Sunday, October 23

At least we won’t be bored

Sunday afternoon, post lunch (poached gigot of mutton with caper sauce), listening to the footy on the wireless while reading the papers… Suzanne Evans draws fire from Nigel Farage for vowing to shed Ukip’s ‘toxic’ image. Theresa May also sees these votes worth courting, even if it results in a number of suburban (soccer) moms defecting to the Lib Dems. If May is serious about a hard Brexit this could be a sensible strategy, though I struggle to imagine large swathes of northern England voting for the Tories (or for Suzanne Evans?). Still, what do I know? Most everything appears to be in the mix just now. Although Brexit negotiators will play their cards close to their chest, our media will ensure passions remain stoked. The migrant crisis will also exercise minds, as will American politics and the advent of a new Cold War. Then there’s the economy, stupid; the potential demise of the City. Throw in those inevitable unknown unknowns and yes, a definite roller coaster.

Mrs G. is in the kitchen baking large quantities of blini in readiness for next month. The reason they’ve become a traditional November staple escapes me. Whatever the motivation, I’m not one to pass up on luxury foodstuffs – the aquavit isn’t too shabby either.

I can almost taste it

Must be the time of year (hibernation mode), given I slept through till half-eight Saturday morning – and it was much the same today. Autumn is well and truly here. Everyone has their winter feed baled, wrapped and stacked, and there’s a characteristic smell of barley that is all too reminiscent of a brewery (nine days and counting).

The ponies are acquiring winter coats and will soon be returned to their owners, moved to lower ground. As with the swallows you miss them when they’re gone.

My best wishes to the big lad currently making his way to Madagascar for the cycle challenge. As long as you’re happy subsisting on a diet of rice and Three Horses Beer am sure it will go well.

Friday, October 21

Wild boar to the sun-dried swamp

Despite a chill 4˚C the Dart’s bank in full sunshine at slack water was the place to be this morning. The weather will eventually turn but for now there is barely a ripple on the surface. All the boats have departed for winter storage, and except for several mallards and our ever present gulls the river is empty. Breakfast, haircut, then on to Exeter for an eye test and supplies. Back home and out on the sun-dried moor… too good to pass up. A loin of what purports to be wild boar for dinner, along with more roast root-vegetables (and pears) than a man can eat. Only one thing missing.

Thursday, October 20

Fate, karma, whatever…

Gudgeon is on a health kick this month in readiness for the traditional festive splurge. Lots of green-leaf vegetables and endamame beans, zero alcohol and a reasonable amount of exercise. Boring but sneaky. At the beginning of every November I pay my once-a-year visit to the GP for an MOT. As his questions are always directed towards my behaviour over the previous four weeks I am able to present myself as a model citizen. Of course this lasts for as long as it takes for my blood-test results to be returned, at which point I get the usual nagging telephone call about cholesterol levels. Doubtless something to do with the steaks and the slabs of butter. With a sub-21 BMI and decent blood pressure readings I am reasonably comfortable with my health. However, you and I know the game is something of a lottery, no one has a clue what may be rotting away insides. And no amount of kale or oily fish will save us when falling from the top of a ladder or being trampled underfoot by the neighbour’s bull.

Tuesday, October 18

Return of the seventeen-point turn

Whilst hardly an Indian summer our October weather is proving reasonably benign. Good for visitors/walkers and bad news for the homestead. School teachers are wonderful people, ill-suited to driving a minibus.

Sunday, October 16

Living in interesting times

Totnes Good Food Sunday, to stock up on cabrito, veal, wild boar, venison and game birds. Whatever else Brexit has in store, the homestead won’t go hungry. Although the florist has increased prices by 12%, Marmite aside, he’s the only indication of inflation I’ve seen so far – and while I am sure we’ll be a lot less sanguine in twelve-month’s time, if you lived through the 70s and 80s you will have some idea of what’s coming down the line. I take issue with those who infer we didn’t vote for the UK to become poorer and that parliament should have a veto over Brexit terms: for better or worse we chose to risk the unknown rather than continue with unfettered immigration, voting with our eyes wide open and heart in our mouth.

