Week 727

Sunday, 27th November, 2022

November 2021 – Athens

A lovely day which reached 28C/83F. Although I did my exercise routine this morning fairly early, the day has otherwise been one of relaxation. The exercise is so taken-for-granted now that I feel lazy over the rest of the day. A year ago this month, I was at the Athens Marathon. In the 12 months since, I have walked the equivalent of 150 marathons and there is still time to go. Actually, I’ve got to keep it going for another 29 years yet.

My walking has allowed me to see so much wildlife – rabbits, squirrels, red kites, hawks, geckos, etc. Today, I was excited to photo a long, black snake in the garden as it disappeared under a conifer.

It was much more frightened of us than we were of it.

The garden is a delight to live and work in. M&K inherited a garden buggy and a ride-on-mower which were left in the huge garage when they bought the property. M loves wizzing round the garden on both.

M&K have both got the gardening bug since moving here. Pauline & I are going to contribute by creating a herb garden. Almost every herb known to man can be easily grown in this climate so we are looking forward to it.

K has already developed his golf practice range on the back lawn where the pool will be installed over the next 6 months. He has always had a hankering for a fire-pit table so that is what he brought home today and set up working. For a house with three kitchens, they won’t really need its cooking function. For a climate which is fairly sweaty at night, its heating facility won’t be much needed either. It looks nice, though, doesn’t it? That’s the main thing.

Monday, 28th November, 2022

Warm and sunny morning – which eventually reached 28C/83F – to visit garden centres. We drove to a nearby one called Lowes. It was very much like a B&Q in Uk but not so impressive.

We were looking for Herbs (which Americans didn’t recognise until we said, erbs.) The plants were quite disappointing, but the barbecues were the best. Massive and really cheap. Might have to export one to Sussex.

Drove home to do a two hour walk which Pauline joined me for half of. While I was walking, a message came in from my little sister, Liz, who is usually living in London or Newcastle but was messaging from …. Athens. I have been there 60 – 70 times but it was her first visit and she was asking for ideas to visit.

The paths I walk.

My walk was dry, hot and dusty. It is such a shock to be messaged out of the blue by someone from my family. She was messaging from the Electra Metropolis Hotel which we have used and know well. We remember the building as the former Ministry of Education and saw striking teachers massing there. Now it is a 5* hotel beyond the reach of Greek teachers’ salaries.

I wrote her a potted guide in 10 minutes on my phone with pictures of places to visit and sent it all across on Whatsapp for her consideration. Even though I was in the middle of nowhere, Mobile 5G signal is everywhere in USA and there is little problem in communicating.

Lovely meal eaten outside by the water.

In the late afternoon, we drove into Tampa and went to a waterside restaurant for a 21st birthday meal. It was lovely. I remember some enjoyable 21st birthdays in the past and this was a grown-up attempt to give a young girl a memorable experience.

Tuesday, 29th November, 2022

Up early for a walk on a day that eventually reached 28C/83F. I split the exercise in two halves so that I could do other things including watch the Eng v Wales match at 2.00 pm here. Glad I did.

The long & very straight road leads me to your door ….

It was international day in more senses than one. Liz is in Athens and I chatted to her and sent her some restaurant suggestions near her hotel that cater for weirdos like her – vegetarian/vegan stuff. We exchanged messages while we walked. At the same time, I was joking with my cousin who is English but lives in France. She has returned to her roots for a brief visit and immediately tested positive for Covid.

Also, while I was walking, I was communicating with Lancashire, Yorkshire and Australia to add to Greece and France. My friend, John, sent me this photo that he took in 1969 and developed in the College Art Block. He & I plus Nigel lived there for two years with the Boyd family at 12 College Road (1969-71). I have featured it before but this is the actual picture he took as we started our lives there. Kevin suggested it should have a Blue Plaque. I’m not sure if the blue denoted literary, artistic or pornographic achievement but I’m sure he’ll tell me.

12 College Road, Ripon – 1969

There could not be much greater contrast between the two photos. The bottom one taken with a basic, b&w camera and hand developed. The whole feeling of cramped and stuffy propriety allied to the absence of colour and warmth doesn’t make one want to return to those times. The top photo with its vibrant, hot colours that so attracted Hockney as a painter but in a countryside of luxury and prosperity where anything feels possible just begs one to make the most of every day.

England 3 – 0 Wales in the Cinema Room this afternoon.

I do love reaching out across the space and time of life. It feels rich and enthralling. To be able to go back and talk to my past but move forward and explore the present while planning for the future is exactly what I want to do.

We finished the afternoon enjoying the football in the cinema room with nuts and iced-white wine. No popcorn in sight thank goodness although I think there is a machine in there to make it.

We eat about 6.30 – 7.00 pm here and I sat down wondering if Liz had been to our table at the restaurant we suggested in Athens where the time is +7hrs. She’s going out for the day to Delphi tomorrow but I’m afraid it’s going to pour down all day. At least she’ll come back clean.

Wednesday, 30th November, 2022

I can’t remember struggling so hard to motivate myself today. My exercise routine was a real struggle both physically and mentally. I had to keep talking myself through it. Just another half an hour; just another 4 miles, soon be going back for a drink. Think how much better you will feel when you’ve achieved it. My body was creaking and I was feeling my age. Out here in gorgeous scenery and 28C/83F – which is what it tends to be most days – I ought to be relaxed and full of life but, sometimes, things gnaw away at my mind and sap my energy.

No school bus run for us ….

