Week 559

Sunday, 8th September, 2019

Coolish start to the day – only 13C/55F – but with clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine. Morning start with political programmes as the Brexit debacle disintegrates further. The Tory party are imploding as was forecast three years ago. It would be topped off by the Prime Minister believing his own bluster, defying the law and ending up in prison buteven he isn’t brazen enough for that, unfortunately. The newspaper headlines and the morning interviews are not encouraging for a government teetering on the edge of anti-democratic, illegal flailing.

On a less significant note, we’ve been out to the garden centre to buy Autumn Lawn feed and then on to the supermarket. Absolutely fascinating to find, at 10.00 am, the Garden Centre car park very busy and the supermarket car park absolutely packed – busier than a Saturday. It says so much about us as a society and our attitude to religion. We are embracing the former enthusiastically while deserting the latter in our droves. In the midst of all this political turmoil, such observations are enough to sustain one.

We regularly hear of the high proportion of food that goes to waste in UK homes – something like 30% apparently. Particularly, this features bread and fresh vegetables. The buy-one-get-one-free culture has become frowned on because of its tendency to encourage over buying. I am married to a culinary genius. She plans food purchases to the nth degree. I eat the most wonderful meals that I have absolutely no desire to eat out and be disappointed. It has been my delight for the past 41 years.

Green Tomato Chutney

Our tomatoes and green peppers had all arrived in an absolute glut at the end of the season. Pauline has responded by producing tomato & pepper antipasti and green tomato chutney. Nothing goes to waste in our house. Everything is used for something. Today after doing a couple of hours at the Health Club, our meal was a Greek Salad, a (homegrown) lettuce salad and a huge swordfish steak griddled outside in the garden where the temperature had just reached 22C/70F in the afternoon. The lawn is striped and luscious green and the world looks wonderful. It will look even better when we’ve broken Brexit!

Monday, 9th September, 2019

A wet day down here on the South Coast. It is so unusual as to be quite delightful. We have been attending to indoor stuff this morning. Pauline has been baking bread and ironing although not at the same time. I have been doing man’s work – putting out the bins. All three this week Black (landfill)/Green(recycle)/Brown(Garden). The first one is every Monday including Bank Holidays. The latter two are every other week. It is a fantastic service.

I have also been exploring how to exploit my iPad Pro via VPN to view UK television channels, including Sky and BT-Sport and to mirror it on Hotel/Villa televisions abroad. We used the iPad Pro screen which is a reasonable size – 12.9″ – to watch reception but it would be nice to make use of a flat screen television.

The new iPad Pro has no HDMI socket or Headphone socket for that matter so I was delighted to find that there is an adaptor for this purpose. For a small cost of about £50.00/€56.00 it is a good solution. One attaches the Lightning Digital AV Adaptor to the Lightning connector on the iPad and then to the TV or via an HDMI cable. We are off to France soon so I am looking forward to trying it out. The VPN, which seems to default to a server in Addlestone, 5 miles from where we lived in Surrey, cost £60.00 per year and will prove invaluable.

Today has been a momentous day politically. Royal Assent has been given to the Bill blocking a No-Deal Brexit. This is the first stage in defeating Brexit altogether. Even more important, however, is the news that Speaker Bercow is to stand down once Brexit has been broken.

John Bercow is the greatest Speaker of the House of Commons since Speaker Lenthall stood up to Charles I in the 1640s When the story is written of the defeat of Brexit democratically, it will show that Speaker Bercow played a big part.

Tuesday, 10th September, 2019

Went to bed and watched the end of parliament which took us to well after midnight. Didn’t get up until 7.15 am today. Yesterday I wrote about an Apple Digital Adaptor. Today, I’ve found that a multi-port adaptor at the cost of just £70.00/€78.30 which will both provide HDMI connectivity for mirroring to a television but a USB port as well – something I have never had with an iPad and which will let me carry copies of files and copy them on to a memory stick.

I haven’t used an HDMI cable for so long and thought I would have no use for them again so disposed of at least three when clearing out from our last home. Now I have to buy one. A 3 metre cable to make life easier in a hotel room costs £25.00/€28.00. I’m looking forward to trialling this system in France when we go soon. Most villas in the Canaries already utilise the web to deliver UK channels to their  televisions but I now have a back-up

I’ve had another disaster with my pressure washer. I bought a Karcher and it worked well for a few months. About 4 months before the warranty ran out, it failed. I complained and was sent a new one. That has now failed in exactly the same way. It is obviously a design fault. I could but I can’t be bothered to complain again. It will go to the tip and I’ve ordered a new make & model. It is a Spear & Jackson and costs £100.00/€112.00. It has all the attachments that I need including an integrated soap dispenser and a patio scrub cleaner. I will report back on progress in a couple of months – if you can stand the suspense. I should have saved myself a lot of angst and gone to a car wash. Would have been cheaper! 

Wednesday, 11th September, 2019

Autumnal Sea on the South Coast

This morning, we went down to the beach to buy fish from the Fishermen’s Hut. Yesterday, the sun was out and the skies were blue. Today, although mild, the skies reflected in the sea were autumnal but just as interesting.

Waving ‘Goodbye’ to the Summer.

In the Blog, I recorded 10 years ago today that I Woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of a 1000 marauding monkeys on the roof. It was, of course, torrential rain and was a bit of a shock coming in our first experience of Greek September.

Athens in the Rain

Last week, the first one of September, Kathimerini reported: The weather in Greece is unstable with a scent of autumn: rainfalls, thunderstorms and temperature drop. How does the world know it’s September in Europe? I’m pleased we chose to go a couple of weeks early this year.

Thursday, 12th September, 2019

Out early on a mild morning which eventually settled at 22C/70F. We were out to Tesco for our weekly shop, the Post Office Depot for a ‘missed’ parcel – a lovely jumper for Pauline – and then on to the local waste tip to dispose of my old pressure washer. Our final destination was Littlehampton Marina/Worthing Beach for the Fishermen’s hut.

The Fish has been unloaded.

The Marina is very quiet at this time of the year which suits us absolutely well. There is the odd person fishing from the walkway and a few dogs and joggers but not many of any.

Good selection of locally caught fish.

The hut is open 5 days a week (Wednesday – Sunday) this time of year and most fish on sale is locally caught. It is quite expensive but the quality is wonderful. The fish below Tuna, Swordfish, Sea Bass & Sea Bass fillets cost £176.00/€197.00 but it will last quite a while.

Exercise really hurt today. Doing it every day without exception is beginning to take its toll. We have guests next week so we may have a couple of days off.

Friday, 13th September, 2019

I have long thought and one reason why I maintain my blog is that it is possible to sleep walk through life without realising it passing by. In fact, so many of us do. We are so wrapped up in the routines of our days that we rarely stand back and see the bigger picture. The context of one’s life is important. To understand it is to regain a little bit of control over it. To really know where one is on one’s time continuum is, for me, only possible by regularly reflecting on the context of my existence.

I had one of those senior moments yesterday. As we drove out to the beach in the morning, I suddenly realised that I wasn’t going to work as others were. I’M RETIRED suddenly hit me. You might think that strange as I get half way through my 11th year of retirement but it is easy to take one’s situation for granted. Getting up and not going to work becomes the default to the point where it can be forgotten how wonderful life is. Freedom, comfort, enjoyment, self-indulgence become the new default.

It is because of the freedom to self-indulge and enjoy ourselves that we subject ourselves to a moderately disciplined routine of getting up early, keeping active, going to ‘work’ at the Gym/Swim, immersing ourselves in Politics and doing plenty of travelling. However, all the time, I try to keep in mind where I am in my life’s line. At the moment, I feel like I am in a very good place.

Villa with heated pool & sea view near Siam Park, Puerto Colon, Tenerife.
We can carry on our exercise routine.

We are going to spend a few days in France soon and then a few days in Yorkshire. Soon after that, we will go to southern Tenerife for a month. We have rented a large villa with a heated pool, large sun terrace overlooking the sea, wi-fi, UK television and all the facilities one would expect in one’s own home. Cost for the month is €6000.00/£5325.00 plus our flights. Back for Christmas and then …. who knows?

Saturday, 14th September, 2019

Well, we got through Friday 13th unscathed. Actually, we quite enjoyed it. I enjoyed it even though I’m in an extended ‘no alcohol’ spell. This will be my third month of it this year. I love wine. I love reading about it, researching it and, especially, drinking it. To be honest, I like it too much just as I like good food too much. I have to continually rein myself in. When I talk about ‘no alcohol’, I mean no wine. Ironically, I have a store of about 200 bottles and will soon be going to France and returning with another 100 bottles or so. I need more storage.

90 bottle wine rack.

This always happens when I’m not drinking. It is one of the ironies of life. I’m going to buy a simple rack that stores 90 bottles and will cost me £80.00/€91.00 ready built. The threat of Brexit makes a man do desperate things. I buy all my wine from France. It is always approximately 50% UK price.

The wine merchants I use do give me ‘free’ tunnel crossings for an over night stay but, this time, we will be staying longer so paying for ourselves. Assuming the extension goes ahead at the end of October, I will fit a couple more trips in by the end of January. I may need quite a few more wine racks and another storage area with big walls!

Ten years ago today, I was drinking a glass of chilled Orvieto and toasting the day. We walked up our land and took this photo above the house.

This day in 2009.

We had retired 6 months before and had just 2 weeks left on the island before setting off on the drive home. I remember that we hit a cloud burst on the downward slopes of a Swiss mountainside as the light failed and were engulphed in a flood that totally immersed the road. It was one of the most frightening times of my life but … we lived to tell the tale.