Week 601

Sunday, 28th June, 2020

It is as if they knew. The Blog Gods I mean. Week 601 almost never happened. Since Christmas Day, 2008, the Blog has been hosted by a web hosting company called 1&1 which morphed into Inonos. It is a WordPress build which has been not only hosted but managed by Inonos. It enabled me to work almost without any prior knowledge. After all, I wanted to write a virtual stream-of-consciousness dribble without having to worry about the platform. I have done so with only one, major blip which I eventually solved. Today, it was much more serious.

The hosting company have not updated the WordPress version. I think because they want to stop managing it and cut customers loose to manage their own. I found Week 601 could not be published. The hosts make it increasingly difficult to contact them. Eventually, I was coaxed to cut myself loose of their management and branch out on my own. I did so ….. and lost 11 years of memories. Strangely, Pauline was much more upset than me. I had almost accepted it. A few minutes later, I returned to my site, refreshed it and …. IT WAS UP AND RUNNING!!!! Well, obviously, you can see it.

Memories will go on…..and on…..and on…..and on ….

Monday, 29th June, 2020

I’ve spent the entire day installing, upgrading and customising our new smartphones which were delivered today. Copying our old phones across to our new ones is so easy now that it took a couple of minutes. Setting things up into groups, re-establish accounts and passwords took a little longer. Actually, the import of of the process was so great that I could barely believe it.

As I went through my day, I kept returning in my mind to what might have been. In my head, I had really given up my Blog. What that really meant was that I was giving up on memories of the past 11 years of my life. That was worrying because it is fantastic to just refer back to be reminded of those events even if I couldn’t remember them actually. You ought to try reaching back to events from 2008/09 just to realise how difficult it is whatever the quality of your memory.

Tuesday, 30th June, 2020

Today started at 6.00 am as we got up to go to Sainsbury’s. No more queuing now. We arrived at 7.00 am and Pauline went straight in. Today, instead of starting my walk, I sat in the car and read The Times because it was raining outside. We drove home by 8.30 am and prepared to meet a Goundwork estimator who came round to give us a quote for flagging an area of garden. We have a very basic garden flag called Brett Broadway Buff Riven. It is an economy item but really useful and effective. When it rains, these flags are non-slip and quick to drain.

Brett Broadway Buff Riven

We look forward to the estimate and getting on with the work. As for me, after 11 years of recording my Blog, I have to learn new routines. I can tell you, I’m not complaining. Actually, I can hardly believe it is happening. Sounds straightforward but it is actually quite challenging.

Wednesday, 1st July, 2020


Happy new month to everyone – apart from Brexiteers who are condemned to rot in perpetuity. Looks like there will be a release of continental travel although not for Greece and who can blame them. If I was living on a covid-pure island, I would be tempted to keep the drawbridge up even if it did mean short term economic woes. If I was a Brit (I suppose I am.), I would be wary of flying to Greece with all the risks it carries with it and can you imagine 32C/90F of sunshine and heat and having to walk round in a face mask. Is that a relaxing holiday? I don’t think so.

Wonderful fillet Steak

I woke up at 5.30 am thinking, My Blog’s working! I have to tell you that it feels almost miraculous. When 11 years of memories are gone, it can feel quite daunting. To have them suddenly reappear is wonderful. As we walked out to Asda to source some of their finest fillet steaks, I was walking on air. Something which takes 5 minutes to drive, took us 30 minutes to walk. The shop itself was almost deserted. We bought 6 steaks, put them into our favourite Carluccio’s bag and set off on the half hour home.

We eat red meat very rarely but we’ve both been surprised to find how much we have enjoyed this steak. It is in great demand and it is difficult to source. If you see any, it is best to corner the market immediately. We ate it with just some fresh, green salad picked from the garden plus a lovely, cherry tomato salad.

I spent a chunk of the afternoon cleaning up our ‘old’ mobiles, removing all security setups and returning them to factory settings. They are going to a smartphone purchaser tomorrow who will pay us £116.00/€129.00 each for them. The new phones are free and £232.00/€258.00 for the last pair of ‘free’ ones feels like a nice return. I know we will have paid for them through our contracts but that’s gone now.

For some time now, Pauline has been complaining that her volume button on her iPad was not working. I must admit, I thought it was out of warranty and that we would have to get her a new one. I finally turned my mind to it today and found she still had 14 days on her warranty. I phoned Apple in Brighton. They appear so restricted in manpower that they try to force callers to deal with an ‘intelligent’ answer machine. I got nowhere and was reduced to talking gobbledygook in order to force the automaton to direct me to a human being.

After 20 mins waiting on the line a transatlantic voice went through my identity check and proceeded to ask the problem I was raising. I told her the fault and she proceeded to dial in to the iPad and run a diagnostic test. In the downtime while I was waiting, I asked her where she was. In the Philipines, Sir, she said. The nearest Apple centre is 9 miles/15 km down the road in Brighton and yet the iPad was being diagnosed 7,000 miles/11,000 km away in the Philipines. To cap it all, she asked me to remove Pauline’s iPad cover which immediately released the volume button and allowed it to work perfectly. Thank goodness she was so far away. She couldn’t see my embarrassment.

Thursday, 2nd July, 2020

Up and out early to be at Tesco for 6.55 am. One or two shoppers were already going in as we arrived. Pauline went in with her trolley, surgical gloves and mask on. I set off for my walk. The weather was warm but with weak sunshine. I walked for 45 mins and then met Pauline back at the car. She reported the Store to be fairly quiet and with significantly fewer people wearing PPE. This is going to be the most dangerous time.

