Sunday, 18th December, 2022

[Day 1007]

Last night, after we got back to our hotel, I realised that I had left a couple of crucial carrier bags round at my niece’s house so an urgent text message was quickly despatched. As she was out on the road giving her own daughter a lift to a baby-sitting session, I felt slightly less bad about her offer to bring them both round to the hotel so that we could have yet another goodbye. As her birthday and that of our son is in March, I am thinking of some plans so that we can meet for a meal in a place which is mutually accessible to both of us. I did a certain amount of packing last night by emptying the wardrobe, leaving the rest to be finished off this morning. We both had a reasonable night’s sleep, aided I think a little by the fact that I tune in the TV to ClassicFM and have it playing very softly all through the night. So we had our customary cooked breakfast – the last in a while – and then had some chats with some of the regular restaurant staff before we completed our packing and set off for home just before 9.30. We had our customary coffee break at the service station which is almost exactly at the half way point. We got home to a rather cold house but soon got ourselves more or less unpacked, the washing put in the washing machine and a bowl of soup consumed before we settled down to watch the World Cup between France and Argentina.

Before the game started, I thought I was reasonably well disposed towards the French team. As the first half progressed, though, my sympathies started to evaporate as the Argentinians played much the better football and the French team looked as though they had hardly turned up. By half time, the score was 2-0 to the Argentinians and we thought that the French would never score three goals in the second half to win the match. But 10 minutes before the end, the French striket Mbappe scored a goal and then added a second some 90 seconds later. So the game went to extra time and the scores were still level at the end of the first period of extra time. But half way through the second period of extra time, the Argentinians score a third and we all thought that was it – but towards the very end, Mbappe scored again for the French and so the score at the end of extra time was 3-3. So the match proceeded to penalties – then one of the French penalties was saved and another was missed whereas the Argentinians scored with every one of theirs. So Lionel Messi was extremely influential in scoring one of the Argentinian goals and being actively involved in the other two so at the end of a really exciting match, I was pretty pleased that the World Cup went the way of Argentina. Some of the commentators are billing this afternoon’s game as one of the ‘best’ foootball finals of all time which I suspect is a bit of an exaggeration but the final stages were certainly gripping.

Now we have one week before Christmas proper and I can start to pay some attention to what needs to be done before Christmas day itself next Sunday. For a start, I need to do the ‘hand-delivered’ Christmas cards to neighbours and friends but this ought to be relatively straightforward. On Tuesday, I need to take Meg for an optician’s appointment and also have to play Fr. Christmas which is an annual tradition for my Pilates class members. I have the supplies of damson gin/vodka bottled and all it needs is labelling and wrapping up in Christmas paper which is a job I will do tomorrow. At some stage, with having been away for several days, I will to get some food shopping done and we also tend to have a family meal some time just before the end of the week.

The weather conditions at the moment are a little bit contrary. After about a fortnight of freezing weather conditions as a result of cold air being drawn across the country from the Artic, there is forecast to be a rapid change of temperature as warmer air sweeps up the country originating from the Atlantic. But this might bring a very rapid thaw so it may be that road conditions become particularly treacherous with a lot of melting ice everywhere. Certainly, when we stoppped for our coffee break, the weather outside the service station seemed so much colder and icier than we had experienced on Harrogate which surprised us somewhat. Meanwhile, conditions on the industrial front seem to be equally glacial.There is a complete standoff between the government and various groups of workers, not least ambulance workers, border and control staff and the nurses who were on strike last week and will probably strike again next week. The government are, I think, seriously concerned about the action to be taken by ambulance workers and the army are being drafted in as well as hospital wards being emptied as rapidly as possible to try to avoid the impending chaos.