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.
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.
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.
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.
The Retail’s desperate Christmas advertising feels rather hollow and, particularly down here, snow looks like a Dickensian anomaly.
Wednesday, 25th November, 2020
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.