Week 267

26th January, 2014

Apparently last night was one of torrential rain and tornadoes around the country including less than 50 miles away from us but here we slept in an oasis of calm. It is raining lightly here now but nothing to suggest flood-level precipitation.

My job this week is to make a full, backup copy of my Blog because I’m thinking of migrating it to another site and I don’t want any accidents. The Blog is in to its sixth year. It intend to continue it, now, until I die. Whenever that is. However, it would be nice to integrate features that my current platform doesn’t allow so I am looking further afield.

27th January, 2014

A few days ago the European Commission belatedly acknowledged the self-impoverishment threatened by its renewable energy policies, and abandoned its previous insistence on maintaining mandatory targets for each of the 28 member states in the union. By giving massive subsidies to renewables they had been forcing other power
plants out of the market. Of course, satellite records show no land-mass global warming at all for the past 16 years.  We are now being told by experts on solar physics that we are heading into a period of exceptional inactivity on the surface of the sun – and, therefore, one of exceptionally cold temperatures. We now need extra greenhouse effect if we are not to suffer increasingly cold times. Let’s use our the natural resource we all walk on in the UK. Bring back coal!


My weight has just entered a territory that I haven’t seen for more than twenty years. That’s the good news as long as my heart doesn’t give out!

28th January, 2014

Lovely, sunny morning although chilly as I take the rubbish up to the bin store fortified by a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, and a large cup of Yorkshire Tea. As soon as I’ve unstacked the dishwasher, I reward myself with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Heaven! Pauline is going to a Pilates class with her sister while I am catching up on correspondence and then we are both off to the Health Club.

29th January, 2014

A grey and wet day. Not warm either at 5C/41F. Apart from a trip to the Health Club, this will be an ‘in’ day. I thought I would share with you an ‘app.’ on my Windows 8 computer which conveniently gives me ten years of meteorological data for each day of the year. It appeals to spreadsheet/research geeks like me.


I am preparing a new, ‘Back Office’ app. for my Blog which will tell me lots of stuff about my readers. It will tell me how many, when and where they are and even who they are through the IP address of their computer so that I can look them up. It’s going to make Blogging a whole lot more interesting.

30th January, 2014

Almost the end of another January. It is certainly going out with a wet flourish. I just hope it brightens up on Tuesday when we do an eight hour round trip to Yorkshire and back. Today we are going to the farm shop in Esher to buy meat.

It is official. This has been the wettest January on record (therefore for at least 100 years).


Few are surprised, least of all those living in Somerset, because they have been marooned since before Christmas.

31st January, 2014

Farewell January. See you next year. Horrible cold, wet, dark day to go out on.

A few days ago I grazed one alloy wheel on a stone curb. Part of the rim was roughed up. I knew it was possible to have a repair done so I phoned a local firm called WheelWizard. When I told them the model of my car they said that the repair would take a full day and cost £120.00. I instinctively thought, I could buy a new wheel for that but, when I looked it up, found that a set of four, replacement wheels would be £2020.00 or £504.00 each. I shall be driving over to The WheelWizard very soon.


1st February, 2014


Happy New Month. The word February is believed to have derived from the name ‘Februa’ taken from the Roman ‘Festival of Purification’.  The root ‘februo’ meaning to I purify by sacrifice. There’s not much purification been going on here recently unless it is by water!

The month has started with a screamingly beautiful day of clear blue skies and strong sun. The temperature is not great but equals the ten year average of 8C/47F. Rain and strong winds are forecast although a respite is promised for Tuesday when we drive up to Yorkshire.

Week 266

19th January, 2014

We heard today that John Woolley was dead. It was something of a shock. We had known him for more than forty years and worked with him for most of that time and yet he was a couple of years younger than us. His partner, Julie, died of cancer in her early 50s. And now John is dead from a heart attack at the juvenile age of sixty.


He looked older. I think he was a lonely person. He was a Scout Commissioner as well as a Geography teacher but what defined him most of all were his Austro-German origins which made him dogmatic not diplomatic, splenetic, even frenetic not calm and controlled. I didn’t even like him particularly but he was a factor in our lives for almost as long as we can remember. We remember him for that and draw closer in our life.

