29 June 2014

We’ve had a grand spell of good weather and we’ve enjoyed a couple of “fun” events this week – what more could anyone want? The weather has been very pleasant – warm and sunny with a touch of breeze to keep it from feeling too hot – we even had Annabelle’s paddling pool out once for a quick splash about. Somehow, Grandpa ended up drenched by the time we had to scamper inside again to get dry and warm.

It was a great day on Sunday and the perfect opportunity for a leisurely bike ride. So, I set off on one of my usual routes and was casually pedalling along quite happily, serenely enjoying the weather and the countryside, when I was suddenly overtaken by a small herd of lean, fit, energetic young men. It seems that part of my route had been usurped by a “proper” bike race! I thought for somewhat less than a second about whether I should join in but quickly thought the better of it as I was overtaken by about a dozen young men and a couple of MAMILs (Middle Aged Men in Lycra). I was the OGIL (Old Guy in Lycra), pedalling unhurriedly along as they disappeared rapidly into the distance.

On Tuesday morning we had the pleasure of attending Annabelle’s “Tinklebell” party in celebration, I think, of the courageous manner in which she had dealt with her affliction of  “chicken socks” a month or so ago! Clearly Penny and I had to dress the part so we borrowed a set of wings each from Ruby next door and off we went. I will spare you the sight of the two of us with our fairy wings (although the evidence is scattered all over Facebook for those who might be interested) and fortunately, we weren’t stopped on the way to the party. Let me just say that Bubble found the two of us in our wings wildly amusing.

The other big excitement of the week has been the Cleansing of the Driveway organised, co-ordinated, produced, directed and carried out by the ever-driven Ms Playchute. Every couple of years Penelope attacks the driveway and painstakingly, on her hands and knees, scraps out all the weeds, incipient ash seedlings and other debris from between the bricks (often times, it seems, with the innocent assistance of her sister J). When she’s finished it always looks great but, as you can imagine, it’s pretty labour-intensive. And, bear in mind that she gets little, if any, assistance from me!

On this occasion, however, Penelope decided to save her back and knees and to employ a much more exciting and labour-friendly approach – she raced off to the tool hire emporium in Banbury and returned with an industrial-sized power washer capable of scouring centuries of accumulated grime and grunge off any surface in a heartbeat.

power_washingNot only did this little beauty blast out all the weeds, sludge and saplings from the cracks in between the bricks, but the bricks themselves were transformed in seconds into showcase-worthy splendour, as if the drive had been laid the day before! When she had finished with them, the paving slabs at the back positively sparkled while the patio table looked as fresh as the day it was delivered. Anything which was standing still was power-blasted in the blink of an eye.

The thing about power-washers, however, is that they essentially move dirt and grit around, they don’t actually get rid of it. (While I was thinking about this, I was reminded of Sandy’s story of power-washing his BBQ). Basically, you blast the crap out of the dirty driveway and back patio with a super-charged spurt of water and all the grit, sand, dirt, bird crap, weeds and accumulated muck explodes up off the bricks/slabs as if shot from a gun. It seems, however, that most of what you detonate off the driveway ends up all over you. The driveway is immaculate – Ms Playchute resembles the Creature from the Black Bog!

Win – win!

Love to you all,


PS – I read an article in the Guardian on Friday which said that the Banksy Spies Mural I wrote about a few weeks ago has been sold. It has been sold to a private collector who will have the render removed from the building and the mural will be on display in a London gallery for a month or so while the new owner has a specialist frame built so that it can be displayed in his home.

Local residents and business groups in Cheltenham say its removal would be a “huge loss” to the spa town.

Glad we got to see it before its disappearance.