Sunday, 26th July, 2020
The last week of July. In fact August on Saturday. Summer is running away. I have to keep telling myself these things to maintain equilibrium and context. The first Test series of the Summer draws to a close this week and, hopefully, Manchester weather will allow England to bring it to a successful conclusion.
At the same time, the government announce new travel restrictions and the pandemic which was said to be “contained very soon” and then “over by Christmas” is now triumphantly to be “over by the middle of next year”. The Transport Secretary had just got off a plane in Spain for his holidays and less than 6 hours later his own department announced a 14 day quarantine for all people flying from Spain. This type of action really undercuts the whole travel industry. If you can’t book with confidence then you are unlikely to book at all.
I’m going to clean the car, watch the cricket followed by the football and read the newspapers.
Monday, 27th July, 2020
Actually, I didn’t clean the car because today was forecast to be wet and I knew I had to go out and collect packs of wood. One of the things that interests me is the information bodies give out to ameliorate authorities and smooth their path through Covid-19 re-opening. We ordered the loft boarding from Jewson in Worthing. They told us that it would be collectable after 10.30 am on Monday. We would be sent a text to be told what time to turn up to collect so that social distancing could be maintained. By 11.00 am on Monday, we had heard nothing and I phoned them.
I was greeted by an incredulous voice saying, Just come when you like. We went immediately. The huge store was absolutely empty and the five assistants were without masks. Our packs of loft boards were stacked up waiting for us. There were no other orders left out. It looks as if there is little take-up currently.
We drove home and I spent the next 3 hrs in the garage installing the new ceiling, moving storage boxes and freeing up the parking area. It was an absolutely satisfying activity. I had offered the floor staging to my neighbour and he told me this morning that he would like it in his garage so that will clear some more space.
Last night we heard that the UK had scuppered travel to Spain and its islands by insisting on them quarantining on return to UK. It is a bit of a joke because, generally, UK has a worse Covid-19 incidence than other EU countries. We suspect another agenda but it was interesting how Brexiters and far-right Tories were already denying the facts. One of our relatives watched some pappy, ITV morning programme and insisted that this quarantine requirement was false. She had heard a contributor announcing that it could easily be subverted. Within minutes, government spokesmen insisted that it would remain in place.
I struggle to understand why people just swallow that nonsense without exercising some critical judgement but then that is what Brexit was all about.
Tuesday, 28th July, 2020
Up early at 6.00 am on a lovely morning. Out to Sainsbury‘s at 7.00 am and I did my walk. I admit, I have been a little disincentivised since last Thursday when Garmin Connect – the app/website that integrates my watch with my phone – was taken down because of an extraordinary outage’. I seems that they had been hit by a ransomware attack which freezes the company’s IT systems and demands payment to release them. That tells you everything you need to know about me. I am utterly target driven!
We have 8 months left of our 5yr warranty on this house. Any snagging/problems need to be raised with the builders before the end of March 2021. A house near us suddenly found a problem with their bay window roof and had a team of workers fixing it for 3-4 days recently. We have decided that we must really go for it.
Yesterday, a rubber seal on a pop-up sink waste valve split and fell apart. Last night the dual flush push button on one of the toilets sprang out and refused to go back. A small section had broken off.
Not on the scale of a leaking bay window but these niggly small things will be fixed by a little man in a builder’s van without causing us inconvenience.
Finished decluttering the garage, valeted the car and watched England win the Test series against West Indies. Garmin came back up for the first time in 4 days and registered that I had well exceeded my targets. A very rewarding day!
Totally out of the blue, I found a message from a girl I last saw in 1973-4. She was about 1-2 years old and her name was Julia. I have to admit that my memory is rather hazy but I remember snatches of it. It makes me a little shaky trying to recall those distant days.
Wednesday, 29th July, 2020
I must wish my skinny sister, Jane BG, a very happy 68th birthday. She is a champion runner and puts me to shame and, at her age, leads the way for all of us.
A day at home in beautiful weather with blue sky and lots of sunshine. After breakfast at 6.30 am, we prepared to approach the nightmare that is an insurance claim. Today, it was dealing with a Credit Card ‘Claim-Back’. After half an hour on the website claim area going round in circles, we were seriously frustrated and decided to take our lives in our hands and phone up.
Ignoring all the dire warnings that we couldn’t phone and should use the web; ignoring all the dire warnings about the effect of the pandemic on their phone service; ignoring all their dire warnings about the suggestion that we would be put on hold for hours, I went on hold and was answered within 2 mins. The lovely lady dealing with my claim apologised for keeping me waiting and promised a written reply within 24 hrs. This is all I was requesting and will fulfil my claim requirements immediately.
I was so happy after this result that I set about mowing the lawns and pressure washing the car for the next couple of hours. We did our next round of smoked salmon. I have now refined it to just 3hrs of smoke. It is plenty and suggests those sites which talk about 24 hrs must be hard core smokers. I am pleased to say that my Garmin service is now fully restored and our exercise targets are fully restored. Life is back on an even keel.
In this week 5 years ago, we were just meeting a buyer for our Duplex Apartment in Surrey which, ultimately led to our purchase of this new home on the Sussex coast. Time just eats away at one’s life but we don’t regret this move at all.
