Sunday, 15th October, 2023

[Day 1308]

Today dawned bright and clear after what had evidently been a cold and frosty night. This was all to the good because we had a day out planned with our good University of Birmingham friend. We had made provisional plans to visit Clevedon which is a delightful unspoilt Victorian style resort to the south of Bristol with views overlooking the Bristol Channel. Our friend picked us up at 10.30 and then we picked up our newspaper and got on our way. We decided that it might be quite a good idea to reserve a table so I made a reservation from my mobile phone whilst in the back of the car. The restaurant was going to be particularly busy today and you could see why – today may well be the last little bit of summer that we have in place before Autumn strikes with a vengeance and days out to the sea will have to wait until next year. In the event, we had a delightful meal and did not have to wait for too long a period for our meal. The staff know our University of Birmingham friend very well and we had a magnificent dish of pulled beef, avocado, sour cream and specialised chips. After our meal, we thought we would take a turn around the pier which advertises itself as the only Grade 1 listed pier in the whole of England. It is certainly an elegant structure and we had Meg in her wheelchair so a walk along it was pleasant. It has one particular feature which is quite interesting. All along the planking of the pier and especially in the type of rotunda that graces the pier at its end, there are a series of little brass plates where you can commemorate a loved one – or any other special family occasion that is worthy of mention. Our friend especially wanted us to se the little brass plate inscribed to and dedicated to his wife and whilst we were there, our friend went to the office to collect a special cleaning kit which is made available to those family members who are visiting a previously affixed plaque and wish to keep it in pristine condition. It really was a beautiful afternoon and we enjoyed the views over the estuary (but noted the strange absence of sea birds and waders that I imagined would have been there in abundance) After that, it was a case of a gentle trundle back home but we did call in for a toilet stop at Gloucester services staion which is relatively new and pretty well designed as motorway service areas go. We watched the last 10 minutes of the England vs. Fiji match. England appeared to be in control but then Fiji scored a quick couple of tries and some penalties and at the close could have beaten England with a converted try – but England prevailed and won what had been a thrilling match by all acoounts and are now in the semi-finals next weekend. The match tonight will be a real cracker which is France vs. South Africa and England will meet the winners in the semifinal. The world of rugby tends to divide nations into Tier 1 nations (the four home nations, France and perhaps Italy) in the northern hemisphere and Australia, New Zealand and South Africe in the southern. But the World Cup has lead to the emergence of so-called Tier 2 nations (Fiji, Samoa, Argentina, Georgia etc) The Fiji team have done particularly well. They have beaten France in a pool game, actually did beat England in the round of preparatory matches played before the World Cup began and, of course, pushed England really hard today. Although England appeared to be comfortably in the lead at half time, the Fijians scored two tries and were awarded several penalties – at one stage, they had drawn level with England. So perhaps the World Cup has revelled that the former distinctions into Tier 1 and Tier 2 national rugby teams is beginning to lose its salience. I have just watched the first half of the France vs. South Africa rugby match in the World Cup and each side has scored three tries each. This was a most explosive start and raises the questions whether this was the best half of a rugby match that the world has ever experienced. At full-time a massively tactical second half, likened by the commentators to a game of chess, was won by South Africa by a single point.

I have a couple of portable cassette players at home, bought cheaply at end-of-the-range prices, and popularly known when they were first manufactured as ‘boomboxes’. I think the name was popularised because they tend to look a bit like bug-eyed monsters gaving a couple of stereo 8-9cm speakers and were popular with urban youth in the US who played them extensively in parks. I have a couple with the name ‘Panasonic’ on them and they are both equipped with Bluetooth. This means that it is quite easy to locate good music on one’s phone (Amazon Prime and Youtube) and then play back with enhanced volume and quality of sound via the Boombox speakers. Meg and I have an iphone apiece, that of Meg’s being recently re-equipped with a Tescomobile SIM so now I have a system in which I can easily play back these good bits of music in almost any room in the house that I choose.