Week 580

Sunday, 2nd February, 2020

Well, Brexit hasn’t improved the weather even on this palindromic day – 02.02.2020 – Grey and wet this morning although mild at 12C/54F. It’s enough to turn one to drink although not me. We Derbyshire-bred men are made of sterner stuff. Yesterday, I began my second month of abstinence with equanimity. Today, I have only 59 more days to go. They would go and make February 29 days this year. Still, with resolve stiffened, I go forward to the gym.

Get behind me … for 59 more days.

It could be worse. On this day in 2009, it was snowing across the Pennines. The roads were blocked and school was closed for 4 days. I was visiting a Cardiologist who ordered an echo cardiagram and diagnosed me with Atrial Fibrillation. I have been an imbiber of rat poison ever since.

Monday, 3rd February, 2020

We are pushing ourselves for the first 3 months of this year with a view to ‘earning’ and indulging ourselves in a sustained period of travel after that. Today, against a backdrop of grey skies that turned, eventually, to more rain, I pursued a rental property in central Bordeaux. We intend to spend a week of June in the city and have decided not to stay in a hotel but rent an apartment instead. 

We are ‘foodies’ and one of the frustrations when we are staying in hotels in European cities is to browse the local market, find lots of exciting ingredients but not be able to do anything with them. An apartment will provide that opportunity. 

We love these places.

We intend to take an apartment in central Bordeaux where we can shop in the nearby Marché des Capucins which appears to feature the most wonderful fish, meat, game, fruit and vegetables that will give us great enjoyment.

Tuesday, 4th February, 2020

Lovely sunny day with clear blue sky and sharp, rich colours. Pauline has gone out to the Beauticians for her 3rd of a course of 5 facial treatments – electrolysis on her chin.  We are both being visited by the evils of old age. Pauline has about 5 hairs appearing on her chin. They are so slight that I haven’t even noticed them. I am too worried about my own degradation. I am starting to develop grey hair. I am constantly catching myself walking round with my mouth open. I’ve noticed that lots of old-er men do the same. When you walk round with your mouth open, not only do you look brain dead but there is a tendency to slobber. Sexy it is not. 

Rue des Faussets – Bordeaux

To distract myself from slobbering, I am continuing to research our Bordeaux trip. I have found a pleasant apartment just off Rue des Faussets which will be worth following up. The area is teeming with small restaurants and leads out on to a lovely, sunny square – Place Saint-Pierre.

Place Saint-Pierre – Bordeaux

What is so lovely is to be able to find the property on a website – today I am using Booking.com – and then to be able to walk around the area on Google Maps and search out all the attractions without getting exhausted.

Having used my fingers to do the walking in France, I am now off to exercise in the gym. I have now done 5 full weeks without alcohol and missed just 2 days exercise targets. Must try harder!

Wednesday, 5th February, 2020

Sunrise over Worthing Pier

We were out early on a beautifully bright morning. Pauline had to be at her ‘new’ hairdressers for a 9.00 am appointment. I walked along to the pier where scores of noisy school children were supposed to be queueing for a production in the pier theatre of Jane Eyre. My head immediately switched into ‘teacher’ mode and I was about to bark out a few orders but managed to restrain myself.

Exotic Early Morning!

The rabble were admitted to the restraint of mid 19th century Bronte of and I continued to late Victorian Worthing Pier. Later, I rested in Costa Coffee with a giant coffee and my iPad until the most beautiful girl in the world returned.

Back home, we did something fairly revolutionary. We decided not to go to the gym. Instead, we walked around our Development and then the local area. I manged to achieve my target even so. As we walked, the most massive rabbit I have ever seen in my life darted out of the hedgerow, saw us and darted straight back in. I didn’t really believe what I was seeing. It was huge. Have to take it with me to the gym tomorrow. 

