Sunday, 27th January, 2019
Lovely, sunny day and reasonably mild. Political programmes, Sunday papers, trip to the gym and home to slow-roast chicken with sage & onion stuffing. Lovely day in prospect. Especially lovely if you’ve got someone wonderful to share it with. We must remember those who don’t.
Apart from all of this and while Pauline is steam cleaning the floors, I am continuing with my long term task of digitising the contents of all our old photo albums. It is an emotional journey for softies like me. I am half way through our first album after we got married and covers the years 1997 – 1981. So far, I have backed-up 26Mb of photographs to memory stick and the Cloud. Pauline is concerned that there won’t be enough room and I am having to reassure her that we could live to be 100 before we use up all our storage space.
I have long been a fan of Cloud storage because it fits with a travelling life style. I used to have a portable, back-up drive but found it a bit too cumbersome. To be able to pick up and work on files anywhere in the world is just right for me. I moved on to Microsoft‘s offering called OneDrive which gave me a terabyte or 1024 megabytes of storage for free. When Microsoft began charging ‘rental’ for MS Office, they reduced the ‘free’ storage to 50mb which is nowhere near enough and charge £60.00 per year for the 1tb. Fortunately, I pay for BT Broadband and get BT Sport and 1tb cloud storage ‘free’ plus free access to all the BT wi-fi hubs around Britain and that is what I now use.
Monday, 28th January, 2019
Glorious morning for putting the bins out at 7.00 am – blue sky, low sunshine, crisp. Could be an interesting week.
I am continuing my project of digitising our photographic record of the past 40 years. It is quite an emotional process which, last night, was interspersed with watching Call the Midwife which always makes me cry followed by Les Misérables which is just a laugh a minute. What is so scary is the difference and distance between 1979 and 2019. I am sitting in our Home Office with a framed certificate announcing that I was awarded my BA English 40 years ago in 1979 and my MA History 30 years ago in 1989. What seemed so important to me then really doesn’t now. I have subsumed that experience long ago.
It is hard to fully accept the passage of time. Actually, this digital project is quite helpful in that respect. Looking back through the tunnel of time, things have changed so much. I was born in 1951 and began Grammar School in 1962. By 1969, I was accompanying my girlfriend to the contraception clinic so she could get her free supply of pills. To see these developments depicted in Call the Midwife is rather like watching another world. It is a force of intellect and imagination to draw oneself to accept that it is my history. What it does underline is there was no Golden Age. There is nothing I would long to go back to. I feel so lucky to have survived it and I do not yearn to be young again. I love the age I am. I can be open, honest, blunt and unrepentant, scruffy, unshaven, unwashed, over fed and drunk. I can be whatever I want to be. I can even walk on walls.
Tuesday, 29th January, 2019
Had to be up early this morning and there was a slight hint of frost on the roofs. Crystal, clear morning with the sun rising in a cloudless sky. It is really noticeable that the sun is rising much earlier now and that gives us all hope.
Had to be up early because we have a telephone engineer coming between 8.00 am – 1.00 pm – an awkwardly wide time frame. The occasion of his visit is a response to my concern about my broadband speed. It shouldn’t worry me. Back at the opening of this century, I had just moved from dial-up to twin ISDN lines (a pre-cursor of Broadband) and I was receiving under 2 Mbps. Today, I am receiving 32 Mbps Download & 11 Mbps Upload. I really don’t notice any incapacity. However, I keep being bombarded by BT with invitations to take Ultra Fast Broadband with speeds of 100 Mbps. This is fibre to the house which we don’t have. Before we moved in and before the road surface was complete, I wrote to BT and asked them to contact David Wilson Homes in order to co-ordinate fibre-to-the-door broadband. Neither party did so. Two years later, most new homes are being offered that service.
In addition to that, our ‘Contention Rate’ (the sharing of broadband width in an area) is going up all the time as new builds come on stream and need broadband and the demands we are placing on our broadband is increasing exponentially with not just one PC per house but many and tablets, smartphones, smart televisions and the onset of the ‘internet of things’ meaning I can control so many actions in my house – lights, heating, blinds, fridge, even my toothbrush over the net. I have Superfast Fibre Broadband from BT. This is fibre to the street cabinet and then old copper from there to our house. According to BT, this service could yield 67 Mbps but, when I enquired, they said in our area, we should expect 44 Mbps.
Still falling 25% short of that, I complained and a ‘next day’ engineer was despatched. Wayne arrived at 8.05 am and checked my phone line and the street cabinet and pronounced it ‘full’. It needs extra fibre capacity installing, Wayne announced. He gave me his manager’s personal office number to phone to have further discussions. And that is what I will do.
Wednesday, 30th January, 2019
The penultimate day of January has been a gorgeous, Spring-like one with blue skies, strong sunshine and moderate temperatures. We had woken at 7.00 am to a light touch of frost on the roofs but it was gone within an hour and forgotten.
On social media, people from our old stomping ground, the North of England, were posting pictures of a very familiar scene. Winter on the Pennines means almost invariably snow at some time and so it was today. Manchester and Liverpool airports were closed, the M62 was hazardous and the exit road we would have taken to our school was almost impassable. Schools across Oldham were closed and work journeys made extremely hazardous.
We remember these conditions only too well although it is 10 years now since we had to experience them. We certainly don’t miss them. In fact, we have hardly seen a sight of snow since we left West Yorkshire and that is fine by us. Snow is not unknow here. About 10 years ago, apparently, they were snow-blocked for a while. However, temperatures are definitely moderated by proximity to the sea and we bask in the warmth of that. We have been warned that we might get a bit of snow tomorrow but we’ll believe it when we see it.
Today, I went shopping in my shorts and tee shirt, the outdoor pool was popular at the Health Club and we came home to griddle tuna steaks in the garden. We wouldn’t have been doing any of that in Huddersfield.
Thursday, 31st January, 2019
Well, January is going out with a bit of frost this morning. We have done our weekly shop by visiting Sainsburys and Tesco. If you include a tank of petrol, our outlay is around £200.00. Tesco was absolutely packed. We couldn’t decide whether the old people were stocking up in the event of heavy snow or the crisis that could be Brexit. Lots of tinned food flying off the shelves.
It is cold but not Northern cold. We have reached 7C/45F this morning. I am in my shorts and the sea breeze is a little chilly but I’m tough. On this week 10 years ago, we had just completed our final ever Ofsted inspection and I was preparing to visit a cardiologist for a heart scan which ultimately revealed my atrial fibrillation. I was also posting a montage of my Mum who had died 9 months earlier and whose memory had been evoked by a play on television. Heavy snow was forecast for tomorrow as it is this year and our retirement was just a couple of months away although we didn’t really know it at the time. How much has happened since then January 2009.
Friday, 1st February, 2019
Just to emphasise that we have entered February, it decided to give us a dusting of snow overnight and the world came to an end. This morning the world was covered with, what Northerners would call a heavy frost but closed schools and offices down here. Bus time tables were cancelled and train timetables altered. Some commuters thought Friday was a good one to stay at home.
The man across the road asked me to collect any snow there was on my drive so his little girls could make a snowman. I suggested he took them to Yorkshire. On this day 10 years ago, heavy snow was falling in West Yorkshire and transport links were genuinely blocked or extremely hazardous. If UK ever Brexits, all of these weather conditions will be exported to Skiathos under a bi-lateral, free-trade agreement which will see hot sunshine proliferate in England from October – May. The Health Club was packed as so many had decided it was too difficult to get to work but they might just make it to the David Lloyd Club.
Saturday, 2nd February, 2019
A beautiful, bright, sunny morning. Still cold but all the signs of snow and frost have gone. Bring on the Spring! Actually, we are going to have a couple of days off from exercise. Pauline is re-waxing the dining table top (3 coats), making chicken stock in the garden, making a dozen salmon and cod fishcakes for the freezer, changing the bed, doing the washing and a bit of ironing, cooking whitebait with three salads for our meal, marinating a pheasant for tomorrow’s meal while I watch some sport and read the papers. It’s this division of labour that makes our marriage so stable.
Watched England destroy the Irish backstop in a thrilling rugby international. I also watched a couple of enjoyable Premier League matches and a bit of the test match from West Indies. When I got stiff from sitting in the Lounge watching sport, I ambled over to the Office and researched Dash-Cams for our new car which can’t be far away now. I know I’ve written about this before but it is becoming more imminent. For a year or two I’ve thought of getting a Dash-Cam but have been put off by the idea of trailing wires cluttering up my car. I spoke to Honda about it when I enquired about the new car and they assured me they would hard-wire one in so I wouldn’t have to worry.
I spent an hour or so researching models and reading reviews and, finally, decided that the Nextbase Duo HD Dash Cam (£150.00/€172.00) would provide all the facilities I would need without breaking the bank. It fits just below the rear view mirror and features two, HD cameras – one for forward recording and the second, zoom one, looking back through the rear screen. Both have night vision. Both record simultaneously. Recording begins with the engine on and ends with the engine off. Although the unit uses a micro SDHC memory card which can be read straight into a PC, there is an app to produce immediate download wirelessly to a smartphone.
To a tech junkie, gadget man like me, it all sounds like heaven. I am obviously going to satisfy an urge I’ve been mulling over for ages. I was watching a video review of this particular model. The presenter listed all its admirable facilities and tried to clinch the recommendation by listing the reasons why I might want one. He managed two. It’s useful in the event of an accident and it might save you some money on your insurance premium. Is that compelling enough? I am determined to buy Pauline the best Dash-Cam I can find.