Week 521

Sunday, 16th December, 2018

The journey towards December, 2028 begins with a beautiful morning – bright, sunny and sharp. I hope I can describe myself in that way in ten years time. Phlebas the Phoenician featured in Eliot’s The Wasteland. In the section, Death by Water:

He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool

This started as The Hellas Blog and has transmogrified into a Sanders Retirement Blog. Although I should have predicted it, the change has completely surprised me. It is different rather than disappointing and outward looking rather than confining.

Interestingly, this morning the Sifnos site featured a grey, cold and misty Kamares harbour with our, former house nestled into the hillside. We wonder how the new owners are enjoying it and wish them well.

Monday, 17th December, 2018

A gorgeous morning of blue skies and sunshine. Spent it doing some financial work including a couple of niggling things which one should not have to address. The villa we rented in Tenerife took an ‘accidental damage’ deposit. We’ve been back more than two weeks now and it hasn’t been repaid so I’m following that up. Pauline buys books for her Kindle on my Amazon account. Actually, like so many she buys electronically, it was a ‘free’ book. Cunningly, they charged her for an audio book. I had to do an on-line chat with them to get it refunded. That was no problem but it will take up to 7 working days to appear in your account. Think of all the interest they will generate on my £3.99/€4.44 in those 7 days!

The other thing I am doing this morning is exploring a trip that we are now considering in June to Malta & Gozo to visit one of Pauline’s oldest friends from school days who has retired to live on Gozo. It is a nice, warm month and we will hope to have a pleasant week or so. Easyjet prices are incredibly cheap for flights in June. Return tickets cost around £100.00/€111.30 per person in mid-June.

St Paul’s Bay, Malta

So many lovely things to look forward in the new year as long as we survive Christmas. As determined forward planners, we will spend the next couple of weeks making more firm plans and looking to book as early as possible.

Tuesday, 18th December, 2018

Glorious opening sky at 6.30 am soon gave way to grey and wet morning. We love this time at the Health Club. Everybody is so tired and looking forward to a holiday from work, holiday celebrations and many other things other than exercise. The Club is very quiet and left to the maniacs like us. We know that the new year and resolutions will bring a surge of new members and that will last until around March when the 3 month trial ends. Then it is left to the committed until the next surge.

New Honda CRV Hybrid

Pauline & I don’t give each other Birthday or Christmas presents. Every day is a birthday and Christmas rolled into one. Apart from lots of travel to be booked, we are also looking forward to the new, improved model of our car. The Honda CRV Hybrid will combine petrol and electric seamlessly. The combustion engine charges up the battery. At slower speeds, it automatically selects the battery drive and then combines with the petrol engine in acceleration and, finally, uses just the petrol at cruising speeds. It never has to be plugged in and charged because it is self-charging but delivers considerable improvements on fuel efficiency.

I love gadgets and the new car will be loaded with them including:

  • Collision Mitigation Braking System
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Lane Keeping Assist System
  • intelligent – Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Intelligent Speed Limiter
  • Traffic Sign Recognition
  • intelligent Multi Info Heads up Display
  • Blind Spot Information incl. Cross Traffic Monitor
  • Infotainment System with full internet access

There are just two problems. We will have to find around £40,000.00/€44,500.00 and it won’t be available for around three months. Must start saving!

Wednesday, 19th December, 2018

Horrible, wet and grey start to the day although it has brightened up with some sunshine by mid day. Not a day for outside jobs so I’ve been looking at things to upgrade our office.

Almost 20 years ago, I bought a early, colour, laser printer which was as big as a washing machine and cost £3,500.00 / €3,900.00. It was incredibly slow in bringing the first page out and not much quicker in printing subsequent copies. The quality was good but not brilliant and the cost per copy meant I had to ration my usage of it.

In our home office nowadays we have two laser printers – one mono and one colour. They are connected by manual switch to our two PCs. We don’t conduct print runs on an industrial scale and the, relatively cheap, toner cartridges last a long time.

Today, I had cause to replace one of the cartridges which had cost me about £60.00/€67.00. Thinking about it, we’ve had these printers for over 5 years. When the toner runs out, I think I will replace the two printers with one, wireless Colour laser which not only negates the need for manual switching but also allows ‘airdrop’ printing from our iPads and smartphones. I did a quick, on-line check and the cost of a perfectly good quality, reasonably fast, Brother laser will be under £200.00/€222.00. It will certainly improve the speed and effectiveness of our activities and make a bit of extra space in the office.

