Week 622

Sunday, 22nd November, 2020

I limped down to breakfast this morning. My right foot was paining me. It is the result of an old, war wound. Well, two years old anyway.

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November 2018
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Sex on Legs

Wherever I go, I damage my feet. I walked into the shower on a Greek ferry going down the Adriatic, caught the underside of my foot on the door strip and slice a chunk out which continued to bleed for hours. Poor Pauline spent most of her evening trying to staunch it with towels. Of course, anti coagulation medication didn’t help. When we arrived in our Greek house and bleary-eyed after a long drive, I got up and walked into the kitchen table immediately breaking my big toe. That is just one trip. I’m always doing it.

Two years ago this month, we were staying in this villa in southern Tenerife. Once again, cool, poised John fell and hurt his foot and ankle. It immediately swelled up and turned a fiery colour. I don’t know if there was any bone damage involved but the tendons felt torn and the bruising was horrible. I forced myself to keep using it so as not to spoil the holiday for Pauline but I have paid for it ever since. I suspect, at my age, I always will. I’m going out to punish it now on the treadmill.

Monday, 23rd November, 2020

Up at 6.00 am on a dark and quite chilly morning to do our Sainsbury’s shop because we will have to be at home tomorrow. We called in at Aldi on the way back for a load of Christmas chocolates for our latest ‘Food Bank’ offering. Last week it was Toiletries but, usually, it is tins of food. Someone from our Development tweeted yesterday that her husband, who drives for a Food Bank in his spare time, had just emptied their fridge and delivered it to a family of 6 who hadn’t eaten since Friday. One’s heart misses a beat to read such things and one’s mind questions, If they haven’t afforded to eat, what have they done about heating?

Back in the comfort of our home, Pauline set about making chicken stock in the garden and I indulged myself investigating a new Desktop computer. I bought my last one just as we were moving in to this house which is almost 5 years ago. That usually is the good, working life of a PC. The current one is fine but has developed a startup annoyance which could be resolved by upgrading the Bios although that is not without its risks. Computers are so cheap now. I was paying £3000.00+/€3,380.00+ for a Desktop 20 years ago. This new one will cost me just £1500.00/€1,690.00 and the improvement is immense.

For quite a long time now, I have been a fan of (HP) Hewlett Packard. I’ve used them for the last 10 years and their reliability, on-line support and general customer service is excellent.

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Two new elements particularly attract me. HHD is being replaced by SSD for the first time for me. My first computer was run on ‘floppy disk based software’. All subsequent computers over the past 30 years have featured Hard Disk Drives. HDDs fragment data due to the rotating nature of its operation. In application, this means that computers with HDD boot slower than those with SSD. File transfers are slower as well. Solid State Drives have no moving parts and all data is stored in integrated circuits. What makes it particularly attractive is its dramatically reduced access time.

The monitor is highly adjustable both up and down and tilting. What I’m particularly looking forward to is the incorporated automatically pop-up webcam and microphones which will allow video conferencing more comfortably than with my iPad. This will have to be my Christmas present. Oh, I do love Christmas!

Tuesday, 24th November, 2020

Mild all night and continued in to this morning. We are having a large -10 kgs – fresh fish delivery this morning. Our supplier has moved from being almost slightly reluctant to very, very keen for our order. The core of their business has always been supplying high end restaurants and hotels. Suddenly, they have found their market disappearing. Gradually, they have seen a new market in people like us.

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Brown’s Fish, Littlehampton Marina

We’ve also got the ‘snagging’ plumber arriving to replace a couple of sink waste pop-ups. I’m feeling so optimistic today that I might clean the car. The latest news is that we might fit a final shopping trip to France in before Christmas. We are living a life of near quarantine as it is so ‘almost’ meeting that demand on return will not be a problem.

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The lights are up … but is anyone inside?

The Retail’s desperate Christmas advertising feels rather hollow and, particularly down here, snow looks like a Dickensian anomaly.

Wednesday, 25th November, 2020

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Delivery vans and drivers are everywhere and all the time at the moment. I suspect the mould is broken and this process will not significantly decline after the pandemic. Late last night and without warning a delivery driver, who is clearly working very long hours, rang our bell and propped a huge box up at the door. Since the additional hard standing has been installed in our back garden, we have been gradually increasing outdoor storage. The box contained a ….. box. It is to store garden furniture cushions.

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Of course, the downside of these deliveries is that things come flat-packed. First thing this morning the screwdriver has been put on charge and, later, the box will be built. All of this process has been to declutter the garage and make space for the gym. I will put the screwdriver back on charge this evening in readiness for the rustic, outdoor cooking table that is being delivered tomorrow.

The one thing that is beginning to dawn on me is that pandemic isolation has encouraged home development which will just come to fruition as vaccines will free us to travel again. If we are vaccinated successfully by Easter, we intend to spend the Summer driving in Europe, taking up our already booked and paid-for stay in an Athens hotel and our already booked and paid-for flights to Greece. We can also think about Winter in the sun again. It is looking increasingly fortunate that we didn’t send our passport off for renewal and that we may get a quick French shopping trip in before Christmas.

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Littlehampton Lighthouse

When we lived in Yorkshire and worked in Lancashire, driving over the Pennines in this season rewarded us with theatrically dramatic skies. We are finding that the Sussex coastline is just as rewarding at the moment.

Thursday, 26th November, 2020

We had our Flu jabs a few weeks ago and, as usual, I reacted with a bruised arm and a mild bout of Flu while Pauline had nothing. Yesterday, I began to feel a little lethargic and developed a sore throat. It is worse today and my ears are really uncomfortable when I swallow. I’m streaming and sneezing. In fact, I think I’m dying.

Even so, like the martyr to the cause I am, we were up at 6.00 am for Tesco and I was doing my 5 mile walk at 7.00 am. Shattered but self-satisfied, I arrived back at the car before Pauline. We were going to build our new Garden Storage Chest which we were stopped from doing by rain yesterday. I girded my loins, made sure the screwdriver was fully charged and then did what Pauline told me. I couldn’t believe how easy it was even including installing the hydraulic arm lifts. We were finished in 20 mins. and locking it up in the garden. Dream job. Later today, the cooking table will be delivered and tomorrow we will need to find time for that.

