Tuesday, August 23

Excellent diversions

A Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Trees (Essays in Idleness), or Gate of the Hundred Sorrows? Following a decent night’s kip and faced with a day like today (sunshine, baking temp), it has to be the former. My recent birthday presents included a collection of Penguin Classics’ Little Black Books – the perfect partner to my deck chair.

Sunday, August 21


Lovely whore though,
Lovely, lovely whore,
And choosy –
Slept with Conn,
Slept with Niall,
Slept with Brian,
Slept with Rory.

Slide then,
The long slide.

Of course it shows.
                (Tom Macintyre)

Aah, Bisto!

Monthly trip to ‘Good Food Sunday’ – stocked up on veal (and cake). Worth the effort if only for the smells emanating from the market’s hot food-to-go stalls. Though I rarely sample the fare, the aromas provide a wonderful appetiser to Sunday lunch... Braved afternoon squalls to patrol our neighbour’s grounds (away in the tropics). Thought he’d spotted an American mink two weeks ago but I’ve yet to catch sight of the critter. Trudged home to check the livestock and watch the last of the Olympic boxing.

Talking of The Boss…

What a brilliant 5,000m run by Mo Farah.

Saturday, August 20

Conflicted sentiment and Corbyn’s Labour

While I don’t agree with some of his assumptions, obviously, I concede Janan Ganesh is one of our better columnists. The lad’s belief that Springsteen’s Born to Run memoir should be political book of 2016 a case in point – would that UK Plc boasted a social commentator who could compete with ‘The Boss’. “Springsteen loved these communities and hated their stifling monoculture; respected their values and yearned to transcend them… Understood why redundant workers cheered Margaret Thatcher’s defence of the Falklands even as they cursed her neglect of their industries.”

Thursday, August 18

BBC peddling tabloid chauvinist schlock

Simon Jenkins stirring the pot… “I have intermittently enjoyed the Olympics on television. Mostly it is hours of flatulent BBC staff killing time by interviewing one another, interspersed with a few seconds of mostly baffling hysterics. Clare Balding appears in perpetual shriek: “Oh my God, I think our great British paint is drying faster than the Russian and the Colombian paint – but we must await a decision from the judges.”         I’m tempted to agree with Jenkins assessment of the television coverage but… I can think of few other cultures that are as keen as ours to amplify the country’s shortcomings and to and denigrate its success.

Wednesday, August 17

A stroll in the sunshine

Last week it was an annual visit from the man who empties our septic tank, this morning the motor’s annual service and its first MOT. That time of year (service/tax/insurance). Apart from a new tyre everything passed inspection. The engine starts first time every morning, what more can you ask? Wandered into the Ferrari dealership across the street to lust over the vehicles on show, then sauntered into Exeter for a coffee. Have discovered a new route, cross country as it were. It involves climbing a couple of stiles and sprinting across railway lines (damn they’re fast), but the walk is a pleasure – through attractive amenity land and along waterways. A number of elderly vessels rotting at their moorings, a vintage tug boat seeking benefactors with deep pockets and the hulk of an oak planked/oak framed trawler beyond hope. They sit uneasily alongside a newbuild work boat being fitted out for service offshore the Highlands of Scotland. A fair number of holidaymakers (families) in canoes, and students in coxed fours. The basin is well served by cafes and pubs… As I said, on a glorious day like today, “What more can you ask?”

Tonight’s supper, for one... a navarin of lamb made from the sweet tasting meat of an ancient breed with Bronze Age roots and Viking ancestry. Superlative!

Tuesday, August 16

I need a bigger saw

Woken at six by the neighbour’s bellowing cattle. Am all aches and pain following yesterday’s hike. I wouldn’t like to be me in ten years’ time… although I recall making a similar observation 20-30 years’ ago. Morning mist but no breeze, outside all is still in anticipation of the rush-hour. Places to go and things to do. The homestead has become entombed within overhanging beech and rampant hedging which is infested with spiders and songbirds, beetles, bats and badgers. I need a bigger saw.

Monday, August 15

Cool Hand Anita impresses

I’m following the action from Brazil, watching the women’s hammer throw – as Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk breaks the world record. The commentator believes Anita ate nine hard-boiled eggs for breakfast. Am impressed. Britain’s diminutive Sophie Hitchon does not eat so much, but manages a bronze medal and new national record.

The fine weather continues

Out across the moor early morning to blow away the cobwebs. Lots of ground beetles on the deck and skylarks in the air. Grazing herds of impressive looking steers… walkers exercising lurchers and whippets.

A succession of blue ribands

After expressing disinterest in the Olympic Games I find myself sitting up all night watching Andy Murray and Usain Bolt on the box. Great 400m run by the South African lad Niekerk.

Saturday, August 13

McEwan’s Export better value, more appropriate

While I can’t imagine hanging onto a bottle of wine for long enough for it to be an investment opportunity it’s interesting to read in the FT that a combination of the Brexit effect and rising demand from Asia has given Bordeaux wine a boost. Though top Bordeaux wines are traded around the world it seems many are held in bonded warehouses in the UK and priced in sterling. As a result, when the pound fell sharply post Brexit, international buyers benefited from a reduction in prices. At the peak of the market, according to Berry Bros, a case of ’82 Ch√Ęteau Lafite Rothschild was selling for around £45k. The price has now slipped to a mere £26k. Someone might think this a bargain, but can you imagine washing down a plate of stovies with a two-thousand quid bottle of wine?