Week 462

Sunday, 29th October, 2017

Lovely sunny day and surprisingly warm in our garden. Pauline’s been cooking all morning again with supplies of sauces and pickles streaming from the kitchen. I’ve been watching political analysis programmes and reading the papers. Someone’s got to do it.

We’ve done a session at the Health Club which was surprisingly busy for a Sunday and then come home to eat homemade fishcakes which Pauline made from trout. We ate them with broad beans and broccoli. If anyone ate at a better meal today, I’d like to see it.

Watched Leicester beat Everton this afternoon. Why does it take the sacking of a manager to motivate them? Once again, they looked a changed team and Vardy, in particular, looked much more committed.

Monday, 30th October, 2017

What a glorious day – warm and sunny. I spent a couple of hours fully valeting the car under sunny, blue skies and a temperature of 16C/61F. We did a full exercise routine but swimming outside in strong, low Autumn sunshine was magical.

We have been buying and driving Hondas since 1984 when we first bought a new Accord. Brand loyalty over 33 years has had its benefits and we have even been offered places on development committees in Swindon in the past. Currently, we are driving a CRV and it is our 12th or 13th. It is a 2.0 ltr., petrol, automatic. We’ve had it for about 16 months and done only 11, 500 mls./18,500 kms.. It is well kitted out with leather seats, sat.nav/infotainment + wifi centre, climate control and cruise control. However, we are always on the look out for new models with new gadgets and, this morning, we received the latest news of a new CRV which was exhibited at the Tokyo Motor Show.

A sign of the times, Diesel has been completely dropped but a Hybrid is being introduced. I would consider that if it doesn’t limit the distance I can drive. If the petrol engine contributes to the charging of the electrical power and the two work symbiotically, I would seriously consider buying one. It wouldn’t be for the ‘green’ credentials but for lower running costs. We do a lot of short journeys interspersed with huge drives. Most days, we do less than 10 miles whereas, sometimes, I want to be able to do 700 miles in a day. The short journeys mean our petrol consumption is dreadful. With automatic transmission and permanent climate control on, our consumption averages 22 mpg. On a long journey, we can get 33 mpg. If I can improve on that, I would really consider hybrid.

Tuesday, 31st October, 2017

A surprisingly warm day that touched 16C/61F once again. The breeze made it feel a bit fresher as we walked outside to the pool and walked back dripping wet.

I have been plateau-ing with my weight for quite a while but, in the past month or so, by not drinking alcohol and by just tightening up a little on my intake allied to my exercise, I have lost just about 3 kgs. It has given me the incentive to push on again and I am going to use the month which we should have been spending indulging ourselves in Gran Canaria to be increasingly circumspect and determined to edge my weight down some more. In fact, we are going to hold on to that determination as long as we can through Christmas and New Year and on until we start travelling again which should be March/April time.

It is another of those commercial captures of pagan/folk/religious customs which in this case is called Halloween. The indulgence of parents in their children is incredible to behold. I begin to think the parents get more out of it than their kids. I remember that, as an English teacher, I was told that kids love literature based on ghosts, supernatural events, etc.. They may do but I could never get interested in it myself. I always wanted fact-based reading. While others read sci-fi or fantasy, I read biography or history. My objection to religion always was that it was akin to believing in fairies.

Shop in France this week and you will never get away from Halloween paraphernalia. I believe that is the same in the USA. Around us parents have been decorating the outside of their houses with ‘ghostly dressings’ to demonstrate their commitment to positive parenting. We are expecting knocks on the door from some softly spoken, middle class kids shyly enquiring, Trick or Treat. I am desperate to answer, Trick, just to see what they will do but Pauline won’t allow me. She has bought a basket of revolting sweets to make them sick. They are ready on the hall console table waiting for the bell to ring.

Wednesday, 1st November, 2017

We said Goodbye to October 2017 with a very pleasant day and we are welcoming November 2017 with an absolutely beautiful morning. Clear blue skies, strong sunshine and a temperature of 13C/56F at 8.00 am. We are having a day off from routine and going shopping in Worthing. I hate shopping but I have to support Pauline in one of her pleasures.

As we ambled through Worthing town centre, we happened upon Maplin. It is one of my favourite shops because it sells all sorts of electrical and computer gadgets. I’ve been thinking of extending our home Wi-Fi so it can be used in the garden and I had been looking at solutions in Maplin online.

Today, for the mere outlay of £60.00/€69.00, I bought a Wi-Fi power line solution. It consists of a plug-in hub extender or hotspot which is connected to my hub by Ethernet cable and the house electrical circuit by three pin plug. I have two, additional mini Wi-Fi hotspots which I plug in to an outdoor socket and another in the kitchen.

I’ve used these before and found them very annoying because we had to set up new hub identities and make sure our mobile apparatus are constantly re-switched to the appropriate hub. This one now allows me to clone my hub settings to all the hotspots which alleviates that problem. I have yet to test the strength outside but I hope to when the strong sun allows me to see my iPad screen.

The temperature in town reached 17C/63F which is not bad for the first day of November. The newspapers seem to be full of dire warnings about this winter being the coldest and hardest for over five years. We may really regret giving up our Canary Island trip after all.

It always shocks me that our multi storey carpark looks out over the sea. Living here, one often forgets how close we are to the shore as we go about our everyday lives. We always park on the top floor (roof) of the carpark and the views are lovely at any time of year. Today, late autumn sunshine bathes the sea and the roof tops, backlighting the wind farm off the coast line and the hazy cloud that is gathering from Brighton in the east.

