Sunday, 12th November, 2023

[Day 1336]

We woke up this morning to a rather dull and gloomy day in sharp contrast to yesterday when we had the first frost of the winter. Last night, I had taken the precaution of protecting the car windscreen with a ‘windscreen protector‘ I recently located in our garage and then utilised a couple of towels exclusively for use when I valet the car. Indeed, I need not have bothered because there was no frost to protect against last night. We received a phone call from our University of Birmingham friend and were happy to arrange to meet in Waitrose for our regular coffee. We discussed ways in which we might help each other with putting our respective lawn motors ‘to bed’ for the winter. Principally this involves ensuring the weather might be kind to us and when I can get the last cut of the summer done before we prepare for the winter. We have to ensure that this year’s petrol and oil is drained out of the machine and thus left ‘empty’ until ready to be refilled next Spring. Our friend is going to call around next Tuesday when we think the weather will be fine for the last cut of the summer and we can get things prepared for the winter. Then I hope that we can do the same for our friend’s lawnmower and so we can help each other out to get our respective machines retired for the winter. For lunch, we have decided that I needed to use up the ingredients I had bought to prepare a fish pie. I had not made a fish pie for a long time and was therefore a little out of practice but nonetheless I relied upon memory to throw things together into almost the right order. The resultant product was all right but I have made much better in the past so I am evidently out of practice. We ate one half of what we cooked today leaving the other in the freezer for a further meal when required.

This afternoon after we had got all washed up and had our post-lunch cup of tea, I decided to FaceTime my sister who I know is often quite alone on Sundays. We exchanged our various bits of news, largely of a medical nature, until we had a pleasant surprise as one of my sister’s daighters (i.e. one of my nieces) and her husband called around. This was a wonderful opportunity to exchange lots of family news and I could update them on Meg’s progress. As we were in our Music Room and my niece had no intimation of what we had done to it, I gave a quick flash round the room showing her the Casio keyboard, the music centre, Meg in her armchair, the organ we have acquired, the piano stools that we have obtained and restored and and finally what I call my ‘butterfly screen’ This latter is something I made up using some pages cannibalised from an art book and then decorating the cover of what been the large cardboard box in which the television has been delivered. This now stands at the other end of the room ands sits nicely in front of a TV stand that we no longer use, apart from the house’s router. There was a lot more that I could have shown her but enough to show her that I had been quite busy over the past few weeks and months either restoring furniture and/or developing some craft skills. So these conversations with family members were a wonderful way to enliven what would have been an otherwise quite pedestrian Synday afternoon. On which subject, I remember asking one of our Spanish ERASMUS exchange students what his worst time in England. He (deliberately) mis answered the question by replying ‘4.00pm on Sunday afternoons’. He was probably remembering that in Madrid he often used to meet up with friends in a coffee club each Sunday afternoon and was no doubt thinking of the contrasts with the UK.

Last night, just before Meg went to bed and afterwards when she was all tucked up safe and sound, I dipped in and out of the various programmes that were being devoted to the life and songs of Dolly Parton. Often in the progams there was a little strolling display of additional informtion, some of which I already knew but all of which is astounding. Dolly Parton was one of 12 children and she grew up in a one room shack in Tennessee and it was evident that she has not forgotten her roots as many of her songs recall such times of poverty and hardship. But there were two astounding facts that are worthy of note. One of these is that Dolly Parton gave a donation of $1 million to help develop the Moderna vaccine to help protect against the ravages of the recent pandemic. Another astonishing fact is that Dolly Parton has tried to ensure that each child in the primary schools in her state receives one free book per year. This scheme has been extended to other parts of the USA and Canda and even the UK. The most recent estimate is that her Foundation has given away 150 million books to date. But as well as being a philanthropist, Dolly Parton has evidently proved to be one of the most astute of business women, even on one occasion, refusing Elvis Presley to provide a cover version of one of her songs.