Sunday, 23th August, 2020
Apologies to Mum for forgetting to acknowledge her Birthday yesterday. I rarely forget. She would have been 97 yesterday although she died 12 years ago at the age of 85. To my hopelessly poor judgement, she looks a very young 25 here but I suppose this was still a reasonably innocent time. She is pictured here with her Mum – Lily Coghlan – who was 53 in this shot. I don’t know who the precocious little girl is/was.
Mum is within a year of moving North to the Midlands and our home village of Repton. She came specifically to teach Art at Burton upon Trent Girls’ High School and begin an independent life. Within 2 years of this photo, she had met dad and would be married in 1950. How lives change!
Mum was an Art teacher and we were encouraged (made) to paint pictures at home. Now I think back, there were amazingly few books in the house but she had some related to what she said was her favourite ‘modern’ painter – Augustus John, 1878 – 1961 a Welsh painter, draughtsman, etcher and exponent of Post-Impressionism. I remember being shocked and excited to find she had a book of nude sketches by Augustus John in the bookshelf in the Sitting Room where we were not allowed to go. I learned later that Augustus John was particularly known for his many mistresses and subsequent scores of children.
She also had Osbert Lancaster cartoons and Aubrey Beardsley, an English illustrator. His black ink drawings emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic. Suddenly, I’m beginning to draw some dangerous connections here and plumbing depths about my Mother – places I’d rather not go.
Time to mow the lawns!
Monday, 24th August, 2020
Today is dominated by the visit of an electrician who will be with us for about three days. He is installing:
4 x Double Sockets
3 x Strip Lights
2 x Heating Tubes
PIR lamp outside
The biggest part of the job is running cable from the house outside in to the garden. The electrician was soon off for a longer masonry drill bit to go through the wall.
The most interesting thing today is the light fittings. Do you remember these things – Fluorescent Tubes filled with a powder and, I think, an inert gas (Don’t quote me on that.) each of which were started by their own, individual motor. Usually, the motor seemed to fail before the tube. We had them in garages, offices, schools, etc.
I haven’t even thought about one for 20 years. Suddenly, our gym needs good, sharp lighting. Fluorescent Tubes are the first thing that came to mind. I’m not sure our electrician has ever heard of them. Ah Yes, he said. These LED Strip Lights, he said, never need replacing. Youngsters have so little measure of ‘never’. They have at least a life of 25,000 hours which will last us around 20 years at 4 hours per day. If I have to by replacements at the age of 89, at least I will have had time to save up.
One delightful thing about our young electrician was to find out that he and all his family are committed ant-Brexit campaigners. I knew I liked him immediately. Actually, his wife turns out to be a trained teacher and they home-school their children. Intelligent, hard working people who understand the value and dignity of immigration desperate to retain Freedom of Movement for themselves and for others. You can always rely on a bright spark.
Tuesday, 25th August, 2020
The last week of August….. Let that sink in. While we were teaching and driving to Greece for the Summer Holidays, this is the week we would have been leaving the island and starting the long drive back across Europe to arrive home for the weekend and having just enough time to prepare for start of term next week. The journey of three days or so would help us to adjust to the battles ahead.
Talking of battles, I’ve been having one for a few days with a company supplying industrial kitchen units. I paid for them and most were delivered last week. We’re absolutely delighted with what we’d bought. Unfortunately, one unit didn’t appear although they had taken our money for it. I phoned to enquire and I could never get anyone to answer the phone. It just rang forever and cut off. I began to get suspicious. Eventually I got through. The switchboard said they would get someone to check the warehouse and phone me back. I heard nothing. This whole process was repeated three times over three separate days. It was taking me hours.
Meanwhile I did some ‘due diligence’ on the company and the reviews were horrendous. It is one of the dangers of distance buying but it will be with us for a long time to come. I feel very old when I acknowledge a desire to deal face to face but, sometimes, I do. Anyway, yesteday afternoon i finally managed to get through to someone more senior at the company who checked my account, checked my order and said I would get it on Friday. Even then, I admit to being a little sceptical but, this morning, I received confirmation and a tracking link for Tufnell’s the Deliverers. This is the reward for persistence but I wonder when I would ever have achieved that while we were working. I rarely had 6 hours to waste other than when I was at school.
This morning I received a photo of an event in 1956. I was 5 years old and Pauline just 4½. Pauline is centre front row and, as usual, trying to cover her face. Joyce is Pauline’s much, much older cousin. I’m sure Richard will be touched by this photo.
Wednesday, 26th August, 2020
Very windy night again and very warm again. We were awake quite a lot and, consequently, got up late – 7.15 am. It is a beautiful, warm and sunny day with no wind at all. We have a very busy day.
We had our Insurance Claim for our villa rental in May transferred to the Bank’s Legal Department who emailed me a Contract Dispute form to complete and return. It is amazing how long these things take to get absolutely right. This morning we completed it and sent it off. I’m not sure how we would have managed that without PDF editing software, a scanner and image editing software. For many/most it would have proved insurmountable.
On this day last year I was with this gorgeous girl in Gatwick Airport early in the morning preparing to fly to Athens for a week. Where are we now? Stranded on terra firma on a sea-locked, crushingly isolated, Brexit voting prison island with Covid19 controls. This has virtually made our mind up to buy another property abroad.
By 10.00 am, our first delivery had arrived. Fresh fish from our local wet fishery. We tend to order ever 3-4 weeks and portion and store/freeze.
The quality is fantastic with the Tuna at sushi-grade. The cod in large, loin joints is almost like a different fish to the fillets sold in supermarkets. The texture and flavour is magnificent. That order took Pauline about an hour to portion, parcel up, label and freeze. I was completing the legal submission as she worked. We finished just in time for Tufnell‘s the Deliverers to call with the final steel cabinet for our outside kitchen.
We spent a chunk of the afternoon stripping our new cabinet of skin-tight polythene wrapping. After we had finished and moved it in to place, Pauline spent for ever cleaning and shining it. We now have a run of brushed steel cabinets, upright freezer, griddle, hob and deep fat fryer soon to be supplemented by electric bar barbecue.
We’ve got a man coming round to check on the fence this evening and the electrician is going to spend another day next week finishing off our work.
Thursday, 27th August, 2020
Although she died 10 years ago, we never forget Mump as she became known. Today she would be celebrating her 106th birthday. Pauline still has the dress but she doesn’t have her Mum and she misses her hugely.
Another busy day which started at 6.00 am with a lovely, clear sky on a warm morning. Out to Tesco for 7.00 am start. I did my walk which was really enjoyable. The trees around are absolutely laden with fruit and I don’t just mean fruit trees. I did pass a garden where trees we bending under the weight of gorgeous, red apples and our PYO farm is currently having its acres of Victoria Plums stripped for jam making but, all along my walk today, Blackberries are burgeoning along with Sambucas or Elderberries. The oak trees are full of acorns and so many others I’m not even sure I know the names off are producing seed balls ready for the new season. They say such fecundity presages a bad Winter. It may be an old wive’s tale. I really hope so. We have had enough bad winters on the Pennines to last us a lifetime.
The strong winds of the past couple of days have all but destroyed my ‘finger’ pepper plants. In reality, they needed another two or three weeks but I’ve been forced to take what I can now. They were covered in small fruit and lots of flowers but I don’t think they will make it to maturity now. They were grown from seed so really didn’t cost me much and we will eat them roasted stuffed with Feta cheese. However, I probably won’t do this again.
Friday, 28th August, 2020
Woke in the night to a cloud burst sustained for about 20 mins. Still warm and a bit sticky. Woke at 6.00 am to blue sky and sunshine and still mild. We are hoping to have a Fence company come round to repair a suspect post which is our responsibility. For that reason, we are going nowhere so we are in the Office on-line shopping … again.
Pauline is searching for a radiator for the gym. We are not going to the expense of extending the central heating out there so it will be wall-mounted electric.
While Pauline is doing that, I’m researching a new television for the Lounge. Currently, we have a 55″ LG television in there and it will go out on the gym wall. I hope to fit a wi-fi extender and install my 5th Sky Q box so we can exercise and watch political programmes seamlessly.
We have quite a lot of televisions in the house but I am no aficionado of their quality. It really doesn’t worry me as long as it works well. We have one LG in the Lounge and five more Samsungs around the house. The picture quality of the LG is inferior to all the others but it will be fine for a gym. The new one I’m proposing to buy says it has ‘Adaptive Sound automatically adjusts to what you’re watching, so your entertainment feels more immersive‘. It also features ‘Multi View lets you watch your TV whilst commenting on social media, all at once on the big screen.’ so I can Tweet politicians while they are lying through interviews.
Saturday, 29th August, 2020
A bit cooler this morning – 16C/61F – but sunny and doesn’t feel bad at all. If you are a regular reader of the Blog, you will know that we are in the middle of a spending spree It is sublimated frustration at not being able to travel which is forcing us to appraise our home situation. At the same time, purchasing has been largely on the web because of the pandemic and this is fraught with difficulties because pre-Covid websites are still advertising products that have not been manufacture for months and turn out to be out of stock with a long replenish lead in time.
Because of this, we have been forced back on to localism. Our electrician is a lovely lad who lives down Sea Lane just a mile or two away from us with his ex-teacher wife and 3 Home-Schooled kids. We were considering buying our gym equipment from Sportstech, a German firm but learned of the long wait times and difficulty with returning problem purchases. We turned to a company from Shoreham-by-Sea which is about 5 miles away. They have a shorter lead in time, deliver and construct on-site and provide comprehensive warranty and servicing for our area. It makes me feel a little old but also reassured.
In just the same way, our errant fence post will be fixed by a local fencing firm which we’ve got out of the monthly village magazine, All About Angmering. He was supposed to come yesterday but it absolutely threw it down so we will see him on Tuesday. You have to go with the local flow.