Sunday, 3rd December, 2017
A mild but fairly grey day to start the penultimate week of the Blog’s 9th year. The day has been quiet and uneventful although the newspapers are fairly explosive and not in a good way for the Tories.
With joy in my heart – but not until I had followed three, separate political discussion programmes, we drove down to an almost deserted Health Club and did our statutory hour in the gym and half hour in the outdoor pool which was totally devoid of swimmers. What is wrong with these people? We give them two days off from work and offer them a beautiful outdoor swimming pool and they turn their noses up at it. They don’t know when they’re on to a good thing!
Monday, 4th December, 2017
Told you Ireland would be the stumbling block of Brexit and today has proved just that. The seemingly insoluble fix of Southern Ireland demanding no hard border which meant the North remaining in the Single Market and the Customs Union while the DUP and Northern Ireland demanding no division between themselves and the mainland Britain who say they don’t want either the Single Market or the Customs Union. Of course, if Northern Ireland get to remain in the Single Market and/or the Customs Union, the Scots, the Welsh and London are demanding the same conditions. Sort that one out!
We have spent a quiet day of shopping and exercise. We shopped in Aldi for Greek Olive Oil – Kalamata – which we love on salad. We went to the Post Office to buy postage boxes for presents for our friends. On to the Health Club for about three hours. Once again, as the air temperature didn’t get above 11C/52F, we swam outside in peace and quiet and glorious solitude. Back home, Pauline cooked whitebait in the garden and the day wound down to relaxation once again. I have been doing some searching for rental properties in southern France for next June/July. We want a base with a Wi-Fi, a pool, cooking, and laundry facilities.
Tuesday, 5th December, 2017
A rather grey day and not very warm reaching 11C/52F at tops. We did a trip to shops in the area sourcing Italian foodstuffs which we could pack into a large postage box to send to our dear little friend in the North of England. Bottles of wine, specialist pastas, lots of difference pasta sauces and pestos, a huge block of Parmigiana Reggiana, bread sticks, Pannetone, Amaretti biscuits, etc. We had great fun in finding them.
The shopping included a lot of walking about and we then went on to do our gym work and swim. By the time I got home, I had already done my 10,000 paces for the day. I am someone who is goal-driven. It is a great incentive to me when I feel like sitting down and resting. In the last 7 days, I have used a minimum of 70,000 paces / averaging 10,000 per day and covering 36.2 miles or more than 5 miles per day. In addition to this, I have swum just short of 2 miles. I’ve even caught myself running up and down stairs at home.
I Blog, Facebook and Twitter. I use each platform in slightly/very different ways. My Blog is read by one circle of people (poor things), my Facebook is read by a known and specific group of people and my Twitter feed is public. I like to express my views openly and strongly. I don’t feel unable to say what I think or to upset faint hearts. I am always fascinated to find followers and amazed how they find me. I only mention this now because I have been amused over the past few days to be followed by a professor from Bologna University who also presents a Social News magazine of the national television channel in Italy – Rai. The other new follower was a member of the Spanish judiciary and former member of the Catalan Parliament. Great fun to reach out to them from the South of England.
Talking of reaching out, we heard from an old, Sifnos friend this morning who is bringing her family to see us next Spring. She is a lovely lady who helped us sell our house and who we haven’t seen for three years. Reaching out from a speck of rock in the Aegean Sea to the South of England. How lovely!
Wednesday, 6th December, 2017
Another grey day but mild-ish. It was 9C/48F at 7.00 am. We are up especially early this morning because we have an electrician arriving shortly after 8.00 am to install some new lights. We are having two ceiling spots put in the ensuite, another in the family bathroom plus a PIR above the garage door so I don’t spend hours in the dark looking for the key hole.
Because we are posting abroad, I have to do my Christmas newsletter to include with cards and I’m doing that today. It’s almost getting towards the time to send greetings electronically but maybe not just yet. Got to send a birthday greeting to David tomorrow. He’s at university so we will probably just do that on Facebook.
It’s a pretty good job where an electrician can do three hours work and ask for £275.00/€312.00 but they can and we are prepared to pay it. Our electrician supplied 3 spotlights plus a PIR and fitted them for that price. He did an excellent job and we settled in cash. We realise now that we should have done that work at the start.
By the time our electrician had finished, it was too late to get to the Health Club even though the temperature had reached 14C/57F. The breeze had picked up and that felt quite cutting. We posted our parcel to our friend in the North and did a bit of shopping in Rustington before driving home to cook roasted chicken breasts with peppers, onions and mushrooms. Lovely meal. Lovely day. We feel so lucky to enjoy it together.
Thursday, 7th December, 2017
Grey, cool day. Had to go out to an old, dilapidated version of a hospital. Littlehampton Hospital for an early morning appointment. Although I am no longer taking medication for Type 2 Diabetes, I continue to be offered monitoring processes. Each year, I go for Diabetic Retinopathy examination. It is particularly helpful to me because I only have sight in one eye. Last year, I was told that my sight was getting better and it continues to do so. This goes against normal trends in which older eye muscles slacken and focal lengths extend which leads to increased short sightedness. In my case, I have found my eye sight improve to the point where I go out without my glasses which I have worn for almost 60 years and shock myself when I suddenly realise it.
I have to be administered strong pupil-dilation eye drops before my eyes are photographed with the negatives sent away for analysis. As a result, after my appointment, Pauline has to drive me home. As I step out in to the carpark on this dull and overcast day, my eyes sting and water as if I was stepping in to strong daylight. It hurts and I narrow my vision in self protection. As a result, we decide not to go to the Health Club but, even so, I struggle to read my iPad and watch the news and, for a number of hours, my pupils remained huge.
Last night, our little, local village put on their annual Christmas market accompanied by a small children’s fair. The roads were closed for 4 or 5 hours and the local traders showcased their wares. We walked down on a pleasantly mild night to see the spectacle which was predictably low key but delightfully homespun. It lasted for just those hours and was then just as quickly dismantled as the village returned to normality.
Friday, 7th December, 2017
A busy and rather cold day. It was 3C/37F when we got up at 7.00 am and didn’t rise much above 6C/43F all day. However, it was gorgeously sunny and bright which felt like some compensation. We did our weekly shop and came home to do necessary jobs. Pauline wrote about 70 Christmas cards. It was a point of debate this year for the first time. Could we send Christmas greetings by email/Facebook, etc.? It just feels a little bit early. Maybe next year.
My Christmas Newsletter. Should I print them all? I could get away with sending many electronically. My continual, year round spewing of news and information has almost obviated the need for a Christmas newsletter for many but obsession is a difficult thing to throw off. I will continue with it this year and send out some electronically and others in hard copy.
We have already started to get e-card Christmas wishes from some people but it doesn’t feel right to move completely that way and some of our friends don’t have that facility anyway. It would be so much easier and cheaper and we will re-examine it next year.
Anyone who gets cards from us will know that robins are a favourite and they will not be disappointed this year. Pauline writes them and I produce the address labels. It is an imbalance in labour rectified by my time producing the letter.
The car is filthy but the temperature was so cold that I shied away from cleaning it myself. We drove down to the nearest hand car wash but the queue was so long that we came home and I did it myself. I have always thought that car wash charges are exorbitant but bare hands, cold water and 4C/39F is worth a fortune avoiding.
Saturday, 8th December, 2017
We awoke to reports of snow arriving in the North and Midlands. I lived in the former for 40 years and was born in the latter and lived there for my first 20 years. I am happy if I never see snow again having spent most of my adult life battling with the stuff as I criss-crossed the Pennine routes to and from work. It started with a bit of frost but strong sun soon dispersed that and the day was largely pleasant and reasonably mild. Unfortunately, we didn’t get out until late in the evening because we were stuck in the Office and Kitchen respectively.
Newsletters proof-read, edited, printed and folded for Christmas Card envelopes. Person specific adapted newsletters for other individuals across Europe and America. All now printed and despatched. Pauline wafted the fragrant scent of melted apricot jam across the kitchen as she prepared to cover the Christmas cake in marzipan. There was a time when I would have sneaked some of that wonderful almond paste but not now that I count calories.
Later, Pauline cooked the most wonderful meal of sea bass en papillote with salad. The fish had come from our local fisherman’s hut and was caught about 5 miles away from our house. For some reason, that made it taste all the better. Just as we were eating, the postman rang the doorbell and delivered a wonderful bottle of Spanish red wine and a guide book to Andalucía. It was a present from a friend and former colleague who has a property in Mazarron and keeps pestering us to go out there. The wine may well do it.