Week 685

Sunday, 6th February, 2022

A wet start to the day and very blustery. Trying to remain optimistic and work on the basis that we will fly to Florida in 3 weeks time. Working through a checklist of tasks to be completed before we leave.

The ESTA is done but we have a pre-flight test to do 1 day before flying. There is a test centre at Gatwick Airport and we are going there a day early to stay in a hotel so that will fit in nicely. Got to book a taxi to the airport.

The sum of our January Travel movements.

Crossing the Atlantic will make a big change on recent trips as you can see from the Google Maps report. We were supposed to be going North but even that was altered by events.

The events of this coming week, of course, will decide many of our actions. We may have to cancel or adjust our travel insurance. Hopefully, we will just celebrate and open a bottle of champagne. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst!

Marriot Hotel – Times Square

After listening to others, we look like we have settled on a hotel in New York. We will go for about 5 days so we can see plenty. The Marriot in Times Square is likely to be our base for this part of the trip and to give M&K some respite from old people.

A Room with a View

Pauline is worrying about what clothes to take particularly because it will be hot & sunny most of the time we are there in Florida but cold for the few days we are in New York. Oh, the dilemma!

Fortunately, we escape the Brexit effect by travelling outside Europe. It doesn’t affect our Schengen 90-Day allowance so we can still do 3 months in Europe in the summer. I have to contact EE to clarify roaming charges in USA. It looks like it won’t cost much extra which will be helpful.

Monday, 7th February, 2022

Up early – 6.30 am – on a beautiful morning. The sky is gorgeously clear with the remainder of bright stars shining in the orange-blue light of the rising sun. It is not cold but there is a chilled edge on the air.

I hate the idea of being associated with age and infirmity of medical activities and conditions but I can’t avoid it at the moment. Up early and testing my INR after 2 days without warfarin followed by a Covid PCR test which I must get to the Nuffield before 10.00 am and for which they have charged me the privilege of £76.00. I am then supposed to self-isolate until my investigation on Thursday. I already know I am covid-free because I self-tested yesterday but I have to prove it to the hospital.

We have a dual-fuel supply contract with British Gas. To be honest, it came with the new house and we just continued it. We fixed our price towards the end of last year for 12 months and will avoid any great cost rises for 12 months. Our hot water system is so efficient that a couple of hours in the early morning is enough to keep it hot all day. The central heating is rarely used and, when it is, our Hive, wi-fi system makes its demands absolutely minimal. They wrote to me yesterday to assure me that any price rises featured in media reports would not affect my contract. Just as a matter of interest, I checked our current position and found this.

British Gas currently hold almost £850.00 of our money in credit. I am contacting them this morning to demand that they return it. I would rather that it was in our account than theirs. They may argue that it will even itself out over the year but we have had a remarkably mild winter and we hope to be away for the month of March. I think we won’t meet their predictions at all this year. 2021/2022 has been so much warmer. We were constantly running the heating over night in the Gym last year and hardly at all this time. We didn’t go away at all last year. This time we have already done 3 weeks abroad and are expecting another 4 soon.

Near the Nuffield Hospital, we found this – a big, Lidl supermarket. Never been in one before so it was an interesting thing to do in this morning’s sunshine. It was quite a revelation – spacious and well stocked with excellent produce and really good prices. It is strange to walk down an aisle and find socks and gloves alongside pots and pans on one side and biscuits and cakes on the other but, putting that aside, it was fun. We spent £80.00 on various items including an additional 2-ring hob for the garden which was badged in English and Greek.

Just goes to show that there’s a first time for everything and one should embrace all experiences.

From Lidl Supermarket to the Intercontinental Hotel in New York. Milly-Molly suggested it and that we look for a package of flights and hotel.

I did that and Expedia came up with return flights from Tampa – JFK – Tampa with 4 nights in the Intercontinental which is an IHG hotel of which I am a member and get bonus points for just £550.00 pp. Unbelievably cheap. I really hope Thursday allows us to do this.

Tuesday, 8th February, 2022

The day is getting closer and we are in countdown mode. I have a list of strict instructions from the Nuffield in the run-up to my investigation. Having done and submitted my Covid test, I now have a diet instruction sheet which begins tomorrow. Typically, my wife who knows too much about diet and nutrition makes it harder for me than the hospital prescribes.

The hospital say start on Wednesday so she decides that I will start on Tuesday. She says that ‘fibre’ takes longer to go through the body than they say so, this week is cutting down rapidly on fibre intake and today is my last day for any fibre at all until Thursday night.

I haven’t generally eaten bread, potatoes, pasta or rice for about 10 years. It affects my blood sugar, makes me feel bloated and I find it best to avoid. Amazingly, I have taught myself to love green vegetables – salad, green beans, etc. – I know nothing about it but, apparently, these green things as well as fresh orange juice are high in fibre whereas rice is not. Today, I am being treated to what used to be my favourite meal 10 years ago – fish risotto.

The bottle of wine on the right is currently doing the rounds of social media. Seems to speak to the political and my personal situation. Just as we predicted, I have a colonoscopy on Thursday and, while we were out, Worthing hospital phoned to offer me a hernia repair on …. Thursday. Fortunately, the lovely girl who phoned was able to find me an appointment for the following Wednesday so I am very lucky.

Had to nip into town this morning and couldn’t resist the beach. It is muted and moody but smells delicious. 

