Week 615

Sunday, 4th October, 2020

Another gloomy, wet morning. Life isn’t supposed to be like this. We should be elsewhere. Greece is going through a mini-heatwave. In Costa Adeje, Tenerife where we would have been spending a month soon, actually it is also raining as well but it is 26C/79F which makes dancing in the rain much more enjoyable.

We are preparing for a number of firsts in the next few days and weeks. This is already the first year for 40 years that we haven’t set foot in Greece. We bitterly regret that. For the past 20 years we have had gym memberships in Yorkshire then Surrey and, most recently, West Sussex. Now, we have our own gym instead. We celebrate that. Every year for as long as I can remember, and I think it is around 30 years, we have spent Christmas Day away from home. This year we will be at our home. Every year we have eaten turkey for Christmas lunch. This year we are going to eat roast Goose for a change.

For the past 34 days, I have not drunk alcohol. I love rice but have not eaten it once for 10 years. Tomorrow, I will celebrate Pauline’s Birthday by my making Prawn & Broadbean Rissotto and drinking a fine bottle of Rioja.

Pauline will make a Raspberry Pavlova which is her Sweet of choice and she will make some Vanilla Ice cream to accompany it. The skills involved in this part are way above my pay grade. We will sit back and say afterwards, We really shouldn’t have done that. and then go back to the diets on Tuesday. I will try to refrain from alcohol again until the beginning of December which will mean I have managed 6 months of the year alcohol-free.

Now I’ve got to go to the gym just for thinking about my calorie intake tomorrow. I am feeling very self indulgent but I know I’m only doing it for Pauline really.

Monday, 5th October, 2020

Pauline aged 9

Happy Birthday to my darling Wife. She is 69 today. She complains about her wrinkles every day but I honestly don’t think she looks her age. So many people are amazed when I publicly announce how old she is. We met when she was 21 and I was 22 but it was 6 years later that we go together and married. It was the best thing I ever did. Pauline has made my life a wonderful one. We have shared rich experiences together and, like every couple, had to cope with serious crises which could have tested our relationship but, instead, served to strengthen it.

Pauline is a fighter. She never gives up She has carried this quality throughout the 42 years we’ve been married and that strength has helped me more times than I can recount. One of her idiosyncrasies is that she refuses to admit she will ever die. Of course, she will but it won’t be as a result of weakness or resolve. I may not get that far but I wish her the long life of her Mum who died aged 96. 

Pauline aged 69.

One Blog reader – Yes, there is at least one. – sent this card and had the temerity to imply Pauline was married to an obsessive compulsive step counter. Can you believe that dear readers?

Isn’t this a brilliant idea?

My Broad Bean & Prawn Risotto was good and Pauline’s Raspberry Pavlova was wonderful. What will we do for our 70th? I suspect we will do nothing but mourn our lost youth.

Tuesday, 6th October, 2020

Oh the mornings are dark now. 6.00 am is almost like midnight. I was pounding the pavements on my walk by 7.00 am and Pauline was shopping in the peace and quiet of Sainsbury‘s. For an isolationist, obsessive compulsive step counter, these are magical times. No danger of anyone calling in unexpectedly and people step aside as one walks down the street. No one thinks it strange if we don’t drop round for coffee or visit for any reason. All invitations can be refused without social embarrassment. The regimens of pandemic were designed with me in mind.

Surgery ahead & Pharmacy to the left.

We have an excellent local surgery which seems to be coping with the burgeoning population although I have only been in about an average of once for each year we have been here. We did have our Flu jab at the Pharmacy recently but I won’t have been in the Surgery for two years. I know it sounds silly but we pride ourselves in maintaining our own health. We go down to collect repeat prescriptions and I have a telephone annual review. For me at this time in my life, this is an excellent service. Of course, as we get older this may/will change.

Having done my morning walk and driven home for coffee, I was informed that we were walking down to the village surgery to collect our repeat prescriptions. It was a lovely, warm and gentle morning. It is amazing how slowly the trees are showing any signs of deterioration at all. Maybe the pandemic has caused the seasons to be arrested. There have to be positives.

