Week 617

Sunday, 18th October, 2020

Pauline & her Mump

Ten years ago today, Pauline and I were camping out in the hairdressing salon of a sheltered housing property for elderly people. Pauline’s Mum had not been well, had been in and out of hospital and we had driven back from Greece early to be with her. Last week in 2010, she went to hospital for what we know now was the last time. In great pain and at the age of 96, she underwent an emergency operation to remove a gangrenous growth from the intestines. It was a huge risk at her age but there was no choice. The operation went well and we left her sleeping for the night, returned to her Anchor Sheltered Housing home and celebrated with a bottle of wine.

Early the next morning, the telephone rang and we knew before even answering it. She had gone. On the 18th October, 2010, she had gone. Every year, we have returned to the Crematorium in Oldham to remember and acknowledge her contribution to our life. This year, for the first and we hope the last time, we do that silently in our thoughts.


Autumnal chill in the air this morning. It’s not enough to change into wearing clothes and it is forecast to get warmer again this week but my legs and arms felt it as I worked outside this morning. I have spent an hour or so pressure washing the patio flags in preparation for it being extended in a couple of weeks time.

Brett Broadway Economy Riven Paving

Many people have increased their hard standing outside since we moved in but few have used the existing flags. The young ones have seen it as a way to demonstrate their ‘taste’, individuality and affluence as they choose polished, white marble or multi-coloured, geometric styles. They have developed their gardens with olive trees and banana plants, with exotic flowers and synthetic grass. In contrast, we have been through that in multiple locations in the past and we are happy to retain the economy paving that our builder laid down initially. It is non-slip, quick draining, reasonably attractive (to our eyes) and relatively cheap. We are well past impressing the neighbours.

Monday, 19th October, 2020


Amazing how time flies when your enjoying yourself in quarantine. Almost half way through already. Actually, today is such a wonderfully sunny and warm one that we would have liked to have walked on the beach but we are honest, upstanding citizens so we didn’t.

I’ve got a bad back this morning. A few days ago, I lifted some massive, clay pots planted up with geraniums which needed to be emptied out for the end of year tidy up. As soon as I did it, I had a feeling I might regret it later. No real problem for two days  and then, last night, I woke at 3.00 am in agony. I couldn’t move off my side and, when I did, I couldn’t move back again. This morning, I had to be rolled out of bed by my wife who makes a wonderful nurse. She prescribed using the Cross-Trainer for freeing up the spasms in my back. It worked until I sat down and seized up again. She says the moral is: Never sit down. Who can live their life standing up all the time?

Actually, I did a full workout in the gym and felt good after it. I walked out in to the garden saw something huge under the hedge, bent down to pick it and couldn’t straighten up.

It was a huge and beautiful mushroom the spores for which could have been seeded in the bark mulch we had put down. Inside, it was a delicious, pure white. I would loved to have cooked and eaten it but fear stopped me.

It brought back memories of Grandad Coghlan retiring down in the East Midlands countryside from a life in the city of London. He obviously had a pastoral dream of enjoying the fruits of the fields and enlisted some young kids – Me, Bob & Jane – to get up at 5.00 am to walk across the nearest dew-bespangled meadow with a wooden trug picking the abundance of mushrooms. It didn’t quite go to plan. Mushrooms were very hard to find. Grandad was attracted by the red ones and, quite sensibly, Mum wouldn’t let us eat any of them when we got home for fear of us dying.

We are expecting our first ever, Sainsburys Home Delivery this afternoon. We had to pay £3.00/€3.31 for it which I consider scandalous but quarantine demands it.

Tuesday, 20th October, 2020


Delicious morning with blue sky and warm sunshine at 17C/63F. Really pleasant for mid-October which is just as well because I had a terrible night. I was in agony for hours with back pain and, even if I found a comfortable position, just breathing was agony. I clearly managed some sleep but it wasn’t good quality.

We are due for our third Covid-19 test on Thursday. The result for my first one from 12 days ago arrived by post this morning. It was supposed to come by text message/email. How many people could I have infected over 12 days if it had been positive?

This really does seem to be one of the problems. Our swabs went to one of the Lighthouse Labs which are just not able to turn them round in time to be effective. Until that Test-Track-Trace works efficiently, nothing but a National Lock Down will improve the situation.

In spite of my back, I’ve still managed to do a full gym session. For half an hour afterwards, everything feels fine but then it seizes up so I have to walk around constantly. How do I read?

Wednesday, 21st October, 2020


Had a much better night although my back is still a bit of a pain. It’s amazing how disability in one area has such a debilitating effect on so many others. Walking, lifting, sitting, standing, turning, lying down are all compromised by a painful back. However, I am determined to work through it as far as I can. I have done 90 mins in the gym this morning and the back really feels looser after that.

