Week 725

Sunday, 13th November, 2022

Very humid this morning. Went to bed late because we have a visitor staying. We ate late, stayed up talking. The visitor is the Head of a company which advises other tech-y companies how to solve development problems almost before they know they have them. He is only in his early 40s which is annoying but he is interesting to talk to. We ate outside in the Sanders Kitchen

The Sanders Kitchen

It is only ‘outside’ in the sense that the side walls are just mesh screens to allow the weather in and keep the creepy crawlies out.

Callicarpa ‘Beauty Berry’
Florida Woodpecker

It has all the mod cons that any kitchen has – sink, dishwasher, gas hob and barbecue, fridge, wine fridge, etc. It is a lovely place to sit and eat. There is a much bigger, indoor kitchen next door.

The morning walk takes us along woodland roads and the animals and birds just going about their daily lives are wonderful. Saw a Florida Woodpecker yesterday hammering hell out of a tree trunk and beautiful, little finches with red breasts and black & yellow striped coats. This afternoon, I was taken by this bush which is abundant here. With its pink/purple berries, it looks quite striking. There’s something pure, simple, sweet and non-malicious about Nature which is to be admired. It has no designs on those observing it. It just is.

Monday, 14th November, 2022

Last night we were taken out to Dinner by the businessman, David, who is staying with us. We went to a local Italian Trattoria. It wasn’t brilliant as a restaurant but we were out with friends and business was paying. No complaints here. We ate seafood, badly cooked and poorly presented but no problem.

The Cinema Room

After Dinner, the girls went up to the Cinema Room to watch Strictly Come Dancing. I am not a fan of the programme but I will use it to watch Netflix and Amazon Prime.

A warmish day – 27C/81F – which was lovely to walk in. This is redneck, Republican territory for people who have money and don’t want to share it. Properties are huge and defended vigorously.

Red Kneck Country

This ranch-style property on our walk is typical rather than unusual for the area. Huge tracts of land with huge drives leading up to huge properties where they park huge vehicles. The sign on the gate says, We don’t call 911 (Emergency/Police). We use weapons/hand guns. ‘Welcome‘! We don’t welcome the dreadlocked. Lovely people.

It is Daniel’s 19th birthday this week. He is in need of nothing so I thought we would buy him something stupid. I thought I might get him a mad, baseball cap in Wallmart. Pauline was forced to model it for me. They made her look too erotic so I decided it wasn’t right and we chose something much more bonkers. He’ll love them because he is equally daft.

It is lovely to have our own car and chose when we go where and when rather than be beholden to others. Today we nipped to Walmart for some things and on to Publix for the rest. Back ‘home’, Pauline completed the production of a huge Lasagne for this evening when the workers get back from Tampa. It will be one of the best meals they’ll ever eat and it will be ‘free’.

Tuesday, 15th November, 2022

Hot and humid start to the day although we are constantly surprised because the house is permanently air conditioned throughout night and day. As soon as we step outside, the heat and humidity hit us. This morning, my valet has to do the washing.

A Launderette near us …

I get through at least two pairs of shorts and tee shirts every day. It’s also sheets washing today. Do you change your bedding at least once a week? Pauline was talking to a couple of our friends recently who were absolutely shocked we did that. You hear all the big news in this Blog!


Some of my friends are in regular contact through Whatsapp as we share the experiences of our lives. Kevin is in Benidorm again but he hasn’t picked a good week. He’s already sent me two videos this week of torrential rain and rivers in the street. He’s also sent me an extended clip of his karaoke performance. I must admit, it wouldn’t be for me at all. In fact, I would absolutely hate it. Having a friend who is so far removed from my world is quite good fun. I think he would feel the same about me.

David, the businessman who is staying with us, runs Clarify. He is a really personable and intelligent individual. Tonight is his last night here before he flies back to UK not far from where we live in the South. M&K were going to take him out to Dinner but he has requested Pauline’s cooking instead. Very wise man. She is producing tarragon & garlic, flame griddled chicken breasts with sautéed wild mushrooms, dauphinoise potatoes, asparagus and broccoli. I’m quite looking forward to it myself.

We went out to Publix (Sainsburys) for the ingredients. American supermarkets put ours to shame. They have everything in multiple choices and huge proportion. Living with a chef, I am used to hunting for specific types of potato, exactly the right fresh herb and the most unusual types of mushrooms, etc.. It is not cheap. This pack of washing pods does 61 washes but costs $42.00/£35.50. We have been here for just 8 days and our supermarket shopping is already £350.00. Good fun though!

