’s maximum. The beach and the marina offer a little more breeze and a little less heat. Even so, it is strange but 40C/104F in England still didn’t feel anywhere near as savage as the 42C/107F we experienced in Piraeus. It’s strange really but the quality of dry, harsh heat in a Greek city is utterly different to the gentility of the Surrey countryside.
Thursday, 21st July, 2022
July is running away so quickly. Today feels incredibly warm – 28C/83F but very humid. Had to drive in to town to a bank. We were looking for a good rate on Easy Access Savings because we have used up our maximum FCS joint saving insurance on longer term cover in other institutions and need an alternative for emergencies.
Had to drive down the coast road to get to the bank. We had hoped to do everything online but were forced to produce physical proof of identity and residence for anti-money-laundering purposes. Archaic but has to be done.
Back home, we ate Lunch in the garden – (I can’t get Kevin out of my mind. He’s told me this morning that the world has gone dark and many of us will understand that.) – with home grown lettuce salad and wonderful, melting, Camembert cheese accompanied by ice-cold white wine.
This is completed by my latest obsession …. Greek Yoghurt Iced Lollipops. We buy them from Sainsburys and they are low in calories. Incredibly creamy – like frozen double cream – delicious!!
Friday, 22nd July, 2022
A very warm night and a steamy, hot day after a brief rain shower. Did a couple of hours in the Gym as well as an hour walking through the area. This humidity can really sap one’s energy but it is great for the garden which is growing so well. This morning, I picked the first, ripe fig from our trees. Quite early but delightful.
Yesterday afternoon on my walk, I passed a group of teenage girls with felt tip signatures all over their white blouses whooping it up at the end of school year. I was immediately transported back to my teaching days.
For the last 20 years of our working lives, we would close the school at mid day, rush home, pack the car and set off for Hull Docks. At 5.30 pm, we would drive on board a P&O Ferry – Pride of Hull/Pride of Bruge and set off on the overnight crossing to Zeebrugge.
At 8.00 am and after a large Breakfast, we would drive off in Belgium through Luxembourg, France, Germany, over the Alps into Switzerland and on round the Lakes and through Northern Italy for the 20 hr journey to the port of Ancona filling the boot with lots of wine and cheese en route.
By 8.30 am, we would drive on to a Superfast/Minoan ferry bound for Patras on the Greek Peloponnese coast where we would arrive 24hrs later. Driving off that next morning, we would hare across the 200 km of Greece, over the Korinthos Canal and through the centre of Athens down to the Port of Piraeus. A car ferry to our island of Sifnos via Kimolos & Serifos would take about 5 hrs. We would arrive in our Greek House just about 3 days after leaving Hull.
After 5 idyllic weeks on the island, we would load up the car and do the whole journey in reverse, filling up with lots of wine and cheese for the winter. It is 8 years now since I did that journey but a group of signed white blouses transported me back there instantly.
I am 71 and my generation is aging fast. Now is not the time to prevaricate. If we are to to experience anything, it cannot wait. I am determined to get all my experiences in NOW before it is too late.
Saturday, 23rd July, 2022
Gorgeous weather down here. Hot and sunny. The only thing we haven’t got is rain. We had 30 mins yesterday but it has made little difference. I am watering most days although a hosepipe ban is constantly being mooted. I will continue to water until they stop charging me.
Today we are just 4 weeks away from our Athens trip. We can ‘Check-in’ with Easyjet which is weird so far in advance. I like to prepare in advance and do exactly that. I have been monitoring our flight for some weeks on my Easyjet app and it is always leaving Gatwick and getting to Athens within minutes of its timetable so we are confident of our trip.
Because of the baggage handling problems, we have decided to use just carry-on luggage. We are allowed quite a lot because we pay for upgrades. We can have two sizeable suitcases plus two under-seat bags. This will be plenty for a week in Athens even with a laptop.
We have decided not to book a hotel at Gatwick but to drive and park because we will need to go through security at about 5.30 am. We have booked a Lounge and fast track through airport security. It is cheap and really helpful.
We have printed out our Boarding Passes, our Lounge Passes and our Security Fast-track Passes and saved them as pdfs on our phones. The Gatwick Airport Parking is booked so we just need to update our neighbours before we leave.