Week 689

Sunday, 6th March, 2022

Oh, think twice
It’s another day for you and me in paradise
Oh, just think twice
‘Cause it’s another day for you
You and me in paradise

And it really is another day in paradise here which is starting before 7.00 am with a short walk to the gym.

The sun is just coming up. Exotic birds call from the trees and the lovely, gentle warmth of 22C/70F eases the aching muscles. After a couple of hours in the gym, I walk back to the house and collect Pauline for a swim. We only do half an hour but we have the pool entirely to ourselves and enjoying the sunshine which has now built up to 82F/28C by 9.30 am.

Back home for a shower, a glass of almond milk and a large cup of coffee as I start my new week of the Blog and communicate with friends across social media.

Just 12 months apart … the swift savagery of cancer.

This morning, shocking news came in of the terribly early death of Andy Remic who, as a young man, came to teach English in my school. He was very interesting and likeable. Of Yugoslavian origin, Andrey Remic wrote Science Fiction and even made a few films. He died of cancer at the ridiculously young age of 50. It should be a lesson to all of us to not put off things we want to do but go for everything because we never know when the axe will fall.

Down at the Mall

The axe will fall for me this afternoon when I accompany two, young women to the shopping ‘Mall’ to look at/buy clothes. It will test my patience to the limit but I will try to look as if I’m with them and interested. Before that, we have walked to the Pharmacy to buy mouthwash which cost $7.50/£5.70 in US but would have cost £4.50 in UK. The price of paradise!

A famous Department Store but disappointing.

The trip to The Mall wasn’t quite as bad as I thought. It cost me a pair of new flip-flops which felt like being let off lightly. We visited the famous Macy’s store but were not over-impressed. We ended the day at a Greek restaurant drinking Mythos beer and Retsina wine with Mezedes which was wonderful. The temperature was still hovering around 31C/88F as we left the restaurant which felt very Greek in itself.

Monday, 7th March, 2022

In the gym at 7.00 am and then out walking shortly after 10.00 am. It was already hot. We are living in a property on the IMG Tennis Academy where Dan is studying. It really has all the facilities one could want on site including a gym and pool for us.

I do a couple of hours in the gym and then we share half an hour in the pool to cool off. We always have it completely to ourselves.

Walking out of the complex brings us immediately face to face with the naked capitalism that is America. Building goes on everywhere in this vast country and property is constantly for sale.

We might even have considered looking for one of these lovely apartments if we could afford it but M&K have already generously offered us the chance to use their new property whenever we would like to even when they are in England so we’ll keep our cash in the bank.

Cortez Fish Market

For the first time since we arrived, we are not eating out. Pauline is doing the catering and we had to go shopping to the fish market and the supermarket. We bought Tuna Steaks, peppers and asparagus for the adults and chicken for the kids. She will griddle on the barbecue outside which will be interesting.

The barbecued Tuna Steaks and Chicken went well. The evening has filtered out into family discussion and the time now is 23.40 (FT)/4.40 (GMT). The temperature outside is still 74F/24C – a balmy end to a very hot day. Tomorrow, we’ll do it all again.

Tuesday, 8th March, 2022

Paradise opened at 5.30 am and the walk from our house to the gym at 7.00 am, as always was magical.


The smells of the flowers and trees in the humid air and the sounds of exotic birds combine to create a magical atmosphere. Two hours in that steamy atmosphere is enough at one go. I walk back for coffee and then we do another hour walking in the neighbourhood and the strong sunshine. We quickly burn in this strong sunshine and return for half an hour in the pool.

In the afternoon, we went down to the local beach with its gorgeous, fine, soft white sand and shallow, gently lapping warm water. We walked for an hour. Although I am getting fitter, 4 hours of walking was taking its toll on my legs as we set off for a nearby dockside fish restaurant.

