Week 435

Sunday, 23rd April, 2017

Recently I told you that I had interrogated the NHS Life Expectancy Calculator and been told that I have just 11 years (slightly less now) to live. I can expect to die aged 76 years old. My brother, Bob, reminded me that in my teenage years I swore to kill myself when I reached 50. It is the sort of youthful, anti-aging bravado that stupid teenagers exhibit. I must admit that, having reached pensionable age, dying at 76 seems impossibly early but that’s what the NHS said.

My wife, of course, thinks I’m bonkers and just ‘willing death’ upon myself by even contemplating it. Left to her, we would never confront it until it happened and, even then, I suspect she would be denying it – just like the Black Knight – as only a flesh wound! I, of course will be crying and cowering in a corner. Today I read an article by Martin Hemming that almost made me feel ‘normal’ as it opened like this:

“Here’s a fun game you can play at home. It’s called When Am I Going to Die?

Play the game here, if you dare

It’s really good. You gather your nearest and dearest around a computer screen, Google life expectancy calculator, pick one, then stick in everyone’s relevant details — age, sex, how many packets of cigarettes they smoke a day, have they ever had a job in a uranium mine, that sort of thing. The person with the highest score wins.”

Of course, in his case, the winners were those with the most money to cushion their old age as exemplified by the Queen who has just turned 91. If only it were that simple. Anyway, I took the Life Expectancy Test that he suggested and was granted an extra 9 years. I am mindful, however, that it was devised by Aviva to persuade me to invest in life insurance but I’m sure it’s more accurate!

Monday, 24th April, 2017

Lovely, warm and sunny morning. By mid afternoon we had a quite ‘muggy’ 16C/61F. How long will it last? Rather like Life Expectancy, we are told it’s going to get colder. Pity really because we are off to France soon for a short break. Excellent couple of hours at the Health Club today. It has had a great deal of money spent on it over the past month. All the gym equipment and accompanying media has been renewed. It really feels luxurious and actually makes one want to stay and exercise.

As a counterpoint to the exercise, when we return from France, we will fill up on wine which is still at better prices than when bought in UK. I’ve gone from French to Italian and, recently after three months in Teneriffe, to Spanish wines. I’ve picked these out from my favourite store –

  • Rioja Finca Monica
  • Rioja Crianza Gardenos
  • Rioja Crianza Ederra
  • Chateau Tour de Barbereau
  • Chateau Reyssac Bergerac

Of course, I will always love claret and I’ve got dozens of bottles already but I will take advantage while there is still the possibility of good value, good quality French wine available. Very soon our supplier will be feeling the effects of looming Brexit and calculating how long they can stay open. We have been buying from them for over 30 years and haven’t bought any wine in UK in that time. It will be a sad end – for one of us!

Tuesday, 25th April, 2017

Gorgeous day for driving to the Channel Tunnel – blue skies and strong sunshine. We are told that other areas have had frost. Being close to the coast, I suppose, we are lucky and just have the clear skies. Every where we go now we have to take an array of chargers – Smartphones, Kindle, two different iPads, smart watch, etc. – which I attach to a ‘cube’ multi-socket. They are checked even before passports, cheque cards and euros. You would think we are going to Ulan Bator instead of Nord-Pas-de-Calais!

What a beautiful day! Blue skies and sunshine all the way. Never seen the Channel Tunnel service so quiet. Two trains were amalgamated and still only amounted to 30 vehicles. This is the way it will go now. We left Folkestone at 12.30 pm and arrived 30 mins later at 2.00 pm – if you see what I mean.

Checked in to our hotel and found we had been upgraded to a Family Suite which was lovely. We have stayed here many times. Sometimes loyalty does pay. Just a pity Stavros didn’t understand the principle! Went down to Auchan to do a bit of shopping and bought a bottle of wine to taste. We drank it this afternoon with our meal of Normandy Soft Cheese, fresh prawns, sweet, cherry tomatoes and Remoulade.

It’s good to get away. Some times a change of scenery can make a difference – even if it is in France. This evening turned out to be even more spectacular than normal as huge, black clouds arrived bringing long, slow lightning flashes, booming thunder rolling around the hotel grounds and an avalanche of hail. The lawns around the hotel temporarily turned white and the large, brown rabbits grazing there ran for cover.

Wednesday, 26th April, 2017

What a strange day. Quite a chilly but sunny start. We had BREAKFAST. We had coffee and read the papers in leisurely style and then went down to the wine store to do our buying. Everywhere is quiet, from the tunnel crossing yesterday to the hotel and breakfast room to the supermarkets and the wine store. It is symptomatic of what is to come in the name the of ‘Little Englanders’.

