Week 528

Sunday, 3rd February, 2019

Beautiful morning with clear sky and strong sunshine. Started off cold at 1C but rapidly warmed up until we reached 8C at mid morning. I must admit, I much prefer the milder conditions that are forecast for the weeks ahead. My brother, Bob, who is weird, goes around celebrating snowfall. He actually volunteered and spent 3 years of his life in the Antarctic as part of the survey team on South Georgia. It takes a specially weird type of person to want to do that. However, he has become a really good photographer of landscapes.

A Bob Landscape  –  cold!

It is the sort of thing I once had pretentions to do but, like so many things, I didn’t want it enough to put in the time. I think Bob gets up early and goes out on his own looking for places and scenes to photograph. It does need some dedication. I am dedicated to may things but photography has turned out not to be one of them.

Braised pheasant for our meal tonight. Now that’s something I could dedicate myself to although my enjoyment will be narrowed somewhat because of the alcohol ban. Pheasant and red wine are a match made in heaven but I am on a dry few months. I did the whole of January alcohol-free and then celebrated with a bottle of claret. I am now doing the whole of February alcohol free and then will take it month on month. I would like to get through to June with just 6 bottles of wine. I can do it but do I want to? We’ll see.

Monday, 4th February, 2019

Horrible cold, grey, wet morning. The bins have to go out – in this weather? My mind immediately turns to where we can go to find warmth and sunshine. We are stuck at 7C/45F. Tenerife is currently 22C/70F and sunny. That would do. If things don’t pick up soon, we will have to do something.

I want that blue sky!

Greece’s National Meteo Service  has issued a Red Alert warning of extreme weather phenomena – heavy rainfalls, powerful storms, hail-falls and snow. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? You wouldn’t go looking for warm sun there. Actually, British Holiday Companies are reporting strong bookings for Summer travel although with an increased bias away from Europe possibly because of Brexit uncertainty. Turkey is a big winner, apparently, although it won’t be with us.

When we go to the Health Club, we are always amused that people paying to exercise try to park as close to the front doors as they can possibly get even if it means cramming their car into an unacceptably small space. We always park as far away as we can across the huge carpark so we have a long walk in and back. We regretted it today as we scurried the 200ms in driving rain and cold, blustery winds. It was actually 9C/48F but the brisk breeze made it feel freezing especially as we were only wearing shorts and tee-shirts.

Tuesday, 5th February, 2019

I try to be honest in my Blog. If I cannot be blunt with my thoughts here, where can I be. I lay myself open to ridicule and humiliation. One of the ‘problems’ I have is being a slave to routine. It can have a positive spin because I am driven to complete tasks without questioning and to adopt life-enhancing activities even when I don’t feel like doing them. However, Pavlov’s dogs and I have quite a bit in common. I don’t know if it has got worse in older age or just that I have more time to observe, acknowledge and reflect on it but it touches all areas of my life. I have ordered routines when I get up in the morning. I have ordered routines before I go to bed at night. I have very ordered routines when I have a shower whether if I am in the gym or at home.

Web Pages updated monthly.

Aside from Daily ordered routines, I have monthly and yearly ones as well. On the first day of each month, I take and record certain statistics from the previous month – gas & electricity consumption for example. At the opening of the new month, the filter on the water purifier has to be changed – a spill over from our time in Greece. Also, at the opening of the new month I update my home web pages which are my default pages and links on all my browsers.

I won’t bore you any more by listing examples of my annual routines but they exist and bind me in. Of course, many would describe this as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder but I find that too medicalised and official. They’ll be describing my forgetfulness as Alzheimer’s next.

Wednesday, 6th February, 2019

I see no ships!

Another grey day but incredibly warm – 11C/52F at 7.00am. We were out by 9.30am for a trip to Worthing on Sea on open market day. It wasn’t very inviting for shoppers who were greeted with grey sea skies shrouded in sea mist. It isn’t the most exciting light wherever you are but seaside towns seem particularly depressing and sad in this weather – perhaps because we associate them with holidays and sunshine. The streets, buildings, outdoor stalls all had a mantle of dampness. The seascape was heavily redacted by mist.

We had saved a number of tasks until we went to Worthing so did a brisk walk across town to visit M&S to spend a voucher Pauline had received for a Christmas present. Wilko‘s and Waitrose were also on the list and then a drive to B&Q. The whole trip had to be completed in time for PMQs with the Politics Live programme starting at 11.15 am.

Lovely to see the Brexiteers, who have spent years slagging the European Union off, screaming blue murder when the compliment is returned by Donald Tusk. The more the Brextremists are alienated, the less likely they will be prepared to accept May’s deal and the more they will demand No Deal. Political paralysis is what will lead to a second referendum on May’s deal or Remain which we are working towards. We need to be expanding the referendum electorate to include young people and expats who it will affect most. I really can’t understand how an ex-expat and lover of Greek Island life can favour UK’s severance from Europe and the loss of so many privileges/facilities that their expat friends rely on/enjoy. There must be a logic in it somewhere.

