Week 631

Sunday, 24th January, 2021

A wet morning which had clouds backlit by a rising, red sun. I’m watching England Test cricket in Sri Lanka while starting my Blog.

Looks like we are going to be under house arrest for quite some time to come. We always thought that the nonsense talked about schools reopening by Half Term was exactly that – nonsense. Now the speculation is whether they will reopen after Easter – circa April 12th. I think that is still very debatable. The talk about so many millions who have been vaccinated is equally duplicitous. Very very few have been vaccinated and won’t be until they’ve had their second jab. Everything else is spin.

January, 2011 – 6 month rental on new-build apartment coming to an end.

House arrest drives one back on to one’s own resources. For me, and Ruth’s going to hate this, it forces me to reflect on my history. Ten years ago today, we were drawing up plans to leave our temporary, new-build property in Yorkshire for a new-build property in Surrey we were purchasing. We had sold our Yorkshire home, spent 6 months in Greece and then 6 months in a rented apartment in Salendine Nook, Huddersfield.

Sunny Colmar, Alsace – 2011

At the same time as moving south, we were going back to Greece for six months and planning our journey. I sometimes wonder how we coped with the stress. Not only was I booking ferries but hotels en route. Ten years ago today, I was preparing to book this hotel in Alsace, France and another in Moderna, Italy. Oh to be doing that again this morning. Still, time for the gym!

…. Actually, I wrote too soon. The sky has cleared and strong sun has enticed us out for a walk. It was a reasonably warm and enjoyable hour’s long walk which really raises the spirits. Lots of other people out this afternoon doing exactly the same thing.

Monday, 25th January, 2021

Beautiful morning of clear, blue sky and strong sunshine. Well, we got away without any snow which is wonderful. The sky last night was clear as a bell with beautiful moon and huge, sparkling stars. This morning there was a light frost on the cars but not on the grass so we feel very lucky.

I ordered a webcam for my new computer yesterday. Ordered from Amazon at 2.00 pm on a Sunday and due to be delivered for free by 9.00 pm on Monday. Who needs the High Street anymore? I have no idea what I will use it for because I know no one who is on Zoom at the moment but I’m sure it will come in handy particularly if we want to contact the Doctors’ Surgery.

Something else which has come up this morning involves my INR testing at home. I test myself at home and email the result in to the Hospital. They email back with an official date for the next test. While things are going well, there may be up to 8 weeks between reporting results. In the past – 6 or 7 years ago – I used to have to drive to the hospital, sit in a crowded waiting room for half an hour, have an armful of blood removed and then wait 4 or 5 days before my result arrived by post. Now I test every week and report when I’m told to. In this way, I am in control of my INR which has to remain between 2.0 – 3.0. Last Monday, it was 2.5. Perfect.

In order to do this, I bought a quite expensive – £500.00/€563.00 – machine to test at home. The test strips cost about £80.00/€90.00 for 24 so that costs £160.00/€180.00 per year. It is worth it to avoid the crowds and the travel but it is all getting so much harder. I can order the test strips on prescription but, really, I only have to test every few weeks. I like to micro-manage my condition for safety and, therefore buy one box myself.

I order from Coaguchek, the manufacturers who, in turn, are owned by Roche Diagnostics which is Swiss. Today, it is much harder to order, the price has gone up hugely plus I now have to pay VAT as a purchaser from a ‘Third Country’. At the same time, Pauline has been told she can’t have a medication she has been prescribed for years and has to have an inferior one produced here. Brexit just gets so much better!

We went out for an hour or so walk in the lovely sunshine. I had hoped to have seen our friendly, fat rabbit but he/she was not to be seen and I suddenly realised why. This little chap was also looking for him.

At 2.00 pm, a lady turned up at our house to provide us with our 8th swab test kit. We perform our own throat & nose test. Put it in a test tube and seal it in a bag. Meanwhile, the lady retreats to her car outside. We speak on the phone as she asks us questions about our social contacts over the past month. I find those questions very easy to answer. She returns to our door to collect the tests and we get paid £25.00/€28.15 each. It’s a great system. I’ll be sorry when it ends in December.

Tuesday, 26th January, 2021

A damp start to the day. We are up at 6.00 am for our Sainsbury‘s delivery. As this pandemic and accompanying restrictions continue, we have refined our shopping while trying to retain the quality and variety of produce we buy.

Open Air Shopping at Tesco

We have stopped going to shops completely at the moment in the light of the new, more contagious strains of the virus. All shopping is done remotely. We don’t pay for deliveries. Sainsbury‘s are the easiest and most accommodating. Tesco is almost impossible to book.

Taylors transmogrifying into an Indian restaurant.

For that reason, we are doing click-&-collect where we drive into their carpark and load the order into our boot. We are doing the same at Asda. In this way, we are able to maintain our choice of product and quality largely uninterrupted. So, this morning was a Sainsbury‘s delivery. Tomorrow is an Asda click-&-collect followed by another on Thursday at Tesco. It amuses me because 60 years ago Mum would phone through our main, Grocery order from Taylors Groceries which was 200 yards up the High Street but she was so hemmed in with children that she chose to have it delivered. The difference is just one of technology she couldn’t have dreamed of.

Frog Intranet Platform

This morning I was listening to a Tech entrepreneur being interviewed about the impetus the pandemic had given to moving education on line, remote learning. Twenty years ago, I was desperately trying to persuade staff, parents and pupils that on-line learning/working was the way forward. The limiting factors were the resistance of Staff who lacked much IT experience, the reluctance of parents who hadn’t got Broadband and laptops/computers at home. Tablets didn’t exist then. There was little reluctance on the part of the kids.

Now, it is the order of the day. Part of me wishes to be back there leading the troops but most of me says, Let them get on with it. My time is better spent elsewhere.

Alternatives to Dreamweaver website building.

Thirty years ago, I was teaching kids to build websites using Macromedia DreamweaverFireworks and Flash. It was quite cutting edge at the time. I have built websites in the same way for years. Today, I am trying out a more modern, WYSIWYG site designer/builder called NicePage which still allows one to intervene in the Html.

Wednesday, 27th January, 2021

Up at 6.00 am on a milder morning. Grey and damp but 9C/48F. Drive down to Asda carpark and park in a Disabled Bay.

The Disabled Bays have been taken over by Click & Collect for the pandemic. They are also fortunate that their store designs seem to build in covered walkways along the front of the store so customers can queue in the dry. We received a confirmation email of our order over night and we then just click the button to tell them we’ve arrived and a worker comes out to our car with the goods. They leave; we get out of our car and load stuff in to the boot and drive away. Quite slick, easy and safe. We’ll do that again.

Twelve years ago today, we were on the last day of our last Ofsted inspection which damned us with faint praise by delivering the verdict of Satisfactory. Within 10 weeks we had retired and I had been diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation. Momentous times for us. In retrospect, they felt even more momentous than current times.

Uighurs forced in to re-education camps.

It is International Holocaust Remembrance Day and it is especially good to see the Jewish community use this occasion to draw attention to the existential crisis for the Uighur community at the hands of the Chinese. It appears to be equally catastrophic and Western governments appear to similarly appease the Chinese by continuing to trade with a country who are committing genocide and ethnic cleansing. It is History that gives us this perspective. It is History that should teach us how to deal with them.

Thursday, 28th January, 2021

Up at 6.00 am. Over freshly squeezed orange juice and a large cup of Yorkshire tea my routine is to download the newspapers, check emails, check our bank account and unstack the dishwasher before making a large cup of freshly ground and brewed coffee with a frothy, cappuccino head sprinkled with chocolate.

Today, we had to be at Tesco by 7.00 am for our click & collect so I only got part way through my routine before we had to leave. I did manage to get to checking the bank account and was delighted to find that the insurance money had been put back in. We paid it out 12 months ago and I have been struggling since May, when we were supposed to go to Tenerife for a month but were stopped by the pandemic.

Should have been our home – May 2020

After hours of work, scores of emails and phone calls, of the insurance company denying liability to the legal group employing Spanish lawyers, the whole thing came full circle to the point where it should have been settled 10 months ago. It would have saved our Bank so much cash and me so much nervous energy and effort. However, almost a year on we have recouped the more than £5,000.00/€5,642.00 outlay and can move on.

The working day starts with Lemons.

After returning home and unpacking, Pauline starts on jam making. First more Lemon Curd and then Blackberry which has been a great hit in our house this year. We are surrounded by woods fringed with blackberry bushes and there was an abundance of huge, sweet blackberries very early in August. We got scratched to pieces but the harvest was worth it.

I’m continuing to learn a new piece of web design software, organising our cloud storage and reading/writing Blogs. This picture above taken on a polaroid camera 40 years ago on our first Greek holiday together spilled out of the cloud. Lovely memory!

Feels like Spring today. The sun is out, The temperature is a balmy 12C/54F. I’ve got 90 mins in the gym coming up followed by roast cod loin for my meal. Before that, I have the critical job of chief jam taster from the Setting Test plates. I can tell you now that both jams are incredibly delicious and may well have to be locked away from me.

Friday, 29th January, 2021

After strong rain last night, we’ve woken to a lovely, dry and sunny morning. It feels warm again at 12C/54F. We are going nowhere. I’ve spent my morning trying to get to grips with this new, web design software. I’m still using Dreamweaver at the moment so the impetus to learn is not really strong enough. I am trying to set some imperatives in my head to force me on. I know when it is really needed, I will not let go until I’ve cracked it. 

I regularly check my social media accounts for contacts from friends. I follow ex-colleagues, ex-pupils, former student-days friends, old Greek friends, relatives and then politicians, Historians, political journalists, etc..

It is very much my way of dealing with the world. I like social contact at one remove. It has almost always been that way. I like people very much and I very interested in their lives but it has to be on my terms. I love communicating and exchanging ideas and I don’t mind joining in with those who disagree with me but I don’t pretend about my beliefs if it offends them. They can take it or leave it. I think this has become accentuated with age.

This morning an old friend – Friend? Well, someone I lived in Digs with at College 50 years ago. – Dr. John Ridley,  originally from Whitley Bay, but for the past 50 years from Catterick, North Yorkshire – posted a lovely joke on Faceache. It came from Barry Cryer and was his wife’s favourite. I thought you might like it.

A man says to his doctor, “I think my wife is going deaf, but I don’t want to mention it. It’ll be tactless and insensitive. Is there any way of checking, without her knowing?”

The doctor replies, “Choose a moment when she has her back to you. Say something in a normal voice and, if she doesn’t answer, move a little closer and say it again. Then you’ll get an idea about her hearing.”

So, when he comes home from work, his wife is standing with her back to him in the kitchen. He asks, “What’s for dinner, love?” but gets no answer. He moves in a little closer. “What’s for dinner, love?” he repeats. Again, no response. He moves even closer. “What’s for dinner, love?” Nothing.

By now, he’s right behind her. He says again, “What’s for dinner, love?”

She turns round and shouts, “For the fourth time – chicken!”

My wife understood that immediately because I’m always accusing her of being deaf. She even went to the Doctor to have a Hearing Test and was told it is perfect. I couldn’t understand it.

Tenerife – January 2016

Five years ago today, we were enjoying an almost month long run of hot sunshine and temperatures in the upper 20Cs. We were also within weeks of moving down to West Sussex and our new house. How the world has changed since then.

Saturday, 30th January, 2021

It gets lighter every morning. Even today as the rain comes down lightly from leaden skies. Time and the passage of time is fascinating and exciting. That’s what grips me about History. In just 8 weeks the clocks go forward and new life begins. Who knows, we might even have been vaccinated by then.

This day in 1965 was also a Saturday. It was the day on which Winston Churchill’s coffin was carried up the steps into St. Paul’s Cathedral. I can see the black & white picture in my head now. I watched it on television. We didn’t have a television but Saturday afternoon/early evening was the time that Bob and I got to watch one round the corner with Nana & Grandad. I guess that I must have watched it there. It was Mum & Dad’s one concession to modernity. Television was the invention of the devil. It distracted people from the serious things in life like Homework! It was safe to allow us a discrete few hours with our Grandparents watching ‘rubbish’.

Churchill Funeral – 1965

I was 13 years old and Bob was 12. Saturday afternoons were special. We would walk round to our Grandparents’ house and would be treated to freshly baked Victoria Sponge Cake that had risen so high it was almost impossible to get into mouths. Don’t worry, we managed it! If there was no sponge cake, Grandad would have bought jam doughnuts – my favourite. This was a little snatch of heaven. We would watch Saturday sport including Grandad’s favourite – Wrestling on ATV. We watched the football results while Grandad checked his Littlewoods Pools predictions. Then the pattern was continued every week: Dr WhoDixon of Dock GreenLaramie followed by a reluctant walk home to bed.

Over the next few months of 1965, Bob would be 13, I would be 14 and dad would die in hospital of a heart attack at the age of 49. It was a life changing year. Over the next few months of 1965, Bob would be 13, I would be 14 and dad would die in hospital of a heart attack at the age of 49. It was a life changing year.

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