Sunday, 27th December, 2020
So our 69th Christmas is over and we move on. Our Wedding Anniversary is on Wednesday and New Year’s Eve on Thursday but we started our diet this morning. No more alcohol. No more carbohydrate. Much smaller portions of everything and lots more exercise. It looks like it will be at least March before we are freed by vaccination so this project will fill the gap. We won’t book anything until the position is clearer.
In the past, the end of year would signal moves to book up for the next. Until ten years ago, we would be booking a P&O car ferry from King George Dock in Hull to Zeebrugge in Belgium for the Friday night that we finished school in July with a return at the beginning of September. The sailing was at 7.00 pm and arrived next morning around 12 hrs later. We droved off across Europe well slept and breakfasted ready for 18hrs behind the wheel to Ancona.
For young people as we then were, this was quite a romantic introduction to Europe. We actually looked forward to it. Today we learned that P&O was ceasing this long established route altogether. All round, European travel will never be the same.
Monday, 28th December, 2020
A miserably dull and cool morning. I have spent it writing to every single member of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet – and there are 96 of them – about the upcoming Brexit vote. Even though they can’t change it, I want Labour to not be complicit. They must be free to oppose and criticise from a position of strength not guilt by association.
I have done this many times before and it was very time consuming. Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet was made up of unreconstructed digital luddites who refused to list anything but an email which they never read. One or two refused even that. You can’t run a modern country without modern tools. I was able to write my message and access every one of the 96’s Twitter accounts at a click of a mouse.
We are having our 7th Covid Test this afternoon. The previous 6 have all proved negative for infection but have provided positive reassurance plus £400.00 towards our Tesco bill. We will continue until next October even though we should have been vaccinated long before that.
May be by then we will have visited beautiful Bergamo. Never been there but the town was featured recently on TV in terms of its reaction to the pandemic. We both thought quite independently that it looked the most wonderful place and the people seemed delightful. Both impressions may be completely wrong but I’d like to find out for myself. It is just 37 miles from Milano and 70 miles from Verona. We really enjoyed Milano but have never visited Verona. A stay in Bergamo with a visit to Verona sounds like a lovely aspiration on a dark, cold and dank day.
Tuesday, 29th December, 2020
Much brighter this morning with an orange sky radiating from a long, low sun. We were expecting a frost at least but it is quite mild.
My job is vacuuming the house this morning followed by a hard workout in the gym. First, though, I have correspondence to keep up with. My friend from Boston, Massachusetts has written to me and so has a friend from Sifnos. I have to phone the surgery and make arrangement for a second PSA test because my first one produced a worryingly high result. I am a little reluctant to visit a centre for the unhealthy but this certainly merits the risk.
Otherwise, not going out is the old staying in. My elderly sister, Ruth, is much more adventurous than me. She is responsible for this lot:
Have they been feeding these children too well? Contrast with last week’s photo from 11 years ago. Isn’t it amazing and an heuristic demonstration of the passage of time. These kids, like bean sprouts, have thickened and shot up. Ruth looks even more beautiful than usual and Kevan …. never changes.
Plans changed as the sun came out and we decided to go out for a walk. We were out for about 70 mins and covered about 5 miles/8km. I dress for comfort and activity. Pauline always looks like she is on a fashion shoot. She even strikes a good pose!
As we walked, the most beautiful bird song trilled out. I searched the tree tops to find it and suddenly realised that it was much lower and just above my head in a bush. We stood as the robin looked at us directly and sang away so strongly. Eventually, we left him singing and walked on. As we did, I suddenly realised that I should have taken a photograph. Instant regret! I’ll get it on the way back in half an hour. What’s the likelihood of him still being there? Even before we turned the corner on our way back home, we could hear him singing and, amazingly, he hadn’t moved at all. What absolute joy in that little creature!
Wednesday, 30th December, 2020
Bright, sunny but with a light frost this morning. Exactly 42 years ago, the Pennine moors were heavily blanketed in snow. It was our wedding day. The council gritter teams were on strike and the roads were barely passable.
