Week 614

Sunday, 27th September, 2020

Well, that was a short Winter. In fact the heating was on for a hour last night before we both declared it was far too hot and it was switched off again. Back to Autumn this morning. We were out at 8.30 am to the Littlehampton Household Waste Recycling Site.

Local Waste Recycling Site – Sunday 8.50 am.

Although we arrived 10 mins before it opened, there was already a long queue. Nowadays, we are stopped and checked on the gate. We have to show photo I.D. to stop rogues costing the Council erroneous waste management expenses. On the left of the queuing cars are the allotments. On the right are some quite large and reasonable houses. Goodness knows how they are coping with constantly queuing traffic and on a Sunday especially.

Back home, we watched the political programmes we had recorded and then got on with work. I raked the lawns prior to treating them for Dragon Fly larvae tomorrow. As I raked, clouds of Dragon Flies flew up. No wonder the little birds have been so happy on our lawn lately. While I did that, Pauline steamed the Christmas Pudding outside in the garden. Yes, you read me right. First Christmas at home alone will be celebrated with homemade Christmas Pudding. Actually, it always is anyway.

Today, instead of sitting around watching football, I was able to go into our gym and exercise while I watched. It felt like a big leap forward and very rewarding. It was such a good match with Man. City being thrashed by Jamie Vardy and Leicester. A good day!

Monday, 28th September, 2020

Lovely, bright and sunny morning. We don’t need to go out today so our next project is to prepare the back garden for the hard landscapers to move in with their earth-moving machinery. The garden furniture has been covered and stored down the side of the house. Now, we have to move the storage boxes. Later, I am going to try to apply the nematodes to my lawn. I am a bit sceptical but I’ve bought them and stored them in the fridge over the past couple of days. They are desperate for release.

Live insects – killers – kept chilled in the fridge.

Steinernema Carpocapsae are microscopic, parasitic roundworm that have evolved an insect-killing symbiosis with bacteria, and kills its hosts within a few days of infection. I am keen to encourage it to follow its nature and I have a potential host for its enjoyment. As I raked and then mowed the lawns, clouds of Crane Flies or Tipulidae fly up from the grass where they are laying their eggs before they die. Within a few days, those eggs become larvae which, in turn, are meat & drink to Nematodes. They stand on their tails in an upright position near the soil surface and attach themselves to passing hosts like Crane Fly larvae which they infect.

The beauty that is Steinernema Carpocapsae.

After two days in the fridge, my silent killers have been taken out and warmed up. I was surprised that they were embedded in a white, soluble matting. They are then diluted with water and sprayed across the grass. This has to be done when the grass has been scarified, is wet and not in full sun but at a minimum of 12C/54F soil temperature.….. I hope you’re keeping up.

After care means keeping the grass wet for up to 14 days. Fortunately, we seem to have an extended period of wet weather forecast which will save me a lot of work. While in the garden, I had to prune the fig trees which have grown from 18″/46 cm sticks to 20 ft/6 m trees.They look wonderful but I can turn my neighbour’s garden into a shady wood and I can’t climb that high to pick figs. We’ll see what effect pruning has.

Tuesday, 29th September, 2020

A warm night that didn’t drop below 17C/63F opened on a fairly gloomy sky this morning at 6.00 am.. I parked in Sainsbury’s underground carpark by 7.00 am and left Pauline shopping as I went on my walk. Yes, we have the gym but, while conditions are good, I intend to still walk in the fresh air.

Back home before 9.00 am, I had half an hour for a drink before going out on to the front lawn where I was meeting my neighbour, Pat. He is an 83 year old, retired electrician and he has constructed a wooden framed tree surround to insert into the lawn and in which Pauline will plant Lavender. He works with the speed and skill of a tradesman and the job is done in half an hour.

While we are working together, another neighbour goes by as she returns from walking her dog. She comments on her envy of our lawn quality and bemoans all the weeds in hers. I offer to go over and weed and feed her lawn today so that it can be watered in by the rain promised for tomorrow. I end up doing most of the grass strips either side the length of our road. I am beginning to worry about myself because I am not, naturally a good neighbour at all. Is something going wrong?

By 12.30 pm, a British Gas van drew up at our house. I had rung, speculatively, about a presentation on my BG app about my Dual Fuel Billing. It said, we were £58.00 in credit for Gas but £458.00 in credit for Electricity. I went on-line to our account on the web and found that we were in debit for both supplies. British Gas told me that it looked as if the Smart Meter was playing up. They booked a visit to our house.

Shadows of old Sifnos

If the British Gas experience was one across the world, the picture above is one back through time. When we first landed on Sifnos in June, 1984, we found ourselves in a world that had not experienced electricity for long; a world without a recognised, formal bank and a corner shop known as the supermarket. This photo montage takes me back there immediately physically and through time. Two of these characters are alive and four are dead. They have all been involved in the commerce of the small island. The background reminds me of the horror of our first shopping trip 36 years ago in a dark, dusty threadbare shop run by the wizened, old man pictured here. However, it didn’t put us off. We persisted as the old shops and shopkeepers died. 

Wednesday, 30th September, 2020

The last day of September 2020. It’ll be Half Term soon. Fortunately, it is nearly 12 years since that was a thing. The day was expected to be consumed with heavy rain but, at 7.00 am, it is a relatively warm 18C/65F and reasonably bright. As the rain looks like it will hit us with a vengeance from about 2.00 pm now, we decide to go down to the beach for as walk in the wonderful air. 

Moody sea under a placid sky.

When we parked on Littlehampton Marina Parade, we noticed that dredging was going on at the point that the River Arun meets the English Channel. Tons/tonnes of gravel were being extracted and loaded on to lorries to be taken away.

