Thursday, 18th May, 2023

[Day 1158]

Today has been quite a full day, what with one thing or another. Being a Thursday, I got up early and got to the supermarket to get my shopping done in plenty of time. I must say that I had a rather disturbed night last night, primarily because the latest vaccination has given me quite a sore arm. The vaccine Meg and I both received was the Pfizer vaccine – in the past, I think we have received AstraZeneca (on two occasions), Moderna I think and the remainder are a bit of a blur. But my arm was such that when I turned over, I woke myself up so I got up in the middle of the night and got some financial transactions brought up to date and all of this worked out extremely well. I normally set an alarm for 6.15 on a Thursday morning but this morning I awoke naturally at 6.10 only to immediately fall asleep again for another hour. So when I did wake up again, I had a bit of a rush to get myself going and get to the shops on time but all’s well that ends well. As soon as we had breakfasted, Meg and I got ourselves ready to go with a couple of friends to Spetchley gardens (attached to a 500 year old stately home in Warwickshire). Our friend’s daughter had sent me the right address to go to for her parents complete with a postcode for the SatNav. But quite unusually, the SatNav failed completely and dumped me at an address quite some distance from where we wanted to be. But, quite fortuitously, there was a postman delivering letters nearby and so I asked him where the correct address might be. He racked his memory and gave us some instructions that turned out to be absolutely correct. We got there on time and made for Spetchley gardens which was a trip down the M5 but quite easy to find. Having got ourselves into the system, we made straight for the excellent little coffee shop where we bagged a table in the open air and treated ourselves to coffee and cakes. We must have spent a good half an hour in conversation but then went on a wander of the gardens, not particularly wanting to stretch ourselves. We discovered a little chapel which was evidently used as the family ‘vault’ cum private chapel which we enjoyed giving a little explore. By then the frailer members of ur little foursome felt that they had walked enough so we walked slowly back to the car and thence to home. We have got quite a lot of things in common with our new found friends so it could well be that we plan other little trips out in the vicinity as a foursome. We got home just before 2.00pm and I cooked us a light lunch at lightning speed.

As it was a beautiful afternoon, I determined that I would probably give the lawns a cut this afternoon. It is only eight days since the last cut but every extra day over a week seems to make the grass grow like mad. I was just contemplating this when the doorbell rang and it was our chiropodist on her monthy visit. Although she was on our ‘planning board’ I had forgotten to look at it so it was a complete surprise for us. Her parting shot to to us as she left was that I now had no excuse for not doing the lawns so I started at a time much later than normal but managed to get everything done by 6.00 in time for the 6.00pm news and a little treat of icecream for our tea.

Earlier in the day and waiting for us when we got back from our morning out was a 3 CD package of Joan Baez CDs’s. These were very reasonably priced for a 3 CD collection so we immediately put on one of them and were suitably transported. Why Meg and I are so enamoured with Joan Baez was that we followed the records we had made whilst we university students in the mid 1960s. Joan Baez has a very distinctive voice and tended to write most of her own material, accompanying herself on a guitar. She also has the amazing diction so you can generally comprehend every word in the song – these are often of a very wistful nature. One particular track is her rendition of ‘House of the Rising Sun’ – forget about the raucous Animals versiom for here we have the pure diction recorded when she was just 18. The background of the song is as follows. The folk music historian Alan Lomax recorded a version in 1937 by a 16-year-old girl named Georgia Turner. In this context, it is sung in the first person, present tense with the singer lamenting how the House of the Rising Sun has ruined her life. In this traditional folk version, the main character is either a prostitute or a prisoner. The Animals changed it to a gambler to make their version more radio-friendly.

The water industry is finally ‘coming clean’ about its intention to spend £10 billion on cleaning up the UK’s water supplies. But then, it has been making about 800 discharges a day into the UK’s rivers and the sea. The bill for the clean up looks as though as though it is going to come from the pockets of the consumers rather than the profits of the shareholders, needless to say.