Week 624

Sunday, 6th December, 2020

Quarantine Day 2 (again)

We woke up with a purpose this morning. I have to complete, spell check, proof read, amend and print 60 back-to-back copies my Christmas News Letter. Pauline has three Christmas cakes to cover with marzipan and 60 Christmas cards to write and have stamps affixed to their envelopes. This takes much longer than one expects. 

Football matches, newspapers and breathing have filled up most of the rest of the day. Pauline had to renew our car insurance. We have driven the same model of car never older than 2 years or so for the past 15 years. Ten years ago, our insurance cost was £440.00/€486.00. Our renewal cost this time will be £401.00/€443.00. 

This time, for the first time for many years, we will have to apply for a Green Card to drive in Europe. This is the sort of thing the mad Brexiteers were desperate for. It makes one despair! However, we intend to be vaccinated as soon as we can and to restart our travels this Summer. We will fly to Athens in late August for a pre-booked (roll over booking from this year) flight and hotel. If it looks possible, we may do a Portsmouth -Santander trip and rent a villa for a few weeks in Murcia for the Summer months. We may do a month in November and again in February 2022 in the Canaries. Our minds are open to all of these possibilities predicated on the vaccine keeping us safe. For now, we are quarantined (sort of).

Monday, 7th December, 2020

Quarantine Day 3 (again)

A dismal day that opened with quite a sign of frost and soon turned wet. We are not going out other than, possibly, to the local post box. Today is completing Christmas cards. I’ve printed out about 40 newsletters. Pauline has written about 60 cards. I have printed and she has labelled about 60 envelopes with addresses. Most have now got stamps on them but the International ones are still to be dealt with.

This year will involve kitchen scales and the Post Office website where we are paying for and printing out our own address/stamp labels for international postage. It’s great fun!

Pauline has been toiling away for hours on the kitchen table with cards, envelopes, labels and stamps all coming together.

A Christmas card elf in Quarantine.

BT has just contacted me to say that my full-fibre broadband contract is up for renewal and they can offer me an upgrade from 350mbs to 900mbs for £10.00/€11.00 extra per month. What is there to consider?

Our wine buying trip to France on Friday was intended to save us 50% of the price we might pay in UK. Sometimes, people doubt such too-goo-to-be-true claims. This morning, I thought I would make a fairly idle check. I bought 60 bottles of Rioja which Tesco sells at £8.50/€9.40. It would have cost me £510.00/€564.00. Actually, I paid £2.99/€3.30 amounting to a total of ££179.40/€198.00. These savings are ridiculous saving but nice. Unfortunately, we will never see them again…unless we move abroad.

Tuesday, 8th December, 2020

Quarantine Day 4 (again)

Our lives are graduated by deaths. They are inescapable. If you are a regular, you will know that I am obsessed with time and its passing. My Blog is essentially my attempt to control and direct this obsession. More than 57 years ago on Friday, November 22nd, 1963, John Kennedy was shot dead in his car. I was 12 years old. I didn’t have a radio or television so that I first learned about it at 9.00 am on the Saturday morning as I got on the Grammar School coach in Wetmore Park, Burton upon Trent to go to play a rugby match in Birmingham. Another lad whispered to me, Have you heard that Kennedy’s been shot? Even at that young age, the news hit me like a brick in the face. For my generation, Kennedy represented the modern world in to which I was travelling. It felt like a hope had died. I have never forgotten the image of that precise moment with its smell of adolescent boys mingling with sports liniment and leather boot dubbin.

On the 16th of August, 1977, Elvis Presley died at the age of 42 of drug abuse at home. My generation had already rejected him just as we rejected our parent’s culture but it did feel like a real moment in time. I was living alone in a grubby little flat in a former brothel in a grimy, post-industrial, northern town. A year later, I would be preparing to get married and live in the first house we would own together.

On Sunday, 31 August 1997, having flown home from Athens the day before, we woke up tired to the news that Princess Diana had died in a car accident in Paris. Pauline immediately suggested that it wouldn’t have been an accident and that feeling has persisted over the years. Diana was making waves in the British establishment, very welcome waves that were rocking the monarchy. We weren’t bothered about her per se but the movement she was creating we had longed for.

On this day, 4o years ago, John Lennon died in the street. The Beatles had been the backdrop to my teenage years. Their ubiquity had almost begun to irk. One had almost become inured to the sound of their presence in every public space. They had been expropriated by alternative performers and played out in supermarkets, shopping malls, lifts and anywhere else that someone thought the silence needed to be filled by musak.

Lennon had ceased to mean a lot to me but I had come within inches of dying myself just 6 months before. In June, 1980, we were driving to school when a lunatic, coming the other way, went out of control on the bend and drove straight through our new car. Ambulance men thought I was dead. I was hospitalised for two weeks with brain bruising and off work for the best part of a year. It changed my life. Unlike Lennon’s, however, my life started again.

Wednesday, 9th December, 2020

Quarantine Day 5 (again)

Up at 6.00 am on a dark and dank morning. Tesco’s Delivery are expected between 6.30am – 7.30 am. They arrive, helpfully and comfortably after orange juice and tea, at 7.30 am. We don’t usually have our shopping delivered so, on this occasion, I took advantage and ordered lots of heavy, bottled water

Until recently, I could have only dreamed of this.

A year ago, my broadband download speed from fibre-to-the-cabinet was 33mps. For the past few months, I have had fibre-to-the-door and a download speed of 330mps. Yesterday, that download speed was ratchetted up to nearly 900mps. This is an incredible magnification and means we are almost up to the Gigabit delivery we have been hoping for. I could happily work from home now but I won’t. Aaaaaahhhhh!

Even so, our Office/Study is one of the most used rooms in the house. Five years after the furniture was fitted, the chairs are showing deterioration. We have two new ones arriving today.

Should last until we’re 75.

I will order a new Desktop computer from HP in January and then look to replace our two laser printers with a wireless one soon after. I want us to be able to print from two computers and two iPads wirelessly which will make life so much easier.

Thursday, 10th December, 2020

Quarantine Day 6 (again)

A dark morning with a brooding sky but relatively mild not dropping below 8C/47F over night. I’m feeling fat. it’s going to be a long, hard session in the gym this morning.

Just in case you didn’t receive our Christmas card and the Poison Dwarf may have missed it, here is a copy. We’ve chosen a robin this year just to make a change.

We tended not to include a copy of our newsletter to regular Blog readers because it is basically a review of the year which is chronicled in greater detail across the Blog. However, it is so well crafted that I include a copy here.

I think I was drawn in by the similarity with the dining chairs which are so comfortable. Well, the Hospice Shop will benefit from my foolishness and we have already ordered two new ones.

Friday, 11th December, 2020

Quarantine Day 7 (again)

A mild but gloomy morning. We have an early, wet fish delivery. It comes from a local supplier based on the mouth of the River Arun as it runs in to the sea. It is delivered direct to our door in boxes packed with ice. Today it was fresh, King Scallops, Fresh Monkfish and frozen, raw King Prawns. The quality is, as usual, fantastic.

Pauline’s Dream

Pauline’s dream is to eat big, fat scallops. She will do on Christmas day for her Starter. This Christmas will be our first alone for 40 years. We have always shared it and one of our company has a serious allergy to shellfish. This year, we are taking the opportunity to indulge our choices. We will have a

Scallop, Monkfish & King Prawn Gratin – First Course

Every year we eat turkey. I’m sure most of you do too. This year, we are free to break out and we have ordered a Goose. Pauline has been enjoying researching cooking recipes and these are the accompaniments we have chosen:

Roast Goose – Main Course

  • Herbs (rosemary, sage, bay and thyme)
  • Spice like cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger, star anise
  • An orange & lemon, halved
  • A few crushed garlic cloves
  • Aromatic veg like carrots, onions, celery/celeriac, fennel, parsnips
Succulent, Aromatic Goose accompanied by Rioja

Homemade Christmas Pudding & Homemade Vanilla Ice-cream – Sweet

Life has been made a little easier today by the announcement that our quarantine has been reduced to 10 days which means we are free after the weekend.

Saturday, 12th December, 2020

Quarantine Day 8 (again)

All the way from Acton, Massachusetts

I don’t do Christmas but I do like getting post. I run like a an over enthusiastic puppy to collect it every time I hear the postman. Today, I received a card from my old friend, Jonathan, who has lived in USA for at least 45 years. It is probably nearly 50 years since we met. I always intended to go over but things got in the way. Well, this morning, I walked down High Street, Acton, Massachusetts and found Jonathan’s house.

Unfortunately, I was only on Google Earth but it was an enjoyable experience and helps me to ‘place’ my old friends in time and space.

By the way, the new, computer chairs we ordered and which I was so looking forward to using turned out to be absolutely rubbish. Hard, un-cushioned seating with thin, unforgiving arms, they looked and felt ‘cheap’ which I don’t think they were at £125.00 each.

L-R : Old chair, New chair, Dining chair

I think I was drawn in by the similarity with the dining chairs which are so comfortable. Well, the Hospice Shop will benefit from my foolishness and we have already ordered two new ones.

I’ve let Pauline choose and order these so that the blame is deflected away from me. Meanwhile, my penance is to sit on very hard chairs until the new ones arrive. I can feel it cutting off the blood supply as I type.

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