Friday, 29th July, 2022

[Day 865]

Last night, we attended a concert in Harrogate’s Royal Hall and we have attended a run of concerts recently – two in Bromsgrove as part of the Bromsgrove festival and finally the one last night which acts as the culmination of the Harrogate festival. Meg and I really enjoyed the concert last night, made enjoyable as it was only a few minutes away from the hotel in which we are currently staying. During the interval, we joined the crush for the bar and then got into conversation wih a lady who appeared to be on her own but who was the wife of (I think) a double bassist in the orchestra. By way of opening up a conversation, I remarked that this was the first concert I have attended in this Hall since 1963 which is about 59 years ago. For her part, she let us know that the Wigmore Hall in London runs Sunday morning concerts in which, if you in the know, you can attend and have a glass of wine thrown in for a tenner. Whether this is accurate information or not, I am not in a position to say but it made for a few minutes of interesting conversation. The piece after the interval was Beethoven’s 7th Symphony so in addition to Beethoven’s 6th which I heard recently, this makes for a couple of Beethoven symphonies I have heard in the last couple of weeks. As I have just head two good but not world class orchestras play Beethhoven recently, I think I have formed the view that this composer produces the ultimate stress test for orchestras. I think the combination of multiple tonalties and quite complex entrances at just the right microsecond really sorts out the good orchestras from the world class – this having been said, I still enjoyed last night’s performance immensely but it was over by 9.30pm so we were soon back in our hotel bedroom.

This morning, we enjoyed another magnificent breakfast in the hotel’s quite spacious ballroom which doubles as a breakfast room. As we were going to meet with my sister later on in the day, I decided to wear my special Batique (Indonesian) shirt I had acquired in Indonesia when I did a quick spell in Jakarta at lest 25 and probably some 28 years ago. The trouble is I was somewhat slimmer then and even at the time, it was a slimfit garment. As I was putting it on, a strategically placed button in the centre could no longer handle the strain and it pinged off. I enquired at reception whether they had one of those little sewing outfits that hotels sometimes supply but they had run out. So in desperation I turned my toilet bag upside down and located one of those little kits, complete with spare buttons and a needle, which I must have carrying around with me for decades. Threading an incredibly fine needle is a skill I have lost over the decades – nonetheless I succeeded and sewed the button back on again about which I was pleased but was something I have not done for best part of 60 years. After all of this this, we had a gentle walk into town and stumbled across a fabulous little Italian coffee bar which, according to press reports which they proudly displayed had been voted as one of the finest in the UK some years ago. The coffee bar was run by a couple who came from Malta and Albania respectively and they took pains to prepare all of the food on the premises. Certainly, the coffees were of excellent quality and not exorbitantly priced. After this, we jumped into the car and made for the garden centre just outside Knaresborough where we had arranged to meet my sister and my niece again for a luncheon date together. In the restaurant which is franchised by the garden centre, bookings are not routinely made but you have to get there just after midday. We got there at about one minute past 12.00pm and secured a table for four and had a very enjoyable meal with a lot of conversation about family matters. I was tempted to buy (and actually did buy) a concrete owl to which I took fancy as a garden ornament and I think I know of a good location for it on our garden terrace – despite being cast in concrete, it is a reasonably good looking exemplar so we will see when I get it home tomorrow. Then as we were not far from my sisters house we went home and drank tea all afternoon and caught up again on family matters, making some arrangements for my sister’s birthday treat when we return ‘up north’ in a month’s time. Tonight we were watching TV in our hotel bedrooom and saw Andrew Neil tear into Rishi Sunak which will not have helped him in his leadership campaign one little bit. Mind you, I would hve much preferred the spectator sport of watching Andrew Neil tear Liz Truss apart limb for limb which he probably would have done. As Liz Truss is so far ahead in her race with Rishi Sunak, she turned down the offer of an interview with Andrew Neil so as Basil Fawlty would have said (in ‘Fawlty Towers’) that is yet another avenue of pleasure denied.