Week 470

Sunday, 24th December, 2017

Christmas Eve means so many things to different people at different stages of their life. To children and parents of children it means something very different to people deep in age like me. For me, it is navigating the changing patterns of mankind so that my life can continue as seamlessly as possible. Will the roads be clear or jammed? Will the gym be busy or quiet? Will political debate on television and in the digital media be interrupted or maintained? Do I have to look like I’m enjoying it?

Well, today went alright. We did jobs in the house this morning, went to the Health Club which was slightly busier this afternoon and are spending an evening of contemplation tonight as usual. I have played Leonard Cohen’s Greatest Hits at full volume to drown out the world and its musak and followed that by Handel’s Opera, Xerxes with its tearful opening aria, Largo. these pieces always set me up for the sadness of Christmas.

  • Bird on the Wire
  • Dance me to the end of love
  • So Long Marianne
  • Hey That’s no way to say Goodbye.

I am sobbing on the carpet and then Handel’s Largo totally destroys me. I am a really sad case and not safe to be allowed out with music unless nurse is with me. Unfortunately, today she was cooking.

Monday, 25th December, 2017

Up at 6.00 am. Dark, chilly, damp, no newspapers, rubbish radio, rubbish television. Idiots queuing from the middle of the night to get a place in the queue to watch the queen go to church in the middle of the morning.  The world has gone mad. Happy Christmas!

Pauline prepared one of her best Christmas meals for a long time if ever. This is what it consisted of:

Starter

  • Meat Terrine – Pork, Chicken & Duck wrapped in Bacon & served with Pear Compote.
  • Fish Terrine  – Salmon mixed with Cream Cheese & Dill wrapped in Smoked Salmon & served with Avocado & Cucumber Salsa.

Main Course

  • Norfolk Bronze Turkey
  • Pigs in Blankets
  • Sage & Onion Stuffing
  • Baby Sprouts with Bacon & Chestnuts
  • Roasted Potatoes
  • Roasted Carrots
  • French Beans
  • Cranberry Sauce & Apple Sauce

Sweet

  • Year-old Christmas Pudding served with Cream-enriched Custard or Pouring Cream.
  • Lemon Chiffon on a Ginger Base.

The cake, which had been lovingly crafted, was left uncut until we prepared to drive home. As she rarely gets to try her own cake, Pauline cut a large slice to bring away with us. Even I tried it and it was absolutely delicious and moist. Now we are looking forward to some exercise tomorrow.

Tuesday, 26th December, 2017

Up early as usual and out on a short drive to Bognor Regis. It is about ten miles from our home. A beautiful, sunny day of blue sky but quite raw at 8.0C/47F and, with a wind chill factor, it felt colder than that. We parked up on the Esplanade. Others had obviously had the same idea although it wasn’t over busy.

I walked on this beach with my Grandad & Nana Coghlan and my brother, Bob, in 1955. I actually can remember it because there was a very strong wind which whipped up beachful’s of sand that stung our bare legs as we walked. I was reminded of this today because there were so many outlets for ‘Deck Chairs & Wind Breaks’. You just don’t see them in the Mediterranean.

Actually, our walk didn’t last much more than 40 mins although it felt longer. We drove back feeling better for the experience. We ate a meal of cold turkey and slices of the starters from yesterday. Pauline hadn’t brought any of the sensational sweets home with her otherwise we would have gorged upon those as well. We will definitely need to be back in the gym tomorrow.

Wednesday, 27th December, 2017

Got up at 7.00 am to find an avalanche had hit the back garden. If we’d got up an hour later, we’d have known nothing of it. It was gone and the rain had cleaned up. We had to go out and buy milk. The breeze was biting and the temperature read 3C/37F and the rain drifted into our faces. We really do need to be in some warm sunshine. I resolve to take my search for properties abroad more seriously and get on with finding somewhere to enjoy this coming year.

We have been all over the place in our decision making for some time. It is not usually a problem to us but we have been finding it difficult to choose and commit to decisions on travel. It is time to focus our minds and make them up. We’ve even been talking about the possibility of buying a place in the Canaries. Certainly, we will look for a long term rental there for this winter and a month or so rental in the South of France for the summer. That is my task this week.

Thursday, 28th December, 2017

Ferring Beach in the sunshine.

Lovely, crisp and bright day of blue sky and strong sun. We did our weekly shop at Sainsbury’s this week and it was very, almost eerily, quiet at 9.30 am. These workers just don’t have the stamina like the old days! Checkout workers were sitting around, twiddling their thumbs as we approached. We drove home on quiet roads and prepared to go back to the Health Club after three days of rest. We drove in to the David Lloyd car park and the signs were a little ominous. It was quite full. We had a conference about whether to proceed or not but thought we’d made the effort to get there so we should get on with it.

