Saturday, 2nd October, 2021

[Day 565]

Today when we woke up, it was a constant drizzle and so it persisted all day. So whatever else we were going to do, we knew that our normal walk was probably out of the question. Today is very much ‘the day before the day afterwards’ because tomorrow is going to be our ‘big trip’ up to Bolton in Lancashire to see Meg’s cousing and her daughter. In preparation for this, we called in at our local Waitrose in order to buy a couple of pot plants for the members of our family tomorrow. This having been done, I whizzed off into town in order to replenish our supplies of money – I always feel as tough I need a certain modicum of cash with me before a long trip. Having done our errands, we then made for the park where we hoped we might bump into our University of Birmingham friend even though it was raining quite hard. We surveyed the distant benches (and realised they were unoccupied) and glanced towards the bandstand, which was similarly unoccupied. At this, we decided to call it a day and we drove home and had our prepared elevenses at home instead of shivering on a cold, rainy park bench. We made this do for our lunch as well as, by now, it was rather late in the day.

Last night at one minute past midnight was the time of the month when the results of the latest Premium Bonds draw were to be publicised. However, we had a rather frustrating time as the updated NS&I app which gives you notification of how you have (or have not) won that month was not behaving itself. This app has worked quite well over the months but not on this occasion. They had updated the app and all that it indicated was that ‘Results are not yet Available’ (although we had other indications that they might be). Eventually, we went onto the website and discovered that, between us, we had actually won £75.00 (which is rather nice as we had had a run of fallow months recently so we thought it was about time that our luck changed) We are checking the amount of prizes we have won and what kind of interest that would represent and after our latest winnings, I calculate that our putative interest rate works out at 1.32% which is a lot better than the 0.5% which all of the building societies seem to be offering at the moment.

After lunch, Meg and I had a rather lazy afternoon and decided to hop through the TV channels to see if anything attracted our attention. We settled on the ‘Yesterday’ Channel which was showing a whole series of Michael Portillo’s Great Railway Journeys. The minute we tuned to tuned into the channel, they happened to showing views of Harrogate which was interesting for me as I was brought up in that town and lived there from the age of 4 until I was about 18. Harrogate is a pleasant town in which to live (and many of the cosmopolitans from Leeds have decided to settle there) so we found the travelogue quite interesting – and carried on watching the rest of the programme (which detailed the journey by rail fom Hull to Llandudno in North Wales). My most abiding memories of Harrogate were working in the Old Swan Hotel Harrogate which in many ways was a financial lifeline for me and I worked there from 1960 until 1964 alhough, in truth, it seemed a lot longer than that) The stratification structure of a large 4-star hotel is quite fascinating. I started washing dishes at 2s 6d an hour (12½p an hour) and then progressed onto washing silver which was paid at the rate of 15p an hour. For this, I progressed onto washing dishes for the bar (at 20p an hour) and finally became an (underage) barman at 25p an hour. As well as doing these various jobs, I also worked as a porter (during the day to carry the suitcases of coachloads of American tourists to their rooms), and a night-time porter (one of my duties was to hoover the vast expanse of the ballroom) In addition, as a ‘trusty’ I was often detailed to set up a temporary bar and this involved getting the stock and the glasses, organising a float, setting up a temporary bar and then getting the cash back into the system and the stock returned to its proper home (and I was only 17-18 at the time).

In preparation for tomorrow, I have hunted out a pair of new slippers that I had in stock and I am going to use my ‘old’pair as a pair of really light driving shoes – all of this in an attempt to save fuel. The extreme of this policy, of course, is to drive in one’s socks and the lighter presssure of the accelerator helps one to conserve fuel (we learnt this during the fuel crisis of the 1970’s)