Week 523

Sunday, 30th December, 2018

40 years ago today, everything was ready apart from the weather and the council workers. For weeks, Pauline had been preparing and freezing food. Some had to be left until the day before. A groaning table of roast meat joints – ham, beef, pork, etc. Home made bread and relishes. Home made sweets – trifles, cakes, etc. It was going to be a ‘homemade’ wedding for a home-loving couple. The taxis were booked for the Registry Office and the Church was booked for the ‘Blessing’ which was only arranged to satisfy my Mother. We were being married at Huddersfield Registry Office. The ‘Blessing’ was at Meltham Mills Church in West Yorkshire, 100 yds up the road from where we lived. The reception was in our small, coaching house in Meltham Mills.

Our families were coming from across the Pennines from Lancashire and up from Derbyshire plus many from West Yorkshire. My Best Man, Kevin and his wife, Christine were coming from Leeds. As the day opened, we knew there could be a problem. Heavy snow had fallen over night. Not unusual in this Pennine region but it was combined with strike action by the road clearers in our area. Pauline’s Mum phoned and tearfully explained that they would try but they didn’t think they could get across the Pennines.

Of course, everyone got there. The day was wonderful. I absolutely loved it. Pauline looked radiant and adorable and we collapsed at the end of the day, exhausted. I remember, I got up in the middle of my wedding night to finish the trifle which tells you all you need to know about me.

The ensuing years have been packed with incident including a life-changing car accident but we both look back across the time with enjoyment and a tinge of emotion. We are so grateful for the time we’ve had together and are both hungry for many more years to come. Next job is to plan out 2019!

Monday, 31st December, 2018

Although we don’t stand on ceremony or overdo the marking of anniversaries, yesterday did feel quite an emotionally charged event as we reviewed photographs of our Wedding Day 40 years into the distant past. I have no hesitation in saying that it was the best day of my life either before or after. It is one I hope I will never forget. I hadn’t realised but Pauline has been concerned about the degradation of our wedding photographs over this period of time. They were largely taken by my Brother-in-Law, Kevan, and very grateful we were too. Our wedding was done in a homely fashion and on a bit of a shoe string budget although it was no less magical for that. Yesterday I spent a few hours digitising the album and ‘recovering many from the ‘sepia fade’ of time. In doing so, it evoked so many memories.

The improvement is quite shocking and so shocking that I’ve now been charged with doing the same to about 2000 other photographs accumulated over the past 40 years. It is another life sentence but one which I am happy to serve.

Happy Anniversary Meal at Home

Our Anniversary meal was home made just as our Wedding meal was. We ate it alone and reminisced as we did. It was absolutely wonderful from the Starter of Scallops Meuniere to the Main Course Langoustines in Garlic Butter & Tomato & Broccoli Salads to the Sweet of Raspberry Pavlova. The meal was accompanied by what many would consider a wholly inappropriate wine – a Rioja Grand Reserva 2012 – but it was wonderful not least because it was a present from our dear, West Yorkshire friend, Margaret. Cheers everyone.

We are looking forward to 2019 and to another 40 years of marriage. If we make it, we will be 107 but why not? This afternoon, we are off to the Health Club for the start of the rest of our lives. In the meantime, I am continuing to firm up travel plans for the next 12 months. See you in the New Year.

Tuesday, 1st January, 2019

A cool, grey start to the day. We didn’t get to bed until 1.30 am after a bottle of champagne and nibbles. We were up late. It was nearly 8.00 am before we rose to the uninspiring sky. After orange juice, tea and coffee, we drove out to East Preston by the sea followed by Rustington and Broadmark Beach. The temperature had reached 11C/52F but the light had that grey, watery quality so reminiscent of this time of year.

Shades of Grey
All at Sea

The beach here is steeply sloping pebble/shell down to a sandy fringe. The light was struggling to break through the moody clouds. Except for a couple of dog walkers and their dogs, we had the place to ourselves. Even the seagulls had deserted the shoreline. It certainly wasn’t warm and we didn’t stay long but, as usual and under protest, I forced Pauline to pose for a photograph.

We drove home to have a cup of coffee and get on with the work of the new year. Pauline had ironing to do and I had football to watch. Of course, because I like to push myself, I did some newspaper reading at the same time.

Of course the new year has led to us making some resolutions. We are going to try a few months – maybe 4 or 5 – without alcohol and to reduce our calorie intake. We are going to increase our physical activity a bit to do about 100 mins per day for 6 days a week. We are going to complete a list of small ‘snags’ around the house which don’t warrant getting the builders back for. These are slight fill and paint touch-up where final resettlement has left a small gap, for example,  under the skirting board or at an internal door surround. We are going to do about 3 months travelling getting to Malta, France, Spain, Greece, Canaries plus West Yorkshire, London and Dorset. 

Wedesday, 2nd January, 2019

I have an addictive personality. I have written about this before. I can get addicted to anything. The trick is to avoid addiction to things which are bad for me and get hooked on things which are good for me. I got addicted to cigarettes in my youth and didn’t manage to shake it off until October 14th, 1985 at 9.00 pm. – some 15 years later. In the last ten years, I have become addicted to exercise – something I have rediscovered from my youth. In the past three or four years, I have broken my addiction for meat. My wife will tell you that, for most of our married life, I didn’t consider we had eaten a meal unless a roasted animal had featured at the centre of it. I also didn’t eat such a meal without a bottle of red wine to accompany it.


