Week 732

Sunday, 1st January, 2022

Happy New Year from the Blog. I am feeling a lot better and more optimistic. Shared good wishes with friends and already planning the next travel opportunities. Hoping to do Europe in a big way this Spring/Summer so researching and booking starting points will be important early. I expect to do this mainly driving which is one of the joys of European travel but we may do a couple of short haul flight destinations as well as Athens.

I’ve been fancying a short break in Bordeaux for ages so we might fly there and, similarly, to the rather racy city of Marseille which would also merit a week without a car. I’ll be exploring those destinations and flights from London for late Spring/early Sumer. We will have a couple of separate weeks in the Coquelles area walking and exploring restaurants. We will go to Athens in late September and the North of England in October. So that will allow us to spend late June and the month of July driving in France & Italy. After that, who knows, maybe back to Florida for a while.

I’m going to spend a lot of January in here.

The first objective must be to get rid of this mysterious infection and start getting fit again. I’m on Day 5 of the double strength Antibiotics which appear to be working. Going to spend 15 mins in the Gym this afternoon and my focus for the next few weeks has got to be in there, building up my strength and endurance. It is amazing that a short break away allows one’s fitness to drain so quickly.

I’ve just been chased out of my Office by … a ROBOT and I obeyed. This is starting to get rather interesting.

Monday, 2nd January, 2022

Woke up feeling distinctly better physically but absolutely empty emotionally as if something huge has just gone, as if a major motivation has been snatched away. Just got to get my head down and move forward.

The Robot Vacuum has proved such a success downstairs that I’ve ordered another for the first floor. It will be delivered on Thursday. Having set up the first one, a second should be straight forward. Famous last words.

Our house is coming up to 7 years old. With only two of us living in it, the wear & tear is minimal but some, small jobs are starting to appear. We need a plumber to replace a seal in the kitchen tap which has sprung a gentle leak and we need a pop-up waste in the Ensuite sink repairing along with a pop-up toilet flush button replacing.

These are just niggly little things but I like to keep on top of them. We also have one of the outside house lights which is operated automatically by light sensor repairing/replacing because the sensor has stopped working. So, to start the year as I mean to go on: book plumber and electrician as soon as possible.

Trying to stay positive although I admit it is a bit of a struggle at the moment. Getting out in the sunshine helps so we drove down to the beach. The roads were so quiet that it was as if a secret germ had wiped huge swathes of humanity from the face of the earth. Actually, I hadn’t realised that this was like a delayed Bank Holiday.

The beach and the road along side had lots of walkers, some hardy souls opening up their beach huts and eating sandwiches and coffee on tables at the front.

It was remarkably mild and beautiful but my mind and my body weren’t set for it, We took some lovely lungsful of sea air and then drove home through Rustington. When we got home, I was going to phone tradesmen but, now I know it is a holiday, I’ll wait till tomorrow.

Tuesday, 3rd January, 2022

Old memories, old friends are swirling round my head after a relatively good night. The past is almost like a bereavement. Although the people are gone, I continue to search for them, see them in a crowd … The past haunts me. People rise out of the mists of time and then fall back. I’m left hoping they continue to rise again. If they don’t, either I have dementia or I’m dead.

Rising out of the mists of this morning is this lad. His name is Russell Osman who lived in the Bull’s Head pub across from my childhood home in Repton. Admittedly, he is 8 years younger than me so was only 3 when I started at Grammar School and 15 when I left Repton for the last time. Russell’s dad, Rex Osman, had played for Derby County in the 1950s and Russell spent every spare hour of every day kicking a football around the pub carpark.

All that carpark practice paid off. Russell, who followed me by attending the Grammar School, eventually, went on to play for Ipswich and England. He was really good and had 10 years in the top flight of football. Now, at the age of 63, he is a pundit with the Indian football league,

This morning, Russell, that little lad from 1968, rose from the mists of the past to appear before me. I was watching Sky News in the Office and an article about Pele’s funeral came up accompanied by an interview with … Russell Osman.

Russell Osman

The beautiful, little lad of the 1960s is now a be-whiskered 63 year old man who has lots of life’s experience packed under his belt. In the end, it is not what we look like. It is what we are like that is important.

Wednesday, 4th January, 2022

I am waking up tired and shaky. I want to wake up looking forward to vigorous exercise. I am trying to force my head to tell my body but it isn’t really working at the moment. Kevin has been trying to gee me up but the body just isn’t willing right now. Amazing, though, how wonderful it is to have supportive friends in the background.

In spite of some horrible setbacks this week, I am trying to look to the future. I have forward booked two, separate weeks away for later in the year.

Electra Palace Suite

In mid-August, we will spend a week in Athens: 21st  – 28th. An Acropolis view Suite with balcony and breakfast will cost us £3,200.00 and the Easyjet flights with extra carry-on luggage, Extra Legroom and Speedy Boarding will cost £717.00 so the whole thing will come in under £4000.00

Electra Palace Acropolis View Balcony

In mid-October, we will spend 5 nights in Yorkshire – 16th – 21st. It will allow us to get round and see friends – well those who want to see us. My friend, Brian, from Royton phoned me last night to ask after my health and say how much he was looking forward to our next visit. I missed him last time and two years seems so long. We have to fit Margaret from Marsden in and John, Kevin & Julie in North Yorkshire.

It’s good to have things and people to look forward to. I trust that, by then, all this will be well behind me and I will be once again pounding the streets, enjoying my body.

Finding a good, local plumber is rather like finding a needle in a haystack. I asked around but neighbours couldn’t really help. They had the same problems. I searched the net and came up with a young-ish man from Worthing who had done his apprenticeship in the local college, set up his own company and survived for 9 years. I took a risk and phoned him.

Dan Proudfoot – Loved his name. – said he could visit us in a couple of hours. Couldn’t believe it. Our jobs were so small that plumbers haven’t bothered to get back to us. He turned up, saw the three jobs, popped out to the local Plumbers’ Merchants, returned and did all three jobs within an hour. I have already recommended him to my neighbours.

Thursday, 5th January, 2022

Warm but dismal, damp start to the day. I hesitate to write this but a blood testing appointment at 9.00 am got me out of the house and into an completely empty Surgery. Absolutely wonderful and comprehensive treatment.

Little John emerges from his lair under the stairs.

What a state of man have I become? I’m reduced to buying friends now. And robots at that! My new best friends are Little John and Little John’s Mate.

Little John’s Mate lives upstairs.

Little John and Little John’s Mate are very willing and have agreed to meet me any time I want. They just hang around charging on their docking stations until summoned. I’ve never seen the house so clean and I was responsible for vacuuming so I should know.

Definitely feeling a bit better physically than I was. Jill from next door has just Whatsapp’d me to ask how I was, which was nice. Unfortunately, she has just got Covid for the second time. I’ve had to instruct her not to kiss me.

Little Daryll came round this afternoon because we have a failing outside light. It is always switched on but only lights as the twilight arrives and goes off with the morning sunrise. After 7 years continuous working, it failed recently and our little electrician friend nipped out to replace it. He was here for half an hour while he kept us up to speed on the home-schooling of his kids, his own ongoing music education and the completion of a conservatory on his house. We introduced him to Little John and he took a photo to discuss with his wife. What lovely people there are in the world!

Friday, 6th January, 2022

Lovely start to the morning after a warm night. Feeling better again. Hopefully, this is the beginning of the fight back. I am trying to be optimistic. My doctor has just phoned to say that they have narrowed my health problem down to A-typical Pneumonia which is a form of Legionnaire’s Disease. It is typically caught from air conditioning units. I spent six weeks living in a house where the air conditioning was working 24 hrs a day. It is possible that is where I contracted it. Equally, it could just as easily have been caught in any of the shops/restaurants that we visited.

I have to renew my subscription to Microsoft 365 this week. It is about £80.00 a year for MS Office to be installed on 6 separate stations. We have it on two computers, two iPads and two smartphones. I use MS Word word processor and MS Excel spreadsheet most of all but a major draw is the huge cloud storage facility that comes with it. On OneDrive, we get 1 terabyte or 1000 gigabytes of storage and, although I am constantly using my phone to take photos which go straight to cloud storage, I will struggle to fill this facility for at least a decade.

All files and graphics are date indexed. They even stamp time, date, geographical location and, for me, go back as far as I’ve been storing photos. Each day, the cloud storage reminds me of all its records for that day back across the years. For example, over Christmas, it threw up this polaroid from 1979. I was going to caption it: The Young Revolutionary but suddenly realised that I wasn’t that young. At 28, I had completed 7 years of teaching including two promotions, completed a first Degree and got married. And yet …. I look so young.

Not as young as this young lady. This is Pocahontas in 1973, Rochester, Kent where I went to a party in August of that year. All seems so long ago and yet …

Our Office has a colour laser printer which I bought about 10 years ago and a mono laser printer which must be 15 years old now. Things have moved on a lot since then. I now want to print straight from my smartphone and iPad and modern lasers now do wireless printing. I’m researching them today.

Saturday, 7th January, 2022

A warm, drab but wet day. Going to start again in the Gym today. I was formally given permission by my doctor in a phone call yesterday with the caveat that I monitor my heart rate as I do. Fortunately, my treadmill has a built-in heart monitor so I shall have to pay more attention to it for a while. After yesterday’s quite definitive diagnosis from my doctor, I have had to instruct my wife to address me as Legionnaire Sanders as only they can get the disease.

I haven’t drunk any alcohol for 6 weeks but, as I’ve got better and started eating again, I’ve been drinking a low calorie, non-alcoholic grape juice. It’s a bit sweet for me (alright, it’s hideous) but I’m getting used to it. I’m preferring it to Shloer at the moment. We went out to Asda this morning to stock up on it. While we were out, the robots cleaned the house and were just returning to Dock as we got home. It’s a great system.

I am an atheist but I recognise that some lunatics believe in the fantasy of virgin birth, the appearance of three wise men and people ascending into heaven. That’s their choice. Yesterday is recognised by the fantasists as Epiphany which literally means revelation but of what we are not sure. Certainly religions around the world seem to celebrate it as a renewal which makes sense at the beginning of a new year.

The procession is important. Nice to see ‘our’ house at the back.

The Greek Orthodox Church particularly associates this renewal with the sea, the immediate source of their bounty. Every year, they process through the community and have religious ceremonies at the water’s side and then a cross is thrown into the waves and young men dive in and compete to be the proud retriever of the cross.

It might be Greece but the sea’s still cold!

After that, islanders, particularly, gather for a communal feast with music and dancing. It is all very simple, rudimentary and homespun but inclusive and reaffirming. So it is on Sifnos every year.

Lots of food, drink and music accompanied by ‘terrible’ singing and strangely uninhibited dancing. We know these characters so well. It is strange to be looking in from the outside.

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