I had crab which I love with a glass of Pinot Grigio. Eating outside in the balmy air is delightful. We drove home to have coffee, watch BBC News and compete at the new craze, Wordle. This is a game made for people like me and hosted by the New York Times. I won the first two games that I played but only came third tonight so I won’t be able to sleep thinking about it.

Wednesday, 9th March, 2022

Well, we are just completing our first week in Paradise – first of many to come in the future, we hope. We have just over 3 weeks left on this trip and we intend to make the most of it. Someone asked me yesterday if I was enjoying my holiday and I told them I never considered myself as ‘on holiday’ but just ‘living somewhere else’. I really do try to continue my life but through the lens of a different culture. I still exercise, try to follow my diet, write, Blog, correspond just as ever.

In the past couple of days, Kevin and I have exchanged banter on Whatsapp; John Ridley and Julie have shared their days with me by email; I have sent a restaurant postcard to Caroline in Saddleworth and my Blog has been maintained for anyone interested. There must be one!

A Highway Walk

I won’t bore you with the early up/exercise/walk/swim routine although, of course, I just have. However, I thought I would mention the hot topic of fuel prices as a result of post-pandemic demands + Russian sanctions. Americans are alarmed at having to pay $4.21/£3.20 per gallon. Here, car is king! The huge amounts of space and distance between places and facilities means that everyone from 16 years old up drives everywhere.

A petrol station called RaceTrac?

How they would feel to know our fuel is almost double the price, goodness knows but they definitely have to drive further than us for everything.

The day has ended beautifully. Pauline has cooked chicken wings with barbecue sauce and the most wonderful giant prawns with green salad. We are eating in one of the two Lounge/Dining rooms. I am drinking local, red wine and feeling mellow! What more could one want? I’m sure you know what I mean! Well, I could win the daily Wordle contest but that will come later.

Thursday, 10th March, 2022

We’ve been here a week already. We have exactly 3 weeks left this time. I won’t bore you with the routine but we were joined on our walk to the gym by a white Florida Egret this morning. Quiet and statuesque, beautiful in the urban surroundings. Not a pheasant, admittedly, but lovely in its own way.

We are going out for a 16k walk and then Pauline & M will probably go clothes shopping and I will stay at home researching things to do in New York where we fly on Monday. Looking forward to seeing JFK International.

Actually, we did 16k on the long, wide straight sidewalks. The weather is more cloudy this morning but still 80F/27C and very humid.

The roads are edged with lots of fascinating, exotic trees and plants and I spotted this unusual weeping bottle brush tree (Callistemon Citrinus) which originates in Greece. I was tired and wet by the time we got back from our walk. Went for a swim. This afternoon, we are going in to the Sports Academy to watch Daniel play tennis and then on to the supermarket for food.

This is bizarre but clocks go forward in Florida 2 weeks before they do in UK. This weekend we lose an hour here and not until the 27th of March does this happen in UK. So, for a couple of weeks, we will only be 4 hrs behind UK.

Friday, 11th March, 2022

We visited the IMG Tennis Academy training facilities yesterday afternoon. We even went in to one of the vast, covered areas of courts where Dan was working with his coach.

It was suggested that we walk to a local Italian restaurant for Dinner but the heavens opened with thunder and lightning and torrential rain which temporarily turned the road outside into a river.

We drove instead to an All-American-Diner with more televisions around the walls than I’ve ever seen in one room. It was busy, noisy and brash – not my favourite location but a great experience none the less.

This morning, of course, we do it all over again. Awake at 5.30 am (FT))/10.30 am (GMT) and down to the gym just before 7.00 am (FT). The house is kept deceptively cool Night & Day by air con. so, stepping out even at that time in the morning, just as the sun is coming up and the temperature is already 22C/70F, is something of a shock. The natural humidity is added to by the overnight sprinkler systems leaving pools of water on the roadside. Walking back from the gym at 9.00 am, the temperature has reached 27C/81F and it is going to be a lovely day.

Ribs were a real success … and no Spam in sight.

