Week 578

Sunday, 19th January, 2020

Another glorious day with a hint of frost around. It is so lovely that we went for a walk around our Development to enjoy the sun and fresh air. We had woken up to a disappointing message to tell us that the villa we had booked on Lanzarote for the month of May is no longer available.

Apparently, the owner has two booking platforms and one had failed to communicate with the other. The villa was already booked but it failed to show on the Booking Chart. I had even booked Easyjet flights yesterday at a cost of £540.00/€634.00 for the two of us. Fortunately, Easyjet have a cancellation policy which meant it only cost us £33.00 and the rest was repaid to us. We discussed it as we walked and decided to look again.

Two days ago, Pauline took a photo as we left the Health Club. Today, I took the same photo.

What a difference sunshine makes. It’s even stiffened the backbone of that previously wilting lamp post. We have now done every day for 3 weeks here and I’m really feeling weary but my target is 91 so only another 70 to go. 

Monday, 20th January, 2020

Beautiful day of blue sky and sunshine. We had been led to expect very low temperatures last night and heavy frost this morning but it failed to appear even though the sky was so clear. I think we are saved by proximity to the sea.

I am addicted to politics, current affairs and news as well as really enjoying sport. I regularly move between the kitchen, lounge and office as I did this morning watching the last throes of the 3rd, S. Africa v England Test Match. England were going to win as long as the weather held out. It did and they did. I was determined to watch the victory. The televisions were on in all three rooms where there Sky boxes.

My current Sky receivers
  1. In the lounge we have the main box – a Sky+HD 2TB Box – allied to a 55″ smart screen. This allows me to record 2 programmes at once + download catchup programmes saving up to 350 hrs of material.
  2. In the kitchen we have a Sky+HD WiFi Box allied to a 42″ screen. This allows me to record one programme + download catchup programmes saving up to 60 hrs of material.
  3. In the office we have a Sky+ Multiscreen Box which just allows us to watch any other Sky programme. 

So, practically, we could have 3 different Sky programmes on in 3 different rooms at the same time. We also have 3 ‘Freeview’-receiving televisions in 3 of the 4 bedrooms upstairs.

Today, I gave in to Sky’s persuasion and agreed to swap over to Sky Q boxes. This has been prompted by our newly acquired super, super fast, fibre to the door broadband. Sky Q boxes are largely run on wi-fi not all relying on satellite dish reception. It is about time. After all, all the Spanish properties we’ve stayed in have received/supplied all Sky channels through internet alone.

My new Sky receivers

The main Q box currently will connect to the satellite dish but will then feed all the other mini boxes via wi-fi alone. This means that the main box will record 6 shows and watch a 7th live. It will also allow users to watch different Sky programmes on 3 different televisions at the same time. It is also possible to freeze a live or saved programme in one room and pick it up at the same point in another room. Finally, it allows one to download programmes/films to an iPad and watch them at a later date.

I was paying £101.00/€118.40 per month for my current package. By making this switch to a larger Q box + 4 mini boxes and taking their incentive of Sky Cinema, the monthly price will be ….. £98.00/€115.00. A Sky engineer will be calling soon.

Tuesday, 21st January, 2020

A hint of frost and a beautiful day. We decided to go out to a different beach. I looked at the map and just picked one. Our sat. nav. said it would take us 20 mins to drive there and so we set off. We were going somewhere we had probably been just once before – Elmer Beach just outside Bognor Regis. George V famously is reported as saying, Bugger Bognor when he was asked to endow it with Regis in its title. Pauline had  similar view of it when we went there a couple of years ago. Elmer Beach, on the other hand, is a jewel.

Elmer Beach …. well, rockery.
Cormorant on a stick.

Miles of virtually deserted pebble beach, beautiful sunshine and vibrant colours all provide a wonderful counterpoint to Winter’s greyness. We walked and drank it all in. Fresh sea air, brilliant sunshine a Mediterranean colours do so much for the spirits. We even enjoyed talking to the cormorant.

Wednesday, 22nd January, 2020

In total contrast, today is dull and cold. Why did I decide to clean the car? Anyway, it had to be done so I did it. In this week back 11 years ago in 2009, we were just entering our last Ofsted inspection of our careers. How far away that feels. I do know I’d rather be cleaning the car whatever the weather.

Coming back in from the depressing weather, I made an enquiry about a villa in Costa Adeje, southern Tenerife for the month of May. 

It looks interesting, reasonably well appointed with its own, heated pool and may give us an enjoyable month in the sun. We’ll see.

Returning from the gym, we cooked our meal outside but it was rather cold – only around 8C/47F – and the air was damp. Where is that global warming when you want it?

Thursday, 23rd January, 2020

Grey, grey, grey and the same temperature as yesterday – 8C/47F – but feeling cuttingly colder in the coastal breeze. Today, we were dragged out of the E.U.. On this exact day 7 years ago in 2013, I wrote in my Blog:

Snowing lightly this morning. It is 1C/34F here and, in Greece, 15C/59F.  ‘Call-me-Dave’ Cameron finally made his speech this morning. It is the first step of the Conservative party sleep walking out of Europe. An in/out referendum by 2018. What fools!

We were out early to do our weekly shopping at Sainsbury‘s and Tesco. Our bill struck me as quite high – circa £160.00/€190.00 – although that did include two, large, sides of salmon, 3 cod loins, and a large, quality fresh chicken which certainly adds to the cost.

We went to Sainsbury‘s first and rather regretted it. It was in darkness and the escalator was stationary. There was a power cut which, unbeknown to us, was being experienced over a wide part of our, local area including our own home which we found as all the clocks were flashing when we returned. Sainsbury‘s announced, when the power came back on, that their computerised tills would take some time to re-boot. They did but, just as customers goods were being swiped through, the power went off again and the whole process started over again. This happened three times before order was restored. Amazing how much relies on computers and, therefore, on electricity.

Our former home in Kamares, Sifnos.

The photograph above appeared in my inbox yesterday. I was immediately take back over the past 20 years of our lives. This is the port of the Greek island on which we bought a field and built a house. Looking back now, it almost feels unreal and yet the memories are testament to its reality. Must go back and see it soon.

Friday, 23rd January, 2020

Between 1969 – 1978, I wasn’t registered with a doctor at all. I never needed one. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t visit a dentist either. Between the ages of 18 – 28, many of us are generally healthy and too busy living our lives and dreaming of immortality to worry about our health. Getting married, of course, changes all that. In my experience, women think and know about bodies more than men and Wives like to organise their maintenance. Well, that may be a big generalisation but it certainly applied to me. I don’t like to acknowledge illness but, if something goes wrong, I don’t understand it and panic.

Diabetic Retinopathy Image

In the space called Retirement, we have more time to contemplate our navels .. and other bits. I am constantly amazed to learn what bits we have got and which I’ve had for almost 70 years without realising it. Of course, increased knowledge of body bits means increased areas of concern. I have always been, essentially, blind in my left eye. I was born with it and never even thought about it as a youth. In my 50s, I had a ‘vision episode’ which led to me visiting Specsavers exactly 11 years ago. The young girl there who checked my sight probably saved my life. She picked up an irregularity which led me to a cardiologist who diagnosed Atrial Fibrillation and prescribed life-long warfarin. Without that, there is a huge chance that I would have suffered a stroke or heart attack by now.

Although I am no longer considered Diabetic, I still feel reassured by attending annual Diabetic retinopathy test in which my eyes are scanned in 3D for any blood vessel abnormalities. Of course, this is made even more important in someone with sight in only one eye. Next week will be my annual test. As regular readers will know, I am religious about testing my INR or coagulation rate of my blood vis-à-vis my Atrial Fibrillation and next week will be my bi-monthly hospital report. Bi-annually, as senior citizens, we do the poo test. It is, of course, more formally known as the Bowel Cancer Screening Test. Next week, we will be undertaking this for the 5th, consecutive time.

Let’s hope we pass that lot …. if you’ll pardon the expression!

Friday, 23rd January, 2020

Recently we have got used to getting up and observing a grey world outside. Today was no different. I resolved to complete a Springtime booking in the sunshine. The previous villa I featured on Wednesday has been rejected in favour of a new-build villa that we know of from our walks last November. It is built on 3 levels at the back overlooking the sea and one level on the front overlooking the extinct volcano with the banana plantation.

The back of the villa is on 3 levels.
The Lounge-Diner is at the back overlooking the sea.
The balcony out from the bedrooms.

The problem with these rentals for just two people is that, to get all the facilities we want, you have to rent a property which is far to big for us. This is huge in footprint and has 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a large, open plan lounge/dining Room, kitchen, laundry room, pool, verandas all round plus garage. The cost for 4 weeks is €4,567.00/£3,850.00 + flights. We have booked Easyjet return flights with extra legroom and speedy boarding for £640.00/€760.00. On a grey day like today, I would have paid double for everything!