Just cut all four lawns and fed them in this lovely, Spring weather. Eaten a delightful fish salad lunch of scallops, baby squids, octopus and mackerel with an iced bottle of Lidl’s finest Pinot Grigio. Had delightful and supportive messages from Kevin in Leeds & Julie in Bridlington which really moved me. Paid £2,200.00 to the Nuffield in advance for my colonoscopy (which moved me even more) and I’m now going in the gym for my final session of the day. Whatever comes, it has been a good day.

Wednesday, 9th February, 2022

I am in to countdown mode and following precise intake instructions. From this morning, I can ingest no fibre. My freshly squeezed orange juice had to have the fibre filtered out. I will have to drink lots of ‘clear’ fluid until 7.00 am tomorrow and then nothing until tomorrow night.

Bodegas Zaragoza

Over a 12 hour period, I have to drink two bottles of Sodium Dihydrogen Phosphate Dihydrate. Ironically, my prescription originates from Zaragoza, a Spanish city I’ve always wanted to visit. I wonder if I will survive to do it.

A better product of Zaragoza

Apparently, the body reacts quickly and violently to the first bottle of laxative, so violently that they caution ‘old’ people to take care. They describe old people as aged 65+ or an age at which many could still be working. I have to drink the first bottle at 7.00 pm tonight and the second at 7.00 am tomorrow. Could be an interesting night!

We have driven to and stayed in Patras on the Greek Peloponnese many times and driven across the Rio Bridge. This short video of thousands of starlings dancing a gloriously artistic display across and under the bridge was posted last night. It is delightful to watch.

Our walk this morning has been done in lovely, warm, Spring weather with a chorus of birds singing all around us and daffodils flowering. We reached a balmy 14C/57F. The world is a wonderful place!

Thursday, 10th February, 2022


It’ s 4.00 am and, not being able to sleep, I’m going in the gym. By absolute coincidence, Terri-Lee, one of my former pupils, messaged me while I drank tea. What she’s doing up at this time in the morning, goodness knows. I haven’t seen her for 13 years. She certainly didn’t look like this when I last saw her. It sounds like she is haunted by the idea that she was capable but under achieved. We are all haunted by that in one way or another aren’t we?

She wanted to tell me her problems and ask my advice. Strange at 4.30 am but quite flattered that I was the one she turned to and thought I would be available at this unearthly hour to provide solace. I will never understand people in general and girls in particular.

Managed an hour in the Gym. Got to take the second bottle of laxative at 7.00 am and then nothing more to drink after 8.00 am until I get home tonight around 7.00 pm. Losing all this liquid and not replacing it is already making me feel dehydrated. I’ve checked my INR this morning in case they need to cut me. It is 1.1 which is just about right. Going to do a Lateral Flow test now although I’m sure that will be fine.

Got to get my 10 miles under my belt early today. My chauffeur will drive me to the Nuffield at 2.00 pm and I won’t be home until around 7.00 pm so I suspect that, whatever the verdict, I won’t feel like exercise by then. This is the upside and the downside of an obsessive personality in a nutshell. I never give up on my targets until, of course, they give up on me!

The clouds have lifted. After 3 hours at the Nuffield, I am informed that 3, large but benign polyps have been removed by a team of of 5 medics including one who was born in Oldham and who went to school at the Bluecoat school. It appears I am fine but will need a check-up in 5 years – 2027 aged 77!

Friday, 11th February, 2022

Up at 4.30 am but with a happy heart. I feel like the condemned man has been reprieved. All the things I was putting on hold can now be approached with renewed optimism. Our American trip can go ahead and all the final planning can be started today. I produced a 20-point list to get through. I do like ticking off lists!

I don’t let many people look up my bottom but I will make an exception with you. I certainly wouldn’t eat while reading this. I have to deliver a copy of this report to my GP this morning. You can see why I am considered a sex-God. Can you believe that anyone could have this going on inside themselves and still live? As my wife said, At least it’s clean!

Spring sunshine and warmth bathe the South Coast. Everything is so bright and vibrant. The world is so lovely! Even Worthing Beach looked welcoming this morning.

The Town was packed today. The lovely weather must have brought people out. It was beautiful so who could blame them?

Saturday, 12th February, 2022

Up early to another, sunny Spring day. Trip to Rustington to have my prescription sunglasses straightened in readiness for Florida. Message from Kevin welcoming me to the 2nd day of my new life and from Julie, wishing me well. John Ridley is on my list to connect with today and I may speak to John Morris as well.

Buying new wardrobes for our American trip has been on hold during the recent scare but, now the path is clear, we are back in action. Had to return some clothes to M&S this morning which takes us to the pier and the beach.

It is amazing how a health scare can focus the mind on the small things of life like lots of fresh air and exercise, sunshine on the beach, sweet messages from friends and relations, a rugby match, roast chicken for Dinner, a lovely bottle of Rioja, a good film in the evening.

We leave for America on the 1st day of March – just 17 days away. We have to remain Covid-free for that time and take a test at the airport on the day before we fly. This shouldn’t be a problem because, throughout the pandemic, our area has had very low infection rates – certainly compared to places like Greater Manchester.

Unfortunately, just as Greater Manchester is showing falls in infection, our region of Arun is rising rapidly and steeply. The Zoe-Covid London University Study that we contribute each day on our phone app traces and charts the data for us. You can see the exponential rise in our area. We will be extra careful until we get on the plane.

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