The government wants us to think it’s all over so that they can get the economy back to work. People, therefore, and especially the thick ones, think it’s all over because “Boris says” and act with gay abandon. This is a mirror of the American style where right wingers shouted loudly about exercising their rights to freedom and trusting in God. (Something of a paradox there.) Now, many of those shouting the loudest actually have Covid19 themselves. Ignorant self confidence is no defence against a virulent pandemic. One only has to listen to the horrendous reports of those caught up in Intensive Care Units to know caution should come first. We would rather follow caution and live to fight another day.

The garden and the car have never been so well maintained. The house has never been so clean and tidy, our fridges and freezers have never been so well stocked and our current accounts so well filled. Lockdown has had these effects but they are only possible because we are retired with comfortable pensions. One only has to think of those furloughed and doubtful if their job will still be available in the near future. It must be dreadful for them. Talking of money, we walked down in to the village to post off our old smartphones to a company call Handtec who have agreed to send us £232.00/€258.00 in return. There is absolutely nothing wrong with either of our phones, not a scratch or blemish so they will easily sell them on.

In our garden as, I suppose, in many gardens up and down this isolated land, it is hydrange time. We have always loved them although they were not so successful in the North. Here, they can be seen in abundance all round the village.

Friday, 3rd July, 2020

A beautiful morning. The sunshine got us up at 6.30 am. Sunshine encourages a positive outlook on life and the day ahead. It turned out to be more positive than we expected. Our insurance claim, which we initiated in the first week of May for around €5000.00/£4,500.00 looks like it will be paid back in full very soon. Pauline had a conversation with the assessors this morning and it was a really positive conclusion.

High Class Restaurants – Absolute Heaven!

Now we will have to consider our trip to Athens towards the end of next month. We paid up front in January just under £2,000.00/€2,220.00 for 5 days. We really don’t know what to do about it. I supposed you really could describe us as the ‘worried well’. However, it is hard to imagine enjoying the baking heat of Athens whilst wearing a mask, eating outside at our favourite tavernas and worrying to sit for 4 hrs in close proximity on an aircraft having got through procedures in a busy airport. If UK FCO advice changes to allow it and Greek government allow it then we will have a difficult decision to make. It is particularly poignant for two reasons. We have been to Greece at least once every year since 1980 and next week will mark 6 years since we sold our Greek house and land and left Sifnos.

We are long standing customers of the Electra Palace Hotel in Athens and expect to have our booking shifted to next year but we’d rather have the money now and decided what we want to do with it rather than someone else. The flights are about £530.00/€590.00 and we would lose that. Because I am (diet controlled) Type 2 and have medication for atrial fibrillation plus medication to control my blood pressure, we believe I am at greater risk than otherwise. On that basis, we will consult our doctor to provide ‘official’ medical grounds to claim on our insurance. Still, our insurance company tell us there is no time limit for claims so we can decided nearer the time.

Saturday, 4th July, 2020

A warm, wet morning. Not a problem. We have indoor jobs to do. Pauline has been sent out into the garden to harvest piles of basil and make pesto. Homemade pesto is unbelievable but high in calories so we have had to learn to control ourselves. We are also starting on our first attempt to create our own, smoked salmon.

Stage 1

The first stage is to cure the fish as Gravadlax. We have done this before but weren’t completely satisfied with it. For a side of salmon, which tends to come in at 1.5kg/3.3lb, we skin the fillet, trim off the thin end at the tail leaving it about 1kg/2.2lb for curing. The fish is then cured in a mixture of:

  • a cup of sugar,
  • a cup of salt,
  • a tbsp of freshly ground pepper
  • a handful of chopped dillweed
Stage 2

Half of this mixture is placed on a sheet of clingfilm and then the fish sits on top. The other half of the mixture is spread on the topside of the fish which is then tightly wrapped in the clingfilm. It is placed on a baking tray with another tray weighted down on top and put in the fridge for 24hrs. The fish is turned occasionally and, after taking it out,

Stage 3

After 24hrs curing in the fridge, the fish is removed from the fridge, unwrapped and wash clean in cold running water. It is patted dry with a paper towels and then returned to the fridge uncovered for another 24hrs. This process produces a sticky surface coating known as the pellicle. This stickiness encourages the smoking process to adhere to the fish.

The cold smoker engine.

After 24 hrs in the fridge, the fish is placed on a rack in the smoker and the sawdust is lit at one corner. Over the next 12 – 24 hrs, the sawdust smoulders around the maze-shaped container, smoking the fish. The first stage will be completed by 11.00 am on Sunday. We should be trying our first home=smoked salmon on Tuesday.

The rain is over and we are going for a 6 mile/10 km walk. I haven’t been to a pub voluntarily since the late 1960s and I will not be going now whoever deems it to be safe. Why would anyone want to cram into a noisy, crowded, uncomfortable environment full of strangers to pay over the odds for an alcoholic drink when one can enjoy a lovely bottle of red wine at a reasonable price and talk quietly with people one chooses to be with? I just don’t see it at all.

