Week 752

Sunday, 21st May, 2023

Spent a glorious day of walking and indulgence yesterday. The temperature – at 27C/81F – was just on the edge of comfortable for a two hour walk. Still, we were rewarded with Club Sandwiches and white wine for Lunch. The afternoon was relaxing and packing before a taxi to the airport for a 22.35 pm flight to LGW.

Makedonia Airport is about a 30 mins drive from our hotel and it is actually quite nice. The facilities, for a regional airport, are excellent. There was even an Executive Lounge for us to use.

The Easyjet flight was on time and not full which made life more enjoyable. We landed back in London Gatwick at Midnight and, with only hand luggage but having to travel from South to North Terminals, we were in the carpark by 1.00 am. What I would do without my Personal Assistant, goodness knows. She records exactly where we park and doesn’t lose it over the time we’re away. When we get off the shuttle service bus, she knows exactly where to find the car with a photographic certainty. Everybody has their uses!

London Gatwick Long Stay Carpark – Of course it was Zone V / Bus stop 6

Empty roads meant we were home in less than an hour catching up with news and current affairs over a glass of wine.

Nigel looks well for 75.

In bed by 3.00 am, we were up at 7.00 am and feeling quite energetic. Got to do a Sainsbury‘s shop and a two hour walk and then we can relax. Chatted to Kevin, Julie, Nigel and John R. this morning. Nigel’s Gallery is putting on its final exhibition this week and it is featured in the local newspaper.

Monday, 22nd May, 2023

Over night, M from Florida sent me her Wordle and a photograph of their night out at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stadium to see Ed Sheeran performance. K & M are with David, a lovely lad who runs a business opportunities business in London and Florida. He stayed with us last time we were in America.

K,M & D at the opera

Like all American events, it was obviously a quiet and refined occasion of sublime cultural performance. I also received an email from our Greek hotel thanking us for our patronage, hoping we enjoyed our experience and looking forward to welcoming us again. They also sent me a live video link taken from close to our balcony which is worth looking at

Beautiful morning as we drove down to the garage some mile and a half away. We walked back through the woods on a delightfully leafy path. We will do the reverse walk this evening to collect the car again ……

…. Well, we hit 25C/77F this afternoon which made our walk quite a sweaty one. My cancer treatment is really starting to kick in now and I’m noticing that I am putting on weight which is making me more lethargic and I am tiring much more quickly so I really have to give myself a good talking to as I complete my exercise routine. Today by 4.30 pm, I have only walked 7.5 miles so I will have to complete it in the Gym.

Tuesday, 23rd May, 2023

The morning has opened gloriously and I’ve got gardening on my mind but first a walk. I like to get the bulk of my exercise routine out of the way as soon as possible and, particularly, at the moment because my treatment really is beginning to tax my energy levels. The Consultant did say it would but advised me to confront it and continue to maintain my routine as the best policy. I am trying hard to do that. I’ve got a series of blood tests, Oncology meetings, CT Scans and even my GP Surgery wants to see me.

This is not the life I would want or would choose but that is what I have been dealt. I am hoping a lot of this will be over by the end of September and then I can get on with my normal life. I am going to France for a few days in mid-June and then flying to Athens for a week towards the end of August. What I’m hoping is that I can keep my trip to the North of England to meet up with old friends in October. Could be cancer-free by then with a bit of luck but, if it has to be delayed by a month, I will do it.

Unfortunately, I won’t be at the reunion tomorrow lunchtime in Ripon. Kevin has just contacted me to ask what he should wear to the reunion. I told him, Underpants!

It really has been a delightful day of sunshine. Not quite as hot as yesterday but still 23C/73F. Warm enough to get us out to the Garden Centres. I think I have written before, our area used to be totally covered in market gardens and acres of glass houses which produced the herbs and salad vegetables for the south east.

Buying up Ferring Nursery today.

The economics of that business were far outweighed by the profits to be made on house building so there are few growers left and even they have either become vineyards or garden centres. We still have many available to choose from.

Wednesday, 24th May, 2023

Gorgeous, gorgeous morning reaching 21C/70F very early. Want to be in the sunshine in the garden, planting out but, instead, I am going down to the surgery to discuss cancer. It’s all at their instigation not mine. I’m trying to ignore the whole thing.

I have to have a second Hormone injection coming up which lasts for three months and leads to a month of Radiotherapy. I have to have a CT scan to see what effect the first hormone treatment has had and then meet with my Oncologist. And to top that, my Doctor wants to make sure I’m coping with the procedure. I know I am an old man but, although I shouldn’t complain, it all feels a bit too much.

I wrote yesterday about our areas horticultural past. That’s how this road on our walk got its name. What I love is the white wisteria. Wisteria grows so easily down here that the lilac coloured racemes can be seen in most gardens. On the south coast, this year’s flush is virtually faded but this white variety – Wisteria Alba – is just coming into its own.

If you are one of my Ripon College readers, you might remember Peter Sarginson in the Art Department. He died in 2017 but his work lives on as the poster above attests to.

Thursday, 25th May, 2023

Another glorious day in what is forecast to be a glorious fortnight of wall-to-wall sunshine and blue skies without any rain at all. My friend, Kevin, has decided in his wisdom to spend 5 days in Spain where the days will be dominated by rain storms. He always did have suspect judgement!

