Sunday, 8th December, 2019
When we returned from Tenerife a week ago, we both wrote lists of jobs we had to get through over the next couple of weeks. We have both being addressing them assiduously and I have only 2 remaining out of 10. One of those two jobs is to write my Xmas Newsletter.
You will know that I hate Xmas at the best of times and I am incapable of writing Xmas cards. I have a problem using a pen at all after years of keyboard communication and the last time I started to write Xmas cards, I carefully inscribed:
From John & Pauline Sanders
Pauline caught me after about 20 or so and immediately shredded them. She explained that it was too formal. My counter argument was that we often receive cards from Jane & David and I don’t know which of the 3 couples we know with those names it has come from. My argument didn’t seem to succeed.
Actually, we were told last year that Ruth & Kevan were no longer sending Xmas cards and this year Jane & David have followed suit. It is a difficult debate that we’ve been having for a while but have not yet resolved. Actually, we have a number of contacts who still don’t have access to computers and email.
Dave Beasley, my old scoutmaster from Repton who is in his late 70s has never mastered computers and my friend Caroline from Oldham who is about the same age still sends me postcards from all round the world because she doesn’t use email. There are people who we like the annual contact with who we never see or hear from otherwise and don’t know if they have emails either.
For now, we will continue to send Xmas cards although I am only going to send my Newsletter in printed form to those who can’t be reached with an email attachment. I will still be obsessing on robins which symbolise for me wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are popularly used as symbols of bright, friendliness in starkly cold scenery whereas, in reality, they are successful, vicious fighters in a harsh world.
Monday, 9th December, 2019
Lovely day – cold but bright. We’ve begun receiving Christmas cards and will have to write ours in the next few days. For those who can’t wait, this is what you are likely to see.
Thank you to Richard for indulging my robin-infatuation by especially cutting out a robin and sticking it in to his card this year. That shows true respect!
Our village always does its bit to celebrate the festival. The pollarded trees in the square are illuminated and a Christmas Tree is erected. They held their annual Christmas Fayre last week and carols were sung.
We have done our regular Health Club exercise regime. Outdoor swimming was exhilarating but quite cool as a strong breeze blew across our backs as we swam. The sun was going down quite rapidly which saw the temperature drop quickly. We came home and griddled tuna steaks outside where I had mowed the lawns earlier today. For mid-December, it is pretty good going.
Tuesday, 10th December, 2019
Out early this morning into heavy traffic around our area. Pauline was going to a DPD drop-off site to collect a parcel. She was collecting an order of 3 new pairs of Sketchers trainers. It was a 3-for-2 offer that she couldn’t resist. She’s obviously committed to long term activity.
We also called in to our Doctors’ surgery to collect repeat prescriptions and take them to the attached pharmacy. The surgery had a notice up informing us that this system would soon change and that the paper prescription would soon be withdrawn nationally in favour of electronic requests direct to a named pharmacy. This should have been obligatory a long time ago but one can clearly see the need for in our Clinical Practice where long waits for printed prescriptions are accompanied by regular mistakes – Today our prescriptions were handed to us with someone else’s clipped to them. – and regular waits for them to be signed by a doctor.
Exactly 9 years ago, we were making our last visit to view the building progress of our duplex apartment in Surrey and to sign the final purchase documents. This is what we say:
Today we have once again done our full Health Club regime although outdoor swimming outside was chilly in the air. Actually, we felt wonderful after it and particularly after a few minutes in the sauna and a few more in the jacuzzi.
Wednesday, 11th December, 2019
A chilly morning of sunshine and showers. We were out early to follow up some tasks including a visit to our local fisherman who had a joint of tuna for us. It weighed 3.5 kg and cost £83.50/€99.00. The tuna was sourced from Cadiz in Spain. In fact, he had little local fresh fish on his counter this morning and he explained that recent strong winds had kept the fleet harboured. We left with an order of sword fish to be collected on Saturday when his supplier had been to Billingsgate Market.
The beach area was deserted and wonderful. We waked for a while and took some photographs. The simple beauty of the scene is quite breath taking. Pauline is absolutely bowled over by it and it is fascinating to find how much warmer the air is and how exciting the movement of the water can feel.