Thursday, 2nd November, 2017

Beautiful Autumn Day over the South Downs

A gorgeous, gorgeous day from start to finish. Blue sky and warm sunshine throughout.  I mowed the lawns. Morning was shopping and afternoon was exercising.


The changing season means that the strong, low sun dips behind surrounding hedges and buildings as we swim outside in the pool but the clear, blue sky is constantly reflected in the warm water. I do 0.5 km per day and 5 sessions per week after an hour in the gym. I manage my 10,000+ paces at least five days per week and try to supplement with other activities on my day off. It certainly feels good. Today was a delightfully quiet one at the David Lloyd Health Club and we had the pool to ourselves.

We drove home and griddled chicken out in the garden. It is hard to believe that we are in to November. Actually, we should have arrived in Gran Canaria today for a 28 day indulgence in the sun. We are not there because we had deliberately booked a 5* hotel which was closed throughout the summer months for total refurbishment. We thought it would just be opening, freshly minted, as we arrived. Unfortunately, redevelopment hit a snag and the reopening is delayed. We were forced to cancel because we didn’t want the alternative offered. We are trying to use that change to work on our fitness and weight loss.

Friday, 3rd November, 2017

Worthing Panorama

Early out to Worthing this morning in lovely sunshine which quickly clouded over as we got there. Took a widespread shot of the streets below us as we parked on the top of the multi-storey. Buying Christmas cards today. If you get one, it will feature a robin so be prepared. I must admit I would email everyone but it doesn’t quite seem socially acceptable at the moment. I think that five more years may see that change.

The sun came out again as we drove out for another lovely session at the Health Club. That is five this week and we may do Saturday as well. My body seems to be holding up better now so we will try.

Saturday, 4th November, 2017

The local rugby club held its annual firework display last night. It was a lovely, moonlit evening. They certainly made a good decision because this morning has opened with torrential rain. Although it feels like a day to stay in doors, we may make a trip to the gym but miss out the outdoor swimming today.

Pauline is busy making chutney. The kitchen is pervaded with the aroma of raw and cooking onions. She is looking like an advert for perpetual motion and is in complete contrast to me at my keyboard. This is one of the reasons why I always have the tendency to put on weight while Pauline remains sylph-like. My interests are basically cerebral, sedentary ones whereas Pauline loves practical activity. I’m going to have to get a walker to stand on while I’m writing and reading.

Wonderful food of Bologna!

Pauline and I have always lived to eat rather that eaten to live and it is ironic now that I live on permanently restricted foods and calories. Foods are restricted because of my life long coagulant control medication which means I can’t eat much of all those lovely, low calorie things like lettuce, cabbage, sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, etc. These are high in Vitamin-K which counteracts my medication. My calories have to be restricted to 1800 per day because I am retired and not constantly running round buildings shouting at people. I do contribute 600 calories 5 times per week by exercising which allows me to eat a bit more but I try to ‘bank’ those to encourage my weight loss. We did our 90 minutes in the gym and pool this afternoon by the way.

Beautiful Bologna!

Pauline has a room lined with cookery books and we are cookery programme addicts on television. I always appreciated the permanently inebriated Keith Floyd who really set the standard for modern cooks to follow. Elizabeth David was just a bit early for us although it is her style of Mediterranean cooking that we prefer. I love the soft, gentle, natural, slightly unvarnished flavours of the Med. where the strongest influence in flavour seems to be olive oil, garlic and tomato. I can’t abide the brash, palate-destroying flavours of chilli pepper or curry powder. Fish has become our passion in retirement and Rick Stein is a favourite chef of ours (although he has gone through a phase of destroying dishes with chilli flakes. An Oxford graduate, he combines intelligence, literary knowledge with simple cooking. This morning, he was presenting a weekend of exploring food and cooking in Bologna. As it is only just over three months since we were there, the shots of all the lovely places we explored brought back delightful memories.

Week 461

Sunday, 22nd October, 2017

Happy 60th birthday to my little twin sister and brother, Liz & Mike. Who would have believed that even they would eventually age?

Quite a chilly day which only reached 13C/56F although there was plenty of sunshine. Storm Brian turned out to be something of a damp squib no more than a strong breeze. My lawns, which are cut to winter length, looked like lush green sea in the wind but that was about it. The clocks go back next week but we have anticipated the changing season by roasting our first pheasant for nearly a year. I’m still in short sleeved shirts but it feels as if I won’t be for much longer. Now is the time to regret not looking for a replacement to our cancelled month in the sun in the Canaries.

Today, political programmes accompanied by the Sunday papers have been on the agenda followed by watching a poor Everton side be easily overhauled by Arsenal which may well lead to the third Premier League manager to go this season. In idle moments, we have been discussing and researching a springtime trip to Rome to keep us moving.

Monday, 23rd October, 2017

A dull and dank day only reaching 16C/61F. Every time we go away and use someone else’s Wi-Fi network, one of us finds our email service splutters and causes send and/or receive problems on our return home. Invariably, it rights itself over the next few days but, as the computer literate member of the house, it is my responsibility to sort it out. Wherever we go, we carry smartphones and iPads which have to pick up the hotel’s wi-fi network and it is this which sparks the problem. It knocked out Pauline’s email service this time. I could get it to receive but not to send. It has taken me quite a few hours to sort t out but we are breathing more easily now.

