Week 484

Sunday, 1st April, 2018

Happy April 2018. Good to see the EU is providing us all with an updated passport to start the new tax year. It’s going to be a busy few months of travelling.

The month has opened with fairly grey skies and not particularly warm either. We did Easter yesterday with our roast shoulder of lamb. It felt slightly strange and distinctly fatty to be eating meat again. Today, we are off to exercise and then feast on roast salmon to be eaten with salad. Meanwhile, stranger things are happening in our house….I am taking pictures of Pauline’s body.

Pauline has worried for years, particularly because of our time in Greece, that she is damaging her skin with the sun. Her Mum had lots of dark, skin spots and, of course, you grow like your Mum. Pauline consulted the doctor who wasn’t particularly concerned but advised her to photograph and measure some of the worst blotches. That is what we have been doing today. We will do it every couple of months over the rest of the year and then see what changes have taken place. Hopefully, there are none.

Monday, 2nd April, 2018

The day started off with torrential rain which was a pity because I had to put the bins out for collection. We are going to London for a few days next week to share with our Sifnos friends so we researched and booked our train tickets this morning. It turned out to be amazingly cheap – just £27.00/€31.00 return for two people from Angmering to London Victoria. We chose to select our specific times of travelling – otherwise it would have cost us £74.00/€85.00. We are staying on Kensington High Street which should be an education. We are looking forward to it. We booked online at the Southern Rail site which is incredibly easy.

Tomorrow, we will drive down to the station and collect our tickets using the code generated by our online purchase.

We drove to the Health Club at 1.00 pm as normal and did 70 mins in the gym. As we walked through to the outside pool, the rain stopped and we spent an enjoyable 30 mins completing our 0.75 kms of swimming before finishing off with half an hour in the sauna, Jacuzzi and water massage. We were home by just after 4.00 pm by which time it had started raining again.

Tuesday, 3rd April, 2018

Typical Spring day of sunshine and showers. We went down to our local station to collect our tickets and arrange taxis for next week’s trip to London. These are the occasions when one appreciates living in a smaller, more rural community. Everything is small scale and friendly. People very chatty in the ticket office at the front of the station. Just opposite is the taxi office – well garden shed with a telephone. The man behind the desk was very pleasant and, when I commented on the sign above his head banning abuse and violence, he informed us that he didn’t mind abuse but he drew the line at violence. To think you need to specify. A bit like teaching!

Spring on the Beach.

Today, we embrace the start of our 10th year of Retirement. Who’d have thought we would have managed all that? It feels a remarkably recent memory and yet so far away. It has been an enjoyable, exciting and rewarding period. It could go on for another 40 years or end tomorrow. We constantly feel we are walking on air and eggshells at the same time.

Optimism and pessimism are two sides of the same coin. I was listening to reports of the ex-Health Minister, Andrew Lansley, who went to his doctor because his wife nagged him about a persistent back pain, only to discover that he has stage 3 Bowel Cancer. These are the egg shells we all live on. My back’s been aching all morning.

Wednesday, 4th April, 2018

Cool Couple – circa 1978

Early shopping day at Sainsbury’s this morning. We are going to be away for a chunk of next week and we have a workman coming early tomorrow so our routine has had to change. Went to the garden centre as well for bags of soil and gravel in preparation for tomorrow when we won’t go to the Health Club. We intend to plant out two fig trees and an olive tree with, perhaps, one more to follow.

Did our 5th, consecutive trip to David Lloyd and our muscles were cracking but we got through it. It is the second week of Easter Holidays and quite a few students were there. The New Year Resolution crowd have faded away and the Health Club are desperate to entice in a new crowd with special offers. We are just plodding on regardless.

Pauline & I have been together 40 years next month and married 40 years in December. A relative wrote to me today and included a photo of 40 years ago. Nice to see. It was taken in Yorkshire and the backdrop is beautiful. We are not sure if it was Summer 1978 or Summer 1979. Which ever, it is nice to see and reminisce.

Thursday, 5th April, 2018

A lovely, lovely day. We were up early for a plasterer to do some ‘snagging’ work – resettling cracks 2 years after we moved in. It took him all morning. While he was working, I gave the lawns their first cut.

Over the years, starting the mower for the first time after a winter break, was a nightmare which left one with strained arm ligaments after tugging the start-up cord. This Spring, all I had to do was charge the battery over night and click it in to place this morning. A push of the button and we were away. Cut on ‘high’ the grass looked lush and beautifully striped when I’d finished. I completed the process by broadcast-applying ‘Aftercut weed and feed’.

We went on to move some plants around in the front flower beds and then planted out the fig trees and an olive tree in the back garden. We have a very sheltered, sunny and warm spot behind the garage and next to the fence where the figs can develop and be trained. By the time I had completed these activities, I was absolutely shattered – much more than a trip to the gym. I guess that I was using different muscles that hadn’t had a workout for quite some time. Tomorrow is forecast to be sunnier and warmer and could reach 16C/61F which should be enjoyable. We will be gyming and swimming.

Friday, 6th April, 2018

Start of the new tax year and I was born 67 years ago today. The world was so different. Dad’s demob trunk containing his uniform, gasmask and suit was stashed in an outhouse at home. Rationing was still prevalent and wartime vocabulary was on every lip. When we went out for our Sunday afternoon family walk, the wartime phrases tumbled out from Mum & Dad – best foot forward, plan of campaign, sucky sweet, chilly pom pom, etc..I was born into a rural, family business, Conservative, village world. That backdrop was the substance of my rejection. On escaping, I embraced a Northern, industrial, town, anonymous life which released me from the shackles of my birth. I have been running ever since as far as a Greek island.

Unfortunately, we can never escape our origins. My childhood was one bereft of animals. I’m not sure why but my Mother thought that 8 children was enough for anyone without dogs and cats. I was allowed a rabbit at the age of 11 but I managed to kill it very shortly after. Mum taught us that dogs were dirty and that we shouldn’t touch them. Consequently, I have always hated – maybe feared – dogs and avoided them like the plague. There is nothing I can do about that now. It doesn’t concern me but I like to understand its origins. Today, with a good sense of irony, my little sister sent me a birthday card which acknowledged my sensibilities. Can you imaginine touching a dog’s wet nose? I shudder to comprehend!

Saturday, 7th April, 2018

A warmish and sunny day which saw me move into short-sleeved shirts for the first time since November last year. We had decided not to go to the Health Club because we had jobs to catch up on. We are having a few nights in London next week and ironing and packing are Pauline’s focus while I had house duties – stripping the bed, vacuuming the carpets, dealing with the dishwasher – followed by completing outdoor jobs which involved pressure washing the patio flags, the tarmac drive to the garage and the front paths, plus washing clay flower pots for new season use, etc..

I want to buy some more comfortable garden furniture to replace the rather harsh wrought iron stuff that we rapidly bought from Argos to get us started two years ago with more comfortable, rattan furniture which will, perhaps, dominate the patio less. There is a debate in our household on the correct way to go but this is the sort of thing that I am favouring. By its very nature, garden furniture is limited in its use. Good weather is required and reasonable temperatures for sitting outside. Months of the winter mean the furniture sits outside unused. Ergonomically designed units appeal to me to satisfy that dilemma. These are the sorts of ‘cube’ arrangement that can be covered with a waterproof throughout the winter and which don’t dominate the area. I think they are the way forward. These are the big issues of the day!

The other big issue of the day was Manchester City against Manchester United. At least this was settled before Saturday was out. A really absorbing match which held its audience until the end and the right team won.

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