6 March 2011

Greg with Pants
A silly game

We’re back and I have to confess that we had a splendid time last weekend in Devon helping to celebrate our friend Dave Walton’s 60th birthday. The accommodation was superb, the company very sociable and, as I might have mentioned last time, we continued our training for the British Eating and Drinking Team for the 2012 Olympics.

On the Saturday, as I mentioned, we all trekked up Sharp Tor and waddled our way across Ugborough Moor, a modest distance of about three miles each way. We were very fortunate in that the weather stayed fine and sunny all day but, after torrential rain on Friday night, the moor was a quagmire and a howling wind was driving the next storm in from the northwest. So, as we trudged across the moorland, we sank to our ankles in the peaty bog all the while being blown backwards as we struggled against the headwind. Whatever footpaths there were had become cascading rivers so we spent much of our time navigating up the incline in a zigzag fashion hopping from one bit of gorse to another. About half way up the Tor our path did intersect with a gravel path which, in comparison to the animal trails we were following, was a veritable walkers’ motorway and the rest of the climb was conducted using cruise control and auto-pilot. We all felt as if we had burned sufficient calories to justify the extraordinarily excellent meal at a Chinese/Japanese/Indian restaurant in the nearby little town of Kingsbridge which was outstanding in both quality and quantity.

Sue, Karen and Penny climbing the Tor
Sue, Karen and Penny climbing the Tor (notice the footpath/river in the bottom left)
Dinner with Dave
From left to right: Stuart, Greg, Sue Walton, Sue Kelly, Dave, Ian & Helen (neighbours of Dave & Sue's), Ken (Dave's brother-in-law), Zoe, Ellen, Penny and Karen (Dave's sister))

We had to get away relatively early on Sunday morning as the plan was to meet up with Penny’s brother Alfred for lunch. Surprisingly, however, after the exertions and celebrations of the previous day and evening, we didn’t finish breakfast (full English, of course) until about 11.30 which left us just enough time to drive to Sidmouth to meet up with Alfred, his three boys and his friend Annie for lunch at the Bedford Hotel. Just what we needed after a weekend of continual gorging – another big meal. They were in fine form and it was a delight to see them all again after several years.

Alfred and his boys with Annie at Sidmouth
Alfred and his boys (Oliver, Connor and Zach) with Annie at Sidmouth

The weather has been modest over the past week or so, mainly grey and cold with a drop of rain here and there. Friday, however, was gorgeous and I was able to dust the bike off for the first cycle of the season. It was cold but dry with bright sunshine and blue skies so I bundled up well and set off for a leisurely cycle around one of my usual local routes – about eighteen miles round the local villages. Lovely although my neck and legs certainly told me all about it afterwards.

Latest by-election woes for the coalition government: Labour won the Barnsley by-election on Thursday with nearly 61% of the vote (this is a safe Labour seat so no surprise that they won). The Conservatives came third in the general election and came third again this time but with a miserable 8% of the vote. Not that they would be overly worried about coming third but they finished behind the UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party) a bunch of nutters whose only policy is to withdraw from the European Community. But the real losers, once again, those unfortunate Liberal Democrats whose supporters appear to be abandoning them in droves since they have become part of the government of cuts. They finished in sixth place with just over 4% of the vote, having come second to Labour last time. They finished behind even the BNP (British National Party) which is, essentially, a fascist, white supremacist party akin to the Ku Klux Klan as well as an Independent candidate running on a shoestring.

Speaking of politics and democracy, I ran across an interesting article in the last couple of weeks about the naming of a new government centre in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It seems that the city officials aren’t keen on the name which the public seemingly supported overwhelmingly in an on-line referendum. The clear favourite suggestion amongst the electorate was to name the new facilities after a former mayor of the city who won four terms in the 1930s and 1950s. Why the reluctance to adopt the will of the people, one might ask? The fact that the former mayor’s name is Harry Baals might provide a clue (and it is, according to news sources, pronounced “balls” as you might have guessed). The only thought which occurs to me: What were his parents thinking?

Love to you all,

Greg