I have an apology to make. Little Lizzie Dripping has confirmed what my eldest sister, Ruth, had already told me. I have been sending her birthday congratulations a day late for years. She and Mike were 60 on Saturday. I have altered my on-line calendar to reflect that for subsequent years. I apologise for that but not for her other complaint which was that I had chosen photos that made her brother look sexier than her. Well, I can see her point!

She prefers to have herself represented by this photo taken over the weekend in Budapest. She’s a lovely girl although I’m not sure about the jacket. Probably picked it up in a Tyneside Charity shop. I know I am old and my judgement is suspect but I don’t think she looks 60.

Tuesday, 24th October, 2017

Somehow, as one gets older, medical problems play more heavily with one’s mind and emotions. This morning, we were out early for 8.00 am dental check-ups. We have joined a new dentist. It was proving too far to drive back to Surrey every time we needed treatment. At one time, we were even travelling to central London to visit a dentist. Today and quite prosaicly, we visited the new dentist surgery in Sainsbury’s. It is impossible to get an NHS dentist so we have bought dental plans which only cost £100.00/€111.60 for 12 months and provide an initial check-up plus x-rays followed by 2 trips to the dentist plus 2 hygienist treatments per year.

As I went through my initial check-up, he was announcing to his assistant, Upper 4 – bad staining bone loss 4, lower right 7, bad staining and bone loss 3, etc.. X-rays were taken and flashed up on the screen before me in negative format. It made my teeth look terrible rather than just well lived in. Internally, I shrank in humiliation. I must admit that I have never liked dentists and once went for ten years without visiting one. I do clean my teeth twice a day but the task is performed fairly perfunctorily. I like hygienists even less. They definitely hurt me as they probe my gums and I avoid them like the plague. I drink coffee and red wine and that stains my teeth which are difficult to keep white. Effectively, I have old man’s teeth. At least I don’t chew baccy.

When we got home, I had an email from the Haematology Team at Worthing Hospital giving me an appointment to meet them to discuss my warfarin use. While we were discussing dates on my diary, the postman delivered a heat pad that Pauline had ordered to help me ease the pain I am experiencing from my ‘frozen shoulder’. Nothing more than this makes me feel old. It is debilitating and limiting and the heat pad is so reminiscent of the sort of thing your Granny might be seen using that I wanted to hide it and go out for a game of rugby. I did neither, of course, and using it today has definitely helped. Just don’t tell anyone.

Wedesday, 25th October, 2017

The last week of October. We swam outside in 18C/65F with warm sun on our backs. What a delight.

In Greece, the weather has taken an autumnal turn. It was the final rehearsal for lighting the Olympic Flame to be taken to Pyeongchang, South Korea for the Winter Olympics in February next year. The lack of sun was the problem and the torch was only lit on the third attempt due to cloudy weather. Greece is not the place to be as the weather turns down towards winter – not if you like comfort anyway. Particularly not if you would rather avoid leaks and draughts.

I am falling in to bad ways again. I had about 40 bottles of Colgate Gum Health Mouthwash and, over the past 18 mnths, that has dwindled to only 8. I was beginning to feel uncomfortable at that exposure.

After forensic research, I found it being sold at £2.50/€2.81 per unit from Superdrug as opposed to the headline figure of £5.30/€5.95 . Pauline ordered in bulk and we went to pick them up. They will now grace bathroom cabinets until I get down to 6 or so and feel the need to stock up future reserves.

Thursday, 26th October, 2017

A warm night was followed by a warm day which reached 20C/68F by mid-afternoon. We spent a chunk of the morning visiting three different supermarkets sourcing lots of different items that Pauline had researched in advance. We were delighted to find lovely, big swordfish steaks which have been absent for a couple of weeks. I’ve been getting withdrawal symptoms. We grilled them outdoor for our meal this afternoon after returning from the Health Club. However, something amusing happened at our final shop – Tesco.

I love tech and gadgets. I like to use my smartphone to facilitate things so I’ve been delighted to see Tesco develop a ‘smart pay’ system that incorporates the club card and cashless payment system. Shopping is ‘scan as you shop’ with a barcode reader handset which is really useful and quick. Really, we hardly need a shop assistant at all. Having filled our bags in our trolley with a total of about £115.00/€130.00 of groceries, we just read it on to the POS terminal and then scan our smartphone apps to collect points and pay.

On this occasion, however, all did not go to plan. The scanner refused to read my phone code and I had to seek assistance from the helper who was loitering for that purpose. He was a middle aged man with a thick Irish brogue. He was delightful but new nothing about the automatic checkout system. He immediately looked totally out of his depth and confessed that he had never dealt with such a problem before. Unlike some of his younger colleagues who panic when faced with this type of problem, he was a picture of amused calmness. You have to imagine this being voiced in thick, Irish accent. He said, Have you tried to pay the  £115.00 for your shopping? Yes, you have. There is nothing more that you can do. Take it and go. I don’t have a problem with that. We did a double take and both agreed that we didn’t need to steal £115.00 of shopping from anybody even Tesco. We went to a different checkout point and everything sailed through. We drove home with an easy conscience and a real sense of righteousness.

