Sunday, 13th September, 2020
As we move in to the second half of September, Summer is back. It really is delightful and the figs still waiting to ripen are relaxing in to their looks. It was only 22C/70F today but felt just wonderfully comfortable. We have had no rain for so long and the sun has been so warm that I am back to watering the lawns. I know ‘Indian Summers’ are not uncommon but they are no less delightful for that. Actually, we have spent more time sitting out in the sunshine in the garden over the past couple of weeks than we have done all year.
We went for our 5 mile walk this afternoon and each time we take a particular route, we walk past huge, farmer’s fields that illustrate the passing of the days, the months and the seasons. We have watched the corn being sowed, breaking through the soil, rising high and green and turning golden yellow to brown. We have watched the harvest and the field covered in marauding birds feeding from the stubble. Today, the stubble had been ploughed in and the soil prepared for winter. And so the rhythms of the farming year mete out the phases of the seasons.
Before our walk we drove, out of curiosity, to a DPD Drop-Off shop in Littlehampton. I had ordered a white, shelving unit for the gym wall under the TV to carry the Sky Box, remotes, water bottles, towels, etc.. They were delivered yesterday by DPD Courier. I leant the package against the wall in the Gym to await a ‘little man’ to fit them at the same time as the radiator.
I had tracked the delivery on the DPD app on my phone. It is very efficient but, yesterday, it told me my package would be delivered by courier at 2.00 pm while, simultaneously, it would be delivered at a Drop-Off shop 3 miles away. They even provided me with a barcode to identify the package at the shop. I assumed they had go their wires crossed but, as we drove out to Sainsbury‘s this morning, we thought we would call at the shop out of curiosity. Pauline went in and emerged with another package. We tore it open on the spot to find the metal work had come from one store and the shelving from a completely different store. Lucky we did really.
You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to buy this locally in well know retailers. In fact, it’s impossible. They seem to be struggling to source their replacement stock because the pandemic has closed production lines down. I have a feeling, this is beginning to happen all over again.
Monday, 14th September, 2020
ull blown Summer in mid September. Today has been glorious from 6.00 am until 7.00 pm as I now write. We receive our weather stats from a sensor in Littlehampton about 3 miles/5 km away and, by mid-morning, we were seeing 28C/83F. Actually, the thermometer in total shade in the sheltered garden read 30.6C/87F.
I don’t know about you but hot, sunny weather always engenders a spirit of relaxation and self indulgence in me. Could be why I ate and drank too much in Greece. Today, I am in the midst of a Dry September and 25% of a Dry September-October but I was sorely tempted. Of course, someone as stalwart as me did not buckle although lesser mortals may have done. I wonder if my skinny sister, Liz, is really sticking to her pledge?
For a person who has shared a bottle of wine almost every night of his adult life over Dinner, readers may be surprised to learn that I have not bought a single bottle of wine in UK for at least 25 years – maybe longer. All my wine has come from travels in France and Italy. That was true until today. I have a store of some 400 bottles currently at home but we spoke this morning to an old friend and colleague from Huddersfield. I was forced to act.
Margaret was our SENCO for the last decade of our school careers. We had known her from the early 1980s. Her husband, Tony, taught Geography in another Comp. just down the road. It is hard maintaining a friendship over the length of the country but we meet up twice a year for Dinner and chat. Pauline emailed Margaret to say we had cancelled our trip this Autumn and apologising. She phoned back the next morning sounding rather shaky and fed up.
A couple of days ago, Tony was cutting a hedge round their home, lost his footing, a fell down a steep, grass bank, twisting his leg savagely beneath him. He knew he’d broken it as he fell but it has turned out to be a complete break above the ankle which will have to be reset and pinned. It will be a long job in recovery. The two are horse obsessives and drive their horses all over the country to jump. Just looking after them involves huge amounts of work which Margaret will struggle to maintain alone. She finished her conversation with, “I could do with a huge glass of red wine now!”
For that reason, I went on to the Majestic Wine Store site in Huddersfield and ordered 6 bottles of Rioja for Margaret and Tony. They have a property in Spain, love Spanish wine but haven’t been able to get there to buy any. Do you know how much people pay for wine in UK? It’s scandalous. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised to find Majestic offer a first time purchaser reduction and a 6 bottles for the price of 5 inducement deal plus FREE DELIVERY! This is a good deal. I just hope they don’t drink all 6 bottles on day 1!
At 8.00 pm this evening, we are still 26C/79F. Let’s hope it continues for a few more days / weeks / months.
Tuesday, 15th September, 2020
We hit the ground running at 6.00 am. My job every Tuesday, whatever time we get up, is to strip the bed and take the bedding down to the Laundry. That is as far as I am trusted. Pauline doesn’t like pink sheets. She wants them keeping white. After orange and tea, we set off to Sainsbury‘s where we separate. I do my 45 mins walk and try to get back before Pauline emerges from the store. I usually manage it and did so today in spite of the warmth. It was 25C/77F as I walked at 7.00 am. Eventually, by early afternoon, it settled at a delicious 29C/85F and we enjoyed that in the garden.
But before that, shopping completed, we drove home and began our jobs. Pauline made the bed and then joined me outside to tidy up the lettuce frames that have gone over. We raked and reseeded the edges of the roadside lawns outside our house which have faded in this dry summer. I fed all the lawns and then systematically water in the new seed and the lawn feed with my oscillating sprayer. All of this is done in burning sunshine. When we sit down to a snack of smoked salmon and lettuce with aioli dip outside in the garden, Pauline hides under a large, golfing umbrella. She wants a cantilever parasol and she will have one very soon.
Regular readers will know I am a sucker for data. I love it – tracking it, recording it and analysing it. We have, like so many others, a smart meter. In the early days, I checked it obsessively. Very soon that early enthusiasm palled. Now, I hardly look at it apart from the first day of every month when I take readings for Gas & Electricity and record them on my spreadsheet. I also admit to comparing the same time over the last few years to get some context and comparison.
Today, we got an email announcing some changes to our account and so I opened the app on my iPad to check the current position. I was shocked to find that we were £88.00/€96.00 in credit on our Gas account and £494.00/€538.00 in credit on our electricity account.
I thought I should contact the and didn’t fancy a long, telephone wait. I ent on their website and used the chat facility to discuss my problem with someone called Amjad. (We had a lad called Amjad in school in the late 1970s.) He was one of the expelled Ugandan Asians. He was always affectionately known as Jam-Jar which he didn’t seem to mind in those far off, innocent times. Amjad was working from home with a very slow connection to the office and, ultimately, couldn’t get to the bottom of the situation. An engineer will visit us in a couple of weeks to look at our meter. So much for remote working of which I’m a big champion.
It is still 29C/85F as I complete this at 7.00 pm.
Wednesday, 16th September, 2020
A hot – 26C/79F – and humid day with quite a lot of cloud cover. We have our worker coming tomorrow to fit a radiator in the gym and some shelving to hold the tv box, etc.. Because of that, we did our Tesco shop this morning. By the time I’d completed my 45 mins walk, I was soaking wet from sweaty humidity.
Came home to find an old friend’s face staring out at me from my iPad. It was someone I always knew as Simos but who was really named Nikalaos Pothotas. We knew him because of his taverna on the harbour front. He was the cook and his wife the waiter. It was simple, rustic fare but lifted from the pedestrian by the fact that so much of his produce was his own. He loved it and was proud of what he produced. I will never forget the day we met him leaving his fields as we walked through the land. He rushed across to put freshly picked broad beans in to our hands and encouraged us to taste.
He is the epitome of Greece past. He seems to turn from subsistence farming to cooking for the islanders to serving the tourist industry. He is steeped in the Greek Orthodox religion and often at the centre of his island’s traditions.
The magazine is headed: Agricultural News Magazine for the Farmer
Nikalaos Pothotas Farmer
Aubergines & Tomatoes of Sifnos – the best in the Cyclades.
A bit tired today. After my walk, I’ve had to prepare documents for our legal team who are seeking to reclaim €4,500.00 from a villa owner in Tenerife. If I wasn’t retired and in semi-seclusion, I would almost certainly given up on this but I have plenty of time and I will spend it well by doing my homework.
Thursday, 17th September, 2020
Up at 6.00 am and because our electrician was coming early to do a couple of jobs. Firstly, he was going to fit an upright radiator. It is filled with glycol-fluid which is very efficient to heat up and transmit heat and slow to lose its heat when it is switched off. The radiator is about 5 ft/1.5 mtrs high and incredibly heavy. It requires huge bolts to attach it to the wall. That’s why we needed a little man called Daryl to fit it. He also put up some shelves for me as well. The gym & outdoor kitchen is complete apart from …. the gym equipment. The first piece of apparatus – a professional Cross-Trainer – is due any day now. It will be followed soon after by a Treadmill and a Lumbar Bike.