Wednesday, 16th November, 2022

Woke up to a message from Jay, my next-door neighbour, asking if we had watched the space rocket launch this morning. Mind you, it was sent at 7.00 am (UK) / 2.00 am (F). He said that the house is fine and particularly clean because it hasn’t stopped raining since we left and that he would take my car out for its first run at the weekend. Really reassuring to have him there. I’ve already checked the house on the cameras at 6.00 pm (UK) / 1.00 pm (F) and it is still raining and amazingly dark. We are just about to go out for a long walk in the sunshine.

My chef’s task tomorrow morning is to make a birthday cake for a youth who will be 19 years old. Can you imagine it? It will be a chocolate cake baked in the main, indoor kitchen.

We had to go shopping for the ingredients and Chef’s enjoyment is in selecting precisely the best items. It’s all incredibly expensive though. Here is the Sales Receipt. A simple chocolate cake will cost around £21.00! I can’t afford that! As we walked into the store, they were playing The First Cut is the Deepest – P.P. Arnold. How appropriate!

Thought you might like to see my favourite part of the house. I haven’t played the piano since the early 1970s. The Art Block at College. I recreated the piece I was working on all those years ago. It is distinctly introverted and sad. It predicted the future.

Thursday, 17th November, 2022

A cool start to what turned out to be a lovely, warm and sunny day. I watched the UK Budget speech before setting off for my walk alone. Pauline is making a chocolate birthday cake so I have left her in peace. We are going to Tampa this afternoon for a birthday meal and then we are all going to an Ice Hockey game because that was his choice.

Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay

I wrote yesterday about being contacted by my neighbour to reassure me about the house. Since then, two amazing coincidences of contact across time and space have occurred. I have written before about ‘adopting’ kids while we were teaching. Yesterday, a girl called Fiza contacted me with the most moving message. She was/is a very bright girl who should have gone to Oxbridge but was prevented from going to university at all because of her culture. She went early into an arranged marriage and had kids.

She still called me, Sir and said she was contacting me without her husband knowing because he wouldn’t approve. At the age of 41, she is finally doing a Counselling & Psychotherapy BSc at Manchester and she wanted us to know. She said I was the first person she thought of when she got the acceptance letter. She said, I honestly wish you were here so I could hug you. Just letting you know that even after all these years your support and love at that time still kept me going through so much.

I was just drying my eyes when I received another Direct Message from circa 1984. I didn’t do a lot of teaching of English or reading of Fiction but one book which went down well was an American one set in New York. I have spent my life quoting bits from Harriet the Spy to friends. Last night, a message came in from a girl called Lisa who must be nearly 50 now. I can barely remember her as a child but she obviously remembered me and the first thing she reminded me of was her enjoyment of Harriet the Spy which I read to her all those years ago. She was contacting me because she had just passed her GCSE English at Grade A and she thought I would be pleased. Even at her age, she is working at Oldham College now.

Friday, 18th November, 2022

Lovely day yesterday. When I got back from my walk, the postman had delivered us a Christmas present all the way from Marsden, West Yorkshire. It was sitting on the Kitchen worksurface.

Christmas Comes Early

It was from our friend, Margaret. There are some lovely, genuine people in the world along with the shallow ones. Margaret is beset with the problems of her elderly parents and her own grandchildren, but she has found the time to do that for us.

Around mid-afternoon, we drove the hour’s journey to the centre of Tampa. It is a beautiful, modern city next to the ocean.

We had booked a table for Dinner outside overlooking the Bay. It was lovely and the food was good. After Dinner, we walked to the Amalie Stadium to watch the ice hockey.

There is ice hockey and then there is the American take on it which is absolutely mad. Every couple of minutes, the game would have a time-out and the music would blare out over the system. Most committed fans – and lots of them looked like the woman in front of me – would be up and dancing, whooping, singing and watching the screen to see if they would be featured. If they were, they would go absolutely ‘ape’. This is definitely not the place for a shy and retiring Englishman like me. Even so, I quite enjoyed it.

Saturday, 19th November, 2022

Lovely hot and sunny walk this morning. Blue skies, strong, warm sunshine, the beautiful scent from the pine trees and the noise from marauding flocks of crows looking to harass the predatory Red Kites circling lazily above. If you weren’t here, you missed a treat.

Met this little chap scuttling relatively swiftly across the sandy woodland track. As soon as I went to photograph it, it stopped dead and shrank into its shell. I tapped the top of the shell and it stuck its head out and a gave a large hiss. I got my photo anyway.

These properties back in the woods feel very remote. For the past couple of weeks walking, we’ve been watching the development of this, new property. It is not lived in yet but we know the owner is called Julio because someone living on the same track thought I was him. Two weeks ago, there was no grass here at all. A company have been laying turf in hot sun for days on an area which must be at least two acres.

Week 724

Sunday, 6th November, 2022

Up at 5.00 am leaving my valet and social secretary silently sleeping. Straight down to the basement gym for a couple of hours. Strangely, I was the only one there. 

This morning the weather had deteriorated badly at the airport.

Breakfast at 8.30 am and then out to get the shuttle to South Terminal. Through priority security quickly and down to No1 Lounge.

By 12.30 pm, we were boarding and offered a bottle of red wine. Great for encouraging sleepiness. Just woken for Dinner. I had chicken with another bottle of red wine.

A 9 hour flight went very quickly and we were soon descending into Tampa Airport. As we did, dozens of friends’ texts/Whatsapps/Facebooks/Twitters shouted out of my phone. Lovely feeling although sad to leave them behind.

After the arduous security checks – finger printing, etc, – we were out to collect cases and be picked up by A&K and whisked off to the house for …. Red wine and barbecued salmon. Delicious. By this time, I was tired. I had been up and active for 22 hours. Time for bed. Oh, Pauline & M have to watch the ‘Strictly’ results programme before bed. 😵

Monday, 7th November, 2022

Time zones do rather mess with your head. Despite being active for 22 hours on Sunday, I was awake after about 3hours sleep. At 7.00 am (UK) / 2.00 am (Fl), I awoke thinking about what was going on in the world. Fortunately, I gave myself a good talking to and went back to sleep.

I woke at 7.00 am (Fl) / 12.00 pm (UK) just in time to watch the Daily Politics on BBC2. It was excellent and geared me up for the day. Took this photo from our bedroom window out on to the front garden. At 7.00 am, the temperature is 23C/72F nice and cool because I’ve got to sort out a 3 hr walk this morning after a big cup of Yorkshire Tea.

I’m going to have to mow the grass.

This is a lovely place to be in the Florida countryside. Still very open and under populated the properties are huge and widely spread. Everywhere is big and surrounded by huge lawns.

Been on a lovely, two hour walk around the neighbourhood this morning. It got a bit hot but it was great to explore the area.

Made a new friend today. Just wouldn’t leave me alone. I do tend to have that effect on girls. Not even sure what she is – Grasshopper? Cicada? Locust? Anyway, she has very good taste!

Tuesday, 8th November, 2022

Adjusting to the time change already. Went to bed early last night – 9.30 pm (F) / 2.30 am (UK) and slept well. Woke at 5.00 am (F) / 10.00 am (UK) feeling refreshed and ready for the day. Yorkshire tea and then out for a walk to see if I could reconnect with my new best friend the grasshopper who I’m going to call Jenny.

Everything appears to be organised on a grid, ‘block’ system and there are miles of rolling hills cut through by roads on which the occasional house, each big enough to be a small town in itself, is standing.

Since meeting my new girlfriend yesterday, I have Googled her. All men should do due diligence on their girlfriends. She is a Florida native – a Lubber Grasshopper – and can be poisonous to small mammals and birds but not to humans and, particularly kind ones like me.

On my walk today, I came across this post box outside a huge, sprawling country property. Suddenly realised it was a grasshopper support. Nobody walks anywhere in America. Nowhere is close enough to anywhere else to walk to it. Everyone has multiple vehicles in the drive and petrol is incredibly cheap.

When they saw us walking down the road yesterday, people stopped to offer us a lift. They assumed we had broken down and were walking for help. The idea of walking for fitness in the fresh air and sunshine is complete anathema to Americans. I have to say, I am really enjoying it.

There is something quite delightful about walking in the fresh air while being bathed in hot sunshine. Today, we set off a bit earlier in 25C and returned a couple of hours later in 28C. Gorgeous. While I walked, I chatted through Whatsapp messages to John, Kevin and Julie in Lancashire, Spain and Yorkshire.

In the afternoon we went out for our first big shop at Publix supermarket. It is a lovely, well stocked shop. Every employee is super helpful, incredibly polite and upbeat. We bought fresh Dover Sole and said to the lady on the counter, We’re from Dover. (It’s a bit of a stretch, I know but it was meant to be light hearted.) You’re from Dover, she said dryly. Well, this isn’t. It was caught a few miles away from here. Of course, you can tell a good shop when it stocks the best brands as illustrated in this photo.

Wednesday, 9th November, 2022

Still haven’t completely adjusted to the time shift. We’ve got the US Mid Term election coverage meshing in with UK PMQs. Actually managed to stay in bed until 7.15 am (F) / 12.15 pm (UK) in order to watch Prime Ministers Questions on Sky TV on my iPad. Florida is on a storm warning so I’ve put off hiring a car until Friday.

A Nissan Rogue – The clue is in the name.

There is an Enterprise Rental outlet just 3 miles away so I’ve been finalising availability and prices. We want something similar to what we drive now. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll have to settle for a NISSAN. Can you believe it. Who would volunteer to drive a NISSAN? We had a brand new one about 40 years ago and the wing mirrors fell off while we were driving.

Even so, it offers plenty of what we would expect in a car if not everything. It is for three months and it will get us around. We don’t expect to be doing many long journeys ….

…. I’ve booked the car for Friday but not through Enterprise who wanted $3,700 per month. On the advice of K, I did a fresh search and found the same model but at Hertz for half that price. Might buy him a present for that. Some chewing gum or something similar.

Thinking about English friends tonight. Feel so far away. Do you ever get that? Travelling is wonderful. I love it but I feel I am leaving and letting down others. I know I’m bonkers but there it is. Kevin is in Spain anyway.

The chef cooked a lovely meal Dinner this evening – pork spare ribs with green beans and asparagus. It was wonderful. A lovely end to the day. We are expecting a Tropical Storm tomorrow. Should be exciting.

Thursday, 10th November, 2022

Every television screen in Florida, yesterday and again today, has been dominated by two topics – the Mid Term Election results and Trump’s lack of success and the coming Hurricane Nicole to a Tropical Storm.

In UK, it seemed that every effort went into keeping places – schools, offices and shops – open. In Florida, they appear to go all out for safety. In this litigious country, the media is dominated by the dangers of storms advising extreme caution.

I have to do my exercise target whatever the weather so I went out in torrential rain and blustery winds to walk for a couple of hours. To be honest, for all the furore in the media here, it really wasn’t worse than a bad day on the Pennines but much, much warmer.

Now, it is only 2.00 pm (F) / 7.00 pm (UK) and I am shattered. I am reduced to self-portraits of my leg from a prostrate position on the bed.

Friday, 11th November, 2022

The Tropical Storm of yesterday that American media played as life threatening, turned out to be a whimper of rain. This morning opened hot and steamy with high humidity. My walk yesterday left me soaked to the skin with driving rain. This morning’s walk left me soaked to the skin with oozing sweat. (Too much information? Hard Luck!) As I walked, I was contacted by David in Rochdale, John & Julie in Yorkshire and Kevin in rainy Benidorm. We exchanged experiences and it felt nice to do that.

The countryside showed the effects of the heavy rain and everywhere smelled gorgeously of pine needles as they carpeted the ground. Everywhere smelled fresh and new. The world looked great and the woods rang round with the calls of exotic birds. Actually, I’ve known quite a few exotic birds in my life. You can still see the scars.

M&K really kindly drove us out to collect a hire car. We had to go to Hertz in Brooksville for the car which turned out to be a rather bigger Toyota which meant we dodged the lowly NISSAN! Everyone at Hertz was pleased to acknowledge British people – Oh, love your country! – and were super friendly as they took our money. Have a nice day, now.

Don’t know how they chose the numberplate. Seems a bit rude! M&K really kindly guided us home and gave us controls for all the electric gates and garage doors. Later, we did our first trip out alone to shop for tonight’s meal – roast salmon with pesto topping accompanied by roasted Mediterranean vegetables.

Saturday, 12th November, 2022

We still haven’t got this time zone yet and were up at 2.00 am / 7.00 am drinking tea and downloading The Times. Back to bed at 4.00 am for about 3 hours and then out walking in the already warm day which eventually reached 28C/83F of sweaty humidity and sunshine. The woodland paths are teaming with wildlife. Squirrels everywhere too fast to photograph apart from this one which had obviously left the Home for the Visually Impaired.

Wonderful bird song echoes all around. Huge properties set in even greater land are fenced and patrolled by guard dogs who come up to challenge us. Actually, they’ve seen us so much in the past week that many can’t even be bothered to bark any more.

As I was walking, I passed a lady who had driven down her long drive to the gate to collect her post. She looked up and said, You really walk. I’ve seen you so much recently. I told her that I had to do a minimum of 10 miles per day. Ten miles! Get out of town, she exclaimed. Actually, we were in the middle of a forest and well out of town but I held back from pointing that out.

Everyone has a Winnebago bigger than a Northern Semi on the drive. Goodness knows where they take it.

We drove out to Walmart (sort of the equivalent of UK Asda which they once owned.) A woman on the door asked where we were from and, when we told her England, she said, Just love England. I asked if she’d been there and she said, Oh no but I love watching Keeping Up AppearancesOh, Hyacith Bouquet, I said. Bucket, she relied snappily. I just love her. We went on to Publix which is rather similar to UK Sainsburys. It was nice to do it under our own steam. An English, business guest is arriving this evening and Kieron is cooking steak on the barbecue in the Sanders Kitchen tonight so we can just sit back and relax.

Week 723

Sunday, 30th October, 2022

What a hot night. I was up at 3.00 am (was 4.00 am) drinking tea, watching Sky News and reading Twitter. Went back to bed around 4.30 am (was 5.30 am) and actually slept a little. 

This morning, with only 6 days to go, I am ticking off jobs from the list. Order currency for the first few days. Gone are the days when I would order £10,000.00+ in Euros to get us through 6 months in Greece. It was very straightforward. I ordered from specialist FX companies and had the notes delivered to our door for a much better price  than anyone else could offer. Now, the pandemic seems to have destroyed the business model of most of those companies as travel collapsed and those remaining only offer the same rates as Tesco bank or the Post Office. I only want £1000.00 starter pack of Dollars and then I will pay everything else with my phone and Direct Debit to avoid transaction charges.

Where has this keenness for Halloween come from? I know it’s American and there seems to be an absorption into our culture of Americanism but I just can’t raise a single shred of enthusiasm for it. Today, on my walk, parents and kids were dressing the outside of their homes with what I assume is cobweb and giant spiders going up the walls, pumpkin heads but plastic ones.

Lovely evening meal of salmon with pesto crust and garlic green beans. Drank a bottle of wine I bought in 2016 for £5.40. Today, if I wanted to buy it on-line, it would cost me 10 x that amount. Anyway, it was delicious and well worth it. In comparison with European wines in UK, European wines in America are incredibly cheap. Looking forward to a few days of that before we go back to our diet.

Monday, 31st October, 2022

The houses around have reached peak insanity. Giant spiders climbing up walls, cobwebs draped over hedges, skeletons climbing in or out of windows. Walked past one house where a skeleton was being hauled up the outside wall to the bedroom window. I asked the blonde leaning out of the window whether it was escaping or invading. She said she hadn’t decided yet. The children were running round excitedly outside.

After all these years, I have forgotten what it was like to anticipate events like this – in my case, bonfire night – but I can guess what it means to parents being prepared to put themselves out for their children. When you’ve got children, I suspect the concept of selfishness doesn’t even arise. Certainly, the parents I saw really went far to please their kids.

Cathy – 2018

Had a lovely day of contact with friends and relatives. I know I’ve changed but I am really enjoying it. Some of them are completely bonkers of course but that’s what makes it so enjoyable. My sister, Cathy, contacted me to ask for a newspaper report which featured her that I had posted in my Blog 4 years ago. Years ago she trained as a teacher and then as a Psychotherapist (what I’ve always called a Psychobabbler). Now, as a result of her Osteoporosis, she is about to set up her own Personal Training business. She doesn’t seem able to sit still.


I am trying to squeeze as much enjoyment as I can out of the friends in contact with me. I like to think we offer each other something. Julie sent me the photo above from her garden this morning. Nice photo.

Tuesday, 1st November, 2022

Happy November. It certainly started with a bang here. A hell of a night with incredibly strong winds.

A lot of people around here asking for return of Halloween decorations that have blown away in the night. The family across the road are looking for a ‘black & white striped witch’s leg with a red shoe’. Now it’s not just windy but wet. I’m having my hair cut. I find it difficult to sit still all that time but it has to be done. I wonder if you can have general anaesthetics for hair cuts?

Must find some kids!

Pauline filled a bowl with chocolate bars for Trick or Treat kids coming to the door. Now she’s talking about taking the remainder to the kids in the street to make up for their loss of a leg. Seems a bit excessive to me. What an idyllic world children live in!

As we leave for 3 months in USA, I have spent a really enjoyable morning talking to friends and assuring them that they will not escape from photos of hot sun as they battle through the snow that will definitely blanket the North of England and Northern Wales this year according to the forecast. That is the cross-border beauty of digital communication.