Friday, 27th October, 2017

Gorgeous, mild day. I noted that Yorkshire experienced frost in the countryside. We had clear skies and half a moon last night but didn’t fall below 12C/54F. Blue skies this morning were graduated by high flying jet trace lines as planes soared out of Gatwick across the Channel.

Down below, I was mowing the lawn. Of course, it has to be cut much higher at this time of year and we are rumoured to be in line for a few cold days soon so all the more important to protect it. Talking about protection, we called in to the garden centre to buy a couple of fleece hoods to protect our fig trees if the weather looks like it may get down to freezing. I don’t think that happened last year but it’s good to be prepared.

Thought I would share this letter with you that I picked up on Twitter. It really appealed to me because it nicely illustrated the problem one has in arguing with many Brexiteers who just blithely shout, What are we waiting for? Out means out. Get on with it! When it is suggested that they haven’t fully understood the complexities of their position, they reply that it is boring and reside in a complacent, Everything will be fine. The letter was written by a constituent to his MP and is an allegory of the Brexit process.

Saturday, 27th October, 2017

Cold night and chilly start to the morning. Turned in to the most gloriously sunny day which reached 16C/61F but felt warmer in the sun. In spite of the lovely weather, we haven’t gone to the Health Club.

It is baking and preserving Saturday here. Pauline is making savoury sources, pickles, jams and making the Christmas cake. It is a hive of industry and the smells are to die for. I have been feeling hungry all day. In her spare time, Pauline knocked up a delicious, home-made tomato soup and we followed that with sprattus sprattus or whitebait from the Baltic Sea and garlic sauce and salad. feels like the Summer’s back!

Summertime officially ends in the early hours of tomorrow morning and the clocks go back one hour. Gone are the days that we have a major task adjusting clocks and watches. We have 4 radio alarms, a kitchen wall clock, two smartphones, two laptops and a desktop computer that all adjust themselves over night. I have two clocks to fix in the morning on my coffee maker and on the oven. Why on earth anyone needs a clock on their coffee maker, I’ll never know. I want my cappuccino at 7.57 am precisely. Why? It switches of automatically having rinsed itself anyway. The problem is that I can’t turn my coffee maker on each morning and see the wrong time. It would really work me up.

Of course, the time saved in bed is no longer relevant to us. Workers will appreciate it but shirkers like us will hardly miss a beat. The real upside is lighter mornings which encourage one to get out and active and darker, ‘tucked up’ evenings which suit our pattern much better.

Week 460

Sunday, 15th October, 2017

The Great Storm of ’87.

As the Blog enters its 460th week, we are shocked to realise that it is 30 years ago today that UK was hit by the Great Storm which Michael Fish so famously missed. The sense of 30 years is hard to quantify. It sounds a lot but feels a little. October 1987 feels well within touch to me even though I would have to research my life to pin point it in my history. Even more incredible is the news that some parts of Britain are to be hit by a ferocious storm once again in the next 48 hrs. It could coincide with us driving up the country to Yorkshire so we are hoping for the best.

Feeling more like summer than summer, everything reverts to type. The gym was quiet and the pool was delightful as we swam with warm sun on our backs. We are sitting outside or inside with the doors open. We are cooking outside and eating summer food not menus more associated with winter. Today, Marides, Skordalia and Horiatiki cooked in the sunshine and eaten in delightful warmth.

Monday, 16th October, 2017

After a warm night, we got up to a morning which read 18C/65F at 7.00 am.We set off for the Health Club at around 1.00 pm but, as soon as we entered the carpark, we knew that it wouldn’t be enjoyable today. The carpark was packed and there must have been a special event on today. We turned around immediately and went for a healthy walk on the coastal path. As we went down on to the beach between Worthing and Brighton around 2.00 pm, we were aware that something strange was happening to the sky. It was going dark but fluorescent with flashes of orange.

By the time we got home the light was … dark. There was a dramatic and fluorescent deep orange light which made the world look like a stage set. You could be forgiven in thinking that we were experiencing an eclipse. At 3.00 pm, street lights were on. I thought we were uniquely experiencing this in West Sussex until I turned on the national weather and found people from North and South were seeing the same thing. The explanation for this phenomenon seems to be that clouds were carrying Saharan dust. At least we didn’t get the winds or the rain just the dramatic light.

Tuesday, 17th October, 2017

Lovely, West Sussex morning. Bags packed, passports dusted off, car ready and we are off on our pilgrimage to Yorkshire. We expect to take about 5 hrs with a coffee break built in. Of course, much will depend on the M25 and the M1. Recent trips suggest we would be wrong to assume anything.

Of course, this may be one of our last trips as Lancashire and Yorkshire are isolated by a hard border after Brexit. Looking forward to inflation figures out today. Suggestions this morning are that it may come inaround 3.0% – 3.1% which would strengthen the pound because it would move an interest rise even more into focus. It would also increase our inflation-proofed teachers’ pensions by that amount which would be nice. It is unlikely that teachers’ pay will rise to the same extent. Historically, teachers’ pensions fall behind teachers’ pay. We just happened to be lucky enough to spend nearly a decade of retirement where our pensions have risen by the inflation rate whereas teachers’ pay has retreated considerably. Effectively cut. Why would anyone be a teacher currently?

Great drive which took five hours including two coffee breaks. The sun shone throughout although the temperature didn’t get above 16C/60F. The M25 was reasonable and the M1 was unusually quiet which meant that we arrived at our hotel relaxed and happy. We are looking forward to visiting Oldham tomorrow morning and then meeting up with friends in a Bistro in Thongsbridge later in the afternoon.

