Week 453

Sunday, 27th August, 2017

Tarragon Processing

Up early after a hot and sweaty night. The sky is blue and cloudless and, by 9.00 am, I was out in the garden simulating a herb processing factory. Last year’s Tarragon bush looked dead even by early May. We use a lot in cooking so we went out and bought a new one. Potted up, it grew strongly and quickly. Suddenly, the old bush began to sprout and very quickly overtook the new one. Now we have more tarragon than we could eat in the next three years never mind this season. And it will happen all over again next year.

Cutting, washing, spinning dry, stripping and chopping, bagging up and freezing. It’s an intricate process for a non-technical man. Sitting in the garden in 26C/79F in the shade, it was hot work. After I’d achieved my goal, I was told to move on to the Oregano and then the Thyme. Basil will come tomorrow because it doesn’t freeze well and will immediately be turned into Pesto which stores excellently in the freezer. We use it at least three times a week in cooking on fish.

To finish the morning, Pauline is making Victoria Plum Chutney and the kitchen is heavily scented with warm Raspberry Vinegar. I have collapsed before the cricket with the Sunday Times on my iPad and we will go out to the Health Club in the early afternoon and hope to get back to watch the Liverpool v Arsenal match at 4.00 pm. The love of my life will be cooking Calamari in the garden which we will eat with salad. Domestic Bliss, eh. You can’t beat it!

As we drove back from the Health Club where we said ‘Hello’ to Auntie Florrie, the temperature had reached 28C/82F. We sat in the garden and cooked delicious Calamari which we ate with salad and garlic mayonnaise dip. It’s a winning combination! In our thoughts was Pauline’s Mum who looks down on us from the Study wall and who would have been 103 today. She died 7 years ago but is regularly in our thoughts.

Monday, 28th August, 2017

They tell me it’s Bank Holiday. I don’t care. I never go to a bank. It’s an archaic term that should be abolished. Nothing wrong with National Holiday. There are people flocking off to the beach down the road, desperate to make the most of the sun. We have been told that it is the hottest August Bank Holiday on record at 28.8C/84F. It certainly is lovely and warm. Actually, we only reached 27C/81F.

We are doing what we always do on Monday. Pauline had one or two items she was trying to source for an event she’s attending soon. Eventually, we found them in Hobbycraft – a shop which, as its title suggests, particularly stocks stuff for craft hobbies. We have one a few minutes drive away and they provided just the right things. Cookery, of course, is one of the ‘crafts’ they deal in and they have a great selection of jars and bottles for storage. Pauline made enough Plum Chutney to get us through until next Summer.

A couple of weeks ago, I was remarking on the abundance of early fruit ripening on Blackberry and Elderberry bushes around our region. Crab Apples are falling by the kilo and Oak trees are heavy with acorns. They used to say that this didn’t bode well for the Winter but that is an old wives’ tale. Certainly, the wild life should be stocking up their larders in preparation for leaner times. This lovely picture appeared in the Sunday Times yesterday and seemed to sum it up nicely.

Tuesday, 29th August, 2017

A hot and humid day which reached 25C/77F with strong sunshine and no movement of air. A busy morning in which Pauline re-harvested the ever-willing basil plants from our patio pots and turned her cuttings into lots of wonderful pesto which has been frozen in portions to get us through the winter. I cut and edged the lawns, fed them and then fed and watered the remaining pot plants.

We went to the Health Club and did our standard 90 mins of exercise including 30 mins in the outdoor pool. Now Bank Holiday is over and the facilities are almost back to normal. We were able to swim in peace and the beautiful, clean, clear water was a delight under the strong sun.

Back home, we griddled Tuna Steaks with Mediterranean vegetables outside in the garden and settled down to watch England lose the Test Match in the last few overs of the 5th day. The ‘dog days’ of Summer are drawing to a close and parents and children everywhere are kitting themselves out and girding their loins for another year of school. We, on the other hand, are preparing to run riot through a child-free world. Greece soon followed by Yorkshire and Gran Canaria.

Wednesday, 30th August, 2017

Woke up to light rain and distinctly cooler temperatures. I phoned Ruth in Bolton and she had no rain at all. It’s always ‘cracking the flags up North’! Even so, we completed our tasks which included driving into Worthing and quite a bit of walking across the town. On the way back, we did our weekly, supermarket shop, picked up a parcel and the time had stretched to more than three hours out. I felt tired. In fact, I have felt tired all day and we decided to give the Health Club a miss for today.

