Thursday, 3rd June, 2021

[Day 444]

Today has been an interesting day for us. We were a little delayed in our normal walk because the Waitrose shopping was delivered (back onto our normal schedule from 9-10 on a Thursday morning) and, of course, all of this needs putting away. It was a day for our gardener who calls on us about once a month and for whom we rely to do some of the heavier shrub and bush trimming. Once we had a chat with him we set on our way and I dropped Meg on our normal bench whilst I went off to collect the newspapers. This sort of routine may only carry on for less than two weeks because the famous Waitrose cafe is scheduled to reopen on Wednesday, June 17th. When it does, we will call in there for our morning coffee and it will be fascinating to see how long it will take for the old networks, current about 17 months ago, to manage to recreate themselves. Beyond a doubt, some of the regulars will have go themselves in new routines, watering holes, friendship groups and the like so will have to wait and see. I have asked the Waitrose staff that I see when I pop into the store for a quick forgotten item (as I did this morning as we were in danger of running out of coffee) to remind the manager that the old regulars should be rewarded with a bottle of champagne or similar on their reopening day. Although Waitrose do sell newspapers, I shall continue to patronise the little newsagents around the corner in order to keep the more personal relationship going. My newspapers are always put on one side for me which means that they get delivered to me from where they have been put aside in the back room of the shop and I know that they will always be there for me.

I knew that after lunch, I needed to walk down into town for one or two urgent things. In particular, I needed to get into the local branch of Santander because my debit card cannot be introduced into any of the ATM machines. Within the store, it was indicated to me that I could have a replacement card with the same number on it about which I am mightily relieved. What I feared was that Santander would give me a whole new card with a new number on it and this would mean contacting quite a lot of online payment services where my card. details are ‘lodged’ in order to update the details. I know that from post experience, this can be quite troublesome not to mention time-consuming, so if I can get an exact replacement, so much the better. Whilst in town, I availed myself of some of the local charity shops that I have not frequented for months now. I acquired an incredibly well-illustrated guide to Spain for £2.00, beautifully illustrated with some excellent high quality photos. I thought I was buying myself yet another travel guide to Spain but in practice this is more like a mini-encyclopaedia on the history, art literature etc. of Spain. As such, I think it will give Meg and I lots of pleasure but no doubt it will fill us full of longing to get back there again but I suspect that next Spring may be the earliest date that we can realistically expect. I could not resist the temptation to go into my local ‘The Works‘ (which sells remaindered books and a variety of stationery) and as I was completing my purchases, the shop manager plonked a ‘long’ 2021 calendar which appears to have a psalm for every month of the year. The complete package, which I haven’t had chance to open or examine yet, also contains a small 2021 diary again replete with psalms. The shop manager practically threw this item at me (marked down from £10 to£2.50 to 50p) saying to the assistant ‘This is for the gentleman‘ so I suppose I must have looked badly in need redemption or something. Now an interesting question arises whether I keep this little package or not because I happen to know one of my friends would quite like a ‘long ‘ calendar but she probably won’t thank me for suppling her with one with religious motives on every page!

The COVID-19 news this evening looks particularly grim this evening. The UK has reported 5,274 new coronavirus cases and 18 further deaths and this is the highest daily jump since 26th March (two months ago). Also, this news comes as Public Health England (PHE) revealed the number of cases of the Indian (Delta) variant have almost doubled in the past week – rising by 5,472 to 12,431. This is surely sounding the death knell for any immediate release from the lockdown restrictions. As it happens, Boris is pictured receiving his second jab today but in the race between ‘second jabs’ and increase in the Indian (Delta) variant of the virus, it looks as though victory is going to the latter.