28 February 2010

Reasons to be cheerful

With the arrival of spring weather in the last couple of days, we are reminded of one of the reasons it is so wonderful to live here.

On Wednesday, Susan and I were in the north of Corfu, and it seemed we spent most of our day inside the clouds trying to point out to our clients views which we couldn't actually see. The next day, by contrast, I was with Diana in the south, enjoying one of those splendidly clear days where everything has been washed clean by the rain.

I had visitors arrive yesterday evening and on the way home they commented that the roads here have less potholes than in the UK at the moment, due to the terrible cold winter they have had. Now that's something I never thought I would hear about Corfu!

22 February 2010

Russian around

We have recently been doing some research into websites offering real estate to Russians. One of the sites also offer all other kinds of services, ranging from car and villa rental to information about the Orthodox churches.

In their section about boat hire, they quote "Lifejackets and light missiles are provided".

It's no wonder that the Ministry of Defence are interested to know when we have Russians buying property here.

21 February 2010

I know this is out of context but how nice to see someone else being pilloried, not just Greece!

I found this in the Telegraph.

Britain's public finances may end this year in a worse state than those of Greece, economists warned yesterday, raising serious fears over the economic stability of the country.

Britain's public finances may end this year in a worse state than those of Greece, economists warned yesterday, raising serious fears over the economic stability of the country.

Economists said the scale of the shortfall in the budget could this year mount to over £180 billion – higher than even the Chancellor’s forecast of a record £178 billion.

Such an annual deficit would, at 12.8 per cent of British gross domestic product (GDP), be even greater than the 12.7 per cent deficit faced in Greece, which is nearing a full-scale fiscal crisis and may need to be bailed out by fellow euro nations or the International Monetary Fund.


19 February 2010

Different worlds!

Today it seems as if the spring really is on its way (work not weather I hasten to add) as all three of us spent the morning both looking at looking at new properties and showing existing properties to clients. For my part I skidded up to an old village house; teetered along some wooden planks so I didn't fall through to the ground floor; tried to see the sea view from the veranda (it was there, just a bit too cloudy to differentiate sea and sky); skidded back down the mossy path; slid down a mountainside plot of land; and walked up the hill in Agios Mattheos to see another old village house (very nice actually, that is, if I can ever find it again!).

Then I went to pick up a client to look at another house, located in an olive grove (currently a mud grove, complete with enthusiastic dog who covered us both in mud), and as this was going on I received a link to a video of the 2010 Brits Music Awards from Tuesday night, where Florence, the singer my daughter helps to manage, received a 'Best Album' award. Daughter got a public thank you and was featured for a split second as the camera panned onto Flo's group, all applauding her. As I slid through the mud, I was thinking what different worlds - she was doing her super glamour bit and I was sliding down a mountain path.

Our conversations tend a little to the bizarre. Hers with album sales statistics, tour dates, diary co-ordination to meet up here or in London, interspersed with what the dog chewed today, state of cleanliness of our London flat which son and daughter share, the latest house showings and sales, how the villas are renting, and somehow always finishing with 'Can you do a tesco order, we seem to be running out of everything'. Different worlds indeed.

14 February 2010

'Hand-reared grass fed Spartilla mountain goat'

We have just returned from our winter trip to the UK, and went up to Suffolk for the weekend to see family. We went out for a supposedly simple meal in a local pub, near Aldeburgh which is a bit like a Suffolk version of Agni, or Rock in Cornwall. All very plain, scrubbed pine tables, menu on the blackboard etc. However, on closer examination 'plain' was the furthest thing from their minds. It must have taken the waitress ten minutes to describe the origins of everything on the menu.

'Butley oysters, Orford lobster, Aldeburgh crab, Dingly Dell Tunstall hand reared pork, corn fed Framlingham chicken', Southwold Dairy ice cream, and unusually, 'local Nubian goat curry'. Isn't anything simple any more? Does every menu have to have a pedigree and exact location for everything we eat? Can't it just be 'pork' or 'sea bass'? Speaking of sea bass, it was Aldeburgh Sea Bass served with confit of something or other and Jerusalem artichoke - only it wasn't. As the waitress told us that after the snow, the ground was too hard to dig up the veggies, so the meal came with bought in mixed veg. Oh horror, bought veg!

We could of course do the same here; San Stefano lobster, Boukari squid, freshly dug green mountain spinach, the possibilities are endless. On the other hand, perhaps here we do it better, we just go in the kitchen and choose which fish we want without having to know its entire life history.

7 February 2010

Now we are all safe

It seems the EU commissioners have accepted Greece's proposals for dealing with the economic crisis, and now we just have to hope that the goverment can make it work.

Naturally this has precipitated a new round of strikes - tax men, customs, plus a general strike next week. It will be interesting to see how many small businesses actually do strike, usually very few, since no one looks after us, we have to look after ourselves, and closing our small enterprises is on a par with shooting yourself in the foot, most of us just carry on as normal and it is primarily the civil service, who have always had the most in benefits and security, who are trying desperately to hang on to these. My heart bleeds for them.

2 February 2010

Money matters

Just received the following from our reliable currency expert:

Within the last few weeks Sterling had rallied against a host of currencies, most notably the Euro where it reached a 5-month high. The Dollar has been strengthening of late despite Obama’s calls for more stringent banking reform, partly due to its “safe haven” status when markets are uncertain and partly due to stronger GDP figures recently.

In the short term the value of the Pound, Euro and Dollar are likely to be determined by a series of key data releases starting with tomorrow morning and the PMI Services data for the UK and Europe and European retail sales figures. Thursday’s focus will be on the Bank of England and the “will they, wont they” decision on Quantitative Easing- any surprise here could cause a sharp weakening of the Pound but attention will quickly switch across the Channel to the European Central Bank rate decision and press conference- last month’s assessment helped start the recent slide on the Euro. US employment figures on Friday will take centre stage on Friday and may help reinforce recent Dollar strength or could show the US experiencing a false dawn.

Down Under the economy seems to have fared a lot better during the global recession and whilst interest rates have been held again recently, the possibility of a rate hike to stop the economy overheating is still a presiding factor on the value of the Aussie Dollar.

As ever with a lot of uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the decisions exchange rate movements are likely to be sudden and sizeable so if you do have upcoming requirements (either short term or longer) please feel free to make me aware if you have not already done so. Likewise if you want to discuss something that may affect your currency needs please do not hesitate to contact me via Foreign Currency Direct plc.