Week 468

Sunday, 10th December, 2017

This will be my favourite.

This is the last week of the 9th year of the Blog. No, please, no applause. It is a rather grey, wet day and the temperatures are nothing to write a Blog about although we were at 9C/48F while the Home Counties were around 1C/34F and snowing so we can’t complain.

We haven’t been out today. Pauline has been planning the Christmas meal that she will cook for her family. Just the starter has me salivating:

  • Rustic Pâté with Pear Compote & Ciabatta Toast
  • Salmon Terrine with Pear Avocado Salsa & Ciabatta Toast

I won’t go on because I will drown in the anticipation. The entire menu and specific recipes have been typed up after extensive research. While that was going on, I was upgrading Norton Security Premium on two Desktop computers and two laptops. I’ve also put it on the iPads and the smartphones. That is eight machines covered and I’ve got two outstanding installations left for this year all for the princely sum of £29.99/€34.00.

I’ve watched three football matches this afternoon culminating in the thrashing of United by City. It was almost as if Mourinho set them up on a suicidal path to defend for 90 minutes. It was never going to work.

Monday, 11th December, 2017

Up especially early this morning because we were going to brave the rush hour traffic and drive to Worthing so that Pauline can have her hair cut. The weather was dominating the news and snow, particularly, was central to conditions in the North, Midlands and as far south as Surrey. We just had unpleasantly cold rain. We parked on the top, outside level of the multi-storey carpark and the cold sea breeze cut through us as we stepped out of the car.

We parted company as Pauline went in to  Toni&Guy and I went on to Costa Coffee. The atmosphere outside was pretty horrible but there were few inside. I spent my hour enjoying the iPad newspaper and then suffered half an hour of shopping with Pauline. We drove home and decided to stay there today.

Of course, the weather immediately picked up and the sun came out. As the television news featured increasingly difficult driving conditions across the country, our weather improved and got rather warmer. The night sky forecast ‘shepherds delight’ and all well with the world. Talking of world, I sent homemade e-cards to friends in Boston, United States, Melbourne, Australia and the island of Gozo, Malta as well as friends in Sifnos, Greece.

Our Notary who went the extra kilometre to help us complete a really successful sale of our Greek property contacted us a week ago and told us she was thinking of bringing her family to the UK next year. She wanted information and advice. We have written with that and offers of help to make their trip enjoyable. It will be lovely to see her and her family again.

Tuesday, 12th December, 2017

Valencia City

A lovely, sunny if rather chilly day which started off at -1C/30F with a light frost and didn’t get higher than 7C/45F. I spent the morning updating my website and researching travel to Valencia. Our dear friend and ex-colleague from West Yorkshire has a property in Murcia. For two years now, she’s been trying to get us there. Pauline & I have never been to Spain other than to the Canary Islands of Fuerteventura and Tenerife. For two years we have been receiving travel books and hotel books plus bottles of Spanish wine to get us hooked on the idea.

Her property is in Mazarron and we might drive there ultimately but first, we thought we would fly for a short break in Valencia in the Spring. I understand that the orange blossom is there to be smelled in March which would be nice to experience.  I have been trying to find out about somewhere I know absolutely nothing of. It will be interesting to experience a different culture. It is nice to have a lot of new areas to explore.

Back in West Sussex, the temperature has forced us not to swim outside although some others continued to do so. We just did gym work today and will go back to swimming tomorrow.

Wednesday, 13th December, 2017

The gorgeous Lizzie Dripping.

We have really enjoyed today and the weather has been kind to us. Warmer – 10C/50F – and swimming outside was back on and delicious. A festive air has arrived with Christmas cards from France, Australia, America, Greece, and around the UK. Got a request for my address from own sister. I suggested she sent wine rather than Christmas cards but she did supply this official portrait instead. I think she looks gorgeous but then I’ve always loved venison.

