Week 492

Sunday, 27th May, 2018

The final week of May, 2018 and another hot and humid day. We have reached 26C/79F today and it feels much hotter in our sheltered back garden. We were forecast thunder and lightning followed by torrential rain last night. We received none of it. The morning broke to news of storms elsewhere but the sky was clear and sunny here this morning and the temperature rapidly rose from 16C/61F overnight.

We have been to the Health Club to do our exercise routine. The only thing we do differently at weekends is drop the swimming. It is no fun fighting for space with the sunbathing crowds or the poseurs in the pool. We are driving up to Surrey tomorrow but will be back in full exercise routine on Tuesday as the workers go back…. to work.

Isn’t it wonderful to see the Roman Catholic Church utterly rejected by one of its formerly staunch bastions – Southern Ireland. It just shows that blind prejudice and nonsense only ever is time-limited. Rationality will always, ultimately, win out. I don’t think I will live to see the ultimate triumph of the complete annihilation of Catholicism but it will certainly come. It will happen with EU Membership in just the same way. Already one can hear the Brextremists dying away.

Monday, 28th May, 2018

Box Hill

Wonderful day. Bank Holiday? I hate Bank Holidays normally! Today was a hot and sunny one which reached 28C/83F. We went out early and drove to Surrey to visit P&C. The drive up was reasonably quiet and pleasant. The countryside is at its most beautiful with thick, new growth in trees and hedges.

About half way through the 50 mile/1 hour drive, I made a strange connection which brought me up short. A sign post for Box Hill suddenly brought memories flooding back of a vaguely surreal recollection. More than 60 years ago, my brother Bob & I were visiting our Grandparents. Grandad took us on a walk up Box Hill. At the time, our grandparents lived in Purley, Croydon. I can remember that they lived in Laburnum Terrace but I have no recollection of how we got to Box Hill or back again. I have never been there since and the memory is hazy but what a strange coincidence that I find myself here again!

As we drove home, the brilliant, hot sunshine disappeared, spots of rain flecked the windscreen and suddenly we were in deep floods on the final stretch of 4-5 miles home. Flash floods had gathered as a cloud burst passed over. Traffic was slowing to negotiate the hazards. By the time we drove in to our drive, the sun was coming out again and all was well with the world.

Tuesday, 29th May, 2018

My Grandfather who I referred to in yesterday’s post was the son of Irish immigrants. He was born in abject poverty in Brighton in 1894 and was christened James Joseph Jeremiah Coghlan. You’d never guess he was an Irish Catholic would you? He worked in London as a French Polisher, Furniture Restorer and furniture salesman. Just before he was about to retire, he was knocked over by a London taxi and badly injured. He retired with my Grandma, Lily, to the small, East Midlands village of Repton where I was born.

As a child at the turn of the century, he learnt his humour very much from the ‘slapstick’ of the silent movies. I can still remember him now trying to tell us children through laughing till he cried eyes about an incident near his cottage. There was a small hump backed bridge across the brook and he was walking round to meet us for lunch. As he did, an elderly cyclist came too fast on his bike over the bridge, hit the hump and flew over the handlebars landing in a heap on the road. It could have been, maybe was, a serious incident but he could only see the funny side of it. He thought it was hysterical.

We had our own slapstick moment this morning which left Pauline mortified but me laughing like a drain (to coin a phrase). All signs of yesterday’s cloud burst had disappeared. Suddenly, while we were in Sainsbury’s, we heard the most almighty roar as torrential rain crashed down on the roof. As she drove us home, Pauline dodged deep puddles and drifts of water where she could. Facing passing traffic in the lane near our house, she had no alternative but to drive straight through a deep rainwater drift and I suddenly heard someone shout out loud,

Oh! Thanks very much.

I looked in the wing mirror and saw a middle aged man walking with a woman and his dog. He was wearing light beige trousers and was desperately trying to brush off the clouds of dirty water squirted up and drenching him. there was nothing Pauline could have done but it was a delightfully slapstick moment that Grandad Coghlan would have loved.

We finished the day with a full, workout session and swim at the Health Club. We came home feeling so happy with our selves and our lives. We feasted on cold salmon with pesto, prawns and salad. Let’s hope this is continued and nobody comes along in their car to drench us.

Wednesday, 30th May, 2018

A warm, steamy and very humid day. The temperature only reached 22C/70F but it felt very close. We did a full exercise routine and left the pool feeling absolutely knackered. I’ve set myself the target of doing Thursday and Friday as well.

