Week 679

Sunday, 26th December, 2021

Heavy rain again over night and this morning looks distinctly gloomy. Did a couple of hours walk early on in a window of relative dry although all around were the signs of the morning after the night before. Even so, it is incredibly warm – 11C/52F.

Back home to coffee and communications for me – bread making for Pauline. We do what we enjoy! Pauline enjoyed pre-producing the Christmas meal for her family. Her only fear was that Mandy would destroy it but she seemed to cope.

The Abernethy – ‘Deliveroo’ Christmas Dinner

Amazingly, Mandy seems to have quite an artistic flare judging by her decoration of the Cheesecake. Who knew that?

I’d have liked some of that!

Find anything rich or sweet quite hard to eat now. My eyes say, Eat it and my belly says, You’re going to regret that! If I give in to my eyes, my belly says, Told you so!

Monday, 27th December, 2021

A dark, wet but very warm day. It’s going to be a gym session rather than outdoors today so another few episodes of Borgen will bite the dust. I am absolutely loving it. Politics, sex and intelligent drama – what’s not to love?

This series could have been made with me in mind. It makes one think; it makes one feel; it makes one cry. For me, it wraps up many of my thoughts, emotions and passions eclectically. Intelligence is so attractive and sexy because it isn’t comfortable and easy but difficult, prickly and challenging. It has to be won over.

This week marked the deaths of two, dispirit characters. Few would mention them in the same breath – Archbishop Desmond Tutu and DJ Janice Long. 

You only have to look at Tutu – endearingly know as Arch – to see the searing intelligence in those piercing eyes. A man who bravely challenged Apartheid but also challenged the subsequent ANC government and even chastised Nelson Mandela. A man who loved life and saw humour and delight in everything. His only weakness was a deluded belief in God!

I know little or nothing about Pop Stars or DJs after 1972. I knew of Keith Chegwin but didn’t know his sister was the BBC R1 DJ,  Janice Long   … until this week. Chegwin died 4 years ago at the age of 60. Janice Long died this week at the age of 66. Just look at the health and vibrancy of them both in this photo. Where does it all go … this 70 yr old asks? Well, I’m determined it’s not going to leave me and the people I love without a fight. Every time I go in the gym, it is a mind over matter fight and the hope is that it will all be worth it.

Oranges from Valencia

Every morning my Breakfast consists of the freshly squeezed juice of 3 Valencian oranges from the Martin Avarro producers. They taste like the condensed goodness of Spanish sunshine. Of course, I may well be deluding myself but I hope they will set the conditions for my continuing health.

Tuesday, 28th December, 2021

For late December, these are quite bizarre days – actually quite bizarre at any time. The weather is incredibly warm. All the talk of rising energy prices is laughed at by the weather which has meant not needing the central heating on. We are forecast to be an unseasonal 16C/61F over the next few days.

Night …

Of course, the sun is Winter-low but the beach looks wonderful in the strong, bronzed glow. Not easy to photograph but beautiful. Beautiful but sad in the distance of the horizon – the history of time and separation.

… and Day

There is a movement on the web for January challenging people to Run Your Age in miles over the month. If I did this, I would be expected to cover just 70 miles over the 28 day, 4 week stretch. I fact, I am committing myself to do 4 x that amount – 280 miles in 28 days (admittedly more fast walking than running). I will have done 10 miles every day for a year by the end of March as I approach 71 years old.

Our walk today started off with warm, damp air but saw the sun break through over the two hours we were out. We meet lovely people while we are out and, having followed that route for quite a few months now, many are becoming very familiar to us. Even the rabbits, squirrels and robins are not shying away any more. It’s lovely!

We keep getting forced to accept free bouquets by Sainsbury’s staff. It must be the early time of day that we shop when they are replacing stock. This morning, it was a Christmas display infused with scent of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and ginger. Not wishing to disappoint them, we accepted gracefully and it is now on display in the Hall.

Wednesday, 29th December, 2021

A dark, wet, depressing day. Got a Doctor’s appointment and a visit to neighbours so we’re doing a Lateral Flow Test first…. We are both Negative! Next a couple of hours in the Gym. 100 is the new 70! Keep going you mad fool. However, can’t ignore the hernia any longer.

Skinny Lizzie

My little sister, Liz (aged 64), has just messaged that she has now recovered from Covid after two, unpleasant weeks but her husband is still infectious.

Had a full service at the surgery today with checks for prostate and bowel cancer along with further checks on a inguinal hernia. I was comprehensively examined by a wonderful, female doctor from Romania. She told me that she qualified in Bucharest and then had to do the full re-qualification in London before she could work here. Now, after Brexit, she is preparing to go back to her home country to be with her family.