While Daryl was working out in the Gym, I was doing mental gymnastics in the Office. I am completing the legal submission to reclaim £4,500/€4,925 from an unused villa rental in Tenerife last May. It is a tiring, turgid activity but I am determined to see it to a conclusion so I will give it a few hours today and complete it tomorrow.
I drove Pauline down to Asda to get things she had been researching and then, because it is such a lovely, Summer’s day with clear, blue sky and 24C/75F temperature that we had a lovely walk through the local park.
Home for griddled swordfish steaks and Greek Salad as the warmth and sunshine fell through the open, conservatory doors. If you haven’t already, you really should taste Retirement. It is absolutely wonderful.
Friday, 18th September, 2020
We rose, yet again, at 6.00 am to another beautiful day. Blue sky, sunshine and a temperature of 24C/75F with a slight breeze. Tesco shop for Pauline and 45 mins walk for me. In this warm sunshine walking feels like holiday. Retirement walking feels like luxurious holidays. Still, I’m perspiring by the time I get back to the car to find Pauline lugging heavy bags from her trolley in to the boot. I salve my conscience by reminding myself that it’s good for her figure lifting weights.
Home and unpacking we drank coffee. Actually, I drank coffee. Pauline only ever drinks hot water on these occasions. Then we go out in to the garden. I mow the lawns while Pauline trims up the hedges. I follow behind sweeping up and finish setting the sprinkler going on the main lawn. It is still growing strongly and will do until we get cold nights. After that, we allowed ourselves an hour outside in the sun in the garden.
A van drew up and delivered another 9 kgs of fish – swordfish, tuna and cod loin packed in ice inside a polystyrene box. The post arrived. It brought yet another phone screen protector for me. It will be my 3rd since August. Each 12-18 months, we are offered a ‘free’ upgrade. I know it’s not totally ‘free’ but it feels it. We both received Samsung P20 5G phones. On the open market, they would each cost £900.00/€985.00 to buy. I wouldn’t be paying out £1800.00/€1970.00 every 18 months for the two of us just for a newer phone but ‘free’ – I do. Of course, we then contribute to the accessories market with new cases to protect the back and screen protectors for the front.
I use mine to take photographs every day. I get so wrapped up in what I’m doing, I drop mine all the time which is why I try to protect it. I have already smashed 3 screen protectors which are thin glass sheets but very effective. However, it has already cost me £75.00/€82.00 so ‘free’ is starting to look ‘cheap’. Pauline is given the nerve-wracking job of applying to the phone screen while I get back to the completion of our legal submission in our claim for return of our Tenerife villa rental in May. It will go to our Brief this weekend and then it is up to him.
From our sunny, Sussex back garden to the back yard of our previous home with typical, September weather.
Saturday, 19th September, 2020
Neither of us could sleep this morning. We were up for the third, consecutive morning at 6.00 am. We had to go to Worthing this morning for a 9.00 am appointment. On the day before the last Lock-Down, Pauline managed to secure a hair appointment and it turned out to be a good decision. A day after Lock-Down formally ended, she secured another appointment. Her next one is due in a fortnight but the worsening situation pushed her to phone and get squeezed in this morning. I leave you to work out the implication of that. Her next will be in December.
Soon after 8.30 am, I was walking on the promenade – 45 mins each way. With sun in my face one way and on my back on the return, it was a hot walk. Not even a sea breeze today and a temperature of 24C/75F.
Back in the car parked at the open air top of the multi storey carpark overlooking the sea just before 10.00 am and there can’t have been more than a couple of dozen cars parked on all 10 levels combined. It is quite astonishing. We used to go up to the top automatically just to find a space. Now you have to look hard to find another car. The cleaner said how surprised he was to see us parking so high up. Since the pandemic, the top three floors haven’t been used at all. Certainly the town was quiet and Pauline’s hairdresser told her many, older clients were too scared to go back.
We are constantly shown London streets packed with shoppers and diners. Our neighbour returned to work for a day and was shocked to find the capital she is so familiar with looked like a Ghost Town. And so we approach the next Lock Down.
Our gym is prepared and we have now had word that the first piece of equipment will arrive on Thursday. It will come well before we expect any uncomfortable weather to descend on us so that will be a comfort.