14 April 2024

Busy, busy week. Lots of errands to carry out, one of which was totally unnecessary due to my complete incompetence. We also had Jessie for an overnighter which is always great fun if somewhat demanding (for Grandma, that is, who does all the heavy lifting).

All the busy-ness really started last week and relates almost entirely to cars and campervans and the need to keep them serviced and road worthy. The campervan was due for its annual service and MOT (Road Worthy Certificate) so I arranged to drop it into our local garage just down the road. It (almost) sailed through the test – they discovered that one of the rear springs was broken so we then had to arrange another date for that to be replaced (day after tomorrow). While they were inspecting it, however, they came across another issue which needed addressing – not enough to contribute to the MOT failure but it seems that a plastic cover underneath the van had been broken and was flapping in the breeze, presumably by someone running over something. Now, neither Penny nor I can remember running over anything but it’s certainly possible that we did without realising it. We’ve certainly driven away from a campsite or two forgetting to retrieve the bucket strategically placed beneath the drain hose from the sink. It’s possible that could have been the cause – who knows?

So, I then had to arrange for the campervan to be delivered to the chap who did the original conversion which involves me driving the van to Southam with Penny following close behind to bring me home again.

The next day, Wednesday, I had arranged for Penny’s car to have its alignment checked at our local garage. Sometime ago a pothole leapt out of the roadside and hammered the car and destroyed the nearside front tyre. We had the tyre changed but were unable to get the alignment checked at the same time. So, I fixed for it to be dealt with by our local garage mechanic, (foolishly as it turns out). Foolishly because I had also arranged for the Toyota garage in Northampton to do her annual service (for which we have a service contract) a few days later. When I informed the local mechanic of this, he very kindly pointed out that they would probably do this for free as part of the service. The sound of my slapping my forehead to give myself a good smack could be heard throughout the village.

As if that wasn’t enough running around to get vehicles seen to, on Thursday we had to go across to Southam again to collect the van so that it could have the rear spring replaced at our local garage on Tuesday. After that’s done, we’ll need to deliver it back to Southam so that they can replace the plastic cover!

It’s all too much for my feeble brain to cope with!

Add to that, on Wednesday we had Jessie for an overnighter which is always good fun. She runs us ragged, of course, but this time that was exacerbated by the fact that my sciatica pain was such that I was able to be of even less assistance than I usually am. (Penny would probably tell you that I couldn’t be more useless if I tried and she probably has a point). We did enjoy a cinematic delight – we watched the Tim Burton version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp which was fun. Popcorn and all!

Other than that we’ve spent most of our time trying to dodge the showers and the intermittent downpours. Rain, rain, rain interspersed with the occasional dry couple of hours. And, it’s all over the country – everywhere has had much more rain than they know what to do with. Penny and I were listening to the radio on one of our trips to Southam and back and they interviewed a farmer from Lincolnshire who hasn’t seen his land in two months – it’s completely under water along with all the crops he had planted. And, of course, he’s unable to do anything!

To make matters worse, the government is refusing to compensate many farmers as their fields are too far from a river to be affected!

End of the week, though, has been pretty decent. A goodly amount of sunshine and moderate temperatures which has enabled Penelope to get out in the garden (and away from me). With climate change becoming a real thing, she has started the process of transforming part of our garden into a Mediterranean marvel – she picked up an olive tree the other day which is now planted in the “Desert Bed” where the laburnum used to be. How long before I can enjoy homegrown olives?

Friday was a big day – I went for my epidural injection which hopefully will alleviate the sciatic pain I’ve been enjoying. The process was very straight-forward and completely pain free. In and out, done and dusted in about half an hour. Now we just have to wait and see to what extent it’s been successful. They say it can take two or three days or even two to three weeks before one will notice any improvement, but already there has been a significant improvement. Still a bit of pain and pins and needles in my lower left leg but, fingers crossed, that may continue to improve over the coming days. Let’s hope so because this has been a drag! And, my carer is about to revolt.

The other main activity I’ve been amusing myself with this week is fiddling with my family tree, an activity which I come back to every now and again. I think most of you know that I dabble with this – I inherited quite a decent family tree from my father (and his mother) and another side from my mother’s brother. Putting the two together resulted in quite a decent lineage. Since then I’ve been chasing down leads on the internet and gradually accumulating more and more ancestors – the tree now has more than 12,500 individuals.

On Tuesday I decided to see how far back I could go. Perhaps you will be as astonished as I was to discover that I was able to trace our lineage back to the 700s – to one Adrianus Orleans, Count of Orleans, born in about 755 AD, my 35x Great Grandfather!

So, just for fun, I tried to work out how many 35x great grandparents I might have. (I am grateful to Adam for checking my maths on this – he’s much smarter than I am). The answer would be 2^37, I think. 137,438,953,472! That assumes, of course, that each one of my 35x great grandparents is distinct but that’s probably not the case. Adam sent me a link to an article in Scientific American which explains why we are all much more closely related than we might think.

I then tried to come up with an estimate of how many 35x great grandchildren Adrianus might have fostered. Of course, it’s impossible to work it out precisely but, as a rough guess, if one imagines that each generation had, say, 3 surviving children that would mean, if my maths is anywhere near functional, there would be 3^35 descendants. Or, roughly 50,031,545,098,999,707. Given that the current population of the world is 7.951 billion, does that mean I am related to everyone on the planet? That number is way out of whack, of course, because it assumes that each of those is a distinct individual when, in fact, the same person appears in, perhaps, several different places in the family tree.

Perhaps I’ll find something better to waste my time with this week.

Both come this week from that universal provider of all stupidity, the Tory party and their election propaganda. Last week they published an attack ad claiming that London, under the Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan, has become the crime capital of the world. Unfortunately, the footage they used of people running from an alleged gunfire incident was filmed in Penn Station, New York. They hastily deleted the tweet.

This week their media team managed to surpass even that nonsense. They tweeted an image of the Prime Minister with the tagline, “Britain is the second most powerful country” cheerily illustrated with a photo montage of some examples of the UK’s power and importance. The first thing wrong with the tweet was that it included an image of King Charles. According to long established protocol, the image of the monarchy cannot be used in such publicity. Amongst the other images illustrating the might of the UK? A Canadian car, an American jet and a South Korean-built ship. This tweet was also rapidly deleted.

You could not make it up.

Meanwhile, keep happy, keep smiling, keep exercising, be good, be careful, and keep safe. And be gentle to wasps and bees.

Lots of love to you all,


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