After 2 hours in the gym, we are going out for an hour’s walk in the sunshine followed by a swim in the pool. Pauline is cooking American-style sweet & sour spare-ribs. There are 6 of us and we bought enough to feed 12 at least. She is marinading them throughout the day and will then slow roast until the meat just falls off the bones. We would never normally eat like this so it will be another challenge.

Saturday, 12th March, 2022

Really strange but exciting day which started off normally in the gym at 6.55 am (FT)/11.55 am (GMT). I have been doing so much pounding of treadmills and pavements that I have produced a massive blister on the pad of one of my feet. It is agony but I am trying to work through the pain because I have my 10 miles a day commitment to meet whatever. I am currently moving on a foot which is plastered and padded but the electric shock of putting my weight on it is difficult.

So, this morning I just had to steel myself and do around 3 hours in the gym to get it all done in one go because I knew I wouldn’t feel like it later. At around 9.30 am, the clouds outside darkened, lighting flashed across them followed by bangs of rolling thunder and the downpour had to be seen to be believed. It reminded us of Greece.

I gave it half an hour until the lightning had stopped and I’d completed my 10 miles and then waded through the temporarily flooded pavements back to the house. In the gym I watch BBC World News which is fascinating, but I am also able to access my Netflix account where I am watching Suranne Jones in Doctor Foster. Once again, it is not something I would normally watch but, in the gym and in a foreign country, it has proved quite absorbing. It is about marital infidelity and the conflict resolution involved.

Back at the house, I am watching two sports at the same time. Pauline is catching up with Doctor Foster on the laptop while I am watching 6 Nations Rugby – England v Ireland on my iPad and simultaneously discussing it with Kevin in North Yorkshire on Whatsapp as well as keeping in touch with the Man.United score against Spurs while Pauline is commiserating with her friend, Christine, on Whatsapp, because she has caught Covid-19. By 2.00 pm (FT), the skies are clear blue and the sun is beating down. The world is back to normal.

This evening we walked to a lovely, little warm and cosy, unassuming Italian restaurant. Luigi’s Il Farinaio Grille is owned and run, apparently, by a mercurial Italian New Yorker whose mood is difficult to predict from one visit to another. We chose Chicken Milanese with salad and it was enjoyable although, we are struggling to eat out so much. We are far more used to controlled, home cooking.

Week 688

Sunday, 27th February, 2022

Up at 4.00 am. Couldn’t sleep. Too hot! It’s insane. There’s nothing worse than lying awake with thoughts coursing across one’s mind, telling oneself to empty one’s head and get back to sleep and to dismiss the desire to get up. Why am I too hot? We only have a 1-tog quilt on the bed.

That was one of the thoughts I couldn’t get out of my head. What is a ‘tog’? Where did it come from? Why was it called a Continental Quilt? When did they first become popular? I remember those heavy blankets on the bed of my childhood and first buying a quilt when I left College in 1972. What am I doing at 4.00 am, drinking tea and researching duvet togs. 

The term duvet comes from the French for feather ‘down’ and was first used by Dr Samuel Johnson in 1760 although duvets originated in rural Europe and were filled with the down feathers of ducks or geese. The insulation rating, tog, derived from Togs – the slang word for clothes and probably originated from Toga. We have duvets of varying tog ratings from 12 through 7, 5, 3 and 1. This house is a 1-tog requirement because of its insulation. Even then, it can be too hot. With that sorted out, maybe I can go back to sleep now.

Bradenton Beach

We are going to spend the month of March here in Bradenton, Florida. I’ve at last got round to researching the place. This is their Welcome brochure for tourists. Certainly looks an interesting place. The weather forecast for our first week there says it will be sunny and 28 – 30C. Should be better than UK.

Pauline bought two Lottery tickets yesterday. Both of the won – one for £5.00 and the other another Luck Dip ticket. Think I might retire!