We have got just over three weeks until we drive to the Dordogne. Looking back in my Blog, eight years ago this month, we were in a French DIY shop in Greece. Leroy Merlin in Athens is where we were shopping for air conditioning units to upgrade the original ones we had installed in our house and 200 sq.ms. of tiles for our patio which we had finally got round to upgrading. It was the beginning of our taking responsibility for the house after leaving that to Stavros for too long.

It felt good that we were no longer relying on someone else and not subject to the small island politics/commerce that had ruled our lives until then. As a loyal islander, Stavros tried hard to channel our cash through island businesses even if that meant limited choice and increased prices. By this stage, we were aware of this and striking out for ourselves saved us at least 50% of the cost and increased our choice of materials 500%. It was a good time as our house finally received our own stamp on it.

In Greece as in Italy, most are proud to be members of the EU. In Italy, unlike Greece, quite a few would like to be outside the euro. “We are worried that if there is instability in Italy and it has an impact on the financial situation, this financial situation could create extra problems for us,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said as he spoke in Europe. Speaking inside Greece, the public were told ‘everything is under control.’ Two contradictory statements on the same day is the stuff of Greek politics.

Thursday, 31st May, 2018

Oh no! We are losing May so quickly. Let’s hope we lose its torrential rain as well. We’ve had another downpour this morning. It was quite interesting the first time. It’s getting boring now. It was so wet, I had to send my wife out to do the first harvest of the summer’s herbs. It didn’t take her long and she only has to wash, chop and batch freeze them so that’s alright then. The Basil isn’t ready, of course but the picture shows plates of Oregano, Majoram (which is origanum vulgares), Thyme, Lemon Thyme, Tarragon and Wild Rocket.

Anyone who knows me knows I love gadgets. I would buy a gadget even if I didn’t need it just to prove to myself that I could master it. I told Pauline that I would like to convert our fixed heating controls to remote/Wi-Fi ones. This month, we have to reassess our fuel providers as our ‘fix’ is coming to an end in July. We are with British Gas because that’s what was set up for us by our builder. Actually, it has proved to be excellent both in terms of on-line service and price. We have Dual Fuel from them and our 12 month bill for a 4-bedroomed, detached house has been £977.00/€1115.00 which we think is fantastic. Searching around, I might save £50.00/€57.00 if I switched but without guarantee of the accompanying service so I’m not especially inclined to.

Now, they really have me hooked. They are offering a good priced fuel contract with an excellent additional package of Wi-Fi automation. It includes the Hive Active Heating Thermostat, a Hive Hub, Amazon Echo Dot controller, Hive Motion Sensor, some Wi-Fi controlled smart plugs and smart light bulbs. The whole thing comes for £220.00/€251.00 including 90 mins fitting which I think is a bargain. I’m staying with British Gas!

Friday, 1st June, 2018

Happy June 2018 to all our readers. Let’s hope that, after all the recent rain, it will be a warm, sunny and dry month. We will be in France before it ends. Last night I booked an extra trip for September. Shortly after we get back from Greece, we are flying to Edinburgh to meet up with some friends who we haven’t seen for 40 years. Every Christmas in that period we have shuttled the same two Christmas cards between each other with a new newsletter attached and the pledge to meet up soon.

Bjorn, a Norwegian, taught pottery in our school and his wife taught jewellery making. They went off to Edinburgh University to lecture in their disciplines. Bjorn is now retired but his wife continues to produce and exhibit world-renowned jewellery. It is going to be great to meet up again after all this time.

I have a confession to make. I couldn’t make myself go to the gym today. After a whole morning out walking round villages and shops with Pauline, I was tired. We decided to stay at home and do some jobs. By early evening, however, I was getting anxious about not achieving my target of 10,000 paces. I needed another 2,500 as a minimum. We went for a walk down a leafy, village lane past the old, abandoned (plant) nursery and the huge house and estate known as Tall Trees. It was owned until 6 or 7 years ago by the impresario, Lord Delfont. It is currently up for sale for £1,645,000 although it is rumoured that it will be bought for development potential. By the time I got home, I was reading 11,200 paces.

Saturday, 2nd June, 2018

A lovely, warm and sunny day. Mowed and edged the lawns. They are looking very green after all that rain. The basil is developing rapidly although the rest of the herbs are looking very sorry for themselves having been heavily harvested yesterday. They will be back and ready for another savaging when we get back from France in August.

Did a cardio regime in the gym but gave the pool a miss because the weather was so pleasant that we expected it to be busy. School goes back on Monday and we will return to swimming. Today, the sun was out all day and the temperature was 23C/74F. We went home and cooked whitebait in the garden, Whitebait & Salad with ice cold Sauvignon Blanc is a wonderful meal on a day like today.

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