I spent the weekend in Yorkshire for a friend’s 50th birthday celebrations. L— and I travelled up with another friend, which made the travel more fun. We booked hotel rooms in Ripon, the nearest town. Technically, it’s a city, because it has a cathedral, but then, technically, most of the capital city isn’t a city, according to the absurd English technical definition of a city. Ripon is really more of a market town. Certainly less of a city than technically-not-a-city inner London. Ripon doesn’t even have a railway station: the train only took us as far as Harrogate, from where we got a lift.

The party, in a small pub in their village, was fun. I had the foresight to get a card from the taxi driver who had dropped us off, so it was easy to get back to our beds afterwards.

In the absence of a railway line, there’s a reasonable bus service from Ripon to Harrogate and Leeds, which we used on the way back to London the next day. It only costs £2 and takes contactless payments, so it was at least convenient, unlike some other public transport I’ve taken in the past few months.

It would have been more convenient if the first bus we tried to take hadn’t been cancelled, forcing us to wait an hour. Luckily, we weren’t in a rush, so we wandered around the artisanal market instead and took the next one.

We went for a walk in Harrogate before our train and found a lost purse on a bench. From the name the one bank card in there, I tracked down the owner, found the place they worked as a hairdresser, and, as it was closed, we dropped it off through the letterbox with a note. Today, by email, I received confirmation that it had found its way back to its owner.

Also in Harrogate, I bought a new old coat. In a little second hand shop we stopped in, I saw a coat I liked that seemed to be in my size, and put it on to great acclaim. It’s a military coat, but from the Italian air force, sharply tailored in a light grey-blue shade, in near-perfect condition. It’s hard to find clothes that fit me, so for £65 I couldn’t pass it up. Still, I hope the weather warms up soon so that I won’t get too much use of it until winter.

The emergency alert test took place while we were on the train to London. This gave me a unique opportunity to learn how slowly it works while being treated to a cacophony of beeps over more than ten minutes.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard the alerts. A few years ago in Tokyo, I was woken in the middle of the night by a loud siren. I had no idea what was going on. Eventually I tracked it down to my phone, which showed an alert to tell me, “Earthquake alert. Stay calm and seek shelter nearby.” You might think that’s a useful thing, but given that it can take ten minutes to get the warning, I’m less convinced. Instead, I was woken up to tell me about an earthquake that had already happened, somewhere unknown, which I had already slept through. And I wasn’t calm any more!

Anyway, I don’t even live in an earthquake zone now. I had already turned off the alerts on my phone. I don’t want to be disturbed by loud unexpected sirens, even if the alternative is death, which, to be honest, I doubt. I’ve lived most of my life without the capacity for the government to send alerts directly to my pocket, yet I’ve never felt imperilled by its absence. I can think of many reasons why they might wish to send me a message. I can think of fewer reasons why I might want to receive one. Not none, but definitely fewer.

Culinary zero waste tip of the week: limp lettuce works well in a stir fry. Don’t throw it away, just slice it and throw it in with some other vegetables.