Week 418

Sunday,25th December, 2016





Have a lovely day. We are off to Surrey for a few hours of Family entertainment. Pauline has done all the cooking apart from the turkey which will have 3 hrs of warm weather followed by an hour ‘resting’.

The drive up was very quiet and quick – just under an hour. The day was enjoyable and the meal was delightful (Why didn’t I take any photos?). Pauline made four, different starters –

  • A filo pastry parcel containing roast salmon with pesto
  • A chopped, smoke salmon tower on a blini with caviar topping
  • An endive leaf filled with cream of Dolcellate
  • A chunk of cantaloupe melon with a leaf of red oak lettuce and Serrano Ham

The main course was

  • A beautiful, buttery, Norfolk turkey provided by P&C
  • Pigs in Blankets
  • Sage & Onion Stuffing + Forcemeat with Apricot Stuffing
  • Sprouts & Chestnuts
  • Baby Carrots finished in Balsamic Vinegar
  • Goose Fat Roasted King Edward Potatoes

As much as anyone could manage it, the Sweet was a choice of

  • Homemade (circa 2015) Christmas Pudding with creamy custard
  • Rich Chocolate Log with Double Cream

I would defy anyone to find a better meal cooked professionally. The quality of everything was outstanding. Pauline had also made a Christmas Cake and, as happens every year, everyone was so full it wasn’t even cut until we had left. We never get to taste the cake.

The road was busier as we drove home but we were back for 7.30 in the evening in light rain. The weather report was that we had just missed the warmest Christmas Day for 100 years by 0.5C/1.2F. The day had peaked at 14C/57F which felt very warm anyway.

Monday,26th December, 2016

Goring Beach

Quite a chilly start to this morning at 7C/45F but delightfully sunny. We went out for an early-ish walk on the beach just down the road at Goring on Sea. It was quite delightful. We could have done without the dog walkers but one can’t have everything. People were out, like us, walking off excesses from yesterday. Others were in the sea on sailing boats or jet skis and a few were fishing. The commercial fishing boats remained beached and the wet fish shack was closed unsurprisingly.








A happy start to the day. The temperature did reach 11C/52F at early afternoon. Now, Pauline is making Turkey stock from yesterday’s carcass and we are preparing  smoked salmon salad for our meal.   Lovely way to meander through the day.

Tuesday,27th December, 2016

We have been in Sussex for 9 months now and this morning we woke to our first frost. The temperature outside is 0C/32F and the grass is tinged with silver. The sky, of course, is cloudless and the strong, low sun bathes the world in light. It is a wonderful morning to be alive.

At 10.00 am, we had an appointment with a lad called Daniel at the Worthing Lawn tennis Club. It is a sporting complex near our Health Club. Often, as we drive home, we see people playing Croquet in all weathers. Today, as we drove up, there was a man in shorts playing Pétanque. The temperature was still 0C/32F outside. Daniel is playing in an indoor tennis tournament where we found the temperature lower than outside. Where the sun didn’t reach, the gauge fell lower than freezing. We managed to watch the first set which he won but then gave up and drove home.

Interesting article in The Times this morning about the effect of a plunging £/€ rate and the general mood surrounding Brexit.

South Africa, Argentina and Mexico are expected to be among the most popular holiday destinations next year as Britons seek out countries where the pound is still strong. …. With currency fluctuations expected to continue next year this is influencing holiday decisions. South Africa is expecting to see large numbers of British holidaymakers in 2017 and one major travel company is reporting a 50 % increase in bookings to Goa for winter sun.

Europe is likely to be the biggest loser in this trend. Even we committed Europhiles have been considering Mexico. The month of November is warmer and comparative in price to Tenerife in spite of the longer flight.

Wednesday,28th December, 2016

Pauline’s Passion

Another chilly/sunny start to the day. At 7.00 am, it was -1C/30F with light frost on the lawns. And so the day starts. As our 38th wedding anniversary approaches, I have to admit that my wife’s passion for me has been replaced by her love of  ………………………………. turkey & stuffing sandwiches especially made with ‘oven-bottom muffin’ from Oldham. It’s a Northerner thing! Two days after Christmas, she still has the materials left over to make her passion reality. I can only stand back and watch. I’m having turkey soup.

Unfortunately, Pauline’s ‘shingles’ are returning and, this time, in her mouth. Poor thing. It is horrible for her. We are going down to the Doctors’ surgery this afternoon and tomorrow she will have a blood test. It is difficult to understand the trigger for this attack. She was asked if she was stressed but nothing could be further from the truth. We are too relaxed, if anything.

Some people rave about the London Eye. I can’t see the attraction myself. I wonder what Pugin would have thought of a Ferris wheel intruding into the London landscape and jarring with his designs for the Palace of Westminster. You can’t imagine the Greeks soiling their classical sites with such, tasteless nonsense. Well, actually, you don’t need to imagine it because that is exactly what they tried to do ….. and failed.

