Swimming Upstream

Source: Daily Mail

Blogger’s Warning: For readers under the age of 55, the latter half of this post will induce an unsustained rolling of the eyes, coupled with indiscriminate outbursts of Dude, seriously?” Caution is advised.


… been to that neighborhood bar for quiz night lately? How about that favorite Italian bistro of yours for a plate of their osso buco? Gone bowling? Putt putt golf maybe? Yeah, me neither. About the only excitement we’re getting around here is cutting a rug around dodgy, mask-less characters in the produce section. I’m sure you have them where you are too.

I’m here to tell you today that all of this is finally making me a little loopy; this cloistered sense of permanency right now. That earlier sentiment of “I’ve been training for this all my life” cuteness back in March and April is now a “So help me God, if I hear ‘We’re All in This Together’ one more time, I’m going to scream” plea. Cautionary tales are everywhere these days.

Yet, I also realize that we still have no choice but to carry on. Well, of course I’m saying that just between us friends here. I know I can’t control those produce section miscreants anymore than you, or apparently the store manager either for that matter. But what I can control is my ability to stay sane, occupied, and semi-entertained.

It’s time to shake things up: Boxers instead of briefs. Don’t worry — I’m only speaking figuratively here.

Others apparently feel the same way too. For instance, I noticed that Gayle King gave up on challenging Elton John for the total number of eyeglasses one person can possibly own. If it’s good enough for Gayle, then it is for me too. Change up, switch up.

Source: Variety

For us, thankfully, the ennui of routine really hasn’t come during daylight hours. Gorgeous continues to work daily with her clients, albeit at a reduction of about 30% of her previous income (about which she considers herself most fortunate); and despite some early difficulties with maintaining focus and absorption, I’ve managed to finally get back into a healthy reading groove again. Book reading was always my #1 retirement goal, so it feels good to chase that pursuit with vigor again. [1]

Recently though, weariness began to creep in from the shadows amid the evening hours. With but only occasional episodes of new broadcast TV shows airing, those that returned seemed to disappear as quickly as they arrived (i.e. “Call the Midwife” and “Grantchester” to name two). Of course, left to my own proclivities I’m never unhappy seeing the same episode of “Family Guy” for the 17th time. Unfortunately Gorgeous doesn’t share the same zeal for imbecile humor as I do (though she does read this blog, so I for one question the steadfastness of her own discriminating choices).

Enter streaming TV.

Two years ago we dipped our toes into the streaming pool to add more variety to our nightly viewing. Well, that’s not entirely accurate: My nephew visited and was both alarmed and embarrased in seeing his hopelessly out-of-touch uncle trekking to the public library, of all places, to borrow DVDs, when nearly all the content we were watching could easily be streamed. The horror! He waited until the last day of his visit to verbally shame me, and then two weeks later we received a gift from him of an Apple TV device. Bye bye, 20th century.

Since then, we’ve happily watched shows on Acorn TV, the service which features shows from primarily the UK, but also Europe, Australia and Canada. Our favorites are “Doc Martin,” “Good Karma Hospital,” “Vera,” “Dectorists,” and “A Place to Call Home.” The prideful brag of our viewing is that we’ve now watched all 21 seasons of “Midsomer Murder.” And, thanks to Angela at Hashtag Retired, we’ve recently included the Canadian mystery “Murdoch Mysteries” into regular rotation.

So, lots of good evening viewing.

But eventually, perhaps because of the production halts due to the pandemic, we felt we were beginning to exhaust Acorn’s offerings. We’ll continue to keep the subscription (it costs $60 annually), but Gorgeous proposed that maybe it was time to add another streaming service for additional variety (translation: she was having no part of the “Family Guy” reruns I was attempting to re-introduce).

Hey, don’t judge me
Source: WCIU TV

After some discussion, we decided to remain with our nightly British theme and begin a subscription to Britbox. At $69 a year it’s a very good value and chock full of shows both familiar (classics such as “Are You Being Served?” and “As Time Goes By”) alongside new and unfamiliar ones from the BBC and ITV.

Signing up for it was easy: I merely went to the Britbox website and entered all my information plus a credit card. It was after that when things sort of became, well, strange and discomforting: I had no idea how to proceed in getting the service onto our TV. I had done it once before obviously with Acorn, but I had forgotten how.

I feverishly switched from each of the TV’s “input” settings, with their completely unhelpful monikers of HDMI-1, HDMI-2, Smartcast, Airplay, etc. I was sure that somehow the Britbox icon would magically appear on one of them through some sort of magical transference after I had finalized the web purchase to our TV. But no.

I somehow know about casting content from my iPad (I’m surprised too), but I certainly didn’t want to do that each time. No, I had to figure out how to make Britbox appear on one of these HDmacallit inputs.

Scrolling through the many screens in our TV’s “Smartcast” input (none of which contained Britbox, btw), I literally had no idea of all the streaming options out there, some of which are actually free. Not a one interests me, which I suppose is probably why they’re complimentary to begin with; though I am fascinated by this whole world within my TV, about which I previous knew nothing. For instance, did you know there’s a channel called “Pet Collective”? It features pet videos, ostensibly uploaded by viewers. I’ll probably never watch it, but Gorgeous said she’s glad to know of it in case she has a stressful day sometime.

