16 February 2020

Happy Valentine’s Day – I hope your secret admirer conveyed his/her affections.

We’ve had a very busy week with lots going on. On Sunday our dear friends and former neighbours in Byfield, Pete and Sally, came for lunch along with Adam and Ava. Penny made one of her famous fish pies and it was great to catch up.

Then, on Tuesday we were invited out to dinner by a lovely neighbour in the village. It’s clear that the message that the Stragnells (well, Penny at any rate) are entertaining again after their year of in-hospitality is out there and it’s clear that this friend was getting her dinner invitation in quickly so that she could be invited here. Although the company was great and it was a lot of fun, the meal featured several of my least favourite things. The main course was a bean casserole – I should not be allowed to eat beans ever because of the after effects but I couldn’t be rude and refuse so a plateful of beans was presented to me. There were also Hasselback potatoes which were very nice and then two of my “favourite” vegetables – parsnips and a mountain of Brussel sprouts. Apparently, our host absolutely loves Brussel sprouts and admitted during the meal that she used to steal them from the pantry when she was a girl. There were enough Brussel sprouts to feed the entire village for a week, I would guess. 

Wednesday we were out to dinner again! This time down the road to the Red Lion in Culworth for a meal with some friends from the gym. I have to say, the Red Lion is very nice and the food is outstanding. This was the pub at which Adam and Ava worked when they were living with us and it has an excellent reputation – one has to book several weeks in advance to be sure of securing a table. And, we were not disappointed – it was, as always, very, very nice.

Thankfully, after all that eating, I can still just about squeeze into my trousers.

And, we were due to have guests for lunch on Saturday but they were put off travelling to the wilds of Moreton Pinkney by the weather reports and the impending arrival of Storm Dennis. I don’t blame them – it’s all cross country from where they live to ours and with widespread flooding anticipated I can appreciate that their worst nightmare would have been to be stuck here with me. We’ll look forward to having them when the weather is somewhat less inclement.

After the theft of the catalytic converter from Penny’s car, I took it across to the dealership in Northampton on Thursday to have a catalytic converter lock fitted. Hopefully, this will, at the very least, act as a deterrent should some miscreant attempt to steal it again. We’ll see.

Interestingly, I had a phone call from the policeman assigned to our case. He told me that he had looked at the CCTV footage and was able to find the footage of our car being done. He said that after they did ours they did a second car in the same part of the car park just near ours. They were in and out having whipped two catalytic converters in just over two minutes, he said. Unfortunately, no good images of the thieves themselves but a good shot of the van and license plate. Surprise, surprise – the van had stolen plates!

While on the phone he went through our witness statement, a copy of which he sent us which we had to sign and return to him. I have to confess to being somewhat amused by the following statement which appeared toward the end:

Oh, yeah. I had forgotten I had told those nice gentlemen in their balaclavas that they could, in fact, crawl under our car and take the catalytic converter. 

Sadly, our local Member of Parliament was sacked from the cabinet in the reshuffle this week. Described by John Crace as the dimmest member of the cabinet, she was an ardent Brexiteer. Of course, being dim and supporting Brexit go hand in hand, I suppose. It now seems that there is a plethora of dim Tory MPs with which to fill the cabinet and she was simply too dim (or, perhaps too bright – who knows?) At least she will now have more time to spend at home with her family and her husband’s millions, including the mountain of money his hedge fund made by shorting the pound during the whole lamentable shambles.

The incompetence of the government’s handling of post-Brexit arrangements continues. An Italian man who applied for permanent right to remain in the UK having lived here since 1966 was told that he would have to have his parents prove his identity. The only problem – the man is 101 years old.

You simply cannot make this stuff up!

Lots of love to you all,



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