Sunday, 20th October, 2019
Woke up at 6.00 am as normal and didn’t feel too bad after our long drive yesterday. We had a long list of jobs to get through so decided early on to restart our gym routine tomorrow. The day was delightfully warm and sunny so, after doing our weekly shop at Tesco, we set about a couple of hours of gardening. Pauline trimmed the hedges while I mowed the lawns.
The back garden felt absolutely lovely and it was hard to believe that we are in the latter half of October. We cooked outside – griddled Swordfish Steaks – and enjoyed the fresh, warm air. The only thing about this time of year is that the evening time brings cooler temperatures and we had to close the patio doors by 6.00 pm.
My one other task was fitting new batteries in all three smoke alarms. We were told that they were interconnected and that fitting one wouldn’t be good enough. I proceeded to do just that. Of course, I could get the tops off and the batteries out but I couldn’t get the new ones in or the tops back on. Fortunately, my wife can do stuff like that. The first two alarms went back satisfactorily. The third one at the top of the stairs immediately started to bleep as soon as the new battery was inserted. We concluded that it was faulty and would need expert attention or completely replacing. We decided to phone for help on Monday.
In an idle moment this evening, I searched Google for methods of sorting out my troublesome smoke alarm. I immediately found half a dozen helpful videos on YouTube telling me exactly what the problem was and how to fix it.
In the video I chose, I was taught to discharge any residual power after removing the battery by holding down the test button for 20 secs. After refitting the new battery, the bleeping restarted immediately. Next I was told that there could be dust or a web on the sensitive plate – called something or other – and it should be blasted with air through all its vents to clean it. I hadn’t got an air compressor to blast it but I have got a strong puff so I gave it full throttle, refitted the battery and everything appears to be working correctly. Let’s hope I’m not woken up in the night.
Monday, 21st October, 2019
Up early on a dark and damp morning. Bin day – all three today. That ‘s my job especially as it’s wet. Soon after, I have to go out to the Parcelforce depot to collect a package from BT Openreach which they tried to deliver on Saturday morning while we were travelling home. The package is a new, high-speed hub for full fibre connection plus 2 wi-fi extender discs. Actually, our house is fully wi-fi covered but these extender discs will reinforce that distribution and, I’m hoping, I can use one to provide a better performance out in the back garden.
We’ve managed to book the BT engineer to come to our house on Wednesday and the alarm engineer to call next week on the day before we leave for the airport. We’re working on the just-in-time principle.
Ten years ago this week we suddenly had a huge weight lifted from our shoulders. We had retired 6 months earlier and now we were paying off a relatively massive mortgage. It had been hugely increased as we borrowed to build our Greek house. I wrote at the time that “Pauline and I are flying around the lounge with the lightness of being mortgage-free.“ We have bought and sold two properties since then but never had a mortgage and it is enormously confidence inspiring.
Tuesday, 22nd October, 2019
The most glorious day of warm sunshine and wonderful, azure blue skies. We shopped in the early summer day; swam in the June warmth; cooked outside in the wonderful weather. Have I said it was a lovely, warm day?
I forgot until the last moment that my little sister was 62 yesterday. Of course she is in denial and she has deliberately had her photo taken with my younger brother, Bob, in order to make herself look younger.
We are going away soon so we spent an hour or so packing up the garden furniture and storing it in the garage. Tomorrow, we will wrap the fig and olive trees against the risk of frost while we are away. We need to leave everything in order before we go. Today, I moved a major investment which had matured over to another year’s account which will nearly keep our capital up with inflation. It is not exactly reassuring. I have considered purchasing a Buy-to-Let property or a property abroad but decided that both are time/risk demanding at the moment.
Wednesday, 23rd October, 2019
Early up because of expecting BT Openreach engineers. Very excited! Just unstacked the dishwasher and a ring on the doorbell announced their arrival.
Fibre has already been brought to a box on the outside of our house and now needs to be brought into the Study/Office. This involves drilling through an outside wall which I’m not terribly happy about but needs must. Pauline has deep cleaned the Study/Office just in case a man with a drill notices a bit of unremoved dust. She’s never really understood men and their relationship with dust.
Peter the Openreach engineer told me he was just 6 years old when I started teaching. He has a 14 year old son and was going to a Careers meeting to his son’s school tonight. It made me feel very old although not as old as Ruth. We’ve had so many trades people come to our house to offer us their skills and it is distinctly humbling to find how ordinary but wonderful they are. Just really good human beings doing their best for their families and their customers with no great sense of ego.