We drove down to Cite Europe in strong, ‘hot’ sunshine. Having parked, found a euro to release our trolley and walked inside, a roar started to pound on the development’s glass roof. It was an almighty hail storm. The carpark became a sea of slushy, ice in minutes and, just as quickly, went back to sunny and dry.

Driving back to the hotel, the storm had left the trees like the church grounds in a post-wedding scene. Confetti everywhere looking lovely in the sunshine. We bought a snack for our meal which we took back to the hotel to watch the last PMQs on television. How awful is Theresa May? She and Corbin deserve each other. I look forward to the tussle over the Pension Triple Lock. Keep those annoying young buggers down. That’s my prospectus.

Thursday, 27th April, 2017

Mum in the early 1930s. 1923 – 2008

It is 9 years today since my Mum died. I can see her now, dead. It still haunts me although not as  much as it has. It is almost as concerning that 9 years have elapsed since that day. How can that be? She was months off being 85. She has been in my mind throughout the day and dancing across my memory’s cinema screen. Visions of good and bad times viewed through a misty lens and accompanied by a redolent tune – a Chopin Etude ( Tristesse) – evoking sadness of lost experiences. There is no reviving or escaping one’s past.

Just as always when she was celebrating something, I am abroad. We are preparing to leave France this morning through the Eurotunnel after finishing our shopping. Breakfast and checkout followed by a trip to Auchan to purchase food for our next few days.

Off to the terminal and a quick crossing of 30 mins. We drive out into sunshine and quiet roads. Isn’t going away almost inevitably a boost to returning home? Our newly adopted village looks so appealing in the light of new eyes. So many houses festooned with heavy racemes of wisteria. We are home by about 1.00 pm. Unload the car and stack boxes of wine in the garage and then a meal of prawns, crab and salad.

The plants on the patio need watering, the lawn needs cutting and the car needs cleaning but those things are for another day. Tonight, I am watching City v United and catching up on election news. Listened to a dreadful interview of Boris Johnson by John Humphries on Radio 4’s Today programme. Humphries allowed Johnson to bluster through and avoid answering questions while insinuating buffoonery and blatant electioneering unchecked. I am becoming increasingly concerned about the bias or incompetence of the BBC.

Friday, 28th April, 2017

I think it might have rained a little over night. The garden furniture looks damp. It can’t have been much because the grass is dry. We have had so little rain since we moved in here. I know it is becoming a concern for farmers and gardeners. Pauline has gone out to the Beauty Parlour to have a ‘facial’ whatever that means. I am left to do all the jobs. I’ve unstacked the dishwasher, watered the patio  plants, mowed the lawns and fed them. I will put the sprinklers on this afternoon when we get back from the gym.

We did a 90 mins. stint in the gym and pool today and I was exhausted at the end of it. The temperature reached 16C/61F as we swam outside in the pool. It’s been quite a busy and interesting week and I can feel the tiredness in my body. Going to fit another gym session in tomorrow. We have gone back to calorie counting and I need the exercise to allow me to eat. Today’s meal was smoked mackerel, prawns and tomato & cucumber salad. Absolutely delicious and well within my calorie allocation.

Saturday, 28th April, 2017

The problem with retirement after a busy working life is replacing the constant and built in motion of one’s previous days. I am very conscious of ‘sitting’ too much. I read my newspaper, use my iPad or computer, watch television or just sit and talk. Sedentary is a dangerous condition. As a result, I keep looking for ‘jobs’ to do to keep me moving. Today I have unstacked the dishwasher, vacuumed the entire house, valeted the car inside and out and then spent two hours in the Health Club. Although I have fulfilled my mission and done 13,000 paces, I can now barely walk!

It is a Bank Holiday weekend. I suspect that only means something to you if you are still working. It means absolutely nothing to us as long as the social facilities we use – shops and Health Club mainly – are still available and they are. All around us, families are making the most of the ‘long weekend’ with lawns being cut and barbecues being lit. The weather has been absolutely delightful and the temperature reached 17C/63F this afternoon. We ate Roast Salmon & Salad ( 500 cals.) accompanied by a delightful bottle of sparkling water.

Have you noticed how many people don’t eat at a dining table? Some children I taught thought that all meals were eaten with a plate on your knee in front of the television. Admittedly, we do have a TV in the Dining area of our kitchen but we have made it a rule to eat our meals at the Dining Table, to not eat in the Lounge or to drink alcohol in there either. We both feel much more comfortable eating and talking around a table than balancing plates on our knees. Call me old fashioned. Oh, you did!

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