Thursday, 14th December, 2023

[Day 1368]

First, I must apologise to regular readers of this blog if normal service has been disrupted for the last couple of days. With the aid of the very competent lady who rents me the webspace and gives me an excellent service at reasonable prices, we identified the source of the problem as a domain name that had expired. Normally, these are set to ‘auto renew’ at the end of the period for which they are bought, generally 1-2 years, but in this case the domain name had actually expired. It looks as though domain providers and web space providers do not immediately cut you off when this sort of thing happens, which must be quite frequent, for there is a grace period during which things are resurrectable. Once I had paid my dues for another year, it took less than an hour for normal service to be resumed for which I was truly grateful. I am now taking steps to ensure that this does not happen again and am reassured that the text version of this blog which I maintain in case disaster strikes (as I had thought it had last night) was available so that not all is lost. So all’s well that ends well. My sister in Yorkshire who keeps track of my comings and goings telephoned me a lttle distraught that she could not access things as normal but now we have got things back to normal again.

Today is the day when I normally do my shopping first thing and then we were scheduled to go down to South Oxfordshire for a luncheon date with very old and sincere friends. I took along with us a little pressy of a ‘butterfly box’ which is designed to give a good home to butterflies as they develop. The same firm also produces parallel products, one for bees and one for ladybirds but our friends keep their own bees so I thought that taking along the ‘bee’ version might set up some create problems down the road so was best avoided. The journey was uneventful until I turned off at a junction too early from the main road down a road I thought recognised and got into quite a tangle along narrow and twisting Oxfordshire lanes. Eventually, getting somewhat lost, I just had to retrace my steps back to the main road until I found the correct turn off point that I recognised. When we got to our friends, I explained how we live our lives day by day and then detailed the various transactions that we have had with social workers and other health care professionals. Then we sat down for a wonderful lunch of soufflé and salad, followed by some exotic home made icecream and mince pies. We left our friends at about 3.15 and I thought that we would probably get to the main A34 distributor road that goes around Oxford in the daylight. Then the traffic problems started. For a start, there were some major roadworks in the Botley interchange on the outskirts of Oxford and this must have been compounded by an accident of some sort as we witnessed a procession of blue-lighted vehicles. We crawled our way to the M40 probably spending the best part of an hour and a half going 20 odd miles. As soon as we reached the M40, as we had been delayed for so long and still had about 60 miles yet to go, Meg and I decided it was prudent to call off at the first service station we knew about which was five miles along the M40. This service station was one of those I regard as a nightmare as you leave the motorway and then the services seem to be off a roundabout, off a second roundabout and sometimes even a complex junction thrown into the mix. I really dislike accessing these service stations at the best of times but it is a bit more stressful in the dark with lorries whizzing all around you. Eventually we got to the service station and I put Meg in the wheelchair and attempted to access the disabled toilet for her. Naturally, this was locked so the instructions on the door indicated that one needed to backtrack and ask the staff at W H Smiths for the key. The young man behind the counter explained he was new so had to make a telephone call to find out where the key was located. But eventually we got Meg and myself in to the toilet OK and used the facility before doing all of the actions in reverse returning the key, accessing the car and getting the wheelchair folded away and then navigating our way back to the M40. So all of this took quite a chunk out of the journey. All in all, the 93 mile journey had taken up some three and halh hours start to finish and although we were relieved to get home, I suspect tha we shall feel shattered in the morning. After a cup of tea and some fruit and yogurt, I got Meg into bed as fast as I could as I suspected that by now she badly needed her bedrest. Having said all of that, Meg stood up to all of the tribulations of the day with a resilient spirit and I think it is true that the kindness and hospitality of our friends easily outweighs whatever travel difficulties we might have had. Mind you, if it had been snowing or excessively wet, then I think that would have added to our stress levels considerably.