Saturday, 20th March, 2021

[Day 369]

Today was full of little hints of the spring about to come. We are noticing that flowering cherries and flowering hawthorns are starting to bloom nicely and in a few days these flowering trees might be at their best. Similarly, the forsythia in several people’s gardens is similarly in full bloom so I am inclined to have my camera at the ready so that I can capture these flowering images at their best. Today is also the date of the Spring equinox and I have discovered why it is not always on March 21st. The explanation is that each year is 365¼ days (hence we need leap years every four years) and the spring equinox occurs 6 hours later than the previous year. A consequence of all of this is that the equinox can occur on either 20th or 21st or 22nd of March in any particular year. But after a pleasant walk into town, we collected our newspapers and then on into the town where we met, as usual, with a couple of park friends. Then we made for home, knowing that the afternoon was going to be dominated by rugby.

This afternoon was ‘Super Saturday‘ in which there are going to be three 6-Nations rugby matches to round off the season (almost) The first game was Italy v. Scotland which was a bit of a non-match as Italy haven’t won a game since goodness knows when. The second match was England vs. Ireland in which the English seemed to be at the wrong end of every refereeing decision but in the end the Irish won very convincingly. But the match which was a cracker was the Wales v. France which both needed to win in order to win the whole championship. Wales seemed to have it won as they were 10 points ahead 10 minutes before the end. But the French displayed supreme pressure and the pressure on both teams was so intense that the game ended with the French one player down (red-carded) and the Wales team two players down (yellow carded) In the event, French won the game with a try in the third minute after the clock had ‘gone red’ which must make it one of the tightest finishes of all time.

Tonight was the night in which church services were resuming. We had to book our places with Eventbrite, much as if we are booking a tour in a National Trust property or similar. In theory, there could have been up to about 45 places in the church but tonight there were about 33 – the places for tomorrow are, we understand, fully booked. Of most interest to the congregation, though, was the fact that we have a new priest allocated to the parish. How long the new priest will remain with us is a bit hard to say because it seemed as though he was ‘on loan’ from another English discuss altogether. Meg and I were very interested in the character of the new priest and were impressed – he seemed to have the right combination of a common-sense approach to liturgical matters whilst also exhibiting a dry sense of humour whilst he was introducing himself. Although we haven’t had the opportunity to speak with him yet (or nor will we, until lockdown conditions are released) but to ease his entry and show him some goodwill on taking over our parish, I left him a bottle of our own Damson Gin (which we hope does not get mixed up with communion wine, not that that is very likely)

As we suspected, today was the day when, as a nation, we crept over the 50% milestone of proportion of the adult population vaccinated. However good the news is from the UK, the news from continental Europe where the virus seems to be entering a third wave is a source of great concern. Many scientists are worried that the European infection rates will thwart our simmer holidays. In particular, exponential growth in cases in countries like Germany puts in doubt roadmap proposals to restart international travel by 21 June. It has been a record day for the UK as 711,156 vaccinations have been given and more than 26.8 million first and 2.1 million second doses have now been given in the UK since December.

On Friday afternoon, we had a Zoom call with one of our closest friends in Oxfordshire – in normal times, we often meet half way in Bicester for a ‘get together’ meal. We are looking forward to the magic date of Monday March 29th (a week on Monday) because, in theory, that is the date when according to the roadmap up to six people can legally meet in a garden or similar open space to have a meal or a social get together. So as soon as the weather gets nothing like reasonable, we will see if we can meet up in a garden to see each other face-to-face rather than relying upon technology the whole time.