Yesterday, my gardener planted out lettuce and courgette plants for me because all risk of frost is over down here now. Today the tubs will be planted up with my favourite crimson red Geraniums, bright orange and yellow Calendulas but, before that, we are going back to the garden centre for some more showy plants for the summer.

These two young (old) men were at my wedding in 1978.

Yesterday, was also the annual reunion of a disappearing species – the first men (boys) to appear at the previously all-women (girls) Ripon College. It was a lovely time but the irony of time is that, 50 years on, the boys (men) are old and aging fast while the College grounds have been completely rejuvenated and re-purposed and are looking beautiful.

Do we look like this?

Although not all are pictured here, only about half a dozen of the 20 men were represented yesterday and the numbers had to be filled by younger ones. Kevin told me that these reunions just served to remind him how old he was. It is almost certainly universally true that we carry a younger image of ourselves around in our heads and rubbing up against reality sometimes can be quite a shock. Of course, I still look little different to my 1972 self although I did spot a second grey hair on my Housekeeper’s head yesterday that may soon need attention.

Friday, 26th May, 2023

Glorious day of shopping, walking and law cutting. All the big things of state. Kevin and Julie doing similarly significant things. Kevin packing for a wet week in Spain. Julie visiting the dentist. John R. is really going for it. He is currently landing in South Korea where he is visiting his son. Hard to visualise but still. Good for him! I am spectacularly mowing lawns in glorious sunshine. We ate roast duck with salad outside in the garden which makes life worth living.

Every day of my life, I do about 2.5 hours of physical exercise about the same of reading and a couple of hours of writing. That way, I try to keep my faculties agile and fit. I am well in to my 15th year of my Blog and that takes up about an hour each day. My book is progressing well and that takes another hour. The central character is a man who exudes confidence as he makes his way through world but, in reality relies heavily on others to show him the way.

Just been reading an article about the author, Robert Harris. Born in a council house in my part of the Midlands, so many of his books have been turned into films. If only I could write like him or even spot the stories that would sell.

Growing old is a disgusting experience. Men, particularly, find hair sprouting from their ears and nostrils like some neanderthal. I find myself walking with my mouth open and dribbling to one side. What is wrong with me? I know it’s happening but can’t correct it. Although I’m quite fit, my balance is poor. I can’t really stand on one leg for long like I used to. My memory is ok – good even – but I have a whole string of words I permanently have difficulty with.

Saturday, 27th May, 2023

Another beautiful morning as in so much of the country. You’ll be surprised to learn that I’m going out for an early walk and then potting up bedding plants. This morning, over Breakfast, I’ve been talking to JohnR in South Korea. It’s not the talk but the fact that my breakfast table reaches out and touches Seoul that interests me. Those in international businesses will be quite used to it but, for me, it is still a fascination.

Lunch – South Korea Style

South Korea time is GMT + 9 so I was talking to JohnR at 4.30 pm after a long, traditional Korean lunch. I think my orange juice and porridge looked a bit more appetising at that time in the morning.


Yet another visit to the garden centre this afternoon. Going to need a mortgage at this rate. Just looking for pot fillers that last all summer, give a bright display and don’t cost too much. We already have lots but to complete the set we purchased VerbenaImpatiens – what we used to call a house plant – Busy Lizzie – in our youth but is now a vigorous garden plant and Cosmos which I know I can grow from seed but can’t be bothered.


That is almost the garden fully stocked for the Summer. Lettuces, herbs, French Beans in the raised beds and some vibrant colour in the patio pots all around. Only the watering is a little time consuming but I don’t begrudge it in this weather.


We’re going to do a few French trips in the next weeks and then fly to Athens at the end of August. We might even fit in a few days in Valencia as well around July if I can slot it into my medical schedule so our store of Euros needs building up. Sterling has been strengthening recently. I can get £1.00 = €113.00 on a click & collect basis if spend around £2000.00 and I can’t be bothered waiting in for an Foreign Exchange company to deliver on a better rate so I am just ordering from Tesco Currency.

The first trip is in just over two weeks so I hope they sort the I.T. system out before we drive on to the Tunnel train. In the meantime, I am really having to fight to get through my exercise routine. Fortunately, I’ve got a really gripping drama series to coax me into the gym. I am watching a Political Spy thriller set in the Whitehouse. It is based on a book by someone I’ve never heard of but might look at in future. The Night Agent is available on Netflix at the moment. You ought to try it.

Some people read in bed. Reading wakes me up and makes me want to start writing and talking. Listening to inconsequential news items on the radio slightly helps me but I am not sleeping well at all at the moment. It is a source of concern for me. I use the radio to distract me from my thoughts. Sometimes it works but quite often I get so gripped by the reports that I want to hear it all.

Week 751

Sunday, 14th May, 2023

A warm and tranquil morning after quite a disturbed sleep. Doesn’t matter what one does to prepare, there is always so much to do in the hours before travel and, I can tell you now that, as we drive away from the house, we will both say, What have we forgotten?

This morning, I have had my haircut, set the lights and automatic switches on Hive, watered the plants, charged my shaver and toothbrush, put the Long Stay Carpark postcode into the Sat.Nav. and done a 2 hour walk.