Wednesday, 18th October, 2017

Hollinwood Crematorium

Beautiful, sunny day but cold – 8C/46F at 9.00 am. It is Pauline’s Mum’s 7th anniversary of her death. We drove over to Hollinwood Crematorium to commemorate the day. The grounds are delightful in the middle of an area blighted by decaying mills and terraced houses. Of course, every year when we visit, the signs of natural decay, brought on by Autumn, are everywhere.

Hollinwood Crematorium

Today, the sun backlit the autumnal trees and the scent of damp, dead leaves was heavy in the air. We followed the ritual of visiting the Book of Commemoration which is always turned to the current day. We stand before it and this moment forces us to focus on the memories for a few minutes. We hug and then take a slow walk to the tree where Pauline scattered her ashes. Today, we were greeted by an excitable, little poodle which was so full of energy and wanted to play so totally unaware of the sadness of the moment.

Yorkshire was beautiful but very cold.

Our responsibility fulfilled for another year, we returned to the bustle of life. We drove back to Yorkshire over the A62 and returned to our hotel suite to watch Prime Minister’s Questions. May was seriously dreadful today. She looked like a woman who had lost all authority and confidence. She is not good at thinking on her feet at the best of times. Today, she looked as if she couldn’t think where she’d left her feet.

We left at 1.30 pm for a drive to Thongsbridge near Holmfirth. We were meeting an old, school friend at a new Bistro for a late lunch. Philomena Fogg’s Bistro turned out to be in the most unlikely old mill complex. It was packed and we soon found out why. We ordered a fish platter and a vegetable platter for the three of us and accompanied it with sparkling water. It was really enjoyable and two hours of conversation flew by.

Thursday, 19th October, 2017

A foggy morning but not cold. We drove down to Huddersfield town centre to visit the oldest remaining shop in the area. It is C.Booth & Son – Hardware (specialising in Chefs’ knives). It opened in the mid-19th Century but is now going on-line. Pauline has bought a whole collection of kitchen knives over the past 30 – 40 years from this shop and needed a couple of replacements today.

I have twin brother and sister who I still see in my mind’s eye as in their gawky teenage years. On Sunday, they will celebrate their 60th birthdays. Liz is celebrating early with a trip to Budapest. She is soon to retire. Mike’s been retired for a few years. Neither look like teenagers any more but both appear happy in different ways.

We are driving back to Sussex tomorrow. If we set off immediately after breakfast, we should be back by mid afternoon and, especially, before the storm winds which are forecast for the weekend.

Friday, 20th October, 2017

Accident Closed M40.

Up early and a pleasant start to the day – warm and dry. Quick breakfast and checkout and then on to the M62 – M1 – Really going well with good weather and extremely light traffic. Cruise control set, relaxed driving – until we reach the M25. At that point, movement quickly ground to a halt and we took nearly an hour to travel 10 miles. The blame could not be laid on the M25 on this occasion. There was a bad accident that completely closed the M40 and that backed up on to M25 exits which held us up. I bet you’re glad you asked.

Oh, you didn’t. Well, it took us about 5 hours and home looked nice as we walked through the door. The car is in the garage because we are threatened with high winds over night and we are now ‘tucked up. It has been a really enjoyable week but socialising is very tiring and I am glad to be home, working on my web pages, updating my Facebook postings, and my twitter postings, making this dynamic entry in my Blog and watching the last episode of Cold Feet which ended in a crescendo of lunacy. Was it a mistake to revive this vehicle?

Saturday, 21st October, 2017

Fig leaf anyone?

Today is all about the weather. I spent Thursday with my old friend, Brian and now we are meeting his windy namesake as the south coast gets a bit of a blow. We’ve strong gusts laden with heavy rain and even a quick blast of hail but the whole day threaded through with strong sun which makes the garden look, if not feel, like mid summer. The figs have seen this developing around them and decided that there is no point in fighting it. The first leaves have fallen away and scuttled into the corners of the patio.

I am a Man. Utd. supporter but I was terribly torn when they visited Huddersfield Town this afternoon. At times, they were playing in strong winds which were driving sluicing, cold rain. As Huddersfield went 2-0 up and then were pulled back to 2-1, I began to waver. As soon as I was told that Huddersfield had not beaten Man.Utd. since 1952, I really wanted them to hold on to their lead and so they did.

Week 459

Sunday, 8th October, 2017

Stop me if this gets boring but I need to record it. I am currently well into a no-alcohol period that I intend to maintain until 2018. I’m not finding it difficult at all. I don’t need the alcohol although I do enjoy it and love the taste and effect of wine with my meal. However, I found myself becoming too dependent on the expectation of wine with my meal and had to assert my self discipline. I drink sparkling water with food and really enjoy it. I am saving lots of calories that way. However, for variety, I have been drinking Shloer. I don’t know if you’ve tried it but it is said to be made from grape juice without alcohol. I drink the Shloer (light) red and white. It is just 22 calories per glass. The downside is the taste which is too sweet.

