Living the Dream – 69. Winter is coming

Our second winter is coming. As a special treat, our first winter in Cyprus was the wettest since records began over a hundred years previously.

Winter Chores

Like many expats before us, we discovered that it doesn’t need to get too wet or too cold to feel unpleasant in Cyprus. House-building here focuses on keeping properties cool, not on keeping them warm. There is no damp course on our house, and one side gets wet. Last year, it got so wet, that our main guest bedroom developed a very mouldy damp smell and some crumbling plaster.

Upon returning from our UK trip, we will address this with the help of a neighbour who is far more competent than I in this type of thing. My strength is probably in fetching and carrying and making coffee.

When not raining, (winter is coming) I plan to get some work done in the garden. The first stage of fence-painting, some burying of cables, and taking some electricity to the back garden, allowing us to add some lights and appliances to the pool area.

Back in Blighty

I wrote last week, that I was intrigued to see how Margaret found going back to the UK for a week. Overall, she had a great time, but within that, there was a lot to unpack.

We took a cab to the hotel (pen show) on landing, and once checked-in, we crossed the street to a busy pub. Bloomsbury is not Leicester Square, but it is central London on a Saturday night. The pub was packed – but we found a table. Mags was a rabbit in the headlights. There’s no noise like a busy London pub. You feel it as much as hear it. A cacophony of conversation in multiple languages, on top of music.

I marvelled at payments. I bought a few rounds and at no point, not once, did I see anyone use cash. Contactless via card or phone or even watch was de rigeur.

On the way to bed – Margaret stopped for a cigarette at the hotel entrance and watched a group of girls stumble out of a nearby mall, and one threw up colourfully on the street. Charming.

Mags and I met up again on the last night before returning here to Cyprus. We strolled through central London, stopped for a drink in the Crusting Pipe at Covent Garden, ate amazing food at Barrafina and watched the splendid “School of Rock” on Drury Lane. All the best of London. Wonderful architecture, a busy cafe with superb street entertainers, international food of the highest order and a West End show that left us excited and buzzing.

We spoke. Margaret loved London. She was delighted to be returning to Cyprus. When she was in Hampshire, from whence we came to Cyprus, she did not feel anything. Food for thought.

Four do Rugby

Ireland-v-England

Assuming that I can work out this scheduling posts malarkey, then as this post comes out, I will be at Twickenham watching England take on Ireland in the Six Nations. The photo above comes from the Daily Mirror report on last year’s game.

I’ll be watching the game with three friends.

There is Conchita, a bearded Englishman living in Dublin, CLD, a Welshman who splits his time between South West England and Warsaw and Tone – an Englishman abroad. Vilnius, last time I checked.

Add in me, a Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Cornish mix-up in Southern England and we are quite the motley crew. We all knew each other in Prague – we played rugby together, we drank together, and to a certain extent we grew up together. In fairness, Conchita and I may have a way to go on that front.

Conchita is flying over on Friday and staying here with us, while CLD and Tone arrive on Saturday morning. They have booked a hotel for Saturday.

I daresay Conchita and I may have managed a couple of glasses of wine on Friday night. The long-suffering Mrs L almost certainly had an evening shaking her head as we talked nonsense and drank wine, lots of wine. Within about an hour of being each other’s company Conchita and I will have speech patterns will so similar as to be indistinguishable one from the other. It’s quite spooky.

The Four are gathering for a spot of lunch up near Twickenham, five or so hours before kick-off. What could possibly go wrong? (That is very much a rhetorical question.)

Once we have been fed and settled into some hop-based beverages, we will exchange some banter on the France Wales match of the previous evening. Then we will watch Scotland take on Italy in Rome. A few years ago Conchita and I took the precaution of learning the words of the Italian anthem. The thought of being caught short in a singsong was just too much for two front-row forwards to bear. I daresay that we will not be the only ones singing all of the anthems.

