Sunday, 27th June, 2021
Lovely, warm and sunny morning. Lots of nice things to start the day. Freshly squeezed orange juice with the conservatory doors flung wide open. The lawn is looking so beautiful and inviting.
It is jab-a-youngster weekend around here and they are desperate for it. This was the scene yesterday as we walked past our Community Centre where Vaccinations are being conducted:
The travel industry is really being forced into unpalatable conditions by the pandemic. Our Easyjet flights in August which were rolled over from last year can be changed without charge at any time up until the day we should fly. Our Athens hotel which we have also rolled over will provide a full refund if we don’t take it up. The IHG booking I’ve made in the philistine territory of the North of England is cancellable up to 3 days before the date. Mind you, it would need a lot to stop us from taking that up.
Overall, I am feeling very optimistic this morning, I’m sure you will be pleased to know. Things will only get better. Probably be living in a tent tomorrow!
On this day 3 years ago, we were wandering through the city of Bergerac on the banks of the Dordogne. Ironically, this evening in 2018, Germany got thrashed by South Korea which bodes well for next Tuesday evening.
The day is ending steamy and humid down here on the South Coast. It’s been enjoyable and I’ve completed my gym session without keeling over.
Monday, 28th June, 2021
Hot and humid start to the morning but dark and gloomy. We have the lights on for breakfast. Sometimes life kisses us and lifts our spirits. I felt like that all day yesterday. Everything felt as if it was lifted on a wave of warm air. The day had started with warm sunshine and 22C/70F and ended in hot and humid conditions. It is my sort of weather. The hotter the better.
Seven years ago, we were close to sealing the deal to sell our Greek property. It had been an intense few months and, to take the pressure off, we took a ferry to Athens for a few days break from the process. Pauline booked an appointment at the hairdressers across the road from our favourite hotel.
The top stylist only cost about €35.00 and she was thrilled with the result. This week she is going for her 3rd haircut in less than two months. If that doesn’t satisfy, we will be off to Covent Garden Sassoon’s.
When we got back from our 4 day break, the feral cat who had adopted us a couple of year’s earlier was sitting very grumpily staring us out from the patio wall and demanding attention and food. It is one of the things which has tormented us since leaving that we deserted this animal and her family. The people who bought our property didn’t want feral cats as they were expecting a baby imminently.
The poor, old cat would have to pack her bags and make the arduous journey to find new benefactors. She had groomed us very successfully for three years and now would either start all over again or starve. I didn’t want that on my conscience. Everybody deserves a good Breakfast.
I am at the planning stage of my book. Immediately, it throws up problems, demands resources that I struggle with. Writing forces us to expose ourselves to scrutiny. It is painful and embarrassing. You could say I’ve had plenty of practice in my Blog but, make no mistake, this writing holds so much back that a book will expose. Raw, sore, painful honesty will be required. Difficult admissions even to myself and I’m only at the Planning stage. Memories of things I’ve blotted out subconsciously will need to be resurrected. I do ask myself if it is worth it but, if I don’t do it now, I never will.
The day here has turned out really hot and sunny. Our walk was quite sweaty. I found that, all the time I was walking, I was constantly preoccupied by my writing. I’ve got 3 or 4 working titles which I’ll be canvassing to gauge opinion.
Tuesday, 29th June, 2021
Yesterday was lovely, sunny and hot. Last night, we had a cloud burst at around three in the morning. Now, everywhere is fresh and clean. It looks like the next couple of days will be largely overcast. Keep seeing people going away. It’s making me increasingly itchy to travel. Spent an hour or two checking availability and prices in French hotels so I’m ready to go as soon as it’s possible. Our Greek arrangements can be triggered very quickly when we are able to. Our Yorkshire trip is booked. I am not going to be left behind!
About 15 years ago, I was diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes and high blood pressure. I was prescribed drugs to control them both but, eventually, decided that I had to take my own control. Through diet and weight loss, I managed to completely eradicate my Diabetes and massively reduce my blood pressure drugs. Part of this involved cutting out salt. We replaced it with herbs and it was transforming.
The main herbs our diet features are Oregano, Tarragon, Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Mint, Chervil, Chives and Basil. We grow them rather than buy them in packets or dried. When they are abundant, like now, Pauline harvests, prepares and freezes to get us through the year. That is what was happening yesterday.
One of the things that contributed to my health getting out of control was Ofsted. Our inner-city, impoverished-catchment school was constantly dipping in and out of Special Measures in the last decade of our careers. It was hugely stressful. My response was to work hard but compensate by eating and drinking too much as well. My image bank for this day 16 years ago reminded me of the specific concern I was focussing on at the time – School Attendance rates. Strategy papers, management meetings, staff training sessions, digital registering, pupil incentives all were tried but we moved the dial by mere single-digit percentage points. At this distance in time, at least I can say, Who cares?
Now, I am working hard to improve my health through daily exercise. They say, No gain without pain. I am finding that is true for me at the moment. To add to my stamina work, I have moved on to weights and my stomach muscles are agony this morning. Even so, I am going to push myself through the pain barrier for a few months. I’m also going to continue restricting my calorie intake. My coffee maker will be my best friend.
Wednesday, 30th June, 2021
The last day of June has started well. Took Pauline for an early appointment at a third, new hairdresser and it looks to have gone well. This hairdresser trained as a ballet dancer with Ballet Rambert (speaks volumes) but then went on to train as a Hairdresser with Vidal Sassoon himself in London before moving on to work in Sassoon‘s Manchester branch. The cut looks good. Fortunately, she has no grey so doesn’t need colouring and the cut only cost £50.00 so will probably merit at least one more visit later.
I wrote recently of the ‘heat’ in our local, property market. This week, an article appeared in the MyLondon publication which rather confirmed what was happening. The pandemic has encouraged a move from the intensity of London life to the more open and healthier environment of seaside villages like ours. Angmering is described as ‘gorgeous’ which I think is going a bit far but it is pleasing if wealthy Londoners think so. They are welcome to come and inflate our property values.
I was born into a family home actually built by my own family firm for family life. We have not had children so that necessity never arose. There is a sense in which family encourages the feeling of a house being a home rather than just another property. We have always bought, invested and sold properties as much for profit even though we have enjoyed living in them. It has, I suppose, contributed to my feeling of rootlessness and not belonging. (Cue sarcastic singing!)
The search, purchase, development and marketing have almost become ends in themselves. We have actually talked about having this house valued and looking again now we have been here 5 years. There is a refusal to accept that the process has finished at the age of 70. Although my mother was from London and her parents from Brighton, she married into a family totally rooted, fully located in the small, Midlands village life with its history, its suffocating cultural, religious and commercial life that I became so desperate to escape. Her world was one of faith, of moral and political certainties, of unquestioning belief that I utterly rejected although her certainty, possibly, made her less troubled than I have been.
Awful news about our old haunts in the North of England this morning. The coronavirus death rate in Greater Manchester has been 25% higher than in the rest of England, new research has found. Long-standing health inequalities, high levels of economic deprivation and wide social disparities have meant the region has suffered especially acutely during the pandemic, the study by Professor Sir Michael Marmot says. To make matters worse, Life Expectancy in Greater Manchester is said to have declined by 2 full years. If you needed a reason to move then this would be it.
Thursday, 1st July, 2021
Happy July! July already? The year, the time, the Life is running ahead too fast. The new month is being greeted by a really lovely morning. The day is warm, sunny and cloudless. Breakfast is taken with the conservatory doors flung wide open and bird song competes with R4 Today.
Sainsburys delivery early, window cleaner arriving and then we are going out to Tesco before more lawn mowing, hedge trimming and a long walk. Pauline’s haircut appears, after one sleep, to have been quite effective so we can relax on that subject for a while.
It is cherry season. I love cherries and am inclined to gorge on them when they are available. The greengrocer in Rustington has two, beautiful types for sale at the moment and I am really enjoying them.
I have been preparing for the slightest window of possibility when we might be able to drive across the Channel by exploring hotel bookings.
It would just be nice to get a suite at our favourite hotel in Coquelles and use it as a springboard to drive to nice places for lunch – Wissant, St Omer, Arras, Le Touquet.
My little sister, skinny Liz, is Director of Social Care & Public Health at Richmond and Wandsworth councils. It always brings me up short when her face comes up on social media. This morning, I accessed Linkedin and there she was, sitting on an empty train from Chiswick to Wandsworth.
Friday, 2nd July, 2021
Interesting morning which started brightly but very quickly became enveloped in a drifting sea mist. It’s a gardening day as the weather is encouraging so much growth everywhere.
I am troubled by my life now that my Blog is so hard to write. On one side, everything is going along quite normally although monotonously and, on the other, the future is turbulent and uncertain. How can I resolve this? I am trying desperately to look to the future with travel plans but it is all hypothetical.
The French will allow fully vaccinated people in but we will need evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, or an antigen test within 48 hours of departure. Of course, these are available but at quite a cost both in terms of travel and payment. The most rapid and certain test costs around £110.00 per person which is quite steep for a few days away.
What this will mean is that younger ones who are reluctant to be vaccinated will be penalised. Something reported this morning might give them pause for thought. Hollyoaks tends to have a younger audience although I know some wrinklies watch it. Last night a 28-year-old actress from the soap was rushed to hospital with some severe Covid symptoms. She is on oxygen support and was suffering from excruciating skin pain.
Of course, new Covid cases increased by 50,000 in the past week which is a 46% increase and UK has more new Covid infections than the whole of the EU put together so they may harden their stance to our entry as Merkel is requesting. For that reason alone, it is a bit risky to book anything yet.
Just to add to the joy, our mobile phone charges, which are significant when we travel, will increase hugely as roaming charges are being reintroduced because of BREXIT!! I use my mobile phone for lots of things abroad not least to stream BBC Radio 4 and the Parliament Channel through the media centre in our car as we travel further south into Europe and the DAB & FM signals disappear. This will become an increasingly expensive luxury.
The skies have cleared and hot sunshine poured through as we gardened. Just met our new neighbours from across the road. EU nationals, Philippo & Christina are from Parma in Italy. Beautiful place and lovely ham. We have been there many times en route to Greece and back.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, Parma just off the Autostrada del Sole. I’m not a fan of Elvis but the Manager there was christened Elvis and the hotel proudly advertised it. Really must get to know our neighbours better!
Saturday, 3rd July, 2021
Weather’s a bit depressing this morning – warm but grey. Still, life could be worse. Nice things still happen. I’m losing weight and having new clothes ordered for me. Pauline loves buying things. Actually, I don’t wear clothes very often but there may come a time … Early out to buy fruit – apricots, peaches, cherries – and the sun has come out. It is warm on our faces as we walk.
Never been to America although I always thought I should. I know Pauline has been reluctant but, now, she has an incentive with members of her family living there for the next 18 months. They are in Tampa, Florida which could be interesting. My boyhood friend, Jonathan, has lived in Boston, Massachusetts since the early 1970s and I would like to see him again. Currently, we just communicate occasionally by email. His sister, an early girlfriend of mine, lives in Canada. Can you imagine seeing someone again that you haven’t seen for almost 50 years. It will be fascinating. Jonathan was always the polar opposite of me – scientific and not sporty, not really physical at all and certainly not a literature reader or political. He was scientific, didn’t go to University but went straight into industry and made a real success of it.
Of course, Florida and Massachusetts are almost a continent apart and we would have to fly between the two but it would make an interesting early winter trip. November would probably be the time we would look to travel which may be just too late for Boston’s Fall but that’s not a problem. Would just be lovely to catch up with my Past again.
The Blog is still limping on while Bloggers that I’ve been following for years are falling all around me. Bart Simpson from Paros ceased some time ago. The Skiathan followed into the abyss. Now the Symi Dream boys are no more. Even the Democracy Street lecturer in Corfu writes only very occasionally. Anyway, I write for myself as much as anything else so it will continue. I’m really enjoying Dominic Cummings two Blogs – Dominic Cummings Blog & Dominic Cummings Substack and Professor Chris Grey’s Brexit Blog is a delight each Friday.