Sunday, 4th June, 2023

[Day 1175]

Another Sunday morning dawns and Meg and I spent a few minutes contemplating the week ahead and our various commitments – almost one per day next week. We started to think about the funeral of the brother of Meg’s cousin and how a trip to Bodmin would take some organising as we would probably need to stay in a hotel for two nights. The more we thought about it, the more we came to the conclusion that only having met the brother of Meg’s cousin for a few minutes on the occasion of a birthday party, we thought that we probably send our apologies and give the funeral a miss. As it happens we have some dental appointments on what would be the day of the funeral and these would have to be re-arranged. We both felt a little relieved that we had come to this decision more or less independently of each other as we turned over in our mind the logistics of such a trip. Perhaps in a week or so, we may pay a flying visit to Yorkshire where we can see some of our relatives there, including my sister but a lot depends on what kind of deal we can get from our favourite hotel in Harrogate. After we had collected our newspaper, we realised that there were one or two things that we really did need and that only Asda in town sells so I made a ‘on the run’ visit to the supermarket. Needless to say, since the last time we shopped there, they had rearranged various items on the shelves so to find what I needed took a certain amount of hunting around but they were located eventually and then we made our way to the park. We had prepared some elevenses and we were ready for our coffee when we sat down. As is quite often the case, we were recognised by some acqaintances and had some interesting conversations. The first of these was concerned with the intracies of payroll systems as our acquaintance was working out her last year or so as a payroll administrator. Her view from the inside as it were was that very few people actually understood their payroll and income tax allowance codes must be a nightmare if you have employment split over two or more jobs which will be the lot of many people these days. After this little chat, we met up with another couple who we know well by sight and had another lengthy chat. The conversation tends to start off with the observation that they had not seen much of us in the park these days. This is undoubtedly true as during the pandemic, the park was our lifeline and we visited it every day but as the Waitrose coffee bar has re-opened, we have been tempted away from the park some 2-3 occasions per week. Incidentally, we texted our University of Birmingham friend who is undergoing a bout of illness at the moment but he did not feel well enough to venture out and see us this weekend so we wished him well for the days ahead.

When we got home, it was time to prepare a chicken meal. I fried off some onions, seared the chicken legs and then added a can of chicken soup and some petit pois and cooked in the oven for the best part of an hour. To serve things, I fish out the chicken thighs and throw away the skin, the bone and any gristle – doing things this way both makes the ensuing meal more tasty and also cheapens the cost by up to 50%. This afternoon, Meg and I are going to indulge ourselves with yet another viewing of Paddington of which we never tire although we have seen it lots of times before. Althpugh a children’s film and no doubt enjoyed by many, there is some interesting social commentary smuggled in round the edges as well as some fantastic visual jokes. One of the best, I find, is that when Paddington sees an instruction on an escalotor in the Underground that ‘Dogs must be carried’ Paddington immediately goes to kidnap a dog so that he can carry it on the journey up/down the escalator.

By virtue of some TV watching this afternoon, I came across the concept of ‘eco tourism’ We are mainly used to fellow humans, not least through the tourist industry, helping to trash the environment. But the concept of eco tourism is to encourage interested travellers to view primates, for example, in the wild under the tutelage of expert and dedicated guides. If this is carefully done, then income streams will be generated that can be plouged back into the conservation work itself, both with direct expenses and also the development of community resources. I also discovered that being a dedicated park ranger, looking after the mountain gorillas in the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) is an extremely dangerous operation. As an illustration of this, Virunga National Park founded in 1925 has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. It is known for its fauna and landscapes as it is a vast expanse of deep forests, glaciers and volcanos, with more species of birds, reptiles and mammals than any other protected area in the world. But it is also known to serve as a base for a number of armed groups for more than two decades. The armed groups and gangs of poachers kill the forest rangers whom they perceive as a threat.