Before the main event begins, we will have made one hundred new friends. Any supporting England will be known as Rupert, and all supporting Ireland, as Mick. Tradition is Tradition. Our voices will be hoarse from singing (and the odd hop-based beverage) and we will be ready for the big match.

I have mentioned this before here. Rugby is a pretty special game.

Of course – I may be completely wrong. We may have had a terrible time. Writing this post in advance may have been a stupid thing to do.

But I doubt it.

On Sunday morning, the four of us will be saying, “I’m too old for this.”

 

Wow! Google listened.

Alphabet Logo

Only a few short weeks ago, I implored the IT Giants to Grow UP and suddenly Google is setting up a new top company.

What power I now wield.

Alas, I suspect that my little rant went unnoticed as Google was planning its next stage of global conquest.

Even though Google have been busy with other things, here, my quest for efficiency and productivity has continued.

I seek an email client that works across all of my devices, in the same fashion, so that I can seamlessly transition from one device to another and thereby be truly mobile.

Productive – checking email, even while trying to avoid my nose being pressed into the raised armpit of the man next to me by the crush of a rush-hour tube. Geek Nirvana.

Since my last update – I have been through several more configurations trying to get Apple and Google to play nice.

I won’t bore you with all of the permutations that I tried – suffice it to say that I probably funded the legal costs of Google’s latest move through the purchase of apps.

One particularly exciting setup was with a little thing called Mail Pilot.

There it was – an email client that is G-mail-friendly (YES!), that would work on a Mac, on an iPad and on an iPhone (YES! YES!), that would seamlessly sync (YES! YES! YES!) and was designed to operate an Inbox zero approach. (YES! YES! YES! I daresay that you get the idea)

I installed the app on the Mac – and played around with it. Encouraging.

I put it onto the iPad and iPhone. All right. Pretty good too.

After a couple of days, I became more convinced that mails that I had dealt with on the phone or iPad were reappearing on the computer.

In the tried and tested method held sacred by all IT folk – I uninstalled everything, turned all the hardware off, had a cup of tea, turned the hardware back on again, reinstalled the software and had another look. The only thing that I did not do, was send myself a hefty invoice.

Despite the employment of high powered IT consultancy as described above, the applications were not synchronising correctly. Not good news.

I decided to bring out the big guns. I looked for written instructions.

Shocking.

I know.

But still no progress.

Time for the nuclear option.

I contacted the developer.

Yes. I can confirm. I am a male and I did ask for directions.

Humbling and humiliating.

However, to my immense satisfaction – I can report that I was right all along. There is never any point in asking for directions.

The slimy little toe-rags have not replied.

So, I am doing the IT equivalent of driving around and around until I fall upon the required destination through a process of dogged determination.

C is for Covent Garden

image

A poor photograph, but an excellent string quintet.

Thank you to all of those people whom have taken the time to drop by, read and even comment on my posts.

If you have been paying attention, then you will recall that yesterday I was travelling to London to have a professional work on my hair and my beard.

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” Perhaps the most famous quote from Samuel Johnson.

On the train, I asked Twitter for any suggestions on where I might get a decent glass of something white and bracing and a bite to eat.

Isn’t Twitter incredible? Within minutes @CoventGardenLDN read my tweet and came back looking for detail on what type of wine I was looking for. Astonishing!

@BeaBTCharles, a friend from #writingchat came back with a specific recommendation for The Crusting Pipe, where I went.

As promised, I sat on a terrace that felt outside, but was inside. I listened to live opera, with a cool glass of Sauvignon Blanc from Chile in hand.

Between the arias, I could catch snippets of conversation in German, in Italian, Spanish, French and many more languages that I can only vaguely recognise. It truly felt like the World’s capital.

Energy, enthusiasm and fun. I could not help but be caught up in it.

When I lived in London, I found it frenetic and exhausting. Now that I don’t, I find it energising.

Tired of life? Not at all. Take me to my Beard-Barber!

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