The stairwell is Completed

Sunday morning we were quickly into our paint -plattered scruffs and ready to put the second coat of paint on our stairwell. After trial and error for the first coat, we kept ladder work to a minimum, and used the long-handled roller to get to all but the most difficult bit of the wall. Using the sponge on the long-handled pole also brought successes, but in the end there were some places that needed me to go up the ladder.

It was soon completed, and with paint, brushes. various towels and sheet covers tucked away again, we surveyed our work. OK, there were a couple of places that will need touching up, but they can be done once the masking tape is removed, and any remaining bits needing touch-ups can be found.

We gave a huge sigh of relief that a complicated part of the apartment decoration is now just about complete.

About an hour later, I could feel once again the aches and pains of doing something different. To be honest my knee was as bad as I could remember for some time. I really cannot work up a ladder without serious payback.

The remainder of the day was all about relaxation. The weather was hardly tempting us to go outside, so I spent some time looking at the TV schedules for something to interest me.

No chance!

In the evening I looked at the DVD shelves and decided on ‘The Theory of Everything’ that tells the story of Professor Stephen Hawking. What a really good story.

The previous evening we had watched ‘Les Misérables 25 Year Anniversary’, and we have enjoyed both evenings.

So, it is now Monday, and I had a horrible night with aches stopping me sleeping.

I got up just after 5:00 to stretch my legs. I had a cup of tea, and read for a while before returning to bed at about 6:00. I was ready to sleep now, but it was only sporadic. The local wildlife weren’t helping, and especially some rooks who were performing choir practice by squawking in the key of “Cahhhhhh!”

Even with very little sleep, I refused to change our routine, and was up to get the early morning cuppa as usual.

The weather this morning was cool, cloudy and with an annoying wind.

No matter, we have the stairwell to complete.

It took us about an hour to prepare the battlefield again, and complete the project. This time it is definitely finished, and the empty paint pots, brushes and ruined footwear were sent to the bin.

Before having a cup of coffee, I was logged on to the Amazon site where I ordered a new pair of shoes for scruff-work, and a new pair of slippers.

After coffee and cake, I spent an hour looking at the online newspaper, emails, Facebook, and my author site. Ah yes, and I dozed off for a while as well.

Well, the TV schedules are running on repeats again, so it could possibly another DVD this evening. This week they are letting us recapture moments at Wimbledon over the last few decades. I enjoy watching sport, but I’m sorry, one of the greatest things about sport isy the suspense of not knowing who will win.

Even worse today, they have taken off ‘Father Brown’ from the afternoon schedule.

Ah well, I just have to wait in suspense for today’s delivery from Amazon to arrive.

Stay safe everyone.

Painting the Stairwell

Saturday morning. and after the usual slow wake up, Deb and I changed into our scruffs and prepared to paint our stairwell.

We had already painted the lower half the same colour yellow as the hallway, but the decision was to paint the upper section white, as a simple way of brightening up the dull creamy magnolia.

The stairwell is very high, and neither of us likes using ladders, so this was going to be quite a challenge.

So, with the carpet covered, and various rollers and brushes to hand we began. I started up the ladder and did what I could of the first area to be attacked. I was feeling extremely uncomfortable. Meanwhile Deb did a lower section, until that also became too high for her, and I couldn’t reach from the ladder position.

To get the ladder in a place where we could reach the outstanding high bits, it meant being at a very steep angel. Deb said she would take her turn up the ladder, but quickly decided the angle was too much.

Change of plan needed.

With a long handle roller we managed to reach all the bits, except the join position with the coving. After much thinking, we resorted to a sponge over the other end of the long handled roller. That enabled the last bit to be covered.

One wall was completed, so we took a break for coffee.

About three quarters of an hour later, we returned to painting. This time we kept ladder work to an absolute minimum, and with the long handled roller, plus the slab of sponge, we completed the task by a little after midday.

We now took about 20 minutes to clean up the ladder, steps, paint, rollers, brushes and plastic covering, and then a further 15 minutes cleaning ourselves of white paint.

We were both shattered as we had our lunch.

