12 March 2017

More wind and rain but I guess that’s what is meant by “March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb.” Let’s hope the lamb part turns out to be true.

We did have a goodish afternoon last Saturday so we decided, as we sometimes do, to take a stride across the countryside. When we had the dogs, of course, we were out striding every day, morning and afternoon, sunshine or rain and fine it was too. Now though, when the weather outside is howling and sheeting it down with sleet and stinging rain, it’s much more pleasant to sit by the fire and put the world to rights.

We went on a short walk around Eydon, a village just a mile or so from here. I had run across this little pamphlet of walks in the area and so we decided to try something new. Armed with map and directions in hand, with gloves, hats and jackets and our finest green Wellington boots, we strode off from the village. The first part of the walk was along the road and then, after a short stretch, we set off along a bridleway across the fields.

The pamphlet had helpfully provided the warning that the footpaths could be muddy after rains and we were grateful that we had heeded the advice – with our galoshes we were able to plough our way through the squelching, gripping mud, mud which sucks at your boots and clutches them so that you nearly leave them behind. Most of the time, though, there were sufficient dry edges and we were able to make our way relatively unscathed.

Eventually, about half way round the loop at the end of a long muddy track, we came to a quagmire of mammoth and seemingly impassable proportions – about 15m in length and stretching from hedge to hedge – not a speck of dry land or solid footing in sight.

Uh-uh! Mud!
Thick oozy mud.
We can’t go over it.
We can’t go under it.
Oh, no!
We’ve got to go through it!

Naturally, being the gentleman that I am, I let Penelope go first.

She carefully navigated her way through the mess and I followed cautiously, as best I could, in her footsteps. Unfortunately, I am nowhere near as nimble as she is. While she danced like a gazelle, hopping elegantly from one solid patch to another, I made slow progress, slipping and sliding through the mud like a novice on ice skates, stepping in puddle after puddle up to within an inch or so from the top of my boots. So far, so good – I hadn’t fallen over and my boots were still dry.

Pen made her way to the other side with few difficulties and I kept my balance right until the end. Regrettably, I took my final step into what appeared to be but a shallow pool of water and went in half way up my calf. I squelched my way around the rest of the walk.

We got back to Eydon just in time for a late lunch at the Royal Oak, and lovely it was too. We thoughtfully left our mud-caked boots in the entrance porch and sat at a table by the fire in our stocking feet, enjoying a pleasantly relaxing late lunch. Lovely day.

Our toaster ceased working last week which, as far as I am concerned, was a calamity. I am a habitual slice of toast and coffee in the morning person. Co-incidentally, our previous toaster died in a similar fashion. On that occasion it was still in warranty and the shop gave us a replacement straight away. The replacement, i.e., the one which just died, was also within its warranty so again the shop replaced it – albeit a bit more grudgingly this time. As they didn’t have the same model we had to select an alternative which, thus far, is performing admirably. Still, it’s a mystery to me how manufacturers of appliances make a living if they are having to continually replace those which malfunction within the warranty period. On the other hand, a toaster really ought to last longer than two years, shouldn’t it?

And, speaking as we were of toasters and toast, Penelope has started bringing home the odd rogue loaf of store-bought sourdough bread every now and again. Now there’s an action that doesn’t do much to boost the esteem of the resident sourdough baker!

It really is my own fault though. For some reason or other a week or so ago I didn’t get a new loaf made in time so Pen brought home a loaf to tide us over. Only one small problem – this sourdough was outstanding! My sourdough is generally pretty good (and delicious when toasted), but this stuff was sensational – a good crust and a lovely, chewy texture with a powerful strong sour flavour.

So, on Friday she brought home two more store-bought sourdough loaves. Is she telling me something? I can see that I’m going to have to raise my game and step my efforts up a gear.

At least, so far, I’ve not managed to produce a loaf like this one:

I ran across this article the other day about the lies that newspapers print and the pathetic “corrections” they print several days later after a complaint has been made to the regulator, often in a less-than prominent position in the paper. In short, there’s no accountability for printing lies.

We had the delight the other day of popping over to Nick and Lucy’s to watch Bubble for a time while Lucy went to a parent-teacher consultation at the school. Bubble still thinks school is awesome so we weren’t surprised to hear good things when Lucy reported back. Long may it last.

We saw another NT Live production in Banbury on Thursday. This time it was Hedda Gabler with Ruth Wilson as Hedda. It’s not a play that I knew anything about; Pen, at least, had studied it but had never seen it on stage. We’ve really enjoyed Ruth Wilson in The Affair where she has had plenty of opportunities to demonstrate a wide range of emotions. So, we went along with our friend Mary with high expectations.

I suppose we both came away feeling a bit disappointed but still feeling suitably replete – I guess a bleak 19th century Norwegian drama will do that to you. Ruth Wilson was very good at portraying the despairing desolation of a woman in a meaningless marriage while at the same time demonstrating some demonic touches of manipulation and meanness. But while it was broody and dark, it wasn’t “gripping” or maybe my expectations were just a bit too high. Still, it was a lovely evening out.

Love to you all,



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