Tuesday, 7th September, 2021

[Day 540]

In the middle of the night (when else?) I was reading my emails and got some rather disturbing news from our closest friends in Spain. We had not heard from them for a week or so which is quite unusual and we hoped that nothing was amiss. Their daughter was due to come to the University of Gloucester as an ERASMUS student – the acronym ERASMUS stands for European Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students. Our close friend had been one of our earliest Erasmus students at Leicester Polytechnic (now De Montfort University, Leicester) and now about thirty years later, it was the turn of her daughter (who we know very well, having watched her grow up since she was a baby) to undertake a year’s Erasmus experience in an English university. Naturally, I was distraught to discover that the daughter would not now be coming to England as we were expecting her shortly. So what to do? I sent off an email in the middle of the night to the University of Worcester, one of our nearest universities, to see if there was anything that could be done. Then I got onto the international pages of the university in Madrid where the daughter is studying and sent these pages off to our friends in La Coruña, suggesting that they might contact the international office of the university themselves to see if they had any other contacts with UK universities which could take over the contract reneged upon by the University of Gloucester. Then I did some internet searches and discovered that whilst Boris Johnson and his Brexit mates had withdrawn the UK from the Erasmus scheme (on the grounds that ‘they could not afford it’), this did not apply in Northern Ireland. Apparently, the universities in the Republic of Ireland (Eire) had stretched out a hand to their ‘cousins’ in the north and whilst the UK universities were withdrawing from the Erasmus scheme, the Irish had extended a massive hand of friendship to their colleagues in Northern Ireland offering them the opportunity to continue participating in the Brexit scheme. So this is a bit of a lifeline – but it all depends whether the university in Madrid has any contracts with any universities in Northern Ireland which might not be the case. Anyway, I must communicate all of this to our friends in la Coruña but I haven’t had the opportunity yet. Then, of course, the evident idea occurred to me (a little late) that I could contact the international department of De Montfort University to at least speak to an informed academic from within the UK system – this is a prime task for tomorrow.

I am just in the process of transferring my fuel accounts from my old supplier to me new one. My new supplier sent me some helpful emails (and a very clear website) which just says ‘Enter your existing Gas and Electricity meter readings‘ So I went outside to my external meters which I have not at looked at for a long, time long time and was faced with a blank screen on the gas meter and a blank screen with three buttons to activate the blank screen on the electricity meter (which gave unhelpful options such ‘Consult’ ‘Engineer’ which was not particularly helpful) I then pressed several buttons several times on the ‘gizmo’ which we have in our kitchen and, fortunately, the meter reading numbers of the gizmo and on the meters seems to agree.Now to enter them into the system – easier said then done. The Gas reading went in fine but the Electricity one needed the correct number of zeros before the digits before it would enter correctly but at least the deed was done.

This task having completed, we got some very bad news by phone. We had planned to go out with our two closest friends whose wedding anniversaries are very similar to ours for a joint meal on Thursday next. But the phone call revealed that the wife of one of our friends had had a heart attack yesterday (and perhaps two smaller ones) but at least she had been got into hospital within an hour or so of it happening. Evidently, she would have had some clot-busting drugs or similar but we know she is more comfortable than she was and had a good night in hospital last night. We have no more news than that but, evidently, we are very anxious that one of our closest and dearest friends makes her a speedy recovery. We bought a card from Waitrose which we popped through the door on the way to Pilates. To save a bit of time, we had earlier gone down to town by car and picked up our newspapers (and much needed ice-cream for this hot weather) It looks as though tomorrow we should have a really hot day (28° to 30°) before the weather breaks down completely on Thursday. Of course, we may have spectacular thunderstorms and/or rain but I hope our damsons remain undamaged (as I due to pick them this weekend)