Week 571

Sunday, 1st December, 2019

Happy December 2019 to everyone. It’s quite chilly outside but we’re still wearing shorts. We’re going to go down fighting ….. and shopping.

We were out early to Hobbycraft of all places. It is somewhere I am unaccustomed to but, obviously, many people are. When we parked up, there was a queue waiting outside for doors to open. Pauline has hit the floor running and, since the aircraft hit the tarmac, Christmas planning has been full throttle ahead. Cake bases and transporters were the order of the morning. Pauline is in her element in this environment.

Happy in the Baking& Icing aisle.
Happy in the Baking& Icing aisle.

I’ve been given the task of sourcing long sliced smoke salmon as Pauline plans fish starters. We bought a couple of 250g packs of smoked salmon from Sainsburys yesterday and it is delicious but cut in small, flimsy pieces. They are not good for wrapping a terrine of other fishes. Strangely, it is not so easy to find. I love smoked salmon and have been considering investing in an outdoor smoker to do my own but not in time for Christmas Dinner. It looks like I may have to order a side of smoked salmon finely sliced for home delivery.

Very old firm – established in year 2000.

I have found a family firm from Grimsby who will deliver a finely sliced kilogram side of smoked fish for under £30.00 which looks like a good prospect.

Pauline may be busy but certainly doesn’t have a job list as long as mine. As well as a Formula 1 race plus two football matches to watch, I have holidays to research and book, financial investments to reassess, a Xmas Newsletter to write and design, and computer software to renew. Actually, one of my first jobs today will be to find a good price for and renew our Norton 360 Premium – including antivirus, Secure VPN and Password Manager for 10 devices (Computer/Laptop, iPad and smartphone).

Monday, 2nd December, 2019

I know I say it every year but I cannot stand Christmas. It seems so meaningless and unnecessary. It disrupts normal life and encourages one to break routines. I particularly can’t stand recent trends which encourage the desire to decorate houses with lights. Our neighbours are fairly prosperous, middleclass folk who hold moderate views on life and politics but so many of them feel the need to display their new homes in full illumination at this time.

It’s started already!

This has happened every year that we’ve been here and I’m shocked to find that I’ve grown to just accept it.

It’s been an absolutely gorgeous day of blue sky and strong sunshine. Not warm but not too cold either – around 9C/48F. We drove to Rustington for Pauline to have her haircut and then set off to Surrey to visit C&P. P is still not well after a couple of spells in hospital. We stayed and chatted for a couple of hours and the drove home – taking my Tenerife trees which they had been tending for me while we were away with us. After just 2 hours driving, I was quite tired this evening. I must be out of practice.

Tuesday, 3rd December, 2019

Yesterday it was Hairdressers and today it is Beauticians – both for Pauline and both necessitating driving to Rustington. It makes her happy so it makes me happy. We were out by 8.30 am and home by 11.00 am.. I just enjoy driving anyway so not a problem. It is quite a chilly morning and the car is so stuffed full of technology that, after a month away, I am having to learn it all over again.

We park in our garage but we have a number of heated aids which make driving more enjoyable. For a number of years we have had heated seats. This new model has regulated heat on the seats with 3 separate settings. It also has heated wing mirrors in case of icing up which doesn’t really apply in the garage. Thirdly, it has a heated steering wheel which is absolutely lovely on a cold morning.

One of 3 Steering Wheel Control Blocks

The other side of the wheel has multiple choice buttons for telephone, sat. nav., radio, etc.. and then there are the controls for heated seats, climate control, etc.. It is a lot to absorb and familiarise oneself with and, having just got to grips with it all, a month away seems to have set us back a little.

We returned to exercise at the health Club this afternoon with a full gym workout followed by a lovely swim outside under a low, winter sun that was falling behind the yew hedge line.Back home, Pauline griddled swordfish steaks out in the garden which we ate with mixed bean and tomato salads. Lovely end to the afternoon.

Wednesday, 4th December, 2019

A gorgeous, gorgeous day although cool. It didn’t get above 9C/48F throughout the day although it felt warmer in the strong sunshine. W drove down to the fish trawlers to buy some fish, walk in the sunshine and take some photographs. Behind the fishermen’s hut, a cormorant was enjoying himself, diving, disappearing below the sea and reappearing with a bill stuffed with silver fish, flashing iridescent in the sunshine.

