Friday, 18th August, 2023

[Day 1250]

The day dawned wet and miserable and, like the rest of the country, we feel that we are living through a premature Autumn. However, our gloom at the weather was to be lightened by the fact that our domestic help calls around on Friday mornings and we always enjoy her company and start off the morning with a good chat. This morning, I had a particular reason for wanting a chat as in the past week, I have restored a bamboo chair of which she was particularly fond and was otherwise destined for the domestic tip. Last night, after Meg was safely tucked up in bed, I applied some beeswax polish to the principal bamboo struts of the chair, left it the requisite 25 minutes and then buffed to what might be termed a lustre. I was quite pleased with the results and know that by daylight, rather than artificial light, the result might look even better. Incidentally, when I was a teenager, my mother often was engaged in house cleaning activities in the late afternoon and railed against ‘the passing of the light’ As an intolerant teenager, I wondered what was wrong with putting on the electric light but now that I am older, and perhaps wiser, I now know that there is no real substitute for observing some things in their natural light rather than under artificial light. Our pleasure at having a chat with our domestic help was rather moderated when we received a phone call from our University of Birmingham friend, apologising for not being able to meet this morning and postponing our meeting over coffee until tomorrow morning. This will be fine by us as there will be a little gathering of the clans of the old ladies and Meg and myself in Waitrose tomorrow morning and our University of Birmingham friend will redess the gender balance somewhat. Then Meg and I had the dilemma of how to spend a rather gloomy and rainy morning, given that we wished to get out of the house and do something. We went to pick up our Saturday morning newspaper and were then fortunate enough to find a parking place outside a little shop which specialises in preparing sandwiches and snacks for offices and firms in the area. At the same time, they have a small area of about three tables in which they will serve you a coffee and what have you. Meg and I ordered a coffee and then a bacon sandwich (for Meg) and a round of toast for myself. In the event, we finished up sharing theae provisions and not being a regular eater of bacon these days, I must say that this was one of the nicest bacon sandwiches I have had for a long time. Normally, I associate bacon sandwiches with old fashioned cafeterias attached to station buffets which my son and I frequent when we go on a Rail Enthusiasts day – for some reason, they nearly always seem to have bacon butties on offer which my son nd I consume with particular relish. After our coffee and repast, Meg and I made our way to our little suburban (i.e. not High Street) AgeUK charity shop which is always stuffed full of goodies at incredibly reasonable prices. I bought myself a couple of shirts one of which is my definite size and the other one of which may fit though it is called a ‘slim fit’ but the design of which I particularly liked. I also bought for very few £s a piece of fabric the function of which is hard to decribe. It is 2 x. 2.2 metres square and I suppose could be a table cloth or a throw. Our domestic help who used to work for Laura Ashley and who has an incredible eye for what goes with what helped us ascertain it was of ‘Damart’ brand and we then used it as a throw over our main settee. This has really helped to alter (beneficially) the mood of our sitting room as well as protecting the suite from any predations so I was pleased to have made another ‘good buy’

And so we came to lunch, which turned out to be a culinary disaster. I had some Basa fillets in my freezer and the instruuctioms said ‘cook from frozen’ I wrapped these in tinfoil and had them cooked in the oven for about half an hour. The smaller fillet cooked perfectly and Meg was quite satisfied whereas the larger fillet seemed only half cooked and only some portions of it seemed to be edible. But we did these with some broccoli and then plum tomatoes, cut in half, sprinkled with marjoram (it would have been tarragon if I had had in our spice rack) and then done in the oven. At the end of the day, though, I felt satisfied enough with our meal. Later in the afternoon, we have a FaceTime call (unexpectedly) with our son and daughterin-law who had returned from their holiday in the Lakes yesterday and wanted to catch up with all of our news of the last week. We had quite a lot to catch up actually and the video call proved particularly useful as an update. Earlier in the afternoon, Meg and I had spent a pleasant and relaxing hour in our Music Room listening to Fauré and I busied myself with a fairly soul-destroying task of removing labels from a large and stout cardboard box in which Meg’s wheelchair was delivered and for which I have some plans.