Thursday, 4th February, 2021

[Day 325]

Today is the day when we receive our weekly delivery from Waitrose but it was a little delayed this morning (unusual as the delivery slots are generally very reliable). It is always reassuring to know that I have not omitted any crucial items but I did make a mental note of one thing that I needed to buy. As Meg was doing a ‘webex’ type consultation this morning, I busied myself on another computer with writing a reply to Meg’s cousin who is now relocating to Derbyshire. In the letter, I suggested that we might try communication methods somewhat more up-to-date than letter writing (pleasant though it is to receive one) so I suggested that via her daughter we might try whatever of the FaceTime/Skype/Zoom video links we can to see what we can arrange between us. Every few weeks, we have a gardener who comes and does the pruning of bushes and the like. We have arranged to perform a resurrection effort on a timber archway replete with honeysuckle that was rotting at the base- we arranged a plan of action for next Friday when I can act as a ‘gofer’ and act as an extra pair of hands whilst we re-construct the archway. We did intend to do it last year but COVID-19 got in the way, as with so many other projects. The weather was a tad cooler today after the recent mild spell but it was not actually raining for which we were duly grateful. We met our Birmingham University friend in a different location in the park today which proved to be fortunate. In our more usual spot by the side of the boating lake, the park workers are doing a lot of drainage work which involves digging trenches and laying a water conduit cable from one side of the park to another. Today we occupied a higher seat which afforded a better view of the park. Our friend had arrived before us and had had a word with the COVID-19 wardens. As it happened they were very friendly and informative and quite relaxed about allowing people like us to sit on adjacent benches and have a chat with each other, even on a daily basis – so this put minds at rest, as it were. I popped into Waitrose to buy some onions (how is it possible to start off any kind of cooking without a supply of onions, I ask myself) Again, we chatted with friends and friends of friends until we all started to feel a bit chilled and decided it was time to beat a retreat in a homewards direction.

After lunch and a good read of the newspapers, I decided to engage in one of those mindless activities with which one can amuse oneself whilst listening to ClassicFM. As it happened, I had a set of old University of Winchester business cards (now out of date) plus a set of address labels of a slightly non-standard size. It just so happened that one label would exactly cover the out-of-date details on one side of the card but it required a careful positioning of the requisite label (accurate to with half a millimetre in my estimation). I can now populate the other side of the card with both name and address as well as ‘electronic’ information – now all I need is a supply of people to whom the cards might be offered.

I see that some snow and ice is being forecast over the next few days, which I could do without. Although we have plenty of snow-moving gear, it does tend to slow up one’s daily walk but it has the bonus of making people much friendlier when you pass them in the snow – oddly enough, some of the friendliness disappears as the snow recedes as well. But I must say that my regular wearing of a Korean-made cow leather jacket (snigger ye not – I was given it by a neighbour who was clearing out his garage and it has proved to be a god-send, together with some new boots that are proving to be a worthy successor to the 1,000-kilometer boots to which I have recently had to bid a reluctant farewell. I am hanging on to them until the end of the ‘snow period’ in case I need them though and get one set of boots thoroughly wet)

Something rather odd politically is happening at the moment. Despite the fact that the government has made mistakes after mistake after mistake (not locking down early enough, not securing our borders, spending £12 billion on a test-and-trace which is a joke) the vaccination routine seems to have been a runaway success. The political conundrum is this. Normally, a government would suffer the penalty in the polls of making a multitude of mistakes. It looks, though, as though there has been a ‘rally round the flag’ moment in the first few months of the pandemic (i.e.the public are loathe to criticise their government when faced with a huge crisis) and now the positive feelings evoked by a successful vaccination may be wiping all of the bad memories of what preceded it (a bit like childbirth if you follow my drift)