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2023 - A New Year Awaits

Here we go – another new year with the renewed aim of continuing the blog. Last year I decided to open each blog entry with the opening lines from a song that I felt was relevant at the time for whatever reason. It worked well to start with but then picking the lyrics form a song more of a chore than the blog itself. Also looking back, I found that there were a few days I forgot completely. I did wonder if this year I should do it in rhyme but then again could I do it all the time?


I am still touched by the response and encouragement I receive from family and friends to the blog despite as one kindly person pointed out my poor grammar at times and obvious lack of proof reading. A couple of people have actually said it is one of the highlights of their day when the blog post arrives – to which I say a hearty thank you. To those who choose not to read it then you still don’t know what you are missing. All feedback is still very welcome and if you know anyone who might be interested then then they can subscribe for updates anytime on the webpage www.karlclare.com – I promise in doing so there will be no spam.


As before I had the years blog turned into a hardback book. It had a print run of one and is not cheap to produce. Karen was suitably unimpressed as usual when I presented it to her a one of her Christmas presents. She said she had no need to read it as she knows what we had done and when. Then again, she is not one for looking back at our photos either despite the fuss she makes about taking then. I am different. The photos and words to me evoke memories that would otherwise be lost to me and remind me of things I have forgotten and I love looking back. Perhaps when she is old and grey, she may enjoy the reminiscing.


The one I thing I have noticed is that I think my earlier blogs in 2022 were better than the latter ones. I put this entirely down to incompetence on my part and a lack of time I had in writing them. Certainly, the last trip to Florida was very busy. I had so very little time to write them and was mainly doing so either very late at night or early in the morning before we hit the Disney Parks. That showed to me and for that I apologise. It was a struggle to keep up to date and I feared that if I didn’t I would either forget things for will simply fall out of the habit of doing so. I resolve to try and do better. It is amusing that if I am over a day late in posting that sometimes I am contacted by different people to check that everything is alright with us.


Primarily though this blog is to record our travels, tribulations and adventures. But it also serves to record my thoughts and feelings as time and life progresses. And boy does life progress at a far too rapid rate. Last year as I turned sixty and there are many many times that my body feels that and more. My mind though still feels youthful and wanting to learn and explore and try new things but I have learnt that I can only do what I can do.


2022 was an annus horribilis for Karen. She had also been relatively fortunate health wise up till then (apart from the dodgy knee and foot – but that was more than compensated by having me as eye candy on her arm). During the past year she managed to separately break both arms, was diagnosed with diabetes, needed ongoing treatment for her stage of life and went through the trauma of finally having to admit to herself and then to tell her Mum that it was time for her to move into a Care Home. None of this have been easy and at times actually quite turbulent for all of us. Of course, this was offset by some good times but she really could not wait for the year to end and to be able to start afresh.


So, since we returned from Florida in mid-November, life has as ever been busy. We did our level best to try and catch up with as many family member and friends as possible. Quality time spent with them is worth more to us than anything of tangible value. Time is such a precious resource and we truly appreciate those who chose to spend some of their valuable time with us.


I always try to say to Karen and the boys (and Ellie) that all I ever want from them for Christmas is to spend time with them. This is something they always acknowledge but still manage to find me some very thoughtful and welcome gifts. In the style of a departed Norwich Manager (Daniel Farke) - I am always greedy for more of their time as I always feel blessed by their presence.


I also feel blessed that I do have lots of wide range people that I can call friends. They come from a wide background, spectrum and interests. Some I have known for more than 55 years and others much more recent. I enjoy catching up with them all and hope that they feel I am a more than just an acquaintance to them.


Karen on the other hand doesn’t have that wide group of friends. I know she struggles to open up to them and perhaps have real meaningful conversations. The people she does see occasionally are also not very proactive in arranging their get togethers. Karen feels they all have their own lives and sometimes too busy to meet to her. Every week I have to encourage her to message people and keep in touch. To her it does not come naturally and she feels doesn’t want to impose. I think it is important that we have both joint and individual friendship groups.


