Wednesday, 3rd August, 2022

[Day 870]

The day dawned bright and sunny this morning, although it was still quite a humid day. Today is the day when our domestic help calls around and we are always pleased to see her and to have a chat, not least about the football success last Sunday. I popped down into town to get our newspaper and on the way backed espied our Irish friend taking her grand-daughter out for a stroll in her ‘buggy’. So I swung the car into the access road and we stopped to have a quick chat about things, not least about our very good stay in Yorkshire recently. Incidentally, I have have just had a friendly email from the hotel where we stayed a week ago and where we intend to stay in about three weeks time where, no doubt, they are trying to tempt you into upgrades or additional services. Nonetheless, we have had very good service at a good price from this hotel so they certainly have our loyalty from now on. As the weather was so fine, Meg and I walked down into the park today and, true to form, we found one of regular park couples with whom we exchange news and gossip. One of the things that was exercising us both today was the new developments that are taking place on the edge of the town without a commensurate increase in roads and other vital infrastructure. The official planning view is to encourage us all to ‘walk and cycle’ which advice may be OK for some but absolutely impractical for the vast majority of new houses that are to be built. In the latest development recently approved by the planning committee but bitterly opposed by all of the local residents, a plan was passed that allowed for 370 new houses. If each house had one car (average length of 4.4 metres) then these 370 houses will generate 1.3km of traffic if these cars were put end to end. Each home may well have 2.5 cars (Mum, Dad and teenage children) which again will imply a total traffic queue of 3.2km which is about the total distance from the new development to the centre of Bromsgrove and back again on roads that are already completely congested. The upshot of all of this is that Bromsgrove may be the first town in the country to suffer a total gridlock with nobody going anywhere. When the houses are built and the roads only improved to the most marginal extent, then nobody will be going anywhere soon. In case this sounds melodramatic, about two years ago I had an appointment at the doctors at about 8.20 in the morning and hence walked down into town along the Kidderminster Road. Even then, I found that making a journey on foot was faster than the queue of cars down Kiderminster Rad at that time in the morning and since that time, the traffic situation has deteriorated and I predict that total gridlock will occur when the new houses are actually built. The developers are already advertising that the new houses will appeal to ‘those looking to commute into nearby Birmingham’ which means that the benefit to the local community is already being attenuated.

This afternoon, Meg and I indulged ourselves by watching some of the coverage of the Commonwealth Games that are being held in Birmingham. We saw the final stages of the Mountain Biking being held on Cannock Chase and an English girl was the winner of this. Then we switched to the finals of the Womens heavyweight weightlifting competition in which an English woman and a Somoan battled it out for gold and silver – the English girl got gold. Of th various cometititons we have followed, one theme has emerged which is the depth of the local regional talent and the support that is garnered. As one of the English judo players explained, after his gold medal, that he had the support in the hall of his family, relatives, neighbours, friends, university friends, fellow athletic club members and anyone else who knew him. He pointed out that he actually spotted one of his ex-university teachers in the crowd. So the level of support for individual local athletes must be immense. A second feature that has struck me in sport after sport is that once you take into account skill levels, strength,fitness, strategy and tactics that a lot of the actual game are played out in the mind. You could see this in the weightlifting where in the case of an Indian competitor, their mind and focus was not in the right place when they approached the bar. In the case of the English weight lifting champion, she knew that she had actually lifted heavier in training which means that a particular psychological barrier is already broken. Of course, the athletes always paid tribute to the hours of training and to their families and are already think ahead to greater heights to come such as World Athletics championships and the Olympic Games in Paris to be held in 2024.