My neighbour behind our house, who has a dog as big as a horse, is moving to Spain. Her house was listed as ‘Sold’ but it turns out that the sale fell through. She’s still moving to Spain but leaving the house empty and open for the estate agent to dispose of at … £1,000.000.00. I’ve suggested that they rent out their dog for donkey rides on the beach.

Kevin is in the 36 hrs before his next colonoscopy. I know he is nervous. I am trying to calm him down by making fun of him. Do you think of people you are leaving behind when you are going away? I do. How will I help them if they need me? If I die while I’m away, how can I tell them? I know they don’t care but, unfortunately, …. I do!

This really is what we eat …

Of course, we must all do as much as we can to stay fit, healthy and alive. I keep impressing that on the people who are my friends. I am determined to hold a centenarian party for those who manage it. Although this idea has been around for ages, a recent and authoritative study has demonstrated that a Mediterranean diet rich in fruit and vegetables, nuts and pulses, oily fish and seeds reduces the risk of heart disease by 28% and Alzheimer’s by 25% … as long as you remember to stick to it.

Kevin and I are sad, old men. We exchange exercise statistics. He has cycled over 1000 miles and swum a similar amount in the past year. In the last 12 months, I have walked 3,200 miles. We are obsessive. Perhaps men are. I get newspaper reports sent to me daily.

M24 Hero!

I automatically receive news from M24 every morning and evening including traffic, crime, social events and property prices. It’s fascinating. This 85 year old Rochdale pensioner was featured yesterday. He has set himself the goal of completing one million press-ups before his 90th birthday and 100 ultramarathons before his 100th birthday. Now that is something I can aspire to!

Monday, 14th May, 2023

Out early for the drive to Gatwick Airport this morning. Only us and some badgers and rabbits on the road.

Standing room only at Gatwick this morning.

Arrive at Thessaloniki Airport just after 9.00 am (UK) / 11.00 am (G). Taxi to the hotel takes about 35 mins. Always wanted to go to Macedonia. …. and now I am doing.

Flight was fine – only 3 hrs.15 mins. Our first flights to Greece in the early 1980s were 4.5 hrs. Things have moved on so much! We met a delightful taxi driver who took us to our hotel for €25.00.

The hotel manager, Alexia Kolatskou, proved to be a fan of Roald Dahl who went to my local school of Repton. She was excited to hear of the novelist, Nina Bawden and her husband, Austen Kark, former Head of BBC World Service and their connection with me and with Greece and, particularly, her own hotel chain – Electra.

Had lovely contact from Kevin, Julie, John R., John M, Emma, Margaret and Tommy. Strange how poignant contact from friends feels when you are abroad. Sunday will see the Greek General Elections and there are stalls being set out all around the city for political rallies in the build up to the vote. Down by the harbour, this KKE (Communist Party) stall was being prepared with seating and TV cameras for the weekend.

Tuesday, 15th May, 2023

I’ve only been in Greece 24hrs and I’m already … shopping! As usual, the weather is warm. We are in shorts and tee shirts and Greeks are still dressed for Winter. It is 21C/70F but they think fur-lined hooded Anoraks are still appropriate.

First, I ate bacon & scrambled egg for Breakfast. Big mistake! I may never eat again. Now, I really need to walk it off but the most pressing need is to sort my room mate’s email out. BT Email constantly suspends our service from a foreign broadband connection. They think it has been ‘hacked’ even though I use a VPN. Fortunately, I am now confident in resetting the email accounts and normal service is quickly restored.

Then out into the city. It has echoes of Athens but also of Venice and Bologna. It has lots of old buildings but better maintained than those of Athens. It is calmer and the people are friendlier. We’ve met some lovely people here already.

Anyway, I soon found myself in Department Stores like the Hondas Centre and then down to the Fresh Food Market. That’s what I like to see – all the fresh fish in this port city but wonderful fruit and vegetables (Don’t tell Sainsburys!) and so many herbs and spices.

It’s a 15 minute city designed hundreds of years ago. You can walk anywhere within15 minutes. They didn’t know I need to be stretched and forced to walk further.

We followed that by a walk down the Old Port which has been redeveloped into a Cultural Centre with a Film Museum, Fashion Museum and lots of trendy bars and restaurants.

One of the notable works of art in this trendy city of fashion, culture, politics and protest is the sculpture commemorating many of their Jewish community who were rounded up and murdered in the extermination camps during WW2. The sculpture represents the sorrow of their twisted bones.

Wednesday, 16th May, 2023

Up early because I was contacted by M from Florida. She is 7 hrs behind us so speaking at 10.00 pm the night before when were 5.00 am. It’s not a problem. I was awake anyway. Tea and Sky News and then Muesli for breakfast.

Aristotle Platia at 5.00 am.

Went out for an early walk before the sun was too hot. We followed the promenade road round the coast. This is a delightful, friendly and cultural city. Art and sculpture are everywhere. I nodded to Aristotle in our square, chatted to Alexander the Great on his horse, waved at Papandreou and laughed at Mitsotaxis all in statue form. We walked 8 miles and the sun got stronger as we went.

