Friday, 26th August, 2022

[Day 893]

Today was the day when we were due to hold our little tea party for my sister’s 80th birthday in the hotel this afternoon. We started off by having a leisurely breakfast and then went for a little tour of the Valley Gardens which are a magnificent and much appreciated part of the Harrogate scene. On my way into the Valley Gardens, I remembered a memorial plaque to a US hospital unit that was stationed in Harrogate and whose leaving date happened to be the absolute day on which I was born in 1945. Then we made a leisurely stroll through some of the familiar Harrogate streets, hoping to end up at the little unpretentious little restaurant that we used frequently when in Harrogate. But this desire was thwarted when we found that the cafe was closed for their annual holidays so we made our way to the Italian style cafe bar (run by a variety of nationalities but mainly Greek) which we visited yesterday. We thought we would try an iced coffee for a change but were not overly impressed. Then we made our way slowly back to the hotel to dump some of our stuff and then sauntered out to another cafe near to the hotel that we used to visit quite freqently but which has now changed hands. We ordered two soups which were all we needed at this hour in the day and also begged a couple of elderflower cordial bottles which will be tremendously useful when we eventually get round to bottling last year’s damson gin. Then we repaired back to the hotel and enjoyed a bit of quiet time before our celebrations were due to start this afternoon.

The hotel had done us proud and set out a nice little area to seat the seven of us and included a cake stand. At the suggestion of the staff who had organised the event for us this afternoon, we did indulge in one bottle of prosecco between the six adults of us. For their part, the hotel had also presented my sister with a signed card of the hotel and a little key ring token of the hotel. We set in the middle of the table the vase which we had lovingly transported from Bromsgrove. Whilst we were in Wetherby the other day, we had bought a small collection of wild dried flowers which complemented the vase well and we had this displayed as a centrepiece of our tea table. Then after the prosecco, I gave my sister the vouchers that we had bought in the special Wetherby flower shop as well as two birthday cards, one from Meg and myself and the other from Martin and Mandy. The card from Martin and Mandy was particularly interesting as it featured 1942 (the year in which my sister was born as she is 80 this year) The card contains a host of interesting little ‘facts’ which illustrated the year of 1942 and really made for the most interesting of cards – one that you would not want to throw away when the celebrations are over. Once the prosecco was drunk, tea was served to us consisting of a variety of daintily cut sandwiches and some little cakes in great variety. Finally, we came to the cutting of the cake and sharing it round us and it was delicious and sufficient for the seven of us. The hotel kindly wrapped up the remainder for us and so we all made for for our way home. My sister messaged me with some heartfelt thanks and we exchanged messages, pleased with the way that the whole afternoon had gone and that a wonderful and memorable afternoon had been enjoyed by all. I was so pleased that everything had worked as intended and, in truth, it was very easy to organise and the hotel played their part magnificiently. Given that ‘formal’ afternoon teas are not the kind of thing that you do every day, I think that a warm glow of satisfaction was enjoyed by all and the afternoon had just flown by.

The news about the rising of the fuel cap to an astounding £3,549 from its previous approx. £2k is generally frightening, particularly as there are more projections of even more horrendous increases in the spring months. The media is full of news indicating that so many people are already finding it increasingly difficult to survive on their present resources and where are the extra £1,000s going to come from? Many people are cutting heating down to the minimum including, of course, any heating for food and it looks as though millions of us are going to grow not only cold but also hungry. The politicians are making vague promises that when the Tory election campaign is over, many more resources will be made available but this is rather a case of ‘jam tomorrow – perhaps’. The difficulty is that people’s bills are going up now but any action is promised weeks later and this will almost certainly be too little, too late. As we have a ‘zombie government’ active at the moment,no political spokesmen are available from any of the relevant government departments. Will the population eventually take to the streets, I ask myself?