Thursday, 20th December, 2018

Fresh Salmon – What a Feast!

A lovely, sunny day but not warm at only 9C/48F. Actually, we got to 13C/55F this afternoon. We have decided to do as much of the shopping for Christmas Day meals as we can today and very early tomorrow. Storage is one of the problems. We have a fridge-freezer in the kitchen and a chest freezer in the garage but still we are struggling to fit things in. We have a wine fridge which may have to be used for other things for a few days. Sorry about such parochial matters but some days life is like that. I’m sure I’ll get back to contemplating the meaning of life soon. Today, however, Sainsbury, Asda, Waitrose and Tesco call. After all, Christmas is a religious festival and where better to worship?

You can’t beat Smoked Salmon!

Even the Health Club is serving festive meals, putting on parties for members and generally trying to be all things to all women. I have no interest. I just go to exercise and come home. Actually, the past 3 days have been remarkably quiet. I do like that. I wish it could be Christmas every day-ay. I say this not least because of the special offers the supermarkets put on at this time of year. Whole, fresh salmon at almost half price. We bought two this morning. Another of my favourites – smoked salmon – is often sold off shortly after Christmas Day at a hugely reduced price and I cash in again. I like lots of different fish but really can’t beat salmon.

Had Christmas newsletters from lots of my friends and ex-colleagues over the past couple of weeks. One today informed me of five former colleagues who have died in the past few weeks. I always remember acknowledging the fact that so many teachers in my early days in the teaching profession seemed to retire one year and die soon after. In some respects, they were representative of their generation. The State Pension was never designed to be paid for 20 or 30 years. On average, 5 years was about the survival rate after retirement at 65. As I went on in my career, early retirement became much more the fashion with staff leaving aged 55. Actually, it is that group who are dying off after 25+years of retirement. Coming to the end of our first decade of retirement, we feel very fortunate for what we have had but hungry for so much more.

Friday, 21st December, 2018

Today is the shortest day. The winter or hibernal solstice marks official start of winter. It certainly doesn’t really feel as if we’ve experienced any winter at all so far. This morning, we’ve woken to 12C/54F at 6.00 am although the light outside is dull. Final Christmas purchases this morning before the trouble starts so we were out by 7.30 am. Perishables like double cream which we don’t want or have no room to freeze having been purchased, we drove home through still quiet streets. Actually, it looks as if most people have gone to work today.

The schools finished on Wednesday and I had assumed that workers might be off today. Just shows how out of touch I am with the work place. It does suggest that the High Streets will be manic on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and that we have been fortunate to be able to do our shopping early.

You can buy this in Argos.

Of course, the British public will all soon be out practising their drone-flying skills and what better place to do it than over wide, open spaces like an airport. It beggars belief that someone with a remote control can shut a major airport down for 24 hrs without being stopped or detected. This beast of a drone with 20mp, HD camera, can be purchased in Argos for just £13,00.00/€1,450.00 and could have something far more sinister – say explosives or Novichok attached to it. Of course Failing Grayling, Transport Minister, has made such a good job of the railways that we probably don’t need to worry but if some, sinister geek can do this on a shoestring without a reasonable response, just imagine what the shattering of the Open Skies Agreement by a hard Brexit will do for our aviation.

Saturday, 222nd December, 2018

Fuschia ‘Janey’ aka Mump

Beautiful morning of sunshine after quite a clear, moonlit night. The temperature is 10C/50F and windless. We may be in mid winter but we were just remarking yesterday that a number of plants which disappeared completely over the past two years have held their leaves and even some flowers right up to this point. We have two, small fuschias called Janey which we bought only because that was Pauline’s Mum’s name although we both, affectionately, called her Mump. Each of the past, two years, they have disappeared entirely. I wrote them off; cleared away the dry stick remains and prepared to buy replacements. The next Spring and quite late on, they reappeared from below the soil’s surface and flowered more strongly. This year, they have stayed around and continued to flower. Even now, although looking rather worse for wear, they are still with us.

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