Peter was just an ordinary man with no great pretensions but hopes for his young son and the future. He was keen to talk and share his life with me. There were so many coincidences in which his life had, unknowingly, collided with mine. He had started school in South Benfleet in Essex just as I was starting teaching in Lancashire. Just as he was going to Secondary School, I got a job as head of English in a Secondary School 2 or 3 miles away on Canvey Island. His best friend lives on Oriental Road, Woking, Surrey about half a mile away from where Pauline & I lived in Surrey. Now he lives in West Worthing just next to where Pauline & I go to our Health Club every day.
I love people and their lives and this poor chap was forced to divulge his full history in the half hour he was at our house. As soon as he’d gone, I had to set the new hub up with
- 2 x Smartphones
- 3 x iPads
- 1 x Desktop
- 2 x Laptops
- 3 x Sky Boxes
- 5 x televisions
Fortunately many of them have WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) buttons to talk to the hub. This makes it all so quick to link them up. We came back from our Health Club stint, cooked our meal and then I did the whole thing in an hour. Apparently, we have immediately increased the value of our house by installing super fast, fibre to the door, internet. I would have done it anyway.
Thursday, 24th October, 2019
The darker mornings slowly creep up and we suddenly realise that we put the light on when we get up. It is a source of regret for me although I do accept the seasonal range of changing days. I am not Canute although even he did not try to turn back the tide but demonstrated to his subjects that even Kings were subject to natural laws. Fortunately, Man has learnt to work around nature with the social constructs that only humanity can devise. On Saturday night, one of those constructs will come to the rescue temporarily. We turn back the clocks and push the darkness back round the diurnal circle to form darker evenings.
It is rather grey anyway this morning with soft, wetting rain which contributes to the gloom of the day. We have a plumber arriving this morning to fix a leaking tap. A tap which cost nearly £200.00/€232.00 really shouldn’t be leaking after less than 4 years use. Apparently, taps like these have ceramic gland cartridges. It is all quite beyond my understanding so I look forward to an expert arriving. I, for one, believe in experts what ever slimy Gove says.
We’ve got just one more ‘expert’ to come to our house before we fly off to the Canaries. Next week, the burglar alarm man is coming back to comprehensively check our system. We will need it while we are away.
While we are away, we will be spending Euros. We buy our travel and accommodation with our credit cards in UK but all spending abroad is in local currency to avoid huge currency conversion charges. Over the past year, I have been forward buying currency as the Brexit debate ebbed and flowed and the Pound rose and fell against the Euro. I use FX experts like ICE and Moneycorp with whom I have accounts and who home deliver. Recently, however, Tesco Bank have more than matched them in value and I only have to go to my local supermarket to pick the up. Earlier in the week, the £1.00 = €1.1640 and I bought another £1000.00 worth to store away for future use. It’s gone down a bit since then so my constant monitoring was worth while.
Friday, 25th October, 2019
This morning, I lost my life – well, a significant part of it. This Blog is published on a hosted WordPress platform. I have maintained it since Christmas 2008 – It will be 11 years old in a couple of months. It’s strapline is a quote from TS Elliot’s The Wasteland in which the Fisher King describes his final attempt at coherence. This Blog shores up the fragments of my life in a final attempt at producing some coherence as a result. Of course, like everything, it will end in tragedy and failure but the effort will deliver it from futility or so I hope….
This morning, I lost everything. WordPress works with style sheets which form the framework in which content is contained and presented. Over the years, I have used 2 or 3 different style sheets just to keep the appearance fresh and interesting although functionality has been at the heart of my choice. There are thousands of WordPress stylesheets and existing content is instantly refreshed with a new wrapper. On Thursday evening, in an idle moment, I trawled though stylesheets and considered a change. Eventually, I decided against it and closed my computer down.
This morning, I was locked out of the last 11 years of my life. ….
Saturday, 26th October, 2019
I went to bed at midnight thinking about my Blog and woke at 6.00 am thinking about my Blog. I had attempted to restore data but, overnight, I realised that it was just the stylesheet that was missing. As I had browsed the stock of new stylesheets, I must have half selected one but not fully and deselected my original. Sounds garbled but I understand it. The error message I kept getting was: No stylesheet attached. I woke up knowing what I had to do – sort of.
I opened my control panel from my hosts – Ionos/1&1 – found the stylesheets bank and selected one, held my breath and refreshed my Blog page and up popped….
As I whooped round the kitchen, England scored their first try against New Zealand in what turned out to be a rout. England were brilliant and so was my mood. The day just couldn’t get much better. I’m going to the gym to celebrate.