Last night, in our hotel room, Meg and I were watching the last of the Hannah Fry (= well known mathematician) series on the science that lay behind every day objects. Last night, she was exploring the history and science of the running shoe. Naturally, they started off with the utilisation of rubber and the development of rubber technology with vulcanisation. All of a sudden, up popped on the television one of my former colleagues from the University of Winchester who I will call ‘Tim’ and whose forebears had been some of the founding fathers of rubber technology. This was all absolute news to me because when ‘Tim’ pops up onto our TV screens, it is nearly always something to do with the history/archaeology of Hampton Court Palace in which is a national (or even international) expert. But here he is talking about rubber technology and there was no mistaking his voice though his countenance has changed slightly after he survived a near fatal illness a few years ago. So you never know what surprises the TV is going to reveal. This morning, we wanted to have a very gentle morning as Meg was starting to feel the strain somewhat. So we had a hearty breakfast to set us up for the day and then wandered slowly into town to our favourite Italian eating house where we made the journey up the steep stairs if only because the upper storey is so indivualistic and comfortable. There was only other couple upstairs so Meg and I ‘bagged’ the beautiful old leather settee and comfortable armchairs before settling down to enjoy our coffee and pastries (which they warm for us, by the way). I mentioned the comfortable seats because on leaving, we offered the couple on the next table to chance to enjoy our newly vacated comfortable spot and got into conversation with them – it is that time of year when people are feeling a little more relaxed and inclined to chat. It transpired that the wife came from Manchester and actually knew the two districts of Manchester in which we had lived and in the second of which, we bought a terrace house overlooking Platt Fields park. She informed us that she had worked in Owens Park which was a large residential tower block used primarily by Manchester University and the street where we lived (which she knew) was in a little block of streets of terrace housing on the other side of Wilmslow Road and facing the park. We exchanged reminiscencies about we how much we had paid for our first house (£1,995 in our case, but only a few hundreds in the case of the lady to whom we were talking)
As we left the coffee shop we espied a really convenient ATM from which we could replenish our dwindling supplies of cash and then could not resist a tour around the very large Red Cross charity shop which was nearby. We located a dress of the appropriate type but with a flowered design and ex-Edinburgh Woollen Mills which was reduced to 50% of what was actually a pretty cheap price. So we availed herself of that and Meg now has one more thing added to her wardrobe. We knew that for lunch, all we wanted was a simple bowl of soup and we intended to go into one of the little coffee shops that serve light lunches near to the hotel. But as we passed one of the large Anglican churches in the centre of Harrogate, they were advertising soup and sandwiches so we decided to partake of this whilst sitting in a area in front of the pews and below the altar – rather a strange experience. The meal was so cheap that we could make a donation to the church becaue they distribute free food to those who need it in the late afternoon so we could feed ourselves and others at the same time. Then we went back to the hotel and had a rest and a cup of tea before we set off for a family gathering at my niece’s house in the afternoon.
We had a wonderful afternoon at my niece’s. Relatives came from both my niece’s and my husbands branches of the family and we had a table groaning with Christmas food. We took the opportunity to catch up on news with lots of family members, who treated Meg very kindly and we were both made welcome. We all dispersed some time after 5.00 and Meg and I made our way back to the hotel to have a quiet evening of packing up and relaxation before we start the journey back tomorrow. I always find packing to go home so much easier than packing to go away because one’s choices are effectively very simple – everything in the room (wardrobe and cupboards) has got to find its way into the suitcase or similar. Although we missed the football this afternoon, we should be at home in time for the World Cup Final tomorrow afternoon if there are no holdups on the journey. The weather forecast is pretty nasty for first thing but there ought to be a massive improvement throughout the day.