Week 463

Sunday, 5th November, 2017

Remember, remember, a day to remember this has been. The sky has been a piecing blue with not a cloud throughout the daylight hours. Just letting one’s eyes drink in those colours and that light lifts one’s spirits. We have been at home to watch the remarkable implosion of the political scene as witnessed by the three, main Sunday political shows and then some football. The less I go in to those the better.

Continental Drift

I originated in the East Midlands, in Mercia and, particularly, the small village of Repton which is dominated by the public school that I am rather reticent to acknowledge was the alma mater of Roald Dahl and Jeremy Clarkson. Many of my brothers and sisters, over the years have gravitated towards the south – to Maidenhead, to London, to Farnham, to Sussex coast, etc.. Now, it seems that they are just following (or leading) , the trend.

Repton was the historic capital of Mercia and considered the epicentre of the country. Not any more according to a report in the Sunday Times this morning which draws on the Liverpool University PopChange Project. By 1971, they judged that the centre line between North and South could be drawn through Newhall, a very small town in south Derbyshire just 5 miles from my home village. Almost 45 years later, they judged that this line had advanced 9 miles into Leicestershire by dint of the fact of population drift towards the south.

It means prosperous southerners are being crowded into a smaller landmass each year as the south sucks in more immigrants and has a higher birth rate. Chris Lloyd, professor of quantitative geography at Liverpool University, said: “The north-south divide is moving south because the south is gaining an ever increasing share of the population of Britain.”

I’ve got to start persuading my siblings to go North in retirement. Somebody’s got to take a lead or I’ll get crowded out down here.

Monday, 6th November, 2017

The weather is at a crossroads with Summer still in East Preston.

Gorgeous day with blue skies and strong sunshine. A little chilly just after 7.00 am with almost a hint of frost on the lawn. Soon, the house was baking hot as the sun poured in and we went out in Summer clothes as usual.

I had a major problem to solve this morning. Both Pauline and I received emails, ostensibly from our broadband provider, saying that within a minute of each other our accounts had been ‘successfully accessed’ from Azerbaijan (me) and Turkey (Pauline). This was accompanied by the standard advice to immediately change our passwords and our ‘recovery’ details. A link was provided to follow for this.

Something like this always makes one a little shaky but have to be addressed. I checked the link address and satisfied myself that it was correct and then proceeded to change the settings which we have used for too long. I then contacted our provider to demand explanations of why and how this could have happened. It takes forever to get hold of these people. They are always experiencing an unusually high demand of callers which is a non sequitur in itself. What they mean is that they are always understaffed even for a normal demand. Although, when I finally got to speak to them, they tried to assuage my concerns, they have still not got back to me with a reasonable explanation of the situation. However, they will. Believe me!

Tuesday, 7th November, 2017

A cool day and rather grey day. We swam under leaden skies and there was a faint hint of steam rising from the heated water. We’ve done 7 days exercise in the past 9 days and tomorrow will be a rest day. That’s a lot of days! We are going into Worthing after Pauline has visited the Hygienist. She’s been desperate to have her teeth professionally cleaned for weeks and I’ve been holding her back. If there is one thing I hate more than Dentists it is Hygienists. They hurt me.

It has never been more important than now to have internet security. Witness our email accounts being hacked the other day. I have installed Norton Security on all our main IT for years. Last year, I extended it to our iPads and smartphones. Really, you have to close the door on any piece of apparatus that surfs the internet. Of course, as the number of devices proliferate, the more expensive it becomes. I made the mistake very early on of ticking automatic renewal on my Norton Account and found that they had charged me an arm and a leg. I had to badger them into submission to get it returned.

It is just over a month until I will need to renew my subscription and I was reminded of that by an email from Total Computing who offered me software to cover 10 devices for £29.99/€34.00. We have a 7 devices – a desktop, 2 x laptops, 2 x iPads and 2 x smartphones to cover so this seemed a reasonable offer. It leaves room for any whim of fancy that induces us to add to that array of IT over the coming year. I did a quick search and couldn’t find it cheaper. Generally, many were asking around £39.99/€45.50 but a check on the automatic renewal price at Norton produced a price of £55.00/€62.50. It pays to be a cheapskate and check a few alternatives.

Wednesday, 8th November, 2017

A cold, grey day which didn’t get much above 9C/48F. We had decided to take the day off work and go shopping. While the country was paralysed by the possibility that the Secretary of State for International Development would be sacked and were tracking her flight from Kenya to UK, we drove to the dentist at Sainsbury’s for Pauline’s Hygienist appointment and then on to Worthing under leaden skies.

We did some desultory shopping for clothes. Is it me or do so many clothes shops look like jumble sales? Little choice and what there was just looked cheap and nasty. No wonder people prefer to buy on the net. Wednesday is the out door market in Worthing and we bought huge mangoes from the fruit stall which will get us through the week. We also bought pheasants and grouse from the Game stall which sells free range eggs as well.

Back home, the Secretary of State for International Development was still in the air and her flight was minutely tracked by television news stations. There must have been so little on the agenda. Duly sacked she ‘resigned’ and the country heaved a huge sigh of relief.

Thursday, 9th November, 2017

Having spent a life time enjoying lots of different types of food, my retirement years have been marked by control and self-denial with a changing and narrowing of my diet. As I began to understand my body for the first time in almost 60 years, I realised that one major change which would help me was to cut out major, staple carbohydrates particularly bread, pasta, potatoes and rice but also other flour derivatives like cake, biscuits, pastries, etc. This discovery allowed me to control my blood sugar roller coaster which drove my appetite. It allowed me to defeat my Type 2 Diabetic condition and to lose a considerable amount of weight.

In the last week, two news reports have appeared that either set me as a trend setter of a trend follower although neither appeals to me. The British public is losing its love of pasta, apparently, and is buying considerably less. One thing they are replacing it with is spriralized vegetables which is exactly what we started to do           4 years ago. One of the reasons given for this is an anti-carb fashion. At the same time, purchase and consumption of bread is considerably down for lots of reasons including anti-carb. sentiment and free school meals in Primary Schools which replaced packed lunches that had previously centred on sandwiches.

I did worry that my diet has appeared very faddy. I cannot eat green vegetables – beans, cabbage, spinach, asparagus, lettuce, etc. because of the Vitamin K they contain which militates against my warfarin drug. I don’t use sugar at any time only artificial sweetener based on Maltodextrin or Polysaccharide although recently I’ve become aware that it can cause spikes in blood sugar and, for that reason, I am dropping it. Having said all of that, I desperately try to keep my faddiness under wraps most of the time but I was reminded of it as we walked around the supermarket this morning and found the illustrated display of  Organic, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Where does that fit in?

Friday, 10th November, 2017

You can’t beat a Siberian Goose!

Yesterday for the first time since last April, I put on a long sleeved shirt. Not for long. The sun came out and back to a short sleeve. Pauline has 4 different duvets for our bed measured from 1 – 13 Tog. The tog is a measure of thermal resistance of a unit area We haven’t used the heaviest one for such a long time, I’m told we took that one to the waste tip months ago. Yesterday, we moved up from 1 Tog to 3 Togs but I’m finding that too hot. Today, we have had breakfast with the patio doors open and the sun streaming in. A third of our way in to November. It could be worse.

Today, Pauline is making Piccalilli and I am vacuuming the house. You can’t get much more exciting than that apart from watching England lose to Germany tonight.

From the shallow to the sublime, I am reminded of W.B. Yeats poem, The Falling of the Leaves :

Autumn is over the long leaves that love us,
And over the mice in the barley sheaves;
Yellow the leaves of the rowan above us,
And yellow the wet wild-strawberry leaves.

The hour of the waning of love has beset us,
And weary and worn are our sad souls now;
Let us part, ere the season of passion forget us,
With a kiss and a tear on thy drooping brow.

So much has changed in the hundred years since these lines were written and yet the natural world dictates that so much has stayed the same.

Saturday, 11th November, 2017

I follow and occasionally dip in to a site called Historical Pics. Recently, I found this and it took me back across the years.

This is Sackville Street in Dublin in March 1966. It pictures what remains of Nelson’s Column after having been blown up by the IRA. . Just over 4 months later, I was standing there, aged 15 and feeling slightly vulnerable in view of what I was looking at and thinking, This is so far removed from my home village in appearance and atmosphere. It was a growing experience and a right of passage.

Those troubled, insurrectionist times are, temporarily at least, behind us. A degree of peace, prosperity and normality has returned to the island of Ireland. However, as Gladstone observed, Just when you think you have found an answer to the Irish question, the Irish change the question. And so it may be right now. After the EU Referendum, I predicted that it might rise or fall on the border between North and Southern Ireland. That appears even more apposite now than ever.