20th January, 2014

When I searched the web for a photo of our former colleague, John Woolley, who died yesterday, something came up and shocked me. Google brought up a photo with John Woolley in it. Unfortunately, it was not the John Woolley I had known. However, as I scoured the photo, I was flabbergasted to see someone intimate to my past spring out of the page. I will allow members of my family to find him for themselves:


Dad is the tallest at the back in the centre. He was playing for the Burton upon Trent Grammar School rugby 1st team in the season  1930-31. He was sixteen years old and had just thirty three years left before dying of a heart attack. I feel I never really knew him and I regret that.

Further down I found myself staring at myself back in September 1967 as I was appointed Burton upon Trent Grammar School prefect. I am the beautiful one on the back row, second left.


21st January, 2014

A misty, October morning in mid-January. The day has started with disaster. Pauline has gone to a Pilates class with her sister at the Health Club and I was about to settle back with a lovely cup of fresh coffee when my espresso machine spluttered and died mid cup. I am bereft. I must admit that, although it produced good coffee, my Cuisinart has always been a bit flaky.


I’m going to replace it with a Delonghi ESAM04.110.S Magnifica 15 Bar Bean to Cup Espresso/ Cappuccino Machine


It’s double the price at £300.00 but I can’t do without good coffee. Unlike the previous one, this grinds beans and brews fresh coffee with one button touch. It also self cleans each time.

22nd January, 2014

An absolutely gorgeous and sunny day and, although not tropical, it has reached 11-12C/52-53F. The average English temperature in January is, I am told, 3C/37F. This is no ordinary winter.

Yesterday I had an email saying my new coffee maker had been despatched and today – in the second day sentenced to instant mud – I have been told it will be delivered tomorrow. How wonderful!

Our good friend, Margaret, from Huddersfield sent us a Christmas present of Black & Green’s Chocolate and a bottle of Californian red wine. Unfortunately, it was misdelivered and we didn’t receive it until it was re-delivered last night four weeks late. Now, of course, I can’t sample any of it but it will keep.


23rd January, 2014

A day which began with a lovely rising sun which painted the bare limbs of the surrounding trees in a warm glow, soon turned grey and moist. It didn’t matter because we were expecting two, separate deliveries from Amazon. It is quite amazing but, try as I might, all the things I want are at least as cheap on Amazon as they are from the Manufacturer. Take my lovely, new espresso machine which was delivered today. On the Delonghi website, it is possible to buy it for £450.00. From Amazon, it is £300.00 with free delivery.

The final delivery arrived so late in the afternoon that we didn’t go to the Health Club. Anyway, the coffee maker took me so long to work out – to get out of the box never mind to work successfully – that it dominated the evening. I should have read the English half of the manual rather than the Italian.

24th January, 2014

I am currently something of a ‘Demic’. I know I whinge on about my health in the Blog. Actually, over my sixty two years, it is only in the last five or six that I have troubled my doctor. For more than ten years before I was forty I didn’t see a GP once. Last night my upper arm was agony as if I have damaged a tendon/muscle – possibly rowing in the gym. I found it very difficult to sleep and this morning’s supermarket shop was very painful. Pauline had to drive and took over trolley pushing duties. I’m hoping three days out of the gym will allow it to settle down.

We are in the learning/experimental stage with the new coffee maker. I have mastered the ground coffee method and the milk frother. Now I am trying to get the correct strength and taste direct from beans. I bought these this morning and they seem to be pleasant after a couple of attempts:

coffee beans

25th January, 2014

In the past few days a fox has crossed my path twice. At 6.30 in the morning at the end of last week, I was walking to my car in the hospital car park and a beautiful fox walked slowly across my path some three metres away. It stopped and looked at me before walking on without panic or alarm. I was shocked by its confidence. Yesterday, on the grass outside our apartment, a mature fox with magnificent bush tail walked slowly up the banking and into the woods. Once again, he/she stopped and stared at me as if to say, What are you looking at? and was in no urgency to move on.


We do hear foxes ‘barking’ outside at night time but it is an absolute delight to see them in such close proximity.

It is a dry day here today. Weak, winter sunshine is filtering through. The temperature has reached 11C/52F. Interestingly, the average for this day over the past ten years is 8C/46F and, in 2007, it fell to -7C/19F. It is quite amazing but I think we’ve had the heating on for a total of four hours since we got back at the beginning of October.


