19 January 2014

Good morning to you all. Hope you’ve all had a good week and that those of you who have been enduring unusual or extreme weather have seen its impact mitigated. We were intrigued to read Pam’s weekly Whiner and reflect on the change in temperature at the Lake moving from minus a million to a balmy, spring-like 50o F in a few days. Crazy! We’ve had a few chilly and frosty days but the latter part of the week has been relatively mild for the time of year, much to the disorientation of our local flora and fauna – the song birds are busily performing symphonies in an effort to attract a partner for the season and the buds on the trees, shrubs and bushes are beginning to show signs of action. I haven’t the heart to tell them it’s only mid-January and the worst is yet to come! Still, lots and lots of rain and continuing flooded rivers but not quite so bad as in the past few weeks – still every bit as muddy, though, much to Molly’s chagrin.

The big event of this past week was Pen’s mother Beryl’s 90th birthday party which we hosted here on Sunday. And what a grand affair it was too. There was a significant congregation of family & friends and representatives from each of four generations ranging from Oz and Beryl at the top of the tree, Pen and Jeremy, Jeremy’s three children along with Nick & Lucy and Rebecca’s boy Michael and then the great grandchildren of whom there were six. All told I think there were twenty-seven in attendance. Not quite up to XCstravaganza standards but a good turnout nevertheless. Not surprisingly, Penelope catered for about sixty.

I did what little I could to avoid being a hindrance although I was instructed to set up the barbeque to incinerate Sandy’s salmon with pesto. Fortunately, although it was cold, the weather co-operated and did not precipitate and the salmon was done to perfection.

The two sides of salmon complemented the spicy pork dish and the glazed ham Ms Playchute had prepared along with Amy potatoes and spinach and butternut squash au gratin. Not only was it all up to the exceedingly high standards we have come to expect from Penelope’s Kitchen (i.e., outstandingly delicious) but we also had the distinct advantage of enjoying the left-overs for the next three days.

The birthday cake was a masterpiece! Half chocolate and half lemon with an edible map of the world on the top into which were posted little flags of the countries where Beryl and Oz have lived at some point or other – the UK, France, Uganda, Nigeria, Australia, Jamaica, the US and Turkish Cyprus, not necessarily in that order.

As well as the fantastic meal, everyone had a splendid time. Penny had cleared out the “workshop” space over the Annexe and had deposited a collection of toys there for the younger generations to enjoy. So, while the “old folk” sat and chatted, the great-grandchildren (and many of their parents, aunts and uncles and grandparents) disappeared upstairs and commenced to have a whole lot of fun! There were foam balls, foam dice, a play parachute, a rocking horse and a couple of sit-in cars as well as a princess’s castle and a whole stack of other stuff which Annabelle kindly lent us for the day. Several folks suggested that Penny should start her own playgroup; she replied that she’s already been there and done that many, many years ago.

A good day and, most importantly, Beryl seems to have enjoyed herself.

Our friend Erik Benson who used to live in Radway with us and who now lives in France sent along a link to a fascinating collection of maps.

Countries Britain has NOT invaded

My personal favourite – the map showing the countries that the United Kingdom has NOT invaded.

More on one of our favourite topics of late, the government’s relentless shouting about “benefit migrants”. You will remember some time ago we wrote how Theresa May, the Home Secretary, was dragging her feet about publishing a report on the effect of immigration as the evidence did not suit her narrative. The evidence suggested that migration to the UK was, in fact, beneficial. Now it seems that the Prime Minister has intervened to delay publication of the report until after the upcoming European elections in May. I wonder why he would do that?

I spotted this in the Huffington Post but it was reported originally, I gather, in the Financial Times. Unfortunately, the FT is behind a “paywall” – when will they learn that the Befouled Weakly News could drive so much traffic their way?

David Cameron has shelved a government report on EU migration after Theresa May, home secretary, failed to provide evidence to support her case for imposing tighter restrictions on immigrants. . . . Mr Cameron has ordered a delay in publication of the Home Office report until after the European elections in May, after Liberal Democrats and civil servants complained that the draft was not based on evidence and was overtly political. One official close to the process said: ‘They can’t bring themselves to publish the report before the European elections because they would have to admit that freedom of movement is a good thing.'”

The paper adds: “The government’s discomfort on the issue was compounded yesterday when Robert Chote, head of the Office for Budget Responsibility, told MPs that the UK’s fiscal position would be worse if net migration were lower, because more immigrants were of working age.”

Oh dear! Still, if you shout loud enough and long enough it must be true. And, even if it isn’t true, as long as you believe it to be true it’s not a lie.

And, a late update on a snippet we had last week. In the wake of the floods both the Environment Secretary and the Prime Minister claimed that the government was spending more on flood defences than any previous government. Not true as was conceded this week by a junior minister in the Department of the Environment. Spending on flood defences has gone down but not by as much as had been claimed by some critics – from £2.37bn to £2.34bn. Fair enough. What he then went on to concede, when questioned, is that the £2.34bn includes money the government “hopes” to get from private developers to enable them (the private developers) to build more houses on the flood plains. So, let me get this straight – the government is spending less on flood defences and the figures they quote for the amount they are spending includes money which they haven’t got but they “hope” someone else will spend it so that more houses can be built in exactly the areas which will be worst affected by future flooding.

Honestly, you could not make it up!

And finally, Tuesday 21 January is National Hug Day, at least in the US, I understand. So, be sure to hug the ones you love and if, like me, your loved ones are scattered all over the globe, send them all a virtual hug and tell them you love them. I certainly do.

Lots of love to you all,




2 thoughts on “19 January 2014”

  1. Great photos! Looks like a good time was had by all. Congratulations and happy birthday to Beryl!

  2. Thanks for great pics of Bebe’s birthday party. Bless Pen for doing such an amazing job! Also, fascinating map sequence – trying to commit at least some information to memory for use at future social gatherings!

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