Thursday, 30th July, 2020
Another wonderful day and we were up at 6.00 am, out by 6.45 am. Pauline was shopping at 7.00 am while I did my walk. I’ve been doing it so long now that I’m on acknowledging terms with lots of regulars. The man with the bobble hat and Dalmatian dog comes jogging past. We nod and say, Morning. It is only on a Thursday that we meet but the bond is strong. The nurse in her blue, linen coat with badge and name tag is getting in to her Ribena-coloured Ford Ka outside the block of flats. She doesn’t speak but her face acknowledges weeks of familiarity. Even the bent-over old man with a shock of white hair and face parallel to the pavement attempts to raise a smile. as he does his morning walk at 7.15 am. He is not giving up! Nor am I. look at this bearded clematis just woven in to the hedgerow on my walk around West Durrington this morning. Understated, roadside beauty.
The sun is increasingly heating up. It rapidly reaches 26C/79F. Pauline will be quite quick today because there are so few people shopping at this time. I don’t know why. It is a wonderful time to be out and about. I need 45 – 55 mins for my walk. I deliberately break in to a faster walk/jog in order to not keep her waiting too long. I am sweating by the time I reach the car and my legs are quite tired.
We are home by 8.30 am and the day can start. Coffee for me and porridge for Pauline. An hour in the Office bringing the accounts up to date and following up emails. Then, outside to start our jobs. By 10.00 am, I am turning the automatic watering system to water the lawns. First the grass strip outside our property edging the pavement/road. Mine is the greenest most luscious section on the road. I even weed and feed it, mow it twice a week and water it as often as possible. Then on to the front lawn. and round to the back lawn.
While that’s going on, I start to clean the downstairs woodwork which is white and shows all dirt and stains around the ground floor of the house. I’m not going any higher. In fact I haven’t got a ladder for it. We will pay the window cleaner for that service. It is so hot that I tire quite quickly and by 12.00 mid day, we stop for a lunch of home-smoked salmon and garden peas in the garden.
I meant to say, we have had our Hybrid CRV for 13 months now and I am still learning its new features. We have only driven 5500 miles so far. Recently, I have ben getting myself used to Automatic Brake Hold. This is a cross between the facilities of manual and automatic driving. With a manual drive which I last had in 1984, a handbrake is essential. With an automatic, I rarely bothered about setting a handbrake ever. Just leave it in ‘Park’ and go! This hybrid which we’ve driven fore over a year and which straddles Manual/Automatic, has three buttons for braking.
In the top centre, the ‘P’ you can see is the equivalent of ‘park’ on an automatic gearbox. The ‘P’ on the top right is a switch you pull and, in effect, is the old handbrake. The button below is the interesting one I am just starting to use. The ‘Brake Hold’ is fantastic. When you come to the lights and stop, you just press ‘Brake Hold’ and the car is in automatic ‘foot pedal brake’ but without exerting your foot. When you want to set off, you just depress the accelerator and away you go. At the next stop, you just bring the car to a stop with the foot brake and the brake hold takes over until you set off again.
Now I am comfortable with it, it is a delight. Why has it taken me so long to learn? I refuse to blame my age! Great news to end the day. Mastercard has written back to us confirming their rejection of our £4,000.00 charge back claim against them. Rarely has been a denial of liability been so welcome. This means that the last flailings of our insurance company have been satisfied and they must pay out. Can’t wait to get back to them tomorrow!
Friday, 31st July, 2020
For no reason at all, we were up at 5.45 am and drinking orange juice and tea before the 6.00 am Today programme had started. I had a list of jobs to complete in my head as I began to shave and, by 8.00 a,m., I had completed them.
- Write letter to doctor asking for supporting letter to supply Insurance Company with reasons why we should not fly to Athens in three weeks time under current conditions.
- Supply the final piece of evidence to the Insurance Company from our Credit Card organisation which should trigger the final repayment on our May/Tenerife break.
(We have already received £1,250.00 from the airport hotel, from the villa rental company and from Easyjet.) Now we want £4,000.00 from our travel insurance for the loss of our villa rental. We should now get it this week and we can then submit our second claim for the August trip.
By 10.00 am, we were on the 5 mile / 8 Kilometre round trip to the Doctors’ Surgery and then on to Dunelm for an order that Pauline had placed on-line. The temperature had hit 31C/88F and the walk reminded us of exploring Greek islands in the early days when we were young and spent our whole time hiking in the baking sun.
We were amazed to see that the harvest was in already and it is not even August. The blackberries are in full fruit and huge and sweet. What a strange year it has been!
Back home, I have mowed all the lawns including my elderly neighbour’s across the road and instigated a full, automatic, spray watering programme that goes on all afternoon. Everything looks luscious in the sunshine. The grass is iridescent blue-green and the tomatoes are ripening rapidly to orange – red.
Saturday, 1st August, 2020
August already in this prison of a time and a country. We should be flying to Athens in just over a fortnight but we won’t. It is both too risky and would not be enjoyable under current conditions. Both Easyjet and our hotel – The Electra Palace – have, without our request, offered the possibility of re-arranged dates. We would prefer our money back and to re-arrange at our own behest.
Consequently, we have sought our doctor’s support in cancelling this trip. Actually, we are doing this in a climate of rising spikes and local lockdowns in UK and increasing outbreaks in Greece. There is still a chance that one government or another will take the decision out of our hands but we will prosecute our own case in the meantime. It seems daunting because we are still concluding a claim from a cancelled May trip to Tenerife but we don’t give up.
As we did our walk this afternoon past harvested cornfields and Anthriscus Sylvestris or Cow Parsley running to seed, I couldn’t help but reflect on my life losing one of its limited summers almost without acknowledgment. I feel imprisoned in a time and a narrow, illiberal country which still believes itself ‘Great’ even as it prepares to disintegrate. The poorly educated, ‘red top’ influenced, blue rinse brigade have brought us to this. There is one thing we are certainly not doing – Taking back control!