Thursday, 7th February, 2019

Out early on a wonderfully bright and sunny morning but one which felt much colder than its 10C/50F because of a strong and biting breeze. Shopping Day – when isn’t it? Asda for bananas because they are the best quality of all the supermarkets and then Tesco because of habit and they have a petrol station. The price of petrol today is 1.18.9p/€1.35 per litre but, because of our spend, we get a 5p/€0.57 off per litre voucher. Filling up only every fortnight, we’ve got six weeks of reduced bills to come. Generally, however, Asda petrol stations are the price leaders by some way and, after a long battle with local residents, Asda won their fight to add a petrol station to the carpark. We are absolutely delighted and found it developing well when we went shopping this morning.

Another thing which persuades us to do our main shop in Tesco is the savings vouchers we accrue each week. Today, our £100.00/€113.60 bill was reduced by £16.00/€18.20 as we cashed in last month’s vouchers – a saving not to be sneezed at.

We like to do all our shopping with a hand scanner. It is so much quicker and more controlled. When it comes to Checkout, I pay with my phone using Tesco Pay+ app which is so convenient and that is where the financial vouchers arrive as well so there is no paper involved at all. In Asda, we do the same but pay with Google Pay but that is limited to contactless limit of £30.00/€34.08 which makes it less useful. However, the ability to do the whole shop without human contact is delightful.

Friday, 8th February, 2019

Beauty in the eye of ….

Out early on a mild but grey morning. We were going to Rustington to collect my new glasses. It comes to something when that is the highlight of the day. Rustington is a town centre dominated by the older shopper.  Old people congregate in groups, standing around blocking pavements and shouting, What? at each other as they adjust their hearing aids.

Today I was collecting two pairs of long sight glasses and two pairs of reading glasses. Total price of £316.00/€361.00 feels reasonable and they will last me a couple of years at least. The previous two pairs will be stuck in a cupboard just in case – just in case what? I have no idea but it seems profligate to throw them away. The two pairs that I had been keeping ‘just in case’ can now be thrown away. The emotional attachment of four years ago has been weakened enough for that. The reading glasses are just replacement lenses because Specsavers no longer stock the ‘half-moon’ frames that I prefer. May have to keep these going for a few more years until they come back into fashion.

When we bought our new house in March 2016, we opted for a ‘upgrade’ kitchen mainly because we wanted a wine cooler and a swan-necked tap and a double oven. (Oh God!) As a result, we got things we didn’t really want which included one real shock when we moved in. The plinth at the base of the kitchen cupboards was illuminated a la Blackpool.

Who needs lights on the floor?

Today, one of those lights failed. One of the few things that aren’t covered by our 5-Year Warranty are light bulbs. We were going out near an electrical shop so I thought I would take this failed one with me to replace. Having checked behind the plinth, I looked this light (which came on a plugged lead) up on the internet.

This is it so I phoned the manufacturer but the company wouldn’t sell us any. The line has been discontinued although they have some still in stock. They sell to Trade only. Like so many new house developments, our kitchen was supplied by Symphony. We phoned them. They said they could sell us a pack of 4 for the amazing price of £126.00/€144.00. They are solid-state LEDs and really shouldn’t have failed at all but we had little option but to purchase them. It does go a bit against the grain though.

Saturday, 9th February, 2019

John Gillespie as I knew him.

After 5 hard days of activity including 5 consecutive sessions at the Health Club, we have decided to stay at home for the weekend. Football matches, Rugby matches, newspapers and political programmes will dominate. The weather has actually been quite warm and pleasant. We griddled tuna steaks outside in the garden for our meal. As we went through our day, we carried sad and heavy memories of our past lives with us.

Today was the memorial service of our first headteacher who died at the end of December. John Gillespie was a interesting man. He had taught at Gordonstoun School and then, having married a young cellist from that school, he moved on to become Head of an International School in Nigeria. Tragedy befell them when his wife contracted polio swimming in infected water out there and they returned to England where John got a Headship in Oldham of all unlikely places.  

In his last stage role.

Not to be defeatist, he and his severely handicapped wife, threw themselves in to all the cultural activities which they so loved. John was an avid amateur actor. His brother was a professional actor. John became an important member of the Saddleworth Players and remained so for almost 50 years. With his wife, he also set up the Saddleworth Concert Society in which both of them performed. His wife, Ruth, died about 10 years ago. John Gillespie died last December aged 92. It seemed a long way to drive for a memorial service but we carried thoughts of him round in our head all day.

He finished teaching in 1984 and had a long and rich  retirement of 34 years. As we approach our first 10 year anniversary of laziness, another 24 would not go amiss. Just think of all the travel we can do in that time and all the new cars. Will we still use cars in 2043? Will we still be in the EU? Will global warming have brought the Mediterranean to us by then? It seems so long off but we know it really isn’t.

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