Week 265

12th January, 2014

A sharp frost and a bright start to the day gave way to grey darkness and light rain. We understand that it will be a wet week.

Pauline and I have spent the day discussing our plans for 2014. You may think this is a few days late but we have both been thinking it through and are now ready to negotiate and agree the way forward. Of course some aims are contingent on the achievement of others but the direction of travel is clear. Health and wealth figure highly in our continuing journey to joint happiness. I have set myself a weight target for this time next year and it will be near to my wedding weight. The one problem neither of us can see our way past at the moment is that identified with my heart and subsequent drug intake but we will try not to let that unduly cramp our style.

13th January, 2014

Another day that started cold and bright but soon went pitch black, with thunder and lightning followed by torrential rain. The gutters here have proved to be inadequate for heavy rain and will all have to be upgraded. The last attempt was not good enough because the joints leak.


14th January, 2014

Gloriously sunny day. A little cool but strong sun in blue skies is a tonic.

I swore I would never do it but I found an ‘App.’ on my iPad, tried it out and got hooked. I’m rather ashamed. Pauline is amused because she advised it many times over the years but I rejected her advice. I’m counting CALORIES! It started because all the gym equipment tells me how many calories I’ve used after each exercise. I was then just browsing the iPad App Store when I came across the MyFitnessPal app that records calories in and calories out in terms of meals broken down into their constituent parts with calorific values and exercise calories used on the other side of the balance.


The record on the right is not mine but you will notice that their logo was modelled on me which particularly drew me to them. A male of my height and weight and generally sedentary nature is advised to limit calorie intake to 2170. In the past week and a half I have always managed with half of that allowance given that I use 350 – 400 calories in the gym.

15th January, 2014

Heavy rain over night has given way to another beautiful, mild day. After the warmest winter for twenty five years, wildlife not normally seen until spring has been tricked into making an early appearance by mild temperatures. Butterflies have been reported in Cambridgeshire and Pembrokeshire, ladybirds in Devon and Co Durham, and swallows in several places in Southern England.  There has been  a surge in sightings of birds nesting and shrubs coming into bud. There are reports also of snowdrops flowering in Kent, Suffolk and Anglesey, hazel flowering in Devon, Lincolnshire and Cheshire, and elder budburst in Hampshire, Essex and Somerset.


Apparently, the Met. Office has said that the average UK temperature last month was almost 2C above the average. The heavy rain seems to fall over night but the Surrey days are sunny and mild.

16th January, 2014

I (we) are worried about my heart rate and about my INR. At the same time, I am trying to lose weight. The food that would help me lose weight – green leaf things – counteracts the warfarin I take to control my INR. The exercise I need to supplement my diet in burning calories, raises my heart rate – sometimes dangerously. It has been decided that I must monitor my heart rate more closely and regularly, particularly when exercising. I am having to wear a heart monitor across my chest which communicates with my watch by Bluetooth to inform me of my fluctuating heart rate.

belt1 belt2

17th January, 2014

I understand that scientists are saying the Sun is in a phase of “solar lull” – meaning that it has fallen asleep – and it is baffling them. History suggests that periods of unusual “solar lull” coincide with bitterly cold winters.


The most extreme solar minimum on record was the Maunder Minimum. This lasted from 1645 to 1715 and corresponded to a minor Ice Age. What price Global Warming?

18th January, 2014

The day has started off grey and dull but the sun was out by ten and it has developed in to quite a pleasant day. We have been planning travel arrangements. Eurotunnel, once again, have advertised a £20.00 day return just in time for us to do some shopping. Probably Wednesday, February 19th. We have also booked the Holiday Inn in Brighouse, just outside Huddersfield for three nights in March to visit friends. We were members of the Health Club there for a number of years.


Next we are going to arrange some more trips to the South Coast for house hunting. Pauline has gone out to a Zumba class at the Health Club. She’ll be shattered when she gets back.


Week 264

5th January, 2014

The day started off sunny with a frost but soon clouded over and rained. I think I’m depressed. England lose the Ashes 5-0 and then Man. Utd. get kicked out of the FA Cup by Swansea. What is there to live for?