Poo-in-a-bag kit

I had the full, digital-rectal examination. An absolute delight. She felt my hernia. That’s big, she said. I bet you say that to all the boys, I couldn’t help replying. Her faintly amused reaction suggested she had heard it all before. She is at least fast tracking an MRI scan but told me not to expect surgery unless I was in emergency bowel strangulation. I asked, as a doctor, would she advise people to wait for an emergency to address a problem when the outcome would be far less optimistic.

She said, Of course, I wouldn’t. Welcome to the modern NHS. The government are trying to encourage you to pay for private treatment.

This is exactly the reason I’ve been resisting it but we do have one of the finest Hernia Departments in the country about 15 miles away in Chichester at the Nuffield so it looks as if I will be buying my treatment there at a cost of about £4,000.00. Before that, I have to poo in a bag and deliver it to the surgery by 11.00 am any weekday for analysis. Now that is a job to be envied.

Just to complete the medical theme for today: Roger Gale who you will all know as a Kent MP was reporting on Twitter this morning that it was impossible to get PCR/LF test kits in his county today in advance of New Year celebrations. He had telephoned the Secretary of State (just like we all do) and got no reply. Three hours later, the Minister of Health phoned him back to say, There is a world shortage of Lateral Flow & PCR test supplies. Within the hour, Boris Johnson was interviewed on TV telling everyone to celebrate carefully by taking a test before mixing with others. Joined up government? Across Twitter, people from France, Germany, Switzerland were tweeting, No shortage here!

Thursday, 30th December, 2021

On this day, 43 years ago, in a small Pennine village church, Pauline and I got married. We had been ‘going out’ for less than 8 months and had lived together for 7 of them. The day was freezing cold with heavy over night snow and the council gritters were on strike making it very difficult for our guests to get there. I don’t know if men are supposed to or not but I really enjoyed the day and look back on it with lovely memories. Pauline had done all of the catering for the celebration.

Today, we are celebrating that day with a special meal accompanied by a very generous bottle of champagne given to us by Mandy. Pauline is enjoying herself preparing a celebratory meal once again:

  • Roast Pigeon served cold & sliced on a bed of Salad Leaves and dressed with Raspberries & Balsamic Vinegar.
  • Griddled Sea Bass with Garlic & Green Beans.
  • Vanilla Cheesecake.

Of course, somethings never change. We went out for our two hour walk in very gloomy conditions. Actually, we are getting considerably quicker at completing it now. Today, for example, we arrived back home almost 10 mins earlier than we were doing some months ago. We’ll probably have to do another one after this meal.

Friday, 31st December, 2021

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The more things change, the more they stay the same. As one year ends and another prepares to open, we look to the Future while remembering the Past.

On this day in 2008, I was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation and have taken daily doses of warfarin (rat poison which some would say is very appropriate). For the past 13 years, I have been monitoring and recording my INR. It was discovered purely by luck when I went for an eye test at Specsavers and it has almost certainly saved my life.

On this day in 2009, we were still in Yorkshire and the Pennines were blanketed with heavy snow and we were driving over to Oldham to visit my Mother in Law. A year later, Pauline’s mum was dead and we were in London.

On this day in 2010, I was doing things I would never normally dream of doing – wandering around Covent Garden, Lunching at Wagamama, on to the Dominion Theatre to watch the ‘Queen’-based musical written by Ben Elton. Not my sort of thing at all but the others enjoyed it. Back to TGIFridays in Covent Garden for Dinner before taking a late train back to Surrey.

Our home for the month of January, 2016

On this day in 2016, we were making our final arrangements before setting off for a second month in Canarian sunshine prior to moving in to our new, Sussex home. We were staying in the sleepy, South Tenerife area of Los Gigantes where we enjoyed wonderful sunshine and warmth during a British winter.

New Year’s Eve – 2020

Today, the world is depressingly grey, damp and downbeat. My weather station says humidity is 93%. Warm but wet. On this day last year, we were bathing in Sussex sunshine on our local beach. …. and time moves on.

Saturday, 1st January, 2022

A strangely ‘flat’ end to the old year – we didn’t even open the champagne. Feels quite an uncertain start to the new year.

It feels harder to be sure of anything at the moment, harder to make plans. We sent about 40+ Happy New Year texts whizzing around the country/world but they couldn’t convey the uncertainty. Before we started, we had already received greetings from our Greek friends who arrived in 2022 two hours before us.

Will we make more tracks in the sand in 2022?

Later, I received video footage from Kevin in York celebrating by watching one of his daughters perform in a local pub. She’s a singer in a band and looks a carbon copy of her Mother 50 years ago. Life goes on and rather leaves us behind. Sometimes, I think my need to travel is as much running away from something as running towards it. At least the last year saw a breakthrough in reuniting with friends from the past and Kevin is one.

First activity of the New Year – exercise. Going out for a walk on a beautiful, warm and calm morning. The sky is criss-crossed with plane trails and, as I stand out in the garden, three sparkling, silver slivers are hurtling high above my head towards the Continent. It would be nice to be on one to …. anywhere!

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