Week 611

Sunday, 6th September, 2020

Sunday political programmes are back! Thank goodness for that. Perhaps ‘goodness’ was the wrong choice of epithet for an atheist on a Sunday but never mind. After a good indulgence along with the newspapers, I turn my thoughts to my job for today. In the past week, I’ve cleaned the car, mowed the lawns twice, pressure washed the patio flags and completed all my jobs in the house.

Today, I have set myself the task of renovating the teak, garden table we bought when we first moved in over 4 years ago. Remember, I have no practical skills or confidence that I can acquire them. I have never used an electric Sander in spite of my name.

A sander for a Sanders.

I bought one for Pauline two or three years ago as a present. She wanted to renovate a piece of furniture. She did the job and I then stored the sander in the loft of the garage. It hasn’t been out until today. With some trepidation, I took it down and waited for Pauline to show me how to fit the sanding belt. The rest is history. I successfully sanded a table top. Genius!

Unfortunately, just as I finished and was preparing to relax, Pauline appeared in the garden with our next door neighbour. He had been asking other neighbours around how to deal with his lawn which is covered in weeds. They told him to come and see me. I have no particular skill with grass but I do have time and I chose to tend the strip of grass outside our property by the side of the road. In the early Spring, it was thin, poor quality and basically stressed. It isn’t my responsibility but that of the entire community which is led by a Management Group. I only took it on because it looked bad and, with lock-down, I had time on my hands.

I raked, cut, fed, watered and weed-killed that piece of lawn. In the hot dry Summer, I ran a sprinkler over it every other day until the road ran like a river. I worried that others would see it as a waste of resources but nobody said anything and, if you could see it now, you might bring your golf putter to try it out. It looks healthy, lush, green and strong. There are no weeds or bald patches. It looks cared for. That’s why my neighbour was directed towards me and I went through the process I had followed. I gave him a bottle of Weedol – broad leaf weed killer, told him to stop cutting his lawn so low and to rake and feed it.

Our neighbour left and, when Pauline returned, she pointed out that I was covered from head to toe in a dark, mahogany, fine dust. I was so intent on accomplishing my sanding task that I hadn’t bothered fitting the dust collection bag or wearing the mask. Typical boy. I wasn’t allowed in the house until I had been sprayed clean and then I had to have an immediate shower. Such a waste of water!

Monday, 7th September, 2020

Only 10C/50F at 7.00 am today and fairly overcast. Fortunately, within a couple of hours the sky cleared and sun came out to lift our spirits. We have to wait in for yet another delivery – a Tilt TV Bracket and an HDMI cable for mounting the old television on the gym wall and connecting it up to a Sky-Q box. That over, we will go out for a long walk in the sunshine – perhaps along the beach.

My one other job today is to contact my doctor. She is a German called Martina Houska. Really good GP. I haven’t seen her for almost 18 months. It is a sign of the times. I don’t need to see her but I am due a ‘Medication Review’ before I can order my repeat prescription. I have 4 sets of medication. Warfarin for Atrial Fibrillation. Atorvastatin because of my age and Doxazosin and Losartan for Blood Pressure. I have to phone the surgery to make an appointment for the GP to phone me and conduct the review. You can see why doctors are really enjoying the pandemic. No smelly, old men like me in their consulting room.

The new TV for the lounge arrives on Thursday and the current one will be moved into the gym where it will be mounted on the wall. How to get a signal outside in a separate building is my next challenge. My ideal solution would be to ‘see’ the wi-fi signal from my router in my Office just 20 metres away but through 2 walls and some fresh air. This will allow me to link a Sky-Q Box and that would give us everything we need.

The revolutionary Sky-Q Box.

For those of you who don’t know the Sky-Q system, it is well worth investigating. It has major advantages of large storage. I always have to remind myself that I have 2,000,000,000,000 Mb of storage in my main Sky-Q box. Of course, that equates to 2,000,000 Gigabytes or 2 Terabytes of storage. So storage isn’t a problem. Actually, everything is so quickly downloadable that I will never need that capacity. However, I can watch one programme and download 6 others at the same time. I have never felt the need to do that but it frees one up to time-shift without hesitation.

