Week 667

Sunday, 3rd October, 2021

Wet and warm yesterday, grey but dry and warm this morning. We are driving up to Surrey this morning so Pauline can have lunch with her sister as a pre-celebration of her birthday. On Tuesday, I am cooking so somebody will die! Anyway, got to get my exercise routine done before we set off at 11.00 am. Even though I woke at 4.00 am and didn’t get properly back to sleep, I have got up feeling very lively and energetic. I think I’m regressing to childhood although not in the mental capacity yet, fortunately.

Feeling optimistic and fortunate. Don’t really know why. Anyway, better not to analyse it too much in case it evaporates under scrutiny. When we get back from Surrey, I’ve been instructed to look through about 20 emails my wife has sent me – from the Kitchen to the Office – of clothes she is considering sending for to replace the ones I have been throwing out. How do people without email buy online?

And John will be modeling…although I don’t think I can live up to these men. Not young enough; not slim enough and not hairy enough. Still, I’ll try. It’s all for a good cause!

Lovely walk this morning. The sun came out and the temperature rose. Lovely to be walking in shorts & Tee-shirt in October. Talking about regressing to childhood: as we walked the church bells began to ring out and I was suddenly reminded of that childhood joke about the old couple who made love once a week on a Sunday to the rhythm of the church bells. One day a fire engine went past and the old man had a heart attack. Really appealed to a 12 yr old!

I’ve been researching weather patterns for the area of Florida we are going to next Spring. We are thinking April would be a good time. We would like to visit New York and then fly over to Boston, Massachusetts as well to visit my childhood friend who has lived there for the past 50 years. We would aim to be in the USA for a month to make it worthwhile.

Lovely drive up to Surrey under clear, blue skies and gorgeous sunshine. I sang all the way to Take That & James Taylor. Felt like I was driving across Europe. Really enjoyed my ‘naff’ little self!

Images of the afternoon in Surrey

Driving back we couldn’t get any petrol. Most stations were empty and those that were not had huge queues. Only got 400 miles left in the tank!

Monday, 4th October, 2021

Heavy bursts of rain overnight but this morning is sunny and warm. I like the weather organised in this way. I like organisation altogether. I hate indecision. I almost hate choice. I am a nightmare when shopping. I choose the first thing I see rather than have the agony of having to view lots of examples and then make a choice. That’s why my wife does the clothes shopping.

I check the bank accounts ritually every morning online and had a bit of a shock to find Pauline had ordered me around £700.00 worth of clothes online. She told me not to worry because most of it would probably go back and that she had ordered multiple choices of the same things. It feels weird to be ordering clothes for me at all but quite nice.

We’ve finally got round to advertising our X-Trainer which has hardly been used at all in the past 18 months since we bought it.

I’ve decided that I need a rowing machine instead so space has to be made for it in our restricted gym area. Actually, the Rower is cheaper although goodness knows what I will get for the X-Trainer secondhand.

Going out to see if we can get petrol this morning. It isn’t easy down here. I wonder if it will be in the North when I get up there soon. Tomorrow, I am cooking a Birthday meal of Monkfish Tails, King Scallops and King Prawns in a White Wine & Garlic Sauce and I’m serving it with French Beans and Asparagus Tips so I have to make sure I have all the ingredients.

As we drove, we saw huge queues at petrol stations for fuel where they had it. At Tesco, we drove straight in and filled up. I’m back to a tank of 570 miles now. I now have a USB in the car on which I already saved about 20 assorted CDS and, as I started the car, this song came on automatically and at high volume.https://www.youtube.com/embed/N2ICtCO8TCw?feature=oembed

As we walked into Tesco, what was playing over the Supermarket audio system but:

Whatever I said, whatever I did
I didn't mean it
I just want you back for good
Want you back, want you back
I want you back for good

I’d been singing it at the top of my voice in the car minutes earlier. How do these things happen? Coincidence can be incredible. Can’t get rid of it now!

Tuesday, 5th October, 2021

 I must firstly wish Pauline a happy 70th birthday. She doesn’t look a day over 50 and probably won’t for years to come. She is blessed with the fairy genes of eternal youth. I hope she has a lovely day to remember. She received a second bouquet of flowers from her friend, Margaret, in Marsden who we will have lunch with in a couple of weeks.

Glorious morning after a night of strong winds and heavy rain. We are going out for a walk under clear, blue skies and gorgeous sunshine.

Yesterday was a day of sunshine and showers but mainly sunshine and we had a wonderful walk.  I’ve now completed 16 kilometres a day every day for 235 consecutive days or about 8 months. Quite pleased with that and it has built up an expectation in myself that I cannot let go of. I’ve got to do it every day for a year ….. at least!

I’ve got a nightmare few days ahead. Tomorrow, we are going to pick up lots of new clothes and I will have to try them all on. I cannot think of anything worse. I hate trying clothes on but it has to be done! I will not be taking any photographs for the Blog. That would be too embarrassing. My other test today is cooking which I’m quite looking forward to. I enjoy cooking but don’t get much chance with a specialist in the house.

Our lovely, Italian neighbours across the road have just had a new baby. A gorgeous little boy they have named Lorenzo. It is the Latinate name for the anglicised Lawrence and means Laurel Crown. As we walked, I imagined what it would be like to be 3 weeks old in late 2021. Little Lorenzo, with just a modicum of luck, will see 2121 and could see much more. Modern science is already talking of human life span being extended to 130 quite normally. Of course, there is a difference between Life Span and Healthy Life. Certainly, I would choose the latter over the former.

Pauline spoke to her niece in Florida on a webchat yesterday afternoon. We have tentatively agreed to go over for the month of March next year and to spend a couple of days in each of New York and Boston, Massachusetts. Having never been before, I’m rather looking forward to it.

Well, I acquitted myself reasonably well with the birthday meal. First, a bottle of Prosecco from P&C with some olives and then a mixed fish dish of monkfish tails, scallops & king Prawns in a white wine, garlic and butter sauce with tarragon accompanied by roast tomatoes with grated parmigiana, green beans and asparagus. Went well. We were both totally stuffed. Lots of lovely neighbours came round with flowers and cards.

Wednesday, 6th October, 2021

Got up a bit late this morning – 7.30 am – after a busy day yesterday. This morning is glorious and sunny with clear, blue sky just as it was yesterday. When I posted a picture of Pauline setting out on our walk yesterday with a clear, blue sky behind, Dave Roberts from Rochdale said it was raining there and friends from Oldham agreed. Other’s misfortune is so heartening, isn’t it?

I think I managed to make Pauline’s 70th Birthday enjoyable.  She has far more friends than she realises and they are drawn from across the world, across the country and across the decades. She heard from her niece in America and her friends in Malta, Spain and Greece. She heard from her friends in Dorset, Buckinghamshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire. She has heard from distant relatives, old school friends, from old College friends, from former teaching colleagues and from people we’ve got to know on our travels. She also had neighbours knocking on the door bringing cards and flowers. The kitchen table is smelling delightful this morning and, for once, it’s not me.

There is new housing going up all around us. Our walk takes us through this park attached to some new housing and the builders appear to be using the idea of a drainage-soakaway to create a small lake. It is gradually filling under the sunshine to the joy of dogs and seagulls. Must be lovely to have a lake to walk around. Actually, it is such a lovely, warm day that we have cooked and eaten outside in the brilliant sunshine. Life can be good, can’t it?

We won the Euromillions lottery last night. Actually, the first prize of £153 Million wasn’t won but our £2.50 ticket produced a prize of £3.00. What shall we do with it?

Thursday, 7th October, 2021

After the most wonderful day yesterday with wall-to-wall sunshine, living, cooking and eating outside in the delicious warmth, this morning has opened quite grey. It is lovely and warm though so we are going out for an early walk.

Links across time, with our graduated past, are an essential part of the human condition. At times, we try to deny them, shut them out, concentrate only on the present, the now, but it is ultimately impossible. I have written before of my side on the Nature/Nurture debate shifting radically over the years, of looking in the mirror each morning to shave and seeing my Mother’s face. This morning on BBC R4 Today programme, I heard a poet reading this:

Mother, I find you staring back at me.

When did my body agree

to wear your face?

Imtiaz Dharker, from ‘Postcards from god

Why didn’t I write that? It is exactly how I feel. It challenges all my intellectual understanding of the human condition.

One of the things I really enjoy about the current use of social media is the way people I meet and ‘speak’ to and who have never met each other but connect just through my account eventually strike up an independent friendship. I am the ‘matchmaker’. I feel great about that. At the moment, for example, I’ve got a lad/man from College who I haven’t seen since 1972 striking up a friendship with a man from my school who I haven’t seen for 20 years. It’s lovely and they are brought together on a platform in which they find their political views coincide. They live nowhere near each other and may never meet in person but it opens and expands their lives.

Our home 1984 – 2000

In just the same way, we can maintain old relationships which we would otherwise have allowed to lapse in the past. Over a decade ago, our doctor bought our house in Helme, West Yorkshire. We left for Surrey and then Sussex. In the past, that would probably be an end to it but both he and his nurse wife have kept in contact with me through email and Twitter. They both contacted us yesterday to congratulate Pauline on looking so good at the age of 70. This sort of contact may seem intrusive but is well-meant and gives pleasure. We all need positive stroking! Hopefully, we’ll drop in and see them in a couple of weeks if we can fit it in. Our schedule is rapidly filling up now.

The other thing that means a lot to me is Travelling. Maybe it is the escape, maybe the anonymity of the foreign. It is certainly the challenge of different language and culture. Greece has always offered me that challenge. We will renew our relationship with the Greek language and culture next month.

Re-installed the British Airways app.

George Bernard Shaw said that Britain and the US are “two nations separated by a common language“. Certainly, the culture is very different and not one I buy into easily. That’s going to have to change. Last night we bought return flights for Gatwick-Tampa / 2nd – 30th March. We decided to splash out and go Business Class so we can have beds to sleep properly. The flight out is 10hrs but only 8½ hrs on the way back. We had to pay an additional £170.00 just choose our own seats/beds but the total cost was still an amazingly reasonable£4,950.00. Something to look forward to!

Friday, 8th October, 2021

At 8.00 am, we took the car in for the dent/paint repair it needed after some old dear opened their car door on to it in a windy carpark. We will be without it for about 8hrs but it is close enough to walk home through the woods and back again later to collect it.

The repair shop is on the edge of the PYO farm just 20 mins walk away. Such an idyllic setting fringed by these fruiting Sweet Chestnut trees. Our walk home is beautiful and peaceful.

The local Council has recently spent a couple of months resurfacing the woodland path with a light gravel mixture that drains well but looks natural and makes walking easy.

When we got home, a worker from Southern Water knocked on our door and asked if he could test the water quality. Don’t think we’ve ever had that before and, initially, I was suspicious. However, that’s exactly what he did and, apparently, the company does this constantly around the region. I have to say that we never trust tap water since living in Greece and everything we drink or use in cooking is filtered first. Just a long-term habit we have found unable to shake off. I drink sparkling water and certainly nothing from a tap unless you count a wine barrel.

To anyone who prevaricates and puts things off for years, my advice would be DON’T. You never know when the chance will be lost. I have never voted Tory. I will never vote Tory but, today, we learned of the untimely death of James Brokenshire, a pleasant, mild-mannered Tory minister who had never smoked but was diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer in 2018, left government for treatment, was declared cancer-free but had it recur this year and died this morning at the tender age of 53. How awful is that? Think of all the hopes and dreams he will never achieve. Never leave things unsaid or undone. You never know!

We have now really got the travel bug back. Yorkshire soon. Athens in November. Florida in March and we have agreed to sneak another quick Christmas shopping trip to France in to December. Feels really good to be moving again.

Saturday, 9th October, 2021

What a lovely, lovely day! Warm – hot even – with blue sky and strong sunshine. To feel 22C/70F in October is wonderful. Packed quite a bit in. Up early and out to Rustington for fruit & vegetables. Next to the Garden Centre and Hobbycraft for Christmas Cake boards for the Domestic Goddess! Just walking in the sunshine is a delight. Next, on to Worthing to collect clothes orders.

It looked beautifully French this morning bathed in sunshine. Quite a few people around. We went to a Department Store and collected 14 parcels of clothes that Pauline had ordered for me. While we were there, she picked out three more shirts and bought them. I’m going to have to arrange a mortgage at this rate.

After that, we moved on to the Pier and Beach. Everything is changed by warmth and sunshine. People everywhere were enjoying life.

Must be lovely to be so relaxed about your life to be able to spend Saturday morning fishing at the end of the pier. While I was working, I could never have done that. I was constantly striving to improve and succeed.

Now, there are lovely things to achieve. For example, I’m getting fitter and actually buying clothes. I can hardly believe it. This afternoon, two of my neighbours came round to collect my Step-Climber machine. They tried to buy it but I just wanted it moving so I had space.

After they’d gone, Pauline ordered a rowing machine to put in its place. That will be much more useful. I might actually develop stomach muscles!

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