Saturday, 27th March, 2021

[Day 376]

After the beautiful spring-like weather of yesterday, today was both cloudier and cooler but we know we have better weather to come next week. We picked up our bulging ration of Saturday newspapers (replete with supplements) and paused by Waitrose to see what offerings they had so that we can buy some of their plants in the next day or do to take down to Oxfordshire for our dinner date on Tuesday next. Our normal park benches were full by the time we got there so we started to unfold our little camping stool and intended to park Meg upon it – but when some of the occupants of the park benches saw our plight, we seemed to be offered a bench in no time at all. Once there, we were joined by our University of Birmingham friends and several other acquaintances stopped by a chat. Eventually we were joined by a chap we know quite well who hailed originally from Karachi and we walked some of the way home together. When the weather (and the lockdown) improves, we may well pop round to see him as we have an open invitation to partake in a nice cup of tea together. Half way up the hill, we paused to chat for another fellow church attender who we know by sight – and just then some of our church friends appeared so to finished up with a new recruit to the flower arrangers circle attached to the church. At the top of the hill, we bumped into neighbour who we know by sight and in transpires that she hails from Durban. I have seen this lady and her children on quite a few occasions because they live in big old semi in the main road and they used to have a Honda-CRV of exactly the same colour and model that we had intended to buy. So I often used to linger and have a good stare at it as there are not many Hondas around in Bromsgrove and I was trying to assess whether it was the right size (and height) for Meg to access. Our near neighbour recognised us by sight as we have walked up and down the road for a year now and my black Australian style bushman hat is quite distinctive. She was intrigued to know where we actually lived and as she wanted to get het quota of ‘exercise steps in’ (this indicates one’s generation and life-style) and so she walked round the corner to have a look at our residence. I say this because even long established residents of Bromsgrove are not aware of that particular bit of infill which is where we are located. When the weather and the lockdown further improves, we will probably extend an invite so that she and her children can have a tour of the garden and we would probably quite like exchanging some of our travel experiences. It seems extraordinary how our little circle of friends and acquaintances are slowly and gradually increasing – so much better than having one’s range of contacts decrease in these uncertain times.

This afternoon was a fairly quiet afternoon because we know that in the early evening we were going to attend our normal church service. We decided to get there five minutes earlier than our normal time because we had a wreath hanging about (literally!) since Christmas time and on the maker’s advice, we decided to place it on the grave of Tolkien’s mother who just happened to be interred in the little graveyard attached to the church. We introduced ourselves to our new parish priest and indicated that we were the people who had left him a bottle of damson gin last week. This was complete news to him so the bottle of gin must have stayed where we left it in the presbytery and then mysteriously disappeared – well, we all know that the presbyteries of Catholic Churches are dens of venality. There is plenty more where that came from so its disappearance is no problem for us.

Tonight, the clocks go forward and so we are losing an hour’s sleep – not that that will trouble me a great deal. We must say, though, that we are looking forward to next week when we may with some good weather be able to meet with friends in back gardens (ours or theirs) The COVID news is quite interesting. Vaccinations are approaching the 30 million mark and both the infection rate and the deaths are still dropping. But, for once, Boris Johnson appears to be amazingly realistic about the way ahead. It is reported that he said there were still unanswered questions about the impact of a third coronavirus wave from Europe, as he said 'bitter experience' had shown a wave like the one in Europe would hit the UK three weeks later. So I suspect that at the heart of government, there are some very real fears about new variants of COVID against which vaccines have a limited effect and a possible re-infection from the the rest of continental Europe.