On our walk this morning, we came across an old man staring at a missing piece of fence on the perimeter of his garden. I asked if the recent wind had done it and he said that it had been deteriorating for a few years. He had installed it himself more than 30 years ago. I asked him how old he was. He was clearly pleased to be speaking and to be asked about. He asked me what I thought. I said he was 83. I’ve know idea why. He looked astonished. I worried I had insulted him as he invited me to guess again so I deliberately went down to 73. That clearly pleased him as he told me he was actually 93. He was obviously lonely and told me he hadn’t seen his children for a while. This is what will happen to us all … our fences will fall down!

Monday, 28th February, 2022

Every bone in my body aches this morning. I’m not sure why but at least, sometimes, lovely things happen. This morning was one such time. We are going to America tomorrow. This morning I booked our New York trip. We will be there for 5 days although only 3 will be full, tourist ones. Flying Jetblue from Sarasota Airport to JFK New York and then staying in the Edison Hotel, Times Square for 4 nights.

New York hotels are incredibly stingy with space. The rooms are places we would store luggage in or use as Dressing Rooms. We have decided that this will be a one-off and pushed the boat out. We’ve booked a Suite which is positively luxurious for this city. It is 400 sq. ft. in space.

We have 4 days in the heart of the action for around £1,200.00. The return flights with Jet Blue cost £675.00 so the 5 days will cost us around £2,000.00. You only live once.

I went out on my walk with real optimism in my heart. Aching bones are nothing when other things lift you. The taxi will arrive tomorrow afternoon to take us to a hotel at Gatwick Airport and then we will fly on Wednesday morning for around 10 hours. We will arrive in Florida at 4.00 pm (21.00 GMT). Looking forward to Florida heat!

Tuesday, 1st March, 2022

Happy new month and officially welcome the Spring. Actually, we and the wildlife around us have been welcoming it for weeks. We’ve had such a long run of lovely days with clear blue skies and strong sunshine. Ironically, this morning is dark and wet.

I hesitate to report this because I know it will just convince you of my madness but I don’t care. In line with my personality, I never, ever, ever give in. I had 4.5 hours sleep last night. Up at 3.30 am and into the gym. Did 2.5 hours workout – 2 hrs on the treadmill and 30 mins on the bike – while finishing my Politico-Scandi thriller – the last episode of 25. Like so many of these things, the longer the writers went on the more flabby their ideas became but the parallels with the current Russian invasion of Ukraine mirroring the Russians invasion of Norway to take control of the oil fields.

Back in the kitchen by 6.00 am just as Pauline is woken by the BBC R4 Today programme. A large glass of freshly squeezed orange juice finishing the last 3 oranges, a cup of tea and tick off the jobs still to be done. The automatic lights need to be set up. There are 7 of them around the house which will have an initial schedule setting but which I will change remotely as the clocks go forward. All the chargers and electrical paraphernalia needed for a month including iPads, Kindle, Laptop, phones, watches, shaver, toothbrushes needed to be wrapped and packed.

Seems such a pity to bin them ..

Left over food which can’t be frozen had to be thrown out along with the lovely ‘free’ flowers that have been performing so long.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Eo2ZsAOlvEM?feature=oembedI’ve gone to look for America …

I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They’ve all come to look for America

Taxi picks us up at Lunchtime for the hour’s drive to the Sofitel Gatwick Airport and then the required Covid Test at the airport walk-in. We can drop bags off the night before and then have a relaxed evening because every bone in my body aches even more after this start to the day.

The Covid test was successfully negative. All the required documents were accepted by BA. We checked in on-line and downloaded our boarding passes. I’ve checked out the hotel gym in readiness for tomorrow morning. It looks good.

Wednesday, 2nd March, 2022

Up at 3.30 am and down to the hotel gym. Listened to radio news on my phone while doing 2 hrs 30 mins exercise.

