Week 589

Sunday, 5th April, 2020

My last day being 68 years old. I am imminently rising 69. It could be worse, of course, but not a lot. As you will notice, I have hardly changed over the years:

Me: Aged 9

Mum loved curly hair and so did all the old ladies in the village who cooed over me. I always wanted straight hair.

You can’t beat this hairstyle at College aged 19.

I needed a wife so had to improve my appearance temporarily. Not sure about the 1970s pornstar glasses but, otherwise, I’m gorgeous!

Aged 29 in Zakynthos

Too busy and too fat for photographs for many years. I next felt it was important to record my image soon after I retired aged 59.

Retired Old Man aged 59.

At least today has been one of those wonderful and optimistic preparations for the future. Today, in scorching sunshine, we sowed 4 different types of salad greens, cherry tomatoes and sweet peppers. We trimmed up, fed and watered our herb pots to face another summer of harvesting. We are trusting in Nature to see us through. What else is there?

Monday, 6th April, 2020

We are 69. I have received Birthday wishes from many people and most of my thousands of brothers and sisters via text, email, Facebook and a card from my favourite, wrinkly sister, Ruth. She is so old she understands me perfectly.

From Ruth

Ruth, of course, is much older than me but I love her all the same. She seems to have the idea that I like red wine and that I am tempted not to stay at home. Of course, she is absolutely right in both instances. We will go back to our diet and exercise regime tomorrow.

Flowering Bay Tree

Today we have been sowing two different types of Basil in pots to grow indoors. I do the donkey work and Pauline sows the seeds because she is delicate. Our Bay Tree is flowering in this beautiful sunshine. I’ve never noticed how beautiful these small clusters of primrose yellow flowers are. We have sat outside in the warm sunshine with a bottle of iced Sauvignon Blanc and thought through our future travel strategy for European travel. The only thing about being 69 is that being 70 would/will be worse

Tuesday, 7th April, 2020

Another bitterly wonderful day with hot sunshine – 18C/65F – which drove us to spend so much time outside. First, however, we spent time speaking to Eurotunnel / LeShuttle about a booking coming up. We have accepted vouchers in lieu of cash refund. We could have spent another 3 or 4 hours on the phone arguing about a refund but life is/could be too short. We have cash-equivalent vouchers valid for 24 months. We will certainly be using them within that time so it is money in the bank.

Outside in the sunshine, Pauline trimmed up the hedges while I weeded and fed the roadside grass borders for us and our neighbours. We reseeded an area of the front lawn that had faded and thinned over winter. By the time we had finished, the exercise, fresh air and hot sunshine had tired us out. Pauline had made pea soup for lunch and then we went out for our walk.

Nature Bursting with Life!

Under this gorgeous sky, nature was bursting with optimism in its normally, chaotic way. There was no stopping it We passed a couple of people as we walked and they immediately stepped away to let us pass at a safe distance. We live in the purview of Arun District Council.

I think we win but, embarrassingly, in the conformity stakes. This is not a badge I wear comfortably.

Wednesday, 8th April, 2020

In Covid-19 lock down, people worry about getting supplies of food and other supermarket products but it takes an incident that is not foreseen to really make one think. For example, a couple of days ago, while unstacking the dishwasher, I ‘broke’ it. I’m not subtle in my actions. Something happened when I pulled out the bottom tray/basket and ‘pieces’ fell in to the bottom of the washer. Instinctively, I looked in and then away with horror. Surely I imagined it? Who could manage without a dishwasher?

Fortunately, I have a resident mechanic/electrician/builder/decorator and, after she had finished beating me for being so clumsy, she simply clipped the parts back in and walked away with a grin.

What this did lead to, however, is consideration of all those absolutely essential services one might have problems with and find difficult to have restored under current conditions. A friend of mine lost his Sky reception and believes the LNB has failed. This really does require a ‘little man’ to replace it and set up a new one. Can you imagine being without TV/Radio reception at this time ?