I enjoy the company of others as otherwise I believe we can become too insular in our thoughts and opinions. It is good to hear other views and to be able to chew the cud. Some of my friends have very different views to me on many things but I think that is healthy. We can choose to have discussions and do not have to fall out over it. I like to think I able to see things from different viewpoints even if some of their viewpoint may be completely wrong in my opinion!


Friendship is also about being there for someone if they need you. That could be to lend a helping hand or emotionally. I try my best to be there for other people in the way that I would want them to be there for me. Sometimes it is more difficult and sometimes it does annoy Karen when I sometimes drop other things to help others.


Anyhow after that parable it is probably worth recording some the things that happened leading to the year end. Despite saying she would cut down, Karen accepted loads of job offers which made her very busy. It seems the more people question why she is still working the more determined she is to carry on. I maintain the line to her that she is not doing it for the money but for her own satisfaction and esteem. I do not accept her moans when she says she has little time for much as else, as it is her own choice to keep working as much she does. It is not my place to tell her to stop or when as she should make that decision herself.


I was very poorly again for over 2 weeks. I tested myself and was negative for Covid many times and so assume it was just one the worse cases of man-flu ever. Yet again I was coughing so much I tore a stomach muscle which made it all worse. Those 2 weeks were dreadful and I barely left the bedroom or lounge.


Then Karen succumbed to it. She felt rough for about 10 days before starting to recover. Being a woman it was nowhere near for her as me.


I played some Golf. In fact, I started to really enjoy it as there were some definite signs of improvement in my game as the year ended. I will never be up to Club standard but it is nice to be able to get a Par sometimes or even a rare Birdie. The guys I play with are really good fun and company as well. We also had a fun Golf Night out.


We fitted in going to the Theatre a couple of times. Once to the Opera which we concluded was just pretentious nonsense and left at the interval after a 1 ¾ hours long first half. The fact that the story was nonsense and could have been a ‘Carry On’ film didn’t help.


There were many Christmas events we managed to get to as well. Some were so very good like Thursford and the service at Norwich Cathedral. There were some not so good like the Carols by Candlelight at St Marys Hellesdon where even the Vicar was dour and disinterested. There were also events that we sadly missed that we normally enjoy like the Salvation Army Carol Service that we were unfortunately double booked for.


We went to London to Kew Gardens to see the lights which were fabulous and worth almost getting stuck on the M25 in the snow to see. Fortunately, we managed to turn off just before it was closed.


It was also ‘Elliemas’ when we celebrated the first of the 12 days of Ellie birthday at Junkyard Market which was also rather good.


Christmas itself was lovely despite Karen getting herself as usual in a tizzy over trying to give the house a ‘Spring Clean’ in the days leading up to it and then not wanting anyone to help in the kitchen unless she could be in control and supervise intently.


This year we had 3 days of celebration as Barry & Ellie also joined us on Christmas Eve which was lovely. We all had such fun playing loads of different games including Dutch Shuffleboard. We all had far too much lovely food and seemingly loads of drink.


We ‘broke’ Karen’s Mum out of the Care Home for Christmas Day and Boxing Day. She was pleased to be with us but it was quite a lot of effort. On Boxing Day she spent much of the time asleep as the fun from Christmas Day caught up with her.



It would be remiss of me to not mention the football, and I don’t mean the World Cup that sort of passed me by. I am always the optimist when it comes to Norwich, but Dean Smith had to go as the performances have been inept. We had no style and blaming the crowds showed that he didn’t really get what the club means to us and stands for.


And so, onto 2023. We do have lots of lovely trips booked. We are now generally reluctant to talk about them to others unless asked as it seems like we maybe bragging. But this is how we are choosing to spend my pension whilst we are still able to do so. The fact I am writing this means we are now embarking on our first of the year and so St Lucia (thanks to a voucher from Virgin that we had from a cancelled Covid booked trip) here we come!


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