16 July 2017

Another good week – what are the chances of that? Good weather on the whole and the long-anticipated and much needed rain finally arrived, in a fashion, on Tuesday. Not the torrential downpours we had been promised but a light, steady rain which was very much welcomed by the flowers and vegetables in Penelope’s garden.

Not much to speak of this week. We’ve had some lovely walks in the sunshine with our current tenant, Branston the black lab from next door, and one on Tuesday from which we returned soaked through to the underpants. Fortunately, there’s no pictorial evidence to share with you.

I’m off later today to see the marvellous folks at the JR Hospital in Oxford who need to inspect the handiwork performed on my left eye two weeks ago. The eye feels splendid – no more lashes scraping the eye ball and while I probably don’t look the 20 years younger I was hoping for, the bruising and swelling have subsided and at least I’m looking as good as I ever did. Which isn’t saying much!

We went out to dinner on Friday night to The Kitchen in Farnborough, just because we can! As we sat eating a delicious meal (seared scallops and filet of lamb for me, soup and the lamp for Ms Playchute) we both thought how marvellous it would have been if our recently opened, recently closed local pub would have been somewhat similar to The Kitchen. Good food, locally sourced, freshly prepared and well presented in a comfortable and convivial atmosphere. Instead, our guy tried to run a gastro-pub where drinking was the principle objective. Had he done even a modicum of research he would have discovered that rural pubs cannot survive on the sale of alcohol alone – they need to offer good food at reasonable prices. Interestingly, Farnborough has about the same population as Moreton Pinkney, perhaps just a bit smaller and this place is thriving. Just goes to show what could have been.

Our sleep was disturbed in the early hours of Friday night/Saturday morning when we heard a bit of a noise seemingly just outside our bedroom door. I guess we both imagined that Branston was up and about and had perhaps accidentally knocked something over. Naturally, having heard a strange noise in the night I let Penny get up to investigate and she encountered a black and white cat attempting to escape to the outside through a partially open window in the guest bathroom. It made it out through the window on its second attempt and scarpered away across the adjacent roof to freedom. Investigation in the morning revealed evidence of it having been downstairs as well – there was a photo which had been knocked off the sideboard and the bowl in which we keep our keys was smashed on the floor. As there were no ground floor windows open at all we surmised that it must have come in through the bathroom window, wandered about the house until presumably it met Branston (although he didn’t make a sound) and made a dash along the window sill and sideboard up to the bathroom where it could escape. I have to say, it’s a first for us.

A few links to throw at you this week for those of you who have any interest in the calamity that is British politics at the moment. If it weren’t so serious it would be hilarious!

Firstly, a terrific article by John Crace in the Guardian on the disaster that Theresa May’s first year as Prime Minister has become. It was he who first described her as the “Maybot”, utterly unable to think for herself and capable only of giving robotic responses to any question she was asked – “Brexit means Brexit”, “Strong and Stable Government”, “There’s a job to do and we’re getting on with the job.” Mindless phrases repeated ad infinitum without any substance behind them. But, I suppose that’s how one rises to the top in politics – by not giving a straight answer (or any answer) to a straight question.

Interesting, the National Audit Office recently said much the same thing:

In an extraordinary intervention that will raise the pressure on the prime minister to reassess her approach to Brexit, the comptroller and auditor general of the National Audit Office said the government had failed to take a unified approach to talks with the EU. He also revealed that a request to see a ministerial plan for the changes needed to leave the EU had been met with only “vague” assurances.

Numerous critics have all said much the same thing – the Brexiteers who are driving the Maybot have no real idea of what they want Brexit to look like. Alongside the conflicting messages that come out from the various government ministers who are supposed to be “in charge” one reaches the inevitable conclusion that it’s a total shambles. Concerns or criticisms are dismissed with arrogant assurances that everything will be grand because of the great new trade deals that are going to be negotiated. Hence the response to the Auditor General when he asked to see the plans for the changes needed – a vague assurance that everything will be fine.

The Auditor General likened the strategy to a “chocolate orange” which could easily fall apart at the first “tap.” Different government departments present their own, often contradictory responses, to an apparent policy vacuum at the heart of government. How is it possible to be so utterly inept? Because they have no idea what to do – no strategy for the future other than to repeat how great it’s all going to be. Just like the maiden voyage of the Titanic, it’s all going to be glorious!

Penelope’s gladioli along the front of the house are out and looking absolutely gorgeous.

And finally, congratulations to our lovely granddaughter Annabelle on her first end of year school report. We’re so proud!

Love to you all,



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