Week 487

Sunday, 22nd April, 2018

An early and still Marina.

Huge and prolonged thunder and lightning storm last evening. It was exciting to watch with sheet and forked lightning over towards the sea. Briefly, we were swept with heavy, driving rain and we feared for our newly potted-up seedlings but our fears proved unfounded. Usually, a thunder storm clears the air of humidity and draws in cooler temperatures. This did not and the night was rather hot and oppressive.

Two ghosts on the beach.

We woke early and got up. Without breakfast or even a drink, we were parked by the beach before 7.00 am. A beautiful, still day under a gorgeous, blue sky and early morning sun with just a hint of haze over the sea.By the time we get home at around 8.30 am, we have already done a large part of our daily 10,000 paces target and that’s before we go to the gym this afternoon.

By mid day, our meal has been prepared for when we get home from exercise. slices of cold, duck breast and mushrooms to be eaten with salad. If we are starving when we return, there will not be a long wait in food preparation. We might actually have time to read the Sunday papers. How things have changed. While I was working, my Sundays were sacrosanct and set aside completely to Sunday papers. Now I have all the time in the world, I am too busy being active to read them. On this day two years ago, I received my first State Pension and I realised I was old. What does that make me now? Old+2!

Monday, 23rd April, 2018

John – Sleep Pattern
Pauline – Sleep Pattern

Don’t you think sleep is a strange thing? It is something most of us take for granted and rarely reflect on but all humans spend approximately 30% of their lives laying down with their eyes closed and oblivious to the rest of the world. Bizarre isn’t it. Sleep is a naturally recurring state of mind and body, characterized by altered consciousness. It is a requirement of all sentient beings although, to many of us, it feels a bit of a waste of time.

I have written before that I tend to manage on 6hrs sleep per night, going to bed at midnight and waking at 6.00 am. Actually, last night I was so exhausted after doing 7 consecutive workouts at the Health Club and then walking on the beach yesterday before 7.00 am that I went to bed shortly after 11.00 pm. It felt strange. Of course, like everything else, I monitor my sleep patterns now with my smart watch and phone. I have been doing it for a couple of months and the sleep patterns are very similar.

I fall asleep almost the moment my head hits the pillow and I am into ‘deep’ sleep. Pauline is in very ‘light’ and fairly fitful sleep and wakes twice as many times per night compared with me. If I so much as twitch my toe, she is awake and asking if I am alright. She could fall out of bed and I would be unaware of it. Indeed, there was the famous time when, in another house, an earthquake shook and the garage door rattle like mad – or so Pauline reported because I slept right through and learnt about it over breakfast.

Of course, we now know that lack of sleep can cause heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Guess what I’ve suffered from in the past. Well, this morning I go for my annual Type 2 Diabetes check. I ceased to be Diabetic a couple of years ago but prefer the safety first attention of remaining on the books. I had to have a pre-meeting blood test and my Diabetes Control measurement expressed in mmol/mol has fallen even further into the ‘normal’ having gone through the Diabetic to Pre-Diabetic to Normal over the past couple of years. This, at least, is a reason to stay positive.

Tuesday, 24th April, 2018

Yesterday was St George’s Day (allegedly). I’m not convinced it has any significance although right wing nationalists have long tried to rally around this cause.

Cry ‘God for Harry, England and St George’ – (Henry Vth, Act 3)

I reject Deity, Monarchy and Nationalism. They are constructs that we can do without. So many of those baying for England and St George will be unaware that their hero is merely the stuff of legend which places him as part Turkish and part Greek and someone who never set foot in England – probably because he didn’t have a blue passport. Nationalists like to hang their predilections on this recruiting sergeant.

I have never really felt the need for communal identity. I have written before of hurrying away from the village in which my family were founded and in which I lived for 20 years. Anonymity has always appealed. Not staying in one place for too long feeds into that tendency. It is with some wry amusement that I find myself cataloguing my life in a public Blog and living in a ‘village’ community now although new house building is exploding that description fairly rapidly. The core of the villagers can be observed struggling hard to maintain the concept and we constantly get literature beseeching us to get involved.

‘Involved’ is something that scares me. Instinctively, I shun it. I am happy to observe others enjoyment in participation – even to vicariously participate through the sort of publication that comes through our door on a regular basis. Today it was a directory of local services but it is often publication of the scores of local groups for social interaction from Women’s Institute to Local History to learning Italian. It is amazing to me how social people around us are while I pursue my solitary observations.

