Sunday, 24th February, 2019
Late February going on early June. Blue sky. Strong sunshine. A temperature of 16C/61F. Optimism everywhere as mowers chug, edges are cut and soiled is turned over. We just couldn’t sit inside. We went to the beach around 10.00 am. Strangely, quite a few others had thought of doing exactly the same thing. Dogs were trotting, children scooting, Mums & dads were biking, Seniors were strolling, all basking in the rays of renewed Life.
We walked for about 30 mins towards Lancing and then turned heel and walked 30 mins back. By the time we were leaving the coastal promenade and walking back across town to Waitrose carpark where we had left our car, the number of people out enjoying the air was incredible. I still can’t put my finger on what the precise attraction is of sea and beach but it is surely elemental. Pauline becomes a different person as she walks there. It stirs childhood memories or female, tidal movements. Who knows. I don’t question but go with the flow.
Monday, 25th February, 2019
The last week of February, 2019 is starting just fine. Long may it continue. Greece, on the other hand, has again suffered bad weather and lack of island transport as boats are tied up because of strong winds.
This morning, I have revelled in the warm sunshine so much that I have cut the lawns for the first time in weeks. It felt good to be doing something so optimistic. Orthodox Easter is April 28th, a week after Catholic Easter this year so the Greeks have just 61 days to prepare. First, the weather must dry up, warm up and brighten up. Paving will need to be painted. Buildings will need to dry out with bedding put outside to air. Maybe whitewashing can start and be finished during May. Most important of all will be fattening the lambs for slaughter. We’ve hardly eaten lamb since we left.
Today, Sifnos has experienced a high of 11C/52F. UK has experienced an all time high of 21C/69F which is a record for highest temperature in February. Swimming outside today was like being in Tenerife or Sifnos in late June. Absolutely delightful! It can’t last, of course but we will enjoy it while it does.
Today is officially the hottest February day on record in Britain as the temperature reached 20.3C in Ceredigion, west Wales.
Tuesday, 26th February, 2019
The days just get better and better so much so that one is in danger of being lulled in to a false sense of security. Yesterday I cut the lawns and today I am feeding them but it could just as easily change in a few days time and turn really cold. Certainly, the garden centre where I went to buy my lawn feed was optimistically pushing Springtime products but there were few customers. We were reading 13C/56F by 9.00 am and the sun is strong in the sky. It just puts a little extra lightness in one’s step.
Unfortunately, we heard this morning that the lightness had gone out of one of our acquaintance’s steps last night. The husband of one of my Assistants at school died last night. Harry Taylor was also a Woodwork teacher in school in the 1970s -’80s. His wife, Norma, was my Assistant for a while. Harry had a terrible accident which debilitated him and, eventually, caused his early retirement. Up a ladder at home, he slipped and fell from a height causing him a brain injury and a stroke. He was impaired on one side of his body and, although he tried to carry on teaching, it eventually proved too much and he retired early. Harry kept active and did small woodwork jobs for people.
When my Mum died, I inherited The Richard Chair which I have featured here before. It was made by my Grandfather at the end of the Nineteenth Century, I think as an apprentice piece. Each first male in the line has Richard in his name. My Grandfather was Richard Watthew Sanders. My Dad was Eric Richard Sanders and I am John Richard Sanders. My brother, Bob, has a son with Richard in his name and the chair will go to him.
I remember Dad sitting on this chair at the head of the dining table for the years of my childhood. My Dad died in 1965. The chair stayed with my Mum until she was selling the family home and I took it over. It was a bit the worse for wear and I asked Harry Taylor to refurbish it. He did an excellent job and it will, hopefully, survive another century which is more than can be said for Harry.
Absolutely delightful in the outside pool this afternoon with a temperature of 18C/65F and people not swimming but sunbathing in the beautiful light. After 70 mins in the gym, of course, we did our 30 mins in the pool as usual.
Wednesday, 27th February, 2019
The penultimate day of February, 2019 has been absolutely glorious. Hot, sunny and gorgeous. For some weird reason, Pauline & I had the outdoor pool to ourselves. It felt like we were back in Tenerife. We are doing 100 mins exercise each day for at least 5 and usually 6 days per week. We manage 600 mins or 10 hrs per week now which is not bad as we hurtle towards 68 years old. Must keep it up.