Week 600

Sunday, 21st June, 2020

The arrival of Week 600 has coincided with the Summer Solstice and the Longest Day. Only 8 more years for the 1000! For those who read the Blog, it probably always feels like the longest day but this one marks the start of Summer. The start of Summer? it’s almost over isn’t it? Certainly this coming week will feel much more like Greek Summer. We are forecast 4 or 5 consecutive days around 30C/86F. Today and tomorrow are a cool 22C/70F but that’s alright.

Having written a couple of weeks ago about seeing virtually no rain for the past three months, we have woken up over the past three mornings to find it had rained over night. If this is the new normal, bring it on. I cut and fed the lawns just before the first rains and they are now looking lush, green and in good health. the tomatoes are really fruiting well, the peppers are flowering and the figs are swelling and just starting to colour up. Really, these are the fruits of Lock-Down activity. In addition, we have acres (exaggeration) of successions of lettuce which we eat almost every day.

I eat a lot of smoked salmon. It is quite self-indulgent in its price – a moderately priced fish with ‘value-added’. That is cold smoked. We have been thinking of adding our own value to the wonderful salmon we buy every day around here.

A ‘starter’ Outdoor Smoker.

Today, Pauline is ordering me an outdoor portable smoker and some oak chips to smoke my own side of salmon. That will be fun to try. I just spent an hour watching videos on YouTube of how to cold smoke salmon. Fascinating.

Monday, 22nd June, 2020

Up early on a beautifully sunny morning that. again. reached 22C/70F. Clear, blue sky and delicious sunshine. We were setting out on a 6 mile round trip to Dunelm. Usually, we would jump in the car and be there in less than 5 mins.. Today, it was an excuse to get our exercise done. We walked there and back. Pauline had selected Click & Collect which we did but it took us 80 mins overall to get home. Amazing how pleasant the walk was and didn’t feel demanding at all. The car is feeling quite neglected. We carried our new, kitchen blow torch back home.

Back home, my job was water & feeding the tomatoes and the peppers. They are really coming on. Tomatoes already heavy with fruit. Peppers are in flower. I also gave the figs, that are covered in swelling fruit, a long drink from the hosepipe. Tomorrow, the lawns will be cut, fed and watered.

During the enforced closure, lots of establishments – pubs/restaurants have taken the opportunity of improving their properties. Down a muddy lane, we have a pub called The Spotted Cow. It is very popular. The owners have spent the past three months refurbishing the outdoor furniture and the gardens, repainting the outside and generally sprucing the place up. Although I am not a frequenter of pubs, it looks very inviting.

Development near our old home in Kamares.

The house we designed, had built and lived in on Sifnos for 10 years is the long, white streak in the top, right hand corner. The land on the mountain side lower down the road towards the port has laid bare for millennia. Now, slowly and quietly, development is taking place on the ‘hot’, ‘English’ side of the bay. Shows optimism at least. Look forward to seeing the completed buildings next year.

Tuesday, 23rd June, 2020

A rather bitty day. We were out early to shop at Sainsbury’s at 7.00 am on a very warm and sunny morning which eventually reached 26C/78F. I did a 4 mile / 6.5 km walk while Pauline shopped. Home for coffee and then we built our food smoker. It will be in use by the end of the week. I mowed, fed and watered the lawns while Pauline made a first harvest of the herb pots on the patio for chopping and freezing.

Our quarry garden – 2010

Ten years ago this week, we had returned to Yorkshire from our Greek home to clinch the sale of our Huddersfield home. This week 10 ,years ago, our buyers got their finances in place and we were finally certain the the sale would go ahead in the following week. This was good because we had flights back to Athens booked for 6 days time. We just made it. It was a happy time in Quarry Court.

We flew back to Athens and then by ferry to Sifnos where our garden had been watered automatically while we were away. We were trying our hand at growing vegetables in Mediterranean climate and on rocky island soil. It proved quite a difficult learn and, when went out into our vegetable garden after a month away, we didn’t expect to see the massive tangle of weeds and vegetable plants that presented itself to us.

In spite of that, we had vegetables as I proudly recorded even though it would have been so much better if we handed tended them.

Fruits of Neglect – Greece 2010

We drove back to UK in October 2010 homeless. We went to live in an Old People’s Home where Pauline’s Mum, who was 96, had lived for more than 30 years.

Mump – 2010

We stayed with her as she went in hospital, went through a serious operation and died less than three weeks after we had got home. It was an awful , awful time.

Wednesday, 24th June, 2020

The heat really hit the fan today. Woke up at 6.00 am to 18C/65F. Breakfast and out to walk along the sea shore at 8.00 am in 22C/70F of brilliantly Mediterranean skies.

Littlehampton Beach – 8.00 am.
The Garden on the Beach.

We walked for an hour – about 5mls/8kms – and then drove home for coffee and a long afternoon of garden watering as the temperature hit 31C/88F. If we had been in Greece, we would have stayed mainly indoors. Automatic sprayers are such a boon. I was able to intensively water front and back lawns plus the beds lining the drive without leaving my seat in the sun.

Thursday, 25th June, 2020

Up at 6.00 am to a temperature of 22C/70F. Out to Tesco by 7.00 am for an 8.00 am opening. I set off on my 5 mile/8 km walk only to be interrupted by a phone call telling me that the store has reverted to its original 7.00 am opening so I would only have 30 mins for my walk. I started to run. It was hot work. Even so, I was only 10 mins late back to the car.

Approach to Goring Beach.

Home for coffee and then out to Goring on sea beach for a walk in the sea breeze cooled sunshine. By 9.00 am, it had reached 30C/88F and, by the time we set off home at 10.00 am, it was the full 32C/90F – hotter than Greece and much of Spain. This is the sort of weather Pauline and I relish.

