Week 748

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 …

Orginal Fish Outlet – Littlehampton Beach

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.

Lovely Dog!

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.

Thyme & Oregano carpet after 1 yr

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.

Varieties of Sage – Salvia

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.

Captain Andreas Taverna, Kamares, Sifnos – 27th April, 2011

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.

Before ….. & ….. After

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.

Idyllic Skiathos

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.

Week 747

Sunday, 16th April, 2023

We don’t fly to Thessaloniki until the middle of May but I’ve just Checked-In and received my Boarding Passes on my phone’s Easyjet App..

Suddenly realised that we fly out of Gatwick North Terminal and return to Gatwick South Terminal. Only noticed while booking the Airport Carpark. That’ll be a bit annoying.

We have to get the inter-terminal shuttle train and then a shuttle bus to the carpark around midnight …. and then drive over an hour home. Still there’s always pain with the pleasure.

Ordered the Kindle from Amazon yesterday afternoon. Delivered this morning. Now to set it up and download my Housekeeper’s Library. Only about 500 titles. If they haven’t got the word Love in the title, they are rejected. I don’t know what she’s trying to tell me but it’s essential bedtime reading.

Monday, 17th April, 2023

We all have to look our best on this wonderful day. Sunny and warm but I’m having my haircut. I find it hard to sit still for so long. No pictures because I wouldn’t want to dazzle you with my beauty but if, you show me yours, I’ll show you mine.

Before going out walking, I have to check how much we’ve got in Euros for our trip to France on Wednesday. I’m not really sure why we always have so many Euros in the safe but we never sell them back to the bank because that is the way to lose money. Anyway, notes and a kilo of coins comes to circa €3000.00 which will do for this week.

The River Arun runs through the Marina and into the sea.

Walking in the sunshine makes such a difference. Sunshine seems to link the elements together and make fresh air worthwhile. I love it. Sunshine makes me happy.

The last couple of days have been a nightmare. The flush on the downstairs toilet has broken. I’m constantly having to climb the stairs. Today, our plumber texted to say he would come round with a replacement unit. Half an hour later and £120.00 lighter, I have quick relief. My Housekeeper watched him like a hawk. I won’t need a plumber next time. The replacement unit is only £21.00 from Amazon and my Housekeeper is ‘free’. She will be able to do the job herself. Everybody has their uses.

Been wonderfully warm today. We reached 16C/61F. Still comfortable by 6.00 pm this evening. Summer is definitely around the corner.

Tuesday, 18th April, 2023

Up early and out early driving the three miles to sunny Rustington. Eye Tests before 9.00 am. No change, no cataracts, no new glasses. If anything, my short sight has slightly improved.

Everywhere was incredibly quiet on the roads and in the shops. I like it. Rustington is an attractive small town particularly in the sunshine.

Got to clean the car and prepare it for France with an even earlier start tomorrow. The car fridge has to be installed and necessities for legally driving in France – First Aid Kit, Breathalyser, Fluorescent Jackets, UK Sticker, etc..

Finally, because we are in a new car, we have had to apply for a new vehicle emissions sticker for the windscreen. It is cheap and simple to buy this online and it comes in the post very quickly. It is another matter mounting the certificate in the windscreen. We have had three for the last few cars and this is the first one we’ve got right.

Walking this afternoon was quite chilly. There is a breeze with an edge. Still, done my 9 miles for the day.

Wednesday, 19th April, 2023

Up at 5.00 am and out at 6.00 am. Beautiful morning to be driving. Got to the Tunnel early. Went across an hour early and off to Auchan in Coquelles.

This was just a shopping trip and it was lovely to source things we had missed – Duck and Rabbit, Saucisson and Pâté, gorgeous tomatoes and lettuces, garlic and onions.

At Auchan – looking for the Salad.

On to the wine – 48 bottles of still wine plus 24 bottles of Champagne – about £1000.00 plus 2 bottles of perfume – £70.00 and a few extra litres of red wine smuggled and unchecked at the border. Then on to Cité Europe  and more shopping.

We walked the shopping complex. I was looking for glass wine decanters and my Housekeeper wanted white, porcelain side plates. Neither of us got what we wanted. Such is life.

Before we left, I had somewhere to go. Absolute necessity at my time of life. It provided my favourite photograph of the day.

Thursday, 20th April, 2023

Woke up late on a glorious morning. Didn’t get up until 7.15 am. Around 5 hours driving and 8 miles walking yesterday left me tired. It was nice to ‘break out’ though and we will do it again in a few weeks if the medical situation allows.

First, I have completed the arrangements for a short trip to Thessaloniki in just under 4 weeks. These days, the use of Executive Lounges is so popular that it is necessary to pre-book even if we have automatic passes. This is because the admission numbers are finite. A couple of times we’ve turned up and been refused admission so I take no chances now.

In fact, although we will be there at 4.00 am, our first choice – No. 1 Lounge – is already fully booked between 4.00 am – 5.00 am. I’ve had to choose Plaza Premium instead. I’m sure it will be fine.