I had an enjoyable morning before PMQs writing a piece for an old friend who I haven’t seen since June 1972. He asked me to record the books that have influenced my life and I have spent an hour or so trawling through my collection. I don’t normally indulge in such sentimental trivia but it is nice to reach out to a shadow of my past.
I have spent a life time trying to educate myself and these, two books illustrate two strands of that attempt. The Arts and Political Philosophy represent the twin enthusiasms that I’ve followed. Of course, they are not mutually exclusive and often the latter can be better understood through the study of the former. Having taken my B.A. and my M.A., I was asked if I wanted to commit another 2-4 years completing a Doctorate. I would have loved to have gone on to that but the thought of meeting so many demands was ultimately too daunting. I don’t regret it now. In fact, the Degrees I achieved mean little to me now but the ideas and the experiences will inform me until the end.
Thursday, 28th February, 2019
Interesting day of sunshine and showers and a few degrees cooler than of late. We have done our weekly shop by visiting Asda, Sainsburys and Tesco. Nice to see Asda‘s new petrol station is now open and offering Unleaded at 6p per litre cheaper than any other outlet. It will become our regular for fuel now.
I was at Ripon (CofE, All Women’s) Teacher Training College between 1969 – 72. I didn’t do any work. Literally didn’t do any work. The country was desperate for English teachers and I filled the bill. They begged me to take a job and I duly obliged. Although I did no work, I began to learn a little about the real world, the opposite sex, different social classes, different geographic locations, a little bit about the meaning of money and how to order my own life rather than have it ordered for me. I reacted rather like a newly released prisoner who has spent decades being told what to do every minute of the day, released in to freedom and stumbling through a newly discovered decision making process. Intellectually, I started to grow up.
My English Lit. tutor was one David MacAndrew. He was a quietly spoken lover of and writer of poetry. Actually, his poetry was dreadful and pretentious but he introduced me to published poets and publishers of poetry who would influence me for years to come. In 1970, David introduced me to the work of a Cumbrian poet, Norman Nicholson and then introduced me to him in person. We did a joint poetry reading in Leeds Town Hall.
On the occasion of David’s death, I am reminded of a poem from Norman Nicholson’s collection:
Friday, 1st March, 2019
Happy new month although it feels as if we have left Spring weather behind with a temperature of just 9C/48F and grey skies.
Out early this morning because Pauline has a hair appointment in town. I have the luxury of an hour in a coffee shop with my iPad which feels wonderful. Doesn’t the weather change one’s perception of the world? The whole area felt slightly depressing and sub-optimal as the new, terminology would describe it. Everywhere feels damp and chillier and, consequently, down at heel.
We have done 400 minutes exercise at the gym/pool this week and are feeling fairly stiff. We took the decision to give ourselves a day off today. It feels absolutely terrible but we have stuck to it and just done a bit of shopping instead. Hopefully, we will go back to work tomorrow.
Saturday, 2nd March, 2019
We get restless feet after a week or two at home. It’s been almost 3 months this time since we went away. We are going shopping in France next week and we have got a trip to Yorkshire to meet friends at the beginning of April to coincide with the 10 year anniversary of our retirement from work but, we are struggling to commit to the plans we have been talking about for this year’s foreign travel. You’ll probably know why and, if you don’t, The Times this morning would have reminded you….
Of course, it’s not just Easter for most of us. Will we have new driving (Green Card, etc), passporting (Ours have less than a year to run.), health & insurance problems (No reciprocal cover through EHIC)? Will we have exchange rate problems? The Greek watchers and government have sort to reassure travellers and expats but even they certainly can’t be sure of Healthcare provision for Greeks never mind travellers. They certainly can’t be sure of exchange rates going forward.
Our new car, which has almost a 20 week lead-in time is manufactured in Japan. What will trading arrangements be like if we actually leave the E.U. which has a trade agreement with Japan but we don’t? What will the exchange rate be nearer to delivery time? Fortunately, although we had to put down a deposit of £1000.00 / €1162.00, we have a withdrawal clause in the event of increased cost. Just a 10% increase of £4000.00 / €4648.00 is substantial and might make us think again.