Thursday, 20th July, 2023

[Day 1221]

Today was always going to be an interesting day for Meg and I although it proved a little tiring as things worked out. After we had got ourselves up and breakfasted, we started our journey to South Oxfordshire where we were due to lunch with some of our oldest friends. We picked up our newspaper and all was well on our journey until the point at which the A34 intersects with the M40. The traffic was so heavy at this point that we were practically queuing on the motorway in order to leave it. We were not long into our journey when I received a telephone call which was Bluetoothed from my phone onto the car’s audio system so I was able to press a button and respond to the message. This was quite an important one because after the blank starts I had drawn yesterday and my calls for help from a friendly adviser within Worcestershire Association of Carers, I was actually contacted by a member of the social services team who is going to call around in a week’s time to assess what technology might be useful to us to help out with Meg’s health. So this phone call was gratefully received and I was glad not to have missed it – and to make contact with a human being rather than a voicemail box and/or a website. As we were proceeding along the motorway, I received one of those irritating low tyre pressure warnings. As the last time this occurred was only a few days ago, it might be that I have a slow puncture somewhere. We called in at a service station and fortunately there was not a queue for the airline so we just checked this out and then had to go through the rigmarole of reinitialising the low pressure warning light which does not disappear once the tyres are the correct pressure and this procedure is a little fiddly on this model of a a Honda. This meant that we were 15 minutes late for our lunch date but given the length of the journey this did not inconvenience our hosts. I had taken along a bottle of Uruguayan Alabariño white wine which turned out to be pretty decent when we sampled it immediately. The other source of satisfaction was that I had also brought a little bay tree I had purchased for our hosts and I knew they would be able to find a space for it somewhere in the garden. As it happened, they already had a little bay tree but it had just turned up its toes and died so the plant I had taken along with me was a welcome replacement. We dined out in the garden which is always pleasant and there is one particular feature which we always find fascinating. This is because where our friends live there is a local settlement (if that is the right word) of some red kites which are now breeding very successfully in the area. The kites with their magnificent eyesight have quite quickly learned that if any titbits of meat are made available to them in residents’ gardens they can swoop down and have a quick meal. So this happened today when some of the leftovers from the meal were put on a special birdtable and the red kites swoop down, avail themselves of it and fly off, all in the twinkling of an eye, as it were. Just before we left and having regaled our hosts with a little video of our new music room and its collections of electronic organs, I prevailed upon my guests to let hear the opening bars of J.S. Bach’s ‘Wachet Auf‘ (Sleepers Awake) whch I have been practising and now commtted to memory.

We set off for home at about 4.00pm in the afternoon but as go around Oxford and got towards the M40, the queues started. So we had one of those portions of the journey where you proceed for a little at 20mph and are then stationery. Of course none of this is helped by the fact that various crash barrer upgrades are taking place along the M40 and this too, slowed things down. We go home after a two and a half hour journey and immediately regaled outself with some tinned fruit and icecream. Also, one of our particular delights is to watch the highlights of the current Test match between England and Australia on ‘Today at the Text’ which is edited highlights. One of the particular sources of surprise and pleasure was to watch one of the Englnd openers (Zac Crawley) score 189 which should help to put England in a commanding position in this ‘must-win’ test match. We are hoping that the bad weather does not swoop in and turn a deserved vistory into a draw. For this reason, I think that the England team are actually trying to score runs quickly and build up a good score, battling both the Australians and also the British weather.

Tonight, if I manage to stay awake long enough, the results of the three by-elections should come through in the wee small hours of the morning. If they produce some exit polls predicting the results, then this will be good enough for me and I already have a bottle of my favourite, and non-alcoholic, brown ale resting in the fridge but yearning to be opened on a suitable occasion.