22 May 2022

And, we’re back. Again. For the time being anyway.

We had a lovely few days in Suffolk with our dear friends the Waltons and the Kelly-Browns. We were billeted in the friendly river-side town of Woodbridge which is simply charming. Sadly, no fun fair outside the front door but the house here had the distinct advantage of being located above a patisserie. We had some great meals and enjoyed long and intelligent conversations with like-minded individuals who know what it’s like to be right when so many others are just plain wrong!

If I agreed with you then we’d both be wrong.

Nick very kindly stayed at our place to look after Daisy and they both survived the adventure. Daisy, as you can imagine, was beside herself when Penny came through the gate on our return. I got a brief glance.

Daisy continues to be a delight – she is very good and learning very quickly. We’ve almost completed Housetraining 101 although it is sometimes still a challenge to distinguish between the grey paving slabs on the patio and the grey kitchen tiles in the kitchen. Especially when the bifold doors are open on a sunny day. We also need to work on Recall 101 – she now at least acknowledges that we have been calling her by glancing up. She then often carries on doing whatever it was she was doing in the first place. She’s getting better though under Penny’s excellent tutorage. We’ll get there.

We took her out the other day for what might be our final stroll through the bluebell woods for this season. It surprised us to find still a good deal of colour, even though this part of the spring show was nearing its conclusion. The bluebells come and go in a heartbeat – it seems such a shame that they only last a couple of weeks. The colour is so vibrant and welcome after a long, grey, miserable winter. But then again, if they lasted longer, we’d be spoiled.

Next year, though, we’ll be able to enjoy our own bluebell display – these are a few of the 300+ bulbs Penny planted in the orchard last year. Hopefully more and more each year.

As we strolled through the woods we came across a bench just by a little clearing. Daisy poked about in the undergrowth while we sat for a moment admiring the view when Penny commented on how busy the bees were. There were dozens flying around and about the tree under which we were seated. Surprising, I thought – there’s no blossom on that tree to get excited about. At which point Penny glanced up to see that we were seated just below a swarm. Naturally, we moved ourselves (and Daisy) along fairly smartish. Fascinating.

We’ve also taken her for a couple of walks around the Edgcote estate this week, always one of our “Go-To” walks. Our other dogs loved it, especially on a warm summer’s day. There’s a spot along the river where there’s a little beach and kids and dogs alike love it. On our walks we would reach a point where they knew we were getting close to the swimming hole and they would pause and look back at us, requesting permission to bolt off to the river. When we said they could go they shot off like rockets and were splashing in the water by the time we got there.

Daisy is still a bit tentative about the water although getting better every visit. On Thursday she quite happily made her way down the path to the beach and Penny followed her down the muddy, slippery bank. As I made my way gingerly down the slope my shoes suddenly slipped on the mud, just at the moment Penny was telling me to be careful. Before I could shout an extended string of profanities, I was waist deep in the river and covered in mud, much to Daisy’s amusement and excited delight. Thankfully, no video or photographs exist to document the occasion.

We’ve had a couple of nice days this week and spring is in full-on mode. The laburnum is beginning to put out its bright yellow blossom and the hawthorn is laden with bright pink/red flowers. Any guesses why the hawthorn is referred to as the May bush?

As a dual national I am entitled to vote in the US elections and I received my California Primary Election information pamphlet the other day in which the candidates put forward a statement. Many run to some length describing their credentials and qualifications as well as outlining their views, some in more detail than others.

I did admire the succinct entry put forward by Mariana B Dawson, of the “No Party Preference” Party who is standing for Governor. Her statement simply read, “F all politicians.” Thankfully (?), her website listed a few more of her policies in more detail. While I could certainly get behind the sentiment to “F**k all politicians,” I was disappointed to read that she is in favour of “restoring gun rights and reinstating the death penalty.” Sorry Mariana, I guess I won’t be voting for you after all.

Which brings us nicely to our own You Could Not Make It Up moment this week.

As we’re all aware, we are in a cost of living crisis. Inflation in the UK is currently at 9% with the Bank of England predicting that it will go higher still. Foodbanks are seeing significantly increased demand and there has been a lot of pressure on the government to take some action to mitigate the impact on poorer households. While the government dawdles, several of the more idiotic Conservatives have put forward suggestions to help those struggling to help themselves.

One MP, Lee Anderson, suggested that food poverty wasn’t real and that there was no need for foodbanks. The problem, it seems, is that ignorant poor people do not know how to budget or to cook food from scratch – it’s perfectly possible to cook a healthy and nutritious meal for a mere 30 pence. I don’t know what healthy and nutritious meal he planned to make with his 30p – I would guess it might have to involve pasta and tomato ketchup to keep it cheap and simple. Assuming you can afford the ingredients, with the current price of gas and/or electricity, you’d struggle to cook it for 30p.

The marvellous Jack Monroe explained this to Mr Anderson in a manner in which he might understand:

All this from the man who, on top of his measly £84,000 MP’s salary, managed to claim a mere £220,000 in expenses last year.

Still, my favourite bit of helpful advice this week came from Rachel Maclean, the safeguarding minister. Maclean told Sky news on Monday that anyone struggling with the cost of living crisis should consider working more hours or think about getting a better-paying job. My goodness! Why didn’t I think of that? Yep, easy peasy – anyone struggling to get by should just change jobs and become an investment banker or CEO of a large, multinational company perhaps. It is brilliant ideas such as this that get you a Ministerial salary of £104,000 and allow you to claim an additional £218,000 in expenses on top of it. She clearly knows how to get that better paid job.

Finally, Monday of last week, 9 May, was Europe Day which is held every year to celebrate peace and unity in Europe. (Naturally, we don’t celebrate any such nonsense in the UK!) The date marks the anniversary of the historic ‘Schuman declaration’ that set out his idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe, which would make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable. Schuman’s proposal is considered to be the beginning of what is now the European Union.

It makes me want to cry when I think about what we have lost, all because an elite clique of hedge-fund managers, foreign media tycoons and narcissistic racists decided that they wanted to have even more money for themselves at the expense of everyone else.

Ode to Joy is the official anthem of the European Union and, of the many flash-mob type renditions around, this is, I think, my favourite. Just listen to (and watch) the joy!

And finally, finally, Ava shared this photo of Julieta who is, astonishingly, already three months old! What a cutie.

Meanwhile, keep happy, keep smiling, be careful, wear a f**king facemask in crowded places and keep your distance. And keep safe.

Lots of love to you all,

Greg

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