For some reason, I checked Direct Messenger on my iPad and found I had a message from someone I had never heard of. It had arrived 5 days ago and I was totally unaware of it. I never use Messenger. This was from a girl/woman who had ben a childhood friend of sister Caroline’s and had lost touch with her. She had been searching the internet and found my Blog and decided to contact me. Apparently, she used to live opposite the garage in the High Street. This High Street and its buildings has so many connection-memories for the Sanders Family.

Thursday, 31st August, 2017

Lycabettus Hill, Athena

The last day of Summer has been celebrated with pleasant, warm sunshine. I have been doing some web development work and replying to my new, best friend from Repton. We have done another session at the gym, cooked griddled chicken in the garden and organised lunch in a couple of weeks for our neighbours. I have also been planning what we are going to do in Athens while we are there. It is like London. We have been there so many times, we are blasé about the sights. We have never been up Lycabettus Hill so we will do that this time. Of course, we will meet up with friends and visit old haunts as well. It will be good to take the Greek economic temperature and see how shops and restaurants we have dealt with for nearly 40 years are doing.

I have also been looking for a hotel near Blandford Forum in Dorset because, when we return from Greece, we are going to visit an ex-colleague/friend from school who we have only seen once in the past 35 years. It will be interesting to gauge the passage of time.

Friday, 1st September, 2017




The passage of time has brought us a new month. Summer has ended. What happened to Summer? Today is blue skies and glorious sunshine. Might catch a few rays in the garden later. It is noticeable how quickly daylight/darkness ratios are changing and the cooler starts to the mornings are increasingly pronounced. Our fig trees are covered in fruit which I begin to realise are unlikely to ripen early enough this year.

I am an avid reader of local newspapers particularly linked to places I’ve lived and/or worked in. For 45 years, I’ve been reading the Oldham Evening Chronicle first in print form and, latterly, on-line. It kept me in touch with people and places that have figured in my life. I have even appeared in it quite a few times myself. I like to track ex-pupils progress and, particularly how they got on in court or when their prison release date will be. The ‘Chron.’ has survived for 163 years  but finally succumbed to the march of time as we all will. As the new month starts and the year speeds down the hill, I’m still clinging on.

It has proved to be a beautiful day for the first one of Autumn. We reached 25C/77F around our outdoor pool where I swam 400m for the 7th time in 9 days having also done an hour of cardio in the gym each time. It is starting to get seriously enjoyable and we will soon need to add one more exercise element into our gym work.

Saturday, 2nd September, 2017

A day of two halves. Until 4.00 pm, we pottered around at home. Well, I did. Pauline was hard at work making a birthday cake. For a week or two we have been sourcing things like candles for an 80th birthday cake. At one point, we thought Pauline’s sister would have to be 81 instead because the candle set she wanted didn’t contain a ‘0’. It is a coffee and walnut cake which is one of Phyllis’s favourites and it had to feed 15 people at a birthday party.

Foxhills Hotel & Country Club

I wore a suit and tie every working day of my life. I enjoyed it. I actually missed it for a short while when we retired. Now, 8 years on, I hardly ever wear a suit and tie. I had to wear one last night and it felt weird. We set off for Surrey before 5.00 pm and arrived at the Foxhills Hotel & Country Club just after 6.00 pm. A private dining room had been rented for this birthday dinner and I had to carry the cake up to it. It is an iced sponge cake but so big it is really heavy.

Soon the other guests began to arrive and have a glass of wine in the Lounge. Finally, Phyllis, who is 80 on Tuesday, arrived and we sat down to dinner. I was driving and didn’t drink. I had pre-chosen food that would fit in with my diet – crayfish Starter, steamed cod Main Course and Cherry Sorbet for Pudding. The final course was the best prepared. During the meal, Phyllis received her presents and, with coffee, Pauline cut the cake and handed out slices.

We left around 9.30 pm to do the hour long drive to West Sussex. We actually made it about 11.45 pm. As we set off for the M25, we found that the entrance was closed all night for ‘work’. The queues went for miles. A diversion was set up but, as we neared it, we saw lots of flashing ambulance and police car lights accompanied by huge queues of traffic. If I had been on my own, I would just have joined the queues but Pauline likes a challenge and easily navigated me through the problems and on to our familiar A24. From there, it was plain driving.