The weather today is cool, with a few moments of sunshine, and a very obvious wind. We were warned, and now have a few cooler days in the coming week.

Today’s television schedule from BBC 1 is rather weak. At midday it was Football Focus, and then after a 15 minute break for news, they showed a repeat of England verses Germany.

That is followed by a repeat of a programme with Prince William discussing mental health in footballers.

For a change there is then 20 minutes of National and Regional news, before the live coverage of the FA Cup match at Norwich.

Once that is over they have a repeat of a Pointless Celebrity show, followed by a Best of Michael McIntyre, before a chat show hosted by Peter Crouch. He of course, is an ex-footballer who has somehow managed to get a prime time Saturday evening slot.

After the news at 10:10 there is a programme based on the life and football career of Thierry Henry.

So, from midday, until a film starting at 11:30 there is about 5.5 hours of football action, 2 hours of football based documentaries (both repeats) a repeat of Pointless, a ‘Best of’ from Michael McIntyre, and 40 minutes of news.

Meanwhile BBC 2 are showing all but 1 hour of repeats, plus one ‘Greatest of’ programme, and then reruns of Glastonbury.

Wow, the Covid virus has really caused chaos!

Never mind, I still have Spooks to watch – oh is that another repeat?

Fortunately we have a lot of DVDs to watch.

An Hour at the Beach

So far this week, we have had some wonderful sunny and hot weather. Yesterday (Wednesday) we enjoyed the treat of the balcony, although it did get too hot after lunch.

So, this morning (Thursday) we packed a couple of bags, and set off for a nearby beach. Our chosen spot was Pendower Beach just a mile or so along the coast from Portscatho.

There is a narrow road for final half a mile down towards the beach, but that was the only part of the drive that caused any concern. A free car park had plenty of spaces, and that just left a five minute walk down the remainder of the road to the beach itself.

I suppose there was around 20 to 30 other people there when we arrived, and there was plenty of space. It is a sandy beach, with a few smooth stones that are easy to avoid. The tide was partially out, and this revealed a wide patch of sea-weed that stretched perhaps nearly 10 metres, of which about half of it was still submerged.

Having picked our spot, we went for a paddle. The visible sea-weed was partially dry, but perhaps a little uncomfortable to walk on the soft and slippery green stuff. The water was cold of course, and as the little waves rolled in, it brought more sea-weed up onto our legs.

I suspect that on the other end of the beach from where we stopped, the sea-weed patch was less obvious. That was where the majority of people we, and a small number of them were taking the full plunge and having a swim.

Deb and I lay on our car rugs and enjoyed the warmth of the sun. We were trying to remember when we had last spent time on a beach like this, and it was on our cruise last year in either in Honduras or Cozumel in Mexico.

We are not used to being on a beach, and I was quickly uncomfortable without some form of lounger for softness. We had a mini-picnic of a saffron bun and a can of coke. But it really was very hot, and after an hour we packed up and set off for home.

There was a shop open as we left, and we treated ourselves to an ice-cream. I can’t remember when we last had one of these.

We were back home by about 10:30, and now we can suffer several days of finding sand in various bags or bits of clothing.

The morning had been a pleasant experiment, and we now have a little list of things we need to buy, to make a beach more attractive. Some sort of foldable chair, and a parasol, top the list, but we also need some new sun-screen. Deb has also suggested she would like a wet suit, as the sea is really cold here compared to the Caribbean.

After lunch I went out onto the rather pleasantly cool balcony for a read, which quickly turned into a little doze. I woke to the sound of distant thunder, and grey clouds were beginning to obscure the sun.

Half an hour later it was raining, and the thunder was more obvious.

It seems our little short heat wave is breaking already.

I am sure we will be spending more time at the local beaches, but will be avoiding the popular north coast ones. We prefer a bit of space, and peace.

The Sun has Returned

It is Tuesday morning, and the sun has sneaked out between the clouds to say hello again.

The early clouds kept us off the balcony, and we used this time to prepare for the next stages of decoration. Yesterday afternoon we drove to B&Q in Penryn and took back an unused can of yellow paint. We came away with two cans of white paint plus more roller bits.

