Week 553

Sunday, 28th July, 2019

A pleasantly warm Sunday morning – 23C/74F. The workers are mowing their lawns. Actually, I cut ours again this morning. Pauline trimmed the hedges and I cleaned the front door. A neighbour walking past was amused at what they saw as our role-reversal. If only they knew. Pauline is so much more practical than I am.

On the front drive, we had a three pieces of cordless equipment. The lawnmower, hedge trimmer and strimmer.

As we both worked away, Pauline dashed indoors to get something, shouting over her shoulder as she went,

Keep your eye on the equipment, John.

I thought about that in some amazement. The idea of someone coming along and pinching it would never even occur to me. Hardly anyone passes by. When a house in our road was recently put up for sale, the Estate Agent described it as in what is locally known as Millionaire’s Road. Although that is a bit of an exaggeration, it does feel extremely quiet, comfortable and safe. Maybe I am just very naïve and Pauline is much more worldly wise. You can take the girl out of Oldham but you can’t take Oldham out of the girl.

Do you remember Dubbin?

My wife is an old-fashioned girl. Today she told me that we had to buy a waterproofing spray to put on our garden furniture covers to increase their protection during the winter. When I questioned her, she said they had always had to do it to tents when she was a child. I have a feeling that synthetic material protection has moved on quite a lot in the past 60 years. I think you’ll find boys don’t rub Dubbin into their football/rugby boots any more like I did excitably in 1965 with my first ‘professional’ pair.

At the end of a beautiful  and really enjoyable day, we walked in the cooler back garden which faces south and where the greying night sky is pierced by the dramatic light of Jupiter. I only know that because my wife was able to tell me. It is all out of my sphere of knowledge.

Monday, 29th July, 2019

Lovely day of sunshine and warm temperatures which reached 24C/75F – a comfortable and relaxing feeling. We did some shopping and a full workout at the gym before eating a meal of griddled swordfish steaks with homegrown salad in the garden.

Our tomatoes are ripening quickly now and the figs are swelling and ripening at an alarming pace. They are the size of small pears. We picked these on the fruit bowl this morning. They are all from one, two year old tree.

Tuesday, 30th July, 2019

Quite a pleasant start to the day – warm (19C/66F), bright but a bit breezy. I went out to the garden centre to buy a sprinkler for the lawns ironically on a day when Southern Water hinted that a hosepipe might be on the way.

As we drove home, it started to rain. The gusts of wind had got stronger as well. Opening the conservatory doors onto the back garden, we found that the fence separating our garden from the neighbours at the side had blown over and hung at a slant. The plant support wires were holding it up but barely. The electrical cables lighting the garden were stretched taut to snapping tension. Our neighbours are away.

To top the day off, as we put the car away in the garage, a wasp decided to fly down the neckline of Pauline’s dress and stung her. She was calm and had the presence of mind to reach in and pick out the wasp along with the sting. She immediately applied vinegar and then sting relief cream. It worked and the sting did not swell up but was restricted to a burning, red rash. It always seems to happen to Pauline. It’s going to be my turn soon!

INR testing & reporting day today. I’ve been doing it since the end of January 2009. For much of that time, I’ve had to test and report at least every 4-6 weeks. In the past 3 years or so, I have been able to keep my INR under much greater equilibrium. For the past couple of years, the testing and reporting intervals have stretched. I tested and reported today with an almost perfect result and was given my new reporting date well forward to the end of September. Must be doing something right.

Wednesday, 31st July, 2019

We went out early to Worthing town centre on a warm but cloudy morning. Wednesday in Worthing is market day and stalls line the streets selling fruit & Vegetables, Artisan Bread, Game & Poultry, Pies & Pasties, Clothes and Shoes plus all sorts of knick-knacks. Our access to the town centre is via Sea Road and the promenade. The recent breeze has produced a choppy sea which explains the seagulls massing and marauding in land.

Worthing Eye

As we drove past the pier, our eyes were drawn to the newly erected Worthing Eye. It went up for a while last year but was taken down in the Autumn. We are not sure if it is permanent this time or not.