We were just preparing to set off for the Health Club when the skies opened and a storm of torrential rain accompanied by hail began to beat down. Even as we drove along the road, we questioned whether we should continue. As we proceeded, two rainbows appeared in two areas of the sky. We went as far as to go round the roundabout and head home before changing our minds and going back towards the Health Club. We were very glad that we did. We completed our full routine plus swim even though a return of the rain hit us outside in the pool absolutely drenching us even though we were already soaking wet.
Back home, we basked in our feeling of fitness as Pauline baked salmon steaks which she topped with home-made pesto and served with tomato salad. The Christmas cards are piling up and making us feel inadequate. It is my job that is holding everything up. Tomorrow is our supermarket shop but then I must print address labels so Pauline can get the main batch off to the post.
Thursday, 12th December, 2019
A cool, blustery and grey, wet day down here on the South Coast. We went out early in heavy rain to vote at the local Community Centre. The carpark was absolutely packed and we thought there must have been a huge rush of enthusiasm but it turned out that a popular Toddler Playgroup was going on in the room next door.
Actually, the temperature was 11C/52F but the strong breeze made it feel much colder. It is such a depressing light and strong rain certainly dampens the spirits.
In spite of this, we went to the Health Club vowing only to do our gym routine today. However, as we finished, there was a break in the rain and we decided to go out and swim. In order to do that, we have to walk from the warm changing room through the steamy indoor pools area and outside across a flagged patio to the pool. Today, it felt cold and the pool was visibly steaming. Once in, we swam happily for 20 mins or so and then the rain returned. Very quickly, it became heavy and cold on our backs. We ran back in and to the sauna. Still, at least we tried!
I was reading the thoughts of an ex-pat in Greece who for some unfathomable reason actually wants Brexit. I can’t think my way through the process that went on there. I want the freedom to take a European partner, to move away and live in another European country but I want to reduce the chances of all other British citizens and, particularly the young, to travel, work, settle, access Healthcare, etc. in other European countries. I want it to be more difficult to sell to our nearest trading partner and to ensure British need visas to travel by demanding EU citizens need visas to visit Britain.
His view is that MPs are servants of the people. Of course, that is a fundamental misunderstanding of the real situation. MPs are not delegates to do their constituents’ bidding. They are representatives charged with doing what they consider best for their constituents. A delegate would say to the suicide bridge jumper: You’ve made your mind up. You know jumping will have serious and very painful consequences but who am I to stop you? In fact, I will help you with a push if you request it. A representative would talk them down and say: Don’t do it. I’m telling you, you will regret it if you survive the fall at all. I will show you a better way and help you access it. That is how representative democracy works by eschewing the dangerous and ill thought out populist ways.
Friday, 13th December, 2019
A strange day of wind and cloud. Not terribly cold but not very inviting. We drove down to the fisherman’s hut to pick up a joint of Swordfish. Another 3.5 kgs of fish and another £88.00/€105.50 in cash.
We were feeling the pain but we will revenge it! We walked on the beach road and watched the sea consume the shore in fierce and devastating ways. That is how we will deal with defeat!
We will not be cowed by this set back. We will fight on the beaches and everywhere else until we defeat this excrescence on our body politic.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
like the waves beating out its pain on the rocks, this struggle feels an elemental one and all of us must stand up, examine our position and fight this right wing populism.
Saturday, 14th December, 2019
Today, as Christmas cards arrived and many enclosed newsletters, I decided that I should push myself to complete my own. I had been in two minds – about cards at all never mind the newsletter but there are so many people from our past who we only catch up with once a year at Christmas time, I decided that it would be churlish and counter productive to stop now.
We send out about 70 cards each year and a number go abroad so we have to get on with it now. Only about half of them get a newsletter but that is quite a production to compose, edit, proof read and print back-to-back. We have an address database for the envelope labels so that cuts down the work a bit but Pauline has already put quite a lot of time in to writing them.
In spite of spending a fair amount of time in the Office this morning on my allotted task, we still went out to the Health Club and did our gym routine followed by the most wonderful half hour’s swim outside. As we swam, the strong, low sun bathed our backs in warmth. Squirrels ran acrobatically along the hedges and fences trying to remember where they had buried their winter food stores and high up in the tree, a single Song Thrush sang out so loudly the music echoed from the surrounding, sunlit walls.
These are wonderful times for mid-December. Even the grass is still growing and the lawns are luscious green. We finished the afternoon griddling tuna steaks in the garden before the light fell and the Easyjet flights high overhead were reduced to winking lights across the sky towards Gatwick. It’s not beginning to feel a bit like Christmas – thank goodness.