Saturday, 19th June, 2021

[Day 460]

Today was another overcast day and we assumed that we would not rained upon but nonetheless we had to endure one of those rather ‘glowering’ kinds of days. Meg and I did a tour of the park to see if we could make contact with any of our normal park acquaintances but it was not to be. Having done a tour of the park we went to pick up our newspapers and then made sure that we frequented the local Waitrose cafe that we wanted to see if we could keep in business – as attendance seems to be right down at the moment. Waitrose used to sell a range of cups so that people could avail themselves of the ‘free’ coffee when this was offered. They offered rather a super collapsible cup (a brand called ‘Stojo‘) which comes complete with lid.These used to retail at £12.00 each and perhaps it is not surprising that hardly any were sold at this price. But then Waitrose have reduced them to £1.19 and at that price, they are an absolute bargain. We bought a couple for ourselves and they will be very welcome when/if we resume coffee drinking in the park. I asked our domestic help if she would like any at that price and this morning we bought couple for her as well. I have taken to having a soup at Waitrose rather than relying upon a cappuccino and some excess carbohydrate – so far the two soups on offer have been so incredibly spicy that I ended to request a glass of cold water to make sure the soup could be ingested OK. Then it was home and a fairly quick lunch so that we could settle down to the football.

I am not an excessive football fan but the European championships have a certain fascination at this stage because in in the initial phases you get well-fancied teams together with teams who are delighted to have qualified and, you might say, are in different league to some of the major footballing nations (Germany, Italy, France, Spain). What happens in the pool stages is that you occasionally get a match where you assume it is going to be a ‘walkover’ for one team but it doesn’t work out that way. For example, in the last few days we have England versus Scotland, Framce versus Hungary, Spain versus Poland and the assumptions before the match is that the ‘first’ team in the matches just announced are by far the stronger term and the result seems to be a foregone conclusion. However, they all seem to have played out to a different script but one with a pattern in it. the ‘stronger’ team is all over the ‘weaker’ team for a portion of the match and may even score a goal. Then there is a quick breakaway and the opposing team scores an equaliser – and then hangs on for dear life so as to secure a draw. The ‘stronger’ team is disappointed to only have a draw (although they score one point with it) and the ‘weaker’ team are absolutely delighted to have held their ‘stronger’ opponents to a draw, and of course. they too have scored a pint – sometimes for the first time ever in the history of that country’s European cup runs where they have struggled to qualify and expect to be soundly beaten in the pool stages. What I am saying is that we have a series of 'David’ and ‘Goliath’ contests which have a certain fascination – and the delight of the ‘weaker’ team is always a joy to behold when the referees’s final whistle is blown. and just to reinforce the point, plucky little Wales is scheduled to play torment favourites (and do far, very impressive) Italy to morrow evening.

The pandemic is still making an impact on our travel and vacation pans. The good news is that Meg phone up her uncle in North Wales who will be delighted to see us (particularly as he is his mid-90’s and is now confined to the house). We are travelling up to North Wales to lodge in an AirBnB for the first time next Wednesday and will pay a visit to Meg’s uncle the following day. We have already got booked into one of our favourite restaurants on the day that we travel so we will not be hunting around for somewhere to eat. We will have two clear days on Thursday and Friday before we return home next Saturday. We did have plans, though, to visit a cousin on the other side of Meg’s family in the neat future but Bolton in Greater Manchester is the last place to visit at the moment. Meg’s cousin’s daughter is in contact and they are having some domestic upheavals so we have pencilled in a date for about two months time and hope the things might be clarified by then. We know this is affecting lots of people – one of our friendly staff in Waitrose is South African and he has to re-arrange and cancel 3-4 trips already. Many of us are now writing off all our international travel and trips until next Spring of 2022 in any case.