Shloer costs between £2.20/€2.45 – £3.00/€3.35 per bottle normally. One of my obsessions is bulk buying bargains. Occasionally, the supermarkets loss-lead Shloer and today was such a day. Asda was advertising it at £1.20/€1.34 per bottle. That was a signal to swoop and corner the market. When we got there this morning, I cleaned them out of Shloer (light) red & white. It was about 40 bottles with which I can decorate the walls of my garage. However, while we were there, we noticed that Asda had introduced their own-brand. It was priced at £1.00/€1.11 per bottle. I bought a couple of bottles of red & white. As soon as we got home, we did a blind tasting. The Asda own-brand is miles nicer. It actually tastes of grape, is only 22 calories per glass and is not sweet. I will have to get some more. My only problem is consuming the 100 or so bottles of ‘sweet’ Shloer that I’ve got in the garage first.

If you think this is all too weird, you are not alone!

Monday, 9th October, 2017

Early start under grey skies. Pauline had a hair appointment in Worthing at Toni & Guy. I spent my customary hour at Starbucks with my iPad and a large café latte which cost me £3.20/€3.60. Can you believe it? Home via the Doctors’ Surgery to book Flu jabs. Pauline is having her anti-Pneumococcal injection as well. I had mine a couple of years ago. This protects against pneumonia, septicaemia, and meningitis. Later, the Health Club will dominate over 2 hours of the afternoon.

Luxury accommodation on Samos.

We are just starting to notice the changing temperatures although we are told that a significantly warmer patch is arriving towards the end of the week. Meanwhile, the last (tourist) stragglers have left the Greek islands – they left Sifnos some time ago – and those remaining are beginning to get ready for colder and wetter days. In anticipation of this, migrants have been making last attempts at safe-ish crossings to paradise (aka Greek islands, aka Europe). Over 2,200 people are staying in and around the Samos migrant camp even though it’s capacity is for 700 people. UNHCR have observed that overcrowded Greek refugee camps are ill-prepared for winter. They might note how much many poor Greeks themselves are prepared for the cold months to come.

Tuesday, 10th October, 2017

Another overcast morning although not cold at 14C/57F. I’m going to cut the lawns again today because they are still growing at quite a pace and are luxuriantly green. Before that, I am indulging another of my addictions – buying watches. What is wrong with me? Perhaps I’m just too self-indulgent.

Five years ago, I bought a simple, Casio Digital Watch that read my heart rate from a chest strap when I was exercising. It was waterproof so I could keep it on all day including when I was swimming. I moved on a couple of years ago to a Pebble watch which pairs with my phone and tells me how many steps I’ve taken. It is waterproof but doesn’t give my heart rate. I tried to buy an upgrade but found Pebble had gone out of business in the two years I’ve owned the watch. Because of all my searching, the algorithms picked up my obsession and directed me to Curry’s who have a special offer on a Garmin watch which does everything I want and I bought it. What will I do with my other two watches? Well Christmas isn’t far away. I’ve got time to wrap them up.

When I went for my annual checkup with my doctor, it was acknowledged that all medication had been removed for treatment of Type 2 Diabetes and that Blood Pressure medication had been reduced. My blood pressure is still persistently on the low side of average so it was suggested further lowering my medication levels of Doxazosin. I’ve done over a week with a halved dosage and found no change in my blood pressure at all. I am working towards ridding myself of all medication apart from a statin.

Wednesday, 11th October, 2017

The temperature didn’t fall below 16C/61F throughout the night but didn’t rise much during today under grey skies. The temperature made 18C/65F at peak and we did get an hour of sunshine at the end of the day but that’s not much use. At least swimming outside this afternoon was enjoyable.

My sister is trying to kill me. I wouldn’t call myself an athlete these days like I was in my youth. I have lost quite a lot of weight but from a disgraceful degree of obesity. However, I do around 8 hours of, for me, reasonably strenuous exercise each week. I certainly feel much fitter than I was even a couple of years ago.

Unfortunately my sister, Jane BG, is very, very fit. She is a ‘runner’ and skinny as a stick. She recently won Sports Coach of the Year at Farnham Sports Awards and has been chosen to represent her country in the Home International in Derry next month. However, she is not content with that, she is trying to entice me in to running outside. I’m afraid, it’s not going to happen. I am happy doing what I do. Jane, on the other hand, seems to get great pleasure out of being a member of the ‘running community’. She is obviously very good at it but then she is so much younger than me.

It always happens when one is nervous and it did today to me. I closed an on-line investment account when the bonus ceased and opened a new one. It meant moving a large amount of money. I did what I always do. I set the transfer process up, sent a £5.00 tester which arrived in the other bank’s account within 2 mins and then sent the large amount with confidence. After 5 mins, it hadn’t arrived. After an hour, it hadn’t arrived. I was getting seriously concerned. The phone rang from someone purporting to be from the Fraud Department of my bank and asking me to provide security information of my account. I was immediately suspicious and said I would phone them back.

When I phoned them back, they kept me waiting for quite a while as they examined my account. Then they passed me to the Fraud Department. You can imagine how I was feeling. After they asked me a string of security questions and telling me my answers had ‘passed the test’, they said an attempt to move a large amount of money had been attempted and flagged up by the computer which automatically blocked it. After I confirmed its legitimacy, it was released and immediately appeared in the new account. And Breathe! What’s the point in on-line banking?

Thursday, 12th October, 2017

Big shopping day. Sainsburys followed by Morrisons, Tesco and Asda. Picked up my new smart watch from Currys and headed home. Glorious weather – like summer revisited. It was so nice that we thought we would go for a walk on the beach. The water was really warm to the touch. The temperature outside was only 18C/65F but it felt very comfortable.

The sea front had plenty of locals walking, playing with their children and dogs. The climate is so benign that one can imagine how healthy this atmosphere is for older people.

We were walking for about an hour and then drove home to enjoy the sunshine in our garden. Today was a non-gym day. A muscle recovery day. Tomorrow will be lawns mowed, car cleaned and full Health Club routine. We are told that he weather will get warmer down here throughout the weekend and beyond with Monday possibly breaking the record for mid-October figures on record.

We are making a pilgrimage to Yorkshire next week as part of our annual calendar of royal visits. We are hoping that the warmer weather accompanies us across the countys’ borders.

Friday, 13th October, 2017

A mild night has led to a mild day which hovered around 18C/65F but under grey skies. Things which looked like they were preparing to shut down growth for winter have started growing again. The tarragon which we had savaged and processed for ‘the last time’ this year is beginning, once again, to get bushy and thick. The lawns are incredibly green and lush. I cut them today and they are looking lovely and healthy.

Did a really hard workout this afternoon and felt absolutely exhausted as we drove home. We are looking forward to visiting old friends and old haunts next week. I am particularly looking forward to revisiting the moors. I love their daunting beauty, their solitude and savagely expanding loneliness.

The contrast with West Sussex is stark. The gentler, softer, green expanses of the South Downs envelope one whereas the Yorkshire Moors almost challenge one to survive in spite of them. In many respects, I found strong echoes of the moors of the North in the expanses of the bleakness and barren views on a Greek island at the end of summer.

Saturday, 14th October, 2017

Pensioners’ Outing today. It was warm over night – 16C/61F – and the day has felt unusually warm although it didn’t get above 20C/68F. The sky was fairly grey and sea mist has descended this evening. We went out to our local GP Practice for our Flu jabs. Our appointments were for 9.15 am and 9.30 am but we soon realised that those times were irrelevant. As we approached the car park we were confronted with two things: firstly there were no parking spaces in an area with more than 100 designated spots and secondly, a queue of grey-haired, old people snaked some 100m from the Surgery door, down the steps and right across the car park. Everyone was there for a vaccination and some for the pneumonia one as well. They all had similar ‘banded times’ to us.

Actually, it didn’t take long and we were on our way. You won’t want to know this but I did a trip to our local garden centre to buy Autumn dressing for the lawns. It feeds grass to get it through the winter and kills off any moss or broad leaved weeds that might have arrived over the summer. Actually, mine are so healthy that they will only need the nourishment but that is what will keep the grass green and growing throughout the cooler months. To cover both lawns only costs about £10.00/€11.24.

It has been a relaxing day to remind us that it is Saturday although I did spend a couple of hours valeting the car in preparation for our voyage to Yorkshire next week. Even so, I only accumulated 7000 paces as against 13000 yesterday. I am slowly getting to grips with the functionality of my new, smart watch and its interface with apps I use like myfitnespal.

Pauline griddled Sea Bass on the bone out in the garden and, just as she finished, the sun came out and bathed everywhere in weak, warm light. These really do feel like bonus days.

Week 458

Sunday, 1st October, 2017






Up early to damp weather outside for this first day of October. The girls left for a trip to Arundel before splitting up with Catherine returning to her house about 5 miles away and Ruth & Jane going to London. Ruth brought each a present from their trip to Brighton yesterday which was very thoughtful of her. Pauline received a bauble commemorating their visit to The Royal Pavilion and I received an amusing book to mark the fact that I have given up alcohol again, this time for a target 4 months. It was lovely to see my sisters in my house but I do find company exhausting. Even so, it was good to do.

We went for a full work out this afternoon. We are going away to see an old work colleague in Poole Harbour later in the week so we will do 2 more sessions at the Health Club before we go. The sun came out around mid day and we had a lovely swim in the out door pool. Sunday is a good one to go to the Health Club because many people choose family time instead of exercise.

One of the topics of conversation that came up with my sisters that they believed I am a Climate Change denier. I am not but I don’t believe that human activity is the main cause of change. I believe, and I think there is plenty of evidence to back this up, that there have been huge shifts in warming and cooling, in heating and cooling which have little causation in earthly activity but are triggered by external factors. An interesting report in The Independent on Saturday says that we are heading for a mini ice age beginning in the next 15 years and mirroring the last one in the second half of the 17th Century. The next one will be slightly mitigated by the recent warming we have experienced and so start from a higher point. Hold the front page: Climate Warming becomes Climate Cooling!

Monday, 2nd October, 2017

Lovely warm and sunny day. We were up early because we were taking the car to have some stone chips re-sprayed. We have a body shop nearby called ChipsAway and they will only have it for the day while we drive around in one of their courtesy cars. It will only cost around £200.00/€230.00 including the replacement car so it’s well worth it.






It is à propos of absolutely nothing but I thought I would just record pictures of my sisters’ trip to Brighton a couple of days ago. They visited The Royal Pavilion and then the British Airways Brighton i360. We haven’t even been there ourselves. They seem to have really enjoyed what was quite a tiring escapade and brought these photos back with them. I must stress that they are only half of my sisters. I have 6 in all. I know what you’re thinking but I can cope. I’ve got 2 brothers as well.

