Week 519

Sunday, 2nd December, 2018

Quite busy after our month away. The mountain of post at the door was something to behold. Most of it, of course, was catalogues and brochures. In a digital age, it is amazing how much these companies must spend on printing and posting. A ‘Next’ catalogue weighed in like a tome of Encyclopaedia Britannica and that’s showing my age. The rest was appointments with medical services to be entered up on our on-line calendar, end of term accounts from investment companies/banks, etc all of which has to be filed appropriately. All of this is my job.

Mixing at its finest!

Pauline had a really easy day. She made three Christmas cakes and two Christmas puddings. The latter were cooked most of the day in the steamer. The former were baked and tested, baked and tested as the timer dinged and they were taken out, checked and put back in in a rhythm that seemed to go on forever. So much cooking went on that our meal today was cold, roast chicken and salad. It was delicious with a glass of dry sherry from a bottle bought to pour poured into the cake mix.

Three Wise Christmas Cakes

Pauline obviously enjoyed getting back to her high-order skill as she selected the best ingredients, combined them with real experience and then suddenly realised that her mixing bowl was not big enough to take materials for three cakes in one go. Her jam kettle which would normally have helped here was left in Greece.

Cue a trip to Sainsburys and a £2.50/€2.82 plastic, washing up bowl which was perfect although the traffic there and back was absolutely manic. I’ll soak my feet in it later. Of course, while all of this was going on, I had to watch three, really top class football matches won by Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. Back to the gym for us tomorrow to continue the good fight.

Monday, 3rd December, 2018

A grey day which produced lots of rain and only a little sun. We were out early because one of us was having a mammogram. The next one will be when we are 70! Amusingly, the scanner was parked in Tesco carpark which is somewhere we are quite familiar with. We were there for a 9.00 am appointment although it does seem strange to me that a medical procedure should be scheduled in a supermarket carpark rather than a hospital.

After driving home, we have spent the day getting up to speed on administrative tasks. Pauline has renewed the car insurance after some strong bargaining. She saved at least £10.00/€11.21 on the published update. I was charged with renewing our security software for our digital instruments which are up for renewal in mid-December every year. We use Norton Security and have done for the past 20 year. It has proved reliable, flexible and economical and we have expanded it from one PC in the 1990s to 3 computers, 2 iPads and 2 smartphones today. I managed to find a seller of 10 licenses for £24.95/€28.00. This is so much cheaper than we were paying 20 years ago and provides us with daily updates of the software. As we spend the entire day connected to the internet with all 7 devices, using banks, insurances, making purchases with credit cards and providing addresses and pin numbers, we feel confident that we are protected.

We’ve been home for three days now and are beginning to feel itchy feet. This morning, I booked a short, shopping trip to France. We will leave next week and concentrate on things for Christmas – mainly sparkling wine for us but we will think of others if we can afford it and we’ve got time. Our travel through the tunnel is free courtesy of the Calais Wine Store. I will spend about £500.00/€561.00 on wine but only need to pre-order £250.00/€280.00 in order to have the £70.00/€79.00 ‘free’ return ticket through the Tunnel.

Tuesday, 4th December, 2018

Out early on a clear and low sun morning to Worthing. Driving down the beach road, sunlight scorched the water and backlit the furniture on the horizon – wind turbines, a rig, anchored engineering vessels, etc. We drove to the multi-storey carpark which announced ‘Full’. We drove up to the top floor and parked alongside the only other car up there. The day was laid out in all its glory around this rooftop. Even the seagulls were content.

The purpose of our trip was Christmas related. We haven’t had time to buy Christmas cards or presents. Pauline needed Christmas cake accoutrements and had been sourced on-line and purchased in town. The other thing we had to do was take a suitcase back to Debenhams where we bought it as a set of 4. We bought it almost a year ago and have used it 3 times. As we packed to fly home from Tenerife, we found one of the locks jammed and could not be locked. Today, the store didn’t bat an eyelid and repaid the price straight back on to our card so we can look again at leisure for a replacement.

Having almost bought out a chocolate shop, Pauline spotted a ‘bag’ shop as we walked back to the car. A few minutes later, we were on our way home with two, extra bags in the back of our car. They were a canvas, ‘carry-on’ bag for flying with and which will take her iPad and Kindle plus all the other paraphernalia that we cannot afford to lose en route. It felt like a good day all round.

Wednesday, 5th December, 2018

£12.00/€13.50 for 10 Aegean Seabass fillets

A fairly grey and overcast day in which we have a list of jobs to complete. Having been away for the whole of November, we are now in catch-up mode. However much I don’t like Christmas, I recognise my duty to others who do. Our neighbours have already started decorating their houses with lights. It is not something I would contemplate even under threat of torture but I recognise their right to lose all sense of propriety and stress the National Grid. We have already started to receive Christmas cards and, therefore, have an obligation of civility to reciprocate.

