Wednesday, 14th December, 2022

[Day 1003]

Today was the day on which we were scheduled to depart for our little 4-day break in Harrogate, North Yorkshire primarily to see the members of my Yorkshire family but also for a little pre-Christmas break. We had done a certain amount of packing last night but we judged it better to get up early this morning and finish off the rest of the packing whilst we were fresh, as it were. So I set an alarm for 6.15 and immediately leapt out of bed to get washed, dressed, packed up and then a bowl of porridge prepared. Then we managed to get everything done and set off at about 10 minutes later than our intended departure time of 8.30. Then it was case of battling through the Bromsgove rush hour (to which we are not particularly accustomed), collecting our newspaper and making it onto the M40 just after 9.00am. There was quite a queue to get onto the motorway system around Birmingham but this is not unusual. Although we had given the windscreen a good dousing of hot water to free of it of ice this morning, the temperature was still -3 degrees and when I tried to give my windscreen a ‘whoosh’ to keep it clean, I only succeeded in making the windscreen a smeary mess.I soldiered on, thinking about a place where I could stop if necessary to utilise a spare bottle of water I was taking with us with which I could have got the screen clear again. Having circumnavigated the M42 travelling north to the point where it starts to link with the A42(M), I was relived when I dared use the windscreen wipers again and by this time the temperature had risen a critical 2-3 degrees and the washer bottle now functioned, to give me a good clear screen. Needless to say, I was mightily relieved by this and we hit our half-way point, the motorway services at Tibshelf which is one of our favourites. There we had a quick drink of coffee and some jaffa cakes as well as a toilet stop and then we got on our way for the second and easier half of the journey. We aim to be in the little market town of Wetherby immediately after 12.0pm and we got there by about 12.05,parking in our preferred spot incredibly fortunately as a car was just leaving the row of car parking spaces which meant that we could visit our fish restaurant shortly after its opening. As a creatures of habit, we have the pensioners ‘three course luncheon’ which a homemade soup, fish of your choice on salad which we had asked for in place of chips, a round of bread and butter, a pot of tea and finally a sweet of ginger sponge and custard – all of this for a price of less than £15 per head.

Before we left Wetherby, we did a little tour of some of the charity shops but, in general, we saw nothing that we particulrly fancied. What we did note, though, that the prices of most goods were approximately double what we would have paid in Bromsgrove or Droitwich- I suppose it is a function of the fact that Wetherby has always been quite a prosperous little market town. However, just before we left we called in at the Oxfam shop and there Meg saw a lined woollen skirt that she rather fancied. For my part, I happened to see a trio of little oak nesting tables that I think will go perfectly in our little newly equipped music room, so the shop proprietor helped me load it into the bck of the car and then we journeyed on to Harrogate. We got booked into ‘The Crown’ and are gradually getting our little hotel systems installed. The room that we have been allocated is ‘interesting’ – on the positive side, it is pretty large and warm but on the negative side, the bathroom is down a series of two little steps which I am fearful about Meg negotiating in the middle of the night on her own. So if she makes a toilet visit in the middle of the night, I have told her that she must wake me up to accompany her so that she does not have a fall in the hotel bedroom.

Some of the dangers of migrant crossings of the English Channel were vividly illustrated tonight. A local fishing boat managed to rescue 33 people from a craft in distress and by all accounts there were several people in the water screaming for help. The official estimates are that four people have died but it is actually quite likely that the death toll is larger than this. Rishi Sunak has been busy unveiling plans to rapidly return migrants back to Albania and to his end he is securing the help of the Albanian government. There is a a great volume of media noise, not least from the government, decrying ‘illegal’ immigration but all asylums seekers and/or people fleeing modern slavery are presumed innocent in law until the point at which their claim for asylum is rejected.There is a lot of playing to the ‘right wing gallery’ on this issue but whether these latest attempts to wield meaningful results will prove successful remains to be seen.