Thursday, 16th December, 2021

[Day 640]

Knowing that we were going to journey to Yorkshire today, we got up in plenty of time at about 6.00am in the morning,knowing that there was a fair amount of final preparations to be done before we could start off on our journey. There are always some things that you want to hang in the back of the car rather than pack them into a suitcase where they could become incredibly creased. In addition, I had promised my sister that I would make some home-made soup so although I had parboiled the vegetables, I finished it off in the soupmaker this morning. But we made good progress and managed to set off at about 8.30 which meant that having collected our newspaper, we managed to get onto the M42 for a journey northwards around Birmingham. Altogether, our journey had been mapped out at 149 miles and we stop at our favourite service station, Tibshelf, which is about a mile or so beyond the half-way point. At Tibshelf, we treated ourself to a cappuchino and a mince pie as well as a loo visit and managed to leave only 5 minutes behind our own schedule but the second half of the journey is much easier than the first. We hit Wetherby at about five minutes to 12 which was absolutely superb from a timings point of view. We were about the second or third set of diners though the doors and so we could choose a nice and quiet i.e. not overlooked table location. We dined on a scampi salad and found the portions enormous so having eaten our fill, we left a lot of the food on our plate. Then we texted my sister and got to her house almost exactly as planned at about 1.30 in the afternoon. When we got there, we were delighted to discover that my sister’s eldest daughter was there in the house, together with her own daughter who has just got back from university (where she is really enjoying her Psychology course) We spent a happy afternoon together, talking about family affairs and sharing photographs of family members that we had on our respective iPhones. Then at about 4.0 in the afternoon, we thought we had better and check into our hotel in Harrogate. The hotel upon which we alighted was one of the bigger ‘old-fashioned’ hotel and we especially fortunate to secure the very last parking place in the car park. The room is itself is delightful and spacious and seems clean and well appointed. However, it has one fateful flaw from my point of view which is the absence of any power sockets apart from one immediately below the TV set. This is making preparing this blog incredibly difficult. My laptop is perched on the top of our smallest suitcase which in turn is perched upon a chair. To accommodate the mouse, I have had to draw up the suitcase rest, balance my iPad (precariously) on the top side of that and then use my Ipad turned upside down to give myself a suitable flat surface on which the mouse can operate. Hower, I am pleased to say that after an awful lot of improvisation, I am managing to make some progress, although it was slow at first. However, I am sure than experienced journalists on location in small and poorly equipped hotels in far flung corners of the earth are skilful in making the most incredible improvisations to get their stories written (if any get written rather than just transmitted via a satellite these days). Even so, I am sure that accessing the satellite in an allocated time slot must call for considrable ingenuity at times.

The latest scary Omicron virus news is enough to frighten most people out of their wits. We are starting to get data about the spread of Omicron, almost three weeks on from when the first case of the new COVID variant was detected in the UK. Scientists estimate the number of new cases is doubling in less than two days, with every person with Omicron infecting three to five other people on average. The latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) suggests that the new variant now accounts for 41% of cases in England and more than one-fifth of cases in Scotland. The number of new infections was more than 90,000 yesterday and the latest estimates are that the virus has an ‘R’ rate (infection rate) between 3-5. This means that each new case of the Omicron infection will infect 3-5 people. The economic pain is starting to be felt in the hospitality industries. Many people are heeding government advice and either working from home or avoiding events that it is not strictly necessary for them to attend, Apparently food is being thrown away on an industrial scale because the hospitality industry has got geared for a really busy period but demand is dropping like a stone so the food is having to be junked.