Did you know that there are more Food Banks in England than MacDonalds? I certainly didn’t. Louise Casey informed me tonight. She said she had been touring the Country’s Food Banks to understand the actual situation. She told stories of Mothers who hadn’t eaten for days in order to feed their children, of a Mother who was so hungry she tore open the packaging to a cake and stuffed the whole thing straight into her mouth before she even got out of the building. These are stories to make one so angry and to move one to tears. It had that effect on me. It makes the small contributions we provide seem wholly inadequate.

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Worthing Food Bank

It puts our position in sharp relief. Often pensions become less valuable over time. This can be because of inflation. Ours is protected against that. Often it can be vis à vis workers from one’s profession who get above inflation pay rises. Pauline & I are just coming up to 12 years of Retirement and the Teaching Profession has not increased its pay position since the 2008 financial crash. Equally, inflation has been so low that our capital has held its value. I am expecting that to change in the next few years but we have had a good run.

Friday, 27th November, 2020

I have always planned my life line, always looked forward to the future, to the next stage and, generally, let the past drop away into a discrete box filed: MY FAILURES – EXPERIENCE TO DRAW ON. On the Time-Life continuum, of course, there is the NOW. I have never been able to live in the NOW. I was always planning for the FUTURE and drawing on the PAST. This approach has borne fruit in that planning, working, saving, investing, speculating has provided me/us with a very comfortable and rewarding retirement but I still struggle with the present.

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Can you enjoy a sunset? I can look at one and go through the expected motions of saying, That’s nice but all the time thinking …. but there’s no point or future value in it. If it doesn’t move me forward, doesn’t contribute to the next 5-year plan, it doesn’t have real value. When we talk about the lunacies of the government or the iniquities of the immigration system, Pauline’s brother-in-law always sings, Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think. This is a solidly ‘Live for the Moment’ sentiment from which my mind instinctively recoils.

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Opera Australia – La Bohème-

The one occasion that I can release myself from the Past – Future continuum is in music. Wonderful music reduces me to tears often embarrassingly so and I have no idea where that emotion comes from or why. I had the bizarre experience a couple of days ago in our home gym of sitting, pedalling furiously on the bike while watching a modern version of La Bohème from the Opera Australia in the Sydney Opera House of finding tears not sweat streaming down my face as I bathed in the beauty of the music and its sentiment. I was in the moment until I realised what was happening. Then, of course, I began to concentrate on cycling time, distance covered, calories burned, future health.

I suffered a small bleed behind at the back of my one useful eye about 18 months ago. I have been monitored by the Diabetic Eye Screening service every 3 months ever since. I went again this morning. The photography showed clearly that there had no deterioration which is wonderful news going forward. Must be all that crying has lubricated it.

Friday, 27th November, 2020

A lovely, mild morning. We just remained in double figures over night and only reached 13C/55F all day but, without a breeze, it felt lovely. Early trip to Asda and then down to Littlehampton Marina for a walk in the sunshine. Of course, by the time we got there it had clouded over and, by the time we got home it was sunny again. Still, it was lovely to walk around the quay.

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Littlehampton Marina

Few people were around. A couple of Jet Skis were in the water but, with the cafes and restaurants closed, there was not a lot to draw people.

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Commerce is dead!

The rest of the day is a bit of gym work, newspapers, football and then another episode of The Crown. It’s not the sort of thing we would normally watch but, when I heard how annoyed the establishment was with it, I had to see some. It’s only on Netflix so I took out one month’s subscription for it. Then I found out that there are 4 Series of 10 hourly episodes. Can we / Do we want to watch 40 hours of docu-soap in just 30 days? Well, we have done the first 3 episodes of Series 1 and we are already gripped. After all, we were born in 1951 and this really is our history. I will probably have to buy a second month to finish it.

Week 621

Sunday, 15th November, 2020

Heavy rain over night although we slept through it. A nice, sunny start to the morning and we went for a walk round the Development. The woodland path has reverted to a brook temporarily.

Angmering this morning.

We decided that it was a path too far and walked home in the sunshine. We had no sooner opened the door and made some coffee than it began to absolutely throw it down and the torrential rain turned to hail. It didn’t feel that cold but who am I to understand atmospherics?

Kamares this morning.

This is Sifnos this morning – empty, forlorn and also flooded. It is 6 years ago today that we arrived back from Athens where we visited the National Bank of Greece to collect the second and last tranche of the payment for our house. We transferred the money to UK and closed the account even though the Bank manager tried valiantly to persuade us to invest it back in to Greece.

Until 6 years ago, we were spending 180 days in Greece each year which was the maximum time we were allowed without paying taxes to the Greek government. It was a comfortable arrangement. Now, this descent in to Brexit madness means that we would only be allowed 90 days in any one year which would make maintenance of a second home in Europe quite restrictive. This is particularly true of a home which is relatively far away like Greece. Spain, on the other hand, is a different proposition. We can put our car on the ferry from Portsmouth to Santander and drive to a holiday home in just a few hours. Worth considering!

Monday, 16th November, 2020

Up at 6.00 am in preparation for the final day of work in the back garden. The workers arrive at 7.30 am on an overcast but mild morning. Fortunately, it will be dry all day and for most of the week. The workers have left the most difficult area to finish today. It requires quite a lot of paving slab cutting. After 5 days, we will be glad for it to be over so that we can get our home back. We definitely chose the right company to do the job. We are delighted with their work.

The Search Area
Pauline & Phyllis – Nov. 2009

However, we are still in our back garden. It is not a very expansive experience. Eleven years ago this week, we were spending this week driving around the Kent coastal area in search of a new property. I was keen to be much nearer to the Tunnel for a quick hop across to the Continent.

We drove down from Yorkshire and stayed with P&C for a couple of days. I can’t believe they have virtually not changed over the past 11 years – well, Pauline hasn’t anyway. Eleven years is a long time. In 11 years, I will be 80 yrs old. Can you imagine it? I do hope I get there!

Just 2 years ago this week, we were in a villa in Golf del Sur, Tenerife. We had a lovely heated pool and gorgeous weather but the shops were quite a long walk away and the property was a bit tired inside.

November 2018

This time last year, we were in a much more modern and well appointed villa with heated pool in Costa Adeje. We had a wonderful array of shops with a fantastic Supermurcado in easy walking distance. It was a wonderful month. We were booked to return for the months of May and November but both have disappeared into the Covid mists.

