Tuesday, 25th July, 2023

[Day 1226]

So Tuesday has come around but with a slight difference to our normal routine. I have no Pilates class today as the school holidays have started and consequently my Pilates teacher is away for a few days with her family but normal classes resume next week. In the meantime, we have our usual meeting-up with friends in the Waitrose café and a good laugh was had by all – at one stage, we were (mock) threatened with being thrown out for riotous behaviour. (In actuality, we know that the staff enjoy us coming in because it makes then feel that the old pre-pandemic atmosphere is returning) When we got home, I finished off a little craft activity in which I have been engaged and then we had our normal lunch of fishcakes, to which we always look forward. This afternoon was a quiet affair in which I eventually made contact with Amazon over an item for which I thought I had been charged the wrong price. In practice, although there had been a reduction in the current price rather than the one I actually paid, the difference was a source of confusion because I thought I was being inappropriately charged. But in the end, my attempts at a telephone call proved abortive but I managed to get through to one of those ‘virtual assistants’ where the matter was cleared up for me. Although part of me wishes that I did not rely upon Amazon so much, I must say that once you have got plugged into their ‘Prime’ membership and get deliveries gratis, then their service and their returns policy are generally excellent.

Now that the summer holidays are about to start, thousands of British holiday makers are caught in a dilemma. Do you head into an area where there is the strong possibility, if not probability, of a raging fire in your holiday destination or abandon the idea of the family holiday? Some tour operators are still flying holiday makers out to Rhodes whereas others have cancelled their flights. As you might imagine the insurance situation is somewhat tangled – if you have booked a complete package of flight plus accommodation, then refunds are more possible but the situation alters if you book a flight and then arrange accommodation separately. The weather has been so miserable in July and some families have been deprived of holidays for so long that you can well imagine the attractions of a holiday in continental Europe. On the other hand, it is possible, as some tourists found the other day, their airline has flown them into the airport and then they have to go straight into an evacuation centre if their hotel has shut up shop. The British do seem rather addicted to their holidays whatever the circumstances but I can imagine that many will now decide to holiday in the UK if there is a glimmer of better weather to come.

Although electric vehicles seem to be the future, there is a major problem with the charging infrastructure. The problem is not that there are not enough charging points across the country, which is bad enough. The Faraday Institution, a battery science research group, says that the UK is going to need at least five gigafactories by 2030 to meet domestic demand, and twice that number by 2040. So, even though electric vehicles represent the future of the car, the UK has a long way to go before the revolution happens here. But a more significant problem is that the national grid has to be able to deliver electricty to these charging points. There are stories that in some parts of the country, the charging points are in place but not yet connected to the grid, the infrastructure of which has to be upgraded. One can quite see how the hybrid models are achieving the popularity that they are because the small engine is designed primarily to charge the battery whilst one is on the go – the next time we change our family car, then the hybrid route is the one that we shall travel. One factor that may help to mitigate the availability of charging points is that with smart technology, it is quite possible that the nearest charging points are shown to you over the car’s display systems and perhaps in a year or so, you may be able to book your ‘slot’ automatically at a charger so as not to be left with the nightmare of several cars wanting to access a limited number of charging points and huge waits within one’s journey as a consequence.

On the TV the other night, they showed again the first two episodes from Jacob Bronowski’s ‘The Ascent of Man’ which was first broadcast some 40 years ago. I started to watch this with a degree of sceptism as I felt that more recent anthropological fossil finds would render the whole work obsolete. But I was incredibly impressed with the erudition and clarity with which the introductory programs were written and a quick search on the web revealed the expressed view that this series was perhaps one of the finest documentary series ever broadcast. I now look forward with interest to watching the rest of the series unfold, dated though it might be, as Bronowski was such a charismatic writer and presenter.