Executive Lounge

Back at the hotel, we went in the Executive Lounge reserved for residents of Suites. It works on the principal of an Airport Lounge. We had no idea it was on offer until we arrived. We can retreat from the crowds, enjoy the facilities we choose and order any food and drink free of charge throughout the day. We ordered smoked salmon sandwiches and a bowl of Greek salad with a bottle of wine. May never eat or drink again.

Thursday, 17th May, 2023

This really is a lovely place. On one side is the ocean and on the other views reach to Mount Olympus. The streets are full of lovely, kind and respectful people, people who are interested in politics, culture and fitness. Early morning walkers, runners, cyclists, canoeists, sailboarders are everywhere. The squares are constantly vibrant with political debate. There marquees set up with sound systems proselytising loudly their political party’s policies and candidates.

This man was one of the quieter ones. Aristotle has been dead for almost 2,500 years but he is still revered and gives his name to the Platia in which our hotel stands.

It is a great place to walk and talk, to sit and watch, to share a bottle of wine and Mezedes – usually, nuts, crisps, olives, tomato & feta – and just enjoy the world. It is such a wonderful place.

Of course, it all had to go down hill at some stage. When my Dresser suggested going for a walk, I had a bad feeling and it was completely justified. Fortunately, it didn’t cost me money today.

Friday, 18th May, 2023

Hot, sultry, rather humid day especially for walking. The sun felt a bit too intense. I am rather a creature of habit in my exercise. I immediately found a walk that suited me along the edge of the water and the harbour. One hour out and another hour back. In fact, I’m slightly quicker on the way back because all my old muscles are warmed up and working well.

The promenade around the bay is pebble-dashed concrete which isn’t the most comfortable but it is wide and flat. Along the route, there is so much artwork which makes me want to stop.

Alexandra the Great is a son of Macedonia and he is celebrated on his horse in a statue by the sea …

…. but there are so many interesting pieces like the Sunshades and the Tree of Light. The city is big on environmentalism and ‘green’ living. The lights on the tree are solar powered like so many things in this country of sunshine.

The Tree of Light

What a lovely, civilised and vibrant city this is. All week, there has been a Climate Activist Booth on the Square handing out leaflets, playing music and then a Procession in support of Ukraine across the Square this morning. All totally appropriate in a Square dedicated to Aristotle, the ancient philosopher dedicated to politics and ethics.

Saturday, 19th May, 2023

A gorgeous morning. We eat breakfast outside on the balcony overlooking Plateia Aristotelous and the Thermaic Gulf.

Breakfast is a weird thing across the world. To cater for all nationalities is something of a challenge. Next to us is a Greek couple eating dry sesame rusk with thick, black coffee. A Arabic man has chosen cheese and cherry tomatoes with raw fish. Americans are eating waffles with melted chocolate. We are eating cereals followed by bacon & eggs but there is also mountains of smoked salmon, cold ham and salami, chocolate cake and cinnamon & apple tarts and much more.

No better evidence needed that we must seize the day and enjoy every minute came yesterday when my old school’s jungle telegraph line contacted me to say that an old friend and colleague, who had fallen into Dementia and recently died in an Oldham care home, was buried yesterday. A lot of people I haven’t seen for years had attended and I would have liked to see them again.

It was kind of my friend, Little Viv, to let me know of Derek’s funeral and it underlines the importance of friends. Viv’s husband died of a heart attack years ago. Derek’s wife, who also taught Art in my school, died of cancer about 5 years ago and he rapidly went downhill after that. It’s scary!

In Florida, our new pool is coming on. It will be good to get out and use it if I get through this current cancer problem. M sent me an update this morning along with her Wordle contribution.

It will certainly look good when it’s finished. A barbecue area is being constructed at one side. This is my sort of living.

Been chatting to two characters – Damon Albarn (who I’ve never heard of) and Midge Ure (who I’ve sort of heard of) on Twitter. They have been following me on Twitter.

They are big in popular music, I understand, and their industry has been destroyed by the lunacy that is Brexit. Free Movement of people, which so many of us want, has been stymied by the Xenophobia of the Little Englanders. These two like my views on Brexit and want to re-tweet them. Feel free!

Week 750

Sunday, 7th May, 2023

Glorious day with warm sunshine reaching 18C/65F. Been on a long walk – 7 miles – round the area, policing developments. No street parties to stop. No festivities to stamp out. A few, discrete barbecues and chinking glasses of chilled Sauvignon Blanc from back gardens but nothing too outré.

There was a Vintage Car Rally at the Rugby Club but it was very controlled and there were no union jacks to tear down. So, all was calm. No loud music, brash, ill-mannered Northern behaviour. Normality reigned. What a lovely place we have come to!

As I know I have written before, in September 1969, Mum drove me to this place on College Road in Ripon, North Yorkshire. I had all my worldly goods in a few boxes and was wearing the clothes she thought a country gentleman who was training as a teacher should wear – Sports Jacket, Flannels, Striped Shirt and mustard coloured Cravat. I sold them all within a week of arriving.

