Sunday, 24th January, 2021

[Day 314]

Today was a snow-laden day and we were speculating how much snow had fallen overnight since our dump of snow the previous day. We got up at a reasonable time and I set out on foot to get our supplies of the Sunday newspapers. The snow was reasonably thick and crisp but relatively easy to walk upon. Although I took my ‘three-legged’ portable stool with me (which doubles as a walking stick), I did not really need it. The most unpleasant part of the whole journey was a stinging snow in my face as I walked down the hill – as the wind was heading towards me, I finished up at the newsagents looking like an abominable snowman by the time I had accumulated snow all the way down my front. I was relieved to see newsagent was open and so having collected my newspapers, I ate my customary banana for a quick burst of energy and then headed for home and the snow seemed to be falling a little less intensely. I must say I felt fairly tired having trudged through the snow so I was pleased to get to watch the Andrew Marr show as is customary on a Sunday. To get ourselves warmed up, I treated myself to a cup of powdered soup as I felt rather chilled to the marrow and then felt all the better for it. We had a quick consultation with the rest of the family as to when we would clear the snow from our communal driveways (about 150-170 metres all in all) and decided that we would eat in the middle of the day and then start to clear the snow at at about 2.30. We actually started off a little earlier this with a trusted team of myself, son and daughter-in-law (for whose benefit we were clearing the driveway in case she has to make it into work in the morning). We had a combination of tools to help us – my son was utilising a conventional plastic snow clearing implement whilst the daughter-in-law and myself were equipped with huge plastic shovels which, I believe, are designed primarily for mucking out the cow sheds. These proved to be worth their weight in gold as they prove highly effective in snow clearance. Whilst we were at it, we cleared the driveways of our immediate neighbours such that emergency vehicles, postmen etc. can easily get to them. The temperature is predicted to be -5° tomorrow and we suspect that our driveways will be especially slippery tomorrow. We need to get in a supply of rock salt and/or ice clearing material – I think that cat litter might prove to be a good anti-slip agent but I haven’t tried this. I did a quick web search in which I found enough information to discourage me – ‘Just don’t put the cat litter on your walkways. It’s clay and will form a paste once it’s saturated with water. You’ll have a hell of a time getting rid of it. You’ll track grey muck into your house all winter. And it’s somehow, slippery and sticky at the same time when it gets wet‘ . Having ascertained this, we will stick to rock salt and/or sand in the future- we managed to get all of our work done within the hour. Our daughter-in-law had to communicate with a lot of her staff using social media to ascertain how many of them can get into work in the morning.

I had consulted my emails and so on first thing this morning and I get a feed from a local news gathering app called ‘InYourArea’ which can be a good source of local news. We used to have a local Arts Centre called the Artrix which doubled as a cinema/theatre/performance space. In the past, we have seen films of operas transmitted there. Under the impact of various lockdowns, this has had to close its doors. However the whole building has now ben re-purposed as a specialised vaccination centre which is capable of performing 2,500 vaccinations per day (which according to my back-of-the-envelope calculations is ¾ million per year). According to their press release, opening day should be tomorrow and we should expect letters to arrive on our doorsteps on Monday or Tuesday. As there is plenty of car parking and it has a reasonably central location, I wonder if this will become the permanent vaccination centre for the whole of Bromsgrove – what with 2nd dosages of the COVID-19 vaccine and the ‘normal’ flue jabs, it should be quite well occupied in the foreseeable future. Tonight, the total vaccination rate in the UK has hit 6.3 million (approx 12% of the population) so what with lots of new centres like the our local Artrix centre, then perhaps the government target of having all vulnerable and 70+ people (some 15 million) vaccinated by mid-February could well be achieved. For once, the government might actually hit its own target but the debate whether it was wise to extend the period of time between the first and second doses of the vaccine from 3 to 12 weeks rages on.