A cormorant fishes for its Breakfast in the Littlehampton Harbour.

We drove back via the Garden Centre because our large Bay Tree blew over while we were abroad and cracked its pot. We had to source a new one. That done, we went home and prepared for the Health Club. We did a full workout. The pool outside was delightful. Pauline cooked duck salad and then prepared to meet women neighbours who had agreed to walk down to the village Christmas fayre together. I could not imagine anything worse than that.

Thursday, 5th  December, 2019

It’s been an enjoyable day with plenty of sunshine and getting increasingly warmer. After a cold start, we reached 10C/50F which made swimming outside even more comfortable as the pool steamed in the sunlight.

Tarragona

My job today has been starting to plan our forthcoming travel in 2020. I have been doing this tentatively for months and particularly looking at a Summer trip to the Spanish coast of Murcia. I have gravitated a little further up that coastline to Tarragona and Salou and am now looking for villa rentals in that area for around two months in May/June/July.

Salou Marina

We will drive down to Portsmouth and then take the ferry to Bilbao/Santander which takes about 24 hrs rather like the Italian/Greek ferry we took from Ancona down the Adriatic to Patras. It will cost around £700.00/€830.00 return which is a little cheaper than the Adriatic ferry.I hope to have this trip tied up by early New Year so I’ve got to get on with it. Looks exciting though.

Friday, 6th  December, 2019

Yesterday, the temperature peaked at 10C/50F. This morning at 7.00 am, we have started at 11C/52F although it has rained over night.

We received a parcel yesterday although it was taken in by our neighbours because we were at the gym. It was addressed to someone called Derek but at our address. I began to think my wife had taken a secret lover and was keeping him in the back bedroom. She denies it and we put out a message on our Development’s Facebook page advertising this parcel and searching for a Derek who lives at our house. Within a couple of minutes, we were told where he really lives and, within a couple of hours, 145 people had viewed and commented on our post. The embarrassing thing is that Derek lives immediately behind our house and we didn’t know. This morning, Derek’s wife, who we recognised as someone who has been seen in the garden behind our house, came round to collect the parcel.

Before we went to Tenerife, I made a major purchase. One of my bugbears when cleaning the car is to deal with the uncomfortable sloping inside of the windscreen. I also usually hoover the mats, treat the leather seats and then turn my attention to the dashboard and inside windscreen. In this order, I end up dirtying the carpets and having to redo them. I’m not a natural cleaner. In October, I laid out £4.50/€5.21 with free delivery to order a tool for this job from Amazon.

It was supposed to arrive within days but I was eventually told delivery would be delayed. We went away for a month and, on return, had a card saying the Post Office had tried to deliver unsuccessfully 3 times. It was back at the depot waiting for us ….. except that it wasn’t. When we got there, it had been returned to sender 2 days previously. ‘Sender’ turned out to be China. No wonder it took so long to arrive. I must stop going automatically to Amazon. I’ve found and ordered the one above on the right from Halfords for just £6.00/€6.95.

Saturday, 7th  December, 2019

A grey morning which doesn’t look too inviting outside. Fortunately, we don’t need to go there other than a trip to the gym. Today is not a day to be on the roads. Stressed workers getting increasingly frenzied over Christmas purchases are driving everywhere. People are to be avoided.

I must admit to having an ambivalent relationship with humankind. I love people but on my terms. I find people endlessly fascinating but much in the way an observer, a writer does. I like to sit at roadside café tables watching the world go by rather than intervening in the world. If I meet someone new, I want to find everything out about them, their biography, and I do. People are happy to talk about themselves and I am happy to listen but I don’t want to develop a relationship with them. I never want to get that close. I prefer my position as an outsider

A Grey Day in Worthing.

I realise now that I have always been like that. Do you hate parties? I do. I will go to great lengths to avoid them. I haven’t gone as far as to break a leg but I have considered it. Looking back, even as a young man I always sat on the outside edge of gatherings looking in not joining in. It is my nature. Any connections I make are on my own terms. For example, I hate having visitors to my house although I don’t mind visiting others’ houses in the knowledge I can leave at any time. I don’t want my own space invading. Does that make me weird? Maybe but I’m old enough now not to care.