Home to enjoy the garden and water the lawns. Actually, it was just to hot and intense out on the garden furniture and very reminiscent of our Greek house patio which proved painful to walk on by mid day without shoes. I scalded the soles of my feet out on our patio flags this morning. We felt bad sitting inside on such a day and decided to take the car to explore places we had never been.

Swanbourne Lake, Arundel

Our housing development was given the temporary name of Swanbourne Park by David Wilson Builders. It was one of those advertising titles designed to catch the buyers on a website. We didn’t even bother to consider what it referred to. Today we found out. We drove out just 4 miles/6.5 km to Swanbourne Lake and Wetland near Arundale. It was quite delightful but dominated by seagulls on their holidays from the seaside.

Friday, 26th June, 2020

A warm but very humid day which didn’t read higher than 23C/74F but felt much hotter and less comfortable because of the humidity. All the doors and windows open found very little air movement and we couldn’t go out because we were expecting a delivery of flags and builders and for the back garden. We knew that these things would be annoyingly inconvenient and it has started today with a delivery time posted as 8.00 am – 7.00 pm.. Go to Jail & Don’t Pass Go!

Samsung Galaxy S20 5G

Tomorrow, after 24 months of our smart-phone contracts with EE, we are entitled to new phones. Actually, we have been very happy with our current Huawei P20 Pro contracts costing us £40.00/€44.00 each. However, Trumpian politics has led to the blacklisting of Google Apps on Huawei platforms.

The former is more important to us than the latter. Google Pay, Google Maps and our integrated calendar, etc, are all going to be lost on our Huawei‘s and ‘free’ phones worth around £1000.00/€1,100.00 each on the open market are not to be sneezed at. Just to add to that decision, the ultra fast 5G network which is already in Brighton just 10 miles away from us will make a huge difference. It will mean our contract price increases by about £20.00/€22.00 per month but it will be worth it.

I must admit that I use my smartphone more for its computing and photography utilities than I ever do as a phone. In that respect, I am much like my generation. At home, I reach for the landline long before I do the mobile. I have no idea why. All calls are ‘free’ – within each contract plan. Even so, I don’t make many phone calls anyway. I never have.

The building supplies arrived by mid afternoon by which time, I had fully valeted the car. As I did it, I realised that we hadn’t filled up with fuel for more than three weeks and we still had 250 miles in the tank. Now, I have a sparkling car in the garage with nowhere to go until Tuesday unless we decide to go on a jaunt. Anyway, now we were free to go out for a long walk in the sunshine. I have only failed to miss my exercise target once in the past five weeks. My alcohol consumption slipped a bit in the hot weather. I’ve drunk wine twice in the past five weeks which is not bad for me.

Next stop, a trip to France. We need a change of scenery.

Saturday, 27th June, 2020

Raining… Hurray! Warm but raining this morning and continued until 11.00am. The garden is loving it. I’m ordering the new phones and preparing to organise a French trip through the Tunnel. We heard that Eurotunnel’s booking site crashed under the release of pent-up demand. We will give it a few days before booking.

For the past couple of mobiles which means about the past 4 years, I have chosen leather flap covers because I got in the habit of dropping them from considerable heights onto hard floors. However, recent developments have hastened shops to accelerate use of self-scan and contactless pay using smartphones. Sainsbury’s and Argos have an apps that make shopping so easy with one’s phone – scan the barcode, itemise one’s purchases and keep a running total of expenditure. This process requires access to front screen and back camera all the time. This is infuriating with a cover flap.

Having said that, the cover has saved the quality of my old mobile so that I will now trade it in for £115.00/€127.00. I am buying an alternative back cover to counteract dropping and a screen cover to counteract scratching.

Wek 599

Sunday, 14th June, 2020

Glorious, warm, morning of blue sky and strong sunshine. Later it reached a very humid 23C/72F and, because of the humidity, it felt hotter. We watched the political programmes until just after 10.00 am and then set off for the Garden Centre on foot. I was going to buy a new tap connector for my outdoor, garden tap to fit the hosepipe.

When we got to the Garden Centre, there was a queue of about 5 people waiting patiently in the sunshine. The organisation is controlled by an operative who is there to ensure the Centre doesn’t exceed the maximum number of customers it considers safe. His other job is to sanitise the returned trolleys. He combines the two functions by only allowing another customer in when a trolley is returned by an exiting customer. This works very well at the moment but just wait till the weather turns. How many of us will queue in the rain for a tap connector? Even so, I still had to push a huge trolley around a garden centre following the one-way route to get to a tiny tap connector on a display a few feet from where I originally entered.

The shops are allowed to open tomorrow but, one of the few I want to visit, Currys PC World, is still only available for Click & Collect. We’ve built up a number of things we want to look at before we buy – a smart watch for Pauline, a computer for me and a television for the lounge. None of those will I buy without seeing and discussing with the trader. They will wait until I can.

Angmering Walks

Our walk back takes us through another newish house development about 10 years older than ours. Like so many of the developments around here, space is not at a premium and developers have built in lots of natural areas of grass and parkland planting which relieve the pressures of modern living. We were walking through this area when were heard a little lad – aged 5/6 – screaming with excitement under a conifer tree. His dad had given him a project of finding fir cones to take home. He was so excited that he had found lots under the trees. I’m so sorry they don’t excite me these days.