Logged on to The Skiathan’s Blog to find it was being read from Manchester as well. The Tories are so in trouble that they are contemplating Winter on Skiathos. Well, Chios, Samos, Lesvos, Kos, Leros and Rhodes have got plenty of immigrants, why shouldn’t Skiathos entertain (detain) Theresa May and Boris Johnson, et al? Good Luck with that! I don’t know if The Skiathan had anything to do with it but Manchester certainly gave the Tory Conference delegates a warm welcome.

Tuesday, 3rd October, 2017

My sisters arrived on Friday and the weather took a turn for the worse. They left on Sunday and Monday saw a return of the sun. Today was particularly nice with clear, blue sky and strong sun. The temperature was not hot but reached a pleasant 19C/66F. After an hour in the gym, we had the outdoor pool to ourselves with the sun on our backs and it was absolutely delightful.

We are going to Poole Harbour for a couple of days to meet up with an old friend and to celebrate Pauline’s 66th birthday on Thursday. I have been searching for somewhere nice to eat for her birthday Dinner. There is a Rick Stein restaurant nearby which has an interesting menu. Whether we will be able to get in, we will see. We are going to try out the Poole David Lloyd Health Club while we are there. We will spend a chunk of Thursday in Blandford Forum where our old friend has lived for 40 years.

Wednesday, 4th October, 2017

Bournemouth Pier

Off at 10.00 this morning to Poole via Bournemouth. May go to the David Lloyd Health Club in Poole before checking-in to our hotel. The journey is a couple of hours but check-in isn’t until 3.00 pm so we’ve got plenty of time…..

…… We arrived in Bournemouth after a couple of hours of easy driving. We parked up and walked down to the pier where I bought Pauline an early birthday present of huge slabs of cream & chocolate fudge. We had a walk along the coast and then set off for the David Lloyd Health Club in Poole. There we did a 40 mins swim in their outdoor pool and a few minutes in the sauna before driving to our hotel in Poole Marina.

It is just a Holiday Inn Express but quite delightful. We had a snack and then set off to walk around Poole Quay. It was a wonderfully warm evening and the Quay was full of interesting sights. We found a lovely fish restaurant where we can celebrate Pauline’s birthday tomorrow and found the Deli/Cafe where we will meet our friends in the morning.

By the time we had walked back to our hotel, we were tired and I had done my 15000 paces for the day. This evening will be a quiet one of newspapers and television. I just don’t have the stamina my sisters clearly display.

Thursday, 5th October, 2017

Happy 66th birthday to my lovely wife. We have now accrued 132 years of experience between us. I’m so glad we chose to come down to Poole Quay to celebrate her birthday. The weather has been absolutely lovely. Sunshine and beautiful views over the past two days. We have also had a lovely meeting with a girl who taught at our school between 1973 -77 and with whom Pauline was particularly close. The last time we saw her was at her brother’s house in Surrey – a beautiful, old house previously owned by Rick Parfit of Status Quo. Those are the only connections other than by Christmas card in 40 years.

Jill was a PE teacher who married an accountant and moved to Dorset. She is 65 now and I thought she was much younger. I also thought she had worked with us for much longer than 4 years. Maybe she just made a bigger impression on me than I thought. Today, we walked down from our hotel – a 25 mins walk – to meet Jill at the Deli on the Quay. The sun was strong and warm as we sat in front of the Cruisers, fishing vessels and tall sailing boats with sun filtering through the masts. The temperature was only 18C/65F but there was not a hint of a breeze which made it feel warmer. We were there for a couple of hours as the years rolled away and parted vowing to meet up again soon.

In our down time, we’ve been discussing our possible Australia trip. We are still rather balking at the length of flight. Kindly, Richard has suggested a counter intuitive idea – fly even longer and further. It has rather captured our imaginations and reawakened a flight of fancy we considered before we built the Greek house. Richard has suggested flying around the world with multiple stopovers. Thank you, Richard. Hold that thought!

Friday, 6th October, 2017

Another day of our ‘Indian Summer’ with strong sunshine from peerless blue skies. This old chap served in the British Army in India but was best known for his 1907 camp for kids on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour where we have been over the past three days. This camp led to the formation of The Boy Scouts Association and, ultimately, a world wide movement. The old chap is sitting here on Poole Quay looking out to his former haunt. He is nothing if not a ‘Remainer’.

We, on the other hand, are leaving this lovely place in lovely weather. We have really enjoyed our few days and reunited with our old friend and colleague and now return to West Sussex revived and ready for an exercise programme this afternoon….The drive home took about an hour and forty minutes although strong sun make it a little difficult. It doesn’t matter where we go and how much we enjoy ourselves, homing coming is delicious and very comfortable. Pauline even had Birthday cards waiting for her on the doormat.

Saturday, 7th October, 2017

Sea Bass for the griddle.

Had to do our weekly shop so we went out early to beat the crowds. Sainsbury’s by 8.30 am and Tesco by 9.00 am. Everywhere was so deliciously quiet and devoid of people that it reminded us of our weekend shopping when we were working. We always tried to hit the weekend running and get to the supermarket for 8.00 am to avoid the crowds. Today, we bought some lovely big and thick Tuna steaks for griddling. They were accompanied by  whole Sea Bass, nice, thick cod loins and a couple of sides of salmon. That should get us through the next few days.

We went off to the Health Club to punish ourselves for our three days away but ended up really enjoying it. Unfortunately, when we got home and relaxed, I realised that I had given myself a ‘dead leg’ in my right upper thigh and it increasingly gave me pain over the evening.