Saturday, 16 March 2019

Weather! catching up with things!

My Spanish sister tells me that they are having an early heatwave in the Sunny South of Spain. We all know this might be expected on the Costa del Sol but she lives around the corner, beyond Tarifa, where all the windsurfers like to go, onto the Atlantic coast where she assures me they usually have quite chilly winter winds at this time of year. It’s all relative, of course. 22 degrees no doubt feels quite cool when you are used to summer in the 30+ degrees but to those of us who live in the foothills of the Pennines 22 degrees seems positively balmy!

They weren’t having a heatwave when my English sister and I went over there this time last year. We had some fine but coolish days and some very stormy days with lashings of rain! So it goes.

Here in Super-Soggy Saddleworth, we are having lashings of rain at the moment. There is even snow forecast for tomorrow! The river is bouncing along fit to burst its banks at any moment. In fact the area where our little granddaughter goes on occasion to a Forest School outdoor playgroup is already nicely underwater, not so much from the river overflowing but simply from the amount of water running down the slope. And in a place I walked past this morning where they keep chickens, the chicken runs are seriously wet. The hens are pretty soon going to have evolve rapidly into waterfowl!

All of this makes life interesting!

Yesterday began with rain but morphed into a rather fine and sunny day, although still wild and windy. I went on a John Lewis hunt with my daughter. Ordering stuff from John Lewis is easy; you just do it online. Exchanging good is more time-consuming and requires travel. The nearest actual stores are in Cheadle (practically Stockport) and the Trafford Centre, a temple to consumerism which is best avoided at all times.

So Cheadle it was!

The reason for my John Lewis hunt goes back to Christmas. Our son, knowing that our electric kettle was becoming temperamental, organised a joint present from him and his sister to the parents who were clearly neglecting to replace the wonky kettle. And so a fine new electric kettle and matching toaster - a four slot toaster to meet the requirements of family visits to the parental home - were presented on Christmas day, or maybe a couple of days later.

All very nice, except that when water was boiled in the kettle it acquired a strange plastic tang. Tea with plastic is not my favourite beverage. Besides, there was this smidgeon of fear that maybe we might actually absorb some of that plastic into our systems. Now, I am aware that we all inadvertently absorb plastic from all sorts of sources but there is not point in overdoing it, specially if it can be avoided!

We did some research and discovered that other people had had the same problem. Remedies were suggested, involving bicarbonate of soda and repeated filling and boiling of the kettle. All to no avail! It was going to have to be swapped for some other model. So eventually we had our son email us, not the receipt for the kettle -goodness knows where that was - but the guarantee emailed to him by John Lewis. Since then, the exhange had to be delayed as I was running off to Cuba and then Spain,

But yesterday was the day. Armed with the document, I first approached the customer service department of the store. “Oh no, we don’t do exchanges. You need to go to the kitchen goods section of the store and sort it out there.” So off we trotted and spoke to a helpful assistant who efficiently found our kettle on the system so that she could give is an idea of the price range we were looking for. And a stainless steel kettle, no plastic interior, was duly selected and taken back to the checkout.

The helpful, efficient assistant had disappeared.

I had to explain the whole thing again, and again, and again, to a less than brilliant assistant. Paper forms were filled in with the order number from my son’s guarantee email, his name, the model number of the kettle, the problem with the kettle, my name and goodness knows what else! But a new kettle was acquired and works fine ... so far!

The toaster, by the way, has been fine from day one. Perfectionists might object to our having a toaster and kettle that do not match! We shall just pretend to be really trendy, like those cafes where they never have matching plates!

On Thursday, another occasion when the morning rain stopped and the afternoon became fine and sunny, I went into Manchester to have lunch with a couple of old friends. We have tried on numerous occasions to organise this and the last few times it has ended up being just two of us as the third party became elusive. First he was involved in conducting spoken examinations for French A and AS-Level, seriously reducing his availability. Then he sort of disappeared off the radar. Eventually we discovered he had changed his email address to avoid the spam that kept coming through to him. Unfortunately, he neglected to tell friends what his new email was.

But we tracked him down and had a decent lunch at a tapas emporium on Deansgate, catching up on gossip and the progress of our children and grandchildren. Only towards the end did we even mention the B word.

We still wait to see what wonders La Theresa can come up with!

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