By the time we had got into the house, it was almost midnight and we needed a cup of tea and to ‘come down’ before we went to bed. We watched the news and the newspaper review and went to bed about 1.00 pm. It’s funny but, as I get older, I don’t seem to manage late nights so easily. I find ‘social situations’ quite tiring and stressful. By 1.00 pm, I was nodding and finding it hard to stay awake. To sleep, perchance to dream….

Week 452

Sunday, 20th August, 2017

Gorgeous morning at 6.00 am – a bit chilly but with clear, blue sky and a nascent sun. We are up early because we have a longish drive to Lancashire this morning. We are attending a funeral on Monday morning so are staying in the Haydock Holiday Inn. It looks quite pleasant and has a gym and a pool to keep us occupied for two nights. We expect the drive to be 5-6 hours so a 7.30 am start is planned.

The drive was really enjoyable with largely quiet roads. We chose the M40/M6 route over the M1 we normally use. The weather was sunny and warm all the way. We actually got away at 8.00 am and even with a couple of coffee stops still arrived by 1.00 pm. The hotel is set in lovely, rural grounds and we are looking forward to using the gym/pool. First, I was pleased to watch Huddersfield win their second Premier League match.

Monday, 21st August, 2017

View from my window.

We have woken up to a warm but overcast morning which rather reflects the events of the day because we are attending a funeral at mid day. We’ve been up since 7.00 am and had a pleasant breakfast. After the funeral and a get together with Pauline’s relatives, we will return to our hotel to do some exercise and have a swim. Tomorrow morning, we are going to Repton to visit my Mum’s grave on her birthday.

We left for the funeral at 11.00 am and drove the 26 miles to the crematorium in Blackburn – Pleasington Cemetery & Crematorium. It is a beautiful setting, a huge area of grass and trees in an urban connubation. Peaceful and restful, it is ideal for encouraging contemplation. 





I’m not a Christian. I am a confirmed atheist. I have so often attended funerals and felt hypocritical but morally obliged to mouth the hymns and acknowledge the prayers. The service (remembrance) today was one of the most appropriate I’ve been to.    It was a real ‘family’ celebration of a Mum’s/Wife’s life and what she meant to them. That, in my view, is what funerals should be like.

Tuesday, 22nd August, 2017

Happy 94th Birthday, Mum.

A long but interesting day. We had Breakfast at 7.0 am and left at 8.00 am. We drove to Monsom Lane, Repton to visit Mum’s grave. She would have been 94 today.

We did a drive round, re-acquainting ourselves with old haunts and recent changes. The village has become so busy and crowded. Driving through was quite difficult. We drove down to The Square and, as we did, I saw a man come out of ‘our’ house at ’81’. I parked up and stood around. He returned and I took the chance to speak to him. I told him that my family had built it and I had spent my formative years there. Although I could tell he was humouring me, I noticed an accent in his voice. He told me he had only bought the house three years ago and that he was Norwegian. He was more interested in who had lived next door. I was able to tell him about Auntie Kessie although I don’t think that is what he wanted to hear.

I pointed out the ‘Tree of Heaven’ in his front garden and told him Mum had planted it and had been very proud of it. At that point, I think he’d had enough and I apologised for accosting him on the street and let him go. We drove on through Willington towards the M1 and on our route home.

The M1 and the M25 were uncomfortably and unusually quiet until we were held up by four fire engines dealing with a burnt out car. Eventually, we got home around 5.00 pm – a 9 hour journey but largely of our own making. We were certainly tired by then.

Wednesday, 23rd August, 2017

After 9 hrs on the road yesterday, we are certainly jaded and have decided to start back at the Health Club tomorrow. I have to cut the lawns and clean the car today. We have also done our weekly shop. It’s actually a lovely day at 23C/73F with pleasant sunshine.

Not long now until we fly to Greece. That’s why the weather there is changing to strong winds, heavy rain, hail, storms and drops in temperature. The weather in Greece has been as unusual as ours this August. Greece has experienced back-to-back heatwaves reaching quite extreme temperatures and how often do you remember heavy rain in August? Almost never in my experience! Here in UK, we have had one of the coolest, wettest first halves to August for 30 years and it doesn’t really look like improving much any time soon. All we need now is heavy snow across Gran Canaria in November and life will be perfect.

