Friday, 12th August, 2022

[Day 879]

Today we were pleased to have no particular commitments and all we had to do was to develop strategies to survive the heat. The next three days are probably going to be critical and, thereafter, there ought to be some cooling and the possibility of downpours with, perhaps, a thunderstorm or two thrown in. To avoid the heat, we travelled by car to pick up our newspaper and then made our way to the park. We were practically fried to a frazzle on our normal bench but shortly afterwards the adjacent bench. nicely located under a large sycamore tree, became vacant and we were delighted to occupy it and to enjoy some gentle breezes. We had hoped to see one or two of our regular park friends today but neither made an appearance so after a suitable wait, we made our way home. Fortunately today we had a very simple lunch planned which was a meal of seabass served on a bed of lettuce. This is quickly and easily prepared and is nutritious without being too filling but in view of the tremendous heat (28-29 degrees outside our back door), we treated ourselves to a sweet of cooling ice-cream. This afternoon, Meg and I started off the afternoon by changing into some nice cooling clothing, appropriate to today’s conditions, because we have to do everything we can to keep ourselves stable in these unprecedented times. I have already filled the fridge with several bottles of tap water so that we always have some cooled water available. Then I replied to some of my emails at length. First, one of my university flatmates who lives in Colombo, Sri Lanka, had lost the address of my blog so he had written to a mutual friend/flatmate. I supplied both the WordPress and the text version web addresses and also included my current business card which some months ago, I had the foresight to put on an easily accessible website. Then I wrote a long email to our University of Winchester friend who lives in a little hamlet in Berkshire and updated her on all of the activities in which we have been engaged since she came to stay with us about a month ago. After this, I texted one of our friends with whom we hope to rendezvous when we make our visit up to Yorkshire in about 12 days time. I have done preliminary research to locate a restaurant within easy reach of York station that will act as a meeting point for the four of us – my first choice of restaurant had to be abandoned when I discovered that it only opens in the evening and not at lunchtimes apart from the weekends but I have now located a hotel with a good restaurant in the approaches to the station which I think will fit the bill for us.

As I write today, there is a special program to which I am half listening on the heatwave and the drought. One fact that has emerged is that one fire started on a farm somewhere in the South where an agricultural implement had struck a stone which created a spark and that was enough to set the grassland alight and for the fire to take hold. There is also quite a lot of talk about the reservoirs that have been built (or rather not been built) in the past few decades. Although there are plans to build a new reservoir in Havant to assist the rain starved South of the country, it appears that many reservoirs have been been sold off to increase the profitability of the water companies rather than to enhance the supply of water. I heard one account that suggested that the last major reservoir to be built ‘in the South’ was Rutland Water, perhaps commentators being ignorant of the fact that this is the East Midlnds and not the South! There is also a report that the capacity of Rhine has reduced so much that the clearance of the huge barges that ply up and down the Rhine is now down to about 40cm (about the size of large rock) The Rhine is decribed as the ‘M1’ of Germany as so many heavy goods are distributed up and down its length. The solution of the Germans is to transport loads in much smaller barges only one quarter of the capacity of the normal transportation barges. This is evidently inefficient, clogs up the river and the cumulative effect of all of this may be to knock half a percentage point off the anticipated economic growth of the German economy this year. There seems to be a growing consensus that these extremes of heat are going to be the ‘new’ normal and this means that serious thought has to be given to stop leakages and increase investment in water. Of course, privatisation was meant to be the ‘solution’ to all of these problems but we are seeing a familiar pattern in which concern about returns to shareholders seems much important than investment to improve the water supply, whatever the water regulator attempts to do.