Wednesday, 7th October, 2020

At 7.00 am the light was dark but promised a good day with sunshine rising over the roof tops in a pink glow. The sky was clear last night and the temperature fell in to single figures for almost the first time this year. We’ve had the central heating on for just one hour since April and the current forecast is that we won’t need it in the near future. I am still doing my walks in shorts and tee-shirt, trying to get as much vitamin D in to our systems through daylight/sunshine as we can. There is evidence that Vitamin D deficiency has a dramatic effect on adverse effects of Covid-19.

Maybe one of the reasons for this is that Vitamin D is not a vitamin at all but a hormone. It is an essential hormone which the immune system requires in order to function adequately. Of course, sunlight is one of the best sources of the hormone and, having gone through a summer of sunshine and walking barely clothed, I am as brown and wrinkled as an over enthusiastic, geriatric pirate. If I have put any weight on, it is mainly very heavy Vitamin D. However, as Winter draws on and we retreat more into the sunless cave that is our gym, our sources of Vitamin D will have to come more from our diet. The main sources are found in oily fish, particularly Salmon, Swordfish and Tuna which we must eat 5 times each week. With a small, daily supplement we will probably live forever …. or die tomorrow.

Ethernet Gigabit Switch ordered.

I have found that my Wi-Fi connection to the Sky-Q Box in the gym was not consistent enough. I had a Sky engineer out this morning to walk through potential solutions. He was excellent and we have concluded that the only secure way to do this will be to run an ethernet cable directly from the hub in our Office to another gigabit switch in the gym 10 metres away and then ethernet into the Sky-Q mini.

All of this costs money but it is long term investment which will be spread over a number of years. The reward for Pauline is that I will spend many hours in the gym watching football, rugby and cricket while exercising rather than vegetating.

Pauline & I were invited to take part in an Office for National Statistics research study into Covid-19. It means us being tested every week for a month and then every month for a year by a visitor who will conduct fairly lengthy interviews to provide background information. All of this is done without the visitor entering our house. We discussed it and thought it could be quite interesting so accepted their invitation. That was two months ago and we heard nothing. This afternoon, a Frenchman called Thierry phoned to say he would like to come tomorrow morning. I’m looking forward to playing football with him in the back garden.

Thursday, 8th October, 2020

Gloomy morning with fine, driving rain. A footballing philosopher named Thierry Rousseau appeared at our door exactly at 10.00 am. He was a tall, slim 50 year old Frenchman from the city of Tours. Lucky man! Whatever is he doing here? I didn’t ask.

Tours, France

Officially, he is not allowed to enter our house but should conduct the whole visit from the garden or from his car. Because we are like this, I had prepared a complete data sheet for Pauline & I long before he arrived. He was surprised and told us we were the only people who had ever done that for him. I’m not sure what that tells you.

Officially, he is not allowed to enter our house but should conduct the whole visit from the garden or from his car. Because we are like this, I had prepared a complete data sheet for Pauline & I long before he arrived. He was surprised and told us we were the only people who had ever done that for him. I’m not sure what that tells you.

Covid Swabs

We had set out our IDs, addresses, Home & Mobile phone numbers, email addresses, Doctors contacts. The Frenchman arrived in driving rain and was delighted to be offered our door mat to stand on. All three of us were masked up. The skinny Frenchman stood on our doormat with clipboard, test kits and papers in one hand and his mobile phone in the other. He was allocated 30 mins for each of us so 1 hour on our doorstep.

After all the mobile phone/form filling, we were asked to perform our swab tests. This was the reason we first agreed to get involved in the project. They charge £150.00/€165.00 in airports for this test. We’re getting it for ‘free’! Well, actually, we’ve just found out that we are not getting it for ‘free’. We are going to be paid for our involvement. We are going to have 5 tests this month plus one each over the next 11 months. For 16 ‘free’ tests we are going to each be paid £420.00/€461.00. So, the test results are texted back to us and sent to our doctor as well and we receive £840.00/€922.00 towards a lovely case of red wine. Now that’s what I call looking after one’s health.