November 2019

Now we need to stay positive, get the vaccination and move on. We’ve probably only got another 20 years of travelling. Need to make the most of it!

Tuesday, 17th November, 2020

We didn’t get up until 7.30 this morning. It is one of the most unusual things that has happened to me for a long time. I haven’t got a clue why but it put me out all morning. Received paperwork from our patio installers who finished yesterday to the effect that we had a 5 year warranty on all the work they had done and a 10 year warranty on the Brett paving slabs. It will all collapse when I’m 80!

Also heard from the legal firm acting to get our money back from the Tenerife villa in May. Their Spanish arm say they are confident of getting the £4,500.00/€5,022.00 back but the cost of doing so would be more than that and ‘costs’ cannot be reclaimed. My bank now have the decision: do they want to pay me from insurance or pursue the villa owner.

Any regular reader of the Blog will not disagree with my self-analysis when I observe that I am really weird. You don’t need to write. I know it. So, when I tell you that I am a huge fan of mouthwash and have been for many years, you will hardly raise an eyebrow.

My mouthwash of choice.

You might look a little quizzical when I tell you that I know one bottle lasts me 2 weeks and that I don’t buy a bottle from the supermarket when I need one. I buy a carton of 24 bottles at a time delivered to my door. One bottle is usually priced between £5.50/€6.14 in the major supermarkets and, often, you can’t find it there at all. I never pay more than £2.50/€2.79 per bottle when I buy in bulk so a year’s supply costs me around £65.00/€72.50. Sounds a lot when you put it like that but there is a secret ingredient which makes it all worth while. CPC is the magic ingredient and my new best friend. 

Mouthwash can kill Coronavirus within 30 seconds of being exposed to it in a laboratory, a scientific study has found. The Cardiff University report said that mouthwashes containing Cetypyridinium Chloride (CPC) showed promising signs of combatting the virus.

University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff

Of course not all mouthwash producers include it but mine does. I only found this out today so I may have to order some more immediately in case there is a run on the world supply.

Wednesday, 18th November, 2020

It’s so warm, the birds think it is nesting time and Pauline is thinking of putting her bikini on. Well, perhaps this latter is a bit of an exaggeration but it is delightfully warm.

Digital Passport renewal Service

We have the bind of each needing a Driving Licence renewal and Passport renewal all around the end of this year

The Post Office offers a digital passport renewal service at a limited number of branches, but it costs 20% more than doing it on the government website. This involves handing over one’s old passport and having a photo taken. This service costs £91.50 per person so £183.00 for the two of us.

We want to hold on to our passports just in case we can nip over to France one more time in December.

Feels a bit threatening!

Unfortunately, our Driving Licences also need an updated picture. They can be taken from our Passport records but ours will be too old to use. The Post Office will charge us again for photographs and renewal service at a rate of £21.50 per person so £43.00 for us both.Thank goodness Christmas is cancelled. I couldn’t afford that and £226.00 on Bureaucracy.

Of course, in April next year I will have to take the walk of shame and apply for another renewal of my Driving Licence because I will be 70. It all feels a bit like Greek State machinery. Fortunately, this one is free.

Driving out of Worthing on the coast road…..

It’s not easy taking photographs whilst you’re driving and nearly 70 you know. We were amazed at the number of businesses in operation and the number of people out walking on the beach path. We had gone in to town for a cheap offer on MOUTHWASH! Fortunately, Pauline was driving.

Thursday, 19th November, 2020

Up at 6.00 am on a coolish morning. Only 9C/48F as we stepped out of the door. As usual, Pauline shopped while I did my 5 mile walk. I went in shorts but put a fleece on because the breeze was distinctly chilly. Pauline paid largely with our Covid Test Project payments. We have now each had 5 negative tests. The next one is in a month.

Home for coffee and the arrival of a plumber. We are coming towards the end of our 5-year warranty on our new property and everybody is reassessing to make sure that all snagging is complete. We were beginning to feel left out because we really didn’t have anything but Pauline decided that the sink pop-ups in two of the bathrooms were sticking and needed replacing. The plumber was booked for this morning but we finally received a call to rebook for next week so we drove out to Littlehampton Post Office.

Littlehampton Post Office

You have to really search for Post Offices these days even though they perform some really important services to local communities. This one shares its premises with an Opticians just to be economical enough to survive. We wanted to enquire if we need to book an appointment to go and renew our Driving Licences in these Covid times. It is quite a time consuming process which included photography. Anyway, they were quite relaxed about it and told us to turn up when we’re ready. We will go tomorrow morning with our paperwork.

Outdoor Cooking Table

Now the back garden hard standing is finished, we can proceed with placing and adding additional furniture. I ordered a heavy-duty, rustic table for cooking on today – £170.00/€190.00. If it looks good and quality when we get it, I might order a second.

Friday, 20th November, 2020

Up early on a crisp morning. Cold but no real sign of frost. However, we went out to Littlehampton at 9.00 am to the Post Office and I wore CLOTHES for the first time since early March. I have lived in shorts and tee shirts for the past 8 months. Today, I was having my photo taken that will stick in my Driving Licence for the next 10 years. I have to look reasonable. The experience in the Post Office was wonderful. The staff were absolutely delightful. The process was slick and efficient. We were in, processed and out in about 10 mins.

Littlehampton town centre, like Worthing town centre, is populated by the sort of people we hardly ever see in our daily lives. There are many down-at-heel, ethnic minority, disabled, intellectually challenged, mentally unstable characters around. There are many empty shop premises emphasised by the general pandemic-rule closure of most of the rest. The whole atmosphere feels rather anti-social and uncomfortable. Outside the Post Office, a strange man was staggering around, singing something at the top of his voice. Someone else shouted, Tommy, shut up! and he shouted back that he always made a noise when he was happy.

Only 2 Charging Points for 700 vehicles.

On the way back, we called in at Asda for bananas – they do the best in the area. Usual routine, Pauline goes in to shop and I set off on a walk. Because I knew I wouldn’t have long, I restricted my walk to the carpark which is big but not picturesque. I photographed the electric car charging points. As you can see, it amounts to just 2. As I walked around, I counted up 700 parking spaces. Clearly, this is where the end of the combustion engine is not eagerly anticipated.