Over the past week, at Boot Up, my Desktop PC has been holding up at this error message. Having suffered a chip overheat and burn out long ago, I was suddenly faced with the prospect again. Pressing F1 does proceed Startup smoothly and, as time has gone on, I have come to believe that this is a BIOS error rather than a physical fan error. Thre is no sign of overheating. I am a computer user not an expert mechanic. Updating the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) looks fraught with difficulties. Could I cope without a Desktop PC? Probably in the short term but I wouldn’t want to. Where to buy a replacement in extremis? Relief, Curry’s/PC World is still open on-line and delivering to homes. …… and breathe (hopefully).

Thursday, 9th April, 2020

What a wonderful day! It started at 6.00 am for us as we got up and drove to Tesco. We were there for 7.00 am and in for 8.00 am. They had everything we wanted and we were out in just over 30 mins.. By the time we got out, the queue was too long to view the end. The only consolation for all of them was the wonderful sunshine to stand in. We drove home for coffee in the garden where the temperature steadily rose to 24C/75F. It is only 14C/57F on Sifnos today. Know where I’d rather be. We have just been acknowledging that we would be setting off for our house around now in the past but failing to get there. It could have been left unattended for two years. What a waste!

Talking about waste. We didn’t get much post today but we did get this:

Apparently, it cost more than £5 million to print and distribute. You have to ask yourself WHY? It says nothing that hasn’t been repeated ad nauseam across all forms of media. The one thing that stood out for me was this chart below.

I have a Masters Degree in research and, I have to admit to struggling to make sense of this. I think of the kids I taught over the past 40 years who are now parents and ask myself if they would understand the message here. I have to say, I doubt. There again, it may just me being dim.

Friday, 10th April, 2020

Up early on another beautiful morning. It is 20C/68F by 10.00 am. All my seedlings are loving it. I am going to celebrate the weather by raking the main lawn. Gone are the days when I have to use a manual lawn rake. I have a wonderful, electric one nowadays. It is so easy to use that I am encouraged to do it more often than I otherwise would.

Across the media one question dominates and it is when this lockdown will end and when it will be safe to follow normal social movement including travel. The answer will vary across the world and across Europe but what we can be sure of is that this year’s Summer tourist season will not proceed. It is dead. European economies that depend on tourism and small businesses may suffer the most. No country in the eurozone is more dependent on tourism than Greece and it is a nation of small businesses, which typically do not have many resources to weather hard times.

Cleansing Athens of Tourists

At the start of this year it seemed as if Greece might have turned a corner. After a downturn that lasted longer than America’s Great Depression, its economy was growing again. Market capitalisation at the Athens Stock Exchange rose by 47% in 2019, the sharpest increase in the world. Tourism was booming, consumers were spending and Greek banks were reducing their burden of non-performing loans. Greece’s attempts to recover from its long economic crisis are now being threatened by the coronavirus pandemic, which is expected to deliver a heavy blow to the country’s tourism revenues.

It will be the longer term effect on people’s confidence in flying, in traveling to countries with less well equipped medical facilities, in the virus mutating and resurging in changed form and in the fear of trusting bookings which are suddenly cancelled without recompense that will undercut the tourist industry. Greece needs to diversify rapidly.

Saturday, 11th April, 2020

Gorgeous sunshine. Clear, blue skies. Warm temperatures. Give me lock-down any day if it’s like this. Birds are singing; rabbits running; bees are buzzing and grass is growing. Life goes ahead at pace ….. except, it doesn’t. This is no more evidence than in the world of agriculture/horticulture. In Greece, Kathimerini reports that prices for fruits and vegetables in Greece are up by 200% because of labour shortages for harvesting and packing.

Life giving Mediterranean food.

In UK, this is Easter weekend, a religious festival for the few but a gardening ritual for the many. Garden Centres could expect to be super busy. Instead, millions of plants and shrubs will be binned in the coming weeks, with garden centres and nurseries facing financial ruin amid mass closures due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Horticultural Trades Association warned a third of UK producers could go bust imminently.

My Contribution.

I would have been an enthusiastic visitor to my local Garden Centres – we have four within a mile of our house. I managed to buy potting soil and Lawn Seed before the lock down. Since, I have found that Wilko’s sell plant food, lawn weed & feed and vegetable seeds with very short queues to get in. It is hard to believe that these little things will develop into 3ft/1 metre high plants that will keep us happy all summer. Nature is fabulous!

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