Week 646

Sunday, 9th May, 2021

Weak sunshine but quite warm at 16C/61F this morning. Went out for an early walk which I will follow by a hard, gym session. Our regular route takes us through our Development to the wooded perimeter and we noticed a new house with scaffolding up for the past few days. A couple of days ago, an array of solar panels were attached to the roof. We moved in 5 years ago. The Development was completed 18 months later. Most of the later houses had solar panels included because of a change of government policy and subsidies. The back of our house is south-facing and would be ideal for solar power generation.

This morning we noticed the owners in their front garden as we walked. I took the opportunity to speak to them. They were delighted to talk about it and not the least affronted that my first question was about the price. Everything here – 12 panels, storage battery, cabling and smart meters fitted and working for just £8,500.00. Sounds a bargain. The panels supply the storage battery which supplies the house during the day and the National grid during the night which reduces household bills and brings in a small income. Unfortunately, the cost/benefit analysis shows that it would take 11.5 years to break even. At the age of 81, I suspect I won’t be too worried about cheap electricity. I have much more important ambitions to achieve by then!

It is looking rather uncertain for foreign travel at the moment. Spain may have to wait for next Spring. Our first trip will almost certainly be to France. Brexit means I will have to smuggle most of my wine purchase but I’m not drinking at all at the moment so I won’t need too much anyway.

Lovely Gym!

I have a store which would provide me with a bottle each day for 3 years. I know what you’re thinking. Who could manage with just one bottle a day? At this rate, I might just become a White Ribboner. I now preach moderation. We are still holding on to the possibility of our trip to Athens in late August and we will spend some time in the North of England in October.

Monday, 10th May, 2021

Lovely, warm and sunny start to the morning just after 6.00 am. Mondays are always so exciting – INR self test, putting the bins out, exercise. Providing all the services. I need a trip away! Actually, I think I need some excitement and a bit of danger to liven me up.

Instead, I am going to Rustington Specsavers for an eye test and to buy a couple of new pairs of reading glasses. Nothing has changed in my eyesight for years. I have been wearing reading glasses for 15 or so years but my distance has been improving with age and I rarely wear my main glasses at all.  Booked 8.30 am appointments and arrived early. During the pandemic, Rustington, a small town dominated by the wealthy retired, has installed canopies over all the pavements so we don’t have to queue in the rain.

No need for canopies today. Warm sunshine and hardly any wrinklies up yet. Specsavers was fun. I was tested by a lovely, young girl called Shiela who had come from Hong Kong to do a Cambridge University degree 7 years ago but had stayed in UK as the situation on her home island deteriorated. She does return to see her family in the summer but things are getting worse and she’s not sure how long she can continue. She offered to take me with her next time, which was nice. My eyes were unchanged, by the way.

I wanted two, new pairs of reading glasses and the little girl doing that part of the service was from Colorado. I had already chosen my frames and was trying to get an invite to her family home but didn’t make a lot of headway. She was definitely less friendly. There are some very unfriendly people in the world … or is it just me?

While I was out, a message came in on my phone. Love getting messages on my phone. It was from Dr Rob who bought our house in Helme, West Yorkshire over 20 years ago. It had almost an acre of garden and we had spent a fortune on plants. Just before we left, we had put in some small rhododendron plants. Just 21 years later, he sent me a photo via Twitter of a couple of those plants flowering happily.

Slade House, Helme

I have a very selective memory. I always remember plant names. People accuse me of forgetting important events but I remember the genus of the crimson rhododendron was Britannia. I replied to Dr Rob with that information and apologised because we are both vehemently anti-Brexit although it wasn’t conceived of in the 1990s. He replied saying he would have to replace it with a Europa one if available. I have found Rhododendron Europa and have agreed to take it up to him in October when we call in for coffee.

Looks like I’ll have to book at least 4 if not 5 days to fit all our visits in. I want to take a tram ride for the first time to Manchester. Andy Burnham is pledged to extend the tram to Middleton now which ought to sway some voters’ minds when he moves on to lead the Labour Party.

Tuesday, 11th May, 2021

Lovely, lovely morning. Up to sunshine and blue sky. It was presaged by this gorgeous sky over the Marina last night.

Red Sky at Night …

Dave Roberts posted this of Rochdale last night which doesn’t bode well for his weather today.

Dark, Satanic … Hills

Domestic things going on today include a Sainsbury’s delivery and a fresh fish delivery. Probably go out to the Garden Centre for fresh season’s herbs which no cook could be without.

Pauline is going to be connecting with her, old college friend by phone for the first time since 1973 when they went their different ways. She’s upstairs getting changed for the call. It’s fascinating the difference between the sexes. In these nervous situations, Men tend to think they can busk it and often fail badly. Women pay attention to things that give them confidence and ‘looking good/feeling good about themselves’ is one of those things. I have no doubt that Pauline and her friend, ‘Blondie’ will make a great success of it because they both really want to. The next stage will be for them to meet in person.

