2 June 2024

More rain interspersed with the odd bit of sunshine and not very warm temperatures. I had thought that the central heating had been retired for the remainder of this season but, alas, I was mistaken. Ms Playchute requested a re-igniting and a fire in the wood burner in the lounge! Here it is June, for goodness sakes!

Having said all that, this morning is absolutely glorious with bright sunshine under a clear, cloudless sky.

Sorry for the no-notice of our absence last weekend. It’s been in our calendar so long that it just sneaked up on us. We had a lovely few days in West Sussex with long-time good friends. Our former neighbour in Byfield and Penny’s former business partner, celebrated her 70th birthday in January. And, like someone else with a significant winter birthday who chose to celebrate it with a summer gathering, Sally decided that she and Pete would rent a Sussex Longhouse and invite a mixture of family and friends to a very relaxing and lovely week in the beautiful Sussex countryside. It was great fun to see everyone and we had a marvellous time.

And, as luck would have it, the Longhouse was only about 15 minutes from where our dear friends (and good friends of Pete and Sally), Sue and Stuart live. So they were able to come over for a lovely (and mainly sunny) day culminating with dinner and dessert for three thousand prepared by the lovely Miss Penelope.

Daisy too had a marvellous time – she was just about at the height of her latest season and although the only male dog in the gathering was an ancient Staffordshire Bull Terrier who had long-ago been “done”, Daisy’s coquettish dances and other signals of general availability managed to excite him. She also took on the responsibility of keeping us safe from the resident Guinea Fowl. They soon vacated the walled garden and found temporary residence elsewhere.

The Longhouse was really magnificent and, you may be surprised to learn, quite long. The house itself was gorgeous and generously well-equipped and the grounds were lovely both immediately adjacent to the house and in the fields and woods further afield. The croquet lawn was immaculate and longing to be played upon so we obliged, not very skilfully but that was partly down to the super-fuelled Pimms Sally mixed up. We played boules on the back lawn, some played tennis, many went swimming in the generously heated pool, many went trekking across the countryside and some sat around a lot. Something for everyone!

Lots of photos of the longhouse celebrations below, many of which are not mine – you can usually tell – generally the much better ones are not mine.

Unfortunately, we had to leave the Longhouse gathering early, after only three nights. Jessie was celebrating her 8th birthday with friends and family so we had to race back from Sussex in order to get to the party. And what a party it was! A gaggle of screaming six, seven and eight-year-old girls (and one boy – he’s the one!) most of whom were sporting a very gappy smile where their two front teeth used to be.

I think everyone enjoyed themselves and I had a great time playing catch and tickle with Julieta who, for some reason, kept coming back for more.

Just got home to unwind and then it was time to celebrate Penny’s birthday – lots of lovely cards and messages, a visit from Nick & Annabelle and dinner out – what more could a woman want?

And Friday we had another grand day out! Nick, Lucy and Annabelle took us to the Gifford Circus show at Blenheim Palace which was great fun. The big top was packed, largely with families with hordes of squirming and shrieking children. The “fun” acts were cute and some of the other acts were quite sensational. A grand day out indeed!

One thing that has enjoyed all the rain has been the garden – it’s lush. The grass grows while you watch it and the vines on the pergola are thriving. A few warm, sunny days would be good though.

I had a lovely Saturday evening. Penny and a couple of her friends went to see English at The Other Place in Stratford. That meant it was down to me to watch both Premiership Rugby semi-finals – Northampton Saints against Saracens followed by Bath against Sale Sharks. It’s a tough job but I can assure you I was up to the challenge.

And finally, I ran across this which I quite enjoyed. But then again, I would.

Roll on 4 July.

Meanwhile, keep happy, keep smiling, keep exercising, be good, be careful, and keep safe. And be gentle to wasps and bees.

Lots of love to you all,


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