We were out early to go to Rustington. Shopping at Iceland to buy seabass fillets for meals over Christmas. On to Asda to buy sweet sherry for the Christmas cakes. Took the opportunity to sneak a bottle of Manzanilla sherry in to the trolley for myself. I rarely buy it but I love, aridly dry sherry and Manzanilla is the ultimate. Most supermarkets don’t stock it apart from at Christmas so it is a good time to indulge. Rather like your maiden aunt, I only drink it for medicinal purposes although I don’t restrict myself to one, small glass. I like it ice cold with salted nuts. My body shudders with anticipation as I write this.

Putting all thoughts of food and alcohol aside, we have jobs to do at home. First, 60+ Christmas cards to write and 60+ stamps to lick and stick. My job is running the address database and mail merge it with sheets of laser labels. That done, I have to start work on my annual, Christmas newsletter. In spite of my Blog, I am finding it hard to let go of this tradition. It does reach some people who don’t have access to the Blog – some who don’t have a computer or internet. It also just satisfies my personality trait of desire for continuity, determination to remain consistent, determination to maintain my own processes. My one, nod to change is that many will be emailed rather than posted this year.

Thursday, 6th December, 2018

Mainly a day of administration. We did have to do our weekly shop at Sainsburys/Tesco and then complete the Christmas cards and the Newsletters. We also watched quite a bit of the Brexit debate in parliament before facing the evening traffic to take Pauline to hospital for a CT scan.

Our hospital in Worthing manages to look completely calm and under control. The car parks are nearly full but the reception areas are really peaceful and quiet. Walking past X-ray into Scan we were struck by how few patients were around. In fact, the seating area we were directed towards only had one other patient. I was amazed how polite, supportive, welcoming and gentle the staff were with their clientele as their service was accessed – far more understanding than I was as a teacher.

Eventually, Pauline was called 20 mins early for her appointment. Actually, the procedure took a lot longer than either of us had imagined. We arrived at 5.40 pm and didn’t get out until 7.00 pm but that was because of the nature of the procedure rather than pressure of patients. She will hear the results of her scan in around 2 weeks and we await, with trepidation, the pronouncement. We are optimistic but very worried and there is nothing we can do about it.

Friday, 7th December, 2018

A morning of really heavy rain. Outside was not inviting at all. We completed indoor jobs. Finally, the Christmas cards are done. We had already bought 60+ stamps. When Pauline told me, I was absolutely shocked that each one cost £0.56/€0.63. I understand why she chose Second Class. I haven’t bought any, personally,  for at least 40 years just as I never have any money, never use credit cards or anything else in shops. I ask for things and my assistant pays.  I know you will be incredulous at that but it is absolutely true. From the day we got married, I handed all my money and control of it over to Pauline. The only financial transactions I make are, occasionally buying on-line with my credit card and I make the decisions about investments. It works really well.

We posted about 8 cards to America and Europe and they, alone, cost £14.00/€15.64 and we had to drive down to the Post Office to have each one weighed individually. What is the world coming to? Weighing Christmas cards? Afterwards, we went on to the Doctor’s Surgery to pick up my prescription for INR Test Strips. If I bought them privately, they would cost me £80.00/€90.00 so I at least felt I was still in credit for the day. I do save the Hospital/Surgery by doing all my own testing so I don’t feel too bad about the cost although, if I’d known 20 years ago what I know now, I might have saved them any cost at all by not putting on so much weight.

All around us, people are decorating their houses with lights. We really feel the humbugs of the street. I suppose that they are all happy to be in new properties and some have children but I just can’t bring myself to join in that spirit. Actually, Pauline & I are having our first of two Christmas dinners tomorrow. Each year, we buy a turkey to eat because we like it but mainly for stock to make soup for us and the gravy on Christmas Day when we cook for the family. Quite expensive turkeys, aren’t they?

Saturday, 8th December, 2018

Little Liz

Another grey, day which started damp and improved slightly over the afternoon. According to the weather forecast we should have a run of dry and bright days to come. Wrote a review of our Tenerife rental property this morning. I like to do that because I prefer to see honest appraisals when I am choosing.

Otherwise, it has been a quiet day of cleaning up my computer, upgrading the core system on our iPads, and replying to my sister Liz. Every year she asks for my address in order to send me a Christmas card. I know I move quite a lot but she has known this one for three years and still hasn’t recorded it. Baby sisters are hopeless.

The kitchen has been smelling tantalising today with turkey roasting in the oven. It is something of an indulgence because it will largely become turkey soup and turkey stock for Christmas Day Lunch but it has provided us with a delightful meal this afternoon. Otherwise, Brexit takes centre stage as we near the dénouement to use that well known English term. All around the country and in spite of terrible weather, People’s Vote rallies have been taking place although you wouldn’t know that from the BBC who studiously missed it while leading on the protests in France. Strange that!

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