Thursday, 15th April, 2021

[Day 395]

Today was a beautiful spring day which started off with quite a severe ground frost but which rapidly gave way to a wonderful blue sky and a cool but pleasant breeze. We had to delay our walk to unpack our Waitrose order but this having been done, we were both keen to get out and enjoy the spring sunshine. As soon as we had popped out of the house, we had a long and pleasant chat with our next door neighbour who we have not seen for some time now. But as the weather was so beautiful, we took the opportunity to ‘chew the fat’ sharing with each other the news that we had now both received our second vaccination. Our neighbour has a magnificent collection and an encyclopaedic knowledge of popular music from the late 1950’s onwards. We were reminding ourselves of singers that we both liked such as Mary Hopkyn, Connie Francis as well as our particular favourite of Joan Baez. As it happened, Joan Baez (in her 70’s?) did several final farewell tours of the UK a year or so back and we went her to see her perform although I suspect she must be in her mid 70’s. Having picked up our newspapers, we popped into Waitrose on our way home picking one or two vegetables which I knew we had missed off our main order. And so on we walked on to the park which was quite thinly populated this morning and we occupied our usual seats lingering in the spring sunshine and noting the stages of blossom in various trees within the park. Already some of the flowering cherries both in the park and along the Kidderminster Road are already slightly over the top and starting to shed some of their blossoms as though in a miniature snowstorm. We noticed particular today that we have an abundance of blossom on our damson trees (or rather to be more technically accurate in the damson trees in the thick hedge which forms our rear boundary line – to whom the trees actually belong would be hard to ascertain)

This afternoon, I spent a certain amount of time writing some new labels for our newly bottles supplied of damson gin. I know that some people go to the expense of having such labels professionally printed (which gives the home-produced product a professional touch) but I am quite happy to make do with a particular design of sticky label which I try to ensure I always keep in stock. Fortunately, my next door neighbour keeps me well supplied with the small wine bottles with a screw top which I find particularly useful for my own bottling activities. However, I am always scrupulous in removing every bit of the old label and whilst some soak off easily, some labels seem to have been on with an industrial-strength glue. I have a variety of techniques to get these put to rights including a little brass rotary wheel (designed for an electric drill) which I use for the occasional really stubborn case.

Now that we are at this stage in the unlock down proceedings, Meg and I are starting to look at options for the next month or so. Of course, the next big ‘unlock down’ date is May 17th and I think that is the date when we go ahead and book hotel rooms if we wish to make more distant trips. We do have Saturday, 15th May, pencilled in to see Meg’s cousin in Bolton, Lancashire, but we are going to make that a one day lightning trip. There are quite a lot of National Trust properties within an easy motoring range so we are starting to think of where we might visit if the weather holds out. Top of our list is Coughton Court (home to the errant Guy Fawkes of Bonfire night infamy) but this was years ago and we have probably forgotten most of the key features. At this stage, we suspect that the Houses themselves may still be closed to the public but the grounds will be open to the public – and generally the ex-stables have been converted into eating places of various kinds. I need to do some internet searches to see what is open and what facilities are available in the National trust properties that are open.

The ‘sleaze’ scandal seems to be gathering speed as Parliament is announcing a variety of investigations ( I believe that up to seven enquiries may be projected at the moment). One particular bit of scurrilous gossip that is doing the rounds at the moment concerns a rivalry between Boris Johnson and David Cameron that dates back to their days together in Eton. There they never really liked each other and it may well be that Boris Johnson is quite happy to see David Cameron get his ‘come-uppance’ as a result of these sleaze investigations. This might sully Cameron’s reputation and enhance that of Johnson so you can see the ulterior motives involved!