The ‘Athens Eye’ in Syntagma Square.

Athens Mayor, Giorgos Kaminis, planned to erect the Athens Eye. The Wheel at Syntagma Square was supposed to offer joy to thousands of Athenians over the Christmas days and be free of charge until Epiphany on January 6th 2017. It was scheduled to start operation on December 22nd. On the 20th, the wheel was erected and set up without passenger gondolas.

Gradually, over Christmas Week, the gondolas were attached but, by Christmas Day, the wheel was not ready for operation. On the December 27th, workers arrived and began to dismantle the structure as meteorologists forecast ‘heavy snow falls and powerful north winds’ in Athens in the upcoming days. In addition, the Athens Eye was set up before the safety controls were concluded and the relevant permission and license were issued. The epitome of forward planning and how to waste money!

Thursday,29th December, 2016

Cold at 7.00 am reading -1C/30F. Strangely, there was virtually no frost or wind. I don’t understand scientific things like weather. It is foggy at Gatwick and -3C/27F. In Athens, it is snowing. I’d love to be there and see it.

We have a busy day. We were up at 4.00 am because Pauline couldn’t sleep. She was being troubled by the resurgence of her shingles. We went back to bed at 5.00 am and were up again at 7.00 am and out to do the weekly shop in Tesco at 8.00 am. It is our anniversary tomorrow and our celebratory meal will be Lobster Thermidor starter followed by Crispy Duck main course. I am teetotal until May so I cornered the market on low calorie white and red Shloer. When I’m desperate, it gets me through. After Christmas, many people are pledging abstinence and the supermarkets cut the price on non-alcoholic drinks. Tesco cut the price of Shloer from £2.50/€2.95 to £0.99/€1.16. I’ve cornered the market and filled the garage.

On the way home, I took Pauline to the surgery for a blood test and then on to the Lawn Tennis Club to meet M&K. We had left some cooking equipment at their house on Christmas Day and they were returning them. Plus, the bottle of red wine they had bought for my Christmas Lunch and which I didn’t drink, they were kind enough to bring down for me as well. That’s two bottles they have given me for Christmas. They are standing in the kitchen, challenging me to not touch them for another four months. I will move them to my racks in the garage.

We were supposed to be going to the gym but it is such a lovely, sunny day that we are going to the beach for a walk in the fresh air. Later, we are going to our next door neighbours for a couple of hours to meet people who have moved into the new houses on our street over the past six months.

Friday,30th December, 2016




Today is our 38th Wedding Anniversary. We are celebrating by having the dishwasher repaired. Unlike our marriage, which is in good, working order after 38 years, our dishwasher has stopped working after 6 months. The heating element has packed up. It would choose to fail two days before Christmas. All our white goods – Washing Machine, Tumble Dryer, in the Laundry and Oven, Hob, Fridge/Freezer, Wine Cooler and Dishwasher in the Kitchen are covered by our House Builders Warranty for 5 (now 4.5)years. The Electrolux Service Engineer has just texted us to say he will arrive between 11.00 – 15.00 hrs. He must have known that was exactly when we go to the gym. Still, if you’ve ever had to wash-up by hand, you will know why we are staying at home.

There is nothing that I have done in my life that has made me happier than getting married. I really enjoyed the day itself and have never regretted anything about it since. Quite the reverse, marriage was the making and saving of me. Pauline has carried a huge burden but she has come through with flying colours. Our first aim is to achieve 40 years which Google says is a Ruby Anniversary. Just time for everyone to save up!

We went out for a walk on our local beach yesterday morning. It was beautifully sunny and reasonably warm. Of course, many other people had made the same decision as us. The promenade was full of kids trying out their new roller boots and scooters, dogs chasing balls and the parents strolling in the sunshine. The beach itself was quieter but huge gulls were marauding around dead fish that had been washed ashore on the tide.

Saturday,31st December, 2016

Here’s to 2017!

The end of another year of life. I know there are people who believe that it is important to mark every milestone in life because it will not be salvageable in the future. About things like Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, year ends/beginnings, I am totally underwhelmed. I have an instinctive need to play them down, to keep everything on an even keel, to iron out the highs and lows of life in to one, calm continuum. Everyone seems to be saying that 2016 has been a terrible year and I can see that Brexit and Trump can make them feel that way. Over all, however, and compartmentalising Brexit for now, I am left with an extremely optimistic feeling about the future. Of course, it may be wholly misplaced but it is there. Ultimately, all lives end in tragedy but, hopefully, not yet.

The workers on our ‘newly constructed’ street were outside yesterday taking down the Christmas lights from their houses and cleaning their cars ready for the week to come. Preparing for the normality of life. They will go out or entertain tonight; sleep it off tomorrow and then turn their faces to the world of work on Tuesday. We will not. We will stay up until midnight and toast each other in sparkling water. We will raise a toast to you too where ever you are and whatever you situation.

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