Wednesday, 25th April, 2018

Another April day of sunshine and showers. I know this is of no real moment in the great scheme of things but we are trying to grow herbs in pots while spending approximately 12 weeks away. I managed it last year with an automatic water spray system but I am looking for a more reliable and sophisticated solution this (or next) year. I intend to install raised beds with an automatic, drip feed watering system and I used some of this morning to research the possibilities. What an enjoyable project to have the time to evaluate. How wonderful can retirement be?

We did our 10th consecutive day of formal exercise and seemed to be getting stronger as we did it. I am averaging 15,000 paces per day over the past week and have covered 55 miles. Back home, Pauline cooked an absolutely delightful meal of Dover Sole filet with scallops and prawns. Served with salad, it rounded off a lovely afternoon.

Thursday, 26th April, 2018

A quiet day in which we went through our normal routines. Morning was spent replying to correspondence, reading newspapers and Faceache/Twitter_feed, bit of housework, etc.. The weather outside has been decidedly Aprilion with sunshine and showers. Even our swim was started in warm sunshine and finished in breezy showers.

I was expecting a delivery of INR testing strips from Coaguchek which was delivered by UPS just as we were out at the Health Club. When I got home, I had a hell of a job to  trace the package, contact UPS and set up a delivery to a pickup point. Some companies make it easy and some have little idea. I could have been old, frail, alone and desperate for these supplies. Fortunately, I am none of these and have ordered them weeks early so my supply is seamless.

Friday, 27th April, 2018

Mum circa 1983 aged 60 in Bretby

Today is the 10th anniversary of my Mother’s death. It happened at a difficult time in my life. I was grossly overweight and had been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Work was winding down towards retirement and we were searching for answers to our way forward. My relationship with my Mother had always been a confused and confusing one. I remember my emotional turmoil as I wrote an oration for the funeral service.

Mum circa 1943 aged 20 in Croydon

Strangely, although this may just be a trick of my memory system, it seems so much longer ago. It was a different world. She represented a different world, value system, morality, religion. It is a world which most of us have now rejected and replaced. Right up to the end, Mum still talked about the ‘nigger in the wood pile’ and ‘golliwogs’ – the dolls from her youth – without much sense of prejudice. She talked of ‘eye-ties’ (Italians) stinking of garlic and thought pork pie was for the Working Class. She went on a Nile Cruise and told me in horrified tones afterwards that some people on the boat wore ‘Trainers’ not nice ‘Court Shoes’ like her. She had a lot of Hyacinth Bouquet about her.

I understand that her tendency to snobbery and over exaggeration of ‘station’ came from her feeling the need to compensate for her, distant Irish immigrant background. Unfortunately, as any reader of this Blog will know, I well and truly caught the affliction. However, she also gave me so many tools which have stood me in good stead – a love of words and ideas, of argument and debate, of art and music, of nature. This August, she would have been 95 and I remember her here.

Saturday, 28th April, 2018

First trimmings of French Tarragon.

A grey but mild day. We’ve decided to have a couple of day’s rest. Pauline is looking forward to making a new batch of bread – for herself – and I have done a bit of tidying up in the garden. We did have a fruitless trip out to Ferring to collect a parcel which still hadn’t been dropped off and to Sainsburys for Tahini paste which they hadn’t got in stock. Traffic around here on a Saturday is very busy and to be avoided if at all possible.

Pauline is roasting chicken for our meal and flavouring it with the first trimmings of the new season’s French Tarragon from our garden. The herbs and salad leaves are growing well inspite of the rather poor weather. The recently planted out fig bushes and olive tree all seem to be loving their release from pots and into open ground. I have high hopes for them.

In Greece, it is reported that eight years of austerity imposed by its Eurozone partners will end this summer. At the same time, however, it is also reported that

Greece’s economic crisis is over only if you don’t live there.

Everyone else, in other words, might have moved on because Greece isn’t threatening to knock over the other dominoes that are known as the global economy anymore, but its people are still stuck in what is the worst collapse a rich country has ever gone through. Indeed, if the International Monetary Fund’s latest projections are correct, it might be at least another 10 years before Greece is back to where it was in 2007. And that’s only if there isn’t another recession between now and then