Thursday, 19th January, 2023

[Day 1039]

Today we decided to break with our normal routine somewhat and delay our weekly supermarket shopping for a day, assuming that the weather might have improved a bit by tomorrow morning. We decided to go instead to Droitwich which is just ‘down the road’ and have a toddle around our normal haunts. So we picked up our newspaper, filled up with petrol and then made our way to Droitwich to begin our peregrinations. We start off by going to one of the most popular coffee bars in the town which happens to be our favourite because the coffee is good as well as being hot and they serve a magnificent (buttered) teacake which we share between us. After we had eaten and drunk our fill, we stagger next door which is a Cancer Relief charity shop with generally a good range of clothing inside. There seemed to be an interesting pricing policy going on in this particular store because I normally take a 15½ size of shirt but if you moved up to a size 16 the price dropped by a half. I bought myself a ‘Brookes Brothers’ shirt which normally retails at anything from £50 upwards so this moving half a size upwards might be an interesting experiment for me. We generally look for a skirt for Meg but these to be in very short supply as there stores are generally overflowing with tops but very light in the skirt department (as so many women now wear trousers rather than skirts I imagine) We were also tempted into buying a small barometer/hygrometer/thermometer hanging unit which seemed neat and relatively inobtrusive. When I got this home, I gave it a clean-cum-reconditioning with some furniture polish and it is now hanging from a spare picture hook which is in our newly refurbished ‘music room’. Then we progressed onto my favourite hardware/toiletries store which is ‘Wilko‘ and from here we replenished some of our stationery supplies and did a quick tour to see if anything else happened to catch our eye which it did not. Then we got back into the car and reparked it so that it was nearer to the eating place at which we had booked lunch but made a trip to the TV and white goods store which had sold us our television setup a few years ago now. I asked them for some help with the buffering problems to which our Firestick is subject and they told me things that I already know i.e. have I checked the WiFi access speed and so on. Last night, when we are accessing some of the previous series of a programme we are watching on the BBC iPlayer, the Firestick ran into a buffering problem and froze within 20 minutes. I then performed my now, usual trick of disconnecting and then re-connecting the Firestick and this made it perform without problems for the next 1 hour and 40 minutes. So long as I have a quick and ready solution to the buffering problem, I can live with this but I am wary of spending on WiFi extenders which may not be necessary and which might not cure the problem anyway.

We finally got to our appointed lunch slot (in a kind of ‘Olde Worlde Teashoppe’ type cafe) where they do an enormous roast each Thursday and got there at 1.00pm. We waited for 30 minutes for our lunch but the cafe clientele are generally regulars who know each other so there is a fair amount of general chat and banter flying backwards and forwards. Once our dinner arrived, it was absolutely enormous slices of lamb and piled up with vegetables – the sort of ‘Christmas dinner’ type meal that you think you are never going to finish. But Meg and I ploughed onto the end but as it was a much bigger meal than that to which we are accustomed, we may well eat very light meals for the next day or so to rebalance ourselves. After that, it was a case of getting home, unpacking our shopping and collapsing in front of a warm fire and with a warming cup of tea. The shopping trip which should have taken place today is now postponed until first thing tomorrow morning but the weather should be several degrees warmer by then.

In the political world, the ‘levelling up’ agenda is having some interesting developmemts. Apparently, the phrase ‘levelling up’ is to be officially dicouraged. According to ‘The Times‘, terms such as ‘stepping up’ or ‘enhancing communities’ is now the official terminology. But even more cynically, some so-called levelling up funds are now being directed to the South East rather than the North East. The Tory West Midland mayor is furious at the process for allocating levelling up funds, calling for an end to Whitehall’s ‘broken begging bowl culture’. In an angry statement, Andy Street said he wanted ministers to justify why ‘the majority’ of bids in his region had been rejected.The West Midlands received £155m from a £2.1bn pot of levelling up funds whilst the PM’s constituency (Richmond in North Yorkshire) as received a large allocation of money of £19 million whilst £151m is going to London, the North East gets £108m and the Humber is getting £120m.