I like to watch politicians interviewed, to watch parliamentary debates, to watch political discussion and analysis. Since lock-down, I have forced myself to watch and almost enjoy some drama on television and, even, the occasional film. So many of these things are put out at clashing times and I can now set up permanent future recordings – like Parliament ChannelPolitics LiveNewsnightNewspaper Review, etc.. The Q-Box allows one to pause live television but also to pause something one is watching in one room and moving to watch it in another room. Anything downloaded on the large, main Q-Box is available on any mini satellite Q-Box around the house. That’s what I want to do in the gym.

Tuesday, 8th September, 2020

An absolutely delightful day of blue sky and sunshine although we only reached 22C/70F. It felt much warmer in our sheltered garden. We didn’t seem to do a lot today because we had our electrician back to finish off the gym.

It is now lovely and light with 3 LED strip lights, lots of sockets all round and just has the vertical radiator to be mounted when the correct brackets arrive. The TV will be in on Thursday and the first piece of gym equipment arrives in about 2 weeks. The gym equipment is really difficult to get hold of because, no matter how much one is prepared to pay, the pandemic has made home-gyms so popular that the manufacturers are stretched to capacity. Our electrician is a quite delightful young man who loves taking his family camping. His wife is a trained teacher and Home-Schools their kids. We are so glad we chose him 4 years ago and that he was still available to come back this summer.

The blousy days of late Summer.

Our walk today was past the wheat fields which were harvested about a month ago. They are still carpeted in stubble and edged with a fence screened by overgrown weeds like Creeping Thistle – Cirsium Arvense – and Nettle – Urtica Dioica along with cultivars like Buddleia or Butterfly Bush and other escapees from local gardens. As we walked, a bit of hazy cloud drew over but had, magically, disappeared by the time we got home for tea in the garden. Not bad this Retirement as long as you’ve got someone to share it with.

Wednesday, 9th September, 2020

Lovely warm and sunny day. I did my walk an hour later today. It was a mistake. I didn’t set out until 8.00 am and had to fight my way through streams of kids laughing there way down the road to the local school. It does make you wonder what kids are for. Thank goodness we didn’t have any. Pauline was shopping in Sainsbury‘s. and we met back at the peace and tranquillity of the car.

At home we had a number of jobs. Pauline had finished preparing a side of salmon for smoking. We have refined that down to just one hour in apple wood embers. It is quick and easy process after the 48 hours of curing. I had the plants to water including the tree I’ve been growing from a seed pod I picked in Tenerife in 2018.

Royal Poinciana or Flamboyant (Delonix Regia) Tree

It is now 5 ft / 1.5 mtr and back in a pot having spent some time in the open soil. I am in a dilemma about its future. I suspect it will not survive even a south coast winter although I don’t really know. I’m tempted to give it one more winter in the conservatory window before planting it out for its last summer season.

Royal Poinciana or Delonix Regia

It really doesn’t look as if I will see it at this stage. Unfortunately, I’ve become attached to it and feel responsibility for its welfare. Abandoning it to the winter weather really does feel harsh.

Thursday, 10th September, 2020

Pauline’s brother, Jack, died on this day 14 years ago.

Up at 6.00 am on a lovely, bright and warm morning. Tesco at 7.00 am for Pauline and a 45 mins brisk walk for me. It was delightful in the sunshine. Home for a drink and to unpack and then off to Rustington. There is a fantastic Greengrocer’s (I can’t believe I’m writing that word.) there and we are desperate for some Victoria Plums. We love them but can’t be bothered to PYO this year and we are not going to make jam so we just want enough for gorging on.

The shop had the plums and we bought just 2 kilos but they also had ‘Canadian’ Cherries. They were quite expensive at £13.00/ per kilo but we bought 1.5 kgs because they were such a wonderful flavour. Fruit is my snack of choice during the day. Bananas. dates, figs, dried apricots, dried apple, fresh cherries and plums all help me control my appetite and, as soon as we got home, we spent a couple of hours sunbathing in the garden with our new bowls of fruit. Lovely sunshine and 24C/75F of warmth. Our sheltered back garden feels even warmer.

The old, 55″, LG Television

When we felt that we had had enough sun, we came in and prepared for a visit from Currys-PCWorld KnowHow team. The old television had to be disconnected and the sideboard emptied so it could be easily moved to get at the audio-visual panel on the wall behind.

Fantastic Track & Trace.