Thursday, 6th February, 2020

A busy, early morning which opened with clear skies and a touch of frost on the lawn. Major supermarket shopping day starting with Asda and then on to Sainsbury‘s followed by Tesco. My mother’s generation wouldn’t begin to understand our style. For most of my life at home, she shopped locally and expected everything to be brought to her baskets by the shopkeeper. Service was all. Most things were wrapped in heavy duty paper including meat and fish. After I had left home and she had moved on to supermarkets, like us she did one, main shop per week at one, main supermarket although I could never understand why she chose to do it on Saturday when she had all the quiet times of the week to avoid crowds.

Our trip today results from Pauline’s research into which supermarket is best for each item. She uses a supermarket comparison app to compare prices and special offers. We have the time and it is amazing how much she saves in that way. It isn’t only about price. Individual supermarkets have items which are consistently better than from their rivals. The only downside is that we like to do everything ourselves. Scan as you Shop is what we like to do. We use it in Asda and Tesco but it is not available in Sainsbury’s. As a result of that system, we can just scan our phones across the terminal to pay and have an immediate digital record of our purchases.

I started bright, sunny but cold and it didn’t really get above 9C/48F all day. This afternoon, we drove down to Rustington Beach which was bathed in sunlight as the tide was far out. We parked up and set off to walk to Littlehampton Pier. As we walked, the breeze was at our backs and the effort of walking raised our breathing and our temperatures. 

Shades of Rustington Blue

Walking back, the bitter breeze attacked our faces and left us keen to turn on the heated seats, the heated steering wheel and the climate control. Still, amazing how good, clean, seaside air can make one feel!

Friday, 7th February, 2020

Went out early on a cold and bright morning to … Hobbycraft. Pauline had noticed that she could save £1.00/€1.18 on cake containers. She will need 2 next Christmas so we ventured out to save £2.00/€2.36 over a 12 month period. You can take this enthusiasm too far, you know.

I don’t use texting on my smartphone very much. I have big, fat fingers and I don’t find the keyboard easy to use quickly. Consequently, I don’t receive many texts on it either. You will never find me sauntering across the road replying urgently to a text from someone. Even if I got one, I would always respond in repose with forethought. I get out of the habit of checking texts unless my bank or similar require identification. 

Skinny Liz & Alistair Shanghai Airport

This morning, purely by accident because my fat finger caught the text app, I noticed that I had a message from Lizzie Dripping. She is one of my many little sisters. She had the brilliant idea of going to China for Chinese New Year. Actually, her son is married to a Chinese girl so it was obviously a nice idea until coronavirus struck. She texted me to say they had been forced to leave early because Shanghai Airport was about to be ‘locked down’. I texted back – Don’t come near me for at least 2 weeks. but, as she has not come near me for 40 years, I suspect that I am safe.

Saturday, 8th February, 2020

I retired 11 years ago in April. Most of my major software came with me from work. Well, it would have cost thousands of pounds to buy for myself. I’m still using Macromedia Web Design suite and Adobe Acrobat Pro from 2008. 

I have updated my 2007 copy of MSOffice a few times when I could scrounge a copy from somewhere but now, Microsoft have got wise to this policy and are forcing customers to ‘rent’ their software on an annual licence basis. 

I run Ms. Office over multiple machines and it would cost me about £80.00/€95.00 per year. I’m not paying that! After searching, I found an Office 2019 for £36.00/€42.50 as a download. What’s not to like about that. I paid, received my download button and registration key and roared ahead. Except, I didn’t. As soon as I tried to download, the software didn’t come. I immediately thought that I’d been scammed and they had my credit card details. 

I hate it when old people get to scared to make transactions online for fear of fraud. Was I falling into that category? I even phoned the card company with my concerns. They didn’t seem over worried and didn’t suggest ‘freezing’ my account. I got into a rather fragile online chat relationship with the company’s technical help who told me that I needed to remove every last vestige of any, older Office components. Never had to do that before. I had 2010 & 2016 copies on my machine. Having done that, the download went smoothly and the installation but, when I came to register my software, Microsoft told me the software key had been used to many times already. My ‘scam’ fears rose again but, as soon as I informed the company, they sent me a new ‘key’ and the job was done.

Apart from a bit of nervous perspiration, I have a fully working copy of MS Office 2019 which will last me a few more years for the sole cost of £36.00/€42.50 so I’m already squids in!