Week 577

Sunday, 12th January, 2020

A lovely day of blue sky and sunshine. I am on the 12th day of 91 days without alcohol. I must say that I have hardly thought about it but I control the circumstances.  We had considered a few days in France but that would be fatal. Going to a dinner party, going out to a restaurant, anything out of routine, in fact, would severely test me. Drinking wine is essentially a social act and, for me, is intimately wrapped up in eating good food.

I use one specific replacement for alcohol. It is not pleasant but I can easily become addicted to it. I drink Shloer and sparkling water in spritzer form. The wine racks remain absolutely full and the Shloer boxes rapidly become empty. Over Christmas, supermarkets sell a lot of Shloer and, in the new year discount it. This year, standard price is £2.20/€2.58 and I found that Morrisons was selling it discounted at £1.00/€1.18. Too good to be avoided for an addict like me. This morning we drove down there to stock up. 

Pauline’s Grandparents she never met.

I completed scanning in Pauline’s memories box with the help of her sister’s memory. Pauline didn’t know who these people were although they were in her box. The photograph was taken in Oldham in the early 20th Century and were, in fact, the Grandparents she never met.

We did our gym workout and then Pauline griddled Tuna steaks in the garden. It is noticeable that the afternoons are remaining lighter longer which is a lovely prospect of what is to come.

Monday, 13th January, 2020

Another beautiful morning which is lucky because I have to wheel 3 bins out on to the roadside for collection this morning. I’m a bit tired because we went to bed well after midnight. We were watching a film. It is a very rare event for me. I am not a fan of films or fiction generally. I am more attracted by facts and ideas. Also, I don’t cope with late nights as well now as I did in my youth. However, one of the benefits of retirement is the ability to choose to do whatever one wants and hang the consequences.

I am rarely if ever conscious of dreaming although I am aware of specific triggers in me that cause it. Since childhood, if I had a temperature through illness, a common dream for me was to be on a high cliff or building and feel the sensation of falling. I know we are all believed to dream every night particularly in our REM state. During Rapid Eye Movement sleep, our brain is almost as active as it is when we are awake. REM sleep is thought to help consolidate memories.

It is almost 11 years since I retired from teaching and I haven’t taught an English lesson since the 1980s but, recently, I’ve been waking up genuinely concerned that I am going in to a classroom this morning where my class is about to sit an examination on a book which I have not taught them – actually, I’ve not bothered to teach them. In real life those sorts of things didn’t really worry me. I took them in my stride and always found a solution – usually it was just CHEAT. However, in my dream I wake slightly fearful of the consequences and then reality suddenly dawns on me.

          You’re not a teacher. You have no responsibility. It’s somebody else’s problem.

I am instantly bathed in a warm enveloping sense of relaxation and calm. It is the calm of retirement that everyone should experience.

Tuesday, 14th January, 2020

Tuesday is INR testing day. Recently, I have been so stable that I’ve reduced it to fortnightly. Actually, if I didn’t have my own machine, I would be having the test only every 8 weeks which is a little too scary for me. That is how often that I have to report my reading to the Hospital which I do via email. It is so convenient.

I am fortunate to be able to fund myself. The machine is about £600.00/€699.00 to buy and, although I get 24 test strips on prescription from my doctor, I buy a backup pack at a cost of £80.00/€93.22 per year as well. I suppose I could demand additional ones on prescription but I decide to make it equitable. My INR range should be between 2.0 – 3.0 and, mainly, it is. I have kept a spreadsheet since January 2009 recording every single reading which is more than can be said of the NHS. Every time I have moved, my records have not moved with me.

I have now completed 2 weeks without alcohol and my test today reflects that. For the first time since April last year, I am outside my required range. I tested 1.8. This is because my blood is slightly too thick. Alcohol contributes to blood thinning/anticoagulation and my test reflects that. I have two choices: take more Warfarin or drink wine. I have decided to ….. take more Warfarin.

Storm Brendan meets Littlehampton

It is a horrible day outside – grey and wet. Coastguards have issued an urgent warning for West Sussex, as the remains of ex-Storm Brendan sweeps in. We are still going to the gym but I can’t see myself swimming today.

Wednesday, 15th January, 2020

We went out early to buy fish from the fisherman’s shed on Littlehampton Pier. At that time, the day was dire – grey, cold and wet. Fresh fish was just being displayed as we arrived. Usually, we can only order large amounts of Tuna and Swordfish which, of course, is not caught locally but today, a joint of each had just been delivered.

A desolate Marina

A 1.3 kg joint of Swordfish cost us £31.00/€36.17 which compares with today’s market price of £32.00/€37.30 per kilo. The 4.3 kg joint of Tuna cost us £98.00/€114.28 which compares with a market price today of £60.00/€70.00 per kilo. 

Sunny Littlehampton Beach

We moved on to Littlehampton Beach which was much less inviting than usual even the seagulls had left for the land and allowed the rooks to move in. Certainly not a day for a swim in these waves.

Thursday, 16th January, 2020

We seem to spend our lives shopping. Yesterday we were out on the shoreline to buy fresh fish.

4.3 Kilos of ‘Sushi Quality’, Yellowfin Tuna
The toilets are on the furthest left.

Today it was Sainsbury’s and Tesco for our main, grocery shoppingThis split photograph shows the shop frontage of Tesco Extra. The right hand side is the first quarter and the left shows the other three quarters. The toilets are at the bottom of the far left corner. This is not good news for old men. Walking from one end of the shop to the other is a reasonable workout in itself. No wonder you see so many old people bent over their trolleys in exhaustion.

Talking about exhaustion, I’m feeling it today. I didn’t sleep well again last night and I have no idea why. I’m not troubled in the slightest. Quite the reverse. I am into the 16th day of a rather calorie-reduced period. I am about to go to the gym for the 18th consecutive day of my current piece. These things do take their toll but my mind just fights back and shouts, Keep going. Don’t let yourself down. Who could ignore that?

Friday, 17th January, 2020

Pauline went out this morning in rain to go to the Beautician’s in Rustington and returned an hour or so later in brilliant sunshine out of clear, blue sky. I’ve certainly had enough of grey, English days. I really wish we had booked some time away in the sunshine.

This morning I booked us a month away in Lanzarote in a 2 bedroom villa with a pool, washing machine wi-fi and English language tv. 

Nice Pool Area
Outdoor Cooking
Sky Sports available

For the month of May, it will cost us £3,850.00/€4,520.00 + Return Easyjet Flights at £540.00/€634.00 for the two of us.

Kitchen with oven, hob, microwave & dishwasher
Not sure about the miror.

We will go to Gatwick the day before, drop off our bags early and stay in the Sofitel for the night because we fly early the next day which gives us plenty of time on arrival at our villa for orientation.

Saturday, 18th January, 2020

Gorgeous morning with a hint of frost in the fields. We drove down to the beach to let our eyes drink in the sunshine and banish the Winter Blues. The tide was out and the sand exposed, strewn with pebbles.

Pauline always comes prepared for every, climactic condition  and she posed in her Mediterranean sunglasses to the total admiration of all the passing dogs and their owners.

We walked along the waterline for a while and breathed in the ozone being greeted by trotting dogs, large and small before driving home for coffee. 

We went off to the Health Club at 1.00 pm for our 21st, consecutive day and did a couple of hours exercise before driving home to griddle chicken thighs and mushrooms in the garden. I watched Cricket in the gym and was disappointed when rain stopped play but I caught the last few overs of the day back home. Great to watch Newcastle beat Chelsea in the last minute of extra time this evening.

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