Friday, 9th October, 2020

Thursday is normally Tesco-Day but we had to stay at home for our Covid Project visitor so we were up at 6.00 am on quite a chilly morning – 8C/47F – and still dusk. By 7.00 am, we were parking in Tesco carpark. Pauline went inside in her mask and surgical gloves. I walked towards the sun in my shorts and tee-shirt.

Study: Sunrise over Tesco carpark

An hour later I got back to the car feeling a lot warmer, in fact, glowing. We drove on to Waitrose to order a Goose for Christmas Dinner and then home in time to receive the first of 3 parcels. Pauline had ordered a pair of ankle boots from Jones Bootmaker that made her look like a curb side prostitute. They are going back. Next arrived a weird solid foam roll which Pauline’s niece suggested would be good in the gym for stretching one’s back. I don’t need it because my back’s long enough but Pauline was keen so we ordered one.

Finally, my ethernet switch is arriving this afternoon which will allow me to add additional ports to my hub and expand connectivity.

Pauline and I have taken the (long brewing) snap decision to not allow the madness that is Brexit to imprison us. We are going to France to do some shopping. We have a free crossing with Eurotunnel because of an earlier cancellation. We will do a day trip on Tuesday and still have cash in our Eurotunnel account for the future. We will have very little contact with human beings, not getting out of our car other than to enter a supermarket as we would do in UK. We have to quarantine for two weeks on return but we can easily deal with that.

Saturday, 10th October, 2020

There are many things in life that it is hard to predict but this morning really took me by surprise. It was 3.30 am. I was woken by a sharp elbow in the ribs. Pauline was saying, John, I’m worrying about the Le Creuset dish I put in the freezer last night. I’m not sure it can take such low temperatures. My brain did a sort of double-take. Had I really heard it or was I dreaming? While I was still processing that question, Pauline was leaping out of bed and throwing clothes on. Of course, I couldn’t let her go alone.

The Le Creuset was used for a a Semi-Fredo (Cream, Chocolate & Coffee) frozen desert. Pauline was using up the remains of materials left over from her Birthday meal. The cast iron, Le Creuset was a the best shape for her purposes so that’s what was used. After production, the concoction was frozen but not in anywhere simple or user-friendly. It was placed in the freezer outside in the garage. That’s why I could be found at 3.45 am on a crystal clear night, under a sky studded with piercing stars and lit by a half moon standing in the garden in just my shorts. It wasn’t warm

The Le Creuset was brought from garage to house where it needed 30 mins to warm enough for the Semi-Fredo to be prised out of its container, wrapped in clingfilm and returned to the garage. While that was happening, I watched a fascinating documentary on Sky about the dreadful conditions prisoners are held under in South American countries. Not my usual viewing choice but needs must and it was gripping. Remember, all of this was in the middle of the night in my shorts! No wonder I didn’t get up until 7.15 this morning.

After juice and coffee, I was informed that we were going to do a 4 mile round trip walk to HobbyCraft for ‘stuff’. Back in my shorts and tee shirt, with a temperature of only 9C/48F, the walk had to be brisk to stay alive.

Pauline leading me up the garden path as usual.

We walked around our Development and down the woodland path to the Garden Centre park which also houses HobbyCraft. Who’d have thought a small, niche shop like this would be so popular but it is. Once again, the queues outside were so long that we didn’t wait. We walked home and will try again on Monday. We need the exercise.

Had a lovely email from my very much older sister, Ruth yesterday. Haven’t heard from her for ages and haven’t seen her for a year. I had to tell her that we had cancelled our pilgrimage to the North of England aka The Land of the Brexiteers because of pandemic spread – sounds tasty but, actually, isn’t. I am genuinely disappointed and a little worried. She is so old, we can’t be sure how many more chances we have to meet.

%d bloggers like this: