Week 419

Sunday,1st January, 2017





It is approaching 11.00 am and the first residents on our street are venturing out. We have been up for 4 hours and feeling our way in to the new year. We have been fielding lots of Happy New Year texts which is the current trend while I am preparing a ‘formal’ email for friends.

Do you make resolutions? The general joke is that people make them on New Year’s Eve/Day and break them the next day. We have made some joint resolutions and I have made some individual ones.

  • Pauline read that short breaks which break up the routine make one’s life feel longer. Consequently, she has decreed that, in addition to a long drive across Europe this summer and, possibly, a winter sunshine trip, we are going to do lots of short breaks in European towns/cities as well. We both want to visit Bologna which we’ve driven past 30 times but never seen. We both want to revisit Venice which we spent 4 nights in 20 years ago. We want to go to Florence and Rome, to Madrid and Barcelona. I would quite like to visit Dubrovnik and we would both like to go to Bordeaux and Bergerac. Some of these destinations can be linked in a long drive. Some can be short flights.
  • After month-long spells in 5* Half Board Hotels, our diet has slipped a little and needs to be reasserted. Already the alcohol is gone but food intake has increased and must be got back under control immediately. Portion size is the order of the year! Of course, we must maintain – or increase our exercise regime.
Bella Bologna

This next resolution may leave an unpleasant impression upon you. The more delicate of you it may scar for life. If you are a princess, look away now. No, no, not you, Sarah! I don’t know if you have noticed but, as men age, their mouths seem to drop open as if they are auditioning for gibbering idiots escaped from The Home for the Bewildered. The open mouthed stare is not a good look particularly when it is accompanied by a slight dribble from the corners of the mouth. It has come to me. Pauline pointed it out a couple of years ago and I am increasingly catching myself in mirrors and shop windows looking at a lost soul with mouth open, staring vacantly back at me. It has got to stop.

  • Constantly ask myself if my mouth is open and carry a tissue to dab away excess liquid.

Told you that you would find it distasteful but these things have to be faced and, if you can’t do it in old age, when can you do it? Enjoy your day.

Monday,2nd January, 2017

East Preston Beach – Freezing!

An official Bank Holiday. We had to go to Waitrose to pick up a parcel from the John Lewis Parcel Collection point. It was an extremely cold start to the day at 1C/34F with clear, blue sky and strong, low sun. The town and the roads were extremely quiet at 9.00 am as if everyone is enjoying a ‘lie-in’ prior to going back to work tomorrow. Don’t understand.

We drove on to East Preston beach for a look round. It looked delightful but was rather cold. There is a growing enthusiasm for cold weather swimming. If anyone had been here, it would have been a great place to try that. We would happily watch.

Tuesday,3rd January, 2017

Little Viv & Jane Barnes

A cold but beautifully sunny day. Frost on the lawn this morning but, already, the daylight feels a little earlier. Had to go out and buy (BUY) packs of printer paper. When we were at work, we wouldn’t even have considered it. Reprographics would have delivered it to our offices and we would have used it seamlessly in school and at home just as our Management System was accessible on-line in school and at home. We have been retired for 7 years now and having built up quite a stock, it is only in the last couple of years that we have had to go out and actually buy our own. It comes as a bit (a hell) of a shock.

Little Viv was our Reprographics Manager and supplier of all paper requirements. I thought of her immediately that the printers – We use a mono laser and a colour laser in our Home Office – we are running out of paper. It is people like Viv that I miss the most about retirement from work. The long-serving, honest and dedicated individuals who contributed so much to one’s life.

Something else which I’ve been using since we retired but which originated in school is computer software. I’m still using the MS Office 2010 edition which I used in school the year I left plus the Macomedia Suite of Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Flash of even earlier vintage. The time is rapidly coming when I will need to upgrade. We run all this software on at least four computers.  Ms Office will cost me £80.00/€94.00 per year to ‘rent’. The Macromedia Suite will cost around £500.00/€590.00. I’m only a pensioner!

Wednesday,4th January, 2017

Early trip out to Rustington this morning which is quite chilly but better than the last couple of mornings. About 1C/34F. We had our biennial eye test appointments at 8.30 am. My eyesight has hardly changed since I was 7 years old. If anything, my sight has improved. I often have to take my glasses off to read and I rarely wear my distance glasses unless I’m driving. Actually, today, my distance test showed a small change which would merit me having new glasses which I already needed anyway because I have had my current pairs at least 4 years.

I chose new styles with reaction lenses and was fitted for them. It is not as easy to get the ‘half moon’ frame now because it has rather fallen out of favour but it suits my usage perfectly. Pauline only needs reading glasses and had two pairs of those. The total bill for 6 pairs of glasses came to just £400.00/€472.00 which seems quite reasonable these days and will do the next two years at least. They will be ready in one week.

The Health Club was quieter yesterday as everyone went back to work. We had a good workout and are looking forward to going back today. Pauline’s got a doctor’s appointment this afternoon to look at the shingles on her tongue which are really hurting her so we are going to exercise earlier.

Thursday,5th January, 2017

Still Buying

Quite cold – 0C/32F at 7.30 am but clear blue sky all day with strong sun. One of those days when one feels thankful to be alive. This is especially true if you’re not a High Street retailer who, so we are told, are beginning to have a tough time with difficult trading. Next and John Lewis, the High Street stars of recent times are posting falls in profits and forecasting difficult times ahead with job losses. Brexiteers, be warned, you will rue the day! You can’t blame us. Pauline & I are doing our utmost to keep the commercial centres afloat. The buying just continues.

Outdoor Swimming in January.

Today, we were out at 9.00 am and off to Sainsburys/Argos to pick up an internet order of a steam iron (£80.00€94.00).  On to Waitrose/John_Lewis to pick up an internet order of a steam cleaner (£99.00/€1.16). On to Tesco for our main, weekly shop which came to £130.00/€152.00. We were home by 11.00 am and tired. It took for ever just to unload the car. We were out to the Health Club at 1.15 pm and, after an hour of cardiovascular work, we went back to swimming for the first time since moving here. I have had problems with a trapped nerve in my arm for almost twelve months and have shied away from swimming but today we took the plunge and used both the indoor pool and the wonderful, heated and steaming outdoor pool. It was really enjoyable and, I think, has done me good.

Friday,6th January, 2017

We have been without a working dishwasher since before Christmas. Can you imagine it? Washing up by hand! The engineer came out last week and couldn’t remove the kitchen plinth to get the machine out to work on. We had to call the kitchen installer to remove the plinth and he came today. Now, we have arranged for the dishwasher to come back on Thursday. By this time, we will have been without our machine for three weeks. My hands will be red raw.

Because we were waiting in for the kitchen fitter, we were unable to go to the gym. We’ll try to go tomorrow instead. We made a trip to the local recycling site to get rid of a build up of rubbish – an old iron, a stack of boxes, an surplus bathroom cabinet, etc.. It is made so easy for us here. Other areas we’ve lived in like Surrey and Kirklees put draconian restrictions on these facilities and, as a result, suffer costly fly-tipping. These councils never learn but should visit Arun to see things working well.

It is Epiphany, apparently, and Greeks have a frightening way of celebrating Theofania. They congregate around the docks and a priest casts a cross into the sea thus blessing it. The youth of the area dive into the icy water for the honour of retrieving the cross. Madness at the best of times but, this year, Greece is approaching Siberian winter. Sea diving may not end well.

Saturday,7th January, 2017

All change here. It is the first morning for a while that we haven’t needed the central heating on. At 7.30 am, it was 10C/50F which makes a change and is in sharp contrast to Greece which is basking in snow and near sub-zero temperatures.

The Stations of the Cross

There are lovely stories in the Greek Blogs about the epiphany ‘plunges’ yesterday. Shock horror but a ‘woman’ beat the men to the cross on Rhodes. In Sikinos, only one brave soul dared to dive in to the freezing water and, in Trikala, the cross broke in two pieces. In Patras, that delightful University city of culture, a fight broke out between the middle aged divers who were disputing who found the cross first. The prize for strangest event went to Kalamas river in Neraida on the north west coast opposite Corfu. Here the cross was tossed in to the fast flowing river but got caught in the branches of a tree. The photograph shows how one man was so desperate to win that he risked life and limb.

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