Week 630

Sunday, 17th January, 2021

We are starting week 4 of our tightened diet, no alcohol and increased exercise. We have not fallen. The greater prize remains in sight provided we stay alive. Wrote to my brother, Bob, to tell him about my prostate cancer test and how fortunate I felt about the result. I felt rather awkward as he is still early in his uncomfortable diagnosis. Didn’t want to sound too celebratory even though I did rather feel it.

Home Made Lemon Curd – One in the fridge and two in reserve

Pleasant, sunny and relatively mild day in which Pauline made stock out in the garden for the local cats and dogs to drool over and, later, griddled swordfish steaks out in the late evening sun as seagulls circled overhead. In between doing those jobs, she did some washing and made pots of Lemon Curd jam. I didn’t know but proper Lemon Curd is largely fresh butter mixed with freshly squeezed lemons. Consequently, it has a very short shelf life which is why Pauline only makes three jars at a time. If you like Lemon Curd and you’ve only eaten shop bought jam, Pauline’s would blow your socks off. It is like a totally different animal.

This is where the problem lies. Pauline is constantly active and, consequently, stick thin. I sent my time reading the Sunday Times, writing emails and letters to friends and researching an urgently needed new computer Everything was done sitting down. As a result, it is encumbent on me to spend a 90 mins session in the gym while I watch a football match on Sky. The match – Sheffield Utd. v Tottenham – was not great and the exercise hurt. It was wonderful when I finished and had along, hot power shower. Amazing how reviving that can be. I used to love 20 mins in the jacuzzi after gym work at the health Club. That may have to be the next thing.

The next big (little)thing in my computer choice may turn out to look like this. It will not be a tower but a small, flat box on the desktop. It almost reminds me of the PCs I had 30 years ago where the monitor stood proudly on top of the case. If anyone out there knows of any reason I should go this way, I would be grateful for the advice.

Monday, 18th January, 2021

It is Christmas morning in the Sanders household and quite chilly it is outside. No I haven’t got the date wrong. I have just ordered my new computer system. Quite exciting although it wasn’t easy. Because of the pandemic, manufacturing in all areas is in deficit. A number of the pieces that were my first preference were not in stock and not currently being renewed.

When I finally decided on a reasonable package, and loaded it all in to my on-line basket, put in my credit card and pressed ‘BUY’, a message popped up: Credit Card not validated. Text messages from my credit card company asking me to contact them to discuss suspected fraud arrived. Long, Please Wait phone call to the Fraud Department. All verified and cleared. Go back in to pay again but … website timed out! Have I paid for it or not? Long, Please Wait phone call to HP UK. Eventually answered by wonderful young (30 yrs) lad who longs to be retired. I explained how delightful it is. He sighs, confirms my order hasn’t been paid for and takes payment over the phone. I am told it will arrive tomorrow.

Can’t believe how cheap this system is. I was paying three times as much ten years ago. Twenty years ago, I paid £3,500 for a huge, colour laser printer. It feels lovely. We have gone out for a bracing, one hour, Christmas walk. It’s these moments that I’m tempted to open a bottle of Rioja but … I won’t. It will stay behind me for better times.

Tuesday, 19th January, 2021

A damp but mild day. The temperature has remained 11C/52F overnight although it is a little breezy. Up at 6.00 am and Sainsbury‘s delivered at 6.30 am. I’d hardly finished my freshly squeezed orange juice. Life is shockingly fast paced. It is still largely dark when the doorbell rings although light sky is beginning to appear in the east which seems appropriate.

Ordered my new computer setup yesterday at 1.00 pm. It is being delivered this morning. Great service from HP (Hewlett Packard). What it does mean, however, is that I will have a lot of work and disruption of my systems for the rest of the day.

One of the things that happens with computer systems is that we build layer upon layer of software incrementally just as we add hardware gradually as we need it as well. The software and hardware is not there in its own right but to fulfil a function. It becomes a taken-for-granted facility. I can’t afford a long period of disruption while I try and remember how I performed regular tasks.

I’ve done this so many times over the past 40 years that I know how terrible my memory is in these processes. I now take photos on my phone of every piece of my PC that I will need to replicate on the new machine. I will probably set it up on the kitchen table and not disturb my current system until I have got everything up and working.

Highlights of the day after Sainsbury’s delivery and the arrival of my new PC include a worker coming to sort out our back gate which is malfunctioning and a delivery of fresh swordfish which has suddenly become available. It’s getting so exciting that I’m going to hide in the gym for an hour or two.

Wednesday, 20th January, 2021

Up early on a dark and breezy morning. Looks like it rained over night. We won’t be going out at all today other than to walk across the garden to the gym. I’ve got a day of work installing software on my new computer and learning new routines. I’m looking forward to it but it is also a stress I haven’t felt for a while.

When I’m stressed and determined to sort a problem urgently, the house is thrown in to turmoil. Yesterday, because of space, the new computer boxes had to be unpacked in the kitchen. Because I still needed to keep my work processes going, I will not replace the old PC system until I am completely confident that I’ve got the new one fully replacing it.

It started on the Kitchen Table …

Today, Pauline has been thrown out of the Office to make way for my two systems to work in tandem. She does have her own office cum ironing room cum dressing room upstairs but, for now, she is being moved in to the kitchen and on to the dining table.