Out to the Garden Centre which was looking lovely in brilliant sunshine. I was going to buy herbs OreganoThymeSageBasil, and Parsley plants. It is time to get them in and growing away. Doing a first cut of the remaining lawns this afternoon.

Friday, 21st April, 2023

A bit of a nervous day today. I have been summoned to a meeting at the Oncology Department of Worthing Hospital. It may be routine but it maybe something more sinister. The only information I have had, since my skeletal scan, was through my online medical records. I Googled the results and deduced that the cancer hadn’t gone beyond the prostate and into the bones. I hope this meeting is just to confirm my amateur research.

Going out for a walk to take my mind off it and to think through the information I will need to ask for while I am there. I have a second hormone injection to come at the end of June and I need to know when the month of radiotherapy will begin. I need to know how it will affect me as well. The other thing I want to ask is about an additional note from the radiographer:

Presumed degenerative tracer uptake is noted in the axial and
appendicular skeleton e.g. cervical spine, knees, ankles and feet.

I take this to mean that the scan showed bone degeneration in areas that one might expect in a 72 year old man. I have to know if it is ‘normal’ and whether my exercise routine is helping or accelerating that degeneration.

One of the things I have to do in preparation for flying, is to download Boarding Passes on to our smartphones and the iPads, and phones have to be charged so that Border Force staff can check them if required. Something that won’t turn on and boot up can be confiscated.

I like to have a reserve power source to charge up anything that is failing. The last Power Bank I used is probably still plugged in to a wall of the Electra Palace Hotel, Athens which is where I left it last September. I ordered a new one this morning. It holds enough power to recharge two phones and two iPads

Saturday, 22nd April, 2023

Up at 3.30 am. Couldn’t sleep. Yesterday ended so well that I can hardly believe it and I woke thinking about it. It seems stupid to say I’m feeling incredibly lucky – I have cancer. – but I’m feeling incredibly lucky.

Yesterday evening I was ‘invited’ to meet the Consultant Oncologist – Ashok Nikapota. He turned out to be the most delightful man both from what I found out about him and the news he delivered to me.

One of my great failings/strengths is my interest in people and their lives. I can’t stop myself trying to find out about them when we meet. I have developed the ability to elicit life stories from people in minutes. I find them absolutely fascinating. It turned out that Ash, originally from Sri Lanka, had been to Sifnos where we built a house and spent 6 months each year. He knew where our house was and loved the port. We are flying to Thessaloniki in three weeks and so is he. I love opera and so, it turns out does he. We had stuff in common which was wonderful.

Essentially, the news he delivered was that the treatment process I was following – six months of hormone treatment to shrink the prostate followed by a month of intensive radiotherapy would give me a 90% success rate of being cancer free at the end. I think I can settle for that. Actually, I couldn’t believe it. Drove straight home and opened a bottle of Champagne. It never tasted better! I immediately felt the need to tell people. I phoned my brother, Bob, who also has prostate cancer and then contacted my friends. It felt as if telling others made it more real. Now I can shut up about it.

To celebrate, I’ve order a new wine decanter. I ordered it this morning from Amazon and it will be delivered this afternoon by 3.00 pm. Love the Amazon Prime service.

Week 746

Sunday, 9th April, 2023

Early sea mist has been burnt off to reveal a lovely day. Generally, religious festivals annoy me. I don’t celebrate them and those who do expect everything else to stop for them. Now Christianity is a minority interest in UK, I would expect the country not to stop for these ridiculous obsessions.

Kevin contacted me from his bike out in the Yorkshire sunshine yesterday. This morning, he is swearing that the South-centric BBC are telling everyone it is hotter than Greece but it is ‘freezing’ in Yorkshire. I told him, when I had found a shady place to rest out of the Mediterranean weather and wiped the sunscreen from my hands to use my phone, he should consider taking up ice skating. He seemed to take it quite well.

Been out for an hour’s walk this morning and will do a second this afternoon. Probably watch Liverpool v Arsenal later. I’m pleased that the predicted tiredness I was warned would accompany my hormone treatment has not materialised yet. Maybe it will but I will continue to fight it. I’m not sure what effect a month of radiotherapy will have on me but that won’t be until September.

We sold our Duplex Apartment in Surrey 7 years ago this week for double its purchase price after 5 years of ownership. We sold it to a lady from Australia whose husband had died and she was returning to her children and her homeland. She bought all our furniture because she brought none with her. We were pleased to start again in our new house down here. It had done the job while we in Greece for half the year.

Yesterday, we found the property was back on the market at a price which was less than we sold it for. We had kept in contact with her until 18 months ago but she is now in a Dementia facility. The speed of that decline is quite shocking!


I have written before of my love of the Pre-Raphaelites. I think it began with an amalgam of my first University Degree and research into the basis of Left Wing Politics which developed at the same time as the BBC showed an influential, dramatic series called The Love School in 1975.

It was Dante Gabriel Rossetti who first appealed to me. His Italian roots and his love of Jane, his model, just hooked me. The symbolism of his paintings and the romanticism of his subjects were what I craved. As I began my University education, I found William Morris for his Socialist politics rather than his paintings and John Ruskin for his philosophy.

Soon after getting married, I began to buy Pre-Raphaelite prints and feature them on the walls of our house. Eventually, I had dozens of them and others who illustrated the progression of the movement which largely ended with Whistler. I always majored in Rossetti and this painting on the right has always been my favourite. His beloved Jane – William Morris’ wife – is portrayed rich with sensual, sexual symbolism.

Rossetti’s Proserpine, like his model Jane, is an exquisitely beautiful woman, with delicate facial features, slender hands, and flawlessly pale skin set off by her thick raven hair. She is based on Persephone, queen of the underworld to which she disappears in Winter only to resurface with Nature’s regrowth in Spring. She is on show at the Tate in London until the end of September in The Rossettis | Tate Britain.

Monday, 10th April, 2023

Apparently it is a Bank Holiday today. All that means is there are less facilities available and the weather worsens. I was going to spend the day on the beach, sunbathing, but ….

Sunny Worthing

Instead, I’m going to Sainsburys. Fair swap? Back home, I’m going to dream of better things , maybe talk to people who want to talk to me and look to explore car ferries across to Spain and Villas for rental in Aguilas or Puerto de Mazarrón, Murcia where our friends had a property. Pre-requisites are Private Pool, Wi-Fi, Satellite TV, air-con and washing machine.

Mazzaron Property

There are plenty of properties to choose from but the quality is not great. My rule of thumb is not to rent one which is less than I have at home. What’s the point?

Aguilas Property

Most of these villas would cost about £4,000 – £5000 per month which is quite good value. We have to add to that the ferry crossing which takes about 33 hours and will cost about £1200. We might split the drive across Spain in two and have a hotel in Zaragoza which will add a bit more. Over all, it will cost us about £7,000 for the month.

We will, of course, have a villa that sleeps 6 so there will be room for friends. Can’t think of who to invite at the moment. Answers on a postcard.

Tuesday, 11th April, 2023


Always keep your options open, Dear Reader and think three times before finally deciding. Having contacted the Cancer Clinic this morning, I have had to rethink the Summer. The dates for a major intervention are not fixed so neither can be my travel plans be.

A Spanish drive may have to be in the Winter or Spring next year. So, Dear Reader, if you were hoping to take up some of the beds in our rented house, put your plans on hold. We are thinking again for this Summer. One wag this morning suggested we holiday in Anglesey. I’d rather stick pins in my eyes. Welsh weather and comfort do not compute. Anglesey is for the wrinkly and aged. I am going to stay young and vigorous for as long as possible.

I am now looking at a more controlled and time-flexible, driving trip down the French coast. You can still come with us, Dear Reader, but it will entail stops in Orleans and Toulouse. We stayed in the Mercure Orleans on the banks of the Loire a few years ago and really enjoyed it.

Mercure Orleans on the banks of the Loire

Three or four days driving via Orleans, Bordeaux and Toulouse where we will stay at the Novotel will see us at Marseille -the drugs and gangster capital of the South of France.

Bordeaux – Toulouse – Marseille

I love driving through Europe. It feels so liberating and empowering. We can go for as long as we want or as short as the medical intervention dates dictate.

Novotel, Toulouse

We’ve always wanted to visit Marseille. It is the interface between France and French Dependencies in Northern Africa like Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. Exotic, exciting and indulgent.

I am pleased to report that I am now back up to an average of 9 miles a day over the past month. It has been an struggle but I am nothing if not determined. Next stop – back to 10 miles a day.

Wednesday, 12th April, 2023

Lovely, sunny and warm morning although we are expecting strong winds later. Out for an early walk which takes us past the Community Centre, through the park which is popular with dog walkers and down through a housing development to our home.

Angmering is quite a proud and attractive village. Angmering in Bloom is a volunteer organisation which works throughout the year to maintain and enhance the environment. Local businesses sponsor their activities which include public gardening. Plants and bulbs are provided by the four, local Garden Centres and all around the area, little pockets of planting are displayed like this one on our walk.

Each year the village is judged by the Britain in Bloom organisation and Angmering regularly wins County sections at least. Angmering is twinned with Ouistreham on the Normandy coast. Purposeful, proud Europeans. Maybe this is because of its high proportion of Middle Class House owners with relatively high disposable incomes. Certainly, Angmering is a comfortable place to retire to.

On our walk, we pass the well-used children’s play area which has swings and stuff. Today, Grandparents, with coffees in one hand and phones in the other were barely supervising little kids on swings and slides, scooters and bikes. It must be quite demanding these days to be a parent of a parent. Childcare is almost obligatory. I do wonder how long it takes for the charm of the role to wear off.

My friend, Kevin, in North Yorkshire took his grand kids to the cinema yesterday and sent me a snap of his experience. They went to see Super Mario which is based on a computer game. He said, “Cool 3 year old wearing 3D glasses. Terrible film but they enjoyed it.” 