While I’m dwelling on the lunacies of the festival, I thought I would share a few Cracker jokes with you that featured in The Independent. My favourite was about the Leader of the Labour Party who was awarded an international peace prize in the past week but most media outlets ‘forgot’ to mention it.

  1. Why did Donald Trump continuously decorate the Christmas tree? Because people kept saying “moron” to him.
  2. Why was Theresa May sacked as nativity manager? She couldn’t run a stable government.
  3. Why did Jeremy Corbyn ask people not to eat sprouts on Christmas Day? He wants to give peas a chance.

Hope you had as enjoyable a day as I have.

Thursday, 14th December, 2017

We went out early on a bright, chilly morning to do our major, weekly shop at Tesco. With Christmas only just over a week away, we expected the roads and the shopping aisles to be crowded. Not so. May be the lull before the storm but there was a strange quiet all around.

We did a full gym & swim. It was our third, consecutive day of exercise and we were both beginning to feel it in our muscles. Swimming was enjoyable but a little edgy because of the bite in the sea breeze that wafted over the water’s surface. Still we did it and felt righteous for the achievement. Pauline is going out early tomorrow for a ‘facial’ at the Beauty Parlour in Rustington and then we will do one more exercise session. We will probably then take a day off on Saturday to allow our bodies to recover.

Catherine bought us some white cyclamen about 18 months ago and they flowered for such a long time. We were delighted with them although we had never grown them before. Suddenly, they began to die back and virtually disappeared. Residual leaves remained and we left them there. A couple of months ago and quite surprisingly, those leaves began to expand and multiply and suddenly, in the past fortnight, pure, white flowers have pushed up on succulent stalks to light up a dark border. Never give up!

Friday, 15th December, 2017

The day started off wet and cold but developed to blue sky and sunshine by afternoon. Pauline went out early to have a facial. We are so rarely apart that a quiet house was quite unnerving. I completed a number of tasks including something I’ve been putting off for days because it felt so intricate. Our heating system was preset by the builders with the assumption that it would suit most lifestyles. It is something which is quite alien to those of us who were born into homes with open fires and no central heating.

Looks simple – wasn’t.

New homes have to meet energy certificate requirements and the newest homes have to meet the most stringent. Because of that, the number and size of radiators is calculated to within an inch of the industry standard. Hot water for washing, etc., is intended to be on all the time. Indeed, it’s thought to be more economical in this way instead of making it heat up from a standing start as we did in the past. The installer has also seen fit to preset the times of day and minimum temperatures each room will need according to a working family with different settings for weekend. It was my job to reset the upstairs thermostat, erasing weekend settings and lowering the overall temperature. Sounds easy. Took me an hour.

I did the cooking today while Pauline was a lady of leisure. The menu was Roast Loin of Cod accompanied by roasted cherry tomatoes with garlic and oregano plus sautéed, button chestnut mushrooms. Looked good by the time it was served. I’m not surprised.

Saturday, 16th December, 2017

There was a bitter edged breeze as we stepped out in to Rustington at 9.30 am. We were on a mission to find cookery shops to assist my wife in her pet project. As ususal, I had gone out underdressed and pretending that I could cope. It was soon obvious how mad I was. I was suffering before we had walked half way across Waitrose carpark.

In the High Street, the movement of freezing air was unfettered and biting. I bit my bottom lip and pretended I was impervious to cold while making a mental note that we would definitely be spending next Winter in the Canary Islands. However, I was looking at an Instagram contributor who posted pictures of the East Midlands village of Repton, where I grew up, from earlier this week and I came across the photo on the left. I instantly felt better.

Today the Blog closes its 9th year. It started out as an idle experiment, became an interest and is now a way of life. Obsession may be too strong a description but I cannot go to bed without recording something of the day. Actually, Week 1 began on Christmas Day, 2008 which is not exactly met but 52 weeks x 9 = 468 and allows for the slippage over time of exactitude. Officially, there are 52.1429 weeks in a year but who will go around quoting that? People would really think I was weird. Hope to see you in Year 10 – tomorrow or Week 469.2861.