A Cold Blast from the North.

30/11/20 UK deaths: 205.  Current Market Harborough infections: 448.  Down from last week: 237. Officially, Santa will not have to wear a mask in grottoes this Christmas, as long as he is operating in a ‘Covid-secure’ way, Downing Street said today. I have it on good authority (from Mrs. Claus) that Mr. Corona-virus is officially on the naughty list and the elves will be barring him from the grotto.

Lee travelled south to Dover over the weekend for a series of work meetings, leaving Sarah, Alice and Mia to fend for themselves, he travels back today before Tier 3 comes into operation tomorrow.  Here in Harborough it was another damp and miserable day. I took the time to set up our Christmas display in readiness for the 1st of December. We now have a projected snowstorm on the side of the house ready to go! The projector is mounted on the roof of the garage, while wiring it up I took the time to sweep off a large quantity of moss that had collected there. Keen to stay busy and warm I moved on to cut back the growth of ivy creeping up the garage wall.

With Leicestershire likely to be under restrictions over Christmas, Sue and I made the decision not to meet up with the whole family on Christmas Day, there would be too many of us to ensure everyone’s safety. Today, (for the first time ever) we booked our Christmas dinner at The Swan in Braybrook. The ‘youngsters’ in the family have devised a timetable and will be meeting up at Sarah’s and Lee’s for their Xmas meal. This year there sadly will be no family Panto, Greyhound races, walks or shopping trips. 2020 has been a very different year and  its rump end  will be no different I fear. Bring on 2021 and the vaccine.

1/12/20 UK deaths: 603.  Current Market Harborough infections: 403.  Down from last week: 378. The UK’s total Covid death toll has passed 75,000.

Donald Trump is reportedly considering pardoning his personal attorney – former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, before he leaves office in January. Now why would you need to pardon someone who presently isn’t guilty of anything and who has sworn an oath to abide by the the laws of the United States and support the Constitution of the United States? Crazy or just plain crooked? I think both!

Sue and I went walk-about today.  A frost overnight gave way to a cold, sunny day, just right for a wander through the villages and fields of the Welland Valley.  Our starting point was in the centre of the pretty Leicestershire  village of Great Easton, next to a ford. Our route took us through the village before exiting into large, grassy, sheep filled fields.  Following the course of the Great Easton Brook a well walked path took us towards the hilltop hamlet of Neville Holt and its splendid Hall, clearly visible from miles around.

A dog and accompanying cyclist on mountain bike passed us on the slopes up to the hamlet. We wished him a good morning as he sped past, if we weren’t walking today its exactly what I would have been doing (possibly not quite as fast, or with dog).  Leaving the brook behind, we climbed the steep slope below the Hall, before turning sharp south east, down through a small plantation of trees. A series of stiles and more sheep fields made for a hard climb over the next hill, so we rested awhile taking time to  talk to a fellow rambler who was observing large flocks of goldcrest weaving a random pattern above another small plantation of saplings.  When they disappeared into a field of brassicas we went our separate ways.

Arriving via stile on to a country lane we were pleased to rest again on a perfectly located bench, affording brilliant views over the valley. We drank hot drinks and watched several cyclists puff and weave their way up the lane, cheekily giving them a “Hello” knowing full well that they couldn’t spare the breath for a return greeting. Such fun!

Making our way down the hill we came across an unfortunate motorist who was eager to tell his tale: He was the security manager at nearby Deene Park, last evening he had been making his way up the hill (as he did every day) and the engine management light of his Saab  came on and the car stopped. He was 6 hours waiting in last night’s frost for AA Rescue to get to him. He nearly froze to death. The verdict was that the cam belt had gone, the engine was caput and the car was now just worth scrap value. Kindly they gave him a lift home. He had returned today to remove all the valuables from the car before it was scrapped. We felt sorry for him.

At the foot of the hill was the charming hamlet of Drayton with its tiny church of St James standing on the green.  It is a single room built of stone and roofed with slate, constructed on the site of the former chapel which fell out of religious use in the 18th century and had been converted into a bake-house by 1794. Leaving the settlement behind we launched again into fields and ascended to the small village of Bringhurst. Here we spent some time looking inside the 13th century church, St. Nicholas (I wonder if he has a little rest here on the 25th?) There is an interesting 9/10th century gravestone cap inside which was found very recently during restoration. We searched in vain for a Geocache, supposedly located near a water trough, but alas no water trough, it must have been removed during recent building work.

Disappointed, we continued on through a very friendly sheepy field back to Great Easton, it inhabitants following closely expecting treats. A lovely walk and one we shall do again, possibly during the summer with one of the family’s dogs..

Returning home to a late lunch, I busied myself clearing leaves from the garden with the leaf-blower until it got too dark. Jamie returned Sue’s  car during the evening ( he had borrowed it for the last month), he arranged for us to look after Nala and Rocky while he and Ruth are in London in a couple of weeks.

2/12/20 UK deaths: 648.  Current Market Harborough infections: 389.  Down from last week: 453. The Pfizer and BioNtech corona-virus vaccine has been approved, making the UK the first country in the world to roll out a jab, paving the way for vaccinations to start next week.

Like much of the country, today Harborough moved into Tier 3. I finished off my morning cycle with a sortie into town to see if the ‘ghost town’ of last March had returned, I was surprised to see no difference in the traffic or number of people from the previous day. I just hope that the number of infections in the town continues to fall.

The temperature didn’t rise above 4 degrees today so Sue made a gorgeous winter casserole with loads of dumplings to warm the ‘cockles’ of our hearts. I spent much of the afternoon in the same vein, I set about making some Cheshire cheese. It should be ready by tomorrow, but if I can resist the temptation, it will be eaten at the weekend.

Christmas stocking filling

Labneh

3/12/20 UK deaths: 414.  Current Market Harborough infections: 264.  Down from last week: 554. The number of deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test to date is  60,113. The UK government has granted Pfizer a legal indemnity protecting it from being sued for production of its vaccine.

It rained most of the day, the cold deterring any jobs to be done out side. After a soaking from my morning bike ride I set about occupying my time by making some more cheese. Using 500ml of unused natural yogurt from yesterday’s Cheshire cheese recipe, I added 1 tsp each of salt and mint powder before hanging the mixture over a bowl for 48 hours. Making Labneh is about as simple a process as can be. I am looking forward to rolling the mixture into little balls and preserving them in olive oil, when it is ready on Saturday.

Sue made a couple of sorties into town to grocery shop and also have a couple of photos printed off from a memory stick.

4/12/20 UK deaths: 504.  Current Market Harborough infections: 240.  Down from last week: 744. Britain’s first vaccinations against the disease will take place on Tuesday.

Snow at Ruth’s in Bottesford

Alice in the Christmas mood.

A bitterly cold day. We had constant rain in Harborough, by all accounts most of the rest of the UK seemed to have snow. Sue and Charlotte met up in the morning to do some food shopping at Fosters in town. Charlotte later briefly popped into Willow Bank to drop off some presents and pick up a pumpkin. I got thoroughly cold, wet and miserable on my morning ride. The ground was treacherous for cycling, the raindrops were icy and the views were restricted by the murkiness and the hood pulled tight over my head. After a morning experiencing such horrid December weather we didn’t venture out doors again at all.

5/12/20 UK deaths: 397.  Current Market Harborough infections: 251.  Down from last week: 740. 

Charlotte shared this wonderful, short video of the church of St. Dionysius in the centre of Harborough: CHURCH

Another bitterly cold but dry day. Jamie was conducting one of his training sessions for his clients on binary trading in London this weekend so he called in to drop Nala off. The little dog wasn’t very well and had been given some antibiotics from the vet, though she seemed full of bounce and very playful for most of the day. We kept her warm by the fire with walks  limited to those around the garden. She wouldn’t eat her food at first, so we conned her into taking her tablets by hiding them in bits of cheese which she wolfed down. I completed making the Labneh by rolling it into little balls and placing them in a a jar with virgin olive oil. The sample I tried, tasted really tangy! Yum, Yum.

The rain we had all yesterday and last night brought the river level right up for the first time in quite awhile, though by lunch time (as usual) it had dropped down again.

6/12/20 UK deaths: 231.  Current Market Harborough infections: 231.  Down from last week: 275. Italy’s death toll passes 60,000.

Another chilly and sunny day. I watched England take on France in the final of the Autumn Nations Cup with Nala on my lap. England were lucky to win in extra time against a young and inexperienced side. An exciting game to watch for the neutrals and the 1000 or so spectators allowed to attend the match. Early evening Jamie arrived back from London and collected Nala, she was pleased to see him and readily hopped into the car to go home.

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