My addiction, actually, is not true ‘addiction’ in the substantive meaning of the word. Maybe, the smoking was but, otherwise, it is the ‘habit’ which catches me. I get ‘addicted’ to the processes in my life. It is what makes me such an annoyingly strange personality. You probably do some of this yourself. I bet you and your partner sleep on specific sides of the bed and have done the same throughout your married lives. I bet that seating arrangements at your family meal table are long adhered to. You sit in the same place day after day. I, however, take it to another level. At the Health Club, I like to use the same jogging machine (There are about 40.), the same cycle (There are about 60.) the same shower (There are about 20.), etc. I always put my swimming shorts through the ‘spinner’ to dry twice each lasting 10 seconds.  I know these ‘addiction’ are weird but fairly harmless. 

Home Fish Smoker

Of course, being addicted to red wine with my meal leads to charges of alcoholism. I am not blind to that and I have questioned myself. I don’t believe it is the ‘chemical’ of wine to which I am addicted but the expectation I have as I approach a meal. It is all in my head and not my belly. It is breaking the routine which I find hard. Cigarettes were my social prop as a young man and it was that I found hardest to kick. I don’t intend to give up alcohol but to assert my self discipline and not drink any for a few months. What I can’t give up is my addiction to fish in general and salmon in particular. I love roast salmon and eat it at least twice a week. I love smoked salmon and eat it regularly but is is so expensive for such a small amount that I resent buying it.

I am going to have another attempt to produce my own at home. I am going to start with Gravadlax which is not smoked but salt-cured salmon. We have tried it once before many years ago but didn’t really have time to take the process seriously enough. In retirement, we’ve time for anything and everything we like. Cured fish is probably healthier than smoked anyway but, if this fails, I will buy a home-smoking kit like the one above.

Thursday, 3rd January, 2019

A cold night but, living on the coastal fringe, we escaped any frost. It was only 2C/36F at 7.00 am and didn’t get above 9C/48F all day. We had a fairly standard day planned out with a trip to the Health Club later in the morning. However, events intervened. I won’t go into details at the moment but, suffice it to say, we had to cancel our trip and rearrange a host of future arrangements as well. Ultimately, we did one hell of a lot of shopping. Nothing new there.

Sander for a Sanders

We went out to M&S by Worthing Pier to collect some of Pauline’s order of clothes. The store was remarkably busy although I did notice that the longest queue was at the Returns desk. We went on to Tesco to do the weekly shop and then Screwfix to pick up a flatbed sander I had purchased. Don’t ask why but it will probably decorate the garage shelves for most of its life. I’ve bought it for one specific job so I went cheap. £55.00/€61.00 for the sander and sandpaper belts.

Blind Gadgets Coming! 

The dining area of our kitchen is south facing and can get very bright and hot. The leather dining chairs are in danger of premature fading. We have venetian blinds throughout the house but have decided to install added protection on these 7, floor to ceiling, glass panels. We have asked the blind man to call with a view to having electrically operated, automatic blinds which we can control over the internet via our smart phones and iPads. The motor will be programmable. Individual blinds can be opened/closed/partially/fully many times a day and the power will be supplemented by a small, solar panel. Don’t you just love gadgets?

Friday, 4th January, 2019

Went out early on a cold morning which started at 1C/34F but had doubled to 2C/36F by the time I arrived at the Municipal Waste Tip, in my shorts and tee-shirt, to drop off my old pressure washer. New Year and out with old; in with the new.

Actually, it’s a lovely, sunny morning. No gym again today because I am going for my annual eye test. It takes about two hours and involves two lots of very strong drops which means Pauline has to drive. The clinic is down near Littlehampton Beach and, after a couple of hours of strong eyedrops to expand my pupils for the camera, this is what the beach looks like:

Blur on the Beach

The light is intensely painful on my eyeballs and I have to be led by the hand to the car. The most annoying thing is that I can’t read or write for another hour or so but it is all necessary. I only have the sight of one eye and have had since birth so I need to be extremely careful of the other one. Although I no longer need medication for Type 2, I am still considered that by the NHS and provided with all the services to keep me in check. I am extremely grateful for all of them.

Saturday, 5th January, 2019

Another chilly day but without frost or snow unlike Greece where snow has fallen today. Haircut day for me – in the kitchen. Feels great when it’s done. I love post and as soon as it comes through the box, I run to get it. Pauline allows me to open all post addressed to her as well as my own. Today, we received a Christmas card featuring heavy snow – the first we’ve seen for a few years. It was from cousin, Sue, in the Dordogne although she drove to the Algarve for New Year and looks very happy there.

I bought our current car by using CARWOW – an online, new car broker. It just rebalances the power structure between Dealer and customer. So often, over the years, we have gone to buy a new car and felt almost like supplicant wanting a high trade in price to match low, new car price. For many years, we traded in and bought new every year. We used the same, Honda dealer who had also serviced the car and the price difference between old and new was marginal. I became addicted to the smell and feel of new cars. 

The new hybrid CRV

Since retiring, we have kept the car longer although we’ve never had to have an MOT. The current car is 2.5 years old and has done just under 20,000 miles/32,000 kms. There is a new, hybrid model coming out and, today, I received an email to inform me that it had arrived. On CARWOW, I have already received 2 offers from dealerships which would save me £2000.00/€2233.00 or 5% on RRP. I think I can do better than that because we know that the market is currently quite depressed. That is the power of this method of purchasing. I just have to play a waiting game for better offers to roll in. I can decide how long I’m prepared to wait. (Not long!)

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