Week 551

Sunday, 14th July, 2019

Can you believe that I’ve been writing this drivel for 551 weeks? More than 10½ years which I could never have imagined when I started. The world was a very different place in December 2008. I seriously can’t believe in the rise of the Right Wing Populism that abounds at the moment. In 2008, all those Brextremists were derided in popular culture as ‘swivel-eyed loons’. Now the fringe is becoming main stream and almost accepted as normal. This is something we need to fight against constantly until they are driven back to the fringes.

Sundays are usually quiet days of Politics & Papers but, today in addition to our usual Health Club workout, there is the Men’s Wimbledon Final (for Pauline), the British Grand Prix (for me) and the Cricket World Cup (for both of us). Of course, we could lounge in the Lounge and just watch everything but it feels so much better to watch while we are exercising. Our Jogging Machines each have their own TVs with all the Sky Sports channels available and so do the exercise bikes. I was able to watch the cricket while Pauline watched the tennis as we worked out. There are even Screens on in the Changing Rooms. The only place where I couldn’t follow the match was in the Spa – Steam Room, Sauna & Jacuzzis/Water Massage.

The Spa was deserted today.

We are in our 4th year of membership of the David Lloyd Health Club down here. Currently, we have a joint membership which cost £152.00/€170.00 per month/£1824.00/€2034.00 per year. It increases a bit at the start of every new financial year. Suddenly, this week we received a letter demanding …. £250.00/€280.00 per year less for our annual contract. We have noticed that they have been desperately advertising for new members with 3-month contracts (Try before you commit.) but hadn’t realised that they were haemorrhaging membership to upstart, cheaper rivals around the area. Competition is a wonderful thing.

Monday, 15th July, 2019

A pleasant day that felt quite hot and humid although only reached 23C/74F in reality. Pauline’s new iPad Air was delivered this morning and I spent most of the time installing it by copying across the (3 years) old one and then decommissioning it by returning it to factory-default conditions. It is easy to forget how to achieve all these processes because one only does it every few years. Fortunately, I went through it on my own new iPad Pro only days ago so this was fairly straight forward.

My iPad Pro has face recognition as an entry method that supersedes password entry. Even with my face, it works really well. Pauline’s iPad Air has fingerprint recognition which I was rather sceptical about but she has taken to it immediately so we are both happy. We have both chosen 64Gb editions because we save everything to the Cloud and don’t need huge amounts of data on our instruments. Even so, 64Gb is massive in itself compared with earlier

About 3 weeks ago, I posted on my Blog about the tree I had taken a pod of seeds from in Tenerife last November. I had sowed them after soaking in boiling water for 24hrs. They sprouted remarkably quickly and this is the photograph I posted:

Delonix Regia – The Flamboyant Tree

Just 3 weeks later, I have 5 trees growing quite quickly. I put 3 outside and kept a couple indoors. These two are taller but less sturdy having struggled towards the light.

Three weeks growth. What about three months/years?

Lovely session at the Health Club today. We’ve signed up for the next 12 months so must stay alive to make full use – and for the sake of the trees.

Tuesday, 16th July, 2019

Gorgeous day with lovely sunshine all day. We have sop much to do today that we decided NOT to go to the Health Club. This was a decision we almost immediately changed but not to exercise. Yesterday we met a friend at the club who said she had been offered even better terms than us to persuade us to stay. We are on a ‘restricted hours’ contract as she was. The club had offered her unrestricted hours and still cut her fees. We went in and collared the Manager this morning and managed to secure the same deal. This will help us to avoid the busiest periods particularly at the weekends and we still save on our fees. They have secured our membership for another year. Don’t tell them but we weren’t going to leave anyway.

We have friends from Dorset visiting tomorrow. Jill taught in our school and left in 1982 (37 years ago!!!) We went to her wedding and reception at Hollingworth Lake in Oldham. Ironically, that is where my sister, Lizzie Dripping, went to live for a while. Jill and her accountant husband, Geoff, went to live and work in Blandford Forum near Poole in Dorset 37 years ago. We have seen her twice since we moved down here.

Hollingworth Lake, Greater Manchester

Tomorrow, we will meet again and we are looking forward to it. Pauline has spent the day cooking. We will eat a cold meal of salad leaves from our garden to accompany cold roast salmon with pesto crust, crab meat on radicchio leaves, slices of chicken breast wrapped in Pancetta, rolled and stuffed with garlic butter and Emmental cheese. Our sweet will be Syllabub & Lemon Drizzle cake. While Pauline was cooking, I was cleaning the car and mowing the lawns.

