Week 512

Sunday, 14th October, 2018

The warmth just goes on. We are reading 17C/63F at 8.00 am. Actually, I forgot and left the thermometer outside last night. The night was punctuated with a short burst of heavy rain. By the time I had rescued the thermometer, it had switched from Centigrade to Fahrenheit. Must be a Brexit message there. At least it is now dry and we can look forward to swimming outside after our gym session this afternoon.

I have written before about my proclivity to bulk buy and stockpile. I was reminded of it by reading Hunter Davies’ article in the Sunday Times this morning. If you don’t know Hunter Davies, he has been a journalist all his life and really came to prominence in the late 1960s by writing the Beatles Biography. Davies is 82 and recently widowed but has contributed to the Sunday Times ‘Money’ section for many years, developing a reputation as a curmudgeonly, old skinflint. He bemoans the cost of things and looks for ways of saving money plus making money through investments. He is usually very amusing and, although much older and wealthier, reminds me of me a bit. This millionaire currently forward buys and stockpiles bags of porridge oats which he purchases from Morrisons at £0.75/€0.85 per bag.

I used to think I was odd until I read Hunter Davies. I bulk buy and stockpile many commodities when I know they are greatly reduced. I use a particular ‘Gum Health’ Mouthwash which usually retails at £5.00 per bottle. Every so often, it is reduced to £2.50 and I go in for the kill. Actually, it is currently £1.98/€2.25 in Superdrug and £4.00/€4.55 in Boots. I will often have two boxes each containing 24 bottles of mouthwash adorning the storage racks in my garage. If you want to know something even more weird, I always open a new bottle on a Friday evening and make it last exactly two weeks. That’s how I know we are approaching the weekend. Hunter Davies doesn’t need to budget like this and nor do I but it is fun and gives us pleasure. Mind you, he is Scottish.

He also ruminates constantly on the tightrope balancing act between how long he will live – His wife of 56 years died recently. – and how much money he will have. He doesn’t want to run out but doesn’t want to leave much behind either. It is one of life’s great dilemmas!

Hope you enjoy the new week. It could be your last.

Monday, 15th October, 2018

Happy Birthday to my Dad. He would have been 103 today but was cruelly removed from our lives at the age of 49. I was 14 at the time and remember so little about his influences in my life which is a pity. He died in hospital where he was being treated for heart problems. One can only think that he might well have survived with a heart bypass operation today and gone on to live a long and happy later life. I am just grateful that I have had 18 years more than him already and still counting.

A grey, warm day greeted us at 7.00 am with 17C/63F on the thermometer. Shorts and Tee-shirt  on and down for fresh orange juice and tea. The newly sowed lawn has grown amazingly over night. By the time we return from Tenerife, we will be mowing it with stripes as if nothing has happened.

Moody Skiathos

The order of the morning has been packing for our trip to Yorkshire (Pauline), sorting out new, bonus+ savings accounts (Me) and following the latest Brexit talks before setting off for the Health Club. We did our full gym routine but gave the pool a miss today. There is so much to do before we set off around 9.00 am tomorrow.

If you read the Skiathan’s Blog or just visited Skiathos, you will be alarmed to read that Skiathan Man is so influential that his presence has produced earthquakes over the weekend. If you like small, Greek islands, visit Skiathos immediately – before Skiathan Man and/or Brexit destroys it!

Tuesday, 16th October, 2018

Up early on a gloriously warm (17C/63F) and sunny morning. Driving to Yorkshire which will take us between 4 and 5 hours depending on the motorways. ….

Autumn is well advanced in Yorkshire.

The drive was completely smooth and uneventful. The M25 at one end was busy but moving. The M1 in the middle was rather quiet and the M62 at the end of the journey was … well, the M62. We did it in 5 hrs and the most notable things were the change in temperature and seasons as we moved North. Touching 20C/68F in Sussex, we arrived to 14C/57F in Yorkshire. The advance of Autumn was the most noticeable change across the country.

Looking forward to meeting up with old friends and neighbours tomorrow. It’s going to be a busy day

Wednesday, 17th October, 2018

After a fitful night, – I usually don’t sleep well on the first night in a new bed. – we were up early and down to breakfast. Eating feels sinful but ‘required’. It is a lovely, autumnal morning and we have a busy day ahead.

Old friends: Pauline, Little Viv & Margaret.

Driving through old haunts is the most bizarre experience. It is hard to stay sharp and appreciative of the landscape. I find I have gone miles almost without thinking about the very familiar landmarks. I know them, in retrospect, so well.

We drove to a Bistro in an old, mill owner’s house on the outskirts of Huddersfield. We were there for just after 10.30 am. Huge cups of Yorkshire tea and Columbian coffee, savoury tarts and sweet confectionaries came and went. The conversation flowed so easily and the memories fell softly as three hours passed in no time at all. Eventually, we had to leave and parted with the promise that our friends would visit us in Sussex next.

We drove on to our old home in Longwood that we left in 2010 to move to Surrey. Our lovely next door neighbour, Jean, had arranged to meet us. Her husband, Perry, a lookalike Rod Stewart, is a technical lecturer in Bradford but preparing to retire soon. Jean has lived there for 25 years but they are about to embark on a house building project in Halifax. We swap recent experiences, reminisce about past events and, after a couple of hours, agree to keep in email contact until our next meeting.

