Wednesday afternoon was one of those days which is almost perfect – a beautiful afternoon which stretched into a glorious Spring evening. If Ms Playchute had not been off to the gym in the evening to jump around and sweat a lot, it would have provided an excellent excuse for a barbeque. As it was, however, we had to settle for just enjoying the day. As Molly and I trudged our way around the Edgecote estate, the sun was shining in a pale blue sky and the birds were singing their hearts out (even the resident herons could be heard on the edge of the lake behind the main house although one can’t really describe their call as “singing”, more of a wheezy bark – two chaps discussing who was top dog in the neighbourhood or a flirtatious couple “singing” sweet nothings back and forth – I couldn’t tell).
It was one of those days that assaults your senses and tries to overwhelm you. The smells of the eruption of growth from the edges of the pathways, the cow parsley up to your armpits in a week. The colour – the startling, vibrant, blinding, explosive yellow of the oil seed rape, the fireworks of dandelions streaking along the path, each bright yellow burst against the deep green sky of the grass. The winter wheat standing taller and taller growing inches every day, the formations aligned standing proud and arrogant boasting of their strength.
One of those glorious, glorious days.
Although we should have saved it until Wednesday afternoon, last Saturday we set off to the bluebell woods in Badby, a small village just a few miles north of here. At its best, this set of woods can be as spectacular as any; it wasn’t quite at its best on Saturday but it was still a pretty gorgeous display. There is something about bluebell woods which really means Spring, the deep blue and purple carpet ranging from indigo through iris blue to periwinkle and royal purple spread across the fresh, bright green of the newly sprouting leaves and the re-awakening of the grass and ferns – resurrection at its best.
You can see the rest of the least bad photos of the bluebells at Badby here.
We had an excellent visit with Annabelle and her parents on Sunday last week – they came across for a romp and several races in the workshop, a walk up the hill to check on her garden gnome, a late lunch/early dinner and to make a start on the mountain of books Penny had brought back from the States for Annabelle. As usual, Annabelle insisted that they assume their usual position behind the curtains while they worked their way through a couple of stories. The greatest gift from the States, however, was a baseball hat which is just like Grandpa’s.
We also had a chance for another visit on Monday when we trotted across to their place to assist in the erection of a Three of Me designed and SeamStress constructed cover and “skirt” for Annabelle’s “jumpolene”. I say “assist” but as most of you will know, in my case that’s merely a euphemism for “supervising” while others do the bulk of the work. In any case, Penny and I were kept very busy with numerous games of Hide and Seek although Annabelle’s choice of hiding places leaves something to be desired in some instances.
And then, yesterday morning dawned bright and sunny and Ms Playchute and I both announced, at the same moment, that we should go see the bluebells again! The extra week, we were hoping, would bring out the rest and the sunshine would make the woods even more gorgeous than they already were. About five minutes later Nick rang to suggest – a walk in some bluebell woods somewhere!
So off we set, this time to the woods at Everdon Stubbs. I suspect that yesterday might have been the best day for seeing the bluebells in our part of the country at any rate. They were absolutely gorgeous, the weather remained bright and sunny and we had a marvellous time.
You can see the rest of the least bad photos from the Everdon Stubbs outing here.
Royal Mail Sell-Off Update
The saga of the appalling value the taxpayer received for the government’s selling off of the Royal Mail continues to run and run. This week the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, who was responsible for co-ordinating the sell-off, was finally forced to reveal the names of the “privileged, long-term institutional investors” to whom he had allocated the largest number of shares at the rock-bottom price arrived at by those same institutional investors along with a “gentlemen’s agreement” that they would hold on to the shares long term.
After resisting months of pressure to name the 16 priority investors who were allowed to buy a 22 per cent stake in Royal Mail ahead of the public, the Business Secretary Vince Cable finally buckled yesterday.
The equity arm of Lazard, the department’s key adviser on the sale, was among those given ‘priority’ status reserved for long-term investors. However, as the shares rocketed, Lazard Asset Management sold its entire stake within a week at a profit of £8m. It was able to turn such a huge profit because priority investors were given extra allocations of shares – in Lazard’s case worth £19.8m.
An £8m profit on an allocation of £19.8 million in one week? Oh those pesky bankers! I reckon that’s a 40% profit in a week which works out at an annual profit of just over 2000%. Not bad value for doing nothing.
Finally, how about a few examples from the shortlist for the Bad Grammar Awards?
The shortlist is headed by Tesco, for using “less” not “fewer” in reference to numbers on loo-roll packaging – “Same Luxury. Less Lorries” – and for describing its orange juice as “most tastiest”.
Next comes the NHS, for confusing subject and object in a letter – “Your appointment has now been organised to attend Queen Mary’s Hospital … ” – and featuring a rogue apostrophe: “The RDC Suite’s are clearly signposted”. Unfortunately named cafe chain Apostrophe also fell victim to the curse of the apostrophe in a marketing slogan, “Great taste on it’s way”.
Historian and MP Tristram Hunt is indicted for “tautology and other errors”. He was accused by Michael Gove of bad grammar in the House of Commons earlier this year, for the tautology “ongoing continuing professional development”.
The Army Careers Office is included for using “you’re” for “your” on a sign in a window: “For any inquires [sic] please contact you’re nearest Army Careers Office.”
Finally, Great British primary schools appear for “many and various” errors, including using “are” for “our” in the following sign in a playground: “We all wash are hands after playing in the sandpits.”
And these examples were submitted by Guardian readers. A plague of rogue apostrophes seems to be inflicting sign-makers in the UK. Click the thumbnails below to cycle through larger versions. If you can’t spot the errors don’t tell anyone!
Lot’s of love to you all,