I was in Digs in the middle house which was owned by a Scottish family – Mr & Mrs Boyde and their two children, Andrew and Sheila – and I was sharing the top floor with two other students, Nigel and John-2 (so named because I arrived first.) We went upstairs to my rooms and from the small lounge area an almighty racket was emanating. When I opened the door, Nigel was sitting on the floor with a record player blaring out Leonard Cohen’s

Like a bird on the wire; Like a drunk in a  midnight choir,
I have tried in my way to be free …

Mum took one look at Nigel, looked at the delight on my face and fled down the stairs to her car and drove straight home never to return. The Boydes were a lovely family. The father, Geoff Boyde, was stationed at RAF Leeming. The Mum, Sheila, cooked us massive Breakfasts and even more massive Dinners. She knew what growing lads needed and we were never hungry.

We were treated like part of the family. Their son, Andrew must have been about 14 and he went to Ripon Grammar. The daughter, Sheila, was 10. I remember little about her. I had enough sisters as it was.

Move on about 25 years and I was in London attending a conference. I was late for a meeting and rushing through the underground to get a train. I had to push my way through a huge queue of people who were lining up at a ticket machine. As I did so, a couple stepped aside to let me through and I was shocked to see it was Geoff & Sheila Boyde who I last saw in 1971 in Ripon. We only had a brief moment to say Hello and I ran for my train.

I never saw them again but, yesterday, John-2 contacted me and said he had found the daughter, Sheila still living in Ripon and working in Harrogate as a Sports Nutritional Consultant. Today she is 62 and pictured above. But that is not the end of the story. Sheila has been a star of long distance running just like my sister JaneGB.

Pictured above is Sheila winning the Glasgow Half Marathon in 1988. A book on Scottish Athletics says, Sheila Catford is ranked fifth on the Scottish all-time list for the marathon behind Liz McColgan, Kathy Butler, Hayley Haining and Lynn HardingWikipedia tells me she was a British long-distance runner, who competed at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in New Zealand.

A year later she won the Florence Marathon and represented Britain in the 1991 World Marathon Cup which was run as part of the London Marathon. From a ten year old to this makes me feel so old. Those days are in the past but available to be recaptured with the right imagination. Reject it as you will, I embrace the change with realism.

Monday, 8th May, 2023

Lovely warm morning. Went out for an early walk because we have lots of jobs to get through today. I find it really helpful for thinking and planning. Something about the movement encourages the brain to process.

We set off for Thessaloniki next week and the Gatwick Airport Parking has to be booked. The DragonPass Premier+ reservation at the Airport Lounge needs to be confirmed. Then I am forced by my Housekeeper to predict what I will wear so it can be washed, ironed and packed. We can each take onboard a medium suitcase plus hand luggage so we won’t be wasting time waiting for cases to come from the hold.

Our hotel is the sister of the one we use in Athens and it is located on Aristotelous Square around 100 mtrs from the sea and near to the main Department stores, fashion outlets, Tavernas, Restaurants and bars. The hotel has an indoor and an outdoor pool plus Fitness Centre so there will be lots to do. I will just be happy to hear Greek voices, read Greek language on billboards, Shop signs and menus and catch up on some of our favourite Greek television programmes.

Our flight home is late at night so we need a late checkout. Fortunately, I am a holder of an Electra Hotels Rewards card which entitles us to exactly that so I am arranging that as well. There have to be some benefits to long term loyalty.

Kevin, who is currently auditioning as an old, Spanish Hooker, has just contacted me to say that one of our old friends Keith – although a little younger than us – has advanced prostate cancer. It has spread beyond the prostate and he has been receiving chemotherapy without much success.

The news rather brought me up short. Keith, a strong Geordie, and I played football together. He was friendly and kind like so many Northerners. I know how he and his wife must be feeling. The thought that hope is beginning to run out must be absolutely devastating.

Tuesday, 9th May, 2023

Heavy rain over night but lovely warm and dry this morning. It’s how we insist on the meteorological organisation in Sussex. Everywhere looks fresh and so green. New leaves and fresh grass are almost luminous in their vibrancy.

Walking through the park, the rain had refilled the lake and dogs were excitedly splashing in it as they were chasing balls thrown for just that purpose.

The political tide is definitely changing across Britain. The newspapers this morning illustrate that just as clearly as last week’s local elections did. It’s making lots of the Blogs I read much more interesting. Really looks like the Red Wall, Northern voters are finally realising that they were conned by the political glitterati and that Brexit and Levelling-Up were just empty bribes. Why it has taken them so long? You only have to look at the Express and The Daily Fail to understand.

Wednesday, 10th May, 2023

Really strange night dreaming of grass and wrinkly, old witches. Don’t ask. I have no idea why. A bit disturbing though.

Put the radio on at 4.00 am but it was so interesting a news programme on the World Service that I didn’t fall asleep until 6.00 am and had to get up an hour later. It’s strange, though. I’ve got up raring to go, not at all tired. I seem to need so little sleep these days. I was talking to Julie yesterday. Same age as me, she often gets up at 4.00 am and works on her art without suffering. What I don’t understand about it is, after I did so much exercise and had so much fresh air, why I’m not tired.

The day is absolutely beautiful with clear blue sky and strong, warm sun. It’s been very warm – 14C/57F all night. The French Beans planted out yesterday have settled in well and, hopefully, will have really developed by the time we get back from Greece.