Speaking of Gorgeous, she was actually no help throughout any of this. She prides herself on not knowing any of the actual workings of the TV, i.e., how to get from “regular” tv to the streaming services, and back again. But G-d forbid the WiFi goes out during an episode of “Vera,” and it quickly becomes my fault. She somewhere along the way learned the ultimate lesson of powerful management: blame a scapegoat.

After 90 minutes of reading web instructions and watching how-to videos on YouTube, I finally learned that I had to download the Britbox app to the TV. Who knew? Oh, shut up.

I can’t begin to tell you how I did it, but eventually was able to make the icon appear right next to the Acorn one. I swam against the streaming tide; I managed to conquer the moment. All 90 minutes of it.

Somewhere my nephew has his hand to his face.

If you need me, I’ll be up on the roof.

Until next time…

Source: Pinterest

[1] Two recent novels I really enjoyed: (1) Simon Mawer, “The Fall” (2004 Back Bay Books); and (2) Nicholas Searle, “The Good Liar” (2016 Harper).

37 thoughts on “Swimming Upstream

  1. Love “Doc Martin” and “Midsomer”. As Brit mystery fans, you may also enjoy Agatha Raisin, Queens of Mystery, and Miss Fisher’s Mysteries (start with the original set in the 20’s before moving to the “modern” spin-off set in the 60’s — all witty and all on Acorn.

    Happy summer! Alisa

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a great post, and shamefully I can relate. It took me so long to figure out my streaming service and was so proud when I did, like I was a genius or something. That pride was tossed out the window when I had a mere child of 20 house-sit and was going to give her a detailed demonstration on how to switch from regular tv to streaming, which she ended up knowing how to do probably the minute she came out of the womb. She kindly stopped me into the first sentence and said yes, to not worry, she knew how to switch. It was more like a pity kindness.
    I love the pics that accompany your posts, especially this one, though you missed the mark (for me) by not making the last one of Brad Pitt on the roof in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s disgusting isn’t it, Sue? I used to pride myself on knowing all of the electronics. Apparently not anymore! Ah…. A pic of Brad from that movie would have worked, yes. But then no one would have ever believed it could be me. 😉


  3. Brilliant, Marty. There’s no way Gorgeous cannot read your posts, they’re too funny to miss. We have very similar viewing taste. Our kids don’t live near us, so although they nag us about sticking to our cable and not using Netflix and other streaming services, we happily record the same shows from PBS, plus some terrific nature and science shows, and then watch and rematch at will. Love Grandchester, love Midsomer Mysteries, Death in Paradise, you name it. And fortunately my husband and I both enjoy rewatching the same old sitcoms that are obviously cheap for stations to purchase. No prob, as Alistair Deacon would day! 😏 Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jane, I was blissfully happy using the library and watching on “free” tv until my nephew dragged us into this century. Now I guess we’ve become too spoiled by all the options. But we still do watch PBS for the latest shows — In fact, I’m wondering when we’ll see “Victoria” again since I think we’re owed the one remaining season they did prior to the pandemic. Many thanks for your wonderful thoughts here. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh man, I’m still on the first Detective guy in Midsommer murders. My solution has been pay by the month (probably more expensive) and try and allowmyself one at a time. You can probably also get the Materpiece Theater one. i watch alot of foreign mysteries with subtitles on Acorn. If theres one thing Ive learned during the pandemic, leaving the house for almost anything is a choice (a good choice mind you, but a choice)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Barbara, we ONLY ever use the subtitles for all of these shows — they speak too fast for us otherwise. 🙂 I prefer John Nettles to Neil Dudgeon, but love the format too much to not have watched. It’s still good thankfully. Thanks for reading!


  5. My husband who doesn’t know the difference between a browser and an operating system does all our TV stuff. If something goes kafluey, I call for him and within a half hour (give or take) he has it figured out (or calls RCN to help him). I am the expert (loosely defined) on the computer itself usually telling him to reboot. We are the perfect pair! We have Prime and something else but I don’t know what it is. I try to sneak in Big Bang episodes when I don’t want to think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Big Bang was what I watched before the Family Guy phase. These are the end-of-evening viewing moments, when Gorgeous is usually falling asleep. She got tired of Big Bang, so we morphed over to Family Guy. I think she preferred Big Bang. 😉 Sounds like you and the Beloved are perfectly matched then, Kate.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is end of evening viewing. We watched the Roosevelt series. It was good and informational but the last ones were sad and heavy. Big Bang was a perfect follow up. I never watched Family Guy. Maybe I should give it a try.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi, Marty – Very funny post. I’m still laughing as I type this.
    Our household is similar to Kate’s. Richard is in charge of all things TV. I’m in charge of all things computer. And when this fails, we call in one of our children (or grandchildren)! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So true, Marty, on no choice but to carry on and “control” what we can. My husband and I just finished and enjoyed “Broadchurch.” You and Gorgeous have likely seen it by now. We have now started “Outlander.” I read the books years ago. More explicit than I would have expected. Be forewarned. Nice to get some recommendations. We are having date night every night now watching series. In the past possibly once or twice a month. I have seen clips of Britbox shows and they look great.

