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 ….
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 Text, Whatsapp 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.
Bolton Abbey, Rievaulx Abbey, Byland Abbey, Fountains 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.
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.