It’s time for sun cream before walking now. The sun is quite burning this morning. Before we set off, the robot vacs are set on their tasks upstairs and down. That’s my day’s work done.

Each day, I walk a familiar route and people say hello as if they know me. They only know me as the idiot who walks this way at the same time as them every day. Yesterday, a lady who I’ve said Hello to for quite a while, decided to volunteer, I’m Jane, by the way. Quite shocked me. I don’t know why. I really hadn’t expected it.Anyway, I tried to keep it superficial.

My next door neighbours are lovely but they are busy working people. Dee is a lecturer in English at the local College and he runs a bricklaying company who were employed to build our house. They love Greece and holiday on the island of Skiathos. They want to retire in the next 5 years or so and buy a property there for holidays. Their front door is less than 100 mtrs away from ours but we rarely meet to talk. I do go into their back garden to work on their awful lawn. We have now taken to communicating on Whatsapp.

A long standing joke has been that Jason would sell his wife because she accidentally reversed over my immaculately manicured lawn and teach the dog to drive. I am advising him on lawncare and her on 18th century novels. We are in a private Whatsapp group called Wives&Weeds. We could shout over the fence but this is more comfortable. They are lovely, kind people and have offered to help me if my cancer treatment gets too tiring.

Thursday, 11th May, 2023

Gorgeous sunny and warm morning again. All signs of witches and worries abandoned. Chatted to Julie and Kevin over breakfast and then went out shopping to Sainsburys. We go away in 4 days so the shopping list was tailored to that.

Today, the Bank of England raised the Lending Rate by 25 basis points to 4.5%. It is still ludicrously low even though our younger – pre 60 yrs – friends scream blue murder. For people like me, it couldn’t be better unless it was more. Haven’t had a mortgage since 2009. It was massive – one entire salary – right up until the end. We deliberately hurt ourselves to gain later and we certainly did that. In retirement, when people are meant to draw in their spending, we have felt better off than when we were working. We are spending and saving happily. Haven’t borrowed money for as long as I can remember. We have become lenders of first resort ourselves.

The problem has been, of course, as inflation has increased, our cash reserves are being eaten away with few places to shelter and grow. Each year, I search for the best interest rates both fixed and easy access. They both mature in July and I am looking for 2-yr fixes to beat the inflation cycle. The problem is that we can only earn £2000.00 between us in investment income before paying tax.

I used to have tax-free ISAs but the rate has been so poor that I moved out of them like so many others. Now, I am going to start moving back but we can only feed in £40,000.00 a year. It will take quite a while to shelter everything over the longer term. Hopefully, we will have two more, small increases to push inflation down and savings rates up and I can pounce and fix until 2025. Might even be in positive territory by then.

Friday, 12th May, 2023

Up early and out for a long walk to enjoy the weather. Lots of jobs to get through today so exercise must be ticked off first. Cases are waiting outside the Ironing Room to be packed for Sunday.

I leave all washing, ironing and packing to my Housekeeper. It is quite relaxing to allow her free reign in these matters.

Everywhere is looking lovely. Trees, shrubs, grass, sky make me feel old as they are renewed in vivid colour. Pity bodies can’t renew each year in the same way.

Walked through the park and then on through the wood. The contrast was lovely. Amazing how calming the colours and textures of the natural world can be. Really pleased not to be a town dweller.

I hate being ‘ill’. I hate having to be involved in the medical process. This morning I was phoned by an Oncology nurse who was asking about my welfare. You would think I would see that as a nice thing to do. I don’t. She sounded a lovely girl and was wishing me well with my treatment but my mind is fighting the fact that I am needing treatment at all.

I think I am refusing to accept the aging process. My friend, Kevin, who is so much older than me, is going through a third colonoscopy in months. I should accept this but I am really finding it difficult to do. I’ve noticed that what medics say when they first meet me is, Well, you’re a 72 year old gentleman and … This seems so old fashioned to me. I have pledged to myself to resist these age expectations as long as I possibly can.

It will be good to spend some time away in the sunshine and to forget medics, appointments, treatments, etc..

Saturday, 13th May, 2023

It’s great to get home, isn’t it? Doesn’t matter where you’ve been. ‘Home’ is different. We are going away but we know that home will be lovely when we return. At least, it won’t be Wales!

Our area is bathed in sunshine and painted in green and blossom. We really couldn’t ask for more. And yet, we are flying to Northern Greece – to Thessaloniki – for an interesting short break. Never been there. Will be fun.

The temperature is 21C/70F and the sun is strong. I have cut all the neighbours’ lawns prior to going away and they will look after everything for me over that time. Who knows when we will be back. If we are enjoying it, our open ticket may stay open for weeks. I have to be back for medical appointments but nothing else. We will make it up as we go along.

A suite in the Electra Palace, Thessaloniki will be a lovely retreat from the world. We will walk in the sunshine, swim in the pool, eat in local Tavernas and relax with the Greek language TV. Home form Home!

Euro Gay-Fest

Will you be watching the ‘bonkers’ Euro Gay-fest tonight? I have never watched Eurovision but the EU demonstration tonight might entice me. Alright, it probably won’t but I’ll look at the highlights. Absolutely astonishing that these oddballs vote to leave Europe and then are desperate to be back in it for the most spurious of reasons and you can’t get more spurious than this rubbish!

