12 september 2021

Wow! What a great week – a continuing visit with some very special people, a few outings, some really nice weather (up until Friday anyway), a couple of winning entries at the annual Morton Pinkney Horticultural show and an astonishingly great home-cooked meal with the whole famn damily! What more could anyone possibly want?

Last Saturday was the MPGC Horticultural show. As I am sure you will remember, Greg’s “Award Winning” sourdough bread has won the sourdough section for the past three years. In the first two years it was because no one else entered. Last year there was one other entry and this year there were two others! The competition is heating up and, the loaf I produced this year was not one of my best. It didn’t turn out to be an Olympic calibre discus but it did not rise as much as it might and hence it was a bit denser than one would like. Nevertheless, the judges were fooled once again and we brought home the First Prize certificate again this year.

There were other winners in the family as well. Penny won the award for the best front flower garden (the competition was in the Spring but the award was held over until the show). And, Annabelle won two prizes – she won for her spring photo and for her woodland collage fashioned out of leaves and twigs. Imagine that, four entries from the Stragnell household and four First Prizes. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Nick, Lucy and Annabelle and Adam, Ava and Jessie came along for the festivities and after all the prize giving, we had a grand playtime in the garden – lots of exploring through the grass border and in the long grass in the orchard. As you might imagine, the Grandchildren’s Playhouse, aka #1 Wood End, was very popular and, for the first time ever, all three grandchildren got to play in it together. Priceless.

Monday Grandma and Grandpa took Max to the Children’s Play Village just outside Warwick while his parents spent the day wandering around the town. Lots to see and do in Warwick and lots to see and do in the Play Village. Max had a terrific time and there just wasn’t enough time to see and do everything, especially as he had to do it all at a dizzyingly frenetic pace! Dispensing ice cream from the VW ice cream van was one of the highlights but he also enjoyed being a fireman, a vet, a hair dresser and shopping in the grocery store. A great success.

Afterwards, we met up with Ben and Brex-Anna at St Nicholas’ Park which has a fairly extensive children’s playground as well as a couple of trains to ride! Wandering barefoot down the stream at the end of the day was a bonus!

Sadly, I wasn’t able to locate the photo(s) of Ben and Nick enjoying themselves on the same train but did run across this one – Ben and Nick on the one piece of apparatus they had at the time in the same spot where the children’s playground is today.

Tuesday we all piled on to the train and made our way up to London to see the Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy. While it wasn’t perhaps Max’s cup of tea, he was very good while the adults made their way around the exhibition at what must have seemed a glacially slow pace. At least the train ride up (and back) and the journeys on the underground made up (a bit) for the intolerably boring exhibition.

I have to say, I am not a huge Hockney fan but quite like some of his work. This was an “interesting” exhibition as he had spent several months in Normandy in the spring of 2020 observing and drawing the changes in the landscape as spring emerged.

The igNobel Awards were published on Friday. As most of you will know, the Ig Nobel awards celebrate the quirkier realms of science, rewarding research that first makes people laugh and then makes them think.

My favourites included the prize for economics which went to Pavlo Blavatskyy, a professor at Montpellier Business School. He used a computer vision algorithm and photos of politicians to find evidence that obesity is “highly correlated” with national corruption. That explains a lot – Boris is obese. Say no more.

Also, not surprisingly, I was mightily impressed with Cem Bulut, a professor at the SLK Clinics in Heilbronn in Germany, and colleagues, who won the medicine prize for research that suggests sex with orgasm is an effective nasal decongestant. Stuffed nose, sweetheart? I’ve got a cure for that.

I was also impressed with the transportation prize which went to a group that found airlifting tranquilised rhinoceroses upside down is probably better for them than carrying them on their sides in slings. Funnily enough, Gary Larsen saw this coming years ago:

And so, to Brexit, the gift which keeps on giving. There was a message on our local doctors surgery’s Facebook page the other day explaining that they were unable able to carry out routine blood tests for the next couple of months owing to a shortage of the tubes used to collect the samples. Supply chain issues, you understand, which no one could possibly have predicted would be a consequence of cutting off trade with our largest and most important trading partner. In spite of everyone predicting exactly that.

And, if you think that’s bonkers, you really, really, really could not make this up. Due to a shortage of chemicals (due to the same supply chain issues), the UK government has given permission for the water companies to flush their sewerage out into the sea. Brexit, you will remember, was all about “taking back control.” Well, we’ve now taken back so much control that we can finally, at last, dump our own shit on to our own beaches. Turns out that was what Brexit was all about – dumping us all in the shit. As I wrote last time, who would have imagined that a policy designed to restrict the free movement of goods and people would end up restricting the free movement of goods and people.

There will be no downside to Brexit, only a considerable upside.

David Davis, Brexit Secretary, 10 October 2016

I guess that’s one way of looking at the exciting potential for swimming in your own effluent.

Finally, how about these two gorgeous girls on their first day of the new school term?

Meanwhile, keep happy, keep smiling, keep isolating as much as you can, wear a f**king facemask when you go out and keep your distance. And keep safe.

Lots of love to you all,


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