8 November 2020

It’s been a glorious, glorious week. We’ve had a high pressure system hovering over the UK which has brought some beautiful bright blue skies with magnificent dazzling sunshine. Chilly, to be sure, with our first ground frosts of the year but we’ll take the dry, sunny weather any time.

I had a very pleasant bike ride on Wednesday. I ventured out on one of my “old” routes which I used to ride regularly when we lived in Byfield. It was nice to visit some old spots but also quite a surprise at times to see what changes have taken place, especially what new houses have been constructed since we moved to Moreton Pinkney just over five years ago. I’m inching closer to John o’ Groats on my virtual journey from Land’s End but I’m not sure I’ll make it before the really cold and miserable weather sets in. We’ll see.

About to go into and over the Cairngorm Mountains – a couple of steep climbs ahead!

Ms Playchute and I have also had a couple of nice walks. We ventured across to the Edgcote Estate on Thursday – again, one of our old stomping grounds. The weather was glorious and the clumping across the estate splendid.

Last Saturday was Halloween and the Moreton Pinkney Garden Club had organised a Witches Coven for the youngsters in the village. Trick or Treating was banned due to Covid so some of the movers and shakers of the Garden Club decided to decorate the bus shelter opposite our house into a witches den. Children (and their parents) were invited along and the youngsters were able to hook a goody bag of sweets and candy out of the cauldron. Not quite the same as going door to door but they all seemed reasonably pleased to have something. The witches also prepared a batch of mulled wine for the adults which, of course, I was obliged to sample numerous times just to ensure it was of a sufficiently acceptable standard.

Adam brought Jessie over and, as well as getting her lucky dip, they came back to our house afterwards and we had a few more games including eating a doughnut off a string – somewhat frustrating for a four year old but very amusing.

Tuesday we had some great excitement – a group of young men wielding chainsaws arrived to take down a couple of conifers in Penelope’s garden and to trim and shape a couple of the larger trees at the top of the garden.

The conifers were getting well out of hand and Ms Playchute had decided that this area, which is south facing, would become her Grasses border so the two conifers had to go.

Our neighbours to the north whose gardens back on to our fence are overjoyed at the additional sunshine and light they are receiving now that the trees are gone.

Meanwhile, Penelope has been digging the patch and excavating the numerous roots, many the size of my thighs, to prepare the bed for the 87 varieties of grasses she intends to plant there. I’ve been trying to hinder her as little as possible.

Following our prediction last week, we are now indeed in lockdown version two following the Prime Minister’s well-anticipated U-turn at the end of last week. Having said he would do everything possible to avoid a second lockdown, he then proceeded to do nothing while the virus surged and hospitals moved closer to being overwhelmed. Six weeks ago the scientists were calling for a two-week “circuit break” lockdown. Because of his dithering, we now have a four-week lockdown instead.

Having said that, I’m not sure many people reckon it will make much difference. Many more shops selling “essential” items are allowed to stay open and, bizarrely, pubs are allowed to stay open provided they only provide a takeaway service. I can see how a takeaway system works with food but pubs? What do folks do? I guess it means you buy your beer and stand around outside with your mates drinking, even though congregating with more than one other person outside your household bubble is not allowed. How does that work?

At long last we heard the dulcet tones of the fat lady singing. There’s been a bit of gargling and warming up over the past few days but finally, on Saturday, we heard the blaring brilliance of her tunes. It’s been quite surreal watching the shenanigans in various places with chants of “Stop the Count” in some parts of the country contrasted with “Count Every Vote” in other parts. Eerily similar to the protests we’ve become used to seeing in various corrupt eastern European autocracies. Who would have thought?

I don’t know about any of you but in this household there’s been an interesting contrast in our election coverage viewing. I go to bed, go to sleep, wake the following morning and read the news to see what’s happened. Penelope goes to bed, doesn’t sleep, gets up, reads the news on her iPad and watches the television news channels all night, and ultimately arises the following morning utterly exhausted. And repeat! We both realise that our watching or not watching the 24/7 news coverage won’t make any difference to the outcome and we are both equally concerned about the result. Still, for some reason I am able to switch off and she finds it difficult to do so. Thank goodness it’s over – I am not sure she could have kept it up for much longer!

We’ve just finished watching the Queen’s Gambit which we thoroughly enjoyed and would heartily recommend. Thank you to Penny’s sister J for recommending it to us. It’s the story of a young girl, orphaned at age nine who becomes a chess prodigy. As she hones her skills and competes on a national and international stage, she struggles with addiction and substance abuse issues which threaten her future. It’s available on Netflix (at least it is here in the UK).

Finally, I ran across these photos in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago – some of the best weather photographs submitted to the Royal Meteorological Society’s Weather Photographer of the Year awards.

Stunning.

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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