Week 722

Sunday, 23rd October, 2022

Woken by huge flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder this morning around 6.00 am. The rain came down heavily for about an hour and then the sun appeared and the sky cleared to a lovely blue. I did my walk alone. Pauline was making bread and cleaning the kitchen. I’m better out of the way. 

The turn around point of my walk is at the end of Mill Road so I take a photo and Whatsapp it to Pauline so she can calculate she has about an hour to get her lover out of the house before I arrive home. While I’m walking, lots of friends get in contact and slow my progress down. I can’t leave them waiting. I have to reply quickly. I don’t know why.

Everything now is geared towards leaving UK for 3 months. We have just two weeks left so the food has to be wound down or frozen. Things we would normally do over the next 3 months like send Christmas cards have to be organised. We usually send out around 65 each year. I have done a newsletter telling all our friends and relatives not to bother sending cards this year. I will email it to as many as possible but there are quite a few who I don’t have emails for. They will have to be printed and posted before we leave.

I’ve just found that my address label printer has died. It has lasted for 14 years having been bought for school. I use my computer, iPad and smartphone so much that I’ve really forgotten how to use a pen. Certainly, I couldn’t legibly hand write all those addresses. I’ve ordered a new one. It’s coming, of course, from Amazon Prime. I ordered it at 1.00 pm Sunday and it will arrive on Monday for ‘free’. Love that sort of service and it persuades me to expect it of others.

Incredibly warm again here – around 20C/68F – in the final week of October. Covid infection rates are soaring here again and we have our Flu jabs tomorrow so I’ll be dying by Tuesday morning. I always get flu from the flu jab. No, don’t worry Dear Reader. I’ll cope.

I’m cooking tonight. I’m giving my wife a masterclass in Chicken & Green Peppers. World Beating! …. Even though I am loathe to blow my own trumpet, the meal was BRILLIANT. Of course, I’m not looking for gratitude just a little friendly warmth and the recognition of the culinary community.

Monday, 24th October, 2022

Up and out early on a very warm – 18C/65F – morning. We are going for our Flu jab. I was shocked to be told by Julie this morning that she had never had a flu jab. Couldn’t get into our surgery so we booked at a Pharmacy called Kamsons. I’d never heard of them until we came down here and I thought they were a local business but it turns out they have 70 branches across the country and have outlets in Failsworth & Bolton, Bradford & Leeds as well as many in the south.

The ‘Jabber’ was excellent. I didn’t feel a thing although I’ll probably be dying of flu by tonight but Pauline’s arm hurt immediately. That’s what it is to be a weak specimen! Got a busy day of activity now – cutting my neighbours’ lawns, doing my walk followed by a Gym session and then I’m returning to a starring role in the kitchen with my world beating Risotto. Bet you wish you were eating here today, Dear Reader!

Had a long text from David Weatherley in Bolton. Must try to meet up with him on my next trip North in the Spring. It’s 5.00 pm and no side effects so far from the jab. There will be. Can you believe our age group failing to get the jab? Seems bonkers to me.

Tuesday, 25th October, 2022

Once again 18C/65F this morning. Just after breakfast, sitting in the Office, minding my own business, telephone call to say P&C who we collected from a Florida flight at Gatwick on Saturday have both tested positive for Covid. After two years of being incredibly careful, we have been exposed to the infection. You can never trust people from Surrey! We did a Lateral Flow test immediately but both were negative. I do have a sore throat but that is probably as a result of the Flu jab.

I’ve decided not to rent a car before we arrive in the USA. There are a number of Enterprise outlets in Spring Hill, Florida where we can get a vehicle when we have recovered from the flight. Richard kindly went to the expense and trouble of sending me his guide to driving routes in America which may well inform future trips. With just over a 10 days before we fly, clothes selection – even last minute ordering – and packing is well under way.

I’m finishing putting the garden to bed for the Winter, preparing information for all the neighbours, writing to lots of people – yes, friends around the world – and relatives to keep them in the loop. Tomorrow, I have to take Pauline to hospital for a biopsy of a suspect patch of skin on her cheek. Hopefully, it’s nothing.

1971 -2022

Story of our times on the BBC website. The couple above left Northern Ireland to escape the violence. They took a campervan on a three year trip round the world. They were interviewed by Gloria Hunniford 51 years ago before they left. They didn’t see it broadcast because they were abroad and there were no recorders in those days. The husband died in 1988 and the wife pictured now was contacted by the BBC with a clip of the interview from their archives all these years on. Revisiting the past is such a rich seam.

Wednesday, 26th October, 2022

Warm weather and dry weather are preparing us for our Florida Winter. I’ve received a request from Catherine, who only lives 5 miles away, for photographs of her as a young one. I am known as the repository of family photos. I have 25 + of Catherine at different ages. This is the one that represents what I most remember of her:

Done some more walking and garden work today. This afternoon, I’ve taken Pauline to Southlands Hospital at Shoreham on Sea to have biopsies of three areas of skin – one on her face and two on her legs. She is religiously careful of sun damage and had been for 30 years. In Greece, she constantly covered up with sun cream and clothes. I never bothered. It seems that Pauline has been the one to suffer. I suspect that none of her concerns will come to anything but she is being safe by checking.

This is where I spent my afternoon. The temperature was a delicious 21C/70 F and I did an hour’s walking while I waited. Met a lovely girl in the carpark who was struggling to find the ticket machine. I went over to help her. She turned out to be a Massage Therapist from Arundel. I told her I needed massage. She mentioned Kings Drive which was intriguing. I helped her with the machine and then did half an hour’s walk before my wounded soldier returned. The traffic was incredible on the way home but we got there and life resumed.

Thursday, 27th October, 2022

Woken abruptly from a dream about Massage Therapists at 5.00 am. It is so hot. Today has really been like a Summer. I Whatsapp‘d Kevin, John, David and Julie saying I hoped they were enjoying this lovely weather and I received a barrage of abuse in reply. Apparently, they have all had heavy rain today. Oh Dear! I feel dreadful now …. a bit. Alright, not much. Told them I was in training for Florida. Didn’t seem to help.

Pauline is still suffering with swollen foot tendons. I have been walking on my own. We have reached 22C/70F here in glorious sunshine. Our last shop at Sainsburys and the Beach Fish outlet before we go abroad. I’ve been preparing the Christmas card list for contacts. Nobody will get Christmas cards. All will get explanatory newsletters through one method or another. About 65 homes have colour codes –

Yellow = Email
Green = Direct Messenger
Orange = Whatsapp
Red = Postage

For the past 30 years I have dealt with a diminishing database of friends addresses to print on labels. It used to take me hours to line up and produce each time. This year, I am transferring all the addresses to a database which will print direct to my new label printer in minutes. The awful thing is that our age means we have to edit our list according to who has died, who has separated or remarried.

We sat down together to go through the list – edit, amend or delete people who have fallen off the edge. We were just talking about a girl called Lin – a lovely ex-pupil who had escaped a troubled home in Oldham, married and moved to my home town of Derby. Just as we discussed how best to contact her, the first contact for over 6 months came in from her telling us she was leaving her husband and what her new address would be. Such is life!

Friday, 28th October, 2022

The glorious weather continues and the house is ‘open’ as if it was mid-Summer. The flowers in the garden are all still blooming and the lettuces I sowed late and just hope some would mature are all now being cut daily.

In this week in 2008, Oldham was blanketed in thick snow and school was closed for three days. It feels like a lifetime and a world away.

In the same vein, my records show that, in this week in 2009, we received confirmation from Northern Rock that we had paid off our mortgage. We haven’t borrowed money since. And In this week in 1972, I was just completing my second month as a teacher. The No.1 in the UK charts was Mouldy Old Dough by Lieutenant Pigeon and, in the USA, My Ding-A-Ling by Chuck Berry. Oh, the mists of time rise and fall in the memory!

Faros (Lighthouse), Sifnos Greece.

Today is Ohi or No Day in Greece. Ohi Day commemorates the rejection by Greek prime minister Ioannis Metaxas of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on 28 October 1940. They were certainly defending a beautiful place.

Saturday, 29th October, 2022

It is ‘neighbours day’ for me today. What kind, lovely people we have living around us. Two houses are going to keep a check on the front, two others on the back and one more will be responsible for the car as well as coordinating any reports of problems. He is a builder and will deal with any tiles blown off the roof should it happen.

My next door neighbour drives BMW and Mercedes cars but is not familiar with electric or hybrids. This morning, he drove me round our Development in my car so he can get used to the controls. Strange feeling. He is going to take it out each week while I am away to keep the battery charged.

There are all sorts of strange things he needs to know like:

  • It won’t start with the door open.
  • It won’t start unless brake pedal is depressed.
  • The handbrake switch won’t work without brake pedal depressed.

I’m sure it will be fine. We just need to lead him into it gently. He really enjoyed his first drive of an electric/hybrid.

I woke up this morning panicking as I realised I was 71. I can’t do this, I thought. Where are you? Where is my support? I realised that I had received a text from a friend – ex-employee – who is over 80 and rather infirm. She and I have exchanged postcards from around the world for 20 years. Last night she sent me a photograph of her daughter and grand daughter. I feel so old and bereft!

I have to settle myself. My turn to cook again today. Third time in just over a week. Tarragon Chicken with honey roast carrots and parsnips. Went down quite well. I enjoyed doing it. Pauline is watching Strictly Come Dancing and I am moping around in the Office – casually watching Liverpool – Leeds. When that 15 year old girl is my age, I will be 127 aka … DEAD! What is the point?

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