It was reported in the last few days that Greece had seen a 30% drop in travel receipts and arrivals from the United States over the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2016. It may be related to the €/$ rate which has made European travel much more expensive for Americans just as the €/£ rate has arrived at a long term low of £1.00 = €1.08 today and has seen a 25% depreciation of the currency since the Brexit vote. Fortunately, I bought thousands of Euros in anticipation of this decline just after the vote and we are still managing to live on those when we travel.

Thursday, 24th August, 2017

Lovely, fresh Swordfish.

A sunny and warm day which reached 24C/75F in the mid afternoon. We went out to buy fish – Swordfish and Tuna Steaks plus Mackerel fillets – £65.00/€71.00 of future meals. I tested my INR. It is remaining steady at 2.5 and has been within my target for the past 18 months which is pleasing.

We sat in the sun in our garden this morning but it felt lovely to get back in to our pattern of exercise and diet. We went to the Health Club and did 90 mins of cardio exercise and then used the Spa for half an hour. As usual, I easily completed my 10,000 paces target for the day. As a newspaper proclaimed the benefits of 10 mins brisk walk per day, we felt extremely virtuous. We average 65 mins per day every week but completed within 5 exercise days.

Friday, 25th August, 2017

Swordfish griddled in the garden.

Woke to a beautiful day with lovely, strong sunshine and a temperature that reached 25C/77F eventually. I spent a couple of hours valeting the car after our trip to the North of England. We did another session at the Health Club and griddled swordfish steaks outside for our meal. It was delicious.

We are preparing to fly to Greece shortly. Looking forward to hearing the Greek Language and smelling the Greek smell. In the past few days, Greek media has been reporting hug, new waves of migrants arriving in Greece and, today, they have announced that they will be bowing the knee to Europe and accepting the return of swathes of migrants who landed in Greece first before moving on to Germany, France, Sweden, etc.. The weakest must do the work of the richest.

Saturday, 26th August, 2017

Well, Summer has returned. Lovely, clear blue sky and warm sun today reaching 23C/74F. It was comfortable in our garden to sit out and chat. We are talking through travel for 2018. We have tentatively come to the conclusion that we might rent a villa in the south of France for June-July and then fly to Greece to spend 2 or 3 weeks on an island followed by a week in Athens in September. Currently, we are thinking of Poros where our friend, Elerania’s parents have holiday lets. It is close to Athens as well. We might even pop over there in the next couple of weeks to check it out.

Week 451

Sunday, 13th August, 2017

Glorious day of warmth and bright sunshine. Had intended to go to the Health Club but the garden was too enticing. We spent the morning in the sunshine reading papers and discussing future plans. Particularly, today, we are discussing garden development.

We intend to have some hard landscaping done to extend and widen the patio  walkways and cut down on the lawn which looks nice but doesn’t get used. We want to take advantage of the climate down here and plant some fruit trees that we couldn’t grow in Yorkshire. Particularly, we are thinking of plum, cherry and peach. We want smaller, controlled trees that don’t require ladders to maintain. Fruit trees come on a huge variety of root stocks for that very purpose. ‘Pixy’ rootstock confines the tree’s growth to 6Ft – 8ft which will be plenty for our garden. We think they should do well here. certainly, the figs are fruiting and the olive tree, slightly unbelievably, is also producing masses of fruit. Whether they come to maturity is still to be seen but it’s a start!

Monday, 14th August, 2017

Lovely, sunny and warm morning. I have been doing some research on my home village of Repton in the East Midlands. In shoring up my memories of my past, my website is being prepared to store historical photographic records of Repton which will be allied to a presentation of the Sanders Family History for which we will be eternally grateful to cousin David. I hope to complete this in the next few days so that I can push ahead with Pauline’s family tree before we go away to Greece.

Talking of Greece, our garden here is fragrant with the smell of fig trees which anyone who has lived with them in the Med. would recognise immediately. Suddenly, the Brown Turkey is producing lots of fruitlets. The Rouge de Bordeaux is only just beginning to produce fruit buds. The smell of the figs today is mixing with the smell of griddled courgette slices. We do so much cooking outside that I ordered a more commercial griddle unit (£200.00/€220.00) and had a power unit installed on the garage wall outside. Today the griddle arrived and we have used it to cook vegetables and salmon. It is excellent for the job but very heavy to carry when I move it to store in the garage.

