Friday, 11th June, 2021

[Day 452]

Another day dawns in which we were going to diverge from our normal routines. We had set up in advance a day trip out with our University of Birmingham friend so we went through our normal daily routines and picked up our newspapers before we made a rendezvous-vous with our friend at the gates of the park. Then we made our to Arley deep in the heart of the Worcestershire countryside. Arley is most noted for having one of the most picturesque stations on the whole of the Severn Valley Railway – it has been used in a number of tv and film productions because it is maintained as a Pre Dr Beeching Railway Station. The second thing for which Arley is particularly famous is Arley Arboretum. I quote some of the blurb I have found on the web: These beautiful historic gardens and arboretum dating back to the late 1700’s are surrounded by over 1600 acres of countryside within the picturesque village of Upper Arley beside the river Severn. In addition to providing wonderful walks through the 300 ancient trees of the arboretum there are walks along the banks of the river, all set in the beautiful Worcestershire countryside with far reaching views. Meg and I have visited the Arboretum in the past and really enjoyed it but that was not the point of our trip today. Instead we made for a delightful little cafe which straddles a little lane – on one side of the road you order your comestibles whilst on the other side there are some benches laid out with a magnificent view of the River Severn. The day turned out to be a little overcast and glowering – nonetheless, we thoroughly enjoyed the hot bacon sandwiches which the young staff of the cafe prepared for us. We had just about finished our repast and were treating ourselves to some tea and cake when there were a few spots of rain. The two young girls who ran the cafe very assiduously ushered us to the inside of the cafe in case the rain came on apace (which it failed to do) and then we carried on with out tea, cakes and interesting conversation. By the time we had finished, the sky had brightened up somewhat and we made our way home in a leisurely fashion through Kidderminster. We were very impressed by the old Saab that our friend had bought some six months ago – it cost only a little over £2,000 and was magnificently equipped with beautiful leather seats and the like on the inside. Really quite tempting, I suppose, if you do not want to drive particularly fast but you want to do it in some comfort and style. In addition, I imagine, you would have to know a very good garage or service mechanic who could keep it well maintained but I must say these older cars have a charm all of their own.

In the early evening, we spent some time as we normally do on a Friday with a FaceTime chat with one of our oldest University of Winchester friends.We spent some time talking about computery types of things (our friend used at work at IBM and then taught some Computer Science so he very knowledgable about such things) We then finished off comparing notes about the various kinds of low alcohol beers that we had purchased from the likes of Lidl, Aldi and Waitrose so I have been given some ideas what to look for when I next browse the shelves of a supermarket. I know from my last trip to Waitrose there is a bewildering variety of beers now on sale, mainly from very small, independent brewers but short of a ‘Consumer Guide’ to low alcohol beers I suppose you have to buy them and sample them bit by bit. Whilst on this subject, I am reminded of one of the most innovative Christmas presents I have ever been bought. At the suggestion of a friend, my son had equipped himself with a large cardboard box and then went off to his local off-license were he bought one of every type of beer that they had on their shelves.The shop keeper was no doubt delighted to get rid of some of his old stock whilst from the point of the recipient, the pleasure of the present slowly unwinds week by week if you allow yourself one special beer per week as a kind of treat.

The COVID information is now worrying in the extreme. The number of new infections is now increasing at the rate of 1200 a day (and reached 8,125 today) and the R=rate is now between 1.2 and 1.4. The Delta (Indian) variant now accounts for 90% of the new cases. Today the BMA have called for the ‘end of the lockdown’ on 21st June to be delayed and it looks as though tomorrow many other medical bodies are going to declare their opposition to a premature end to the lockdown. We have have been warned!