French Style

Cousin Sue posted this from a park in the Dordogne. Don’t the French have such style? No wonder the hooligans wanted Brexit. This is just too sophisticated for them. Heard a racist use that old trope, Britain’s Full yesterday. I don’t know where they drive or walk. Almost everywhere I go I see wide open spaces – lots of room for immigrant NHS workers, for immigrant Hospitality workers, lots of room for immigrant agricultural workers, lots of room for people who will far surpass Brexiteers and racists in life ambitions.

As a footnote to last week’s decision making process: we have finally decided that the Studio garden Room will have a footprint of 22ft/6.7m long x 8ft/2.5 deep. the hard standing flagged area will be that plus 2ft all round. My job now is to get builders to quote for the flagging and an electrician to discuss getting power in to it. Don’t worry, I’ll bore you plenty more before that’s all done.

Monday, 15th June, 2020

The summer is disappearing already and we’ve been nowhere. It is the Longest Day on Sunday and then all down hill from there. Winter draws on. Today is another lovely, bright and sunny morning with 16C/61F at 7.00 am. By mid morning, we are getting up to 70C/22F and everything is enlivened by sunshine. 

Pauline has taken her courage in her hands and booked a hair appointment but she can’t get one until mid-July. All the evidence is that parents are not going to be bounced in to sending children back to school before they feel it is safe and shoppers are reluctant to linger in commercial premises. Whatever the government want, people will vote with their feet. It was amusing to read the tweet of a Greek doctor on Crete I follow on Twitter who says July cancellations are at 80% and August cancellations are at 50% so why did the Deputy Mayor of Crete announced yesterday that Island bookings currently stand at 80%? This is so common in Greece. 

I have a paving firm coming round this afternoon to quote me for extending the patio and providing the hard standing for the studio garden room. After that, we will walk round to the garden centre where the garden building supplier is based and go through the details of the ordering process.

Tuesday, 16th June, 2020

Another beautiful and warm morning. I am missing being abroad, missing the demands of navigating a different culture with its smells, tastes, sights and sounds. I miss the challenge it brings to my settled routine. I can’t say I’ve missed the weather.

It has been so good here for the past3+ months that we are becoming quite blasé about it in the way a few weeks in Greece would lead us. There, sunshine and heat was the norm. One didn’t have to make the most of it while it was there. More often than not, like most Greeks themselves, we avoided the sun and shrank from the heat. Every afternoon in our house, we would close the shutters for about three hours as the intense sun beat straight into the windows. That way, we could open everything up as soon as the sun had gone down to cool the house for the evening.

Kamares – without tourists.
“This is a tragic, a disastrous year. We will just try to cover a fraction of our expenses this summer,” said Georgoulas, who runs a boat tour agency at Oia town on Santorini.

Greeks are preparing to tighten their belts this winter. Usually, those involved in tourism expect to earn enough over the frenzied tourist months – really only June-August and mainly August, to get them through the winter. Those low paid ‘hod-carriers’, employed only for the summer months to work in the service industry, would sign on for government support when the tourist leave.

Plenty of space on the beach in Platys Gialos.

This year, huge swathes of Summer Season workers will not get employment in the first place so this will knock on into island economies as shop keepers and their customers are impoverished. The big question is: will confidence have returned next year? Will there be a second spike? Will travellers feel safe to fly?

Back home today has been one of activity. Up at 6.00 am and out to Sainsbury’s for 7.00am. Pauline joins the queue which rapidly lengthens at this superstore. I set off to run to Rustington. It’s a round trip of only 2.5 miles but I’m shattered when I get back. Time for a drink and then lawn cutting for me and hedge trimming for Pauline. I used a lawn feed and thickener across front and back lawns so had to put the sprinkler on because we have no rain in the immediate forecast. It was hot work as the temperature went over 22C/70F for the umpteenth time recently.

Wednesday, 17th June, 2020

I have been dead for 40 years. On this day in 1980, the ambulance crew took me from my demolished car and put me in an ambulance believing I was dead. The ambulance driver placed an oxygen mask over my face and suddenly I started to fight for my life. I kicked him and he sat on my legs to control me. I did the only thing I could and bit his nipple. He ran out of the ambulance, clutching his breast and screaming in pain. I remember nothing of that at at all and have never met the man who was off work for a week afterwards.

1980 ‘V Reg.’

I spent more than a week unconscious in hospital and took nearly a year to recover fully. The compensation I received from the insurance company nowhere near made up for the disruption to our lives. Every year I celebrate how fortunate I was to have such a wonderful wife to nurse me back to health and put up with the aftermath of that accident. We were driving our first, brand new car together – a pageant blue, ‘V’ reg Mini which Richard Butterworth facilitated our purchase of. We were very proud of it for 10 months and then it was gone. Although we have had at least 20 new cars since then, we will never forget that day.

Even so, as we drive round in a 2020 ‘Hybrid’ 4-wheel drive ‘Utility’ vehicle with all the refinements, we don’t even have to open the windows manually. Can you imagine it?

Thursday, 18th June, 2020

Up at 6.00 am. It had rained over night. Joy of joys! Yesterday had been wall-to-wall sunshine. We walked along the shoreline from Littlehampton towards Worthing. There were a few little children in the sea and the Beach Lifeguards were setting up their summer stations on the beach.