The challenge now is the remainder of the stairwell, and that means ladder work.

Before starting the preparation, I did my exercises. The stretches confirmed my toes are still in reach, and my neck and shoulders had a good session of twists and turns. That was followed by 20 minutes of cycling (five music tracks) where I covered almost 6km.

OK, I know that isn’t much, but I do feel my nearly 69 years now!

Deb went to get the masking tape, and I pumped up the ladder to reach the high bits. It really didn’t take long to put masking tape between the wooden areas, and where we will be painting. But knowing that the temperature was going to rise as the day passes, there is no way we were starting the painting yet.

By 10:00 we were out on the balcony, and I watched the busy birds racing across the sky while listening to my music. I have a very varied collection of favourites to listen to, and today’s selection included Louis Armstrong, Petula Clark, Free, Jeff Beck, Steppenwolf, The Bee Gees, Monkeys, Queen, and Paul Weller.

Happily mellowed by the music, and warmed by the sunshine, it would have been easy to fall asleep, but I concentrated hard, and stared at the birds.

This morning, along with pigeons, rooks, sparrows, and more rooks, the little darting ones flashed across the sky making me dizzy. After looking at them carefully, and referring to the internet, I am reasonably confident that there are House Martins, and Swallows. Some have the extended pointy bits on their tails meaning they are Swallows.

In the distance there is the constant roar of grass mowers, mixed with a strimmer. The grass is growing crazily after the warm, rainy days, and our gardeners have a never ending job with the lawns and paths, with very few moments to do the more artistic bits.

… maybe next year!

If the press are correct, Boris will be announcing a reduction in restrictions later today. I understand that the businesses need the 1 metre spacing to have any chance of making a profit in shops, hotels, and pubs. The Cornish Holiday Business is crying out for a chance to begin again, and I suspect it will already be too late for many of them to survive.

I am still wary of getting too close to people yet, especially any holidaymakers who will soon be descending on Cornwall.

It will be very interesting in a couple of weeks, to see how well England adapts to being less restricted.

Well, it will soon be lunchtime, and maybe another dose of Bargain Hunt is beckoning.

Stay safe everyone.

A Quiet Sunday

Sunday morning is the moment that I give my shaving razor a good clean. It was also time to fill my daily medicine pots from the various foil wrapped pill packets. I wonder how many millions of people perform this task, and like me curse the need for packing pills in this way. Years ago, they came in little bottles with a top that arthritic fingers could unscrew, and then shake out the pills so easily.

I gather the decision was made to prevent people taking overdoses. I don’t really think the packaging is going to be the deciding factor between suicide or ringing the samaritans.

Anyway, with my Sunday routine completed, I turned my attention to the ‘Audio Book’ project.

I think I have found a suitable set up in the spare room where I can use my existing microphone to record the audio material. Sadly, I have discovered that my writing skills have meant a book with some quite difficult text to speak out loud. I have long known that proof reading a book is not all about grammar and spelling. There is also what I refer to as a ‘Ugly Text’, that is difficult to spot when you read material that you have also written.

If you know what has been written, it is far too easy to ignore glaring examples of ‘ugly text’, because your mind recognises what a sentence is saying without actually reading each word.

Anyway, I have put the recording on temporary hold, while I read the pages carefully and make changes to simplify the flow when I start recording again.

One very annoying thing I have discovered is that I struggle to say two words next to each other that begin with ‘S’. The changes of mouth shapes are quite dramatic between ‘Sh…’ or ‘Se…’, ‘So…’ etc.

So, the morning was spent on rewriting my text without complicated vocal phrases without altering the book contents too much.

After lunch we might venture out for a walk, but with the rather cloudy sky, and regular showers, it might have to be a session on the exercise bike for me, and exercise on the Wii machine for Deb.

I still have numerous episodes of Spooks to watch, which is a good option, as there is hardly any new material on the television channels to watch. I can almost recite the scripts to some of the repeats on offer, while at least Spooks is from so long ago that I don’t remember the plots clearly.

I suspect we are being prepared to hear an announcement this week that the lockdown is going to ease a little more. It appears the easing of three weeks ago has not resulted in a serious increase in Covid cases, so we can soon be released to do other things again.