We have been out for about six hours and are exhausted. We are unused to socialising and suddenly parachuting into such a series of situations is very tiring. I remember the same feeling after 6 weeks quietly in our Greek house. The first day back at work of speaking, planning, interacting with others for hours left us shattered. Of course, we also had to do it all again the next day. Just so now, we are off to Lancashire tomorrow to visit two, different friends plus some of Pauline’s relations.

Thursday, 18th October, 2018

The most perfect day of clear skies and continual sunshine. It was a clear, star-filled sky over night and the result was an early morning frost and ice on the car windscreen. After breakfast, we drove over to Hollinwood to view Pauline’s Mum’s commemoration book at the crematorium. It is 8 years since she died at the age of 96 and we have attended to bear witness every year on this day since.  Of course, nature is always sad. The trees around the park weep russet-coloured leaves to mark the occasion. Usually, the sky weeps light rain but gave us reason to rejoice today.

After a short while, we drove over to Shaw to visit my old friend and colleague, Brian. It was a lovely few hours gossiping about people we have known and how their lives have developed in absentia. 

Marsden Moor

Our next appointment was with two elderly relatives of Pauline – her cousin, Joyce (81) and her husband, Harry (82) who have lived in the same house in Littlemoor for 56 years. Pauline & I taught their, two children – Susan & Andrew – who are now 58 & 53. How old that makes us feel.

We drove on to the site of our old school which is now a field with the foundations in place for a huge number of new houses. Very strange feeling. We also visited the school where I was Headteacher which has also been demolished and now has been turned into a public park. We drove on to the new Academy which has replaced the schools and then back over the Pennines and Marsden Moor on the A62 past the Nont Sarah’s Pub and into Outlane.

By the time we got to our hotel, we had been out and meeting people, talking and listening for 7 hours. We were exhausted and ready for rest and isolation before planning tomorrow’s trip back to West Sussex via my home village of Repton and my Mum’s grave.

Friday, 19th October, 2018

We always wake at 5.59 am every morning in time for full consciousness and the BBC_R4_Today news at 6.00 am. The only difference is that, when we were working, my head would groan as I rehearsed what I had to get through that day and what I hadn’t done to prepare for it. It would immediately make me feel tired and reluctant to get up. In retirement, I immediately begin to think of all the things I want to get done in the day and I am itching to get up and started. The whole thing is psychological and pivots on the words Requirement & Expectation/Choice & Anticipation. It is amazing how being in charge of one’s own destiny empowers one and engenders optimism and enjoyment.

This morning, our hotel decided the words were going to be Requirement & Expectation. We were woken in our darkened room to the sound of an alarm at 5.25 am. I had been in a deep sleep and woke with a jolt, thinking I was at home. I leapt out of bed, turned left and walked into the wall. I suddenly realised that I was not at home. The noise was a fire alarm. Shorts and tee-shirt on, I went out into the lobby outside our suite. As I did so, the alarm stopped. I was the only person to be seen. It turned out later that some flight crew who had an early off at Leeds/Bradford airport had made and burnt toast and set off the alarm.

It was too late to go back to bed. Cups of tea in our suite, showers and down for Breakfast. Can you eat at 6.30 in the morning? Well, we managed to force it down and go back to finish packing. By this time it was the most glorious day beginning. We checked out around 8.30 am – after I had cleared ice from the windows. I was still in my shorts and tee-shirt which suddenly seemed wholly inappropriate.

We drove off to the Capital of Mercia, Repton in Derbyshire where I originated. We had done our duty in visiting Pauline’s Mum’s crematorium and we were now doing the same for my Mum & Dad who are buried together in the village. We visit on the same day each year – October 18th – and the scene is similar in its autumnal sadness. The grave and the graveyard littered with damp, dead and decaying leaves, we only stay a few minutes to concentrate our thoughts and memories …. and then life goes on.

Saturday, 20th October, 2018

Although the drive down and back was as good as it has been for years, the weather was delightful and we were buoyed by lovely experiences and memories, the week has been quite intense for a retired and retiring gentleman. This morning, I can feel the tiredness of the past few days, of all the driving, talking, thinking, kissing. Ruth will tell you that, as you move nearer to 70 years old, these things can take there toll and you need a little time to recuperate. I should have been in London marching with the Brother/Sisterhood but it was a stretch too far. I had to leave my sister, JaneBG, to represent me. With ¾ million marchers, a little, old man like me wouldn’t be missed. Anyway, I do my bit in other ways!

Back on more mundane matters, it was great to see that I have a lawn again. We reseeded it just two weeks ago and a combination of a really rainy day followed by lots of warm and sunny weather has resulted in a thick, sward of luscious, green growth. I was so tired today that I cancelled a trip to the gym and just stood in the sunlit garden admiring the grass. Pauline griddled peppers and swordfish steaks outside in the sunshine and it provided the most wonderful meal to end the day with a chilled bottle of sauvignon blanc. Life can be good, can’t it?

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