Back to find Pauline was already up and about. Breakfast, check out of hotel and off to bag drop, through passport control with multiple apps to present on my phone and then the sanctuary of the BA Business Lounge – No.1 for a glass of orange juice before boarding. No sooner than we had found and sat down in our seats but a glass of champagne was thrust into our hands and we were off.

Pillows, blankets, TVs with multiple films and other facilities were provided for our 10 hour flight along with this menu for Lunch.

I couldn’t face watching films but I did read The Times on my iPad. We were constantly plied with drinks and really enjoyed the space and comfort Business Class gave us.

I drank large quantities of Rioja with my meal and promptly fell asleep. I couldn’t face watching films although there were about 50 to choose from. I woke up to find an ‘Afternoon Tea’ of smoked salmon sandwiches followed by scones and clotted cream being served. I found it increasingly difficult to cope with all this food.

The last couple of hours of the flight seemed to go on for ever but we finally landed in brilliant sunshine and 27C of warmth at Tampa Airport where M&K were there to meet us. Shortly after settling us in to their home, we were whisked off to a Marina-side restaurant. I must admit to struggling to eat but managed a seafood salad and shared a bottle of white wine.

It is now 22.30 Florida time which is 3.30 am UK time – exactly 24 hrs since I started the day in the gym. I am quite tired but not excessively so. However, it is time for a shower and bed.

Thursday, 3rd March, 2022

It is 3.30 am (Florida Time – FT) / 8.30 am (UK Time – GMT) and we are just settling an insurance claim and drinking Yorkshire tea. Mad? Yes of course but it is not my fault this time. Pauline has just received a call on her mobile from our insurance company telling us they were paying our claim of £200.00 for a pair of my glasses that smashed in the gale a couple of weeks ago. Could they have our bank details to pay it in. Not easy to supply at this time in the morning so we settled for a cheque. The girl on the phone asked us to give her love to New York. Strange world but fascinating.

Kevin & I communicated on Whatsapp. Kevin Sellers contacted me on Messenger. Even received a text message from P in Surrey. What’s she doing up so early. She doesn’t usually get up until Lunchtime. Everyone suddenly feels so far away.

M bought all this for me …

M, on the other hand, has gone out of her way to make us feel welcome and prepare for our stay right down to an alcoholic health freak like me. She has even enrolled us in the Development’s Gym and pool.

Although we are going to the beach this afternoon, we are going to try out the gym and, maybe, the pool this morning. Just getting our bearings today. The TV in our bedroom has a local channel which gives detailed advice on how to cope with the weather. This snap feature Thursday’s weather. Actually, all the local displays made it 87F at midday.

Did 90 mins in the gym followed by an hour’s walk round the neighbourhood and then 30 mins in the pool and jacuzzi. We walk back at around 12.45 pm (FT) wondering why we were so hungry until we realised that our body clocks still thought it was nearly 6.00 pm. (GMT).

It is 2.00 pm (FT), 7.00 pm (GMT) and we are going out for a walk on the beach with our hosts followed by eating at beachside, fish restaurant for Dinner. I could get used to this life … and may have to!

Friday, 4th March, 2022

It was lovely to be in warm sunshine yesterday. It was 28F/82C and a very comfortable temperature without being too humid. Today is going to be 86F/30C rising to 88F/31C over the weekend. Could be worse!

Down on the beach …

I walked a record 16.3 miles in the gym, in the local community and on the beach where we went to drink wine, eat fish and watch the sun set on a lovely day. This sand is a fine, white dust and sets off the beautiful blue of the sky reflected in the sea which is shallow for a long way out.

We are staying with M&K who are currently living in the IMG Tennis Academy. I’ve been conferred with temporary residency so I can use the facilities like the pool and the gym. It all feels very nice and welcoming.

I am already into a routine of getting up early and going to the gym, doing a couple of hours then back for orange juice & coffee before going for a walk around the local area which is full of fascinating people and places but also plants and birds. I saw a bright red parakeet-type bird this morning as I walked to the gym and little, grey terrapins run everywhere in the warmth.

