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.


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