Week 509

Sunday, 23rd September, 2018

A cooler but bright and sunny day. Newspapers, football and gym exercise fairly sum up the day. Having been away this week, it is a time to enjoy HOME. Be that as it may, we have places to go over the next couple of months. We are going to Dorset to meet up with our friend, Jill, although not staying over this time. We are going to Yorkshire to see old friends and visit our Mothers’ graves. And then we are flying out to spend the month of November on the south east tip of Tenerife.

Sunny Girona

Even so, we know that we cannot stand still and are beginning to plan next year’s trips. We are still toying with a Springtime trip to Australia although, in our discussions, it is on and off the agenda every other day. The length of the flight is at the core of our vacillation. An hour’s flight to Edinburgh was ideal. Two and a half hours flight to Valencia was perfectly acceptable. Three and a half hours to Athens was beginning to become uncomfortable and four and a half hours to Tenerife will really be stretching it. A twenty four hour flight to Australia, even with one stop, feels like a step too far and then again it might be worth it.

Our annual Athens trip will include a Greek island stay next year. In fact, we are expecting to spend a month on an island sandwiched either side with a few days in Athens making it about five weeks in all. We have already been invited to stay in the home of a friend on Sifnos. That is likely to be in September.

We will almost certainly do a couple of short breaks in France after Christmas and we will probably rent a villa for the month of July on the French/Spanish border. We haven’t decided which yet but that is one discussion today. It will be somewhere between Perpignan and Girona. I fancy the latter.

We are very much hoping that the villa we are renting in Tenerife will be to our liking – it has its own heated pool, wi-fi and English Freeview television plus a fully kitted out kitchen with dishwasher and washing machine. We don’t want to camp out but we do want to extend the 2018 sunshine experience. If we like this villa, it may become a recurring experience over the next few years. As we start the final week of September 2018 and the start of Winter, we are thinking about the future with optimism.

Monday, 24th September, 2018

A beautiful morning of blue sky and strong sunshine as we got up at 6.30 am. It isn’t warm at just 7C/45F because of those clear skies at this time of year. We have a ‘snagger’ coming to redo the sealant around the bath and one of the shower trays.

We learned that 2 -2½ years after completion of a new-build property is just the time to address resettlement issues but it is also the time when builders’ warranties run out. We were lucky to buy just at the time when 5 year warranties were on offer. They have since been withdrawn for new purchasers. With 2½ years still to run, we feel very fortunate and relaxed about the years ahead. What is particularly reassuring is that everything is included in that warranty right down to the white goods that came with this new property. Cetainly, I would never buy an old property again.

Tuesday, 25th September, 2018

As the Skiathan observed, the view might be of Summer but the feel is distinctly Autumn. At 7.00 am, we were reading 7C/45F and didn’t rise above 19C/66F all day although it felt much warmer in our back garden and around the pool as we swam outside this afternoon. It is almost October but members were sunbathing outside around the pool.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about renewing our mobile phone contract and receiving an upgrade smartphone. We chose a Huawei P20 Pro which we were told would cost us £800.00/€900.00 each for our phones. I must admit, I was sceptical until I searched for one to buy and found that was exactly the price demanded on the open market. When we received our smartphones, we were told that a ‘special offer’ for people ‘buying’ their phone in September included a ‘free’ pair of Huawei ‘earbuds’ which were valued at £80.00/€90.00 per pair. Once again, I was incredulous. How could a pair of earphones be worth that much?

They arrived today and are pretty much state-of-the-art. The case they are stored in is powered up by USB cord and the earphones are blue tooth with controls for receiving smartphone calls, etc. I went on line to buy a pair and couldn’t get a pair below £85.00/€95.00. Actually, we will each pay around £1002.00 over the 2 yr contract and receive unlimited calls, texts + 10GB of Data per month. It is a deal we are happy with.

Had a very active day in the strong sunshine today. The morning was spent weeding, pruning and trimming the hedges. Later we went to do our full gym routine and a wonderful swim outside in the sunshine.

Wednesday, 26th September, 2018

Rustington in (mid-Summer?) late September.

Time is rushing away. We are in the last 5 days of September. Today, I received my new, Bank Debit card with an expiry date of the end of 2021. I will be 70 years old by the time I receive it. What the hell is happening? I remember 1984 with Orwellian dread. I remember 2000 with a trembling computer. I remember thinking reaching 50 (2001) was the zenith of achievement particularly as my Dad died at 49. I remember thinking 60 (2011) meant I was officially a senior citizen. Surely, 70 (2021) means I am officially dead? I am trying to keep my expectations low. Getting to 80 (2031) would be a real achievement. Getting to 90 (2042) would be the height of good fortune. Of course, age without good health is a questionable attainment. That’s why a daily gym session is so important.

We went out early to Rustington in Mediterranean weather. It is an attractive town at the best of times with good shops and lots of facilities but was particularly enjoyable in the sunshine today. Pauline was having a facial and I was having a mooch and a coffee at Waitrose. By 11.00 am, it was 25C/77F in the wonderful sunshine. Home to watch Corbyn’s speech and then off to the Health Club for a couple of hours. Chicken marinated in lemon, tarragon, garlic and olive oil, griddled outside in the sunshine with tomato salad was just wonderful.

Thursday, 27th September, 2018

What a glorious day of wall to wall sunshine. It is a day to celebrate being alive. Pauline observed this morning, as I continued to obsess about the passage of time, that just 20 years ago we were still in our main, Yorkshire home which we only sold in 2000. So much has happened in that time.

In the past 20 years, both our mothers have died. We have retired. We have sold 4 houses and bought/built 4 houses and rented two others. We have moved out of Greece and branched out in our travels. We have bought 10, new cars – all Honda CRVs. Pauline has been operated on to remove a benign tumour from her arm and had her gall bladder removed. I have been diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation and Type 2 Diabetes. The former is being successfully managed and the latter is gone. I have lost 11.0st/70kgs and gone down 2 shoe sizes.

So many of these events have been life changing. Retirement, losing our parents, leaving an adopted country, leaving our homes, addressing life-challenging conditions. they are not minor events in a individual’s life. They are perhaps not as seismic and life-threatening as the Skiathan Man has had to face but, in our small world, they have been big events. If we can grab another 20 years, we think of how much we can pack in. We may not have so many new homes although there may be one or two in the timeline. Similarly with new cars. We hope for more travel and less medical attention but that is in the lap of fate. Keep looking forwards. Keep moving on.

To that end, we did a morning out in the wonderful sunshine in which we reached 23C/74F and then three hours at the Health Club with a full exercise session. I have managed 16,000 paces today and I am averaging 10,000 paces per day for a calendar year. If I can keep that going, perhaps I can see 2038.

Friday, 28th September, 2018

One of the things about aging is feeling that a younger generation is leaving one behind. All generations feel that at some times and in some ways. Pauline & I always pledged that we would never say, We’re too old for all that! or that equally defeatist exclamation, Thank goodness I won’t be alive when that happens! There are some things that I will not embrace for reasons of safety or taste rather than age per se.

I have no desire to walk across an open road while texting on a phone. Actually, (and this is an admission) I can’t bring myself to write ‘hip’ texts without punctuation or use smiley-face emoticons instead of words. After all, I was an English teacher. Equally, I have no desire to bungee jump or paraglide.

When I was in my formative years in Grammar School, I wouldn’t have been seen dead with a handbag. It was a struggle to make me carry a raincoat. I certainly wouldn’t have had a tattoo even had I been allowed to by my parents which wouldn’t have happened even on pain of death. Now, in the changing room at the Health Centre, one feels positively freakish not being decorated from head to foot in blue ink.  Equally, I wouldn’t have been seen blow drying my hair or preening in the mirror for hours while applying body lotion. I hold to those principles still but I have cracked on one line of development.

For years I watched Mediterranean men walk around casually sporting a shoulder/handbag. I was a bit shocked but regularity breeds familiarity and, as I travelled more and required more backup – reading glasses, toothpicks, tissues, Sweetex tablets, medication tablets, smartphone, iPad, etc. – I found my pockets were not enough. I took the plunge and bought a leather, man-bag in Athens. At first, I was very self conscious and tried hard to not stand with my hands on my hips but, eventually, it became part of daily attire. Like so many Greek things, it wasn’t built to last and started to fray at the seams. My next bag was bought in M&S of all places. It has been all over Europe with me. After almost 10 years, it too is showing signs of wear and I’ve had to order a new one. My only embarrassment this time is that it will cost almost £80.00/€96.00. You could have bought a car for that in my day!

Saturday, 29th September, 2018

The penultimate day of the month has been glorious. Wall-to-Wall sunshine from peerless skies. and really warm. We had already decided to take a day of from the Health Club and to fill it with jobs. It was a busy day. By 9.00 am, I was scarifying our ‘dead’ back lawn. By 10.30 am, we were at our local pharmacy for our Flu’ jabs and, by 11.30 am, we were at the Local Authority Tip with bags of lawn and then back at the house to watch an abject Man. Utd. lose to West Ham. of all  people.

After that, I gave the car a full valet including treating the leather upholstery, hoovering the whole of the inside and wax polishing the outside. It took me the best part of two hours and I was really tired by the end of it. I was rewarded with a rare treat. In fact, I haven’t had it for about 20 years. Pollo Allegro or Italian Chicken Kiev. It is chicken breast with a pocket slit in the centre which is filled with garlic butter and mozzarella cheese. The breast is wrapped in pancetta ham and then coated with bread crumbs. (I’ve had absolution for eating bread today.) It is deep fried usually but we pan roasted ours in the oven. It was absolutely wonderful and took us back to our Friday nights after a hard week at work when we would go to Sole Mio in Huddersfield for an indulgent, Italian meal.