Week 749

Sunday, 30th April, 2023

King Kieron – 58 today!

Another lovely morning. Warm and sunny. Young Kieron’s 58th birthday today. At least he’s as old as his wife now and what better place to celebrate it than in his Florida home.

It’s Sunday but, for me, it could be any day. Walking, Gardening, Car Cleaning … trying to avoid anything which mentions Royalty, Coronation, Privilege … I woke up to the announcement that the Establishment want all British subjects to proclaim loyalty (Fealty) to King Charles on his coronation. I cannot think of anything which could be further from my inclination.

I am a Republican / Abolitionist. There is nothing about Monarchy or unelected politicians which I would support. These are the questions, formulated by Tony Benn, we should be posing to people in power.

Dawn – 62 this year.
  • What power have you got?
  • Where did you get it from?
  • In whose interests do you use it?
  • To whom are you accountable?
  • How do we get rid of you?

Our Monarchy, House of Lords, Privileges system all fail this scrutiny. Ultimately, if we are not happy with their performance, we cannot vote them out and that is utterly unacceptable.

But Life isn’t fair, is it. That’s not a question. Last night we learned that Pauline’s niece, Dawn, up in Lancashire, has been diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer. There is no justice! She is just 61, had no time to enjoy retirement and is in a very happy marriage. We can only imagine what they are going through and it puts my problems into a pale insignificance. It does underline, though, the importance of taking every opportunity, not putting things off, Dear Reader. Carpe Diem!

Monday, 1st May, 2023

Happy May … Happy Labour Day. I only ask that I see another 28 of these. Of course, that may be revised when I reach 100.

Very warm night. We didn’t fall below 12C/54F which was nice. Mind you, M&K in Florida were 20C and Kevin in Benidorm had 17C. He did invite me and I declined so he keeps sending me photos of blue sky and sunshine, thinking it will rile me. It just amuses me really. Mind you, I need to be abroad in the sunshine – just not in Benidorm. Only two weeks to go and we will be in Thessaloniki.

M&K + D&B were out at the Steakhouse on Horn Avenue, Brooksville, Florida. Don’t think they ordered Fish but looks like Daniel’s had too much Key Lime Pie.

Actually, they ordered Chateaubriand 20 oz Steaks at $129.00/£103.00 each. Nice to see them all looking happy but, why wouldn’t you when you are young, fit and healthy?

Tuesday, 2nd May, 2023

I’m often asked for recommendations of hotels to stay at, places to visit, and restaurants to eat at in Athens. M in Florida asked me this morning to recommend restaurants for her Golf professional in America because he is coming to a tournament in Athens. A man I met 40 years ago when he was singing in a Simon & Garfunkel tribute act on our Greek island during the summer went on to forge a career with a Blog/Website/Databank of advice for travellers to Greece. He is a Greco-American and is an interesting man to talk to and read. He has made a lucrative career out of his passion.

I obviously missed my way – in so many things – and should have been more adventurous. As a regular traveller to Greece over the same 40 years, I have been a regular reader of Greek Blogs. I started my own Blog. For the past 14+ years, I have been recording my daily life – events and thoughts – and built up a readership of followers. People are interested in other’s lives. It is quite fascinating to see what will happen to others next, to be able to drop in and out without commitment.

Could be me!

My readership on my main Blog site is currently about 1,600 each month as you can see on my phone app. They are mainly UK and Western European with some in America. I have a shadow, backup site which is read by more although not a great number more. That group seem to be mainly in South America and Africa. Goodness knows what they make of it. However, all the seemingly trivial activities of my daily experience are interesting enough to ensure they come back to check.

Decided to have a few days in France in June to walk in the sunshine and change the scenery. Booked the hotel last night and now have to book the Tunnel. I have to be back by the 21st in time for another of these Hormone Injections. I’m really struggling with weight and tiredness at the moment but I’m pleased to report that I’m still completing my exercise program every day without exception.

Back in shorts and tee-shirts now for the rest of the year. I don’t know if it’s because I’m feeling my age but I tend to wear ‘Grandad’ style tee-shirts. Nearest I will get to being a Grandad. I’ve got literally dozens but my Dresser is currently insisting on buying me more. Apparently, I’m ‘heavy on my clothes’ … meaning I spill things down them. I don’t but you have to keep the staff ‘sweet’ so I don’t argue .. much. If I ‘need’ new clothes, I ‘need’ new clothes and that’s an end to it! They are on their way from Jacamo.

Wednesday, 3rd May, 2023

Blue skies all the way today. My French beans are growing away and will need to be planted out soon – then, you didn’t need to know that like so much of the detail in my Blog.

We are going abroad in two weeks and I need these and the Basil plants to be planted out before I go away. Giving them a bath in the sunshine today.

We did some bathing in the sunshine ourselves this morning in Worthing town centre. It was delightful. Lovely weather makes everywhere look better.

Down every avenue the sea sparkles and there is something magical about that. The town is getting ready for an influx of tourists with cleaning and painting. They are attracted by the sea and the beach, by the fish restaurants and the sunshine … and so am I.