Tuesday, 15th August, 2017

On the day when the Meteorological Office (UK) told us that the south east of England had experienced its coldest first half of August for 30 years, the temperature reached 25C/77F in lovely, strong sun from delightful, blue skies. I’m sure you will be excited to read that I had a ‘free’ haircut by my wife. I still haven’t paid for a haircut since 1969 and must work out how much I’ve saved in that time.

I cut the lawns and then we went to the Health Club after three days away from it. It’s amazing how much easier exercising is after a few ‘rest’ days. Unfortunately, the better weather brought out the crowds and we were unable to swim outside so it is a two-edged sword. Even so, we felt much better after it. Pauline griddled chicken outside which we ate with salad.

Argassi, Zakynthos 36 years on.

It is 36 years ago this month that our Greek sojourn began with a 3 week holiday on the quiet, under-developed, Ionian island of Zakythnos. In those days, it didn’t have an airport and we flew to Athens and then took a bus to the Peloponnese port of Kylini where we went by ferry to the island. We stayed in a house in Argassi which was a quiet village with two restaurants and a roadside fruit shop. It was our first holiday together, our first time flying and our first time in hot sun. For a couple of days we hated it and wondered how we would survive three weeks. By the end, we didn’t want to go home.

We have spent time in Greece every year since then. I don’t think we will be going back to the now party island, Zakythnos. Anyway, this summer, it is on fire. The authorities have declared a State of Emergency with over 20 serious wild fires breaking out and destroying acres of woodland. As usual, the government minister has declared it to be deliberate arson. Usually, this accusation is accompanied by the theory that developers want to clear designated ‘forest’ for development. The current state of the economy rather belies that and furious islanders have refuted it. The government are rapidly rowing back from these words.

Wednesday, 16th August, 2017

Up and out early this morning. Pauline had a 9.00 am appointment at the Beauty Parlour in Rustington for a facial and neck massage. I can’t think of anything worse but she likes it.

It was a lovely, sunny and warm (22C/70F) day with just a hint of breeze. We got home to drink coffee in the sunshine in the garden. Out to the Health Club for a couple of hours including a successful swim outside in the sunshine.

This evening, we were watching an emotional programme called Long Lost Family where people who have failed to find missing members of the family enlist the help of the professionals. So often it is people who were given up for adoption and are looking for some sense of connection. Usually, it has dominated their lives – the sense of not belonging, of not knowing their origin and a sense of rejection. Finding a relative usually releases a great flood of emotion that has been largely contained all their lives.

The surroundings of Helme Village.

In the programme tonight, a fresh faced man was looking desperately for his Father who he had never met or even seen a picture of. As he was interviewed, my mind kept telling me that his face was familiar. I still don’t know why even now but it soon became apparent that he was from the small, Yorkshire hamlet in the Green Belt on the Pennines where we had lived for years. We lived in Helme village for nearly 20 years and he had been a lad growing up there. For a while our memories rehearsed those years. We left in 2000. So much has happened since then mostly for the better. We feel so lucky when we wake each day and embrace the future.

Thursday, 17th August, 2017

The Summer is running away. Today opened warm but wet but soon turned blue skies and lovely sunshine  with a temperature of 22C/70F. We did our weekly shop and then spent a couple of hours exercising at the Health Club. We have done 10 sessions in the past 14 days averaging one hour continuous cardio workout per day for the past two weeks. Well, I feel fit!

Today there has been a terror attack (Dare I call it that?) in Barcelona. A reference to it popped up on Faceache and it featured a report from The Manchester Evening News. As I browsed the article which conflated the Manchester Bombing at the Ariana Grande concert with the Barcelona attack today. The link was a youngish man who was at the earlier concert and just escaped the bomb blast and then was in the Barcelona area of the terror attack today. As I stared at this report and read the young man’s name, I suddenly realised I knew him. In fact I taught him some 15 years ago. After my report of yesterday’s experience, I’m wondering which coincidence will complete the trilogy.

Friday, 18th August, 2017

Very muggy night and early morning. We have jobs to do today. We will be away on Monday when the refuse collection comes round so we are off  to the local tip to dispose of our own. Later, Pauline completes her beauty routine by having her hair done in Worthing and I will be allowed to sit in a coffee shop with my iPad.

