4 April 2021

Hurray! It’s all over. We’ve entered the first phase of the “irreversible” unlocking of life in the UK, the first steps on the road to recovery and the sunlight uplands of post-Brexit global Britain! I hope their “irreversible” unlocking doesn’t go the same way as the “world-beating” Test and Trace or the “world-beating” Covid tracking app.

Fingers crossed, I guess?

For us that means we’ve been busier than the proverbial one-armed paper-hanger this week. Now that we’re allowed to meet up with up to six people (out of doors) we’ve had three outings and we’re about to have our fourth! We’d forgotten how much fun this is.

The weather was great in the first part of the week and we met up with friends from the gym for some drinks and nibbles in their splendidly isolated oasis in the middle of Banbury – it’s tucked away behind the hotel and the cinema. It’s a marvellous little spot and a charming surprise to come through the gates and approach their house leaving all the urban dust behind. They are both architects (she designed our kitchen extension) and the house was lovely (from what we could see from outside!), perfectly placed in this little haven in the middle of hustling, bustling downtown Banbury.

Later in the week we met up with a set of our wonderful neighbours, again for drinks and nibbles. These are one of several neighbours with whom we share a common garden hedge or fence and we’ve been known to sit in the garden and have a pleasant chat through the hedge during lockdown. Just a simple but delightful change to be able to sit around the patio table at the top of the garden and share a drink and a chat.

Thursday saw the welcome return of the Thursday Afternoon Ladies Who Croque, the inaugural session of the 2021 season. The ladies had to restrict their numbers to six (in total) so a couple of regulars were forced to sit this first session out but the remaining participants seemed to have had a great time. The weather was bitterly cold with a sharp, biting, northerly wind but the wine, gin and cake (lovingly produced by Ms Playchute) provided sufficient sustenance to see them through.

Then, yesterday we had Nick, Lucy and Annabelle for a visit, an Easter egg trail at Canons Ashby and lunch on the patio and we’re repeating the process later this afternoon with Adam, Ava and Jessie. Whew!

An account of those outings and perhaps some photos will have to wait until next time.

Meanwhile, spring is beginning to give us a bit of colour in the garden. The perfume from the hyacinth is delicious, simply out of this world.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that The General, our resident pheasant, had reappeared after the winter and was engorging himself on the seed on the ground which the smaller birds scatter while they are feeding. At that point we had not yet seen Mrs Pheasant and wondered, a bit worried, whether she had survived the winter and the threats from our neighbourhood foxes and/or those who take pleasure in shooting birds. Much to our relief, therefore, it was a delight to see her joining him for breakfast and tea a few days after our first sighting of him.

STOP PRESS!!! On Friday evening there was a lot of squacking and carrying on up in the orchard. We were somewhat bemused as he watched The General amble towards the restaurant for his evening reservation to note that he was accompanied by not one but two lovely female pheasant hens. Sadly, I was not able to grab my camera in time but Penny and I are guessing that he has successfully employed a very useful chat-up line: “Stick with me, darling, and I’ll take you to a restaurant where you can get a beautiful satisfying meal with no real effort. And, it’s open 24/7.”

Lots of cute cartoons about the change to daylight savings time around this week. I got this one from a couple of friends.

It gave me a chuckle and reminded me of how, in the early digital wrist watch age, my father always had two wrist watches on the go, one which he wore and one which was tucked away in the top drawer of his desk until required. One needed a technical doctorate and dextrous fingers to alter the time on those early watches and my father found it easier, simpler and considerably less hassle to have one on Eastern Standard Time and the other on Daylight Savings Time and simply wear whichever was appropriate for the time of year.

Brexit continues to work out well.

And now, it seems, the official government line to those struggling to trade with the EU after Brexit appears to be “don’t bother.” Instead, look to trade with the US.

Sigh . . .

And finally,

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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