Week 488

Sunday, 29th April, 2018

Coastal City of Valencia

Cold and grey outside. We have determined to stay in although we are expecting heavy rain and strong, cold winds over the next couple of days so we had to spend time in the back garden sheltering our herb pots and blanketing them with horticultural fleece. Even so, I fear for the welfare of the Basil which may need to be replaced with new plants if the cold blast hits them.

We are off to Valencia in a couple of weeks so I have been checking out plans for connections between airport and hotel and for interesting places to visit while we are there. I suspect that we will do what we always do which is not visit lots of ‘must see’ sights like the Science Museum but walk around the old town and sit in cafes watching the Valencian world go by. We have found a nice, 5* hotel with indoor and outdoor pools plus a good gym and with easy metro links with the city. Looking forward to exploring somewhere new.

Monday, 30th April, 2018

A vile night and day of strong winds, heavy rain and very cold temperatures (hovering around 5C/41F) to mark the end of April. We were up at 7.00 am and out by 8.30 am in heavy, fine and very wetting rain. The sea was grey and leaden as the sky as we drove in to Worthing town.

Pauline was picking up some clothes she’d ordered from Debenhams, having her hair cut at Toni & Guy and I was enjoying a pint of fresh coffee at Starbucks. We drove back through the village/town of Ferring to make a third attempt to pick up a parcel that UPS have been trying to deliver to me for the past 5 days. It still wasn’t there.

I am a mild mannered person who understands that arrangements can go wrong but this organisation is totally unacceptable. Since I ordered this parcel of medical supplies, I have had to make 5 phone calls and drive 3 trips to unsuccessfully collect from an office miles away from my home. Today, the company arrived at my house for the third time while I was out at the Health Club ignoring the fact that we had agreed last week that they would deliver to a UPS Access Point for me to collect.

When I got home I phoned and gave the unfortunate Desk Clerk both barrels. Within minutes, I received a mobile call to confirm that the driver would do what he was supposed to do the first time and actually deliver to the nominated office and that I will be able to collect on Wednesday. I have written to the management of UPS and to the medical company, CoaguChek expressing my disquiet at their level of service. It is one of those satisfying things that retirement gives one time to do.

Tuesday, 1st May, 2018

A cold and very sunny start to the morning. Happy May. I think it’s going to be good. The sunshine soon warmed up the back garden and I was able to take the fleece covers off my herb pots and let them embrace the day.

Embracing the day on the 1st of May is a lovely thing to do. I am still researching raised beds for the garden and, once again, the most amazing coincidence presented itself. I came across a company in Lowestoft, Suffolk who were marketing flat packs of raised bed kits. I went on their web site – Harrod Horticultural – and found a video presentation. Playing it, I was immediately struck by the presenter. I knew him well from my past life. In fact he used to make me coffee most days at work. The presenter, Paul Peacock, was a Science teacher at my school and Pauline’s Assistant for a short while.

About 10 years ago, I was sitting in my Greek house and reading some of the Blogs I follow. One, Democracy Street written by Simon Baddeley, referred to Simon’s relative, Jack Hargreaves, who spent years presenting a country skills programme called Out of Town on ATV. The Blogger, Simon, refers to a Lancashire man who has just written a short biography of Jack Hargreaves and he posts a photo of the author. I take one look at the photo and it is – Paul Peacock who made very poor coffee, by the way. Nice to see he’s still got some work.

Wednesday, 2nd May, 2018

The day started off with heavy rain. We needed to visit Honda because, although our 24 month service has been booked for the middle of June, we have suddenly heard a knocking noise underneath which sounds like the Macpherson Suspension Strut on the wheel mounting. We managed to secure an immediate appointment for tomorrow morning and may bring our service forward to combine and save time.

Getting home, the rain was really driving in and I decided that I didn’t need to put myself through going out in it again. We agreed that we would give the Health Club a miss and do jobs at home. Pauline did tidy up work on the stair case where new-build settlement had left some gaps to fill and repaint. I completed my complaint to UPS having finally collected my parcel today and then prepared our meal which was shallots, garlic, cherry tomatoes and tail-on-prawns with white wine sauce. I accompanied it with roasted yellow peppers and garlic mushrooms. Genius! Well, I enjoyed it anyway.