Littlehampton Beach Yesterday
West Durrington Today

This morning we were out to Tesco for a weekly shop. On my walk around the area, trees were still dripping and puddles lingered. It was, however, steamy warm and I was sweating profusely by the time I got back from my walk and Pauline came out of the store.

We drove home and had coffee, did some jobs – Pauline preparing for our meal later and me searching out some new, smart phones for our automatic upgrade as our contract reaches 24 months. We’ve been using EE for quite a few years and been very pleased with the service. For the past two years, we have had Huawei P20 Pro which has been an excellent phone that I chose mainly for the quality of its cameras but has now been undercut by Trump’s war with the Chinese which has seen Google withdraw its apps on the phone. Immediately, Huawei loses all of their attraction for us. It looks like we will go back to Samsung (Galaxy S20 5G) and EE will buy our old, ‘free’ Huawei for £50.00/€55.50 each.

Findon Village, West Sussex

This afternoon, we drove out to Findon Village which is about 4 miles outside Worthing. It is a pleasant but rather a claustrophobic community which appears to be dominated by pubs and restaurants – all closed – attempting to maintain their place by serving take-aways. It features a lot of old properties some up to 450 years old. It feels a bit like a living museum.

Friday, 19th June, 2020

Garmin Vivosmart4 smart watch

We didn’t have to get up early today. We were up at 7.00 am to find the weather had been perfectly behaved. It had rained over night and was now drying up. After breakfast, we walked to Sainsbury’s – a 5 mile/8 km round trip. We weren’t shopping but collecting a click& collect from Argos. When we got there, a huge 100yd/90mtr queue snaked around the underground carpark. Because we weren’t going to the supermarket Pauline showed her text confirming her order was ready to collect but was denied entry. We had to stand in a queue for 25 mins before she was allowed in. I was quite happy recovering from the first half of the walk.

This is our 4th Garmin watch between us. I have one I am delighted with. Pauline has gone through two already because she will insist on buying cheap ones. Even this is relatively cheap at £74.99/€83.00. One would normally expect to pay 2 or 3 times that amount for a good one. Having said that, this one measures everything one could want and much one doesn’t. Steps, Heart Rate, Pulse, Distance travelled, Calories Burned, Blood Oxygen Levels as well as the weather, News Items, indications of phone calls, texts and emails. The biggest challenge is absorbing all that information whilst walking without falling over. One charge lasts 5 days and the whole thing is slight enough to please a girl while being almost big enough to read without one’s glasses.

Saturday, 20th June, 2020

This rarely happens but we got up this morning not knowing what we intended to do today. I like to have a pre-considered set of targets for my day. I gives me an immediate sense of purpose and allows me the sense of freedom to achieve my targets in my own time and order. Today, beyond drinking my orange juice, tea and coffee, I had nothing lined up at all. It was preparing to be a lovely day with high, fleecy clouds under blue sky and sunshine. The day eventually settled at a pleasant 22C/70F with virtually no breeze.

Bognor is definitely faded.

Being footloose and fancy free, we drove the 10 miles down to Bognor Regis. I have been there twice before – once a couple of years ago just as we were exploring our area and, the first time, 65 years ago with little Bob and Nana & Grandad Coghlan. The only thing I remember of the 1955 visit was a strong wind whipping up the sand on the beach and driving biting sand into our bare legs.

The sea never fades.

Today’s visit was warmer, sunnier and without even sea breeze. Unfortunately, I don’t think it has seen much interest from royalty for many years. In fact, probably it has not seen much since George V uttered the immortal words, Bugger Bognor on his deathbed in 1936. We did an hour or so walk on the coastal path with a fair few others enjoying the warm air. The Butlins emporium, which had £50 million spent on its upgrade 20 years ago, is lifeless and silent.

We drove home to a ‘normal’ Saturday afternoon football, lots of tea and then thick, roasted loins of code with roasted cherry tomatoes. I’m finding it hard to get back in to the football although the integrated sound-over s helping. I always find the first matches of a new season don’t draw me in and this feels just like that. Anyway, I was looking forward to cricket.

Week 598

Sunday, 7th June, 2020

A lovely, sunny morning although not over hot. There is a little bit of a breeze which is keeping the temperature to around 18C/65F. After the political programmes and newspapers this morning, we set off for a fairly brisk walk of about 90 mins. The weather is such a bonus in this. If it had been raining, I just don’t think I would have done it which is why we need an alternative and that is unlikely to be the Health Club for quite some time.

Opposite Sainsbury’s

Enjoyment in simple pleasures is making me feel rather old but there is no alternative until we can wave our passport around again. Simple scenes like this are really quite pleasing on the eye. Even so, I’d rather be in Valencia or Athens right now.

The right garden building but wrong colour.

We have been all over the decision making process about a new gym cum kitchen cum garden storage building outside. It looks as if we have (almost) come to a decision. We are taking so long because we estimate an overall cost of £25 – 30,000./€28,050.00 – 33,660.00. It will be 8′ deep x 14′ long but just low enough not to need planning permission. The price will include paving, electrical installation and gym equipment + TV installation. We will need electrical sockets galore for at least 2 exercise items + TV & Sky box, for at least 4 cooking items and for recharging at least 2 garden items. We will have to see if it will need any heating but we doubt it.

Although we can buy this building locally, if we want to see an actual example – and we do – we will have to drive to Staines where there is a branch showcasing an example.

