Week 671

Sunday, 31st October, 2021

I love time. I love to know where I am in time. I love to place myself in the context of time and history. That is one of the reasons for the Blog. People, Places, Time – the stuff of Life! I hate wasting time although I’ve done enough of it in my life. Since Retirement, I’ve learnt to push myself and not to waste time, make the most of what I now see as a finite resource. That is why I am so (probably too) forceful with people.

Today is such a moment when Time is of the Essence. Clocks going back gives us an extra hour – not in bed but to do things. We have driven out in torrential rain at 8.00 am to travel 20 miles to Chichester for our Booster Jab. The roads were awash and many trees were down. The dual carriage way was wheel deep in water, wood and leaves.

When we got there, we had to get through a massive security system They had been besieged by mad anti-vaxxers yesterday and had erected caged barriers manned by burly security men this morning. When we got inside, it was full of ‘old people’ and I was the only one wearing shorts & tee-shirt. I don’t know why! It is gorgeously warm. Lovely volunteer people running the system. We were through and back home by 10.00 am.

John Ridley contacted yesterday to say he’d just had his Booster. Dave Weatherley is having his this week and David Roberts has to wait a fortnight. If we hadn’t demanded it, we might have been well behind the curve.

I have a huge confession to make. Whether it was for comfort food or the elation of getting our booster in time for flying to Athens, but I felt starving and ate some TOAST!!! Already, I feel terrible about it but it can’t be rescinded now. I’m going to have to live with that original sin. It won’t happen again I can assure you.

At the risk of boring you after my return to College roots, the Blog is a useful aide memoire of experiences through time. Until just over 20 years ago, we lived in or around the Pennine villages of Meltham & Helme.

We left in 2000 just as we were designing our Greek house with our Athens architect and starting an exciting, new chapter.

Just 5 years ago, just after we had finished furnishing our new house here in West Sussex, we were spending the month of November in the warmth of sunny Tenerife.

It was our 4th month in two, turbulent years. Nobody could accuse us of standing still and that will be my watchword until the end – keep pushing for new things, old things, new experiences, renewing old experiences, staying alive!

Monday, 1st November, 2021

The irony of it. Loving time and not knowing the date. I’m going mad! Anyway, belated happy November to all my confused readers.

Gorgeous morning of blue sky and warm sunshine. Out for an early, two hour walk. Felt absolutely great – healthy, fit and vigorous. I don’t remember getting up each morning with so much energy since I was 18. Might be a bit of an exaggeration because I can’t really remember what I was like 52 years ago but you get the idea.

When we got back home, all the conservatory doors were thrown open because it was so hot. I had my hair cut in the kitchen. It looks as if we won’t only cook outside but eat outside as well today. Good preparation for next week in Athens. I’ve been planning possible activities / trips while we are there. Of course, I will still have to do my exercise routine in the hotel gym & pools where I will be getting in touch with my feminine side because my wife has bought me pink swimming shorts, but I am also going to use the ancient Olympic Stadium – the Panathenaic Stadium (Παναθηναϊκό Στάδιο) which is within walking distance of our hotel. I’ll walk round the track a few times each morning just to say I’ve done it.

Panathenaic Stadium

We might take a short ferry journey to Aegina Island for a day trip. It is somewhere we’ve never been or Poros Island where Ellerania’s parents own property.

Omonia Square

Throughout the 40 years we have been visiting Athens, the decaying, neoclassical Omonoia Square (Πλατεία Ομονοίας) has been a seedy area of drugs and prostitution. Now it has had a major facelift and I am looking forward to seeing it with fresh eyes.

Tuesday, 2nd November, 2021

Up at 6.30 am after rather a fitful night. Woke at 4.00 am and didn’t go back to sleep. Glorious morning with sharp, clear blue sky and sunshine but quite chilly. We went down to 3C/38F last night and all the semi-ripe figs fell off the trees.

Busy day today. I’ve just written a To Do List of some 14 tasks to be completed or at least started today. In addition, Royal Mail have just sent me a text to say our Day-2 Lateral Flow tests which have to be taken on our return from abroad will be delivered this morning. A lot of the tasks are related to travel including booking the Airport Executive Lounge and deciding clothes to pack so my assistant can iron them. I have to vacuum the house and book a steam cleaning service for all the carpets which are coming up to 6 years old. I must also tidy the Office which is starting to drive me mad with so much out of place.

Don’t know if it is because I am tired after a poor night’s sleep but I’m feeling a little down this morning and I shouldn’t be. There are too many good things going on. Going out for an early walk which I hope will lift me for the rest of the day.

I record my life in words. Kevin Sellers records his in pictures. Must be wonderful to be able to produce such paintings up in the wilds of Northern Scotland although he’s currently in Tasmania where his son lives.

Glorious morning to walk through the park!

It’s not even mid day and I’ve managed half of my list of jobs including booking the Executive Lounge at Gatwick. It is ‘free’ through our Bank Account although there are very few Lounges open at the moment. Of the two, airside ones, I chose No.1 Gatwick North.

It really is such a lovely day that we are determined to spend a lot of it out in the garden including cooking and eating. Mixed fish platter! I’m looking forward to it after all the hard work.

Wednesday, 3rd November, 2021

Much better night’s sleep even though my Full Fibre Broadband went down at 10.00 o’clock last night. Nowadays, that sort of emergency is much more significant than it used to be. Everything in the house is connected in some way to the internet. All the televisions except the primary one in the Lounge are fed by the internet. Our home phone works exclusively over the internet – VOIP …Voice Over Internet Protocol. We have no copper wire phone line. Our central heating and home security is controlled over the internet. All communication is over the internet. I have a mobile phone which uses 5G but, most of the time, I’ve set it up to take its signal from the nearest wi-fi.

