I was transfixed by my first sight of a vapour trail in a week.
“Come and look at it, “ I squealed to the Partridge’s brother. The last time I had been so excited by such a mundane event was when the water suddenly surged through our pipes, having been cut off for over three weeks in 1983 as a result of the national water strike. Having to traipse up and down two flights of stairs in the midst of a severe winter to collect water from a standpipe in a neighbouring street made me, temporarily, appreciate the luxury of having a plentiful clean water supply literally on tap. Prior to arriving home, I had boasted to a friend that we had not been affected by the water strike. Once home I discovered the mains water pipe had burst in the cellar and although the water company had turned the water off, they would not turn the mains back on again for the duration of the strike. I was forced to collect fallen snow from my second floor roof and heat it in a saucepan just to have something to drink and wash in before I could make alternative arrangements the next day. Fortunately, local authorities still provided public baths where people could hire a bath in a cubicle to bathe in. Nowadays I imagine only showers in health clubs are available. It almost beggars belief but there was a time when my mother and I were living in a flat that did not have access to a bathroom. The nearest public baths were over two miles away and I needed to take a bus to get to them. I cannot imagine modern landlords would be able to get away with that. I came across an advert recently offering flats for sale in the very same house I had once lived in. Now even the tiniest studio boasts its own shower room.
My excitement at the vapour trail dissipated as quickly as it did. Not long afterwards, the sky seemed to be filled with the tell-tale sign of jet aircrafts. The noise they made seemed incredibly loud when normally I am scarcely aware of it. I find the incessant whine of helicopters far more irritating. I might mourn the resumption of aircrafts flying over England but it has come as a great relief to the Partridge. She has now booked a flight back from Germany for tomorrow morning. In order to get a refund on the Eurostar tickets she bought for this Sunday as a contingency plan, she will first have to relinquish these train tickets before she leaves Berlin, which means she is back to square one if her flight is cancelled.
I have used a Delia Smith recipe to make a pavlova, which I shall fill with whipped cream and strawberries marinated in framboise liqueur tomorrow if her flight is confirmed. I shall also roast a chicken for supper using fresh sage from the garden and bake some cardamom flavoured Finnish loaves to have with coffee when they first arrive. After all that effort, I hope they bring me back some German chocolates, otherwise it won’t just be the Eyjafjoell volcano erupting on an unprecedented scale.