Thursday, 3rd March, 2022

[Day 717]

Today was another gloomy day but not quite as gloomy and overcast as yesterday. As Thursday is my shopping day, it was time to go to the larger supermarket where I have a more extensive shop. I had a very comprehensive list with me but on reflection, I am not entirely sure this is always a good idea. I suppose if you have a list ‘in your head’ which is how I used to shop, then if you forget one or two things it hardly matters whereas if you have a printed list in front of you there is a compunction to try and buy every single item on it, and perhaps one or two things in addition. Next week, I am due to the go to the (smaller) Aldi store and I think this might make for a less stressful shopping experience. I might, as an experiment, try and shop without a list next week (which is the way I used to shop) and see what kind of a difference this makes.By the time I had got back from the shopping, got it all unpacked and then had breakfast, time was moving on. So Meg and I went into town by car, collected the newspaper and then just had a quick walk round the park, without the benefit of a flask of coffee because we thought that we would have all of this at home. After we got home, it was a case of having our mid-morning coffee and then catching up on the latest grim news from the Ukraine before cooking lunch.

The news from the Ukraine is enough to make one weep. The Russians have two terrible weapons in their armoury – cluster bombs and thermobaric (vacuum) bombs. Cluster bombs release a series of bomblets which are spread over a large area and not all of these explode. This means that an area of land where they have been used can remain dangerous for years – although they can be removed painstakingly from some battle ground terrains, whether they have been removed successfully from an urban area is open to question. The second kind of weapon, popularly known as a vacuum or thermobaric bomb, is exploded in the air. After the initial ‘explosion’ the released material combines with the oxygen in the air to produce a weapon of complete ferocity. Both of these weapons are not completely illegal although some military authorities have said they will never use them – but not Russia. They are designed to be used against purely military targets but their use against civilian populations is certainly a war crime. There is already some evidence that cluster bombs have already been used in the battle to take Kharkiv – to date, we have no definitive evidence that the thermobaric bomb has yet been used by the Russians but we do know that they have them available for use. Although the Ukrainians are putting up the most incredible resistance, in the long run it is almost inevitable that will succumb to the might of the Russian military regime. As I blog this evening, there is some news that human corridors are going to be provided, presumably under the cover of a temporary cease fire, to allow residents to leave a city before a final onslaught. The Russians are indicating that once they have encircled Kyiv they will probably pound the city almost to destruction in order to secure a victory. The nearest exemplar that we have from history is what the Russians did to Aleppo in Syria when most of the city was physically destroyed and there was a massive exodus of its peoples.

Tomorrow we are looking forward to sharing our lunch with a French lady who lives next door to our Irish friends and who lost her husband in the autumn. We have already had ‘tea’ in each other’s houses but we are trying to take the opportunity of sharing the occasional meal with other if only to try and make the winter go a little bit more quickly. Tomorrow, we are just going have a simple meal of sea-bass which will take no time at all to cook – we will wait until our friend arrives and then do a bit of cooking on the spot. Tonight I deployed the soupmaker, making a soup out of a variety of root vegetables (swede, parsnip, carrot, celery and some fried onions) and as is usual on these occasions made far too much. I have enough prepared for a second meal which just requires heating up and also a supply of ‘diced’ vegetables which means that all of the hard work of preparation has been done for future meals. What, I suspect, absolutely makes the difference to these root vegetable soups is a few spoonfuls of a balti cooking sauce which just add a little bit of spice to the finished product, without overwelming it all. Late on this afternoon, the book on the Monterey operating system arrived (only ordered yesterday from Amazon) so I am hopeful that I will uncover a lot of ‘tips’ to more fully exploit the new operating system.