Two additional pieces of news this morning when we got home. Although we’ve barely used the heating since March, we have been informed that £200.00/€224.00 ‘Heating Allowance’ will drop into our bank account shortly. It’s bought us an outdoor cooking table. Earlier this year, my Broadband was upgraded to Fibre-to-the-Door which uprated my download service from 32 mbps to 330 mbps in an instant. Now we are told that our area is one of the first to receive full Gigabit service – 1000 mbps – and the work is starting this week. My cup runneth over.

Saturday, 21st November, 2020

Lovely, mild start to the day. We decided that we’d nip down to the beach for a quick breath of ozone and a walk. Actually, when we got there, so many people had had the same idea that we didn’t stay. I just stopped the car to get a photo of the wind surfers convention. There must have been about 30 of them some way out to sea on a turning tide.

I realised immediately why they were there when I go out of the car. The breeze off the sea was strong and cold. We drove home for hot coffee.

I’m afraid to say I spent the rest of the day reading political articles and watching sport – sometimes both at the same time. However, I watched the England v Ireland Rugby match in the gym – fulfilling my pledge to myself to not waste such occasions as a couch potato but combining it with exercise. I was more knackered than the players when they came off with a great English victory.

Week 620

Sunday, 8th November, 2020

The internet is a wonderful thing. If you can’t travel physically, you can at least go virtually. This morning, as we all celebrated the return to civics and polity across the United States, rejoicing in the celebrations of good people and the rule of honesty and truth, I walked on a cloud of hope across the garden to our gym.

The sky was overcast outside but there was sunshine in my heart as I embarked on a 90 mins workout while sitting in the Teatro Dell’Opera Di Roma.

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Teatro Dell’Opera Di Roma

Well, actually I was working out on the treadmill and cycle in our gym watching/listening to a modernistic performance of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor from the Teatro Dell’Opera Di Roma on YouTube on my television.

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Lucia di Lammermoor – but not as we know it.

It has been one of my favourite operas for many, many years but I have not revisited it for at least 10 years. It was wonderful to be reacquainted as I sweated profusely.

Monday, 9th November, 2020

Change of programme. We have all sorts of workers arriving early tomorrow. The garden workers will start at 7.30 am. The gym equipment installer will arrive around 9.00 am. We would normally be shopping at Sainsbury‘s but have switched to this morning instead. It is a misty, moisty morning – words which Mum liked to intone as some devout Primary School teacher on Speed.

One misty, moisty morning,
When cloudy was the weather

The Only True Mother Goose Melodies (c. 1833)

It is (relatively) very warm this morning 16C/61F at 7.00 am as Pauline enters Sainsburys and I set off for my walk to Rustington war memorial.

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Summer Begonias have been replaced with Winter Pansies.

Rustington is a delightfully middleclass, wealthy and thriving large-village-cum-small town with all the shops, restaurants and trendy cafes one might need. It is big on public garden displays and won the European Towns & Villages in Bloom 2012 competition. Unfortunately, it is dominated by the elderly. They get everywhere! Mobility aids abound and clog up the pavements. 

There are speciality shops as in the days of yore – An artisan Baker, three quality Butchers, Bank Branches that open, Hairdressers, Beauticians, Bookshops but only small, supermarket outlets. Everywhere are scattered Parks & Gardens plantings and Benches with Dedication Plaques. The planting is very much ‘old school’ as Summer Begonias are replaced with Winter Pansies. It is the sort of narrow culture that I have always tried to escape and I will come here to collect our Christmas Goose or for my morning walk but certainly not linger.

Tuesday, 10th November, 2020

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Everything comes at once. Up at 6.00 am. Garden Landscapers arrived at 7.30 am – Van, Lorry, mini-digger, etc.. First thing they did was take the back gate off to enable them to get the digger in. Theodolite set up in the centre of the lawn and pegs banged in with strings attached the job got under way. This will be it for about a week. 

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The drive is being covered in boards to keep it clean and undamaged so the gym equipment man with a replacement treadmill console had to park elsewhere and tread carefully as he made his way down the drive to the gym. The console which controls programs, modes, data, sound, etc., had some display glitches so is having to be totally replaced.

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Treadmill Console with Bluetooth & Wi-Fi connectivity

Peter, from Kent, arrived at 8.00 am and picked his way down the drive, past the machinery and over the gardener’s boards. It is already feeling quite strange to have people here particularly after our isolation since March.

Shock for our little village this morning. It was, for many years, renowned for its Horticulture and featured large areas covered by glasshouses. It was particularly know as a producer of culinary herbs but these glasshouse are gradually, increasingly rapidly, being pushed out by the demand for housing. Last night, in a building behind a car sales site, a new horticultural enterprise less than a mile from our house was discovered ….. by a fleet of police cars. Cannabis plants with a street value of £500,000.00/€560,000.00 were reportedly found. We have particularly fertile soil here.

Wednesday, 11th November, 2020

Day 2 of the garden paving work. Up at 6.00 am as the workers arrive by 7.30 am. Pauline thought they had said they would be working for 3 days. It seemed very quick to me and it turns out I was right. They won’t finish until at least Monday next week so double what we had wrongly understood.

The concrete mixer is fired up, new paving is starting to be laid and the whole area is beginning to take shape. This is all very nice but our usual modus operandi is disrupted and that it always a bit uncomfortable. We decided, for that reason, to go out for a short drive this morning. We went down through Worthing to Shoreham by Sea.

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Of course, you could say we shouldn’t be doing this during the lockdown but today was interesting. Lots of people were out and about and a surprising number of inessential shops were open. Pauline pointed out a Trinket shop in our own village that was open. The garden centre appeared to be open by the lights on and the number of cars in the carpark. We drove past a Beautician’s which appeared to be open. There is certainly a sense down here of the lockdown being less seriously observed than it was last time. Who knows, we may pay for it although Pauline & I are shunning people at every turn.

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South Western Tenerife – 2015

Five years ago today, we were basking in 28C/85F of very humid atmosphere as we did a 2 hour walk around the coastline of south west Tenerife. Life was so different and IT WILL be different again. We will have a vaccination and be freed to start travelling again. Pauline said to me today that she is desperate to start going away for the winter months to the sunshine and warmth as soon possible.

Thursday, 12th November, 2020

Heavy rain over night although I slept so well I didn’t hear it. Beautiful, red sunrise this morning. The sky was completely backlit like stage lighting. We were up at 6.00 am and out by 6.50 am driving to Tesco. I don’t know why but the car park was quiet. What’s wrong with these people? Why do they need so much sleep? 

Anyway, it is a mild day which only reached 15C/59F but felt and smelt lovely. Pauline shopped for an hour while I walked for an hour. In tee-shirt and shorts, it felt quite delightful. It’s great to be swinging easily up the road as furrowed brows rush anxiously to work and children dawdle with heavy bags to school. My face and eyes say, Been there. Done that. but they are too preoccupied to notice.

Back home, the Landscape workers are hard at it. We say Hello and leave them to it. The Boss works very hard in muddy ground and I think, He doesn’t need to go to the gym. Actually, I fear for him as he chain-smokes throughout his 8 hour day in all weathers. It’s actually quite hard to get in our gym today because it’s barricaded with packs of patio flags and huge bags of Aggregate. 

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It was so delightful this afternoon we decided to walk around the perimeter of our Development. After last night’s rain, the woodland path was a little tricky but the smell of fallen leaves rotting on rain-sodden ground is so redolent of a dying year that it is not to be missed.

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We’ve been hearing a strange, hissing noise for a few days during working hours and all was revealed on our walk this afternoon. A metal bridge which normally connects the village over a dual carriageway to the railways station on the other side and which is very popular with workers in London City is being refurbished. A giant crane lifted it in one piece from its moorings and dumped it on open ground. It has now been wrapped in white screen material as the whole bridge is being sandblasted before being repainted. Amazing piece of engineering. Certainly makes our patio extension seem small beer!

Friday, 13th November, 2020

Well, Friday 13th seems to have gone alright. …. so far. It is a bright, mild day. Up at 6.00 am and out at 6.50 am for a Sainsbury’s shop at 7.00 am. Yesterday, we couldn’t get any skimmed milk from Tesco. This happened last lockdown. Is skimmed milk so niche?

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The only palatable milk.

We haven’t drunk any milk other than fat-free for the past 30 years. Our normal purchase is 3 x 2ltr of red top milk each week. Actually, we did carry dried milk with us for emergencies when we were travelling and it was helpful at times in Greece but that’s all. Suddenly it is off the shelves. 

At Sainsbury‘s this morning, it was just the same story although Pauline was able to get it in smaller bottles. I did my 5 mile walk while Pauline was shopping and I was surprised to find that, in spite of the warmth, I could see my breath this morning. At least it was sunny and dry for our garden workers who are really cracking on today. Just one more day’s work on Monday and it will be finished. They certainly earn their money. It is back breaking work. About 5 men turned up on the Tuesday delivering tools and materials and digging out but the main work has been left to a father and son team who have worked like trojans.

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Angmering Village Social Centre
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Angmering Village Commercial Centre

The village was very peaceful and pleasant as we walked down to post a parcel at the Co-Op/Post Office. If you’ve got to be locked down, there could be worse places.

Saturday, 14th November, 2020

Really mild morning. Beginning to wonder why we bother with central heating. It is dry and weakly bright. We decide to go down to the beach for half an hour. It is high tide – a particularly high tide – and the waves are crashing on the beach. Actually, there is only about a couple of metres of shingle showing and while I am standing on it to take pictures, a huge wave almost claims me for Poseidon‘s Kingdom. The power of the sea has to be seen and felt to be believed.

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The power of the sea.

Those living in the retirement apartments across the road from the beach were advising caution this morning. The water was an angry, turgid brown laced with huge hanks of seaweed. It surged and crashed relentlessly as it neared turning point. Even the gulls couldn’t settle on the breakwaters.

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Poseidon’s Kingdom

Talking about retirement, I came across this old couple on the beach. I’m sure I’ve seen them somewhere before.

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Escapees from The Home for the Bewildered.

We’ve still got a bit of builder’s mud around at the moment. I’ve had to send Pauline in to clean the gym floor because I’ve walked some of  of it in. I’m being forced to watch the first Ashes test match 2013. Well, I don’t want to get in the way.

Week 619

Sunday, 1st November, 2020

Our life is moving at two, conflicting paces along two, tectonic plates. Time moves rapidly on. The Summer is over. The Autumn is arriving. November already …. and yet life is closing down as travel is stopped, human interaction is minimalised, life’s experiences are put on hold.

It is hard to see a viable resolution to this hinterland of living. It is as if the pause button is being pressed, released and then pressed again. We should be in Tenerife today. We should have been lunching in the sunshine. This is where we were exactly a year ago on day 1 of 28.

Lunch on this day last year

As we move in to a 4 week Lock Down – although it remains to be seen how well it will be observed or how much it will be extended – Pauline’s haircut is in jeopardy and out garden landscaping is questionable as well. Neither would be fatal if we had to wait but these things all add up to stasis.

Flying Freely ….

We nipped down to the beach this morning after watching slimy-toad Gove running rings round a complaisant Andrew Marr. Around 11.00 am, the high tide was just beginning to turn back towards France. Oh, how we wished to be on it!

Monday, 2nd November, 2020

Out early on a mercy mission. At 8.30 am, Pauline was on the phone and 15 mins later, we drove to Worthing town centre so that Pauline could bring her hair appointment forward by 3 weeks because of the impending lockdown. Apparently, it is a life and death situation. I was free to walk on the promenade and take photos. Incredibly warm, I was sauntering in short sleeved tee shirt and shorts.

Worthing Pier

I had to remind myself that it was November and I was walking into the sea with barely any clothes on. I admit, there were fishermen, dressed for a storm in oilskins, casting their rods over the side of the pier and old men on benches huddled over a cigarette fully garbed against potential winter but it was all unnecessary.

End of the Pier Show

We drove home for coffee and then went out for a walk around our Development in wonderful sunshine. I only needed a short spell in the gym today but, once again, we have been justified in ploughing our own furrow. David Lloyd is closing down again on Wednesday and reopening …. they don’t know when. We have decided that we must keep going out and enjoying fresh air, sunshine and exercise as well as using our gym. If we can stay healthy, we will.

Tuesday, 3rd November, 2020

Heavy rain over night and strong winds but all is calm this morning although only 9C/48F and it hasn’t got above 12C/54F all day. The sun is out. The sky is blue. I’m in my shorts but also wearing a fleece outside. Up at 6.00 am and out to Sainsbury’s by 7.00 am.. Home for coffee, greet the window cleaners and make some contacts with contractors who are working for us over the next couple of weeks and then out to another beach for some sunshine on our faces and legs – free Vitamin D.

Waves breaching the sea defences – Elmer Beach

We did the 15 mins drive to Elmer Beach which is half way down the coast road to Bognor Regis. We have been there before when the tide was out and it looked more like a lunar landscape. Today, with the sea advancing, a beach walk was not possible.

Back home, I did an hour or so in the gym which is the joy of having it readily available for these cooler, less certain Autumn days. Instead of just sitting around watching the Politics Live debate, I was able to exercise both mind and body simultaneously.

Wednesday, 4th November, 2020

Beautiful morning although there was a hint of frost on the roofs and the temperature was only 4C/39F at 7.00 am. Half an hour later, it was double that as the sun began to take effect. We are not using the central heating and the kitchen was 19C/66F as we got up but had reached 22C/70F an hour later as the sun beat through the conservatory glass.

Last night, it felt a bit on the edge in the evening so the heating went on. After less than an hour, the house was suffocatingly hot and we had to turn it off. This is one of the benefits of a new, up to date house. It is incredibly well insulated. It is also well ventilated which ought to be a good thing and, generally, is but we have come up against a problem. We have 5 powered extractor fans- 3 in bathrooms, one in the laundry and one in the Kitchen. They are vented through the walls. We are finding that venting pipe in the attic is suffering blow back in very strong winds.

Air Extractor in our Roof

It is making a noisy, creaking sound over our bed which is really annoying. With only 5 months left on our building warranty, we need to get it sorted quickly. This morning, we have had to supply the ‘snagging’ team with photographs prior to their visit. It looks like the lockdown won’t affect them nor will it prevent our landscapers coming next week which is pleasing.

Rustington Gardens

We drove in to Rustington, an attractive but rather sedate village/town with a largely older, conservative demographic. The hint of frost over night had triggered the municipal gardeners to start the process of stripping the Summer flower beds of Begonias. Rustington is proud of its status as an award winner of European Villages in Bloom.

Rusting in Bloom

Actually, we had gone there for the excellent Butcher’s Shop. We wanted to buy Rabbit to make a terrine for Xmas Lunch. We will return tomorrow to pick it up. Apparently, someone has to go out shooting this afternoon. 

Lovely shops in Rustington

Certainly, we are very lucky to have so many delightful facilities within easy reach. Nothing is further than 10 -15 mins away. It makes lockdown so much easier to bear.

Thursday, 5th November, 2020

Beautiful morning with gorgeous, backlit sky rising as we rose at 6.00 am.. As we drove to Tesco, the car reported a temperature of just 4C/39F. It had been a very clear sky over night with a bright moon and such strong stars. Pauline went in to shop and I set off in shorts and tee-shirt to do my walk. I soon generated enough heat to shrug off the cold although I was shocked to find myself walking through quite severe frost pockets on my route. Pauline reported a very quiet but fully stocked supermarket.

We drove home on unusually quiet roads to unpack at home and have coffee. I’ve been trying to find out what stage our legal team is at in claiming our Tenerife villa rental back through their Spanish legal arm. It’s been 7 weeks since we set them on that task and we should have some idea of progress. Of course, the latest lockdown will hamper it but can’t let them settle too much.

Dancing on the Beach

Later, we drove over to the Rustington Butcher to collect our rabbit and then on to Goring Beach because it is such a wonderful day.

Goring Beach

It was absolutely delightful as our eyes drank in the strong sunlight, our nostrils feasted on the smell of the sea and our ears relaxed to the lapping waves. The strong colours of pebbles, sea and sky graduated by white beach huts all combine to provide an atmosphere of well being.

Friday, 6th November, 2020

Lovely morning with sunshine and blue sky and not too cold. We were expecting a cloudy day so this is a bonus. Didn’t hear or see a single firework last night. Sign of the times. We received our 4th negative Covid test result this morning for which we have received £200.00/€222.00. My octogenarian neighbour across the road plays golf on Monday and Friday. They are the only days he gets his Mercedes open top out at 7.00 in the morning to drive down to the seaside links to meet his friends. Because of the lockdown and closure of golf courses, he went Monday and Wednesday this week. He said they struggled to get into the carpark and struggled even more to get on one of the two full courses.

Even though the groundworkers come next week, I have mowed the lawns this morning. Some swathes of it will disappear in a few days but you have to keep up standards. Six years ago today, we first identified the plot for our still-to-be-built new house in Angmering. November has recently become a traditional month in Tenerife. Five years ago, we were spending four weeks in this room in Los Gigantes, south west Tenerife.

We would love to be there or somewhere near this week but it is not to be. Thank goodness we are fortunate enough to have some beautiful surroundings to fall back on. This week, we have been majoring on walks on the beach to soften the blow. 

Early Evening on Littlehampton Beach

Today we went down to the Littlehampton Marina and to walk on the beach. Although it wasn’t cold, there was a breeze which reduced the temperature and whipped up the sea into a froth.

The promenade was as quiet as we’ve seen it and that must because of the pandemic lockdown but we would still rather have a steady 25C/77F to oil our joints.

Drove home to do an hour in the gym before we eat our meal and settle down for the evening.

Saturday, 7th November, 2020

Got up without a plan for the day. I hate that. I spoke to Pauline to tell her I felt aimless and, therefore, listless. I was surprised to find she felt exactly the same way. On the list for today is a quip trip to the Pharmacy to collect a prescription, having my haircut, tidying up the last bits of the garden in readiness for the developers coming in on Tuesday, watching football. Hard to get too excited. Life seems to be in stasis.

Eleven years ago, we were preparing to put our Yorkshire house up for sale. I was recording scenes for the memory banks.

View over Colne Valley from our Yorkshire home – November 2009

We were busy de-cluttering, repainting, clearing the front garden and generally giving it instant curb-appeal. It took another 6 months to sell and it was 10 years ago that we moved in to a temporarily rented, 2 bedroom apartment a bit further up the road.

The Shoebox rented apartment – November 2010

A year later and after 6 months in Greece, we were moving in to our Duplex Apartment in Surrey and unpacking stuff that had been in storage for the best part of 12 months.

