Sunday, 15th May, 2022

[Day 790]

Today was the long anticipated day when we were due to travel North to visit Meg’s cousins in Bolton, Greater Manchester. We did not bother to set an alarm but just got up at the normal time and had our an ‘oats and bran’ quick breakfast for a Sunday morning. We prepared some comestibles and a flask of coffee ready to be consumed on the journey. The journey itself went very smoothly and we made a pitstop at Keele Sevices which is an approximate half way point. We secured ourselves a relatively secluded little location inside the services station where we could drink our coffee and ‘eat our snap’ before resuming our journey. The motorway systems around Greater Manchester are complex so we stuck rigidly to our SatNav which dropped us to the door absolutely on time. By the time we had got ourselves out of the car and laden with the pot plants and wine we were taking long, we managed to arrive practically on time, practically to the second. Inside we were greeted by Meg’s cousin, Meg’s cousing once-removed i.e. the daughter and her husband. The family dog also put in an appearance and after a few barks and sniffs accepted us aspart of the family. As always on these occasions, we spent most of our time talking about family members, particularly a generation or so ago and we managed to convey a few things about Meg’s extended family that they did not know (sort of ‘skeletons in the cupboard’ time) Then we had a magnificent meal of chicken and lashings of vegetables before we started to access some of the photos on our iPad telling the story that lay behind them e.g. the photograph of my grandmother, probably taken by about 1910 which had been ‘colourised’ by the technques popular at the time. My grandmother was wearing a beautiful dress and even more exotic headgear but we understand that photographers often had this type of clothing available for their suubjects to wear. The afternoon seemed to absolutely speed by so at 5.00pm we took our leave before we outstayed our welcome and headed for home. We had a quick ‘pit stop’ on the way back down and got home before 7.30 By the time we arrived home, the rain had started to fall quite gently. We noticed with much pleasure that the patio that we had cleaned yesterday looked absolutely fabulous as the colours glowed in the soft rain. This reminded Meg and I that we had a feature constructed in the garden of our house in Hedge End, Southampton which was called a heritage circle. This utilised a series of differently coloured and sized slabs arranged in a circular pattern and we reminded ourselves that in the rain this also looked stunningly beautiful but as that was some fifteen years ago, we had forgotten all about until today.

There are persistent reports concerning the health of Putin this evening. Some of these reports may be a case of wishful thinking on the part of the West but a persistent report is that Putin is seriously ill and may well be suffering from leukaemia or a similar illness. The puffiness around the face that Putin seems to be exhibiting is probably the consequence of the use of steroids, western medical experts are saying. Whether this is true or not is difficult to say but even if Putin is ill, it may take him some time to die and the war in the Ukraine rages on. In the fullness of time, Putin’s miscalculations may cost him dear but this evening, both Sweden and Finalnd are busy abandoning decades of neutrality and are making haste to join NATO. If these applications are successful, then in the ase of Finland, Russia is now faced with an 800 mile border (with Finland) now facing a hostile NATO front line. There must be some minds in Russia who must be secretly appalled by the miscalculations that Putin has wrought, making Russia less rather than more secure. All that this does is to lower the threshold at which the Russians may feel inclined to utilise tactical nuclear weapons which well presage the start of World War III.

Eggs have been thrown after a statue of Baroness Margaret Thatcher was lowered into place in the former prime minister’s hometown of Grantham, according to Sky News this evening. The original plan was to have the statue erected in Parliament Square in London. After fears that the statue might be attacked or vandalised by ‘far left’ groups if erected in London, it was thought better to erect the statue in Thatcher’s home town of Grantham, Lincs. But after South Kesteven District Council approved a £100,000 unveiling ceremony in 2020, a Facebook group proposing an ‘egg-throwing contest’ at the event attracted interest from more than 13,000 people. What will be interesting to observe in the next few days is whether the statue will attract similar protests some two years later – perhaps the relevant authorities have placed it at such a height or with a physical barrier such that any egg-thrown missiles will fail to reach their target. We shall have to wait and see.