The Joys of west Sussex.

When we were retiring and looking to move south, I fancied living in Kent because I thought it would give us easier access to Europe and, as the Garden of England, might make growing fruit and vegetables more enjoyable. We did tour the Kent coast and didn’t really find anywhere we really liked. Most places we visited were rather run down and under-invested. Pauline fancied Surry followed by Sussex and spent half a year researching places, getting me to visit places. Eventually, we settled on Surrey and a Duplex Apartment. It was fine while we spent half the year in Greece but, as soon as that ceased, we knew communal living wasn’t for us. Pauline decided on Sussex and then West Sussex and then on Littlehampton and then on Angmering. I’m so glad she did.

The Daily Telegraph reviewed a report today published by Prudential Insurance about the best places in Britain to retire to. After considering a number of factors including disability-free life expectancy, access to healthcare, crime levels, pensioner populations, healthy lifestyles and the weather, it pronounced West Sussex as the top choice followed by Dorset. They could have added buoyant house prices and fantastic shopping services to that list plus easy access to Gatwick airport. All of these things combine to make retirement here pleasurable.

Saturday, 19th August, 2017


A quiet day today because we have a long drive tomorrow. It is a warm, mainly sunny day. I valeted the car this morning in strong, hot sunshine and I was just about to mow the lawns when a large, grey cloud came over and dumped a quick but heavy shower on us. Fortunately, I had just put my gleaming car back in the garage and hadn’t got the mower out. After just 20 mins, the sun was back out so we could set up the griddle to cook our meal. Today it is Filet Steak (so long since we ate red meat) with tarragon mustard sauce and onions and mushrooms.

While we were cooking, I had time to check the fig bushes. I’m not sure this fruit will make it to maturity but the budding fruitlets should mature next Autumn as long as I can keep them going over winter.

I am continuing work on the village of my birth/youth – Repton in Derbyshire. At one end of High Street is The Square where our family lived and at the other end is The Cross where the Church and the public school is. I am really only interested in a pictorial record of the village. None of us lives there any more but we all harbour memories, mental video tape of our pasts. I am using two sources:

  • A History of Repton by Robert Bigsby (Pub. 1854)
  • Repton Remembered by Repton Village History Group (Pub. 1987)

They have a wealth of material to play with. We are driving to Lancashire early tomorrow so those pleasures will be deferred until we return.

Week 450

Sunday, 6th August, 2017

How many people do you know who have maintained a Diary for 450 consecutive weeks? Nor me. Sheer madness!

I’m afraid that today is a low news day or was until late afternoon. It was quite delightful, Summer weather with warm sunshine across our garden all day. I wasn’t there. I sat in the Lounge reading the newspaper and watching the Test Match which, weather permitting, England should win easily. I also watched a bit of the Charity Shield – Arsenal v Chelsea but got rather bored.

I went outside and the Pop Festival a couple of miles away could be heard, faintly, struggling across the fields and through a new housing development. Much more excitingly, I found the two sticks I had bought back in May were starting to produce fruit.








Back in May – just 3 months ago – I received by mail order two, green sticks which I was told were two, different varieties of fig. I potted them up and just kept them fed and watered. Now, they are about 3 feet tall and, today, I noticed the first budding fruits which should ripen for picking next year. I told you that I would keep you informed and I will continue to do so. We were also given what I thought was an ‘ornamental’ olive tree. It is now covered in olives and they are swelling rapidly. I have high hopes of them.

I hope I live to see my wife making  and marketing her famous fig jam as well as cold press, West Sussex olive oil. I will give a free jar/bottle to the first reader to request it around 2020.

Monday, 7th August, 2017

Today is a lovely, warm-not-hot (22C/70F) and everywhere looks ‘Summery’. It is a day to appreciate being alive whatever one’s age. Of course, old men are more inclined to dwell on this than the young but such is life. Had a lovely morning with the cricket which ended this afternoon in England concluding a Series win over the South Africans at Old Trafford.

Sisters Janey & Florrie

We did our own workout at the Health Club which gives me other reasons to reminisce. Do you see familiar faces from the past in those around you in the present? I am always walking past someone and, tugging Pauline’s arm, I whisper, That’s John Jones or whoever. Usually, it is someone who exhibits a few characteristics of a person from my past – their walking style, their figure or their face.  In the last few days, Pauline and I have both independently seen a woman walking around the Health Club pool and, as we’ve left, said, I saw Auntie Florrie this afternoon.