The Duplex Apartment in Surrey – November 2011

Five years later, we were settling in to our Sussex home and accustoming ourselves to all the facilities of the area. By April 2021, we will be celebrating 5 years here but champing at the bit to go travelling. This stasis is engendering lethargy and that can be deadly.

Week 618

Sunday, 25th October, 2020


Warm, grey, intermittently wet. This is going to be an ‘in’ day. Apart from increasingly anodyne political programmes and increasingly acerbic newspapers, I have to interface with the real world. Today, I am checking my records for how long it has been since our legal firm started a claim for €4,500.00 from the villa owner in Tenerife who wasn’t able to provide the service we had paid for. Actually, it turns out to be less than a month. I will give them another fortnight before I apply pressure.

Today for Lunch we ate Artichokes & Peas – something we loved in Greece. It is simple, healthy and delicious.

Artichokes & Peas

In reality, if we were eating out in Sifnos this morning, we would have been offered Revithia or Chickpea Soup. The traditional dish of Sunday (Κυριακή).


Both are delightful but they emphasise the impoverished simplicity of island subsistence. Of course, it is easy to make a benefit of that rusticity but choice is what matters. We have the freedom to choose one over the other.

John Fidler

This afternoon on Faceache, up popped John Fidler – our old Head of History. Haven’t seen him for at least 15 years. His wife died a year ago. He is looking well.

Monday, 26th October, 2020


Beautiful morning with clear, blue sky and strong sunshine. Quite mild as well although only reading 12C/54F. We have to break out of Quarantine for a few moments again this morning to collect some new, INR test strips from the Pharmacy in the village. They are expensive – 24 test strips cost circa £90.00/€99.50 although a little less without VAT which I don’t have to pay. I use 2 packs a year and get one on prescription and the other I fund myself because I test more often than many to keep on top of my condition.

Had an email from my skinny sister last night. Now most of my sisters are skinny but this one is really skinny – so skinny that God threads her through the eye of a needle. Anyway, enough of abuse. She is a lovely girl and she was a Biology teacher so I turned to her a couple of weeks ago to help me identify this tree that I had spotted growing in a village garden.

Clerodendrum Trichotomum, (Harlequin Glorybower, or Peanut Butter Tree)

Of course, there’s a lot to be said for being skinny. Last night, JaneBG emailed me to say she had identified this plant from a website she knew. Clerodendrum Trichotomum, the Harlequin GlorybowerGlorytree or Peanut Butter Tree, is a species of flowering plant in the family LamiaceaeClerodendrum is derived from Greek, and means ‘chance tree’. Trichotomum is also derived from Greek, and means ‘three-forked’ or ‘triple-branched’. It is native to China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, India, and the Philippines. It is a large, deciduous shrub, growing 3–6 metres (10–20 ft) high with fragrant flowers. I want one!

Tuesday, 27th October, 2020


Last day of Quarantine. Must book another trip to France! Feels weird now but we have ‘hardly’ left our house for 2 weeks. We filled up our car before we set off to Folkestone and the tunnel to France and still have a 200 mile/322 km range left in our tank. It will be nice to do a reasonably long drive again soon.

Angmering’s bustling High Street

Talking about long drives, a man called Peter has driven all the way from Kent this morning, getting lost on our High Street, to assemble our Treadmill which has been sitting in huge boxes in the gym for a couple of weeks. His drive will have been at least 90 mins and the job will take him a couple of hours. The cost is built in to our purchase price but, if we had needed to purchase it separately, the charge would only have been £120.00/€133.00.

So often I am shocked by what turns up from almost nowhere. Even Faceache produces skeletons from the most unlikely ground. This morning it was this, old man. I haven’t seen him for 6 years and yet once I trusted him with my life and my money. He appeared this morning on a video which featured his nephew, Γεώργιος, the Captain’s Bar owner, Λευτέρης, along with the potter, Αδώνης.

This old man is Σταυρός and the video clip showed all the best and worst of Greek island life in one, fleeting moment. Σταυρός was never collegiate, never easily friendly. It is one of the reasons we appealed to each other. Ironically, he has lived all his life in the goldfish bowl that is island society where interpersonal relationships are at a premium.

The clip illustrated all the faux bon homie that oils the cogs of this intense sphere. The potter played out the pretence of being a magician with that most lavish of props – a small bottle of water. The magician ‘conned’ the younger man – Γεώργιος – into staring closely into the bottle of water which was ‘surprisingly’ squeezed so a fountain showered his face. Cue uncontrollable laughter. Γεώργιος is not stupid and will have known this was about to happen but he played along to provide the crowd with the excuse to laugh. However, playing the fool is not in Σταυρός repertoire nor is heartfelt bon homie. He affects a superficial smiling acknowledgement while withholding genuine friendship. Looking straight ahead, he tries to retain his separation. We took too long to learn this technique.

We have now had 3 Covid-19 tests each. This morning the results of the second test – 12 days ago – arrived. Both were negative. Only another 13 tests to go. On Friday, Pauline will pay our Tesco bill with vouchers for £150.00/€166.00 from the first two tests. At this rate, they can go on testing me in perpetuity.

Wednesday, 28th October, 2020

My Bleeding Elbow!

Life after Quarantine – DAY 1. Beautiful nearly full moon last night and lovely bright sunny morning today but still not cold. Our figs and our Mediterranean tree are still enjoying life to the full. Our first job this morning was to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!

Actually, we have so much cardboard and polystyrene stored from yesterday’s construction of our new treadmill that it will take two trips to the Local Authority tip to be disposed of. Ours was closed today so we had to drive a few miles down the coast to another. As we arrived, it started to rain quite heavily so I told Pauline I would empty the car because she would be shopping afterwards and I didn’t want her to get soaked. As I hurry to carry huge sheets of cardboard that obscure the path, my foot hits a slippery curb and I find myself flat on my face on the tarmac.

Solitude of Autumn

There is no fool like an old fool as I was able to demonstrate. As I picked myself up, I found I had scraped my elbow, my hand and my chin. The damage was superficial although, when you are as body-beautiful as me, even the slightest graze is significant. I will need comforting for quite a few days.

