Wednesday, 12th August, 2020

[Day 149]

Our mini-heatwave continues although there are indications that we may have a storm tonight and almost certainly tomorrow. Last night, as we were going to bed, there was evidently a storm not too far off with sheet lightning every few seconds or so but the winds and especially the rain passed us by. Again tonight, we have had a small intimation of an impending storm but the house is very hot and humid and we are all praying for a tremendous downpour to cool us all down. On the way to the park, we were delighted to bump into the friends who had invited us round for sandwiches in their garden at lunchtime. By way of (a small) recompense I have donated one of my specially prepared horseshoes, all the way from Yorkshire but duly de-rusted, cleaned up and polished up and with a little explanatory ‘runoff’ from Google which explains the story of the Irish saint, St. Dunstan and why horseshoes can be considered lucky. Now all our friends have to do is to find a fortunate spot in their garden or house to hang it, which no doubt they will. We spent some time completing our Waitrose order this morning which is due for delivery tomorrow afternoon. Also, our email has indicated that we are ‘booked in’ to the church service in St. Mary’s, adjacent to Harvingtom Hall as we were last Saturday so we are off to repeat the experience (and it is just possible that some other friends might join us as well).

In the afternoon, I texted my sister in Yorkshire suggesting that it might be that the time is right for us to make a quick visit to Yorkshire when I could see her and the rest of the Yorkshire extended family, particularly as it is going to be my sister’s birthday at the end of the month. My sister telephoned and we discussed a range of possibilities but it seems there still a range of practical difficulties. Other members of the family are either away/working/having house extensions done so the time is not apposite for a visit. My sister and brother-in-law have no desire to dine out in a village pub as we often do on the occasions of our visits so it appears that we had better wait until the times are a little more propitious before we visit. Similarly, we are conscious that we need to pay a visit to Meg’s aged uncle in North Wales who we were going to see at the very start of the lockdown (and had actually booked our hotel room) but which we decided, fortunately as it turned out, to cancel. We are going to text another member of his extended family to see how the land lies and whether it would be sensible/not sensible for us to make a flying visit for a few days to North Wales but again we feel as though we need to ‘play this one by ear’ on this occasion as well.

Tomorrow is the announcement of ‘A’-levels and the current arrangement is that in the absence of exams, an algorithm will be applied that takes account of teachers’ assessments. the results of mocks if taken and the past track record of the schools. But there was a debacle in Scotland where the Scottish government was forced to abandon all of the ‘awarded’ grades and then rely solely upon teacher assessment in order to avoid a situation in which approx. 40% of students finish up with less than their predicted grades. The UK government are suggesting at the very last moment a hybrid scheme where the student can choose between the provisionally awarded grade, substitute the results of ‘mocks’ if they are higher (which they rarely are) or volunteer to take an examine the autumn. Whatever happens, looks both messy and is going to cause a huge political row. My own view is that even though the teacher assessed grades might be inflated and lack a degree of credibility, then this could be viewed as a one-off compensation in view of the absence of proper tuition in the extraordinary arrangement that students have had to undertake under the shadow of the COVID-19 crisis. But we shall have to wait until tomorrow and see what happens…