Monday, 8th June, 2020

Quite a grey morning but warm. Today will be spent in two activities: firstly, marking out the area of the back garden where we will need additional flagging and the area a garden building will require and, secondly, following up insurance claims allied to reviewing our next, booked trip.

Our month in Tenerife that has now passed contained four elements. The flights with Easyjet were cancelled by them so we are entitled to a full refund. In spite of the fact that they wanted us to accept vouchers for future travel, we insisted that we wanted a refund and formally requested the return of our £540.00/€605.00 and we will get it but we don’t know when. Fortunately, we are not under threat of losing our job and worried about our income. We are not in need of the money tomorrow but we will get it.

We’ve already got two parts of our villa rental back amounting to about €800.00/£715.00 but the bulk payment, €4,500.00/£4015.00 is being covered by our bank’s travel insurance – we renewed our annual policy in July last year, long before pandemic exclusions came in to force. This morning we were told by the bank that this was being actioned this week so we look forward to that.

How confident would you be?

Thought I’d check if I could see any progress on our EasyJet money but there was nothing to see. While I was there, I looked at our next flights in August to Athens. They cost us £570.00/€640.00 for two returns. Firstly, they are still flying and are bookable although one of the Departure times has changed. However, the seats that cost us £570.00/€640.00 would now cost us £208.00/€233.00 or around 36% of the original price. Still, like so many people, we may not be brave enough to fly. Who knows?

Masked & Gloved but left out in the cold.

We walked down to our village surgery which has a Pharmacy attached to collect a repeat prescription. It was 12.30 pm and there were only 2 customers – Pauline and the person inside. I was reading my Twitter-feed while Pauline formed a queue of one. Actually, it felt quite pleasant at 20C/68F and we were getting part of our exercise target done.

Tuesday, 9th June, 2020

Out early on a morning in which the world smelled so fresh after over night rain. Quite warm – 17C/62F at 8.00 am. I parked in Sainsbury‘s underground carpark and set off for my walk while Pauline shopped. I walked to Rustington past some delightful houses and gardens. One garden gate featured a name plate that suddenly took me back more than 50 years. Woodbine Cottage immediately conjured up a packet of cigarettes. It was the cigarette of choice for almost all the men who worked in my Father’s Building Firm.

At the time, they were one of the cheapest so Mum and Dad needed to differentiate themselves from the workers by smoking the manly, Players Navy Cut in Dad’s case and the more sophisticated Senior Service in Mum’s case. Everybody smoked and social differentiation came to bear even there.

By the time I was 14, I was pinching cigarettes from packets on the mantlepiece and practising out in the village. As soon as I got some holiday earnings, I was smoking confidently. Of course, I couldn’t follow my parents. I had to strike out on my own with Players No 6. By the time I left home in 1969, I was smoking 20 cigarettes a day. By the time I was teaching in 1972, I was coping with the stress of work by smoking 40 cigarettes a day and had moved on to the modern but prestigious, John Player Special Black.

The last cigarettes I purchased in 1985.

In spite of trying to give up many times and lasting less than a few hours each time, I smoked for another 13 years until, in 1985, I woke up one morning and thought, I don’t need to smoke any more. Typically for me, I had bought an expensive new lighter a few days before and a new pack of cigarettes the night before. The pack of 20 cost me £1.22/€1.37 in 1985. Today, in Sainsbury‘s they would cost me £11.10/€12.45.

All of this was triggered by the Woodbine sign on the gate and the images flooding through my mind from last night when I watched two more episodes of the drama I’ve been enjoying called Babylon Berlin which is set in the late 1920s of the Weimar Republic. Overwhelmingly, it is set in a dark world where everybody and I mean everybody smoked almost all the time. We have moved so far since then that it is almost choking to watch.

Wednesday, 10th June, 2020

Woke up to a grey morning but warm and dry. We had gone to bed happy last night after receiving an email from EasyJet confirming that they had repaid the cost of our unused return flights to Tenerife in May. Our bank balance will improve to the tune of £640.00/€720.00. Such things always help the orange juice go down.

We are expecting patches of light rain today so need to snatch every possible dry spell to get our exercise done. This is exactly why we need a gym room in the garden for such difficult days. This afternoon we are doing the full costings in our estimation and then invite some groundwork firms to offer estimates for the doing the hardstanding and an electrician for installing sockets. The building itself will come with on-site erection built in so that price will be a fixed sum.

herbs and Bell Peppers have been outside since mid-May

All around the patios at the moment are collections of pots and containers with tomatoes and herb plants that need maintenance. We could not have dreamt of growing tomatoes outside in Yorkshire and certainly not safely since early May. These have been grown from seed and are now flowering profusely. They are tumbler, cherry tomatoes which we eat by the ton. The five plants we have will probably supply a couple of weeks worth of salads but it is the fun of cultivating them which has made it worthwhile.

Home grown tomatoes flowering profusely.

I grew Sweet Bell Peppers reasonably successfully in Greece but not as well here so I have half a dozen grown from seed and advancing quickly now outside.

We have watched Boris Johnson floundering once again under the forensic questioning of Keir Starmer. Always a pleasure. It is now dry and we are going out for our walk. Wish us luck!

Thursday, 11th June, 2020

Pauline got me up at 6.00 am on a rather grey morning. By 6.35 am, I was driving her to Tesco. We had been led to believe that it would be raining and I didn’t want her to queue out in the rain. She was just the first there at 6.45 am. I set off for my walk. Far from raining, it was warm and got warmer as the sun came out. The day has been delightful. I got back to the car after 90 mins and 6 miles walking. Not exactly record breaking but I was shattered when Pauline emerged with a laden trolley.

