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