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!

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