Nikos & Moshka

I read a lot and listen to music a lot. Today featured Mozart Violin Concertos – Arthur Grumiaux and the London Philarmonic. I must have had this recording more that 30 years. It is always emotional and sometimes painful (for me) revisiting old friends. While I listened in the Office, I read some of my favourite Greek Blogs and Websites.

Today on apikou.gr-sifnos-cyclades I found some old acquaintances. I first met them 35 years ago although the photo of Nikos Kalogirou and his daughter, Moshka, was taken about 55 years ago. This photo will have been taken in Kamares around 1960-65 just at the time that the island was first acquiring mains electricity. How time moves on. It’s certainly moving on for us as we begin our second week of Quarantine today and our third Covid-19 test tomorrow.

Thursday, 22nd October, 2020


A chill in the air this morning although it is 15C/59F. It was a clear night of stars so I expected it to be colder. Eleven years ago this morning, we became mortgage-free. By 10.00 am we had paid off our mortgage and five accompanying Mortgage Insurance policies. We had retired 6 months earlier, set off for our Greek home. Our mortgage was large – taking the whole of one of our incomes – because we were financing two houses. We had re-mortgaged a number of times to raise the ever increasing demand for building funds. Our final mortgage was with Northern Rock.

October 2012

It took the Lump Sum from one of our Teachers’ Pensions but it felt weirdly wonderful. It meant that, in retirement, we felt incredibly comfortable with our income which had doubled over night. Almost exactly a year later, Northern Rock Bank collapsed leaving streams of worried depositors queueing at their doors desperate to reclaim their savings.

How many Christmas cards have you received so far? We got our first one yesterday along with a present from a Blog reader. A few weeks ago, I wrote about my pride in finally, successfully using a power drill/screwdriver to build some wine racks.

What could possibly go wrong?

It’s possible that I overstated my competence because the Christmas card was accompanied by an early present – a Drill Holster. I might look the part wearing it but I assure you I would look the wrong part. I have considered that it could be useful for carrying the television remote control around so, thank you.

Friday, 22nd October, 2020


Friday and day 10 of quarantine and we had to break out. We are out of bananas. Who can live without bananas? Exactly. We made a 5 mins drive to Asda – the home of top bananas. Pauline nipped in and out alone. It felt great to be outside and ‘free’. Sad isn’t it?

Chameleon Television

Even more ‘sad’ than that was how I spent my morning exploring the new television we had installed in the lounge about a month ago. Life has been interestingly busy and I hadn’t got round to it before now. When you see what I did, you will realise why I wasn’t in a hurry for this experience.

Firstly, this Samsung TV advertises itself as remaining ‘on’ but invisibly so when not in use. It does this by ostensibly adopting the colour of its background. I had to take a photo of the TV and the wall behind it and send this photo to the TV which takes the background colour/tone and adopts it for its screen. Having tried it, I’m not sure what this really achieves and I won’t be using it again but I had to try it.

All Star Movie

I had to download an app called Samsung SmartThings which allowed me to Bluetooth the screens of my phone and iPad straight to my TV screen. I had done that before on other TVs but I hoped this might be a more enjoyable, useful experience. It wasn’t and I won’t be doing that again for a while. Really, the whole process has been superseded by the broadband link into our TVs. Everything we can do on other things like phones and pads can be done over the net directly on TVs.

Just down the road from us, a large, new, private Care Home is being built in the grounds of a huge old house. It is close enough for us to walk to it in under 10 mins. Probably the true test is that we don’t need it if we can still walk to it in 10 mins.

Our Next Property?

However, it is good to know that preparations are being planned for our later years. We like it around here and hope to remain even in our dotage.

Saturday, 23rd October, 2020


Quite a grey start to the day and only 13C/56F. I have to admit, I am feeling a little stir-crazy today. I think we may nip out for an hour in the car just to see a different backdrop to our world.

I say different. It is still fairly grey. The Funfair on Littlehampton Marina Parade is open for youngsters this half term but it might as well not be. I didn’t see a single person there at 1100 am. Mind you, the water flume wouldn’t have drawn me in at any age.

Littlehampton Pier

We only did a brief walk to allow the sea air to blow across our minds. There were people on the beach but it was not sunbathing weather.

Half term holiday on the beach.

Back home for hot coffee and the warmth of our insulated house. We’ve got the final piece of our gym to be installed on Tuesday – the treadmill will make a big difference. Already, our attitude to exercise is more relaxed in that we can do it when we want rather when we can fit in a drive to David Lloyd. Instead of watching football in a semi-prone position, today I cycled as I shouted at the television. Even Saint Marcus has been better off the pitch than on in the past few days.

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