All I ask, is that people remain careful. Maybe fewer people are catching the bug, but some of those who do catch it, still don’t recover.

Various Updates

Two weeks ago we were enjoying a wonderful period of weather, but since then it has been dull and damp. Deb and I have needed to find things to do in the apartment, and one of the first jobs was to continue with the painting of our walls.

Deb is the painter.

I do the patching up of dents before she starts, and this time, I was allowed to help with the masking tape as well. The hall is now completed in a relaxing yellow colour, and it looks far more warm and inviting.

The next area to attack was the downstairs lobby area and the stairwell. We had already ordered a telescopic ladder to allow us to get to the highest points, but were not looking forward to using it. Having completed the lobby area, and the lower half of the stairwell walls, we stood back, looked at the result so far, and called a halt for now.

There is a natural break point of the walls with a wide wooden strip at about waist high. Everything below is now yellow, and the area above is the plain magnolia/cream colour. It looks OK the way it is now, and after a week or more getting used to it, my thoughts to Deb was that the top area just looks scruffy.

I think we are heading towards giving it a coat of a white paint to brighten up the stairwell which has no natural light. It will be easier to paint it white, as mistakes high up towards the ceiling will not be easily visable.

————–

I have mentioned that I was working on possibly creating audio books of my works, and over the last few days I have been experimenting. I have a reasonably good microphone attached to my earphones, and with the software I’ve downloaded, I was getting average results while talking to myself.

The problem was that I could hear my breathing at quite a high level. I played around with the flexible microphone arm, and when the breathing sounds were reduced, the overall sound level then became too low.

Today, I grabbed a bath sponge, and created a muff to go onto the microphone. Now with the microphone closer to my mouth, it has certainly improved the results as I counted from 1 to 10 and recited ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’.

This evening when the rooks have shut up, and Deb is having a bath, I will made a concerted effort to record a few chapters of my first book.

If that still turns out unsatisfactory, I will have to look for a better microphone with a stand and screen to reduce my breath sounds.

———————————-

Today (Friday) we took a drive into Truro to visit the recently reopened Argos store. I have finally handed back my faulty watch, and had a full refund. The shop was virtually empty, with just two other customers in there besides myself.

When I came home, I found an email from my travel insurance. They are not going to pay me the claim for the cancelled holiday in the Channel Islands.

They have instructed me that the fault is with the travel company, and I am entitled to a FULL refund from them. This is as I suspected would happen after news reports last week clarified the situation.

So a further email has now gone to my travel agent, to request them to ask for a full refund from the travel company involved. Apparently these companies are expected to pay refunds within 14 days.

I doubt that will be the case.

Meanwhile, Deb has been playing with one of her birthday presents. I bought her a set of Acrylic paints. She has only ever attempted watercolours so far, and wanted to achieve more vibrant results.

I am looking forward to see the results.

Well, the sky has remained dull, and numerous showers have put us off having a walk. This week has not been the best for exercise, but I have increased my exercise bike sessions. To make it more enjoyable – sorry, less boring– I am listening to my music. During the more upbeat songs I increase the pace, and then relax (a little) during the ballads.

I have also been stretching out my hamstrings, and succeeded in touching my toes for the first time in many years.

There are a few grunts and some loud heavy breathing as my stretched fingers grope towards my feet, but I have been rather pleased with my results.

…. “and breathe

Its almost time for coffee, and perhaps an episode of ‘Spooks’.

Look after yourselves.

Happy Hippy Birthday

Deb had a reminder on Facebook this morning that it was my Happy Hippy Birthday. Yes, it was six years today that I had my hip replacement in the Hereford Hospital.

It has been so long, that I have forgotten just how much pain I was suffering before the hip was changed. It was from waking up through to bedtime, and it was such a saga to convince the surgeons that I had a problem.

Six years on, and I walk freely with no aches or pain from my right hip. Sadly the left knee is not so pain free, and although better since the latest set of pills, I cannot ignore the shooting pains as I stand, or sit, and the stabbing when I walk down hills or stairs.

Even if the surgeons here in Cornwall decided I could do with a new knee, I suspect the waiting time now would be calculated in years rather than months.

Anyway, that’s enough about my arthritic joints.

We had a real surprise on Monday. The pair of us ordered our prescriptions online at about 10:00 in the morning, and they were delivered by early afternoon. I had serious concerns that we had been given the wrong person’s medicines, but no, it really was ours.

… well done to Portscatho surgery and pharmacists, plus the volunteers delivering the drugs to our door.

At the weekend, I noticed our Hard Drive TV recorder was having a problem. As stupid as it appeared, the electronic guide would not let us see anything on BBC 1 and 2. After many attempts to reset it – turning it off and on – it was obvious that there was a strange software problem.

This box of tricks was bought perhaps 10 years ago, and was the most expensive piece of electronics I have ever purchased. It has allowed us to record two programmes at the same time, allow us to skip adverts, and also played DVDs.

Well, we decided the machine had been very good value, and I was tasked to find a replacement. That took almost two days to convince myself that the old one really was broken, and to overcome the high blood pressure at the thought of spending major money.

Tuesday afternoon, I clicked the button on Amazon to buy an almost identical machine (without faults) and it was much less expensive than the old one, as I had not bothered getting the version that could also record DVDs.

The order confirmation said it would be delivered on Wednesday, but yesterday just after lunch, the doorbell range, and my new toy had been arrived.

… well done Amazon

Deb and I celebrated by having a decent walk, that took us down into the valley rather than around the village. The rain we have been enduring for several days, has made the ground damp, and the grass to begin growing again. We saw a couple of the familiar local horses in the fields by the lane, plus chickens, ducks, sheep, and dogs. On the hills on the other side of the valley was a field with black and white cows, but next to them was about half a dozen light brown Charolais cows, three calves, and a magnificent bull watching over his family.

Back home after the walk, I opened my parcel, and prepared to swop the machine for the old one.

Of course there is a twist to the tale.

… before I switched off the old machine, I discovered the programme guide was now working properly.

There were a few minutes dithering about wrapping up the new one and returning it, but after a discussion with Deb, we decided it could well go wrong again, so the new one was plugged in.

The new machine (Panasonic) was very similar physically, and with almost identical operating functions. There are a few extra little features, and some of the remote control buttons are different, but I was quickly in charge. I had it tuned with the incoming channels, connected it to the internet, and was flicking between channels to watch. I finished the playtime by setting it to record a couple of our favoured programmes, and then celebrated with a bath.

This morning (Wednesday) we have the now familiar cloudy start to the day, and a warning that we could have thunder storms later. It is difficult to forget what a wonderful few weeks warm and sunny weather we have had recently.

I am sure it will come back again soon.

We have no plans to go out today because of the weather, and we have shopping being delivered this afternoon. In the meantime, I might turn my thoughts to the idea of attempting of creating an audio version of one of my books. There seems to be a growing market for audio books. Unfortunately to have a professional voice actor to create the sound track will costs hundreds of pounds, and my royalties are less than that for a year.

Hence I am experimenting by recording myself reading the book. However, there is a problem. The local air-force of rooks have recently decided to congregate on the field across the valley from us, and seemingly counting the blades of grass. They also appear to be counting the blades out loud, and their noise is unbelievable, and never stops during the daylight.

Creating an audio book is proving difficult, as rooks do not appear in any of my books. Perhaps I should try to create an audio version of Alfred Hitchcock’s book called ‘The Birds’.

Look after yourselves everyone.

I’m Back

You many have noticed that I have not been posting anything for a fortnight. There has been a lot going on around the world, and my head was swimming in the confusion of what has been happening.

The backlash against a thoughtless policeman in America has started an almost concerted protest in countries around the world. I cannot understand how any person, (let alone a policeman) would ignore someone complaining that they could not breathe, and even when that person became silent, and presumably quite lifeless, he still didn’t react.

Perhaps in a moment of frustrated madness, he thought he could get away with taking out his temper on this man. But in this modern world, you can’t sneeze without a camera being pointed at you.

