Christmas 2020

Well, that didn’t turn out quite as we had imagined it might, did it? When we wished you all good tidings a year ago we could never have dreamt 2020 would turn out the way it has. We’re all, thankfully, fit and well and desperately hope that you and your loved ones have similarly been safe this year.

We’re fortunate and grateful that we live in such a beautiful part of the country with miles and miles of public footpaths across the fields and many marvellously quiet roads for the occasional cycle. As we weren’t able to go to the gym during lockdown, I set myself the goal of cycling, virtually, from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. I finally made it earlier this month – whew! That took a lot longer than I had anticipated.

The lockdown gave Penny perhaps more time than she might have wanted to continue the process of whipping her garden into shape. We had bumper crops of just about everything but the fruit harvest in particular was astonishing. Considerably more than we could ever eat so we were able to supply friends and family with loads of excess produce.

She also decided it was time to get on with some hard landscaping and construction work on the estate – she rebuilt a couple of garden walls and laid a new path to a new concrete slab which will, one day, be the site of a new garden shed. I get tired just watching her!

The challenge of lockdown for Penny has been putting up with me day after day after day. Fortunately, our house is large enough that she can avoid me most of the time. She’s managed to just about stay sane thanks to the dozens of other activities she finds to distract herself. She’s made and sold hundreds of face masks for charity and delivered medication from the local surgery around the village two days a week during the first lockdown. She plays bridge twice a week with other villagers (online, of course) and the Ladies who Croque have been able to continue their weekly croquet matches in a socially distanced manner. I’m assured that they have been consuming copious quantities of wine as well.

She’s also a very active member of the Garden Club committee and they (the Garden Club) have been tremendous in organising fun, safe, socially distanced activities for the village. They distributed seeds in the spring and encouraged everyone to grow Sunflowers for Solidarity, which provided quite a show around the village. They also managed to hold the Annual Horticultural Show with timed entries, facemasks and a very clever one-way system for villagers to inspect the produce, crafts and cookery. For Halloween they organised a witches’ coven at the bus shelter to provide the youngsters with some fun (and sweets) and they even managed to hold the Annual Garden Club Dinner via Zoom which was, perhaps surprisingly, a great success.

NB – Needless to say, despite the self-deprecation and extreme exaggeration, not much would get done without the aid, encouragement and love of “me old darlin’.” – P

The most difficult part of lockdown for both of us (and, I guess, lots of you) has been the inability to give the grandchildren a hug and a cuddle. While we’ve been able to see Annabelle & Jessie occasionally for socially-distanced outings, it’s not the same and the grandchildren’s playhouse at the top of the garden has been dispiritingly silent all summer. No shrieks of laughter, no games of hide and seek, no chasing one another around the orchard. We’re looking forward to next year!

The foreign adventures we had planned for this year had to be abandoned, of course. Still, we did manage to get away for a couple of short breaks. We spent four days in Yorkshire near Fountains Abbey in June and another four days away in Dorset just down the road from Lyme Regis. Lovely breaks which enabled us to recharge the batteries.

All the boys, their marvellous wives and our delightfully talented and gifted, gorgeous grandchildren have, touch wood, all been fine.

Ben, Brex-Anna & Max are all doing well in LA – Ben has been working at home more or less continuously since March. Fortunately he’s in a situation which enables him to do so relatively easily. Max continues to thrive and has recently been able to join a pre-school – he’s now talking like a parrot – and Brex-Anna starts a new job in the new year. We are so proud of them.

Nick, Lucy & Annabelle are also all doing well. Annabelle rocked the home-schooling and in spite of not having quite so many extra-curricular activities is still seemingly as busy as ever. We’re extraordinarily proud of her. Lucy has spent the year being as creative as ever and Nick continues to transform the e-commerce capabilities of a variety of enterprises.

Adam, Ava & Jessie have now been in their “new” home in Northampton for just over a year. Both have been furloughed off and on during the pandemic. Adam has used the opportunity to build an extension to the house virtually single-handedly – it’s almost finished and looks fantastic. Jessie went up to “big” school this year and is taking it all in her stride, as we knew she would. We are super proud of them too!

So, there we are – a truly crazy, wacky year. We think of you often and desperately hope you keep safe and well so that you can visit us next year!


Much love to you all.

Penny & Greg