Saturday, 18th June, 2022

[Day 824]

Today is the day when we return home from our mini-break holiday in Chester. Instead of bothering to do any packing last night, I reckoned it is so much easier to pack up when you are coming home rather than planning your outward trip – after all, everything in the romm is to be packed up or thrown away. We got up at 6.15 and basically we were all done and ready to go down for breakfast by 8.00am. We enjoyed our last breakfast as indeed we have enjoyed our previous two but today we felt the need to supply ourselves with a few comestibles for a little break half way though the journey. I made a couple of trips to the self-service coffee machine to fill up our flask and managed to snaffle a few little pastry type things plus a banana which all fitted beautifully into our little jute bag which had been so kindly donated to us yesterday. This little bag is going to be so useful to us when we have little breaks away that I have ensured that it is packed away into our normal ‘going away’ suitcase so that we wil always have it to hand. By the time we had breakfasted and checked out, it was a few minutes before 9.00am so we were pleased to make a prompt start. The first part of the journey was rain-free but the little splatters of rain become heavier and heavier so the second half of the journey was a wet affair. We were in a bit of a dilemma where to have our mid-journey break because we did not really want to pull off at Shrewsbury services, which is a halfway point in the journey. So we were determined to find a convenient layby just short of the M54 motorway where evidently stopping for any purpose is not allowed. What we found interesting was that just before the clearway section at the end of the dual carriage way, there seemed to be several lay-by areas provided within the last mile or so. Thinking about, the road layout designers must have appreciated that people would want to stop for a variety of reasons before they eentered the M54-M6-M5 motorways network and hence we found about three substantial lay-bys provided within about a mile. Evidently, I have never thought about this before but it worked out really well for us. We availed ourselves of one of the lay-bys some five miles short of the M54 network which had the added bonus that a really colossal refuse bin had been provided for the disposal of travellers’ waste. As we were making good time, we popped by the newsagents so that I could pick up today’s newspaper before we arrived home.

The day was pretty humid and muggy when we got home so we dined on some icecream followed by cheese and biscuits which was more than adequate for us in the middle of the day. Then in a bustle of activity, I made sure that all of our holiday washing was put through the washing machine and dryer before being all put away. We got out suitcases fuly unpacked and their contents restored to their ‘normal’ homes because, as well as clothes, we always have some items which are useful to us like teabags, a supply of plastic sacks, a range of cosmetics and medicaments and so on. It was very satisfying to get all of these put away before we settled down to a lesiurely read of the newspapers before we get ourselves prepared for chuch when we leave the house at 5.30. It is just as well that we got ourselves sorted and organised today as next week will prove to be quite busy for us. On Monday our broadband is due to be upgraded and on Tuesday, in addituon to my Pilates class we have made an arrangement to see our our pre-pandemic Waitrose friends but in the park (weather permitting). On Wednesday, our University of Winchester colleague will be arriving for a couple of days stay but we have already got planned out a little priogram of activities to keep us all entertained.

Of course, the big event (in my calendar) next week is going to be the result of the two by elections to be held on Thursday. Wakefield looks a foregone conclusion but Tiverton and Honiton, a Devon rural seat, looks much more 50:50. There seems to be a summer spike of COVID hitting us shortly as the number of infections has risen by 43% in a single week. It looks as though the latest variants of the virus are less severe but more trasnmissible and with the virtual ending of ‘Test-and-trace’ how many of us are walking around and unintentionally infecting others? To be pessimistic, I suspect that we might get hit by something nasty in the autumn and winter months as we may have relaxed our guide far too early. Some commentators are blaming all the Jubilee get togethers for this rapid rise but who can tell?