Back to work
Enough of sitting on the beach, time to get back to real life and whilst The Dominican Republic is fascinating, I definitely found my thoughts straying back to business and the coming season, and was pretty much ready to come home to Corfu and start work again.
Having said that, there was a problem just getting back to Europe – we selected a flight day which just happened to be the day that the UK staggered to a halt in the snow. Delayed flight, no information from tour operator, finally arrived at Gatwick to be told the runways were iced up and we would circle for a bit while they were cleared.
Then the stands weren’t cleared, then the doors were iced up and there would be a delay in getting the luggage off, but we finally collected all our bits and dressed in our ‘medium’ weight clothing – i.e. OK for most places but not the UK in minus 5 – we went down to wait for the Gatwick Express. As voices kept announcing its imminent arrival, it began to snow again and after about an hour and a half another Gatwick-Victoria train arrived, stuffed to the gills, with the rail staff saying there was definitely no room for more passengers. Along with about 200 other freezing passengers, we squeezed on and arrived at Victoria an hour later, ready to pay our fares, only to be waved through the gates by the staff who seemed to be relieved just to have successfully got a trainload of passengers safely to Victoria! Very nice of Southern Trains I thought, since they could have made a fortune that day!
First conversation when back in the UK was with a fellow villa owner whose Tour Operator has dropped one of his houses altogether and wants a major price reduction on the other one. Already had a call from one of our Tour Operators looking for a ‘major reduction across the board’ on our apartments. Looks like a challenging season to come. On the plus side with the advent of Easyjet from Manchester and Bristol the door is gradually opening wider for ‘short breaks’ – and the euro has staggered up the odd couple of points.
Whilst away I did read a survey which found that although the top 9 out of 10 holiday destinations were outside the Eurozone, Spain had crept back in at no. 10, and Greece had begun to move back up the list. Seems that some of our non-euro neighbours are not as cheap as everyone thinks, which was a point re-enforced by some relatives of ours who had been to Turkey and found smaller items like coffees equally or more expensive than at home in Greece. Also for the first time for months, in the UK house prices rose in January – not by a lot, but at least they did rise rather than stay in freefall.
So perhaps, whilst things may not be exactly looking up, we are all coming to terms with the economic situation as it is and going on as far as possible with our plans – buying, selling building etc. Again, I thank my lucky stars that we are not Dom. Rep (or Bulgarian or Spanish) agents or developers with hundred of ‘units’ to sell and ‘off plan buyers’ dropping out all around us. Thank heavens for small ‘niche’ markets like Corfu!