After coffee and the newspapers, we drove down to the local Authority Tip to take some defunct electrical items that can’t go in the collected bins. We were met by a long queue. Pent up demand over the lock-down allied to the need for social distancing has made access rather tedious. Only about 15 mins wait and we were on our way home. Driving through the village struck us how much we had settled in and how the inhabitants care for the environment. Angmering in Bloom is continuing to work in spite of the problems.

Angmering in Bloom

When we got home, we were contacted by our bank demanding additional information to support our insurance claim. It is worth £4,500.00 so, even though it is frustrating, it will be worth it. We had an hour or so tracking down documents, digitising them and uploading them to the Bank’s Insurance Claim site.

On our patio – 2012

From the moment that Pauline decided that we had to cut out salt to control my blood pressure, I have been addicted to herbs. There were only a few I remember from my childhood. Parsley was served every Friday in a sauce to accompany fish. Sage appeared with onion in annual stuffing. Mint accompanied roast Lamb. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any others. These days, we use Sage, Oregano, Thyme, Dill, Tarragon and particularly, Basil. I love garlic with everything. These flavours have been learned, ingrained and enjoyed throughout our time in Greece and they’ve followed us back to UK. We always grow Basil and Pauline makes Pesto. We never buy any ready made. Whatever it is, it’s not Pesto.

This year, I’m growing 4 different types of basil – Italian Greeen, Purple, Greek and Cinnamon. It will mix in salads and be used for cooking. I’m eating so much smoked salmon at the moment that I’ll have to buy a smoker for the garden. When the Garden Building is up, it can stand on the patio. Small packs of good quality salmon are costing around £8.00/€8.92 for our meal. If I smoke whole sides and Pauline slices them thinly, it will save us so much money … and what fun for the neighbours.

Friday, 12th June, 2020

The forecast was for lots of very warm rain today. We were up to bright sunshine and clear skies. Pauline is expecting an ‘all day delivery’ from UPS so I took advantage of the weather to do a 5 mile walk. It was a lovely, freeing interlude. Mind you, I was shattered when I got back. Pauline had spoken to the Bank’s insurance arm and was told our claim was back in the queue after uploading additional evidence that they had requested.

Pauline was making salmon fishcakes for our meal later in the day. I love fishcakes! If it stays dry and it certainly looks like it at the moment, we will spend an hour or two marking out the back garden for the flagging which will be required for the footprint of the building we have selected plus some extra space. After that, it will be my job to price up the materials required and getting hard landscaping firms to provide estimates for the work. The worst thing about all of it is not the cost but the disruption. Residents around us have had additional paving laid and the work seems to have gone on for ever. I won’t enjoy that.

Banana Thief

Vindicated with my early start. The rain has come lightly and very warmly this afternoon. I am in my office enjoying Chopin Études and drawing up plans for development of our outdoor facilities. Certainly, life could be a lot worse.

Satuday, 13th June, 2020

I follow the weather for the week on the BBC website. It used to be provided by the Met. Office but now comes from the Meteo Group which, like all good things, comes from Europe. However, now we’ve left the EU, they’ve decided to give us any old forecast because they don’t care. Today, they told us we’d have lots of rain after noon so we went for our walk early in the morning. We were home by 10.30 am and the blue sky was unsullied as the temperature rose to 23C/73F and stayed there until after 5.00 pm. European relationships will be like that in future.

Our job at home today is to map out, on the ground, the area of the extending garden flagging and the footprint of the building to be erected on it. Yesterday’s rain prevented our intentions. We started by doing that with garden canes and a huge ball of string. Then, I decided that we needed to really visualise what we were going to do so I looked for a spray marker to mark out the grass. I found one in Screwfix and we shot off in the car to purchase it. …. only not that easy.

When we got there, we were told that they were only dealing with Click & Collect customers. We went through the farce of standing at the door, bringing Screwfix up on our smartphone, ordering the spray, paying for it with credit card and receiving an order number. Having walked 4 paces in to the shop from the door, we were presented with the spray with our name and order number wrapped round it. Covid safe or what!

Back home, we measured out the patio base we anticipated, inserted canes into the lawn and tied string along the lengths and widths. We then placed the building inside the extra patio base with canes and strings. We are told by the company that we have to allow 2 ft between any wall of the building and any other wall, fence, etc. to allow for maintenance. We have chosen a Studio Garden Room with Garden Storage Shed attached measuring 16ft x 8ft. The extra patio required is 20ft x 12ft (20ft/6.01 mtrs. x 3.7 mtrs.). As soon as we’d mapped it , we looked at each other and said almost synchronously, We ought to go for the next size up – 18ft x 8ft. That will give us so many more options.

So that’s a decision …. we think. Decision making isn’t easy is it? I’ve already picked out the gym equipment that we’ll need. It was important to check it fitted in easily. It does.

We’ve now got to find some kitchen cabinets and worksurface to put around one end and ask an electrician about the best way to get power and internet access into it. The machines take wi-fi and a Sky Q-Box would be useful. Instead of watching politics in a stationary position, it is better to be moving at the same time. This really does seem like a plan coming together…. although, this evening, we are considering extending the building to 20ft/6.01 mtrs. or even 22ft/6.7 mtrs.. I wonder if you can get a 3-piece suite in it?