The highlight of the day will be a trip to two, major supermarkets. You can learn so much about a people and their culture by their products and the way they shop. Apparently, Americans are not big on imported goods but prefer to stock locally sourced products. What they lose in variety, they gain in freshness.

We visited the two, big supermarket chains – Publix and Walmart. I have to say there was nothing particularly different other than size. Prices were similar but choice was rather more restricted.

Later, we drove out to the seashore for Dinner in the heat of the evening. I had salmon and it was delicious.

Saturday, 5th March, 2022

Up at 5.30 am on another lovely morning and in the gym I did 2.5 hrs of exercise followed by half an hour in the pool with the sun on my back. Today is really warm and has stayed around 30C/86F which is delightful.

In the middle of the day, as the sun was at its hottest, we went down to the docks and out for a couple of hours on a rented boat. It was a lovely, comfortable family experience.

The boat cost almost $500.00/£380.00 for the trip but it was enjoyable to share with M&K, Pauline + Bumface & Babs. We took a cool-box of beers, cocktails, crisps & nuts and explored the area seaside.

It was a delightful experience as we watched the pelicans dive for fish and the dolphins surf the boats’ wake, the multi-millionaire, waterside mansions and the ultra-rich’s boats. Actually, I hanker for neither which is fortunate because I won’t attain them either. My dreams are much cheaper than that!

Tonight we will return to the same area for Dinner in another seafood restaurant. Salad and fried Grouper was our meal and delicious.

Week 687

Sunday, 20th February, 2022

An interesting day of three, distinct parts. Out early for a 90 mins walk of just over 6 miles. The weather was fairly overcast and breezy but warm. 

Off to drive up to Surrey to visit P&C and M who had nipped back from Florida for a week. She was suffering with a bad cold. You know how the young are so vulnerable! We talked about our trip out to see her in less than a couple of weeks. She was very generous and we are looking forward to seeing her there very soon. She advised us to consider the much more local Sarasota Airport for our trip to New York. 

We didn’t even know there was one but, apparently, it is only 15 mins drive from where we will be staying so it will be much more convenient. I am already looking at potential bookings.

The drive between our house in Sussex and their house in Surrey is about 1hr 15 mins. It is a lovely, clear and quiet drive apart from the M25 which was very quiet today. Back home by mid-afternoon, I had 90 mins to do in the gym while I watched some football but then swiftly moved on to my current obsession which is a Scandi-Political Intrigue called Occupied.

The plot could not be more on trend. In the near future, Norway is occupied by Russia with the tacit consent of the European Union because the newly-elected environmentally-friendly Norwegian government has stopped the all important oil- and gas-production in the North Sea. The story features the struggles between Norway and the EU/USA axis in dealing with a bullying, invading force of the Russian State. The EU states are more interested in securing their power supply than dealing with Russian aggression. The USA are more interested in maintaining Global Political stability than helping a minnow like Norway.

We will see how that plays out in Ukraine but it is fascinating to find Boris Johnson living up to the old political maxim of ‘not failing to make the most of a political crisis’. He certainly sees his ‘Churchill’ moment even though he is a minnow on the world stage.

Monday, 21st February, 2022

A bit blustery this morning but lovely. A huge list of jobs to get through. First we had to go out shopping and so we called in on the beach as we did. It was beautiful.

One man & his dog spotted …

John Ridley in North Yorkshire, Derek France in West Yorkshire, friends in Greater Manchester all posting pictures and accounts of rising, overflowing, flooding rivers. One of my ex-pupils in Oldham writing of wading through water in her kitchen. Certainly feels lucky to be down here.

Just been contacted on Messenger by a lad – well, a 47 year old ex-pupil who is Director of Swimming at a private school in Nairobi, Kenya. He did a Degree in Leeds and an MSc in Leicester.

I must admit, I wouldn’t have predicted it but it looks like he’s made a good life for himself which is always gratifying.

