Saturday, 2nd December, 2023

[Day 1356]

Today being a Saturday, we are looking forward as always to seeing our normal little band of friends in Waitrose but first things first. I had a much better night’s sleep than the night before and so consequently, we got up to a little late to the coldest day of the winter. But I have done two things to mitigate this. The first is that I am getting into the habit of protecting the car windscreen each morning with a thinnish plastic windscreen film held in place by a couple of car mats. This system is both simple to put into place and really effective, so I am pleased about that – if things get too complicated, there is a temptation to ignore them. Secondly, before I came to bed last night, I had a portion of porridge oats and the relevant milk/water mix prepared in the saucepan such that we can very quickly have a hot and sustaining breakfast in the morning. As soon as I got up this morning to make our early morning cup of tea, I gave our newly restored dining chair its second last coat of specialist spray as it only takes just over a minute to do this. After we had breakfasted, Meg and I made our way down to Waitrose and, in no time at all, got down for our elevenses. Today, as the weather was so cold, Meg and I treated ourself to something special which was two cups of hot chocolate and a bacon butty which we shared between us. We felt that our bodies appreciated this little treat as we are currently in the coldest day of the winter and then our friends arrived. Amongst the topics of conversation this morning, was the way in which different nationalities have their own favourite remedies which, in the case of the French is a liberal utilisation of suppositories. I have noticed that in Flemish culture, there seems to be a great reliance upon throat sprays to treat all kind of winter cold-and-flu symptoms – we in England, tend to rely upon pills. At about 11.30, we got a telephone call from our Eucharistic Minister who had turned up to the house at 11.30 (but I had thought our appointment was 12.30 and had evidently mis-remembered it) So we shot off quickly and got back to the houuse as soon as we could. We always enjoy these little sessions because apart from the strictly spiritual part of our meeting we always spent some time discussing family matters and also musical issues where a lot of our tastes coincide. When the minister left us, we quickly had to jump up and make ourselves our Saturday lunch which in this case was some low fat beef mince cooked with some onions in an onion gravy and then complemented with a baked potato and some fine beans.

We started off the afternoon looking at a YouTube concert and then realised with a sickening thud that I left our consignment of the Saturday edition of ‘The Times’ (lots of supplements at the weekend) in the cafe at Waitrose, no doubt as a result of quickly getting up in response to the phone call. So Meg and I got in the car and popped into the cafe to ask whether my left-behind newspapers had been handed in. They had not, so with a heavy heart, I bought another set but then when I got back to the car to throw them on the back seat, I found out that I had already put the newspapers there this morning. So I popped back into Waitrose where they know me well and negotiated a refund for the second set of papers I evidently did not need. When we got home, Meg and I treated ourselves to an old Yorkshire tradition which is Christmas cake with a hefty slab of white cheese (Wensleydale or Stilton) which is a delicious combination if it has not already been tried and often given away by the wives of publicans to their regulars in the pubs of Yorkshire (well they did decades ago but sometimes traditions do not survive) I then made a quick phone call to our Italian friend down the road to see if she was at a loose end in these wintry condition. As it happened, she had a dose of gastric flu from which she often suffers (she told us) at this time of year. But she appreciated my phone call and then we promised that in the next few days ahead we would get together for a tea and a chat in either her place or ours. I also had a long and informative email informing me of the latest medical news about the wife of one of my University of Winchester friends. This all sounded very serious but my friend and I are in frequent touch with each and give each other whatever mutual support and advice that we can. On Sundays, we generally meet up with our University of Birmingham friend but we have a fair idea that he may be up in Yorkshire with his latest squeeze but we are going to fill our day with a visit from our chiropodist (even on a Sunday) in the late morning. If the weather is fine and clear, we may go along well wrapped up to the park and take some hot soup along with us when we may bump into some of our park friends and acquaintances.