Tuesday, 28th September, 2021

[Day 561]

Today the weather has changed into a truly autumnal pattern and one has the feeling that the last warm days of summer are behind us. Before we left for our walk, I was involved in a financial transaction where I was decanting some small savings accounts I have with a building society into a larger ‘pot’ with which I am going to buy some National Savings and Investments (NS&I) Premium Bonds. Evidently, in this sort of operation one has to be ‘mega’ careful not to put in a wrong digit when it comes to transferring pots of money from one place to another. However, it was very satisfying to see that my various savings accounts had successfully been transferred into my current account from which they were used to fund the purchase of a block of Premium Bonds. This is now prominently displayed in my NS&I webpage and after they have been in the system for a month, they will be eligible to be put into the ‘draw’ at the very start of November. I have also downloaded a webpage which calculates the return that you might get from a block of Premium Bonds given the ‘average’ degree of fortune (or statistical probability, I ought to say). It might well be that over a year and a half, I only just match the 0.5% which my building society accounts were yielding but I have a feeling that with a block of Premium Bonds I might better this rate, particularly if I were to have a bit of ‘beginner’s luck’. Like all of these types of ventures, you have to be a little careful getting them set up but once the system is working as intended, it should be a fairly simple job to add to this block of savings whenever I wish to in the future.

Meg and I then walked down into town and bumped into our Italian friend half way down the road. We had long promised each other a little ‘get together’ once we had got our holidaying all done and dusted so we have gratefully accepted an invitation to call around for coffee with her on Friday morning. There is so much more that close friends can say to each other in the comfort of one’s own homes rather than a snatched conversation on the street and so that is something to which we are both looking forward. When we got down to the park, we were delighted when our University of Birmingham friend turned up ‘on cue’ – we converged on the same park bench practically to the second and we always enjoy each other’s company. Then we were joined by two more mutual friends and discussed the fuel situation locally (what else?) amongst other things. Then I was just about to peel off from the group in order to go and buy a newspaper when I realised that as it was my day to go to Pilates we were going to run out of time. Accordingly, Meg and I struck off for home and I had a few minutes of time to get some of the elements of our lunch prepared, change into my tracksuit bottoms and then trot down to my Pilates session. What with holidays last week and a hospital appointment for Meg the week before, I had missed two Pilates sessions in a row so I was keen to attend this particular session and get back in the swim of things.

This morning, we received an email from the daughter of Meg’s cousin who now lives in sheltered accommodation in Bolton, Lancashire. We have been trying to arrange a meeting for months now but lockdowns have kept intervening and we seem to have made arrangements several times over but events have always conspired to defeat us. We are hopeful that we can make a journey up to Bolton on Sunday next so it will be both a family reunion and Meg’s birthday as well. Evidently, we have to think carefully about the logistics of the trip given the scarcity of fuel situation but we are determined not to let events defeat us on another occasion. We think we can get up and down to Bolton on two thirds of a tankful of fuel if we drive carefully by motorway and maintaining a moderate speed all the way. Then we should be able to replenish our supplies next week at the local independent garage later on in the week. As we have not seen our relatives for a good decade or so we have quite a lot to catch up on. So we thought we would start off at Meg’s earliest recollections of her cousin (when they are teenagers?) and then carry a narrative forward from there, explaining our lives and work have evolved during the intervening years. Meg’s cousin had an interesting career as an opera singer in Germany (or was it Switzerland?) during the 1960’s so I am sure she has a lot of interesting stories to tell.