My housekeeper and resident seamstress told me yesterday that her sewing machine was failing. A few hours research with advice from friends in Saddleworth and New York and a new, Bernina machine was ordered. It should arrive on Friday and I can have my shorts put back together!

Thursday, 13th April, 2023

Gorgeous morning down here. Got Dentist and Blood Test appointments so going out for an early walk. Before that, I’ve had to put together a pdf of lawncare advice for my next door neighbour. He’s called Jason. At 6.30 am, I was constructing the document, attached it to an email and fired it off. I asked Jason if he got it and he hadn’t. I’d sent lawncare advice to a Joiner called Jason who we once used years ago.

I must contact 10 people every day by TextWhatsapp and Email. It helps if you’ve got the right contact details. Every evening, I do Wordle. It’s quite good fun and only takes 5 minutes but I send mine to M&K in Florida. They do theirs just before bed – around 3.00 am in UK – and I pick it up in the morning. Wordle is done through the New York Times by millions of people each day. Yesterday the word was BORAX. Fortunately, M&K are too young to have any knowledge of it. I wonder if you remember it, Dear Reader. It chimed only distantly in my memory banks but my Laundry Woman well remembered her Mother using it.

My sister, Jane Georghiou, runs and runs and runs and …. This week she has been running in Poland in the World Masters Indoor Championships. She, of course, was chosen for the one outdoor event – the half Marathon through Polish streets in the rain but she did get a silver medal. At the age of 71, she puts me to shame.

This morning I’ve heard from Kevin and Julie about their daily plans. In 1975, I was living alone in a hovel in Oldham, Lancashire. You don’t get much more show biz than that! I started going out with a girl who eventually became my Housekeeper. Her good friend at the time was Diane who worked in the Craft Block of our school. She is a seamstress.

Today, by accident, Pauline caught Diane’s name on her iPad and it began dialling her Facebook connection. Within seconds, Diane’s face was in our kitchen rolling back the years. We had missed them in New York by one day and, a few months later, her husband was dead of a brain tumour. It was nice to reconnect and really underlines the importance of meeting people from the past face-to-face. It means so much.

Lovely trip to the dentist today. She is Persian and absolutely gorgeous. I got so many cuddles during my consultation that, if I hadn’t invited them, it could have been construed as sexual harassment. Of course, at my age that’s not a crime but a benefit to be enjoyed. How sad are old men?

Friday, 14th April, 2023

Cold and wet today. Depressingly dark and gloomy. Received a postcard (Remember them?) from my old, Saddleworth friend, Caroline. She is in the Yorkshire Dales visiting places that I haven’t been back to since 1969. When I write things like that, a cold wind of horror runs through me. 1969!! I was just starting at Ripon College – a girls, C. of E. Training College. The Induction Week saw us packed on to coaches and taken round the Historical (Religious) Highlights of the Dales.

Rievaulx Abbey

Bolton AbbeyRievaulx AbbeyByland AbbeyFountains Abbey are places that an 18 year old lad surrounded by lots of similar age girls was not particularly interested in. Being on a coach with them was more interesting than getting off to walk round ancient buildings. My experience was particularly interesting as I was gripped by the hand of fate.

Byland – Scene of so many crimes!

In old age, I would like to say that these positions have been reversed but I wouldn’t be being completely honest. I’m still not into ancient buildings.

Saturday, 15th April, 2023

The middle of April already. Much better weather today. Went out for an early walk. It is incredible what goes on in our neighbourhood on a Saturday morning. The Rugby Club nearby had hundreds of kids – girls & boys of all ages playing matches on multiple pitches. Adults giving up their time to train them, referee them and support them. Would I have done that? I might.

Up the road on more pitches scores of kids are playing and training for football. No wonder we see so little crime around here. They’re all too knackered to cause trouble. And then I came across this outside the Community Centre and thought I was going to be proved wrong. A police car was in attendance and there was a knot of kids on the carpark. Fight? Break-in? Drug Dealing? No, just Cycling Proficiency Courses being offered by the local Constabulary. Calm is restored at Home!

Chatted to Kevin, Julie and John R this morning first thing. Julie’s growing Comfrey. I have no idea why. John R has lost his hedgehog. Can’t have gone far. And Kevin was reminding me about the time, just as I was finally leaving College in 1972, when I ran an English Language Course for Dutch teachers. Kevin has a Dutch friend and has an amusing anecdote about the Dutch. I didn’t tell him that the last days of College were not happy ones for me.

Going to France on a shopping trip on Wednesday. Eurotunnel are obviously struggling to get custom in these straightened times. They contacted me this morning offering £55.00 each way crossings so I couldn’t resist. Better shopping in Auchan than Sainsburys!

My Housekeeper has been reading books on Amazon Kindle since 2010. She ditched books – saved us carrying them to Greece for six months – and downloads them for free in the hundreds. The Kindle is the most amazing piece of technological kit. You can drop it and it has no effect.

They last years without a problem. There have been one or two improvements over the past 13 years but, basically, they just do the job of being lightweight books. You can carry around hundreds of books at a time without trouble. Download them in minutes and store them for years. Today we ordered her the latest edition for just over £200.00. Who could complain?

Gorgeous evening – 16C/61F – just right for a walk and talk. The Summer is coming! Let’s hope we get there.

Week 745

Sunday, 2nd April, 2023

A grey start to the day although the forecast is for wall-to-wall sunshine as the rest of the week develops. Been a busy start in communications. Every morning at 6.00 am I pick up an email from M in Florida. She’s not been in bed for long when I read it. Most mornings, Kevin checks in on Whatsapp. Yesterday was Chris’s birthday and I sent an e-card. Kevin was up and in touch around 9.30 am. By then, I had already had a Text from Liz who is staying in a hotel near the Brandenburg Gate. She had been reading the Blog and was pleased about my recent news.

The Brandenburg Gate

I must admit that, although I am a committed European, I am not particularly desperate to holiday in Germany. I don’t like the language and find it difficult to read. I am much more comfortable with the Romance languages of French/Italian/Spanish. I am not keen on the coarseness of German food and I don’t get their humour at all. We’ve flirted with/driven through Germany a number of times en route to Greece and that is enough for me.

Watched the early morning political programmes as normal on Sunday. They are my religion. Braverman was typically obnoxious although I’m sure she appeals to the Tories baseline racist Right and the rampant Xenophobes. Dave Roberts and John Morris contacted me almost immediately afterwards to express their disgust with her. Braverman comes across as a deeply dislikeable person and not terribly bright or articulate.

The day just improved with lovely, warm sunshine and we did two, long walks. I’ve managed 9 miles today. Just had a lovely WhatsApp message from Michelle across the road offering all support while I am in treatment and recovering. Some people are so lovely.

Monday, 3rd April, 2023

Exactly 14 years ago today, we retired after long and protracted negotiations for a financial package. My friend, John Ridley, retired on exactly the same day. It was the most wonderful feeling and now seems so long ago and frighteningly near as well.

Counthill School – opened 1951

It was one of those relieving and frightening moments of one’s life when all responsibilities are suddenly thrown off but Life momentarily appears empty. The routines of working life took years to be erased from my system and my dreams were populated by concerns that had featured in my career. Even now, I can see the corridors of stress, the Inspectors arrival, the expectations of success, the meaningless policy papers, endless meetings and pointless resolutions.

Derker Board School – opened 1885

Now, at 14 years distance, one of the things that really saddens me is the state of the buildings I worked in for 38 years from the pagoda- style, former Board School, 1885 building in Derker where I was Head, to the former Grammar School building which opened in 1951 with its dreadfully leaky and drafty, metal-framed windows. I worked in relative squalor all that time.

I had appallingly cramped offices and cold classrooms all of which were hard to keep clean. I introduced computers and the internet to Counthill School, eventually a campus-wide wi-fi network, on-line registration, school intranet and home-school teaching and learning systems. Every inch of that way was hard and resisted by many staff who were scared of the new. Can you imagine people wanting to resist new technology?

Waterhead Academy – opened 2013

The new school is like a comparative dream. Built with integrated technology, smart screens, wi-fi throughout, large, purpose designed classrooms, offices large enough to work in, good heating and air conditioning, lecture theatres and all-weather sports fields.

Tuesday, 4th April, 2023

Woken up to find myself still alive on this gorgeous day of cloudless blue sky and strong sunshine. No need to drive to school. I’m retired. It is going to be a gardening day.

Went to the Garden Centre yesterday and bought some seeds and bags of soil. I am going to spend the morning preparing the raised beds for sowing seeds.

Sharing gardening activities with my Allotment friend, Julie. I’m just playing at it while she’s seriously growing her food on a large scale. We did all that years ago when we had an acre of garden and installed formal deep beds for vegetables.

Teachers’ Pensions are uprated by 10.1% this month although we don’t feel the effect of it until our May pay. Even so, one of the good things about Teachers’ Pensions is they are index-linked and keep pace with inflation in perpetuity. I spoke to Kevin about it this morning. He had no knowledge of it. It always amazes me that intelligent people are so unaware of these things.

The beautiful 5G mast in the Park.

An hour’s walk in the sunshine. Two hours gardening and another hour’s walk in hot (well 13C/56F) sunshine and I’m completely knackered. They say that the treatment program I’m on will make me tired in the afternoons. I am not prepared to acknowledge that but I’m feeling tired this afternoon and in need of comfort.

Wednesday, 5th April, 2023

Nice morning. Going out for an early walk because I’ve got a busy day. My sister, Cathy, is coming round for coffee. Had to source Vegan Biscuits just for her. Can you imagine it? I didn’t know there were such things. I didn’t really know what Veganism actually involved.

Vegan Biscuits ….. Exciting!

Basically, it means no animal-based products – no meat, dairy, or fish. Only plant-based products. What do they wear on their feet? Leather shoes? I’m going to find out today.

I love my Memory Box. It throws up so much that I’ve forgotten and brings it back to life. On this day in 2009, we were in our second day of retirement and had just landed at Ellinikon International Airport – the old and now demolished Athens Airport – to find our ferry to the island had been cancelled. We had to get a hotel quickly and went to the Electra Hotel on Ermou Street. We had to fight our way through a noisy demonstration in favour of sacked workers in front of the parliament. The next morning, on my 58th birthday, we were off to our island house.

In 2012, we were living in Woking, Surrey during the winter months. A woman and her son bought a duplex apartment across from ours. The son, Lawrence, was a chef in an upmarket restaurant in the city. The mother, we soon learnt, had cancer. She was in her late 50s and worked from home. She wasn’t very friendly or communicative but she sat outside and worked in the sunshine.

Things happened quite quickly. Lawrence’s mother suddenly disappeared. We later learned she was in a hospice and then, on this day in 2014, this floral tribute appeared outside their apartment. She was gone. Later that year, Lawrence sold the property and moved on with his life. His mother lives on only in his memories and ours. And so life goes.

Thursday, 6th April, 2023

My little sister, Cathy, arrived an hour early yesterday afternoon. I nearly turned her away but relented because we hadn’t seen each other for quite a while. Actually, it was lovely. We talked over coffee for a couple of hours. It almost always comes down to the dysfunctional relations of family which ultimately results in humour and tears. We parted vowing to meet more often in the future however much there is of it. I am acutely aware of the significance of renewing my relationships now. This morning, she sent me Birthday greetings which was nice.

Birthday Lunch 2022

It was much warmer and sunnier on this day last year. I don’t think we will be eating Lunch in the garden today.

I have joined the club of old, wrinkly people. I am 72 today. So many lovely people have sent me best wishes … and some not so lovely. I’ve had best wishes from a girl who I first met in 1973 and I haven’t seen for around 20 years. Ex-pupil, Marie, wrote: Happy Birthday, Sir. Best Teacher Ever. XXX !!! The fact that she’s in her 60s and still calls me Sir is neither here nor there. Ex-pupil Emma sent me love and kisses. Sue from Oldham did as well. Sue in France wished me, Joyeux Anniversaire. Sue in Gozo, Malta sent me best wishes.

Had good wishes from P&C in Surrey, A&K in Florida, Bob in Maidenhead, Ruth in Bolton, Kevin, Julie, John R., John M. in North Yorkshire, the lovely Julia in York, Peter Holgate in Knaresborough, Kevin Sellers in Ulverston, Dave Weatherly in Bolton, Charlotte and Lindsay from school. Fiza defied the wrath of her Muslim husband to send me her love. Even heard from Hilary-Jane for those old enough to remember. With time running out, it is good to reconnect as often as possible before the light fades.

Villa in Aguilas, Murcia.

Trying to stay positive but short term at the moment. Considering properties in Aguilas, Murcia which are easily drivable to from here with just one stop. Property is so cheap compared with Greece and Italy. This villa sleeping 6 people with pool, air con. and wi-fi is just £900.00 per week. Cheaper than living at home and with additional sunshine. Worth considering maybe for the month of July.

As with all good birthdays, the sun came out and the air was gorgeously warm. Did two, long walks in the sunshine and planned out more trips abroad to the sun. Our poor neighbours are away for an Easter break in Skiathos during some of the worst Greek weather for a while. They will certainly be clean when they get home!

Friday, 7th April, 2023

A gorgeous day to reflect on connections and coincidences down at the Pier. The sun is strong and hot. It’s nice down here on the South Coast. We came down here 7 years ago almost accidentally. Having left a Greek island, my Housekeeper craved the sound of the sea and this is where she chose. Quite coincidentally, it is 5 miles from where one of my sisters has lived for nearly 40 years and 15 miles from where my maternal Grandfather was born. My Mother’s cousins had a number of Antique shops along the South Coast. None of these things occurred to me until later.

Worthing Pier looks very ordinary from the opening. It has a Theatre and some tacky tourist shops. My Grandfather, from an Irish emigree family, was born in Brighton in 1894 and told tall tales of diving off Brighton Pier as a young lad for coins thrown by tourists. In later life, having worked in London throughout his career, he dressed in his trademark bowler hat and Dicky Bow and opened an Antiques shop in our village of Repton in Derbyshire.

So, by coincidence, we are down here after having lived in Huddersfield for 40 years. Our Pier has had a multi-million pound redevelopment and now looks quite good when you get on it. A new restaurant has opened at the end and is starting to get great reviews. I thought I’d look up when it was built and I found that it arrived in the mid 19th century and was designed by Robert Rawlinson. Nothing particularly special about him although he came from Chorley in Lancashire but he married a girl called Ruth (my sister’s name) from Lockwood in Huddersfield just a short spit from where we lived for 40 years.

Piers are strange places and being on one is to transport one’s self out into the sea, Looking over the edge, many are given to the awful temptation to throw themselves into the watery unknown. It is strange how that happens. I get it when I’m crossing the Aegean and looking over the ferry railings. Piers are derived from Peter, The Rock, and first arrived in the early 19th century. They certainly have rather an anachronistic feeling when I’m on one. They probably say the same about me!

Saturday, 8th April, 2023

Gloriously warm and sunny day. Easter weekend in UK. Greek Easter is next weekend. We spent some 30 Easters in Greece where it is the equivalent to Christmas. Lamb is roasted by some on Saturday – all day in the bread oven – and eaten at the midnight feast. Our cultural rhythms are still set to that sway.

Littlehampton Town Centre

Before we went out into the warm sunshine and down to the beach, my chef started the process of slow cooking a leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary. The vacuum robots were started on their tasks upstairs and downstairs and we were free to indulge ourselves in the season.

We drove down to Littlehampton – about 10 mins away – and parked up. We walked down to the Marina to join the Easter crowds promenading (βολτα) along the Marina/Beach path.

It is school holidays which means the Funfair is open and parents can let their troubles while away some time in fantasy land. I have to admit, it all looks and feels very ‘tacky’ to me but each to his own.

Back home, we ate salad in the sunshine and I did something I rarely do. I drank a bottle of beer. No ordinary beer, of course. It was one from Northern France – Houle du Blanc Nez – Surf of the White NoseThe White Nose is a cliff pointing out to sea. It is brewed in Wissant and delicious.

The tools of my trade are words. they always have been. It is something I owe to my Mother. I love words, sounds of words, meanings and their origins. I love the concepts that they paint and the ideas that they help to construct. I love communication. It is one of the few things I am good at. I am often shocked by the power my words have on others.

I sent a letter of Coincidences & Connections to a number of friends yesterday. I was absolutely shocked by the emotion of their responses. They shared it with their wives and read it to their Mothers. It obviously touched a nerve, resonated with a memory, evoked an emotion which builds up in all of us. I have that ability with words to move others. If there is any time to talk it is now before the going down of the sun. To hold back because of reservation will make it too late.

Week 744

Sunday, 27th March, 2023

Hope you’re up … although there’s little incentive this morning. The weather is as wet as Wales. I was awake at 5.30 am. All the clocks advanced an hour apart from the oven and the coffee maker.

Watched the political programme this morning in which the Tories announced more gimmicks concerning Assylum Seekers and Offenders. Put one lot in prison camps and the other lot in prison fatigues to perform social reparations. Neither are serious policies. Today, they are announcing ‘trials’ of policies which will never see the full light of day. These are the actions of the flailing government in the dying days of power.

Bognor Regis was Closed.

We decided to drive to sunny Bognor Regis or as royalty actually described it, Bugger Bognor. Of course, today it was looking at its worst. It really makes our seaside town look fantastic in comparison. It was very warm but grey and wet.

Even sheltering under the pier, the drips came down on us. On the promenade, great swathes of men – 20 – 40 somethings – were walking by as if taking the air after a lads weekend Saturday Night. Not that I’ve ever been on one. The whole concept appals me. They seemed as subdued as the weather.

Monday, 28th March, 2023

The day before the day. Haven’t quite got to grips with the time shift. Didn’t get up until 7.30 although I woke at 5.00 am and listened to the news as I drifted in and out of dreams.

Nuclear Bone Scanner

Tomorrow at 1.00 pm, I will go to Chichester Hospital and look for the Nuclear Medicine Department. There I will be injected with a radioactive material into a vein. The substance travels through the blood to the bones and organs. As it wears off, it gives off radiation. This radiation is detected by a camera that slowly scans the body.

Between the injection and the scan, I have to wait three hours for the nuclear glow to spread itself around my body. Ultimately, I will literally be glowing with unhealth. Can’t wait. If you want a bright hug, you know where to come.

A walk in the Park.

Lovely and warm and sunny today. Been out for an early walk – did about 5 miles – through the Park and beyond. Kids in school. Adults out at work. The park is quiet and empty. Actually, on the way back, a lady stopped me and said, Could I just say (What on earth is going to come next?) that I think you’re doing so well. For the past year and a half I’ve been watching you walking past my house every day. You never give up. You must feel so much better for it. It’s a bit of a shock to think I am being observed so closely. If only she knew what an awful man I am, eh Reader.

Tuesday, 29th March, 2023

The day arrived at 4.30 am. In spite of so many well wishes, it feels lonely and blank. It is a day to retreat in to myself. Been out for a 5 mile walk – wet and cold.

St Richards, Chichester

Just arriving at a hospital makes you feel ill. Where are your friends? Who is there to say, You will be OK.? The first job is to find the right place. Walk through the hospital, past the waiting men …

They’ve been waiting forever!

…. and on to the Nuclear Department. It is enough to strike fear into anyone.

After a short wait, a lovely girl takes me into her room for an injection of nuclear material. I am released for 3 hours to roam the world without concern. Although, I am very concerned. I drive to Sainsburys superstore nearby and have a (revolting) sandwich for lunch and about 4 cups of coffee. Two hours later, I drive back to the hospital and walk back to the Nuclear Department. Very shortly, I am ushered into the radioactive scanner room.

I have my legs tied together and the scanner closes down on my body. The first scan begins. As it does, I realise that the lovely girl is playing Classic FM. Irony of ironies, a string quartet begins to play Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. I have died and gone to ….

I couldn’t believe it. The tears streamed down my face behind the mask. It’s strange but the radiologist, Jane, understood completely.

She was a an aficionado of Cohen and knew all the lyrics. We talked about our experiences briefly and I left. Driving home in the rush hour rain, things returned to normal-ish.

I reached out to people to try and make life seem normal. I even did Wordle and sent it to M&K.

Wedesday, 29th March, 2023

It was a strange day and I was too preoccupied with my own events to remember to mark the fact that it was my sister, Jane’s birthday yesterday. I hope she enjoyed her day. In her new, West Yorkshire home.

Two walks today because the weather is warm and dry. It is so warm that the morning opened with a thick mist illuminated by a ghostly sun.

This afternoon I have to go for a hormone injection which should last 3 months and shrink the prostate and the cancer. Anyone available as a stand-in? Kevin would but it’s a long drive. The hormone shrinks the prostate and the cancer with it. Unfortunately, it brings on the Menopause with attendant hot flushes and mood swings.

Thursday, 30th March, 2023

A lot of shopping this morning. A lot of shopping! Tesco, Lidl and Asda for items selected by my resident researcher. Warm but grey morning with weak sun breaking through. The Beach Road was quiet and so was the beach.

The breeze was strong enough to interest this lad with his wind surfing although his girlfriend can only look on.

We are in the penultimate day of March and in the middle of the astrological phase of Aries. Now I don’t believe in Gods, Fate, or Astrology. I don’t believe in anything which is not empirically justified. But I am constantly shocked as I grow older. I always believed in the primacy of Nurture over Nature particularly when Eugenics had some currency but, as I’ve grown older, I have been shocked to see the strength of the effects of Nature on human generation.

Who could take astrology seriously? Certainly not me. It has always been something to be scoffed at on a par with Fortune Tellers and Palmists. However, I am approaching a birthday which makes me an Aries and I cannot believe how closely I fit the personality traits of that star sign. Aries Man is:

  • A Leader
  • Strong & Bold
  • Trailblazer & Innovator
  • Impulsive
  • Very Impatient
  • Self-Centered
  • Competitive and Ambitious
  • Short-Tempered & Honest

If you wanted to describe me accurately, you have it right there. Against all my better instincts, you have me right there – for good or ill – in that list. Perhaps not sure about the Self-Centered but I can’t argue with the rest.

Friday, 31st March, 2023

A horrible day of strong winds and driving rain with standing water on the roads. I’m going to be in the Gym a lot today.

I am trying to stay healthy and maintain my fitness. Fresh orange juice and porridge for Breakfast. No Lunch. Sea Bass and Salad for Dinner with no wine. I am increasingly drinking plant-based milks. I have no idea why other than I like them and they are relatively low in calories.

I am told that this hormone treatment will leave me feeling tired and listless. I am determined not to capitulate to that and I will continue to push myself hard. Otherwise, I might as well lie down and die!

Twelve years ago today, we signed for the purchase of a new-build, duplex apartment in Surrey which marked our exit from the North of England after 39 years.

It allowed us to have a lock-up-and-go property in UK as well as a house in Greece. It made our drive across Europe easier, quicker and cheaper.

Just 7 years ago this week, we had sold our Greek property and our Surrey property and were moving into our new-build Sussex home. We sold the Surrey property for double the price we paid for it to a lady called Pauline from Australia. We have stayed in touch and she is still there and loving it. That makes us feel good.

Saturday, 1st April, 2023

Happy new month to all Blog readers. Hope it turns out to be a good time for you all. Maybe, it will be a good month for me too.

I can hardly believe it. Yesterday, at 2.30 pm, my Patients Know Best website informed me that the cancer had NOT SPREAD TO THE BONE!!!! I can’t believe it. I have prepared myself for the worst for so long that this news is almost unbelievable.

It is actually quite strange, I get this information unmoderated in real time just as my consultant and my GP get them. I have to research the significance of the results before I speak to a medic at all. What on earth does:
No osteoblastic metastases actually mean? Thank goodness for Google.

Within minutes, I had heard from Kevin, Julie, John, Jason and Bob, from P&C and M&K sharing their love and congratulations. I must admit, I wasn’t sure whether to be happy or controlled. Didn’t know whether it was good news or slightly less bad news. However, it is news. It seems to me that I can have some hope. I hope, Dear Reader, that you will share that with me.

I can see clearly now the rain is gone …

The rain stopped, the clouds parted and the sun shone warmly this afternoon. Went for a walk and I’ve managed 8.5 miles so far today. Beginning to think about travelling again. We are going to Thessaloniki in May and Athens in September. Going to think about a long French drive in June/July. We have long wanted to visit Bordeaux so that will be in my planning.

Bordeaux on the River Garonne

After getting out of the Tunnel in Coquelles, the drive to Bordeaux is only 8.5 hours. In the past, I would have done it in one go but these days I will build in a hotel stop half way in somewhere like Orléans on the banks of the Loire River where we’ve been many times before. Planning is good. It is half the enjoyment.