Saturday, 26th June, 2021

[Day 467]

Well, I have to say that today has turned out to be a really curious day. Last night, we noticed the the WC in the ensuite bathroom in our B&B room had started to malfunction – specifically, the ball cock was evidently not functioning and so the loo was burbling away, loudly, right throughout the night. This meant that Meg and myself had a rather disturbed night’s sleep as the burbling kept us semi-conscious for most of the night. So when 6.00am came, it was as a kind of blessed release as we could get then up and start to pack our suitcases ready for our return journey. The total packing did not take us too long – just over an hour actually – and, of course, it so much easier to pack to come home because you basically pack everything that you have within the room. So we got down to breakfast some time after 7.00 and were on our way at about 8.15 which is quite early for us. The roads were relatively uncluttered at that time of the morning so we retraced our steps along the A55 Express Way towards Chester and cut south down the A483 to eventually link up with the A5. We know that places where we can stop for a coffee break and a loo visit are relatively scarce along this particular route but I half remembered that there was some sort of ceramics centre and tea shop just north of Shrewsbury. What we landed up in was some kind of strange ‘adventure park’ full of animals both familiar and unfamiliar all quite realistically made, some with natural materials and some in steel. After we followed the winding path, we had to wait for the establishment to open (as it did at 10.00am a few minutes later) and we followed the path to a point that indicated the coffee shop. Then we came to the entrance and we could only be let in after paying an admission fee of £3.00 each. So we abandoned all of the and went on our merry way, looking for the place that I had confused it with. So we resumed our journey and eventually found a strange place that advertised itself as ‘services’ This turned out what looked to be an old railway carriage with a queue of about 20 bikers outside it and a rather obscure toilet block, adorned with warnings that the whole block was under constant police surveillance and any illegal activities (such as what!) should be reported to them immediately. So Meg and I spent the proverbial penny and decided to look for a third place to actually have a coffee break. Eventually, we did find a place which was Telford Services area and by stage already we have travelled about 90 miles we reckoned that we were only about 45 minutes from home by fast motorway, so we decided to press on. Eventually, we did get home a little frazzled by the events of the morning and made ourselves an earlyish lunch. After lunch, I went down into town and picked up our newspapers for the last few days and also popped into Waitrose to pick up a few fresh vegetables to keep us going for the next few days. In reality, we were just waiting for the Wales-Denmark match which is one of the first matches in the knockout stages, which starts today. Apart from about the first 10 minutes when Wales made quite a bright start to the match, the rest of the game became more and more dominated by Denmark. A stunning goal from beyond the penalty area put the Denmark team ahead and after that, it started to turn into a defeat and then a rout (with a score of 4-0). Of course, Denmark had a lot of support from the neutrals because in their opening match one of their players had a heart attack on the pitch. Also they had a lot of supporters who managed to get into Holland where the match was being played but this is not to detract from an excellent performance by the Danes where every single player performed excellently.

Whilst the football was on, the news came through of the resignation off the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock. To many commentators, this was only a question of time since the ‘still’ of a videoclip was widely circulated showing him in a passionate embrace with an erstwhile Oxford fellow student who had, quite mysteriously, managed to land a plum job in the Department of Health where she seemed, by all accounts, to be as heavily involved in policy decisions as Hancock himself. The whole point here is the rank hypocrisy of a Government minister enforcing isolation and distancing rules upon the rest of the populations whilst fragrantly breaking the regulations himself. Also Hancock was not well regarded in the Tory party – was he too cautious (i.e. not reckless) in relaxing the lockdown regulations for the liking of the modern Tory party? By all accounts, members of the public were expressing their fury with his actions throughout the day and there is the promise of even more juicy revelations in the Sunday newspapers, so his resignation (which should have been demanded by Boris Johnson yesterday) is of no surprise.