Saturday, 30th July, 2022

[Day 866]

Today is the day of our departure after our ‘mini-break’ which we have enjoyed enormously. We woke up at 6.30 and immediately started packing but it is so much easier to pack up when you are coming home than it is when you are going away, if only because the decisions make themselves – everything in the wardrobe needs to be packed and so on. We were packed up by 8.00 and so had an early-ish breakfast. One of the waitors recognised us and asked if there was anything we required and so we requested some muesli which was missing from the cereals corner. Then it was case of getting everything into the car in stages and we set off a little after 9.00am. We have details of how to get through directly to the reception manager at the hotel in order to organise our little get-together for my sister next month and also have a clearer idea of the numbers of people who will be able to attend so we are now in a position to firm up some of the arrangements that we have put in place. We made a stop half down the motorway and bought some Costa coffee whilst consuming our own food which was a pattern that everybody else seemed to be deploying. The first part of the journey was quite straight forward but the second half was more problematic as we were taking the M42 going around Birmingham which was quite massively congested and we crawled along at a very slow pace. This added about 30 minutes onto the journey overall but we collected our backlog of newspapers from the newsagent and then made for home. As it was a little warm and muggy, we just had a ball of ice-cream to accompany some apple tarts that we had bought as a ‘hotel bedroom’ snack and this made for a quick and instant lunch. Then we got the washing underway, got our suitcases unpacked and finally put everything away (e.g. our food bag, some of the ‘kitcheny’ things that we typically take with us to hotel bedrooms to make our stay a little more comfortable) So having got all of our systems put to rights, as it were, we are having a relaxing afternoon before we go off as we normally do to church on a Saturday evening. In the background, we have the Commonwealth games on where there are some sports that have not completely grabbed our attention just yet. But what is impressive so far is a huge mechanical 10-metre tall metal bull with the various pulleys and mechanical bits that aid its locomotion visible from the outside. After taking part in the opening ceremony, the bull has been transported to Birmingham City Centre where it is already being regarded as a tourist attraction. I think the original intention was that it would be dismantled after the Games were over but I would not be surprised if it could be kept (and occasionally operated) on a more permanent basis in the city centre.

It has been one of those cloudy days with the very occasional smattering of rain. One does wish that the heavens would open and that we could have a good proper drenching but instead we just have gloom interspersed with very light and inconsequential showers. When we return from church this evening, if nothing else in the Commonwealth Games grabs us, then we may treat ourselves to an opera via YouTube. Now that we have faster speed broadband on tap, then we don’t suffer the buffering delays that we have experienced in the past.

Whilst I have been absorbed in family activities for the last few days, I have not followed political events as closely as I generally do. But there are hints on both sides of the Atlantic that some dramatic political events may be unfolding. There is the possibility, foreshadowed in opinion polls, that the revelations of the insurrection and invasion of the Capitol on January 6th, 2021,condoned by ex-President Trump, may finally be making an impact on Republican voters in the USA to the extent that they may be withdrawing support for Trump to have another run at the Presidency. On this side of the Atlantic, Rishi Sunak is trailing Liz Truss so badly after two other prominent Conservatives have swung behind Liz Truss that there are some suggestions that Sunak might withdraw, rather than risking a humiliating defeat at the hands of Conservative party members. As always, the Sunday newspapers may give a lot of informed insights as to what is happening in the actual campaigns. At one stage, Johnson (like Trump) looked as though he might try and effect a comeback bid there is plenty more ‘dirt’ yet to be revealed, I suspect. The Labour Party is speculating that Liz Truss may quite an easy candidate to beat so they are just sitting back and watching developments with some amusement.