Smartphones have transformed our lives. This morning, I have been able to complete all the documentation on our smartphones for travel and entry to Florida in about an hour on the Verifly App while talking to Kevin about his upcoming trip to Spain. Actually, I may have accidentally bequeathed all my worldly goods to his lovely daughter, Julia but she’s worth it.

A letter has just come through the door telling Pauline she is to receive a Winter Fuel Payment of £250.00 before January. I don’t know If I am going to get the same but I will be complaining under the Equalities Law if I don’t. I’ll certainly spend it in Florida before Julia gets her hands on it.

Wednesday, 2nd November, 2022

Still very warm but not so sunny today. Anyway, there are lots of jobs to complete. My valet has been preparing, ironing and packing clothes for the trip. Most of it is now complete and I am being dressed each day in things which aren’t going.

Had to do all three hours in the Gym yesterday because of the unpredictable weather. I’m hoping to get a long walk in this morning.

Brighton Yesterday

I’ve got to take Pauline to the hospital this afternoon to have the stitches taken out of her ‘Biopsy’ wounds.

Guide for my Neighbour

One of my last acts has been to prepare a guide for my neighbour to look after our car. I know it will make him cringe/laugh but he needs it.

Thursday, 3rd November, 2022

This house has been far out at sea all night,
The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills,
Winds stampeding the fields under the window
Floundering black astride and blinding wetWind by Ted Hughes

Incredible evening and night with absolutely torrential rain and gale-force winds and yet so warm. Hard to sleep. Won’t need to clean the car or patio before I go away. They’ve both been utterly jet-washed. Bit of a drama up in Surrey yesterday with P&C. For a while, it looked like we would be driving up there. Good job we didn’t try it.

This morning we are reading of impassable roads, overturned vehicles and cars stuck in deeply flooded carriageways.

Car Hire, Brooksville, Florida

In stark contrast, I’ve settled on where I will be going to hire a car next week in Brooksville, Florida. Three months will cost me around £5,000.00 for an SUV which is reasonable.

Took Pauline out to get her hair cut. It has been cut quite short with the intention of lasting 3 months. She seems confident it will.

Friday, 4th November, 2022

Glorious morning. Got my orders for the day.

  1. Strip bed.
  2. Unstack dishwasher
  3. Take rubbish to local tip
  4. Tidy up and secure garden furniture
  5. Mow neighbours’ lawns
  6. Pack technical bag with laptop, iPads, Kindle, etc + leads.
  7. Do 3 hours exercise to keep me out of the way
  8. Sort out automatic lighting/heating schedule
  9. Anything else I’m ordered to do

People can be so nice. A beautiful, youngish girl was about to jog past while I was out on my walk when she stopped and paid me a lovely compliment: I think you’re doing so well. I see you every day pushing yourself to exercise. It’s very impressive. It quite took me back. I’m not used to girls saying nice things. Took a while to compute. Had to tell her she wouldn’t see me for 3 months but I would still be doing the same thing in the Florida sunshine. Have to look out for her in February if she’s still managing the jogging. You know these young ones don’t have the staying power

Lovely weather for Bonfire Night

The Rugby Club grounds are a short walk away and the road was lined with cones in advance of their Bonfire tonight. Perfect weather for it.

Saturday, 5th November, 2022

Up at 5.00 am on a warm and dry morning. Straight into the Gym for a three hour stint. I watched a drama production of Catherine the Great of Russia starring Helen Mirren. At least it held my attention while I worked. It’s not my normal early morning choice but these are special days. It’s amazing how one’s mind can be tricked into ignoring the pain of exercise.

By shortly after 8.00 am, the Gym was over and everything closed down for the winter. My valet had eaten her porridge and finished the final packing. The cases had to be weighed. We are entitled to 3 bags each and each one can contain 23kg (51lb). So, between us, we could put 46kg in the hold and 92kg carry on. I couldn’t lift 92kg never mind carry it on board. Understandably, we won’t use half that amount.

So much has changed and improved over recent years. Our taxi will collect and take us to the Sofitel Hotel at Gatwick around 1.00 pm. We don’t fly until Sunday but I will check-in online at home before we leave. Bag-drop is automatic and self-administered and will be done this evening which leaves us free tomorrow morning to whizz through security and passport control.

View from our Hotel Room

The ‘runway’ view became greyer, mistier and less attractive as the afternoon progressed. It didn’t matter. I was borne along on the warm air of happiness and a bottle of red wine. About 6 hours sleep tonight and then I have to be in the hotel gym to work off the wine.