Thursday, 17th March, 2022

[Day 731]

As yesterday was dull, rainy and blustery so today was almost the exact reverse. We awoke today to a frosty scene in which cars had to have a certain amount of the ‘hot water poured from a watering can’ regime to make sure that we could unfreeze the car locks (and retractable mirrors) before we could set off for our weekly food shopping. Today I went to the smaller of the two Aldi stores that we have here in Bromsgrove and was queuing outside the door at one minute to eight before the store opened its doors at 8.00am promptly. I must say that I felt quite pleased with my shopping experience here today as I managed to get every item that I felt that we needed and with no omissions. Doing things in this particular fashion means that I am somewhat faster overall and I think the cost for the six bags of shopping was probably only purchased for about two thirds of the cost of their equivalent at Waitrose. Once we had got the shopping all put away, it was time to get ourselves ready for our little trip out today. We had decided to visit a little market town of Alcester which has a population of about 7,000 and is reputed to have a pretty High Street and some excellent charity shops. Meg and I got there some time before 12.00pm amd immediately set about finding ourselves a coffee shop where we could have some cappuchino and, hopefully, some toasted tea cakes. This is when the fun and games started as the shop had invested in a new microwave oven which was evidently hypersensitive and at the touch of a hat the residual cicuit breaker would trip plunging us all into darkness. Actually, a long time ago, Meg had and I had a microwave that kept doing this and it was particularly frustrating if you happened to have the computer running as your work was liable to be lost (at best) or files corrupted (at worst). In the event, after a couple of such blackouts, our toasted teacake duly arrived but we had no idea we were going to spread so much mayhem in our wake. Well, our friend who told us that Alcester was full of good quality charity shops was certainly not wrong. I bought a glass ovenware dish that I think will complement our range of other ovenware cookware. But then in another shop I espied what I thought would be an excellent and stylish three-quarter length coat for Meg which I think be excellent for our daily trips down into town, particularly as the weather is now improving. We did a quick ‘try on’ in the shops to make sure that all of the crucial zips were still in working order and then completed our purchase. We then had a quick flash around other shops, including one of those hardware shops that seems to stock everything and you suddenly realise that you might utilise a 'thingamabob' which the store stocks. In our peregrination up and down the High Street, we had espied a place where we might lunch and this was an old coaching inn that were offering two course meals at special prices for pensioners. Meg and I are not proud in this respect so we ordered a meal of roasted vegetables lasagne (for Mike) and a spinach and ricotta pasta (for Meg), both served with a very good salad and some coleslaw. These meals were absolutely delicious and we asked our waitress if she could also let us have a serving spoon so that when we were a certain way through our meals we could do share each other’s meal. Then we treated ouselved to some baked sponges (typical nursery food) served with either with cream, ice-cream or custard. A couple of these two course meals cost us £20 so I do wonder whether at this price, considering the costs of food preparation and service, whether we are getting to meals at practically a cost price. Feeling replate by now, we decided to return home which was just as well because the weather had darkened and we had certainly had the best of the day.

Yesterday, at the end of a press conference, President Jo Biden promised an extra $800 million in military aid which brings the total delivered or promised this week to $1 billion. As he was leaving the press conference and in an apparently ‘off the cuff’ remark, Jo Biden called Putin a ‘war criminal’. What had prompted Biden’s remark was the fact that a theatre in Mariupol housing more than 1,000 women and children and with the words ‘Children’ (in Russian) clearly marked outside had just been flattened by Russian rockets. Although there are some survivors, it is hard to know at this stage the even approximate numbers of survivors. Now whether this is objectively a ‘war crime’ or not, it is interesting to speculate whether it is politically useful or inept, to decribe Putin as a war criminal. Putin has reacted with absolute fury – which may not be helpful if the final negotiations between Russia and the Ukraine are at a particularly delicate stage.