22 May 2011

Good morning to you all on another fine morning here in beautiful downtown Byfield. The weather this week has followed the pattern of last – glorious, spotlight-bright sunshine burning into your eyes at about 4.30 in the morning followed, by mid-morning, with increasing cloud and wind. By the afternoon the day is cold, overcast and windy with no f***ing rain!

Normally, of course, one would rejoice in being able to report that we’ve had no rain. After all, that’s what British summers are known for the world over – cold rain and wind. But we’ve had no significant rain for weeks and everywhere is desperate, not least my broad beans! And every afternoon, as the skies become increasingly grey and overcast, it seems so tantalisingly close and we even get the odd drop or six but nothing more. I never thought I’d say it but let’s have some rain, please.

We had several comments about the virtual Google Earth bicycle ride in last week’s episode. Ms Playchute was concerned that you wouldn’t appreciate the precipitous peaks I have to scale at various points along this route – it’s not all flat, you know, in spite of what it might look like in the video clip. The site which does all this for me is Map My Ride and it produces a handy profile of the route which gives you a feel for the Everest-like ascents I have to make.

Greg's Bike Ride Profile

You can see the rolling profile the route has, the low point being at mile 13 where I cross the Oxford Canal just north of Cropredy.

Nick has promised to let me borrow his time-lapse camera one day so at some point in the future you can enjoy another virtual ride with me.

Last week I wrote about the two “calamities” which had struck and wondered when the third would occur. I thought it had happened on Tuesday when I was mowing the lawn – when I finished I noticed that my wedding ring was missing. I was absolutely positive I had it on when I started (after all, I never take it off and was sure I would have noticed). So, Nick, who was visiting at the time, and Penny scoured the lawn on their hands and knees while I painstakingly searched through the pile of lawn clippings. No joy, which was very distressing. Not only did I feel somewhat “naked”, the ring had been Pop-Pop’s and I really, really like it.

So, there I was just about to conclude that this was the third “calamity” when I remembered that I had paused mid-mowing to tie up a clematis, during which I had my hands embroiled in the leaves. And, there it was, resting gently on the ground in the flower bed. Phew!

So, does this count as the third calamity, even though I dodged the bullet on this occasion? As it happens, no. The third calamity arrived on Thursday evening when the tenant came round to say that the boiler in the Annexe was on the blink – again! This, literally, on the evening I had just paid the significantly-sized bill for the previous repair which was affected when I was away.

It never rains but it pours.

Finally, an article from the Guardian some weeks ago which is particularly appropriate for me and my brothers (and any other hirsutically-challenged individuals). It seems that scientists in Germany have successfully grown the world’s first artificial hair follicles from stem cells opening up new possibilities for hair transplants for those who are worried by their loss of hair (younger generations of Stragnell males take note – it’s probably too late for Sandy, Steph and me but you might reap the benefits of this research). I’m not convinced that spending tens of thousands of pounds will be worth it to me – I’ve grown quite used to having no hair and it’s so easy to take care of. In any event, the cheaper option seems much more convincing!

The Toupee Brothers

Trump for PresidentAnd finally, finally, speaking as we were in a round about way of hair, we were disappointed that Donald Trump has decided not to run for the presidency in 2012. Particularly when his supporters have come up with such a great campaign poster.

Love to you all,