30 May 2021

Isn’t it lovely when the sun shines? We had almost forgotten how glorious a spot of sunshine can be but on Thursday we had a lovely day – sunshine, blue skies and pleasantly warm temperatures. It was so nice that Penny decided to dig a garden pond. Clearly she does not have enough to do.

There I was, foolishly looking forward to a spell of peace and quiet following our exertions with the pergola over the past week. Not a bit of it. Penelope started excavating and there was no way round it – I would have to lend a hand.

There was once upon a time a garden pond in more or less this same location. Our lovely neighbours Roger and Jean had a substantial pond which had been decommissioned when they built their new house and the garage(s) at the top of the drive. This covered about half the old pond – pity they didn’t think to obliterate all evidence of any previous garden pond. Then, Penelope might not have had the idea?

Thursday the weather was glorious and before I had even wiped the sleep from my eyes she was out behind the garage shovelling away. Reluctantly, I joined her and together we made good progress through the rest of the morning. But then, about 2.00, she had to disappear for her weekly gathering of the Ladies Who Croque. It seems that there were cakes to be eaten and wine to be consumed. So, while she was off indulging and enjoying herself, I set about mowing the estate. After ten days’ or so solid rain, the lawns were well past due a mow – with the bright sunshine and warmth of Thursday, I think the grass decided to grow several more inches while I was thinking about mowing. It took me almost until Penny staggered home from croquet about 6.00 singing “Oh Happy Day!” at the top of her lungs.

Friday, of course, there was the small matter of a birthday or two to celebrate. Penny and Jessie both have their birthdays on 28 May as does Jean next door. Nick, Lucy and Annabelle came across for lunch and, for the first time in more than a year, there were hugs. Absolutely wonderful.

Nick, Lucy and Annabelle, as well as providing emotionally restorative hugs, also provided lunch – Afternoon Tea to be precise – and it was lovely. Neat (and delicious) tea-style sandwiches (with the crust cut off), quiche & sausage rolls, cakes and scones, jam and Cornish clotted cream. What a treat!

After lunch we scuttled off to Northampton to give Jessie some birthday cheer when she got home from school. More fun, more presents and a tasty little slice of birthday cake.

A lovely day all round.

Penny and I both have pretty poor memories, which seem to be getting worse by the minute. As a consequence, we try to avoid watching too many things at once on television. Also, we wait until a series is almost completely recorded (or if it’s available all at once) so that we don’t have to wait a week for the next instalment. If a week has passed between episodes there is no chance of our remembering what happened last time, even with the “Previously on . . .”

We have been watching Mare of Easttown with Kate Winslet over the past few days (not literally with Kate Winslet, of course. She plays the main character).

While watching one episode we kept wondering why they had not yet discovered the body of the most recent victim. The one who was killed at the end of last week’s episode, who floated off down a stream after being dispatched by the villain? Why had they not discovered his body yet? They hadn’t discovered him – because he was in a different series! Oh how we laughed – I guess that means we haven’t completely lost it?

And, it does raise the question as to how my father could cope with having four or six books on the go at once.

My cycling has been confined to the indoor variety this week but I continue to clock up the miles. This week I finished the section from San Simeon to San Luis Obispo, a lovely part of the country, on my virtual Pacific Coast ride. My youngest brother Steph and his lovely wife and kids lived for a time in the metropolis of Atascadero just a short ways from SLO.

I remember visiting them one time many years ago and enjoying one of the more bizarre incidents I can recollect. We had gone out for the evening to a street fair in San Luis Obispo which was good fun. On the way home we pulled off the road and stopped at, what was for me at any rate, a first – a Drive Thru Supermarket (although “Super” might be a slight exaggeration – a Drive Thru Mini Mart, I suppose).

When I was young there were a variety of “drive through” facilities in our neighbourhood. I remember there was a drive through dairy not far from where we lived where one could pick up some milk, ice cream, butter, eggs, etc. And, of course, the whole drive-through fast food phenomenon was just starting. But, I had never before encountered a complete “Supermarket” where one could shop from the comfort of one’s car.

My recollection is that this drive thru was a little ways off the main road so I am not surprised to discover that I cannot find any evidence of it having ever existed – none of my well-informed friends, the lovely Alexa, Siri or even Mr Google, seem to have heard of such an enterprise but my foggy recollection is that it was very similar to that pictured below.

Of course, I have no recollection of what (if anything) we bought but it was one of those wacky adventures I often seem to end up involved in when I spend time with my youngest brother. I will refrain from re-telling the tale of the Thanksgiving post-sauna plunge into the nearly frozen Mascoma River.

Big news of the week – Boris Johnson and his “fiancée” (i.e., mistress) Carrie Symonds have announced the date of their wedding – July of next year, I gather. Oddly enough, my invitation seems to have been delayed in the post but I suspect I am busy that weekend anyway.

Not surprisingly, Twitter and other social media outlets had a field day. Bearing in mind his chronic shortage of money and his habit of asking others to pick up the tab, there were numerous references to guessing which Tory Party donors would pay for the wedding.

Given also his inability to tell the truth or to be faithful, there were many examples along the following lines:

I wonder – for those women who start out as mistresses and then later get married to their adulterous partner, how have they managed to convince themselves that he has suddenly changed his ways? He has, at the moment, two ex-wives, six (or seven or eight – even he doesn’t seem to know) abandoned kids, a slew of former mistresses, and he is a proven serial liar. And somehow Carrie reckons he’s a changed man? Good luck with that.

Finally, this came up on the Calvin & Hobbes comic strip site. One of my all-time favourites.

And finally, finally, did you see the report of the death of William Shakespeare on Argentinian television? Unfortunately, the young newsreader confused William Shakespeare, the playwright, with William “Bill” Shakespeare who was the first man in the UK to receive the coronavirus vaccination who has now died from a stroke (unrelated to the jab).

We’ve got news that has stunned us all given the greatness of this man. We’re talking about William Shakespeare. . . As we all know, he’s one of the most important writers in the English language – for me the master. . . He was the first man to get the coronavirus vaccine. He’s died in England at the age of 81.

Noelia Novillo, Argentinian television

And finally, finally, finally, a neighbour from across the road took this the other evening. Sadly, when I looked in the fireplace in the Snug there was no pot of gold.

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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