Sunday, 23rd April, 2023
Raining and grey this morning. The London Marathon will be wet. Maybe it will dampen the traffic. I am driving up to Surrey to see M who is over from Florida. Must be wishing she wasn’t this morning although seeing me will make up for it. I thrashed her at Wordle last night.We have to drive on the M25 leaving at the M25’s busiest junction – J10. In heavy rain and clouds of spray, it should be fun.
Yesterday Julie arranged a group ‘Selfie’ for me with her and Nigel reunited with their son and his wife on the beach in Bridlington. Lovely photo to receive.
Anyway, the drive up to Surrey was much better than expected. The weather improved and the traffic was quite light. We met up with M back from Florida on a fleeting visit to check on the Geriatrics. She had made us a lovely chicken stew with asparagus, peas and broccoli. Who knew M could cook so well? We had a facetime with K still out in Florida which was nice.
I drank wine at lunch so my Chauffeur had to drive us home. Unfortunately for her, we had a bout of torrential rain and even some hail on the motorway which tested her but I coped with my hands over my eyes. Back home the weather was beautiful sunshine and blue sky. We did an hour’s walk and then got in just in time to watch Man. Utd. in the FA Cup semifinal.
Monday, 24th April, 2023
Gorgeous morning down here on the South Coast. Went out for an early walk. Everywhere trees are now green and fresh, lots of blossom including the inaptly named May Blossom which always arrives in April here. Must be a result of climate change.
Quite a few jobs to do today. Currently, it is dandelion season. I eradicate them as soon as I see them. My neighbour’s lawns are on my agenda today. They will all be sprayed with broad leaved weed killer. The dandelions will disappear in a couple of weeks and long before they can set seed to self-propagate another year. I’m looking after about eight different lawns now. It’s costing me a fortune but I enjoy it. Just exercise in the sunshine is what I need.
This morning the news came through that Len Goodman – I only know of him because I have a friend who watches Come Dancing. – has died of Bone Cancer. How lucky I’ve been to have avoided that. I am in that frame of mind at the moment. It is the I’ve had a cancer scare but it looks as if I’ll get away with it mode. I’m rather taking for granted that everything will turn out alright but, just as I’m thinking, Poor man to find cancer had spread to the bones, a letter drops on the mat.
It is from the Patient Care Co-ordinator of my Surgery. It starts:
Dear John, we are sorry to hear of your recent cancer diagnosis … We can offer you support via the Macmillan Cancer Service.
The whole thing suddenly becomes real again and intrudes into my everyday enjoyment. The other thing is that I was shocked to find Len Goodman was only 6 years older than me. I always thought he was an old man.
I do prefer to take responsibility for my own health and I really like accessing my Records, Appointments, Treatment and Medication on my phone/iPad through the NHS App. Soon we will be able to hold video consultations with GPs and Hospital Consultants instead of travelling to them. This will make the whole process quicker and less demanding on NHS time. I have joined an NHS long term study of the treatment of Prostate Cancer. Let’s hope the description ‘Long Term’ proves accurate.
My little sister, Cathy, who lives about 10 mins drive from me, is celebrating her Wedding Anniversary – actually, I’m not sure which. I wish her and Laurie a happy day.
Tuesday, 25th April, 2023
Another gorgeous morning. We just have to take our happiness where we can. We are going down to the beach and the Fishmongers. I found that the original fish outlet had spelt my name incorrectly but still quite spooky …
M is going back to Florida this morning – lucky girl – and she sent me one, last photo over night attached to her Wordle which beat mine.
The weather is set fair for Summer now. It was quite a cool night but that is likely to be the end and new plants can now be set out down here. Gardening is the order of the next few days to give things time to establish before we go away.
Walked on the beach first. Lovely and quiet. The occasional dog walker and a small knot of school children excitedly discovering what the difference is between sand and pebbles. On to the fish outlet. We normally order online and have it delivered. Quite nice to meet the people in person.
With high temperatures forecast, Kevin is off to Spain during the week. I’m expecting my phone to be flooded with terrible karaoke. Julie is building a cold frame on her allotment. She’ll be screaming by tonight.
Wednesday, 26th April, 2023
Got to book my next, three month, hormone injection which will take me up to the point where I start intensive radiotherapy for a month. I also have to have yet another PSA Test prior to meeting the Consultant in late July. Yesterday, I had two, very serious letters telling me about my radiotherapy and how I would have ‘free access’ to the carparking area for Cancer Patients. I don’t want to think of myself as a Cancer Patient. I’d rather pay for the carpark and be normal.
Unfortunately, the side effects they warned me about with Hormone Treatment have started to surface. I am putting on weight. I’m going to stop eating altogether. I am feeling tired. I’m really having to apply mind over matter to complete my exercise routine. Actually, I’m only managing 9 miles a day at the moment. I’m beginning to have mood swings which is worrying because I am an emotional person anyway. Waking up feeling sad which is daft but I’m finding it hard accepting my position.
Trying to distract myself by paying attention to the garden and, particularly, the Herb Bed. Last year, the first, small herb seedlings were planted and they have already spread quite well. We have Thyme, Oregano, Tarragon, Bay and Sage and Mint. I’m not just growing it to cook with but to construct a colourful carpet effect.
The Sage didn’t do as well as some so I’m trying again with a number of different varieties. They have differing colours, scents and leaf shapes. Like Thyme and Oregano, Sage is a Mediterranean herb which likes hot and dry. Walking in Greece, we trample over herbs like this and release a strong scent. Sheep on the mountainsides feed on wild Thyme and that delivers a wonderfully flavoured meat. I’m growing Parsley from seed because that is an annual anyway.
Can you tell it’s a slow news day, Dear Reader?
Thursday, 27th April, 2023
My Mother, Catherine, died 15 years ago today. I remember the event with great clarity. Her husband, my Father, Eric, had died in 1965 when I was 14. I remember that day with equal clarity. I was shocked in many ways. Shocked embeds itself on the consciousness like nothing else. A staunch Roman Catholic, Mum believed she was going to a better place. As a staunch atheist, I knew where she was really going.
Mum & Dad married in Burton-upon-Trent 74 years ago. Even so, I am a product of them and they are a product of my memories to be remembered and acknowledged.
On this day 11 years ago, we were lunching in the Taverna above. I can tell you we ate Grilled Sea bass and Greek Salad with a chilled bottle of Apelia white wine. It was a trip to start another 6 months in our house and reunite with Greek friends.
In other news, Kevin has flown to Spain this morning and will be now be walking out of Alicante Airport into very bright and quite warm sunshine. He’ll be hitting the Karaoke Bars and having his sort of good time.
I’ve instructed my resident chef to make Rabbit Ragù for Dinner. Made with rabbit joints we bought in France recently, it will be served with asparagus tips and sprouting broccoli for the healthy option. Really looking forward to it.
Friday, 28th April, 2023
Busy day with more clothes orders being collected and/or returned. It is something of a daily ritual now. The new herb plants are going to be put in the raised beds by my gardener this afternoon. I have to mow the lawns for 4 neighbours and I have been thinking about what flowers to put in each one’s cut-out beds in the centre of the lawns.
I’ve decided to give them a splash of bold colour at different heights. I’m going to grow them from seed. Maximum height 24″ and minimum height 6″. A mixture of two Nigella (Love-in-A-Mist) varieties and two Calendula (Marigold) varieties. Hope the neighbours appreciate them.
My neighbours are all amused that I don’t just mow the public space grass outside our houses but weed and feed it and, most importantly for me, I cut the edges so they are straight and neat. I have to have things looking neat and controlled. Nothing wrong with Nature as long as Humans control it. My wife has always told me I am mildly OCD and I think it has got slightly more pronounced with age.
I was reading an article about David Beckham this morning. In it he says that his OCD means that, before he goes to bed at night, he has to tidy the rooms downstairs so he doesn’t face ‘chaos’ in the morning. That is exactly me but I do it throughout the day as well …. for my own peace of mind.
Saturday, 28th April, 2023
Gorgeous, warm and sunny day. We reached 17C/63 yesterday which was lovely. Not, of course the warmth that Kevin is enjoying in Spain but alright for now.
Apart from Kevin in Spain, Julie in her allotment in North Yorkshire and John in his Gallery, there seems to have been a resurgence in popularity for the Lake District. John R. has put his Dinghy back in the water, Dave R. is back up mountains and Sue W. is touring the countryside. Never understood the fascination. I choose sunshine before all else. The Lake District is definitely a NO.
Unfortunately, the Karaoke Tour of Benidorm is also a NO which Kevin finds hard to understand. He is obviously hurt by my rejection but that is how it has to be. I am not up for a lads’ week in English Pubs in Benidorm. I really can’t think of anything worse.
Mind you, I am even less likely to join John R or Dave R in the lake District. In two weeks, I will be in Thessaloniki, the second city of Greece. I can’t wait to hear the Greek language being shouted across the street, to smell the familiar smells of Bougatsa (πογάτσα ) from the oven (Φούρνος) or Souvlakia (σουβλάκι) griddling across the road. All the familiar TV stations belting out absolute rubbish in frenetic Greek babble unnoticed by the owners. The Greek tradition is to never turn the TV off but never watch it – in fact, sit with your back to it at all times.
My next door neighbour, whose firm built my house, is desperate to buy a property on Skiathos where he likes to holiday. I have spent some time with him this morning advising him how to go about it.
This evening, after a hard and long Gym workout, we had Dinner in the Garden. It was warm and Sunny. My Chef cooked Courgette and Sea Bass Fritters with Garlic Sauce. It was served with a Green salad and eaten in the fresh air. Lovely! soon we’ll be doing that it Greece.
I’ve included my photo and I apologise for that. I’m not as drunk as I look. In fact, I’ve not even started on the red wine but I had to show Kevin that you don’t need to go to Spain for a good time.