Week 743

Sunday, 19th March, 2023

Another sleepless night. Another beautiful morning – warm and sunny. The birds are going mad. They think it’s Spring … maybe it is now. There are mates to find, nests to build and young to produce. Life goes on. The lucky thing for birds is that they have no concept of cancer and its pernicious effects.

There are so many robins around here and they sing so loudly. They are feisty little birds. I have always loved feisty little birds. There is something attractive about being little and strong.

We learnt this morning that Lefteris was dead. We had known Lefteris Podotas for almost 40 years. We shopped at his supermarket – Arades aka Sainsburys in Exambela, Sifnos.

Arades Super Market aka Sainsburys
Where once there was life …

He was extremely suspicious of tourists in his shop, following them round to ensure they weren’t stealing until he realised they were going to spend lots of money and then he welcomed them with open arms.

He had two daughters , Chrysoula and Katerina, who served in the supermarket which was really a glorified corner shop. There are trolleys outside but there was hardly any room to wheel them on the inside. He sold island farmers’ produce but most things had to be brought in from the mainland by ferry/lorry two or three times a week. It meant that shopping was much more expensive although still cheaper than in UK

What we didn’t realise, until reading his obituary this morning, was how involved in island life he was and how much respect he garnered. There will be many at his funeral this afternoon. There won’t be many at mine.

Lefteris & daughters – carrying the icon in Kamares.

Just going out to fight off the inevitable. Actually, the walk was quite chilly this afternoon. Now I’ve got an hour in the garden, bringing the furniture out of winter wraps ready to enjoy the coming sunshine. The raised beds have to be prepared for planting and the pots cleaned up for the new season. Finally, the patio will be cleaned to bring it back to ‘new’. So much to do and so little time in which to do it.

Received a lovely, supportive message from my sister, Jane BG, this evening. It moved me more than I expected.

Monday, 20th March, 2023

Awake at 5.00 am to a world of soft, grey, driving rain. A bit ironic because today is the Spring Equinox bringing equal amounts of day and night on all parts of Earth. Radio news – Banking is trembling again. Not what one wants to hear at this stage. I am already thinking of preparing for an uncertain future. I want predictability not instability.

When you’ve got cancer, you know you’re in trouble when a Biologist sends you love and kisses. Still it was lovely and it was great to hear from her. I am talking to so many people now but it was a shock that my phone told me I used it an average of more than 2 hrs per day last week. I am using voice, text and Whatsapp as well as browsing when out of the house.

My iPad told me I use it an average of 4 hrs a day. I do read apps delivering The Times and The Telegraph so that takes quite a while each day and I sometimes listen to the radio or watch TV/Films on it. I Blog on it at times but I’m up to 6 hrs screen time before you count in my desktop computer. It’s a problem for me because that is something around 8 hours physical inactivity a day. No wonder I have to force myself to do 2.5 hrs exercise a day and only sleep about 4 hrs a day. It is not the best organisation.

My housemaid requires a new steam cleaner. After 7 years in this house, she decided we needed new carpets. Panicked, I suggested she try just cleaning the existing ones. She did and was delighted with the results but now wants to build in more regular maintenance and feels a new machine would greatly help with that.

On a cost-benefit analysis, it’s by far the best option particularly as the housemaid’s services are free so that is the next search. Clinch the deal before I’m dragged out to carpet shops.

I have only done 7 miles today and I’m shattered. I’ve got to get a grip! Instead, I’m retreating to the Office to read The London Evening Standard. It’s great reading. I follow it with the Manchester Evening News which sends me Oldham and Rochdale items.

Tuesday, 21st March, 2023

Didn’t go to bed until 12.30 am and it helped with sleeping longer. It rained over night but opened warm, grey and dry. Went out for an early walk to start the day. I’m pushing myself to stay motivated. My phone app this morning helped me by marking my current streak of 54 consecutive days although I have a long way to go to match my previous record of 371 consecutive days. At least I am on the right route and showing some mental strength to continue.

At this time 10 years ago, we were just preparing to set off on the drive to our Greek home for a 6 month stay. It was exciting to anticipate the trip as we booked hotels en route and ferries down the Adriatic to Patras. It was great to reacquaint ourselves with Greek friends and pick up our island life.

Things have moved on and, on this day last year, we were swimming and sunning ourselves here at the pool of the Bradenton IMG Sports Academy. It was a good time but so much has happened even since then and life looks so different.

This morning, I’ve spoken to Kevin, Julie and my brother, Bob, who kindly took the time to phone. My sister, Cathy, is coming for coffee tomorrow. People are so kind that it hurts. Even so, I have a sense of loneliness and dislocation at the moment.

Nothing is forever. Life is constantly in flux. My former flatmate, Nigel, who is now 75 and suffering from Non-Hodgkinson’s Lymphoma, is finally giving up the lease on his Gallery. We must all hang together or, assuredly, we shall all hang separately, as Benjamin Franklin said. We may have been thrown together by random circumstance but, ultimately, that is what life is.

Wednesday, 22nd March, 2023

It’s 3.00 am and I am drinking tea in the Office. This has got to stop. Outside, soft rain is falling.

The day has opened dark and quietly wet. My sister is now not coming over for coffee. She contacted me by Whatsapp over Breakfast to say she had a prior engagement in Brighton. That’s not a problem. I get stood up by girls all the time. Went down to the Promenade to see a wild, high tide.

Didn’t stay to sunbathe. In fact, it felt cold in the wind and driving rain even though it was 11C/52F. Don’t think I’ve seen the estuary into the River Arun so violent at high tide.

Catterick Village, North Yorkshire

Kevin, Julie and John in North Yorkshire have lovely weather today. John lives in Catterick Village and sent a photograph of a lovely view this morning.

Thursday, 23rd March, 2023

Quite a pleasant morning. Really noticeable how light it is at 6.00 am now and the clocks go forward this weekend so that will be even more emphasised. The heating is off until next November and the Summer is coming. If I make it through unscathed, I look forward to good times in the future.

Fish Farm off Igoumenitsa

Today is one of fairly ordinary housekeeping activity. First thing, the large, refrigerated van of our fish supplier pulled up outside the house. A huge, ice-filled box of fish was handed over containing four large sea bass and two sides of salmon. We eat so much fish, I’m thinking of buying shares in a Greek fish farm. You see them particularly around Igoumenitsa. As the Adriatic Sea meets and mingles with the Ionian Sea the Sea Bass and Grouper farms are obvious.

We have a kitchen fitter here from Symphony. Even 7 years after they fitted our kitchen, they are still arriving – completely free of charge – to replace three doors which are showing signs of wear. Mind you, they weren’t cheap to buy. We were shocked to find that one, additional double wall unit cost us over £720.00 so ongoing support is rather costed in to the initial price. Even so, they are a reputable company from Barnsley.

I had to order more INR test strips. I use at least one a week and more some times. They now cost £90.00 for 24 and I get one pack free on prescription and buy the other myself to be fair to the NHS.

A packed Garden Centre.

By the time we got out to the Garden Centre this afternoon, the sun had gone so had the shoppers. They were advertising Spring but there were few takers. I just wanted about two tons of topsoil to top up and refresh the deep-beds.

Friday, 24th March, 2023

Diaries have been written for centuries from the ancient Egyptians on papyrus to the earliest recorded use of the word in Ben Jonson’s Volpone in 1605. The word ‘diary’ comes from the Latin diarium (daily allowance). The Diary of Samuel Pepys from the 1660s is well known but so many of us have disciplined ourselves to write down the thoughts and events of each day. One of my heroes, Tony Benn, faithfully recorded his day on cassettes forcing himself to work late into the night to do it and the arrival of the internet has made the activity even easier and more immediate. Blog is a portmanteau word derived from Web Log.

The Blog is not written for an audience although I know looking in on someone else’s life can be interesting at times. Although it is read every day by an audience of just over 250 people on two websites and across the world, I write the Blog every day for myself alone. It is how I reflect, record and remember the thoughts and events of the day. Most days they are routine and boring. Some days they are important, significant even life changing. My conversation is with myself, but I have spent my life talking to others in my head. I know there are others who do that in their heads. Some, on the other hand, are hardly self-reflective at all. Lucky them. I choose to put it into words. Words are my thing.

Bog within a Blog

If my thoughts are sad or depressing/depressive, Dear Reader, pay no attention. We all have those moments. I just choose to commit mine to the page. They may sound melodramatic, self-indulgent, emotional or even psychotic. In the end, I try not to worry about that. Just getting them out is cathartic for me. The more stoic among you keep your thoughts to yourself. I wear my heart on my sleeve.

We are the authors of our own misfortune. The wages of sin … and all that. If I am going through a difficult time, my Blog reflects that. Ultimately, it is my problem not that of my readers. I will crawl away under a rock and deal with them when it all becomes too much but writing brings them into the daylight of scrutiny and helps me understand. I have always written at difficult times in my life. It is who I am. If you find it concerning, turn away to the joys of your own life. I will continue to babble away in my head and on my Blog.

Saturday, 25th March, 2023

I am aware of time, the passage of time, the shortness of time more acutely than ever at the moment. In the early hours, all the missed opportunities and unfulfilled hopes float endlessly through the waking dreams.

I will sleep through the moments
All the moments you’ve stolen

Tonight, we lose a precious hour. Perhaps waking up at 4.00 or 5.00 am will seem more normal for a while.  I have always burnt the candle at both ends. While working, I would go to bed at midnight and get up at 6.00 am so this is not so strange although it’s hard on my bed-warmer.

Manca enter stage right.

Excitement of the morning – found a baby woodlice crawling across the kitchen floor. Can only suppose that it got in via the conservatory door vent. That’s children for you. No sense of danger. What would you have done, Dear Reader?

In any other time, I would have squished it and put it in the bin. Now, I cannot snuff out life so easily and chose to put him/her back in the garden to live another day. Did you now that baby woodlice are called Manca? Who could kill a little Manca? Life is too precious.

This morning at 5.00 am, the sky was bright and the dawn chorus was astonishingly loud. They know that time is short and the moment is now. For 72 year olds, the time was then. Found this photo from 1983 when porn star glasses were almost normal.

How easily we date! Even so, I have always tried to enjoy the age I was at any given moment and not regret the ravages of time. It is getting a little harder at the moment. One of my former pupils wrote this to me yesterday:

Every morning, I wake up and give thanks for what will unfold throughout my day.

This is the optimism of youth and I remember it well.

%d bloggers like this: