Saturday, 5th March, 2022

[Day 719]

The gloomy spell continues over much of the UK – in fact I read with some dismay that the spell of gloomy weather having spread eastwards may now reverse itself and backtrack on itself to persist for a few more days. I have started looking forward to ‘Weather for the week ahead‘ on the BBC News Weather tab and from this I learn that ‘Chilly, sunny and dry weather will slowly give way to wetter, windier and milder weather in the coming week.‘ As it looked as though the rain was going to hold off, Meg and I walked down to the park but a chilly wind started to blow. We made our way to our norml bench and had our coffee but our two regular park friends must have spotted us from their vantage point of the café below us so they wandered up for a chat. I left Meg with them whilst I made a fast walk into town to pick up the Saturday edition of The Times and then, upon my return, we decided it was a bit chilly sitting down for an extended chat so we made an arrangement to meet in the park cafe tomorrow for our ‘elevenses’ coffee.

Meg and I typically have a lazy afternoon on Saturdays and today was no exception. This is because we leave to go to church in the late afternoon (and now, fortunately, it is light when we leave the house) and then return later for something like a bowl of soup. Fortunately, I still have some left over from the other day so this is always a bonus. Tonight, I am going to try to give it a slight ‘twist’ by adding a rice biscuit and some grated cheese of which I have plenty since my weekly shop-up. We may treat ourselves to an opera via YouTube this evening but if we do, we have to be slightly careful not to choose an overlong performance as we do not like to gt too late to bed these days. Whilst intermittently reading the nespapers and dabbling bout with my Apple MAC now that I have got it restored to functionality, I cam across a little known feature of the newly-installed operating system (Monterrey) that will help to enhance the security of computer browsing. Apple call this technology ‘Private Relay’ and it gives you some of the advantages of a VPN (Virtual Private Network). It is quite possible to be identified over the web with ‘normal’ browsing when two pieces of information are combined i.e. the actual address of your computer called an IP ddress and the address website you are visiting. The Apple technology splits these two bits of information, routing them via different servers (one of them, not Apple’s) and also encrypts the address of the wbsite that you are visiting. There are many more technical details than it is not appropriate to go into here but basically for a user such as myself one’s internet browsing experience is enhancd without having to go through the hoops of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) This all sounds a ‘good thing’ and time will tell, I suppose, whether my system is made significantly more secure than it otherwise would have been.

Russian forces continued to shell the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Saturday, despite agreeing to a ceasefire just hours earlier – throwing an attempted mass evacuation of civilians into chaos. as one resident said ‘I can see cars of people who tried to flee and they are coming back. It is chaos.‘ Three hours after the ceasefire was supposed to begin, at 09:00 (07:00 GMT), Mariupol authorities announced they had postponed a planned mass evacuation because of the continued bombardment. Whether all of this is bad faith on the part of the Russians or just a military ‘mess-up’ it is not possible to say – the Sunday newspapers tomorrow may give us a fuller picture.

At this time of year as we experienced ‘pancake Tuesday’ and then Ash Wednesday last week, then all of this presages that Easter is not too far away (although I think Easter is a little late this year on 17th April). I can remember fairly vividly when we first started supermarket shopping when we were students (in the mid-1960’s), one did get a graduated approach to the onset of Easter. As I remember it, the very,very first potatoes in the stores were Egyptian which were followed a week or so later by potatotes from the Canary Islands (quite a way south of Spain!) Then we go the new season’s earliest offerings from Cornwall before finally, the very earliest of our own new potatoes might have been ready in late April or May. Nowadays, the potatoes seem to have sprayed with something and then kept in a cold store and then bagged and could potentially be months old. Personally, I quite like waiting until foods come into their ‘proper’ season instead of having goods sourced from all over the world and completely at the ‘wrong’ time of the year.