Another hard session at the Health Club but at the end of this month, my phone tells me I have walked 2100 miles in the past 12 months. No wonder I’m tired.

Thursday, 1st August, 2019

Happy new August. New months are times to be optimistic, to look forward to future Augusts to come even if the 2019 version will only last 31 days. Actually, I am quite contrary. I recall that 30 years ago this month, a colleague from School threw himself under a train because he just couldn’t cope with the reality of his life any more. He was only 48. Last year, one of Pauline’s former Assistants died of a heart attack at the age of just 61. Pauline’s cousin died this month two years ago after struggling against cancer. It is hard to see the fairness and optimism in these events. 

I think of all the experiences that we have enjoyed since they left the world and of the heartache their leaving has engendered. I know this doesn’t sound optimistic but it does serve to engender a need in me to make the most of the life I have while I have it. It may be mundane but it is real and it is alive.

Bottom Rot in Greece

Warm – 24C/75F – and reasonably bright but not wholly sunny day. We did our weekly shop at Tesco and a full exercise routine at the Health Club. I was reading my Blog from 6 years ago. We had been working in our Greek garden where, amongst other things, we had been growing tomatoes. Like many other islanders that year, we had been hit with bottom rot on our fruit.

No such problem in 2019 Sussex. Our cherry tomatoes are fruiting heavily and ripening nicely. We haven’t picked any yet but it won’t be long. We have yellow and red varieties

You can’t beat home grown.

I’m only growing them for a bit of fun and a sense of achievement but looking after them is keeping me exercised.

Friday, 2nd August, 2019

A busy and tiring day. It’s amazing how social interaction can be so demanding if one’s normal day doesn’t include much of it. We were up early on a day which was warm and largely sunny ultimately reached a humid 24C/75F. I cleaned the car while Pauline steam cleaned the floors.

By 11.30 am, we were on the road to Surrey. It is the most enjoyable and beautiful route. Outside commuter times, the A24/London Road is delightful, tree-lined and quiet. It is a route which mixes 50mph/70mph sections but there is one drawback. We have a 6 mile stretch of the M25 to negotiate and it is so unpredictable. Today, after a dream drive, the M25 was stationary. We thought there must have been an accident but it turned out to be ‘volume of traffic’. It didn’t hold us up too much and all was clear as we drove home around 7.30 pm.

Pinnacles 8 years on.

As we entered West Byfleet, we decided to call in at our ‘old’ property known as The Pinnacles. I say old but it is less than 8 years old. We had a duplex apartment for 4 years and, when we sold it, almost doubling our money. Recently, we have noticed that re-sale properties are struggling to find buyers and ‘asking prices’ are being cut. Today, we felt it hadn’t the clean, crisp management look that we had seen when we moved in.

Pauline insisted on being expunged.

We went on to a ‘family’ BBQ with 3 lads who we have known since they were tiny and are now almost human. They have girlfriends so they must be almost normal. I enjoyed chasing them round the garden and almost catching them. We ate lovely food cooked on the BBQ – salmon, king prawns, chicken, steak and sausages all accompanied by salad. It was delightful.

However, by the time we got home, we were both shattered. Must be our ages!

Saturday, 3rd August, 2019

A warm morning of hazy sunshine. We were so tired this morning that we didn’t get up until 7.00 am. Freshly squeezed,  Valencian orange juice followed by Yorkshire tea and then a large cup of freshly ground, Arabica coffee with the summer warmth wafting through the open doors on to the garden is hard to beat particularly. This is particularly so when I’m looking at things I would never have considered growing outside in Yorkshire.

The peppers are developing well.

We’ve been eating figs for a couple of weeks and there are lots to come. The Brown Turkey Fig tree is just coming to ripeness. We have started to pick the red and yellow cherry tomatoes and the Basil plants have been remarkable this year. Soon we will be picking the peppers which are, helpfully, growing in stacked lines. For some reason the gree ones are well ahead of the red and the yellow. Typical because I prefer the latter colours.

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