We had a 4hr slot between 1430 – 1830 for delivery of our new TV including setup and removal of all the packaging. I had wanted the old television moving and wall mounting in the gym. Currys told me they didn’t offer that service. I spent a couple of hours following the van’s progress towards me but they arrived by 4.00 pm.

As soon as the men arrived and unpacked the new tv, I told them of that problem. Oh, we’ll do that for £40.00/€43.30. Excellent, I said. The set up the new tv and I chatted away as is my nature. One of the lads was from Basingstoke and the other, a body builder, was from Larnarca. As soon as I told him about our adventures in Greece, he said “Not £40.00. You are a nice person and we’ll only charge £30.00.”

The new, 65″ Samsung Television

They did a great job and I still gave them £40.00 for their troubles. It clearly meant a lot to them and I was pleased to give it to them.

Friday, 11th September, 2020

Another really lovely day – one in which it feels so good to be alive and retired. The weather is delightful. We have been sitting out in delightful sunshine this afternoon after a long walk. Before that, we did a quick trip to Asda for some more half-price Shloer to keep me going through Dry September and, maybe even October as well.

We will be at home for Christmas alone for the first time in more years than I can remember. It must be around 30 years we have been travelling down to Surrey bring Pauline’s Mum with us to spend Christmas with Pauline’s family. It will feel strange but necessary this year to stay at home. If I stay dry until December, I will have done six months of 2020 without alcohol although not consecutively. Even so, I will be fairly proud of that.

Pauline’s niece, who we usually spend Christmas with, had no sooner landed in Portugal than a quarantine was announced for her return. We are certainly becoming increasingly pessimistic about another shopping trip to France before the Tunnel implodes at the turn of the year but still holding out a hope. The Greek newspapers have reported that the Greek Tourism Season has come to an end – in the first week of September! Tourism was down this year by 80% and

Athens under Covid

the post August bulge is usually the icing on the cake for winter earnings. Having seen no August bulge which is almost a licence to print money, the Greeks were hoping for a something to get them through the Winter. An increasing number of countries imposing quarantines on return from Greece has killed that hope and Greeks in general but islanders in particular will have to tighten belts, hunker down and hope that things change to allow a 2001 season of earning. I have some doubts although I too hope we can travel. We would like to be back on Sifnos for our 70th birthdays.

Wi-fi Range Extender

The day has ended really well. Having had the television mounted on the gym wall yesterday at a negligible cost, I tried to connect it to our broadband across the garden. I was very doubtful but shouldn’t have worried. It worked like a dream. As a result, I plugged a Sky-Q Box in to join it and was watching Sky programmes within minutes. I didn’t even need my BT wi-fi range extender disc. Something which had running round my mind for the last couple of weeks has instantly resolved itself and been wiped from my worry list.

Saturday, 12th September, 2020

First relaxed morning for quite a while. We didn’t get up until 7.00 am. We had no one coming, no deliveries and no appointments to go to. Felt strange and a bit lazy as if I was on holiday. Actually, I prefer to be active nowadays so, after juice and coffee, we decided to enjoy the warm sunshine down at the beach.

The tourists have gone!

It was delightfully quiet with just a few fishermen and crabbers around and the occasional walkers like us. We walked briskly for 45 mins each way, gazing at the sea, the marauding gulls, a flotilla of local yachts doing a weekend regatta, the boating Lake owners hauling out their plastic swans for Autumn cleaning and a fish snack seller quietly waiting to pounce on the last tourist stragglers.

Spot the Rock.

A couple of hours in the warm sunshine by the sea is enough to raise anyone’s spirits and we drove home for coffee. We are so lucky in our retirement and acknowledge it regularly but Covid-19 is severely cramping our style. We have cancelled our regular check-up dentist appointments as too risky. Only severe pain will get us there at the moment. What we have agreed to is a quite invasive and time-consuming survey for the Office for National Statistics (ONS). I don’t know how many were selected but we were written to and then telephoned to persuade us to take part.

We have agreed because we will be regularly tested for the next 12 months. In the first month, a study worker will visit us 5 times and test each of us. For the next 11 months, we will be visited every month and a test conducted. It seems that will be helpful to us and to them so we have little to lose. We hope to leverage an early vaccination out of them if it becomes available. We are off for our ‘Flu jab soon.

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