Florrie (born 1906) was Pauline’s Mum’s sister. She died in 1995 aged 89. An impressive woman who had come through a hard life with tenacity and inner strength, she walked with a ramrod straight back and sense of real deportment.  She spoke with a broad, Lancashire accent until she answered the phone, at which point, she became the Queen.The woman in the Health Club was the spitting image – almost too alike to be comfortable. I had to fight back the urge to ask her if she was called Florence!

Tuesday, 8th August, 2017

The Summer continued with warm rain. We enjoyed a morning mooching and indulging ourselves as if we had been given an unexpected day off work. I was working on the pages of my website which had been giving me trouble for a couple of months. I am a natural prevaricator and have put off addressing the software problems thrown up by a ten year old, school copy of Macromedia Dreamweaver which I had been using at work and which I brought away with me when I retired in 2009. It is the same with most of my software. I haven’t really felt the need to update Ms Office 2010 or Adobe Acrobat 8.1 because it still does the limited jobs I require.

I love the web design package provided by Dreamweaver which I combine with Fireworks, the image manipulation software. Dreamweaver incorporates an FTP client which makes it all so handy. Unfortunately, it is that element which has stopped working and I’ve had to download a separate software facility to do the job. This is annoying and clumsy but effective.

Wednesday, 9th August, 2017

Two days ago, I wrote about Pauline’s Auntie Florrie who died over 20 years ago aged 89. Today, we have learned of the sad death of her daughter, Vivienne, who had been trying to assert life over cancer for the past few months. She died last night aged 74. We send our sincerest condolences to Richard and the family.

In years gone by, 74 would have been talked about as a ‘good age’ to achieve. Nowadays, it feels unacceptably young. And yet, Vivienne had cheated cancer once before many years ago and gone on to live a very happy life. Only days ago, she returned from her final holiday abroad. It was a last act of defiance. Let’s hope we all have that chance.








The black & white photo above is Vivienne with a dribbling Pauline some 64 years ago. It was taken in the back garden of their house in Holly Lane, Hollins, Oldham. Pauline took me back there last year.

Thursday, 10th August, 2017

Well, it is beginning to look a lot like Autumn has arrived in the first half of August. Lots of rain and cool temperatures are not what we expect. The change seemed to coincide with the start of the school holidays. Farmers are starting to worry about harvesting crops because they need a settled period of dry weather to raise the quality of their produce. Mother Nature, however, just steams on and the blackberries at the side of the railway track running down the side of Tesco’s carpark in Littlehampton are already swelling in size and turning a juicy black.

We’ve spent another couple of hours in a quiet Health Club. We had thought that school holidays would see lots of kids turning up with harassed parents but quite the reverse. They must have all gone on holiday. We are really glad that we chose to go abroad either side of the school holidays. There are real benefits to being retired!

Friday, 11th August, 2017

A pleasantly warm morning but not high summer. We are going to the North to attend a funeral but also to visit Mum’s grave in time for her birthday. She would be 94 a week on Tuesday. We are going to stay in Haydock for a couple of days. Never been there before. May never go there again but it will be interesting for a couple of days. I suspect it will contrast starkly with Athens where we are heading very soon.

A trip to Sainsbury’s today continued the Autumnal theme first identified in Tesco yesterday. The hedge around Sainsbury’s was fecund with ripening elderberries. The birds are certainly going to get fat or diarrhetic on the bounty. We, on the other hand, are continually trying to fight the fat with exercise. We did another couple of hours at the Health Club today. It was our 6th session in 7 days and we were beginning to feel it by the end. Probably have tomorrow off.

Saturday, 12th August, 2017

Congratulations to Jane & David on 40 years of marriage. Pauline tells me that it is a Ruby Wedding celebration. Good luck with that!

At least they will be able to celebrate by watching the football. Last night was the opening of the new, Premier League season with a great game which Arsenal narrowly squeaked over Leicester City and there are more games today, tomorrow and Monday. Pauline will banish me to watch in the Office. After the football, Jane & David can lie back in their garden up in Yorkshire tonight and watch the Perseid Meteor Shower if they don’t die from hyperthermia first!

Just for Jane, Huddersfield won 3.0 and are top of the Premier League. I never doubted it.