I have the fastest broadband that it’s possible to get in UK currently. A large chunk of the country doesn’t get much above 50mps download speed. Mine is 1000 mps. I pay for a premium service. Last night, I immediately chatted with BT Helpdesk on my mobile and was promised the service would be back up by 2.40 am but, if it wasn’t, a broadband dongle would be couriered to me for this morning to get my service back up.

£51.00??

I did wake feeling a little bit anxious a couple of times but managed to quell my concerns and get back to sleep. This morning such sweet messages sent by …. The steady blue light on my Broadband Hub. Normal service was resumed. Not only that but the world outside was bathed in beautiful sunlight. The day will be good. I feel more relaxed knowing that the travel planning is complete. The Day-2 Tests arrived yesterday afternoon and will be ready for our return. My assistant has agreed my choice of clothes for Athens and is busily ironing them in preparation for packing. All is well with the world.

Done a lovely walk in beautiful sunshine this morning. Got a real spring in my step. Ah, the power of the internet!

Now travelling is back on the agenda, Spanish Property is coming back in to focus. Right Move sent me an invitation to an on-line Property Show which immediately threw up interesting contenders.

The Harbour – Águilas, Murcia, Spain

Really good value properties overlooking the Harbour and Marina of Águilas with its lovely micro-climate. I am quite taken by a newish, 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom, top floor apartment with large, rooftop sun terrace for just £90,000.00.

Thursday, 4th November, 2021

Quite chilly, grey morning. Up early with lots to do. Out shopping to Asda & Sainsburys. I was the only one in shorts and tee-shirt. Back home, I had to write what Kevin described as an Encyclical for him to read out at the College Reunion tomorrow in Ripon. I will not be there because it is a long drive just days before I go abroad. I have told them that I will try to make it next year – just 50 years since I last saw them all. There is so much time to catch up!

I find these sorts of things easy and enjoyable to write. I spent about 40 mins on it and sent it over to Kevin with the instruction that it should be read to the backing of a recording of Handel’s Ode to Joy – the European Union Anthem. I tried to weave in comedic anecdotes about as many members of the original group of men I could remember. Kevin reminded me that I coined the original term, The Company of 24 although I don’t really remember it. Kevin will enjoy being in the limelight as he hams up presentation of my address.

Going out for our walk, the temperature was really cold in the sea breeze and I was forced to put on a long sleeved tee-shirt to keep comfortable.

By the time we had done our couple of hours and got back home, BT had already delivered my supplementary Broadband Hub which is independent of the existing one. It receives its feed from the 4G mobile network. This mobile network will be free to me so I can take it on my travels and plug it into my car to increase my internet sphere.

Continuing to look at properties on the Murcia coast on RightMove, I found this new build, 2 bed property for £130,000.00 just above Mazzaron where our friend, Margaret used to own and just below the more ‘popular’ resorts of BenidormAlicante and Torrevieja. It would have to be checked out and be a viable, rental property to be worthwhile.

Friday, 5th November, 2021

Glorious morning of clear, blue sky and gorgeous sunshine highlighting flight trails high above the garden. We have a frost – light but obvious on the roofs and grass. Just the right day for an insulation firm coming to look at treating the Gym ceiling. Got to make sure the wine store is safe! I’m also looking for some patio heaters so that we can continue to eat out in the garden over winter.

Long ago – maybe 30 years ago – we were in Le Touquet during a Winter Half Term and chose a Fish restaurant to eat at on a very cold day. Being young(er) and more enthusiastic, we chose to eat outside on the terrace. It was heated by huge, patio heaters and I have an abiding memory of eating delicious seabass in the open air comfortably heated by bottled gas burners. In Greece, Winters can be very cold but Greeks still eat outdoors with coats and scarves on. After all these years, it is rather in our blood.

Early walk in glorious sunshine for a couple of hours before the insulation man arrives. There is real evidence of increased air traffic across the sky from Heathrow and Gatwick towards the Continent. Looking forward to being up there myself next week. If you click this photograph to enlarge it, you will see that our helicopter security team tracked our progress on our walk and you will also see our next home in the process of being built to the left.

A couple of things to tie up before we go away. The insulation contract has been agreed at £1500.00 and will be done in about three weeks. Secondly, it looks as if I’ve managed to get 2/3rds of the Parkingeye fine my relatives received rescinded and I’m just left to retrieve the initial payment of £60.00 returned plus the ex-gratia bunch of flowers. I have contacted them again this morning and will not allow them to get away with any of it. Lovely people at Parkingeye …. except when they’re not! 

Saturday, 6th November, 2021

What a weird night that was. Got to bed around 11.30 pm and woke at 4.00 am. Drinking endless cups of tea, watching Sky News and reading The Times from my iPad until the sun rose. It was too late to go back to bed so freshly squeezed orange juice and freshly ground coffee provided a platform for an early walk.

The College reunion yesterday was a rather spartan affair. I understand that this was largely down to fears of Covid and that it may be back to better numbers next time. Kevin, who has taken to communicating with me on Whatsapp, kindly sent me some pictures of some people who were there and I was likely to know.

Keith Lowry & Kevin Dagg
Derek (FA Bus) Coulson & Chris Tolley
John Ridley & Dave Weatherly

Also present were Andy Henderson and Dave Roberts plus a couple of others I couldn’t put a name to. In a way, I’m rather glad I didn’t make this year my first to attend because I think I would have been rather disappointed. Maybe next year ….

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