6 September 2020

Is that the summer we see disappearing into the rear-view mirror? It’s been a cool and decidedly autumnal week and we fear, unless we get a glorious Indian summer, we could be declining into the coming winter’s hibernation long before we’re ready.

We’ve had a good week – dinner with Nick, Lucy and Annabelle, a splendid Village Picnic with lots of fun and merriment, two nights on the south coast with dear, dear friends with decent sunny weather and later today we’re out to another open garden near Shipston. Trying to cram as much in before winter or the next lockdown, whichever comes first.

Last Saturday we went across to Leamington for dinner with Nick, Lucy and Annabelle for what, potentially, could be the last opportunity for some time. Annabelle started back at school on Wednesday and loved being back, apparently.

How she’s grown – or, has the book shrunk?

It’s right that they should be back at school – they’ve missed so much during these past six months – but, of course, it raises the potential for the additional spread of Covid. The government’s message has been consistently that children are at a very, very low risk of having a significant illness which appears to be true. What the government isn’t saying, of course, is that these same children may very well bring the coronavirus home and infect their parents and, in many households, grandparents. Heck, they bring every other illness home to share the joy. Why should Covid be any different?

On Sunday we had a Village Picnic, in lieu of the Village Fete which had to be cancelled this summer. This was an opportunity to get the village together in a socially distanced manner and have some fun.

Jessie welcoming the Teddy Bears to the Moreton Pinkney Village Picnic

At last year’s fete Penny’s garden-themed obstacle course was such a hit that she was asked if she could do something similar this year. So, she adapted the obstacles and created a Covid-themed race which was great fun.

A couple of neighbours and we went over to the recreation ground on Saturday to prepare the arena – we mowed strips in the grass for the socially-distanced lanes and marked them and large 3m square picnic areas with a borrowed cricket marker.

The race itself consisted of several Covid-themed obstacles, as I say. The contestants had to (a) sanitise their hands while singing “Happy Birthday” twice. (I don’t know if those of you overseas had this advice in the early days to encourage everyone to wash their hands for about twenty seconds?) Then, (b) they put on gloves and a facemask and proceeded to the next station. There they had to (c) colour in a temperature graph to 37 degrees before proceeding through (d) the Track & Trace tunnel. (This is a huge joke in the UK – the “world-beating” Track and Trace app which was promised at the end of April has still not appeared. The current “game-changing” test, track and trace system has not yet met its target of tracking and tracing 80% of those affected which is what the scientists say is the level required to be effective).

After scrambling through the tunnel, they had to (e) take toilet rolls one at a time and deposit them further along the track. Then came what proved to be the most difficult part of the race (f) threading three pieces of pasta on a shoelace. Finally, they sprinted to the finish line amidst huge cheers and much amusement.

Tuesday, we set off for two nights on the south coast with our good friends Dave & Sue and Sue & Stuart. The weather was reasonably kind and on the Wednesday, we ventured off down the coast to Birling Gap. This is a place where one can access the beach at a gap amidst the Seven Sisters, the imposing white chalk cliffs along the south coast. According to our tour guide (Stuart) it is this area of the coast which is most often used in films as the white cliffs of Dover as this area is relatively free of anachronistic modern development and the cliffs have been allowed to erode naturally making them much more natural and picturesque than the cliffs around Dover itself.

As if that weren’t enough excitement for one week, this afternoon we are off to an NGS Open garden with our pal Vicky. We’re visiting Burmington Grange near Shipston – I’ll try to remember to let you know how that went next time.

The plum harvest, as I’ve written before, has been nothing short of astonishing this year. We’ve gathered and gathered and gathered some more. We’ve frozen bucket loads and Penelope produced some Greengage jam (some with ginger) which was simply deliciously delicious!

A cultural highlight for you – I had an email inviting members to view a virtual tour of the Gaugin exhibition at the Royal Academy. Hopefully it won’t be able to deduce that most of you are not members?

And finally, potentially the final virtual garden tour from the National Gardens Scheme, Havoc Garden in Yorkshire. Enjoy.

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,

Greg

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