Interestingly, although I haven’t heard from my letters to the MD & CEO of Hoover-Candy, I did receive a phone call from the CEO’s Office from Dixons Carphone. I am getting somewhere. I may not need to use the Retail Ombudsman but I will if necessary.

Wednesday, 17th July, 2019

Friends from 38 years ago called round to see us. They had driven from Blandford Forum in Dorset to have lunch with us. Jill was a PE teacher in our school in 1981 and left shortly afterwards. Her husband, Geoff was an accountant with a large, City Accountancy firm until a few months ago. They have been together since Primary School so know each other well.

Gill, Pauline & Geoff

We took them for a drive around our area and a walk on our coastline. Then it was back home for a lovely lunch and long chat. Seems genuinely strange to be with someone from our dim and distant past. Makes one feel old.

Thursday, 18th July, 2019

We woke up to light rain. It looked and felt wonderful – warm and refreshing. Everything in the garden will be pleased with this reviver. The lawns are looking splendid, rich and lush. I have spent a lot of time and money on feeds and watered regularly. Ironically, this morning a fencing man came to dig a hole in it to replace a broken fence post. I fixed him with a teacher’s eye and warned him of dire consequences if he ruined my beautiful sward. He took the hint and did a beautifully neat job.

We went to the gym happily. We did our full workout and felt a sense of satisfaction as we drove home. We have almost completed our first 1000 miles in our new car and, although we have acclimatised to most things, we still have to think very carefully before starting off and parking. There is no gear stick or handbrake. Using buttons/switches is still not second nature.

Using buttons/switches for gearing and breaking is still not second nature.

There are also 3 driving settings – EV Electric Vehicle, Econ the most economical combination and Sport which provides more combative acceleration. I still haven’t used the Sport setting yet and, yesterday, I parked the car and left the engine on for an hour because it is so quiet I hadn’t realised it was still on. All of that said, we are really enjoying it and fight for who is to drive. It is particularly pleasurable to fill the tank with petrol. The previous model would hold about 350 miles worth at best. This model holds 650 miles worth which is a real shock and means visiting the petrol station about once a month.

Friday, 19th July, 2019

Today is the end of the School Academic Year and, for many years, we would have left at lunchtime, driven home and then quickly on to St George’s Dock, Hull for a Hull – Zeebrugge overnight trip and then a drive on to Ancona, Piraeus and to Sifnos. It is easy to forget the feeling of those days. Just as one loses the Friday night feeling so the first day of a 6 week holiday rather melts into the mists of time. A young man who worked for me as an IT Assistant back in the early 2000s and who I helped train on the job to become an IT teacher, posted on Facebook this morning:

Do you remember that feeling?

This was the view that confronted us on this day 10 years ago.

A gloomy Hull Docks

Hull in general and the docks in particular are horribly gloomy but their promise of an exciting journey to come invested it with magical properties. As we sat in the queue with our car laden up to the gunnels and waiting interminably to drive on, we dreamed of cabin, a Buffet meal and a fitful sleep in bunk beds before driving off around 8.30 am on Saturday morning and setting out on the road for the next 14/15 hrs driving.

Saturday, 20th July, 2019

Heavy rain overnight and some thunder & lightning. Athens went much further and had a major earthquake (5.1 Richter) yesterday. Hope the aftershocks are over by the time we fly in. This morning, the sun is out and I am peering through the mists of time. I see Sunday, July 20th, 1969 quite clearly. At 7.00 am, I set off to walk up the village to get a lift to Burton on Trent. There were no buses on a Sunday. I was going to work at the Pirelli factory.

The disused and (now) demolished Pirelli tyre & slipper factory, Burton on Trent

Exactly 50 years ago today, I had left Grammar School and was waiting for my A Level results which were about a month away. I had a holiday job 5 miles away in Burton at the Pirelli Tyre & Slipper factory. Who knew that Pirelli made slippers? Women packed the slippers into boxes which then weighed around 35kgs. Men’s jobs were to hump these heavy boxes around on to hand trucks in sets of 3 which made them so high we couldn’t see where we were pushing them and on to the storage stacks where we had to stack them 4 high. Even for a fit rugby player like me, it was exhausting but it paid and that was why I was there.

For 2 months, I worked 7 days a week for around 10 hrs per day. That summer, I earned £450.00 which may seem a trifling sum of around £1.20 per hour but, to me, it was massive and, in many respects, it was. My first College grant a few months later was only £470.00. The average, weekly wage for an adult worker was around £30.00 for a 40 hr week. Pirelli were offering me unsocial hours on unsocial days and paying extra. I was tired most of the time and I can still smell the factory, a smell of vulcanized rubber and engine oil but I was rich!

As these memories come flooding back, I’m told that it was on this day 50 years ago that man first landed on the moon. I remember very little about that.

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