Thursday, 4th May, 2023

Didn’t sleep. My mind was tortuously alive to regrets. Turned the radio on – BBC World Service – was presenting a programme from Argentina about the Military Junta who overthrew Peron and ruled between mid 1970s – mid 1980s. Particularly, they rounded up Left Wing activists and tortured and killed them in prison. Those who were taken became known as The Disappeared. The ‘Disappeared’ were floating through my dreams when I woke a few hours later.

Out early to vote at the Community Centre. Voting always feels discouraging when it takes place in these shabby, unattractive places. I took my Drivers’ Licence card with me as photo ID but took the chance to express my strong opposition to the imposition of that extra requirement.

My opinions were expected even though eyes were rolled and buttocks tightened. This card was pushed across the desk to me before I went on to vote. I had to vote for three out of the six candidates. The first three on the list were all Tory. The last three were Green, Lib.Dem. and Labour. I didn’t vote for the Tories.

I forwarded my written response to the government and copied it to my local MP, Andrew Griffith, and to Arun Council. I pointed out the irony of returning it to Levelling Up Department when the attempt of the Tories is pure gerrymandering and a deliberate attempt to exclude sections of the electorate. My email will almost certainly go straight in the government waste bin as it will with my diabolical MP. Hopefully, the Left will, be angered enough to do something about it when we take power.

Friday, 5th May, 2023

Awake at 4.30 am. At least the Radio brought an interesting and pleasing election count review programme. The Tories are dying on their feet. Labour and Lib.Dems are eating them up. Things can only get better – to coin a phrase.

Present from America

A year ago today, a Waitrose delivery arrived at our door. We hadn’t ordered it. Initially, we thought it was for our neighbours or just a mistake. Eventually, we were told that it had been ordered in America and delivered to our door as a lovely gesture. There are nice people in the world!

While I was mowing neighbours’ lawns yesterday, a girl lent out of her bedroom window and called out, “You can come round and do mine now.” Unfortunately, I knew instinctively she was talking about her lawn (and not in the Shakespearian way). Today, I will make her a happy girl by doing her lawn.

This morning I am chauffeuring my Housekeeper to the Hairdresser’s. I don’t pay her for her services but I like to reward her at times. It is important to keep the staff happy. I’m happier because the sun is shining, the sky is blue, the Tories are losing and will continue to lose the General Election now.

My Memory Box threw up a couple of interesting occasions from a decade ago. In 2013, our school was finally being demolished …

… and we were relaxing on the patio of our Greek island home at the start of a 6 month stay. It illustrates how quickly life changes and how many possibilities there are if we are brave and confident enough to risk it.

Our lovely neighbours next door have invited us to a Coronation Party tomorrow. I had to decline because I wouldn’t have been able to get through it without offending their other guests. Nothing would persuade me to celebrate the Coronation. Certainly not the prospect of a ‘Knees-up’ whatever that is. I’ve never been to one in my life and I’m not likely to start now!

Saturday, 6th May, 2023

Lovely, warm morning. Unfortunately, that is about the only good thing to say about it. The media is fixated on Monarchy although, I have to say, hardly anyone around here has put ‘bunting’ up which is heartening. There have been no street parties advertised down here. We are all too ‘select’ for that.

My computer announced a beautiful day.

I had a long discussion with my lovely next door neighbour yesterday as I declined her kind invitation to a Coronation Party. I excused her enthusiasm because she is an Australian/German and we all know immigrants are fanatical Royal watchers.

Not Mine Either!

Great to see two things this morning. Heavy rain in London to dampen down the enthusiasm of the loony royal groupies and the view of sensible dissent on the Coronation route. We must work to make this the last Monarch and it certainly will be across many areas of the Commonwealth. Australia and West Indies are noticeably moving that way. Young British people are already disinterested and will grow into Republicans. I’ve already talked to Kevin who chose to avoid it all by going on a bike ride and to Julie who went out to prune a tree. So much healthier than Coronation Compulsion!

Tom Jones … after Henry Fielding.

I’m going in the Gym to watch ITV-X. I’m watching an adaptation of a novel I had to study for ‘A-Level’ 56 years ago. Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones – published in 1749 and one of the first in the picaresque novel form. I remember, as an impressionable 16 year old, being absolutely transported by the rather bawdy tale of a virile young man and his conquests. It really kickstarted my love of study … amongst other things.

I read avidly read around the topic. I bought and read The Rise of the Novel. It led me to read the works of Daniel Defoe – Robinson CrusoeShamela and Samuel Richardson – ClarissaPamela, etc.. I couldn’t read enough. I wasn’t reading them for escapism, for the enjoyment of Fiction but for their historical content and intellectual/literary import. That approach has stayed with me all my life.

Lovely little ironies as a footnote. Tom Jones’ is adopted by the benevolent, Squire Allworthy. His neighbour, is the dissolute Squire Western, who loves drinking, hunting and plenty of sex. Tom, of course, eventually married his daughter and lives happily ever after.

Squire Western is played in the drama by Alun Armstrong. It was in 1971, 52 years ago, that I was an extra in an ITV drama series which featured a young Alun Armstrong as its main character. I didn’t realise it then but he is only 4 years older than me. King Charles is only 2 years older than me and his coronation took one right back beyond the mid-18th century, it reminded me he wouldn’t have been out of place with the Squires.