More jobs completed today towards our trip included updating the medical insurance and buying a mountain of Dollars from … Tesco of all places. Milly-Molly, on the other hand, has been thinking of our welfare and mine, in particular. She’s suggested we all go to the Sarasota Opera House where they will be performing Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers and Puccini’s Tosca. I absolutely love Puccini!

Tuesday, 22nd February, 2022

Beautiful day again. lovely sunshine. Gardeners are out in our development cutting all the grass. Birds have gone mad on the mating signs. Out for an early walk as a prelude to completing travel jobs. I have to make sure that we have paper and digital (pdf) copies of 4 documents:

  • Proof of full vaccination
  • Proof of Covid Negative Test – 24 hr prior to flying
  • Successful ESTA application
  • Attestation Form

It can’t be completed until we have had the Covid Antigen Test on Tuesday, March 1st. We have booked our taxi to the Sofitel Gatwick and our subsequent test at the Express Test in Gatwick Airport North Terminal which is 5 minutes walk away. Under an hour and £35.00 each should produce a paper and digital copy of a negative Covid test. Goodness knows what we will do if one of us proves otherwise.

I have been sorting out contact sheets for our neighbours with mobile numbers, Florida address and burglar alarm details. Of course, something always comes up on these occasions. Today, I received an appointment form the hospital for my hernia repair on … March 10th. I have now got to phone and beg for a delay after begging for an urgent appointment.

I didn’t have to beg. They were wonderful and have given me an appointment just over two weeks later and 4 days after returning form Florida. How lucky am I?

Johnson is being lambasted in all quarters of Twitter. The Twitterati all know his game. Deflect failings and crimes by pretending to be a player on the world stage. It worked for Thatcher with The Falklands.

Wednesday, 23rd February, 2022

It is the most lovely, Spring day – warm and sunny. Early trip to Sainsburys. Getting tricky to control what is required for our last 5 days here. At least we got our customary, ‘free’ bunch of flowers. They had been on sale for £10.00.

There is a feeling of optimism in the air. Even the sky over the park sent us a kiss. Everything centres on travel plans at the moment. Still done an early, 7 mile walk. Felt great! Only 4 miles to complete this afternoon. The groundsmen on our Development were cutting the grass and it smelt and looked wonderful. Walking in just tee-shirt this morning it is so warm and nice.

Back home, all that the talk is about clothes and packing, baggage allowances and luggage labels. These are things I don’t get involved in if I can help it. Questions like how many tee-shirts and pairs of shorts to pack I leave to underlings. As long as I’ve done the essential documentation then I feel my work is done. I just have to get the cases out and carry them to the Dressing Room and wait for my next instruction.

We are only going for a month so we won’t need to much. M&K have a Laundry so clothes will be recycled. We do have the added complication of two, diametrically opposed climates in Florida and New York but it is not beyond simple logistics to cater for that.

The British Airways Business Class Luggage allowance is just incredible. We didn’t take this much to Greece for 6 months at a time. It’s hard to imagine a taxi that could accommodate them on the drive to the airport.

This allowance is per person. I don’t think I’ve ever owned enough clothes to fill the possible maximum weight. I’m told that things like Sketchers‘ trainers are much cheaper in the States and we should take an empty suitcase to carry back our purchases. That is one justification at least.

Thursday, 24th February, 2022

Another beautiful Spring day. I’m not finding it so easy. I feel I have something missing that I can’t put my finger on. Still, continuing to try. In Alicante, Kevin is carrying on. In Bridlington, Nigel and Julie are carrying on. In Catterick, John is carrying on and in Royton, Brian is carrying on. I’ve been in contact with them all in the past couple of days and they are all ‘carrying on’ but I’m left feeling, Is that enough? There has to be more than this. When your closing in on 71, there has to be more than this.

