Sunday, 6th August, 2017
How many people do you know who have maintained a Diary for 450 consecutive weeks? Nor me. Sheer madness!
I’m afraid that today is a low news day or was until late afternoon. It was quite delightful, Summer weather with warm sunshine across our garden all day. I wasn’t there. I sat in the Lounge reading the newspaper and watching the Test Match which, weather permitting, England should win easily. I also watched a bit of the Charity Shield – Arsenal v Chelsea but got rather bored.
I went outside and the Pop Festival a couple of miles away could be heard, faintly, struggling across the fields and through a new housing development. Much more excitingly, I found the two sticks I had bought back in May were starting to produce fruit.
Back in May – just 3 months ago – I received by mail order two, green sticks which I was told were two, different varieties of fig. I potted them up and just kept them fed and watered. Now, they are about 3 feet tall and, today, I noticed the first budding fruits which should ripen for picking next year. I told you that I would keep you informed and I will continue to do so. We were also given what I thought was an ‘ornamental’ olive tree. It is now covered in olives and they are swelling rapidly. I have high hopes of them.
I hope I live to see my wife making and marketing her famous fig jam as well as cold press, West Sussex olive oil. I will give a free jar/bottle to the first reader to request it around 2020.
Monday, 7th August, 2017
Today is a lovely, warm-not-hot (22C/70F) and everywhere looks ‘Summery’. It is a day to appreciate being alive whatever one’s age. Of course, old men are more inclined to dwell on this than the young but such is life. Had a lovely morning with the cricket which ended this afternoon in England concluding a Series win over the South Africans at Old Trafford.
We did our own workout at the Health Club which gives me other reasons to reminisce. Do you see familiar faces from the past in those around you in the present? I am always walking past someone and, tugging Pauline’s arm, I whisper, That’s John Jones or whoever. Usually, it is someone who exhibits a few characteristics of a person from my past – their walking style, their figure or their face. In the last few days, Pauline and I have both independently seen a woman walking around the Health Club pool and, as we’ve left, said, I saw Auntie Florrie this afternoon.
Florrie (born 1906) was Pauline’s Mum’s sister. She died in 1995 aged 89. An impressive woman who had come through a hard life with tenacity and inner strength, she walked with a ramrod straight back and sense of real deportment. She spoke with a broad, Lancashire accent until she answered the phone, at which point, she became the Queen.The woman in the Health Club was the spitting image – almost too alike to be comfortable. I had to fight back the urge to ask her if she was called Florence!
Tuesday, 8th August, 2017
The Summer continued with warm rain. We enjoyed a morning mooching and indulging ourselves as if we had been given an unexpected day off work. I was working on the pages of my website which had been giving me trouble for a couple of months. I am a natural prevaricator and have put off addressing the software problems thrown up by a ten year old, school copy of Macromedia Dreamweaver which I had been using at work and which I brought away with me when I retired in 2009. It is the same with most of my software. I haven’t really felt the need to update Ms Office 2010 or Adobe Acrobat 8.1 because it still does the limited jobs I require.
I love the web design package provided by Dreamweaver which I combine with Fireworks, the image manipulation software. Dreamweaver incorporates an FTP client which makes it all so handy. Unfortunately, it is that element which has stopped working and I’ve had to download a separate software facility to do the job. This is annoying and clumsy but effective.
Wednesday, 9th August, 2017
Two days ago, I wrote about Pauline’s Auntie Florrie who died over 20 years ago aged 89. Today, we have learned of the sad death of her daughter, Vivienne, who had been trying to assert life over cancer for the past few months. She died last night aged 74. We send our sincerest condolences to Richard and the family.
In years gone by, 74 would have been talked about as a ‘good age’ to achieve. Nowadays, it feels unacceptably young. And yet, Vivienne had cheated cancer once before many years ago and gone on to live a very happy life. Only days ago, she returned from her final holiday abroad. It was a last act of defiance. Let’s hope we all have that chance.
The black & white photo above is Vivienne with a dribbling Pauline some 64 years ago. It was taken in the back garden of their house in Holly Lane, Hollins, Oldham. Pauline took me back there last year.
Thursday, 10th August, 2017
Well, it is beginning to look a lot like Autumn has arrived in the first half of August. Lots of rain and cool temperatures are not what we expect. The change seemed to coincide with the start of the school holidays. Farmers are starting to worry about harvesting crops because they need a settled period of dry weather to raise the quality of their produce. Mother Nature, however, just steams on and the blackberries at the side of the railway track running down the side of Tesco’s carpark in Littlehampton are already swelling in size and turning a juicy black.
We’ve spent another couple of hours in a quiet Health Club. We had thought that school holidays would see lots of kids turning up with harassed parents but quite the reverse. They must have all gone on holiday. We are really glad that we chose to go abroad either side of the school holidays. There are real benefits to being retired!
Friday, 11th August, 2017
A pleasantly warm morning but not high summer. We are going to the North to attend a funeral but also to visit Mum’s grave in time for her birthday. She would be 94 a week on Tuesday. We are going to stay in Haydock for a couple of days. Never been there before. May never go there again but it will be interesting for a couple of days. I suspect it will contrast starkly with Athens where we are heading very soon.
A trip to Sainsbury’s today continued the Autumnal theme first identified in Tesco yesterday. The hedge around Sainsbury’s was fecund with ripening elderberries. The birds are certainly going to get fat or diarrhetic on the bounty. We, on the other hand, are continually trying to fight the fat with exercise. We did another couple of hours at the Health Club today. It was our 6th session in 7 days and we were beginning to feel it by the end. Probably have tomorrow off.
Saturday, 12th August, 2017
At least they will be able to celebrate by watching the football. Last night was the opening of the new, Premier League season with a great game which Arsenal narrowly squeaked over Leicester City and there are more games today, tomorrow and Monday. Pauline will banish me to watch in the Office. After the football, Jane & David can lie back in their garden up in Yorkshire tonight and watch the Perseid Meteor Shower if they don’t die from hyperthermia first!
Just for Jane, Huddersfield won 3.0 and are top of the Premier League. I never doubted it.