Week 583

Sunday, 23rd February, 2020

We made a major error last night and stayed up until 1.00 am today watching an Hungarian language film with subtitles. It was hard to follow because the plot was so dense but it was fascinating and gripping in equal degrees.  It is by Oscar winning Director, Laszlo Nemes and is set in 1913 Budapest. It concerns a young woman’s search for her past as the world moves forward to World War. If anyone else has watched it, perhaps they could explain it to me.

As a result of this folly, we didn’t get up until 8.00 am! It felt like we spent the rest of the day catching up for lost time. It goes without saying that we did our exercise regime and Pauline cooked the most wonderful haunch of Hake with roasted cherry tomatoes and garlic green beans. However, my main job today has been attempting to sort out my virus software.

I’ve been using Norton for years.

It has always been very reliable but, in the past few days, I have been getting an error message about Sonar Protection problems. I’ve tried running fixes. I’ve tried downloading and reinstalling. I’ve allowed Norton agents to dial in to my machine to fix it and they do so temporarily but it always come back. The real annoyance is how time consuming it has become. One thing is certain, I will not last long in a place where my data can be compromised. My next task is to take the software off my machine entirely and do a ‘clean install’. I know you will be on tenterhooks but, don’t worry, I will keep you posted.

Monday, 24th February, 2020

It’s been a bitty day of firefighting small but annoying problems. I had the Norton Security software to sort out. I have a problem with my website domain name to sort out. I have a claim for compensation for the damage caused by storm on the roof still to resolve. It’s amazing how days in retirement can progress so smoothly and so days like to day are actually unusual now. They say that, if you want a job doing, ask a busy man. There is a core of truth in that. In the cosiness of retirement and retreat from the world of work, small problems which one might have swept, dismissively away in the past suddenly become irritatingly disruptive of one’s life.

Gritting my teeth, I decided to clean every vestige of Norton software from my machine. I then downloaded a fresh copy, reinstalled and, hey presto, the problem was solved. Next, I addressed my website extension which I had deliberately chosen as .eu only recently available at the time.

I began my website back in 2008 and just chose a popular web host called 1&1 which was based in Germany. Recently, it has been bought up by an American hosting company called IONOS and they have informed me that my web address is under threat from Brexit. Having contacted them, they have offered me an escape route which involves reregistering in a shadow base in Europe. All sounds a bit cloak & dagger but I will be pleased if it works. What I am desperate to ensure is that my Blog is not compromised.

My neighbour and I have joined forces to fight for compensation for the damage caused by our roof pointing defect.. I had a smashed satellite dish – cost £220.00/€262.00 – while he had a damaged car – cost circa £1000.00/€1,191.00. The roof company are claiming it is “deemed an act of god” although they accept responsibility for the roof defect. I have a feeling we might win this.

Tuesday, 25th February, 2020

My GP is German. She is excellent and we hope she is allowed or even wants to remain in UK. I don’t trouble her. I have only seen her once in the past 18 months. I try to take as much responsibility for my own health as I can. I follow national screening programs like the bowel cancer one we’ve just completed and posted off. It was our fifth biennial such test. I have attended my annual Diabetic Retinopathy religiously. I exercise religiously. I have twice yearly Dental checks.

My recent eye tests have raised some concerns and, when we returned from our 8.30 am dentist appointments this morning, I had a phone message from my doctor asking me to go in for a blood pressure check. Fortunately, I had just completed a week of twice a day tests on my blood sugar and blood pressure recorded on my spreadsheet and which I was about to send to her. It felt good to be on top of my own condition.

Sin on a plate.

The gym was packed today and it was full of OLD PEOPLE! What’s wrong with these people? Haven’t they got Care Homes to go to? Still, we are old hands there now and we managed to get all our work done. We drove home and ate roast salmon with homemade pesto crust and salad. It is one of my favourite meals that Pauline produces without having to think much about she has made it so many times. We followed that by – I hardly dare admit it to myself – eating pancakes.

Every Shrove Tuesday in at least the past 10 years we have always been dieting and so pancakes were out of the question. After all, flour is banned. Pauline loves them and today I could deny her that pleasure no more. Well, that’s my excuse. We both had two, beautifully cooked pancakes and I covered mine with Golden Syrup – what we always mistakenly called treacle – with fresh lemon cutting through the sweetness. Absolute bliss!

Wednesday, 26th February, 2020

Quite a bright morning. although cool. No frost fortunately. By 8.30 am, we were on our way to Tesco to re-corner the market on non-alcoholic grape juice. Shloer is selling at £1.10/€1.31 per litre there at the moment – less than half normal price. It is a bit embarrassing to be seen drinking it at all However, I have just completed 8 full weeks without any alcohol and have 5 more weeks to go before I open a lovely, big, bottle of red wine. The world’s supply of Shloer will go some way to help me get there.

My skinny, little sister, Liz, has told me that she is now teetotal having received professional help to give up drinking although my very old sister, Ruth, tells me Liz is regularly giving up alcohol. I have no such desires or pretensions. I love wine. It will continue to play a significant part in my life. I have a store of around 500 bottles which I plan to supplement on our next trip to France in April. I am spending 3 months denying myself wine just to prove to myself that I am in control of the alcohol not the other way round. It will also, of course, save me more than £1000.00/€1,187.20 in cash terms and about 45,000 calories.

We have already committed to about 3 months abroad this year – in a year when a virus nears reaching pandemic level. We are spending 2 of those months on Tenerife in Costa Adeje. In the past 24 hrs, a hotel in Costa Adeje, Tenerife has been quarantined.