It’s great to be retired isn’t it and free to do all these wonderful things. I meet lovely people, watch wonderful wildlife and keep in contact with friends across the world. On my morning walk, I see fleets of these yellow school buses which have priority on the roads. If I do a second walk, I usually see them delivering children to their individual homes at the end of the day.

Little Liz

While I was walking through the sunshine of Florida, Little Liz and her husband were in Athens celebrating Liz’s 65th birthday. Today she went on a trip to Delphi to consult the oracle. I warned her it would be wet and it just shows that you should always listen to your big brother.

Liz in Delphi

I’m sure she enjoyed it whatever the weather. After all, she’s spent a good chunk of her early, professional life in Newcastle so most things are better than that.

All eyes on Chester tomorrow. It is the first By-election of note for quite a while and, certainly, since Labour went into a massive, 18% lead in the polls. However, in these one-off By-elections, LibDems usually do well so we will see. Labour held it with about 9,000 majority last time so it is quite an ask for the LibDems.

Thursday, 1st December, 2022

Florida White Rabbit.

Doesn’t quite make sense but the month of December has opened on strong sunshine and me still suffering from sun/heatstroke. Everyone here says, Have a day off. Rest & Relax. My body says, That makes sense but my brain screams, Never give in.

Pauline went out with M clothes shopping to the ‘Mall’. (Quite difficult to write that word but I got there. She gets so little chance to do it at home so I hope she really enjoys it and spends all our money.

I set out on my morning walk and felt as if I was battling against the whole world. Of course, I wasn’t. I was battling my mental attitude and the soreness of my bones, particularly my pelvic area which feels as if it hasn’t been oiled for a long time. I’m still feeling quite light-headed and strangely emotional. I’ve been given this rehydration pack which is full of minerals and water. I’ve finished it so we’ll see.

I hate feeling out of control of myself just as I hate not being able to help others. It’s one of those things I’ve just got to get my head down and work through. I’ve set out on my second session and got home by 3.00 pm. I sat in front of my laptop and started to do my Blog. A few lines in, I was asleep and slept for the best part of 3 hrs. I went down for cheese & biscuits and found I just couldn’t eat. I was even too exhausted to talk.

K was watching Ice Hockey. M&P were going to the Cinema Room and I was looking for the Chester Byelection result. It is 9.00 pm (Fl) now and 2,00 am (UK). I am tired but determined to hear the result. I really wouldn’t be surprised if Lib Dems got it and I wouldn’t mind.

New Labour MP for City of Chester

The majority was well above what was expected – with 17,309 votes – a 61% share of the vote and nearly 11,000 more than the Conservative candidate.

Friday, 2nd December, 2022

Had a lot of sleep yesterday and woke feeling tired. Went out for an early-ish walk to fight off sore bones, light head and general feeling-sorry-for-myself-itus. It worked. Fortunately, although the sun was strong, the temperature did not go much higher than 26C/79F which made things easier. I managed 8 miles and will do the rest this afternoon.

Colin the automatic vaccum cleaner.

I suddenly realised that there is one member of the family that I haven’t introduced you to yet. Colin named himself and was given a post-it note in case he forgets. Colin is a vacuum robot who stalks the floors downstairs keeping them immaculate. He lives in the Storeroom where the docking-station stands. Tell Colin to start cleaning and he undocks and starts roaming the floors.

Colin can cope with most things such as piano legs or doorways. What he can’t do is climb up or down and he doesn’t do well with long pile carpets.

The White Room

So, the unfurnished White Room has a large step/step down and a fairly deep pile carpet, so someone actually has to do that by hand. When Colin has finished or, if he feels the need for recharging, he just glides back to his docking station, automatically empties himself and starts charging ready for next time. Colin never complains.

Saturday, 3rd December, 2022

Had a horrible night. Embarrassingly pathetic! Pauline woke me at 3.00 am to say we were swimming in water and I was leaking from every pore which was strange because I felt freezing. I was, in fact, burning up and the sheets really were saturated. I haven’t wet the bed for almost 70 years. Just to get some sleep, we put towels down beneath us, turned UK radio news on and, eventually drifted off.

Getting up just after 7.00 am, I was told that I would not be walking today. Now usually, I would say yes and then do it anyway because I have a slight tendency towards belligerency but today, I have had to swallow my pride and accept. It is a personal tragedy and shame but there it is. My base target has been 10 miles per day since my 70th at the beginning of April 2021. I think I did 81 days and then was stupid enough to have a day off.

The effect of that on me was so infuriating that I vowed to do a complete year. You will see, I actually completed 371 continuous days before my hernia operation stopped me for 6 days. After that I was seriously hitting back until today and you can see this run stops at 204 consecutive days of 10+ miles a day.

I am rarely ill but, like most men, when I am, I’m completely incapacitated. Actually, I really don’t like people fussing round me. Like a sick dog, I prefer to curl up in a corner and wait for the affliction to pass. Unfortunately, Pauline has decided that this condition could lead to thickened blood supply and trigger a heart attack so, for her peace of mind, I am doing as I’m told.

I have a growing list of things in this house that I intend to take home with me:

  1. The Outdoor Kitchen
  2. The Indoor Kitchen
  3. The (eat anything) Toilets
  4. The live-in Masseuse
  5. Colin the Robot Vac.

I looked for a Robo-Vac today and found lots available in the UK cost low end (£190) and high end around £1500). The one I’m featuring is around (£500) and will do 3 hrs running around cleaning up before for going back to base and emptying and recharging.

It will map each floor of the house and save that in its memory to help future trips. All our downstairs rooms are wood or tile apart from the Lounge which has very low pile carpet and the same upstairs. It can even be controlled remotely by smartphone if you want the house immaculate when you get home as I know we all do.

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