There was no excuse, he was a very stupid policeman, and that adjective could be changed to many others.

That ten minutes of madness has erupted with condemnation in all but a few countries. This moved from complaints of police brutality, to a full-on protest against many white-based societies. Their initial protests, and their following mass movements for equality for black and ethnic minorities, has resonated around our planet.

Sadly, these acceptable protests have sparked off the worse side of society, and turned into riots. It is no longer a protest, it is a full on excuse to just make trouble.

Perhaps it was a good moment to remind the world of the disgusting ways our ancestors used slavery to enable colonialist business men to make money.

I cannot imagine the physical and mental pain caused to thousands of Africans, as young men, women and children were rounded up and shackled in the hulls of ships. I wonder if the family and friends of those slaves ever got over the loss.

How could the sailors have allowed those poor innocent people to be forced to remain in the hold, with little exercise or food, as those ships battled through the storms across the Atlantic.

What did those poor innocent people think, when they were finally brought ashore, and sold off to the highest bidder. I cannot imagine their shock to then be forced to sow, tend, and harvest crops of sugar, tobacco, cocoa, and coffee, to satisfy the greed and ignorance of the British, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, and many other countries who allowed slavery to continue.

I can just about understand why the rioters of the last fortnight decided that statues of these guilty business men should be pulled down, and street names changed, but surely this is not the correct way forward.

If we remove all trace of history from the public eye, that history will be lost.

What comes next?

Should all books that tell of the slave trade be burnt. Will future generations write this painful chapter of history out of our school lessons.

History of the slave trade must be maintained, and taught to children to show one of the most horrendous moments in the past. That history must show how the western world changed, and grew rich on the profits of those slaves, while the Africans gained nothing. The young have to be shown that mankind has made some serious mistakes over hundreds of years, as we strived to improve our lives, as the innocent lives continued without improvement.

If we do not learn about, and remember, the pain of our mistakes, our children may be tempted to make similar mistakes.


I will leave you today with something else to ponder on.

It was a fortnight tomorrow, that we were allowed to go outside and mix more freely.

The Covid virus takes about 10 to 14 days to infect a person.

Sometime this week, we will see if that freedom was the correct thing to allow us.

Don’t rely on the numbers of new deaths, find the figures that show new infections. If they begin to rise this week, we could be heading for another major spike.

Stay safe.

Summer is Officially here

It is the 1st June, and that means we are now in summer time. The sun shone from dawn, and the sky was virtually cloudless. It is hot, but there was a wind taking the edge off it when we sat outdoors on the balcony.

After a mid-morning cup of coffee on the balcony, we set off in the car towards St Austell, to visit LIDL where we stocked up on quite a bit of our weekly needs. The shop wasn’t busy, but we did have to queue for about five minutes to get inside. It was quite easy to avoid the other customers, but there was only one till in use by the time we finished. The queue there was a lot longer than getting into the shop.

Tomorrow we have a ‘Click and Collect’ at Sainsburys in Truro for the bits we couldn’t get.

Finally we have got some compost. We have struggled locating any in B&Q, and the local gardening centres, but as usual the cut price shops seem to know how to get hold of things.

After lunch I set off on a walk around the village, while Deb set up our mini-greenhouse where the tomatoes will soon be residing. The plastic greenhouse had to be cable-tied to the balcony railings to avoid going walkabouts during the winds.

When I got home after the walk, I was shattered. I had chosen a route that went all the way to the bottom of the village, and then had to climb up the lanes and street to Roseland Parc.

While I panted and recovered my dignity, Deb finished the greenhouse, and is now preparing the pasties for this evening.

I am not sure if the Primary School was back in business today, but all over the country little boys and girls are meeting up with friends again, and teachers are probably starting to find out what they have all been up to for the last couple of months.

Our grandson Oliver is not going back this week, but will start next Monday. There are too many of his year to restart at one go, so the teachers have split the group, and building up the numbers. They will no doubt discover the problems, and come up with new ways of keeping the children safe during the next day or so.

Well, it is mid-afternoon, and I think its time to make some coffee, and perhaps have one of Deb’s home made scones.

Bi for now.