Care Home, Waterhead, Oldham

This time 12 years ago, we were retired and preparing to drive off to Greece for the Summer. We had two, major concerns: Pauline’s lovely Mum who was 96 years old and struggling and selling our Huddersfield house. Just up the road from Mum-in-Law’s flat was this newly appointed care home. We didn’t tell her but went for a visit to check it out. I got the shock of my life.

Ellen Aged 96

As we were shown round, a woman recognised me. I recognised her. She was our former Head of Governors, Ellen Brierly. I didn’t know the context of why she was there but it soon became apparent. She started spouting miles of educational language and I listened respectfully. Suddenly, I began to realise that she was using all the right words but in all the wrong order. Nothing she said made sense. She kept saying, It is nice to see you again. When I said, I had to move on with my tour, her old face crumpled and she expressed disappointment. I was rescued by a nurse/orderly coming in, taking Ellen by the arm and saying, Shall I read the newspaper to you? Another one whispered that Ellen was suffering badly with Dementia. Ellen lived another year sinking slowly into oblivion. Pauline’s Mum lived another year but stayed in her flat and was sharp as a button right up to the end.

Wednesday, 12th May, 2021

Pleasant morning but I’ve woken up aching all over. Yesterday, I really pushed myself in the gym and I’m paying for it this morning. Woke up in the middle of the night aching and found it hard to get back to sleep. As a consequence, didn’t get up until 7.00 am. Outside it is 13C/55F and weakly sunny but is forecast to be a pleasant day. Going to do a bit of gardening potting up the herbs that we bought yesterday – Sage, Thyme, Oregano and Rosemary. Bit early for Basil which we use on salads and to make pesto. Don’t know why but I can’t seem to get in to it as much this year.

My wife is unhappy with the results of her first haircut in 6 months. She went to her usual hairdresser but thought the cut was poor. When we were in the North, she went to Vidal Sassoon in Manchester and later in Leeds.

Hair Salon? Looks more like our Dining Room!

There isn’t one here without her going to London. I wanted her to go to the salon in Covent Garden but she’s found a Sassoon-trained stylist near us and is going to have her second cut in a week there on Thursday morning.If that doesn’t work, we are off to the city. The International Creative Director who charges £320.00 (sharp intake of breath) per cut in Covent Garden was a young trainee in Manchester when Pauline first went there.

Βαθύ – Deep – Lunch on this day – 2010

Memory Box is painful today. On this day in 2010, we drove in baking sunshine down to Vathi Bay for Lunch at one of our favourite tavernas, Okeanida – The Wave.

The Wave – Vathi

Thursday, 13th May, 2021

As expected, it is wet this morning. Yesterday, I managed to rake, cut and feed the lawns and my neighbour’s. The rain this morning is just in time to water the feed granules in. Have woken up to bits of seagull strewn across the beautifully striped grass but no body – must have been just a skirmish.

Pauline is off for her second haircut. I am kicking my heels at home. Actually, I am in the gym punishing myself as any self-respecting lapsed Catholic should be doing! Ironic to see rain today because it has been so warm that I have designated it officially the start of shorts & Teeshirt season which will, hopefully, last well in to October. No clothes for 6 months!

It is more than a year since we last went to the David Lloyd Health Club. Because we have constructed our own gym with high quality equipment, we don’t miss their apparatus. We do miss meeting nice people a little but we especially miss swimming in the heated outdoor pool which we used all year round. For more than 20 years, we have discussed a pool in the back garden at various houses. Not a huge pool, of course, but one which is becoming increasingly popular from Endless Pools. An outlet has been established in our local Garden Centre Business Park. We called in yesterday.https://www.youtube.com/embed/WQ5dIrGA6pg?feature=oembed

An endless pool is only about 12ft long and contains a powerful motor which creates a current of water strong enough to keep the most powerful swimmer static but afloat. The full exercise is possible without ever having advanced along the pool at all. There are seats at one end for a jacuzzi and a motorised canopy to keep out the rain. Effectively, only one person can swim at a time but that doesn’t really matter, because, if one drowns the other is on hand to sign the death certificate.

The cost, including installation would be around £50,000.00 which is a lot of money and cost effectiveness has to be considered. Even if it was used for an hour a day, every day for 10 years, it is still quite expensive. Ten years membership of the Health Club for two people would only cost about £20,000.00. Assuming the Covid threat goes away, it might be better to just take up our membership again exclusively for swimming but so many people around us are installing Living-Room-sized Hot Tub / Jacuzzis that we thought we might just go one better.https://www.youtube.com/embed/BlCbWrkt7SY?feature=oembed

I don’t know anything about Ed Sheeran although I have heard of him but I came across this with Bocelli and really enjoyed it. Thought I’d store it here.

Friday, 14th May, 2021

Up early for Sainsbury’s delivery. Rained over night and quite overcast this morning. Domestic life continues with another side of salmon being prepared and cured for smoking. We are going out to a pottery store which specialises in huge, garden pots which we passed on the road to Gatwick Airport. With foreign travel increasingly looking difficult, pots may remain viable for the summer this year and our expanded garden patio is looking a bit bleak so pots and plants will soften it.

Fortunately, Pauline was delighted with her 2nd haircut yesterday. That’s saved some cash! It looks nice and it isn’t far from home so it makes life easier. The thought of a train into London every time was a bit daunting. She’s also arranged to meet her closest college friend for the first time since 1973. Her friend is widowed and very keen to meet up which is nice. She sounds a really lovely lady.

Anyway, Pauline is getting a train to Milton Keynes quite early in the morning on May 27th. We were surprised how difficult it is to get there. Just driving, which wouldn’t be fun for her alone because it involves the M25 + M1, is a 2.5 hr journey. The train involves a change at Clapham Common and takes just over 3 hrs. To make it worthwhile, she will leave before 7.00 am and not get back until after 9.00 pm. Still, it sounds like it will be a lovely reunion and, hopefully, a continuing relationship beyond texting or Christmas cards. Perhaps, next time, I will drive her and meet the ‘girls’ myself.

Papadopoulion, Kalamata, Peloponnese

I‘ve always wanted to drive to the south coast of the Greek Peloponnese. Especially, it would be lovely to stay in Kalamata which is famous for the best, Greek olive oil. The whole region has the most wonderful, all year-round climate. So many ambitions have got to be achieved soon when your 70 already. I read Greek newspapers most days to keep up with the country I’ve spent so much time in. An article this morning in Kathimerini featured a luxury residential development for the over-65s.

It has all the fitness services – gyms/indoor and outdoor pools, integrated Spa/Massage/Beauty Treatment – that one could want to stay alive for decades to enjoy the experience plus luxury restaurants for those reluctant cooks and cleaning services. Properties include wifi, satellite tv, etc. and are set in olive groves and citrus gardens.
(Price on Application)

So often the saying that Life isn’t a rehearsal has impacted my life. Everything I do feels like a rehearsal all the time. Next time I will do it differently. Next time I will do it better. Next time I will succeed. It is so hard to realise that we write our own film script. It doesn’t just happen to us. Why does it take so long, until the age of 70, to realise that seizing the day is so important? The rehearsal is over and real time is here!

Saturday, 15th May, 2021

What a poor day. Grey skies and feeling cold. I don’t think we are getting much above 13C/55F in mid-May. A year ago, temperatures were nearer 22C/70F and we were on the beaches of the south coast.

Middleton Beach

We went out to buy things for the garden yesterday. First to a pot seller where we splashed out about £150.00 on 6 largish pots. Not quite sure what will go in them yet. We came back and visited our local garden centre of bags of soil and grit in readiness for planting them up.

I don’t quite seem to have the enthusiasm for gardening that I have had in recent years. I don’t really know why although it might have something to do with my strict diet and exercise regime. I seem to be tired all the time. But I am losing weight which is spurring me on. My mistake was marrying a fantastic cook. Our meal yesterday was griddled swordfish steaks with wonderful asparagus spears. How can one avoid eating too much? I really should have married someone who couldn’t cook at all. Now, I would be nibbling the occasional sandwich and looking stick-thin.

I heard of someone described as a gym bunny the other day. You would never describe me as a bunny anything ever! However, I am improving. Thought for the Day this morning had this aphorism: It never rains roses. If you want more roses, you have to plant them yourself. I am trying hard to plant roses with the faith that they will eventually flower.

Valencia Palace Hotel – this day 2018

Had a stream of Direct Messenger contacts flying around this morning. Currently it is the best way to stay in touch with people who are distantly located. This morning it was my cousin in the south of France and my brother in Maidenhead intervening in my orange juice & coffee. Yesterday, it was a girl from college, who I haven’t seen for nearly 50 years, sending me an animated-gif. My mind struggles to get to grips with the significance of time and space but it is fun.

Valencia – a beautiful city

I record, tabulate, Calendar, Blog all the events of my life. Many people find it weird, amusing, sad but I can’t help it. I love to be able to recall events that my memory only hazily brings back. Sometime, without my records, I find that I have totally redesigned an event so that it has little relation to what actually happened. This morning, the memory box reminded me that just 3 years ago today, we were checking in to the Valencia Palace Hotel for what turned out to be a lovely, short break. It actually feels so much longer ago.https://www.youtube.com/embed/NGorjBVag0I?feature=oembed

I found myself listening to Leonard Cohen yesterday. It is sad almost mournful sense of loss that permeates his songs. It certainly reminds me of my old friend, Nigel, who is an artist in North Yorkshire. It doesn’t help. I cry a lot anyway. I was interested and rather reassured listening to Gary Lineker this morning describing how he cries when he’s happy and he cries when he’s sad. Thank goodness I am not the only one. It is not a weakness but a strength. Pretending to be strong when you’re not is a weakness.