Notice how neat Pauline is … in the Kitchen.

Currently it is chaos and there are cables everywhere. My current PC is hooked up to a Mono Laser Printer on one side and a Colour Laser Printer on the other via a switchable printer sharer. It is hooked up to a Label Printer and to a Flat Bed Scanner. Obviously, it is also hooked up to the BT Hub.

… and, eventually, moved to the Office.

Also on the desk I’ve got a Hive Hub and a Gigabit Switch plus a wi-fi extender out to the gym so I can run my Sky Q-Box. It’s a lot to get right and it is the reason buying a new set up is rather stressful. Pauline should be allowed back in by Friday.

Thursday, 21st January, 2021

Gorgeous sunny day although only about 10C/50F in the shade. I wasn’t thinking of spending too much time outside today anyway. Emails to our legal rep and to a friend in sunny Rochdale and then rebuilding our Office with the old machine gone and the new one being set up for all services. This is more complex than you might think and it took me all morning.

The Office is usable again.

Printers, printer sharers, scanners, hubs all hooked up as the old system is slowly and methodically dismantled and moved out into the back garden. In the old days, all peripherals had to be installed with their dedicated drivers and software before they can be used. Today, they really are plug & play through 64 bit Windows 10 Professional. Then, before I could do anything else, Pauline insisted on completely cleaning the area. It had 5 years of dust behind our L-shaped desk as we unplugged and threaded cables through the desktop cut outs. All surfaces were vacuumed, wiped and steam cleaned before I was allowed anywhere near it again. For the rest of the day, Pauline kept remarking, Doesn’t it smell wonderfully fresh in here? Of course, I am obsessed with tidiness and Pauline with cleanliness. Perfect match!

My copy of Dreamweaver 8 has become corrupted and it is almost impossible to buy. If you know of anyone who could give/sell me a copy, I would be happy to hear of it. It just remained for me to take my old PC apart in the garden and set about the hard drives with a lump hammer. Looking far the worse for wear, it has gone in the boot of the car to go off to the tip tomorrow.

Friday, 22nd January, 2021

Gorgeous morning in every respect. The sky is blue and the sun is shining. We went off to the Recycle Site to dispose of the old computer. It was so busy that we decided to go back later. On to the beach to enjoy a few rays.

Emptiness is what we like.

We walked for a while in splendid isolation. The beach was almost deserted and the Marina was little different.

Oyster Pond – almost deserted.

Home by mid-morning and, as we drank coffee, received a phone call from the legal firm my bank had appointed to try and get back £4000.00/€4,500.00 from a Tenerife villa rental last May which we couldn’t take up. Both services are provided by our bank’s Black Account. They use Direct Line to provide us with ‘free’ annual travel cover and Simpson Millar to provide us with ‘free’ Legal Cover. We had already successfully claimed about £1,500.00/€1,700.00 before we asked the insurance company to pay back the rest.

They prevaricated for months and then said they thought it was legally recoverable and asked the legal arm to pursue it. All this time, I am doing lots of paperwork to both teams proving the worthiness of our claim. Lots of people, we know, give up at this stage. The bank’s website encourages this with encouragingly big, clickable buttons to Cancel Claim. We persisted. Today, we were rewarded with the news that our bank’s insurers had accepted the advice of our bank’s legal team that the project was not cost effective and they are going to immediately refund all our money.

If only we had got somewhere to spend our money. Even the efficacy of the vaccine is sounding a little less certain and airlines are not expecting flying to recover much at all this year. We have flights and hotel in Athens rolled over to the end of August. I am desperate to use them but I will not be taking big risks. European tourist destinations are going to see another bleak season this summer.

Pleased to say that I found an old copy of Macromedia Dreamweaver in an old, school file and it installed easily. This has saved me about £480.00 per year which is what Adobe (who bought Macromedia) now charge to rent the software. I’ve accepted MS Office Pro rental at £90.00/€102.00 per year because of the greatly enhanced cloud storage it brings but almost £500.00 year for software I use only once a month for a few hours is going too far. My old copy will do me for the next decade.

Saturday, 23rd January, 2021

Another cool start to a morning. We were up at 6.00 am. Sainsburys delivered at 6.30 am. and, by 8.30 am we were out walking wearing Fleeces and woolly hats. We did an hour’s walk which encompassed taking ‘Returns’ to the Post Office from a mail order.

I want a camellia in my garden.

Really enjoyed the walk. Everywhere was deserted for a Saturday morning. Anyone we do meet is desperate to distance but also communicated at least, Good Morning. Walked past the bush with the same robin singing away and noticed this lovely camellia flowering beautifully in the garden.

Deserted as if hit by a deadly germ attack.

This picture is taken from the Post Office door and shows our normally bustling village square totally deserted. Pauline was the only person in the Post Office. The whole experience is quite disconcerting.

The North of England – Yorkshire and Lancashire where we have spent so many years of our lives – is currently experiencing snow. We swore when we left ten years ago that we never wanted to see snow ever again having battled it for the best part of 40 years across the Pennines. Today, Pauline has griddled fish outside in the garden under a lovely, clear and sunny sky. This is the sort of service I expect! Completed four weeks of no-alcohol today. I last drank wine on Boxing Day. I have absolutely no idea why I’m doing it. I love wine. However, I told myself I would so I am.

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