We have booked 6 flights so far with more to follow. Fortunately, we are staying in private villas on Tenerife so contact with lots of people will be kept to a minimum but we will have to visit supermarkets. Aircraft, airports, supermarkets all could pose infection risks. Although we’re not convinced by their efficacy, we have taken the precaution of sending for a box of surgical face masks. One size fits all although I’m not sure about the colour. I mean, what colour shoes would you advise wearing with these?

Thursday, 27th February, 2020

The day opened with heavy rain but, as forecast, turned gorgeously bright and sunny. We did our weekly shop at Tesco and, as we drove back through the village towards home, it looked and felt like Spring. Birds are singing, nesting and producing young and it’s still February. The crocuses are already fading out. The daffodils are in full bloom and the Magnolia trees are looking just as my Mother would have loved and it’s still February.

Sunshine, Daffodils & Magnolia paint our local scene.

Unlike our ancestors who lived in semi-darkness without the benefit of electric lights, who live in dark, cold and smoky world without central heating, we are less in tune with the seasons, hanging on through the Winter, longing for and greeting the Spring, making the most of the growing weather and the Summer sun, making hay while the sun shines before hunkering down through dark, cold months. We fly out to the warmth and the sunshine or stay at home in heated, bright, warm houses. Even so, there is a vestigial longing for and celebration of the end of Winter and the start of the new shoots of Spring. I felt it today.

Another little ray of sunshine this morning came in the guise of a phone call. It was a a consultant from my web management company, IONOS. My annual fees for webspace rental and domain name rental come to around £200.00/€235.00 per year. I’ve been paying out for them for the past 12 years since I left an earlier company. They told me a couple of weeks ago that my fees were going up again.

I thought it was worth contacting them. I have a personal account manager who is supposed to help me. Today he phoned to say he hadn’t realised that I wasn’t a multi million business with a web presence after I had pointed out my age and the usage I put my web space to. On the spot, he cut my costs from £200.00/€235.00 per annum to about £30.00/€35.20. That was worth it. I will stay with them.

Friday, 28th February, 2020

Heavy rain today. We had to go to Sainsbury’s which, fortunately, has a covered carpark leading to an escalator up into the store. We found a new system had been introduced over night. It won’t mean much to most people who will be left scoffing at this but it brought pleasure to these shoppers. Waitrose, Tesco, Asda & Morrisons have all offered a scan-as-you-shop service for a long time. Sainsbury’s has lots of good products but not the same service. Today all changed. 

We had already downloaded apps to our smartphones in anticipation. The barcode reader on the phone only has to be roughly lined up over the product’s barcode and from quite a distance – perhaps a metre – and it reads, records and totals up. How much more fun can an elderly gentleman have?

Returning from playing at Sainsbury’s, I had to find a way to  ward off depression triggered by the wet world outside. We have decided to make this a travelling year and, this morning, we booked a few days away in France after we have returned from Yorkshire. We will have completed our alcohol prohibition period and will be able to spend a few evenings indulging in some nice, French food and wine. We may also go over to Arras to meet up with my Grammar School friend who was an English teacher there and now lives out his retirement. Of course, we’ll do a bit of shopping before we come home. Got to keep stocks up.

Greece is starting to feel vulnerable again. Erdogan has deliberately opened its borders to the West and allowed a stream of refugees to flee and Greece will be an early target.

Erdogan plays the blackmail card.

To make matters worse, Coronavirus has invaded Greece – probably from Italy. Greece is not the strongest country to cope with this. Currently, they are toughening up border controls which will make it less easy to enter Greece. Internally, they are cancelling all regional Festivals – it is festival season in Greece. This will harm the economy because festivals bring internal and external tourism. We, for example, considered flying to Patras for their renowned festival.

Already tourist organisations within the country as in many others are reporting the crisis hurting bookings. It has badly impacted airlines which are the staple of Greek tourism. It underlines what I have long said that Greece is most vulnerable to – a reliance on tourism for its GDP. We will see how this plays out.

Saturday, 29th February, 2020

The last day of February, 2020 opened with strong winds and heavy rain but ended with beautiful skies and sunshine. Harbinger of what March will bring? I would be cautious on that. However, we drove down to the beach to get a bit of bracing, sweet air or ozone. It was quiet, beautiful and …. cold.

Beach to ourselves today…

Pauline should have been a builder not a teacher. She loves doing building work and is brilliant at it – from rebuilding dry-stone walls to painting guttering to roller painting walls and glossing doors. She even knows how to re-wire plugs and replace fuses. This is quite fortunate because it’s all out of my sphere of competence. She has the sort of attitude which is known as ‘can do’ whereas my attitude is more ‘would do but wouldn’t be worth it’. Anyway, after 4 years in this house, all resettlement has finished and any, minor cracks can be filled and repainted. That is what Pauline has begun to do. Meanwhile, I went for a walk in the local area.

A peaceful walk near our house ….

We are so lucky to live in such a lovely place. The Times reported on Saturday that Worthing was moving in to fashion for the 25 – 35 yr olds.

The things that lure retired people to these shores — with their fresh sea air, sense of community and relatively affordable housing — are increasingly tempting families seeking to swap city life for a calmer atmosphere on the coast…………..Nearly three quarters of the people who moved to Worthing, Eastbourne, Bournemouth, Bognor Regis, Brighton and Margate in 2018 were in their twenties and thirties,

The Times / Bricks&Mortar – 28/2/2020

I don’t think it will take Pauline more than a week to get the whole thing completed. I hope not. She keeps putting dust sheets down!

%d bloggers like this: