Monday, 14th March, 2022

[Day 728]

Today was the most beautiful fine day and we looked forward very much to a pleasant stroll in the sunshine. On our way down, we were pleased to run into our Irish friend from down the road and we chatted for a bit about church matters and a tooth her husband was going to have extracted, which occasioned him having to undertake a COVID test. This involves going to Worcester Royal some 14 miles away which is always a bit of a pain. But to alleviate the absolutely horrendous carparking provision in the hospital, one has to drive up to a special COVID pod and all of the procedures are done through the open car window which makes a lot of sense to every one concerned. We went on our way and called in at the newsagents where there was a notice in the window displaying the fact that a large insurance company that occupies a very prominent position in the town was going to organise a ‘cake sale’ with the proceeds going to the Ukrainian relief fund. The newsagent and I chatted about this and we were delighted that a communal effort was going in in the town. Meg chatted to his wife who was just leaving the shop and she was explaining that her daughter, who she had not seen for two years, had just completed a flying visit from Los Angeles and had just returned to the States. We go to the park and the fine weather seemed to bring out lots of our park acquaintances. In particular, we had quite a long chat with a lady who had an incredibly friendly ‘working collie’. I have subsequently discovered that a ‘working collie’ is a dog bred not to be a pet as such but to a ‘working sheep dog’. I now know that to become a fully accredited working sheep dog is quite a long and arduous process where the dog in question has to exhibit various skill levels. The dog that we met in the park was insistent that we throw the ball as far away as we could so that the ball could be retrieved and dropped at our feet waiting for the next throw – you could spent all morning doing this. As we sitting in the pleasant spring sunshine, we were passed by a goodly number of our regular park acquaintances – we evidently all appreciated the beautiful weather. In the park, the flowering cherry trees are in almost full bloom ad the weeping willows next to them are coming into their greenery so the two types of trees complement each other well. Then we progressed home and had a lunch consisting of the ham cooked yesterday and a mélange of vegetables cooked today.

In the afternoon, I needed to devote a certain amount of time to get my accounts into order. This is because at this time of the month I have some payments flowing in and several more designed to flow out again so I need to ensure that my various records and spreadsheets are duly updated. This seemed to go fairly effortlessly and I was pleased to get it done for another month.

The latest news from the Ukraine, despite the tightening of the Russian noose around the Ukrainian neck, is showing some slight signs of hope. There is another round of Ukraine-Russia negotiations underway today, via a video conference and the Ukrainians were presssing for a cease fire, the withdrawal of Russian troops and some security guarantees for Kyiv. On a somewhat more positive note, a total of 10 humanitarian corridors have opened in the Ukraine today. It is hoped that an aid convoy could relieve the stricken, shelled city of Mariupol after days of failed attempts.It is understood, though, that some 2,5000 have died in Mariupol since the Russian invasion and the whole city seems to be without power, water and food in the middle of a Ukranian winter. People are so desparate for water that there are reports that frantic inhabitants are opening up their radiator systems to get access to the fluid circulating inside (which, if you have ever seen it, is black and iron oxides contaminated) The latest reports tonight have indicated that a relief convoy into Mariupol has failed yet again but a convoy of about 160 cards managed to leave the stricken city during a two-hour break in the hostilities. The news from around Kviv is that the Russians have laid waste to a string of small towns to the north of the Ukrainian capital. Their tactics may be to ‘clear’ these areas before starting a final sweep into the Ukrainian capital.

At home, Michael Gove has announced a scheme, already trailed in the media yesterday, that there will be a scheme offering £350 a month to anyone offering accommodation to Ukranian refugees. Government sources later said, as of 6.30pm on Monday, 20,000 people had already signed up to offer their homes to Ukrainians. This included 1,500 people registering to offer support within the first hour of the website going live on Monday afternoon.