Week 699

Sunday, 15th May, 2022

We have hardly seen any rain since we got back from Florida at the beginning of April so this morning is just lovely – lots of warm, wet, rain. Everywhere is sighing with relief. Such an incredible difference compared to yesterday.

At the moment, I can identify with the decaying wood on Climping Beach.

I never like to admit this but people who warned me not to overdo it were (a bit) right. I walked only 9 miles even though I was trying to do the 10. Overnight I paid for it with soreness and swelling. I have decided to moderate my efforts a bit today. I never really learn!

Of course, I’m not the only one. Pauline ordered 14 swimsuits – 7 colours in 2 different sizes. They were incredibly cheap and you can draw your own conclusions as they will all be going back tomorrow. They looked cheap and poor quality. Who could have guessed? Have to go back to New York to have another look in quality shops.

Samsung S22 Ultra in Burgundy and Green

Must be our ages but can you imagine having a phone that isn’t black? That’s exactly what we’ve ordered today. It is Upgrade Day at the end of a 2-year, EE contract. We were paying around £120.00 a month and upgrading will increase that to £140.00 a month. Unlimited calls, texts and data plus ‘free’ roaming in Europe, USA and Australia. What more incentive could you need to travel? To add to that, EE are offering us £370.00 for the current 2 phones they gave us – Samsung P20s. I use my phone more than my iPad nowadays.

Monday, 16th May, 2022

Feeling like a shambles of a man today. Very sorry for myself. I am recovering far too slowly! I am ashamed. My wound has forced me to retreat to 6 miles a day and I feel a failure. I am a failure as those who know me know.

In the early 1970s. I was friendly with Kevin. Kevin, who became my ‘Best Man’, came from Huddersfield – a place I’d never heard of. Huddersfield suddenly, against the odds, were promoted to the First Division (before the time of Premier League). Along with Chester who were floundering in the 4th Division, Huddersfield suddenly became a ‘thing’ in my life.

A former chip shop in a salubrious part of Huddersfield.

One, drunken night in 1970, I found myself in a chip shop outside Huddersfield University at midnight. It was directly opposite the University which, unbeknown to me, was to play such a signficant part in my life.

Tonight, Kevin & I – united again in drunken crime – will talk each other through the Championship playoff for promotion to the Premier League. ……

Tuesday, 17th May, 2022

Gorgeous day in prospect today. Going to see if I can cope with mowing the lawns as well as do some walking. We are expecting 26C/79F today so will enjoy walking in that.

Of course, as Kevin later said, The result was never in doubt. Huddersfield 1 – 0 Luton Town.

Kevin will be off to Wembley for the Play-Off Final. I went to watch Chester City with a gentle man called Ken in the early 1970s. Chester City are no longer in the football league. Huddersfield, on the other hand look as if they might get back into the top flight once again.

KA has put me in touch with a Financial Adviser who is a LEEDS UNITED supporter. Not sure I can speak to him! Kay Burley, on the other hand, don’t you just love her? All week she is featuring Cost of Living issues in her home town of Wigan. And there is the social divide in a nutshell.

We’ve got Tory MPs telling the poor that they just lack the skills to survive on 30p worth of food and all they need to do is worker harder, longer hours to earn more. Those MPs are surviving on £85,000 a year plus around £200,000 expenses to employ members of their family.

If you need any more evidence of out of touch Tories, you should watch Kay Burley’s morning show on SKY. Today, she featured an old couple who have a broken boiler and can’t afford to fix it. They have to go across the road to a friendly neighbour’s to have a bath but are ashamed to ask for help. Of course, social cohesion in an area like Wigan quickly brought an offer to fix or replace their broken boiler while the programme was still running. Socialism in action!

On our walk, this gorgeous bird swooped and soared above or heads. It kept it’s beady eyes on us for 10 minutes at least before dropping rapidly on the Rugby Club field. I think it is the first Red Kite I have ever seen.

Wednesday, 18th May, 2022

Last medical bulletin … EVER. Last night I had a bath and gingerly removed my dressing. Actually, it wasn’t too bad and I do smell sweeter. My wife immediately declared the closure of my wound as a miracle of science. I have no experience of such things so I will believe her.

There are few things more erotic than this!

The worst thing is the hairs are growing back driving me mad. The whole thing looks disgusting to me but I don’t have to look at it. At least today, 8 days after my operation, I have done my full, regular walk for the first time and felt good about it. I will complete 10 miles before the day is out and get back into my stride. I just can’t wait to drive again but I’m banned until next Tuesday

If you are a regular reader, you will know that I hate blowing my own trumpet. When Brexit was stupidly voted for, I predicted immediately that Ireland would be the stumbling block and so it still is. Of course there are lots of other things attendant on Brexit from labour and product shortages to higher prices and restricted travel but the Irish border question was always going to be, in my mind, the most intractable problem. As William Gladstone famously said 140 years ago: ‘Every time the English tried to solve the Irish Question, the Irish changed the question’.

The other major problem that I predicted more than a year ago is inflation coming back to bite us. Everywhere people look, prices are increasing. The cost of a side of salmon has gone up 30% in the last few weeks. The cost of petrol/diesel has become an actual issue again for people who drive much. The government is in disarray over this as over many other things they don’t want to face.

Thursday, 19th May, 2022

Amazing and enjoyable night last night. Thunder and lightning rolling round the area for hours. It was almost like a Mediterranean night as the electricity lit up the sky.

Storm over Worthing Pier.
Caroline – 60 yesterday

I am sorry and I must have been too wrapped up in myself but I forgot to feature Caroline’s birthday. Cal is my youngest sister and, yesterday, she reached the milestone of 60 years old. She lives in the European Union – lucky girl – in Southern Ireland. Hope she had a lovely day.

I managed my normal walk and 10 miles for the first time since my operation. It felt deeply satisfying because I have been feeling unhappy about my progress. I have felt out of control and isolated. I have been communicating with Kevin, Julie and John in Yorkshire and other friends online. I am keen to firm up travel plans – running away, I suppose.

Yesterday evening, after a warm afternoon in the garden, we had a man from Easigrass come round to measure up and quote us on replacing the front and back lawns with artificial.

We chose a ‘lawn’/carpet with 50mm pile which really looked like our current grass. He quoted us £6,400.00 for the full process which includes

  • taking up the turf,
  • weed killing,
  • installing geo-textile membrane,
  • applying a compacted and consolidated Limestone sub-base,
  • supply and fit the carpet,
  • infill with Silica.

This is why we chose specialists. The whole thing has a 9 year warranty. I will be 80 before I need to think about it again!!!

Beautiful day for a walk!

I’ve done 10 miles again today so the pattern has been re-established. That will be my driver for the next few weeks. It feels like I am re-establishing my self esteem. Looking forward to booking a French trip in early July.

Friday, 20th May, 2022

Warm, damp start to the day which is forecast to get warmer and sunnier. Marriage induces routines. Ours includes the same things for breakfast every day at home – porridge and tea for Pauline & fresh orange juice, tea and fresh coffee for me. We listen to the Radio 4 Today programme and discuss what we want to achieve (fit in) that day. It is these mundanities, particularly in retirement, that paint the patterns of our lives.

Today, Pauline is expecting a large delivery of fresh fish which will have to be portioned, bagged and frozen. In the meantime, she is ironing and sewing upstairs in the Dressing Room. I have to send my INR test to the Anti-Coag. Dept. at the hospital and field a phone call from them in reply. Talk to my friend, Brian in Shaw, who I haven’t seen for over 6 months and reply to the Financial Adviser who contacted me earlier this week from holiday in Spain. One of my main jobs is making sure my new smartphone is fully set up and then returning the old one to factory settings prior to mailing it off. They’ve offered me £370.00 for it so the task is worthwhile. Of course, the exercise regime has to be completed so it will probably include gym work this morning and a walk in the forecast sunshine this afternoon.

I don’t know if this is common in households or just weird to us but the morning meeting involves what our meal of the day will consist of. I think it is partly so that the protein – and it is usually fish or chicken – can be taken out for natural defrost and prepared. Yesterday, it was griddled chicken breasts which had to be defrosted, beaten out and then marinated over the day before being cooked outside in the garden. Today it will be locally caught, roast hake which is being delivered fresh.

Food isn’t just essential to life, it is intimately integrated into the milieu of societies and lives. It has important connections to history, class and sex. I am constantly fascinated by my changing attitude to food. The contrast between my early life and current choices are illustrated here.

As a child of the early 1950s, I was born into a world that was still exercising war time rationing and the food mindset was filling bellies with energy rather feeding nutritious and healthy food to families. I was lucky enough to be born into a middle class family who grew large ranges of fresh fruit and vegetables and could afford fresh fish and meat

Even so, Mum came with the wartime agenda of Bread, Potatoes, Suet, Cakes, Pastries – lots of heavy fillers – were ways of showing care for one’s family.

I, for one, was running everywhere all the time as a child. Doing Athletics, playing rugby, constantly on the move, constantly burning up calories that had to be fuelled. I never went hungry. Loved home made steak & kidney pudding and steamed jam pudding with custard!

These days, I would never even consider any of these calorific things. I daren’t for one thing. I have trained myself to enjoy a much more Mediterranean diet. My Mother wouldn’t touch garlic or olive oil. I absolutely love both. The young me would be horrified at the old me loving salads dressed with olives and sun dried tomatoes, green beans dressed with olive oil and garlic, home made chicken liver pâté  or home made humous with celery dips.

These changes mark how far through time I have travelled. Who now would choose Spam knowing what extrusions go into making it?

Saturday, 21st May, 2022

Lovely day for doing stuff – going for a walk, cutting grass, potting up and planting out. Doesn’t the sun raise one’s spirits? M&K are back in UK and a year in Florida makes anywhere else seem cold not least the M25. Here, it feels positively balmy.

Lovely day for a walk.

Just completed my 4th consecutive 10 mile walk after the operation. Feel good. Officially, I’m not allowed to drive until Tuesday. I could do it now but my wife is enjoying her dominance and freedom. I haven’t told her but I’m quite enjoying being chauffeured about. 

The lawns are being replaced in the next 2-3 weeks so we are planting up the raised beds with lettuces and herbs which will both look good and taste nice. Green and crimson cut-n-come-again lettuces are going in along side Basil, Oregano, Sage, Parsley, Thyme, Rosemary, Mint, Tarragon. Before the lawn-carpets go down, an electrician has been booked to come and install down-lighters on the fence pillars to turn the back garden more in to another room. All I need is a giant projection screen mounted on the garage wall and I will never go inside again. We seem to eat out there every day now.

Want to be up there ….

We are 35 miles from Gatwick and 50 from Heathrow. By the time planes reach us, they are miles high and we hear absolutely nothing but look at the activity. This photo was taken on our walk today. I’m not allowed to fly for another month. I think M&K have invited us back to Florida. It would be lovely but we can’t dominate their lives. Maybe, we’ll go back in the Winter. Certainly, there’s nothing to keep us here!

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