Thursday, 3rd May, 2018

A glorious morning and day. Blue sky, strong sunshine and increasing warmth which peaked at 20C/68F. We went out early to Yeomans Honda in Worthing. We had a concerning noise under the floor of the car which is just coming up to two year’s old and has only done 14,000 miles. Over the past 40 years, we have had 23 new Hondas and 12 new CRVs. We have never had any concern about any of them before this. The new, hybrid CRV is due out in UK at the turn of the year so we will be replacing this car after when it is about  30+ months old.

We are due a 24 month service in about 6 weeks time so we thought we would cover both things in one visit. We had a ‘courtesy’ CRV to get us through the day and so life could go on seamlessly. We went on to do a full exercise routine at the Health Club. Swimming was a particular delight with warm sunshine sparkling on the clear water and birdsong ringing round the hedges.

Friday, 4th May, 2018

It was forecast and it was delivered. A beautiful, warm, sunny day. From the moment we got up at 7.00 am, the sky was so inviting. We had to do our weekly shop but we managed that by 9.45 am. We were still driving a ‘courtesy car’ because they couldn’t work out what the noise was coming from below the passenger seat. We were driving home when the phone went to say that they had  finally identified the problem which turned out to be the failure of a small, rubber connector on the Macpherson Strut providing suspension to the front, nearside wheel. There was no charge, of course for the warranty work or the 24 month Service because we have 5 years’ warranty and a free, 5 year service agreement.

When we got home, we decided that the day was so delightful that we would give the Health Club a miss. I cut the lawns and trimmed the edges. We went round to our local Garden Centre and bought some more pots, some more Basil and Dill plants and potted them up. We have decided not to rush the raised beds but to install them in time for next season and, possibly, combine them with some more extensive hard garden design.

Sexy or What?

Not going to the gym today will give my poor feet a bit more respite from their regular pounding. Daily workout on the treadmill plus the drying effect of the chemicals in swimming water have combined to make the heals of my feet tough, thick skinned, dry and prone to cracking. I try to ignore it but, when the crack gets as deep as these, I have to have attention.

Every morning, I have my feet softened in a bowl of water, filed or scraped, creamed and taped to pull and knit the crack fissures back together. It is a labour of love that my wife willingly undertakes. This latest problem has been receiving daily treatment for more than a month and is better but not completely cured so a lighter day could well help.  That’s my excuse anyway.

Saturday, 5th May, 2018

Today is notable for two celebrations. Today is the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx birth. A massive influence on world thinking, analysis and subsequent events. Those who wrinkle their noses and scoff at the mention of his name, clearly don’t know how much of his thinking permeates modern life. Marx and Engels foresaw how globalisation would work. They wrote:

In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes.

In 2015, Socialism was the most searched word on Webster’s online dictionary. Socialism does not carry historical baggage for a younger generation left behind by the iniquities of capitalism. A Harvard study found that a majority of millennials reject capitalism and a third are in favour of socialism. Marxist thought will continue to inform Historical and current analysis generating new relations between workers.

Bishops Park Restaurant

On a lighter note, this weekend marks exactly 40 years since Pauline first asked me out. It was a good job she did because I was far too timid to ask her. We went to a small restaurant on the outskirts of Oldham near a golf course. I can still remember the evening with sharp definition which is impressive for someone without a memory.

Even then, it was more café-cum-restaurant and very relaxed. The tables had flowers in a jug centrally on gingham table cloths. Rather as I have remained, I over enthusiastically pushed the flowers aside and seized Pauline’s hand as soon as we sat down. I was dressed in a dark suit and pale blue shirt with dark blue tie. I have no idea what we ate but I remember walking back to the car in the pitch darkness of the carpark of this place on the edge of the moors. We had our first kiss and I knew immediately that I would ask her to marry me. I was just 27 years old and we got married 8 months later in December 1978. Happy, exciting times that I have never regretted for a single moment.

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