Saturday, October 15

Idyllic Saturday,

It’s pouring down. Which means I get to spend a guilt-free afternoon in front of the box, following the footy action and the racing from Ascot.

Thursday, October 13

Exploring a sense of place and identity

Looked in on Bovey’s Devon Guild of Craftsmen this morning. The current exhibition is titled ‘Home Ground’, exploring a sense of place and identity* by showcasing the work of contemporary art/craft practitioners that use locally distinct and sourced materials to produce work which reflects and sustains their locality and its culture. Keen to develop new audiences the project focuses on football supporters, more specifically through the fans of Sheffield United, Stoke City, Crystal Palace, Luton Town, Macclesfield Town AND Walsall. The Saddlers primary material being leather, artist Melanie Tomlinson has produced a pair of gilded 1950s style footy boots – the sort of thing we played in as kids. The reason they resemble hobnail boots with steel toecaps was displayed alongside: a replica 1950s leather football made by John Hagger, a Devon-based leather worker who learnt his trade in Walsall. John sourced the pattern from a German Football Museum, fashioning the ball from the hide of a roe deer (road kill). I admired the Walsall children’s collages, particularly their wishful thinking as regards Walsall beating Chelsea 4-0.

*Brexit is about lots of things, but central to all remains the desire for a sense of place and identity.

High on Fellows Park nostalgia, tonight’s supper is a large dish of tripe. With a nod to the modern game, however, less tripe and onions in milk, and more Trippa alla Fiorentina.

Poland puts its faith in American cavalry

Seems not everything is sweetness and light across the channel, with Poland walking away from negotiations with their EU partners for replacement helicopters in favour of a deal with the Americans. Local jobs aside, Poland doubtless believes it will be lads driving Black Hawks that will ride to the rescue, rather than the mythical European army we’ve heard so much about.

Wednesday, October 12

NHS, a bottomless pit

The only answer to obesity is to devour less calories. You can’t blame medical conditions or genetic disposition, says Ian McColl, exercise doesn’t help weight loss either – you have to cease stuffing donuts down your throat. If you can’t afford decent food and are obliged to eat crap, then eat less crap. ...I appreciate we consume fewer calories than we did 40 years ago, but it is still far more than our 21st Century sedentary lifestyles require.

Rather belatedly George Monbiot gets on board with Cameron’s ‘big society’.

Monday, October 10

Protest songs

England is an old country, whose dotage is portrayed as a crabby resentment, a place where there is a collective wish to lock all the doors, says John Harris in The Guardian. This, he conceedes, is (in part) down to our politicians’ reluctance to recongnise England’s existence, let alone promote its virtues – allowing England or Englishness to repainted in ugly colours. Such an aberration, says Harris, demands the attention of musicians, writers, dramatists, journalists – and the millions of people in England who surely feel a deep dismay about what is happening. We need to fight back by organising rock concerts, like we did in the 1970s. …Given it was followed by the 1980s and Margaret Thatcher am not sure the strategy worked especially well for the left.

Sunday, October 9

Roasting the peasants

Usual Sunday morning, listening to Marr, Peston and Andrew Neil... You’d think we’ve more than enough on our plate without the chattering class fixating on Donald Trump. And Brexit! Give it up for fuck sake. Most of the studio guests are either selling a book or whinging. Whinging is what passes for opposition these days. I agree with Chakrabarti on one thing: that Jeremy Corbyn has been seriously underrated. Where we differ is in acknowledging the lad is living proof our restricting immigration is a good thing, in that it affords more middling plodders such as Corbyn and McDonnell the opportunity to rise to the top. At least Labour can thank their lucky stars Tim Farron isn’t running the show. You could dig up Jeremy Thorpe’s corpse and it would do a better job.

At this time of year Norman Tebbit’s cook book comes into its own. Ate grouse a week or so ago, albeit more out of tradition than enthusiasm. Today’s lunch is an old favourite: roast pheasant on a bed of lentils. Given October is a dry month, the day’s highlight has to be my standing on Mrs G’s shoulder as she douses the bird in flaming brandy.