6 June 2021

It’s been a pretty decent and, at times, almost glorious week – lots of sunshine and “baking” hot temperatures. The weekend was grand and on the Bank Holiday Monday Adam, Ava and Jessie and a couple of their friends came across for a play in the garden and pizzas from the pizza box on the barbeque which Nick and Lucy gave us many years ago. It’s still going strong and the resulting pizzas were magnificent.

Work has continued on Penelope’s Garden Pond in the fine weather. Most of the excavation has now been completed and it most resembles a double-wide grave plot. Penelope has described to me what it will look like when finished and I’m sure the end result will be fabulous. If not, it will fit us both quite comfortably and save us a bit of money, I guess.

Thursday was Ava’s birthday and she and Adam dropped Jessie with us for her first ever over-nighter and shot off to London for a visit with friends.

I well remember a three-year old Jessica having endless energy. Now that she’s five she’s not only still got boundless and interminable energy, but she also knows everything (and she generally does) and is confidently willing to correct us when we’re wrong. To be fair though, we do get “praised” when we get it right – “That is correct, Grandpa.”

After lunch we set off for an adventure – we had arranged to take her for a short pony ride at our neighbour’s field. She’d ridden this pony once before and absolutely loved it so this was a great treat. As well as her energy being endless, her excitement at going to ride the pony was similarly boundless.

Jessie is a very gregarious and friendly child – she’ll say “hello” to just about anyone and generally does. When we got to the paddock, she saw Catherine’s two-year old son and raced towards him with great enthusiasm. As she sprinted up to say hello, he burst into tears and sprinted to wrap himself around his mother’s legs. Not quite the reception she was hoping for but through the afternoon he gradually began to accept her, at the same time ensuring that he was never too far from his mother’s legs.

After the pony trekking she and I went to the recreation ground across the road to amuse ourselves. There I was thinking I might tire her out a bit before dinner, bath and bed. Hah! She led me on a merry chase from one piece of apparatus to another. Up the ladder, down the slide, up the skateboard ramp, down the skateboard ramp, whiz around on the round-about, run along on the rolling barrel thing, and climb up each side of every climbing frame. Not forgetting the swings, of course.

She was very good at explaining to me how I should tackle each piece of apparatus, especially the various climbing frames. She would carefully run through a routine I was to try to achieve – “Put your foot here and then hold here, like this, and then do this . . .” Not surprisingly, Grandpa was not quite as competent as she was at twisting and turning this way and that through the various bars of the numerous climbing frames.

Back home it was dinner, bath, brush teeth, some entertainment (she serenaded us on my ukulele) and bedtime. And, of course, the inevitable first-overnighter jitters. Grandma, not surprisingly, was the one who did all the heavy lifting – she read and cuddled and settled down with her until she eventually dropped off. I think she only woke and needed reassurance three or four times during the night. I don’t know, because I was at the other end of the house snoring away.

Great fun and lots of memories made.

I rolled into Santa Barbara on Friday on my virtual Pacific Coast ride, a really lovely town/city which we’ve visited on a couple of occasions. The last time we were there, I think, was with Ben and Donna who treated us to a weekend away in a very pleasant hotel. We mooched around and toured the mission and the main parts of town and then went out to dinner at a place called Opal on State Street. All of us had great meals, I remember, but Penny’s was deemed to be the best all round – Sautéed Chicken on Penne Pasta with a Homemade Chipotle Cream. Absolutely delicious. So delicious that she wrote to the manager asking if she might “steal” the recipe. To my huge delight, he agreed and Pen has made it a few times and it’s every bit as good as it was that first time.

And, speaking of eating, we were to have been out to dinner last night with friends in Banbury which would have been our first time visiting with friends indoors for a very, very long time.

Unfortunately, we had a phone call Saturday morning to say that the hostess was feeling a bit under the weather and had to cancel. She and her husband had entertained a couple of the grandchildren for a few days during the week and she had come down with “flu-like” symptoms! Thankfully, she’s had both jabs and is fully immunised if it does turn out to be Covid so, fingers crossed, it will be fine.

The PM’s “irreversible” unlockdown, however, is looking increasingly tenuous. From less than a thousand new cases each day last week to more than 6,000 every day this week suggests that his decision to hold off putting India on the “red” list for two weeks wasn’t a very sensible one. So, what else is new?

Good news though – as of this week arrivals from red list countries are now separated from other arriving passengers at Heathrow. They seem to have finally worked out that mixing all these arrivals in one large immigration hall with those from red list countries spewing and breathing all over everyone else was, perhaps, not such a good idea. It’s only taken more than a year!

As to the other big news, alas, it was all a ruse. Boris married his mistress Carrie in “secret” last week. They were married in a ceremony at Westminster Cathedral, the “mother church” of the Catholic faith in the UK.

As a twice divorced man, there has been a lot of chatter about how Boris managed to secure the church’s blessing. Apparently, Boris was baptised a Catholic but his previous two marriages took place outside the Catholic Church. Therefore, those marriages are invalid and he was thus able to be wed in the Catholic faith. But . . . he was confirmed as an Anglican while a student at Eton. Just another lie, I guess.

And finally, you really, really could not make this up. Tim Martin, the boss of the pub chain Wetherspoons and a rabid supporter of Brexit, has urged the government to increase migration from the EU to deal with – guess what? A shortage of staff in the hospitality sector. Martin had previously claimed that those who predicted Brexit would have a negative effect were “doomsters.” Now he cannot get enough staff willing to work for the low wages previously paid to EU migrants and so wants the government to allow increased migration from the EU. Exactly the opposite of what he campaigned for during the referendum.

Finally, finally, this from Shoe caught my eye this week.

Yep!

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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