6th January, 2014

This is Finance Day. The first of our ISAs matures and has to be moved from 3.7% to a gut-wrenching 1.5%. We have more that will do the same diminishing act in February and then more dropping from 4.0% in April. Unlike those with mortgages, we can’t wait for interest rates to go up … and up… and up! The problem with doing any financial transactions nowadays is that everyone is treated like a potential money launderer. Today, we are attempting to open our fourth on-line savings account through the Post Office Bank. Even though we have done this three years running, they still demand passports and driving licences as proof of identity and address. It is becoming like Greece.

I’m a bit worried about Skiathan Man. He hasn’t blogged for three days. I hope he hasn’t got lost under a pile of wood.

Had to drive through two ‘Road Closed’ signs and a ‘Traffic Diversion’ to get to the Health Club today. Our 4-wheel drive vehicle could manage the floods that I wouldn’t have attempted in a saloon. Our next door neighbour, The General, phoned from a weather-torn queue on the M1 to say we wouldn’t be able to share Afternoon Tea. However, it was coastal towns that were taking the brunt of it.


I am suffering with Low Blood Pressure now rather than Hypertension. It is inducing dizzy, fainting spells and short blackouts. It is a little disconcerting and I am having to seek advice about it. Fortunately, through the haze, I see the epiphany of Skiathan Man. Give Thanks!

7th January, 2014

We had thunder and lightning and torrential rain during the night. Around the South Coast, high tide storm sirens were sounded. This picture is one of many in The Times this morning. This one is taken in Blackpool.


Not feeling well this morning but I’m still going to the gym. I started using a food intake/exercise output app on my iPad yesterday. It told me that a man of my age/height/weight and relatively sedentary disposition should be eating 2137 calories per day to lose 5lbs per month. I logged everything I ate and drank yesterday and offset it against my workout and I had used less than half my allowance for the day. Perhaps that’s why I’m not feeling well.

I’m a bit worried about The Skiathan. He seems to be celebrating Easter two weeks earlier than everyone else. Perhaps he knows something we don’t. According to my information, both Western and Orthodox Easter Sunday are on April 20th this year

8th January, 2014

Another very mild day. We suddenly realised today that we’ve only used our heating for one hour since Christmas. However, we are told that cold weather is on the way next week – in the North at least.

While I’m working out in the gym, my pulse rate is acting very strangely. It starts of about 80 – 90 bpm and then, suddenly, starts escalating wildly in blocks of 10 bpm up to 200 and then, just as suddenly it falls again in just the same way to 140-150 bpm. Next minute it is repeating the journey. I don’t feel unwell but it is rather disconcerting.

9th January, 2014

Another mild and beautifully sunny day. This time in 2009, temperatures were in minus territory with a great deal of snow to follow although we were in Yorkshire and we had an Ofsted Inspection coming up.

The biggest and certainly most dominant holiday advert on television this winter offers two distinct choices – Turkey or Spain, Spain or Turkey! What about Greece? It is not mentioned. There has not been a single advert for a Greek holiday this winter in my viewing. I had one email from a Corfu Villa – based company but nothing else. What is the GNTO doing?

10th January, 2014

Lovely and sunny and mild again. Although we are in our third consecutive day without  rain, all the multi-million pound, Surrey – on – Thames properties are continuing to be engulfed in (still rising) flood water mixed with effluent. We saw an aerial shot of the magician, Paul Daniels’ house totally surrounded by waist high water in the television news …. and he’s not very tall.

Did our exercise walking around Tesco and Asda this morning but followed that with a trip to the Health Club. We had a swim today for the first time this year.

11th January, 2014

Gorgeous blue skies and strong sun today. Feels incredibly mild for mid-January. I checked the temperature at only 8C/47F but it feels much warmer.


Skiathos is double that and it’s got wonderful fish. This day four years ago we were stuck in a temporary ‘shoebox’ in Yorkshire, surrounded by snow and feeling rather gloomy.

I nearly blacked out in Tescos yesterday and this morning I found that my weight has reached a level I haven’t see for over twenty years. It’s possible the two are linked. Anyway, we’ve got a relaxing and quiet weekend ahead.