We drove on to Sainsburys to do some shopping for the first time in two weeks. Pauline shopped but I went off for a walk as I used to. The weather is typically Autumnal. The rain had only lasted a couple of minutes and a weak sun had reappeared. The damp streets and pavements are beginning to be lightly peppered with leaves and the trees are starting to turn from the green of summer. Certainly taking two weeks off has emphasised the changes on my resumed walking programme.

We weren’t forced to remain at home. We chose to do it and broke out, ‘slightly’ for a few minutes on a couple of occasions. Just imagine what a prisoner, who has been incarcerated for years, feels on final release. I can understand how it can be quite challenging. We were tempted to cavort in Sainsburys underground carpark with a gay abandon we felt so free. Something counselled us not to but we’ve always been boring like that.

Thursday, 29th October, 2020

We won’t be returning to France before the end of the year by the looks of it. France are in a condition of much tighter restrictions now as is Germany. Almost certainly, the UK government will have to move towards more national controls in the next month. We are pleased we squeezed in our trip a fortnight ago and we also feel justified in cancelling our gym membership and starting the testing programme. We had our 4th test this morning. We were visited by an ex-B.A. Cabin Crew. She was a lovely girl who had been made redundant and wanted to keep active.

Pauline and I met her at the door wearing out face visors. I nearly couldn’t persuade Pauline to wear hers at all because it came with a blue headband reading Face Shield. She decided she had to pick the blue strip off before she could wear it. It took her hours but, ultimately, she could bring herself to use it. She would have changed her socks if they had clashed with her visor!

When our visitor arrived, it was raining and she didn’t want to intrude inside our house. We were already prepared for that and had our visors on. She was pleased to be invited in and that we had thought about safety. She said very few people consider it even when they know she is coming. It all took about mins and we have another 12 tests over the next 11 months.

We now know that epidemiologists are forecasting that the infection/death rate from this virus could stay high right through to March/April next year so we certainly have to take it seriously. It will definitely alter conceptions of foreign travel for a long time to come. I believe Europeans currently reliant on Tourism for their economy will have to look for alternatives for a number of years to come.

Ochi Day’ (in more senses than one) on Sifnos

Due to the measures for the coronavirus in Sifnos and all over Greece, no big festive events and parade were held for the anniversary of October 28th which celebrates Ochi Day – the day in 1940 when Greek Prime Minister, Ioannis Metaxas, refused the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini demanding access to his country for the occupying forces. Not only did the weather not play ball but parades were banned and the whole thing was reduced to a gaggle of island representatives in the square.

Friday, 30th October, 2020

Three of these binned today.

Supposed to be a dry day today  which is why we switched our shopping from Thursday. I dropped Pauline at the door of Tesco Superstore at 7.00 am just as light rain began to fall. I parked up and set off for my walk but hadn’t gone more than 200mtrs when my phone buzzed with a text message to say that I would be receiving a DPD delivery of an item for the gym at 8.00 am. I phoned Pauline and she re-emerged with only one bag of shopping so we could meet the deadline. 

Coffee and parcel received and we were back off to Tesco for the rest of the shopping. Pauline says shelves were poorly stocked and restrictions had been re-imposed on some items like flour which bore echoes of the national lockdown. We live in a very low infection area but we are told that it is increasing and customers are obviously fearing the worst. Paying the bill of £120.00/€134.00 (including 3 sides of Scottish salmon) cost us only £20.00/€22.50 actually because the rest was cancelled by the first of our Covid test vouchers. We have £50.00/€67.00 more already and, before we shop next week, we will have another £50.00/€67.00. It’s a great, part time job.

Back home to unpack and more coffee. I still have lots of waste packaging from gym items to dispose of. I also need to get rid of some huge, old wine racks. I thought of offering them to skinny Liz but she swears she’s teetotal. Actually, I thinks she swears a lot about many things but that’s another matter. So, with the car packed of cardboard, polystyrene and wine racks, we set off for the local Tip. It doesn’t seem to matter when you go, it is always busy. The roads were incredibly busy but it is always nice to arrive home and think, All that rubbish has gone. The lightness of being rubbish-free is wonderful.

We managed to slip a quick trip to Sainsburys in to the drive home for things unavailable in Tesco. We have been in our home for 4 years 8 months. We have a 5 year everything covered warranty. We haven’t had to ask for much to be attended to. Others have had new windows and roofs, etc.. Today, we asked for two sink pop-ups to be replaced because they are sticking. The cost must be less than £20.00. We are scanning round to look for things that could be replaced but can’t find them. Even all the white goods are working well. By April, 2021, we will be on our own. Save Us! We’ll have to send for Skinny Lizzie and Help the Aged!

Saturday, 31st October, 2020

The end of October already and another National Lockdown mooted. We are in danger of seeing our lives peter out not with a bang but with a whimper. I’m sure many of you will be aware that is a quotation from T.S.Eliot’s 1925 poem, The Hollow Men which he finishes with:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper. 

‘The Hollow Men’ – T.S.Eliot, 1925

I am not against the Lock Down. In fact, I believe it should have been instituted over Half Term with at least a week either side as well. Because it wasn’t, the general consensus seems to be that many more people will die and the inevitable Lock Down will have to be longer.

However, once again we will feel increasingly isolated and detached from the real world. We will feel restricted and unenriched by travel and new experiences. We will be looking for vicarious substitutes to replace the real. Our communications will be increasingly important again. The Radio, Television and Internet will provide the boundaries to our world.

I don’t know about you but I am struggling with password overload. I have around 10 that I use on a regular basis and I can hold all of them in my memory bank. In fact, I don’t even pause to recall They come to me instantly. I have something around 50 different sites and passwords that I need in a year and I would really struggle to retain all of them. I use Norton 36 Premium which has a number of useful tools in addition to internet security. One of them is the Password Manager or Vault. This is working all the time in the background and recognises sites and fills in the password when required. It is a wonderful idea. It also supplies me with cloud storage and a secure VPN – Virtual Private Network – for privacy whilst browsing. I find it really user-friendly ad a must have.

High tide in Littlehampton at 11.00 this morning. We drove down to see the huge waves crashing on the beach. Unfortunately, we got there to find torrential fine rain and a mist which reduced visibility to around 100ms.. We did a swift drive past and came home to a quiet, dry kitchen.

Littlehampton Beach – 31/10/2020

By 2.00 pm, the skies had cleared and the sun was out. We drove back down to the beach for a quick blow in the sunshine. It was absolutely delightful.