Pauline in her element.

The changing room was so full, I had to fight my way in and there was hardly a locker to use. I finally found one, got changed and went out to join Pauline outside the gym. She had experienced similar problems. We went into the gym area and every piece of equipment was in use. In almost two years of membership, we had never seen it like this. We turned round, walked out and got changed back in to our ordinary clothes. As we walked back to the car, we decided it was too lovely a day to do nothing so we drove down to Ferring Beach for a walk.

We are so pleased that we made this decision. The weather was warm (ish) at 9C/48F without a hint of a breeze and the sun was strong and hot.

Pauline makes friends.

People were out walking their dogs and playing with children. A dog came up to befriend us but no children did thank goodness. One group was having a picnic but nobody was swimming. A group of riders were exercising their horses at the sea’s edge. The tide was out and small pools broke up the vast expanse of sand and glistened in the sunlight. Pauline comes alive in these surroundings and glows with happiness. We walked for an hour or so and felt so much better for it. This is a lovely beach we must return to very soon. It is only minutes away from our house.

Friday, 29th December, 2017

A beautiful, bright and breezy day which followed a wet night. So good of the weather to organise itself like that. We only have 9C/48F and the wind will make that chillier but we are still going to make another attempt at the Health Club today although swimming is a little in doubt.

0% – thank you very much!

It is almost two years since we were purchasing things for our new house in West Sussex. New beds, fitted bedroom furniture, dining table & chairs, sofas and chairs for the lounge, etc.. Everyone offered us interest-free credit and refused to reduce the price if we paid in full immediately. It seemed stupid not to keep our own cash earning a massive 1.2% tax free in a savings account and dribble payment to loan companies over 1, 2, 3 or even 4 years. It isn’t really a problem just setting up direct debits payable until a finite date although, occasionally, we discuss just paying them off so they don’t appear on our statements.

Essentially, with people who don’t need to borrow money but do like to hold that facility in hand for future reference, it is important to have a credit rating. We know people who have not borrowed for a number of years being rejected for mobile phone contracts because they have no credit records. Our new house purchases had payments terminating after Year 1, Year 2, Year 3 and even one after Year 4. They amount to very little each month so that they can almost be paid off by our State Pensions but, already, we have completed 2 with another to go in a couple of months and 2 more over the next couple of years. We look on them as pay rises for the thrifty.

The A62 across the Pennines.

Our old hunting ground in Yorkshire was beset by bad weather. Snow was falling and making travelling difficult – hazardous even. Our daily trip across the Pennines from West Yorkshire to Lancashire would have been impossible for a while as it was on our wedding day – the anniversary of which we mark tomorrow. In the Pennine region it is taken for granted but it is only when one is out of there that one realises nothing is inevitable. Today in West Sussex, we have seen no snow. Driving is like every day. We’ve been to the Health Club and swum outside under delightful sun then driven home and griddled swordfish steaks in the garden. The two environments are different worlds and I know now which I prefer.

Saturday, 30th December, 2017

Meltham Mills Church

Oh Happy Day! Callooh Callay. Our 39th wedding Anniversary. We married where we were living in Meltham Mills, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. Actually, we were married in a Registry Office ceremony and only had a ‘Blessing’ in church to please my Mother. On this morning in 1978, we awoke to a blizzard of snow which had fallen over night. The council gritters were on strike and guests really struggled to get to us. Fortunately, they did make it and the day was magical and memorable. I can’t believe how fortunate I’ve been. One finds oneself holding one’s breath and hoping for another 39 years but realising that is very unlikely.

The Beautiful 27 year olds.

However, to that end, we will celebrate today by doing a couple of hours of exercise a the Health Club but, first, I have to do my household chores. Unstacking the dishwasher, hovering the house and shelling the lobster for this afternoon’s meal. We will have a Seafood Gratin consisting of lobster, langoustines and scallops topped with Gruyere cheese. We will toast our health down the years with a bottle of champagne and finish with a reprise of Pauline’s Lemon Chiffon. Life could get better but not a lot.

We have been rewarded with a beautiful, clear but breezy day of sunshine and blue sky. The world around us is still enjoying its holiday break while we are looking forward to them going back to school/work. We are already formulating New Year’s Resolutions which will appear here tomorrow at the start of the new week. Thanks to those who have contacted us to offer congratulations.

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