2 August 2020

Phew – Scorcio! After a perfectly reasonable start to the week, Thursday and Friday were blazing hot – glorious from my perspective but too hot for a lot of the villagers who were on the verge of melting on Friday afternoon (33o Celsius, 91o in old money). Not to worry though – on Saturday things returned to “normal” – only 22o, a lovely 70o Fahrenheit.

On Friday I went out for a bike ride and decided to try out a new route – up the main road to Litchborough and then along some quiet lanes to Farthingstone and Preston Capes before heading home again. As my sister-in-law Hope suggested one time when we dived into the (nearly) frozen Mascoma River after a sauna, that’s one of life’s great adventures that I don’t need to do again. Two absolutely stonking hills, both of which almost defeated me. The gears on my bike just don’t go low enough to go up these Alp-like ascents with any degree of ease or comfort. And, after all, it’s ease and comfort I am looking for on my cycle rides, I can assure you. Pleased to say that I did manage both without stopping and walking but had they been another 10 metres or so I’m not sure I would have made it.

Last Sunday we went to an open garden as part of the National Garden Charity Scheme. It was a lovely garden but there wasn’t much to see, unfortunately. It was a small garden running down to a canal and was very neat and tidy and, I dare say, beautiful. But fairly ordinary apart from what was clearly the highlight of the visit – a railway signal which once stood outside Harpenden railway station. When Penny was a young girl – from the ages of about three to eight or so – her family lived on Milton Road in Harpenden and their garden ran down to the railway line at the bottom. Apparently, her older brother’s friends used to visit so they could go trainspotting from the bottom of the garden and one of the railway signals was clearly visible from there as well.

We spoke with the owner about how he came to acquire it. It turns out he and his wife used to live on Luton Road in Harpenden and he came across the disused signal lying in some grass and weeds while walking his dog one day. He had to pay £5 to the chap who “owned” it and took it home and eventually to this new home in Long Buckby Wharf. It’s a small world.

Whenever we have surplus produce from the garden Penelope usually places a large cardboard box out on the bench in front of the house – Free to a good home – help yourself! I had to laugh the other day – I was upstairs in my study and saw a car pull up next to the bench. A young boy hopped out, went over to the box and selected a couple of courgettes. He then held them up for the driver to see – these were apparently rejected as he was directed to return to the box and make another selection. These too were rejected and he went back for a third lucky dip. This time the size and quantity met with approval. He hopped back in the car which then sped off. It’s so nice to have satisfied customers.

Last Tuesday we had our semi-annual delivery of logs for the wood burner. These get dumped at the top end of the driveway and I then spend the next hour or so stacking them neatly and precisely in the corner of the garage. You can imagine my delight when that task was complete. You can also probably imagine my disappointment when a large crash sent about half the stack falling to the floor. Must do better.

We had another outing on Thursday, this time to a local nursery which specialises in grasses. As I wrote last time, Penelope has in mind to change one of her borders/beds into a “hot” bed with mainly grasses and a scattering of other plants with hot colours. She purchased a boot-load of smallish grasses at Harlow Carr and this visit to the local nursery opened her eyes to a plethora of larger/taller grasses which could go towards the rear of the bed. Keep tuned.

In this week’s Quelle Surprise department – the LSE (London School of Economics) published a study on Wednesday outlining how Brexit was going to deliver a double-blow to the UK economy. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse! It seems that Brexit will hit those sectors of the economy which have hitherto been relatively unaffected by the coronavirus.

Our analysis shows that the sectors that will be affected by Brexit and those that are suffering from the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown are generally different from each other.

There was a very successful ad campaign in the 70s and 80s, I think, for Heineken beer – it refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach.

I can feel another advertising campaign coming on:

Brexit – it decimates those parts of the economy the coronavirus couldn’t reach.

We always knew Brexit was going to be a shit-storm. Now, on top of Covid-19 we can expect a double-dose! Hallelujah!

Meanwhile, keep happy, keep smiling, keep isolating as much as you can, wear a facemask when you go out and keep your distance. And keep safe.

Lots of love to you all,




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