All our friends and family made a huge effort and we didn’t get married alone. It was a wonderful day and I have been the most fortunate man for 42 years. Not everything has been straight forward, as you might imagine, but never have I doubted Pauline’s complete and utter support. There have been so many times when I have needed it and, sometimes, desperately. She has always been there.
Some years after our wedding and on an anniversary when we had exhausted the need for presents, I bought a £3.00 little book of quotations to give her on the day. Grow Old With Me it was entitled and she has done. The little book has been on her dressing table at the side of every bed we have slept in for the past 30+ years. Please let us grow even older!
It is so lovely this morning that we are going for a walk on the beach, arm in arm and in love. Sorry!
Thursday, 31st December, 2020
Walking but not arm in arm this morning. At 7.00 am on a cool morning, Pauline was shopping in Sainsburys and I was walking to Rustington and back. It’s not a long walk. I do it in about 45 mins but I was really glowing when I got back to the car. Home for coffee and Pauline orders an industrial blower heater to quickly raise the temperature in the gym when we need to. It already has a wall-mounted oil filled ladder radiator which provides a slow, low, background heat but these upcoming days we may need a booster. She found a good one in Screwfix, orders it on-line and, within 30 mins, we have collected it.
What we didn’t realise is that we had to construct it ourselves. I have to say that £50.00/€56.00 for the privilege of being allowed to build my own heater does not recommend itself to me. especially when it involved 16 bolts with 16 nuts and 32 washers. Still the partnership managed it reasonably quickly.
From Screwfix, we drove home via the beach. Pauline is getting an appetite for posing on the beach. It was a gorgeous day!
We’re not doing anything to see in the new year but then we never do. The only difference this year is that we are not drinking so the champagne will remain in the wine cooler. Midnight will be celebrated with a glass of sparkling water and a kiss. It might be wishful thinking but, unless we’ve been freed by vaccination and are off on our travels, I’m hoping I can maintain my discipline through to the end of June. After that, all bets are off!
I put a photo of Pauline on Facebook and Twitter as we celebrated our Wedding Anniversary with a walk on the beach. I was amazed to find 60 friends and relatives wished us well including from our doctor in Yorkshire of 20 years ago. That was lovely and we received e-cards from Ruth and Richard which was very kind.
Friday, 1st January, 2021
Well we have started the New Year with the British Exceptionalists crowing about leaving Europe as the establishment quietly admits that they have hyped up the availability of vaccine to get us out of this pandemic. Suddenly, as the new year opens, Chief medical officer Chris Whitty warns coronavirus vaccine shortages will last for months. Imprisonment circles us at every turn. Cut off from Europe and … cut off from Europe. What’s worse, we have to live and listen to this gang of sheisters!
It is cold outside. Nobody is about. The world is closed. I am reduced to watching old Test Match series on Sky TV and building Office chairs. If you follow the Blog, you will know that I have recently made a foolish decision in purchasing totally inappropriate replacements. Yesterday, the replacements for the replacements arrived unexpectedly. As with so much now, we had to construct them. It’s not a particularly difficult job for two people in love but it shouldn’t have to be at all.
It took us at least an hour with an allen key and some frustrating bolts but we got there. Sitting is much more cushioned now.
On this day last year, I was optimistic for the future, setting resolutions which started with booking foreign travel. Well that went well. I’ve spent the rest of the year fighting to get my money back. There is still a legal case in a Spanish court waiting for resolution and a flight and hotel suite in Athens waiting to be taken up. If we live until the end of the summer, may be we will see slightly better times.
Saturday, 2nd January, 2021
A monotone day – not cold but not inviting either. The furthest I have gone outside today is across the patio to the gym. I put in a really hard session and absolutely knackered myself for the rest of the day. Fortunately, I was then free to cope with five, Premier League matches spread from 12.30 pm to 10.00 pm. Actually, I just use the commentary as aural wallpaper as I read the newspapers and write to friends.
Is grey, cool monotone generally our experience at this time of year? This above was East Preston Beach on this day 4 years ago.
This was our road across the Pennines from Yorkshire to Lancashire 11 years ago – beautiful but stark and rather cruel. This is the sort of place my brother, Bob, would be happy. It is an environment for aesthetes and masochists. I’m not sure which one fits him! Personally, I am glad to be in the softer South.