Sunday, 21st November, 2021

[Day 615]

As we expected, today was a fine and bright day. The jet stream has apparently ‘kinked’ the other way and this helped to release the cold artic air which is now descending over the most of the UK. The temperature is declining from a run of several days when it has been greater than the average but now we are expecting something a bit lower than the average which means we are in for a cold few days. Following the incursion into our garden from the neighbour who is building himself an extension absolutely flush with the boundary line, I have now decide to invest in a security camera and the appropriate signs. Fortunately, there is a nearby tree that will provide the best possible fixing point and when it arrives it may help to deter any further incursions. I have emailed a surveyor who did some work for us when we had to determine the exact position of our fence line, requesting that we employ him to give us an expert opinion on our options. All of this equipment should arrive fairly soon so I hope it is not too long before we have a fully installed security system.

I walked down through the clear, champagne like air to collect our Sunday newspaper this morning and treated myself to my weekly ration of Mozart (‘Exultate, jubilate‘) and Bach (the double violin concerto) These two pieces alone are enough to left the spirits,not that they needed much uplifting. Then it a watch of the Andrew Marr show as usual and when this over, we made our preparations for our lunch date to see our friends in South Oxfordshire. We have worked a slightly different route for us and it all worked incredibly well. We had a stop about two thirds of the way down for a quick cup of coffee from our flask and then we proceeded to out friends, arriving one minute before the appointed time. We had taken a little ‘prezzy’ with us of a display of flowers in a little watering can and this immediately took pride of place on an outdoor table where it was just the kind of winter outdoor decoration they liked for that location. Our friends had invited another fellow academic for lunch as well. He was of Dutch heritage but was a citizen of Canada and enjoyed travel around Europe so we had a lot to chat about. He was very good company so together with our friends, we really had the most enjoyable meal and enjoyed lots good food, fine wine and interesting conversation.

Part of the way in which we do things as a family is to have a whiteboard on which items are calendared on a day-by-day basis. This serves the deal purpose of looking at commitments (usually medical appointments) at a glance and it also means that w all know what each other is doing in the days ahead. What is amazing, though, is that when we look at next week, we have an absolutely free week so we may take the opportunity to go ‘down the road’ to Longbridge where a huge Marks and Spencer store has been built on the site where British Leyland/Austin Rover production line turned out MG’s and Rovers. What I hadn’t realised was on this site during World War Two, over 3,000 aircraft were also produced at Longbridge – including the famous Hawker Hurricane, which won around 60% of air victories in the Battle of Britain.

We have started vaguely to think about Christmas, now that the month of November is two-thirds over. Having had a traditional Christmas tree for years, we just might do the absolutely unthinkable and get an artificial tree this year, perhaps going for a ‘silver’ one which we would decorate with coloured lights. I haven’t made my mind up on this and there is plenty of time yet to do the necessary. One of the abiding memories that I have of going to primary school in immediately post-WWII England, as children we were deployed crayoning in little strip so paper to make paper chains. These were glued togeter but seemed to be perpetually falling apart. I think that in those days when everything, including paper, was in sort supply you had to make your own decorations because I do not think you could actually buy such things in the shops (I am thinking about 1951-52 – not that I shopped for anything except ½p sticks of ‘Spanish’. Liquorice is a constituent of the root of the liquorice shrub which grows wild around the Mediterranean, including Spain. … Hence the term ‘Spanish’ has been traditionally used to refer to sticks of liquorice root sweet enough to be sucked as they are (I have found out from Google). Years ago, there used to be a slogan ‘Put Christ back into Christmas‘ which I think is a bit rich as the origins of the mid-winter festival are undoubtedly pagan and Christianity has conveniently latched onto it and colonised it with the Christmas story.