Went out to Sainsburys for …. a net of 3 Spanish onions. I am cooking today. The onions cost £0.95p but we were given a ‘free’ bunch of flowers that had been on sale until yesterday at a price of £15.00. So, in the past 2 days, we have had cut flowers to the value of £25.00 for ‘free’. They look and smell lovely – just like me!

I cooked chicken & oregano casserole today to give Pauline a rest. Of course, it was a triumph and we ate the lot after completing the 11 mile target for the day. Ironically, my hernia was painful as I exercised today. It was on a day when I received a delightful, personal letter from the most wonderful Italian Consultant, Mr Valerio Di Nicola MD, PHD, FRCS who I met last week. He has fast tracked me for surgery and dated it immediately after my American trip. The NHS is staffed with the most wonderful people who are so generous with their time. I just love intelligent people!

Friday, 25th February, 2022

You should be here! The sky is pure blue and the sun is warm. It is forecast to remain this way until we leave on Tuesday. The air is clean and the birds are singing.

New Developments down here are required to build-in green space. We have lots of them and this one always makes me think of Telly-Tubby Land. The sea may still roll in this afternoon.

Out to collect currency this morning and some luggage labels. We ordered the dollars before the invasion of Ukraine and so before the weakening of the pound/dollar exchange rate. Not massive but we gained a bit. Unfortunately, the Ukrainians are losing everything! Trump and Farage have both spoken to justify Putin’s aggression which tells you all you need to know about the anti-democratic Right.

$2,670 looks nothing on our kitchen table in the sunshine. Never used dollars before – Francs, Lira, Drachma, Krone, Punta, Peseta, Euros but never dollars. I suspect we will be using our credit card plenty and seeing Non-Sterling Transaction charges racking up on our account. Might even view this as a bit reckless as the UK will be hit by the triple whammy of Brexit, Covid and Russian Isolation massively impacting the cost of living in UK.

Loss of Russian gas will impact everything – from Petrochemicals to industrial manufacturing to home heating. Prediction is that the Home Fuel Price Cap which was to double to around £2,500.00 per year on average, will now triple to around £3,700.00. The cost of filling the tank of an average 4×4 vehicle is expected to hit £145.00 but, of course, it will hit the cost of delivery of goods which will impact general inflation and hurt everyone. Russia is the breadbasket of the West and shunning their supplies will make shortages of all things wheat-based as well as raise the prices due to scarcity. Bread and pasta are the core of high energy, belly-filling, poverty food. There will be many more people forced into real hardship.

We got home from town to do our 90 mins walk and then have the burglar alarm serviced. Give the lawns a cut tomorrow and then most things will be done. Going out to Specsavers this afternoon to collect two pairs of prescription sunglasses in time for Florida del sol! I’m also going to drop off two more, huge bags of clothes at the Hospice Shop. Kevin’s still in Alicante but at least he seems to have found a new friend.

Saturday, 26th February, 2022

Unbelievably beautiful and warm day. Early walk and then lawn cutting in the Spring sunshine. Quite delightful!

Trying to tie up all the loose ends before we go away including completing my correspondence. Received a letter from this man earlier this week. He is the consultant I met at Worthing Hospital and I had to write to him to express my gratitude for his support.

Dr Di Nicola hails from the Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza, one of the largest European universities and one of the oldest in history, founded in 1303. I found him an instantly attractive personality to relate to.

When I want something, I want it NOW! I am terrible at waiting even though I have got better with age. When I want something, I will have it whatever I have to do and that hasn’t got easier with age. I like things to be settled. I don’t like prevarication. This is my personality. It makes taking me shopping impossible for ‘normal’ people who like to consider different options. The current demands of travelling at the moment are definitely inappropriate for people like me.

I work in a linear, tick-off, mode and need to meet the challenge head on, like the Arian ram I am. I have to butt my way to the winning post. The trip we leave for in a few days has a number of requirements. They can all be assembled in this single app, Verifly. Unfortunately and annoyingly, they can’t be uploaded until tomorrow – 48hrs before departure. This means that I cannot tick-off my list!