Sunday, 9th July, 2023

[Day 1210]

Today we had in prospect a day out with our University of Birmingham friend, as we planned to visit Clevedon, a North Somerset seaside resort just south of Bristol accessed quite easily via the M5 motorway. Our friend texted us early in the day wondering whether or not we should make our planned trip together as the weather forecast on the app seemed to suggest a 50% chance of showers and heavy ones at that. I suggested that we should still go and after I had picked up our newspapers from town, we were picked up by our friend and then proceeded to Clevedon. We set off at about 10.15 and the sun smiled generally on us on the way down, so we felt vindicated in our decision to go. When we arrived in the town, we went straight for our friend’s favourite cafe and eating place which has a good view over the sea and where there is seating both inside and out. Our friend has been a frequent patron of this establishment over the years and is on first names terms with the staff. We treated ourselves to a really nice meal and enjoyed the relaxing atmoshphere and mood that the cafe engenders. After this relaxed lunch where we talked over the recovery that our friend was making after his bout of illness, we decided to have a venture along one of the best preserved Victorian piers. The pier won the ‘Pier of the Year’ prize in 2021 was dubbed by John Betjeman, the one-time poet laureate and Victoriana expert as ‘the most beautiful pier in England’ and was designated a Grade I listed building in 2001. The pier is interesting in that along the wooden restored benches that form the pier sides one can buy little brass plaques that mark the passing of a loved one. One can purchase a variety of size of brass plaques with commensurately more space available for messages and evidently this had provd very popular over the years and was no doubt a good source of fund raising. The pier was immensely breezy when we stepped out on it and the weather had changed for the worse with both thunder and lightning – at this stage, Meg turned a little wobbly and we turned back before completing our journey to the end of the pier and back again. I think that our friend has a plaque enscribed with a message for his wife located at the pier head and we were not able to see it on this occasion, but I am sure that occasions will arise in the future when we will have the opportunity to view the same. After this little pier walk, one could not fail to be impressed by the variety of shades represented in the waters of the estuary and this was echoed by the layers of clouds that were shunting cross the sky before our eyes. We retired to the cafe, this time for a pot of tea and, again, enjoyed the relaxation of nothing else much to do apart from to soak up the atmosphere of the place. The weather was definitely worsening by this time in the afternoon so our friend went off to locate the car which had to be parked some distance away whilst Meg and I braved the light rain to walk along the sea front. Then we left for home and, in contrast with this morning, we ran into some really heavy rain showers in the late afternoon. Of course by this time, we had had a happy day in each other’s company so we were not too concerned about the vagaries of the weather.

We got home just in time to see the conclusion of the Test Match betweem England and Australia. Engand required 251 runs in a low scoring test match where the previous three innings all had had scores in the 230-250 range so it was very ‘nip and tuck’ whether England would manage to reach tis 251 total and not have a spectacular collapse. In the event, although England lost some vital wickets during the afternoon, they managed to achieve the required total with three wickets in hand. This makes the series 2:1 to the Australians in the current series which means that to retain the Ashes, England have to win both the next match at Old Trafford and also the final one at the Oval. It was always known that this series of test matches was going to be incredibly tight with little to choose between the two teams and with the fortunes of the game swinging both this way and that within the course of an innings. Two quite important considerations when the difference between the two contestants is so small is who wins the toss and elects either to bat or to field. Also the state of the weather can be critical as well because damp and humid conditions might just work to the advantage of England and vice versa for Australia.

Tomorrow, as we have no real pressing commitments so we may devote our time to domestic activities such as clothes washing and household tidying. One would really like to put the completed washing on the washing line outsides to dry but we have been caught in the last few days with leaving some things on the line only to have them wetter after an intense shower than when they were first pegged out.