Dredging the Channel.

We walked down the Marina path, past the boats and yachts moored up for the impending Winter weather. We have a few hours of strong winds forecast on Friday which should test their ropes. On the other side of the path are the banks of sea-view apartments – some swanky but some old, salt-eaten and battered. 

Littlehampton Marina

Back home, I fired up the smoker and Pauline put in another fillet of salmon. We only smoke it for about an hour these days using apple wood sawdust. It produces a lovely product which we eat with salad if we get peckish in the middle of the day. I have now completed a calendar month alcohol-free and have been dry for 5 out of the past 9 months. It is Pauline’s birthday on Monday so we will share a bottle of wine with her meal but then hope to go on until November without alcohol. I will be quite proud to have disciplined myself to spend half the year alcohol-free.

Thursday, 1st October, 2020

Heavy rain over night gave way to a beautiful, sunny morning – warm (20C/68F) and delightful. Especially enjoyable for my walk while Pauline did the Tesco shop at 7.00 am. Home by 8.15 am and then out to the local Chemist/Dr’s surgery for our ‘Flu jab. It was delivered by a lovely chap whose family fled Iran in 1979 after the over throw of the Shah. He fled to Sweden, learnt Swedish, trained as a Pharmacist, met and married a Swedish girl who was back visiting her parents from her job in England. Twenty years ago they married, settled in England and have been here ever since. He speaks fluent English, Iranian, Swedish and French. I feel like an idiot beside him.

He said he would never return to the chaotic regime in Iran. I pointed out that he was living under a chaotic regime in England with these mad Tory criminals. He laughed and said, the English are such a wonderfully tolerant people. I looked quizzical but he said that he thought we developed our tolerance from invading so many other countries. There was a pause and a nervous giggle when he realised what he’d said. I told him not to be embarrassed. The one thing we are good at is invading other countries. He relaxed and stuck the needle in to me.

Mangled Moshca

This is an old acquaintance from our Sifnos days. Moshca and her husband, Apostolis own and run the local branch of Tesco aka a little, Greek ‘Convenience Store’. It has everything you ever wanted plus many things you didn’t know you needed crammed into high shelves and accessed down short, narrow aisles. You don’t need a trolley and it is quite tight to carry a basket. Moshca sits at the till by the door watching all the comings and goings, taking the money and, nowadays, giving out the obligatory receipt. She is the woman in the black & white montage posted on Tuesday.

Her husband and her sons work there as well as running the small farm just up the mountain from where our house was situated. Moshca is pictured with a damaged leg. Wonder what she’s done? She is sitting on the verandah of their farm house looking over the valley to the port of Kamares and the sunset. 

Sun setting over Kamares Harbour.

We sat and watched this every night after night for years. When one does such things, it is easy to become blasé about them. We were aware of that and used to say to each other, Drink it all in. Drink it all in for the memory banks. And so it has come to pass.

Friday, 2nd October, 2020

Torrential rain last night and still raining this morning but none of the strong winds we were forecast. Still quite mild. As soon as the rain abated, we set off for the beach to go a blow of fresh air. In the 5 mins getting there, we had another big downpour and then it cleared again as we parked up. There was only one other car parked.

The not-so-welcoming beach.

Of course, as soon as we walked across the shingle, the rain poured down and the wind drove it stingingly into our faces. It was warm wind and rain so we indulged it for all of 2 minutes and then ran as fast as one can over deep, loose shingle, back to the car and back home. Even so, it is amazing how much a few minutes out there invigorates one.

Glorious Todmorden – circa 1974

By the time we got home, the sun was out and the back garden was bathed in sunshine. We settled down to indoor pursuits. I’ve spent the day thinking it is Saturday. In spite of however many times I’ve told myself it isn’t, my thought processes bring me back to that misconception. This morning, Pauline has cut my hair. We spent an hour in the gym during which I watched a programme about Harold Shipman and the 232 old people that he killed. The programme took us back to 1974 when he was a GP in Todmorden and 1975 when he moved across the Pennines to the Lancashire town of Hyde. The black & white film of that West Yorkshire village/town took me back to my early days – 1972 – in the Mill Town of Oldham. Forget all the murders Shipman planned and committed, just revisiting that time takes one’s breath away.

Saturday, 2nd October, 2020

A wet night and we’ve woken to a wet morning. The thing I cant get used to is the darkness. Rain just increases that lack of light. However, we have had no strong winds and it remains warm-ish. We didn’t fall below 14C/57F over night.

It will be an ‘in-day’ because of the weather so I’ve been going back over this day in previous years of the Blog. Eleven years ago today, we had just 2 days left in our Greek house before we started on the long drive home. We were taking the ferry to Piraeus on Pauline’s birthday. It was 85C/29C and we were doing ‘last things.

Harbour view from our house – October 2009

Two days later, we were closing the house up, shutting down all the services, packing the car, saying farewell to the cat and setting off for Piraeus and then Patras on the Peloponnese where we celebrated Pauline’s 58th birthday.

Ready for the ‘Off’ – October 2009

It took us 5 days to get back to West Yorkshire where we found that Pauline’s 95 year old Mum was suffering a painful bout of Shingles across her face and in her eye. 

We are still waiting for the most important piece of equipment – the Treadmill – but other than that, the gym has been completed with a couple of smaller items this week. I have to do some trunk curls for my stomach flab so we bought a Yoga Mat. Pauline wants to do steps so we bought a Step Bench. Partly, Pauline thinks the Step Bench will be there to help me get up from the Yoga Mat. She is hilarious like that but she is also near the truth.

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