    My husband and I have our “departments.” TV and computer is mine. He does everything else. Great advice and info on “downloading the app.” 90 minutes is a drop in the bucket. You did awesome, Marty!🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohhh, I think you mentioned “Broadchurch” before, Erica, (or someone did) but I’ve still not checked it out. I need to do so. Thanks for the warning on “Outlander,” as that could be a problem ‘round these here parts. 😉

      Ah, yes, departments. How would we all get by without separate areas of expertise? The TV and video realm is mine, and I generally am not a fan of it. For one thing, the technology keeps changing too fast for me! I get used to it, but then they constantly roll out a new way of doing things. Computer issues are more in my comfort zone. As Kate says, just reboot and all is well. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Based upon the start of the post, I thought you were going to talk about walking up to a TV to turn it on and then having to get back up to change the channel, of which there were only three to five, or the volume. The younger members of the family would love that idea. I remember those outside antennas as well. 🙂 I’m in charge of the TV and computers but always had an adult child and two young adult grandchildren who could answer a question. These days, I sit with a laptop and a phone and keep googling until I find something to try. After that, there’s always my small hometown computer store. This “cloistered sense of permanency ” is starting to close in on a lot of us retired folks because it is starting to look like a way of life, and I for one am not liking that idea. Happy Sunday, Marty, and I hope you find something challenging to read and watch. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I hate to say this, but I’m the same techno-challenged TV user as Gorgeous. I’m not even sure I know which thing turns the TV on! Ah well, my big thing this past month was subscribing to Disney+ so I could watch Hamilton. I was never able to score tickets when in came through… and no way was I paying $500 to go see it in Chicago or New York. (Yes, I had friends who did that and raved about the show.] I am a huge theater fan and adore musicals… so this was a big deal for me to see it. However, subscribing to something and then figuring out how to access it on the TV? Luckily hubby did help. I still don’t know how to turn on the TV nor find the channel… but he loaded up Hamilton for me one night…. and Frozen II another night. I’ve got two more movie nights planned (with his help)…worth the $6.99 for the month!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to laugh, Pat. I had to teach Gorgeous which button to use on the remote because she was using the wrong one for a time, and ended up turning off the entire DVR so that nothing would record! In fairness, they shouldn’t make it so hard like that.

      A friend of mine offered me her Disney + log-in so we could watch Hamilton ourselves, but I declined. I’m positive that if I tried doing that some man would knock on our door like public library detective who arrived at Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment. 🙂 But good for you in scoring a pretty good rate. $6.99 seem awfully reasonable. One of the reasons why I’ve avoided Netflix is that it’s too pricey for my blood. But perhaps when we get tired of this British phase, we’ll end up getting it. I did notice that it’s pre-loaded on our TV at least. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Last year my 2 older brothers visited us and attempted to shame me about the duct tape on each of our remote controls indicating what the control actually did. With 3 remotes required to operate the TV, the tape just made life so much easier.

    Heaven help me if anything goes wrong!

    … but I just recently learned that a smartTV lets me access the internet. What will they think of next? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can really understand. Although we usually only have two remotes out, there are two more in the cabinet drawer for the times we need them (i.e. one is for the DVD player, which we still use on occasion, much to the chagrin of my nephew). It’s so hard to keep track of not only which one does what, but also in remembering what the buttons do. I remember how proud I was of my Marantz receiver back in college; but in hindsight it was pretty much limited to “bass”, “treble”, “volume”, and “tuning.” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. We are getting really good at this app stuff! We have lived in two different apartments since June and Hubs managed to get all of our subscriptions on to the TV’s. And I managed to get the Fubo Cycling app onto our current TV. I feel so millennial!! We have Acorn and haven’t really watched many shows other than Miss Fisher and Ms Fisher. Tired Hamish McBeth, but didn’t like it at all after listening to MC Beaton’s audio books. The books are much better. There is so much content out there that it’s overwhelming. Most of the time we end up watching something we’ve already seen as background to us being on our laptops in the evening. Not good…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sounds like we better watch the Fisher series’!

      The one thing we really try to do is not use any of our devices or computers at night, usually starting around the 8:00pm hour. Mostly it’s a way of disconnecting, but I guess also because we’ve read how east at night can disrupt sleep patterns. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I’ve decided to embrace it. Fubo cycling, huh? You’re sending me to Lord Google now, AGMA! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. We have an Amazon Fire stick which allows us to get to various streaming options. It’s nice but I know we aren’t using it to its full potential. My SIL’s husband tried to load some things on it that would get us movies for free but I can’t seem to make it work. And Tim is like Gorgeous; no help. Congrats on figuring it out. Happy viewing!!

    Liked by 2 people

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