Sunday, 9th September, 2018
Lovely warm and sunny day that reached 22C/70F here on the south coast. We did our gym routine and I cleaned and tidied the garage in preparation for the new door being installed on Tuesday.
I am struggling to cope with my main, back lawn because large areas of it died in the five, dry, hot weeks I was away in the Dordogne. I am going to buy an electric lawn rake/scarifier for a start and then reseed the bald areas. I had one of these machines before and, if you’ve never used one, I can tell you that it is one of the most labour-relieving implements you can ever own. If you’ve ever tried to rake out a large lawn with a hand rake, you will know immediately.
Monday, 10th September, 2018
We have a 5 year warranty on this house and all its fittings. We are only half way through that period so we have called the joiner out to fix a slightly moveable bannister rail. These are the sorts of things that I wouldn’t want to do myself nor would I want to pay a man to do for me. Being able to ring our house builder and get a joiner sent out pronto and free of charge is wonderful. Gordon the joiner is coming this morning at 8.00 am which will be good because it forces us to get up early and start the day positively.
When he arrived with large white van and almost as large toolbox, Gordon removed a small wooden patch to reveal a screw which he tightened with one of his 40 screwdrivers and then replaced the patch. Off he went back to Brighton leaving two happy customers in his wake.
We ordered a new tumble dryer a week ago from Currys. Pauline had very specific requirements and, when their website said it would take 10 – 21 days for delivery, we went ahead and still ordered. We were a little disconcerted when the follow up receipt of the order had altered the wait to 2 – 4 weeks. Even more annoying was the fact that they drew the money on our credit card immediately rather than waiting until they were ready to despatch. So, this morning, I phoned them – well, I am still on hold now after going through more menus than an ordinary person has breath to sustain – only to be told that there was an unusual demand on their services and it could take at least 10 mins before they answered me. I hate making phone calls at the best of times but this really winds me, an essentially calm man, UP!
Did another full routine at the gym and pool on a quiet Monday. Time of year when everyone is back at school/work and many have given up on fitness until January when life will become frenetic again.
Tonight I received a text message informing me that the Tumble Dryers had been received in the warehouse and would be out for delivery urgently. We are going away in a week. Let’s hope they get on with it.
Tuesday, 11th September, 2018
Up at 6.00 am after a very warm night for mid-September. We didn’t drop below 18C/65F. We have the garage door company coming at 8.30 am and Pauline has a Doctor’s appointment at 9.00 am. My official INR test has to be emailed through to the hospital this morning and it is good at 2.8.
By 11.30 am, the new garage door was fitted and working and we were able to prepare for our trip to the Health Club. I will have achieved my target every day this month apart from one, averaging 13,000 paces per day over 28 days and covering 178 miles. That excludes swimming which adds quite a bit to my physical output. The reward will be a day off tomorrow when we have a list of 14 tasks to complete which will be incorporated with a walk on the sea shore for lovely, fresh air.
Our tasks include a trip to Screwfix to collect 4 Hive bulbs which I can program or control from my phone/iPad while we are away. It is a step into the modern world after spending so much time and money on plug in timers for table lamps to give the appearance we are at home. They are expensive but they do have smart wi-fi connectivity which makes remote operation so useful.
Wednesday, 12th September, 2018
Hold the Front Page! We are not going to the Health Club today. I am genuinely feeling guilty and rather uncomfortable particularly with no cricket to distract me.
Greeks are not cricket fans or cricketers – with the noble exception of the Corfiots. Because of that, Greek TV stations didn’t commission cricket coverage on their satellite Sports Channels. We took Nova Satellite package because it gave us UK Premier League football. We then switched to OTE Satellite package when they bought the Premier League rights. In the early days, I could even switch from Greek commentary to the original English one but later lost that. Only once did we get Cricket Test Matches when England were in South Africa and I could never understand why. It has been a real bonus this year to be in UK and to enjoy a fantastic England-India series. Really enjoyed it – especially the result.
Went out to pick up my lawn rake/scarifier this morning from Argos and then on to Screwfix to collect my Hive, wi-fi bulbs. After that, we drove on to the Littlehampton Marina and bought fish – a swordfish joint and two seabass. Home for PMQs which was poor and then on to more jobs. We are expecting Currys to deliver our new Tumble Dryer which is why we are housebound this afternoon. I have mowed (what I still laughingly call)the lawns while Pauline has done the third and last major harvest of the Basil Plants and made even more Pesto. The basil is definitely much more ‘woody’ by this stage and needs picking over carefully. We could now live solely on Pesto until 2020 but I bet we eat it a lot quicker. I love it!
The new tumble dryer arrived about 5.30 pm delivered by two Sri Lankans. They took the old (2.5 yrs) one away at the same time. We were just relieved that we had a new one at a price of around £315.00/€354.00. Normal life will be resumed tonight….. and we’ll dry some clothes.
Thursday, 13th September, 2018
Quite a day. Absolutely beautiful blue skies with strong, uninterrupted sunshine and a temperature of 22C/70F. We prepared the garage to put down parking lines so I can garage the car on my own rather than expect my assistant to be constantly in attendance. Off out to Sainsburys and then the Chemists and home by 9.30 am.. Harvested the last of the Thyme and Oregano plants for the season; washed and froze the produce. Picked up and assembled (with my wife’s help) the new lawn rake & scarifier.
Did a really enjoyable session in the gym. Amazing how much better a day off made us feel. Pauline has decided she wants to work on her upper arms by using dumbbells. I have ordered some for home so she can do the exercise when she wants. It’s the sort of thing you need to do every day – maybe more than once – in order to really get some benefit. I will supervise her exercise if I’m paying out the princely sum of £9.99/€11.20.
Friday, 14th September, 2018
Warm but grey day which reached 21C/70F but didn’t get the pulses running. We did some jobs around the house and then a gym workout. I am averaging 14,500 steps per day over this week and more than 13,000 per day for the past month. I am still a month short of completing a full year with this watch but I’m already averaging 9, 500 steps per day over a nominal 12 month period.
Whenever we go away, I struggle to pick up news channels, Parliament debates, etc.. Often, even in good hotels, I just get BBC News Channel or even just CNN. One can access BBC Radio over the internet abroad but not TV. By chance, I was reading an expat in Greece Blog the other day and learnt of an app which didn’t sound promising but I thought there was, maybe, something in it. ‘TV Catchup’ suggests exactly that but was discussed as a source of real-time reception abroad. It sounded too good to be true.
I downloaded the app to my iPad and tried it out in our hotel room in Athens recently. To my amazement, it worked. I could pick up UK Freeview Channels and they were not blocked like the iPlayer. I have a 12.5″ screen iPad Pro which was good enough to watch on but it got me thinking of putting that through the hotel’s TV screen to make it more user friendly. A quick search on the internet brought up a Digital AV Adapter which had an Apple lighting connector and a port for its charger. This is important to maintain the iPad’s charge in a battery-hungry process.
The adapter plugs into the TV’s HDMI slot and allows the TV screen to mirror that of the iPad. Today, I tried it out on a small TV set upstairs at home with perfect results. As the ‘A’ in Audio Visual suggests, I got both Sound and Pictures which I could control with the TV remote. As almost every flat screen TV nowadays has an HDMI socket, this will be of immense use in our travels across Europe.
Saturday, 15th September, 2018
In the coming week, we are flying from Gatwick to Edinburgh to meet up with a friend and ex-colleague of ours who we haven’t seen for almost exactly 40 years. Bjorn, a Norweigan Potter, taught at our school from 1975 – 78. He then went on to lecture at Edinburgh University where his wife – a jewellery designer – also lectured. For the past 40 years, we have exchanged the same two Christmas cards with newsletters enclosed to the point where one is nearly falling apart. We have been promising to visit him for the past 30 years and this is the year where we will live up to our promise.
It is exactly 50 years ago this summer that I spent a month on a motorbike touring Norway with a friend. Excluding a couple of weeks in Southern Ireland ( which most people would do), this was my first time abroad. It left an indelible impression on my young (17 yr old) consciousness. We drove up to Newcastle and got the ferry to Bergen. I don’t remember every stop but Bergen, Lillehammer, Oslo and Stavanger Fjord stand out.
We stayed in Youth Hostels which were the cheapest way to do it but were positively plush compared with their English counterparts. We had the most wonderful, hot, sunny weather and I have an image indelibly implanted on my memory that has remained all of those 50 years.
We were driving over the mountains under a strong sun from clear blue skies. All around us was thick snow which our road cut through. Suddenly, some 50-60 metres to our right and out in the middle of the snow-covered mountainside, a young couple sat at a table with a lit candle in between them. They had a bottle of wine and two glasses and were toasting each other. That seemed strange enough to a young, impressionable lad like me but even stranger was the fact that there was no sign of a vehicle to get them up in the mountains and no signs of disturbance (footsteps) in the snow from the road to their table.
We whizzed past on our motorbike and only discussed it when we settled back in our Youth Hostel for the night. However, both of us saw it and neither of us could explain it. Answers on an email.