Running up to Yuletide.

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14/12/20 UK deaths: 144. Current Market Harborough infections: 293. UP from last week: 67. A “new variant” of corona-virus has been identified in the UK, believed to be causing the spread in the South East. I hope that this new strain won’t affect the efficacy of the vaccine!!!

Today the Newbold Verdons went to see Santa (the real one), Charlotte took Harry for a very muddy walk and Sue and I decorated our rather small Christmas tree. Charlotte noticed that we hadn’t put her favourite flower fairy on top of the tree, so Sue found it in the loft and replaced the angel.

The topic of choice on family Messenger group (all day!) seemed to be lengthy discussions on on how to cook meat for Christmas. Not Sue’s problem this year, we are dining out.

15/12/20 UK deaths: 506. Current Market Harborough infections: 281. UP from last week: 80.

Last night the weather forecast was good, so today we decided to go for a ramble and it turned out to be a perfect walking day.

St. Ann’s Well

I plotted a route starting from Church Langton, taking in the small villages of Stonton Wyville and Tur Langton. I spotted a couple of interesting features in the landscape and decided to devise a route that covered them in, first St. Ann’s Well and then King Charle’s Well.

We parked up outside Church Langton school. Sue had taught here for a number of years, though it has changed much since then, though the sounds emanating from the classrooms and playground sounded all too familiar. Heading down hill to a point where our route branched off from the metaled road onto fields, we stopped awhile to investigate St. Ann’s Well, hidden in a small overgrown copse by the side the road. The well was in a very poor state, just a shadow of the one

photographed on the Megalithic website in the included link.. Little appears to be known of its origin but the website indicates a reference; ‘after 720 AD, an early Christian church was built, at what must have been an older British site close to the sacred well of Anu (now St Ann’s well).’

Reaching Stonton Wyville at the base of the escarpment we were pleased to hunt down and find three geocaches in and around the village. The last one being a gravestone within the grounds of the tiny church of St. Denys. Disappointingly the building was locked, it would have been nice to see the ancient Brudenell family tomb with husband and wife (headless) with relief of children on the side.

King Charle’s Well

Medieval Fish Ponds

Passing by the nearby Manor house, our path took us through medieval fishponds (now empty) and into a series of rising fields that with a small diversion took us to King Charle’s Well, named after Charles I who reputedly stopped there to drink on his campaigns. The present structure dates from 1813 and is in good condition. I tested the depth and it was deeper than my wellies!!! A little further on, among some ancient gravel pits and small ponds we came across a rustic looking gentleman carrying a haversack of botanical pond gear. He had been checking on the pond-life, and was pleased to stop and chat, he volunteered that King Charles had stopped to water his horse at the well while on his way to nearby Noseley Hall. Sue and I once knew the owners of the hall; I had played rugby in the same team as Arthur Hazelrigg and Sue had been friends with his wife Shan, having visited the hall several times with Sarah on

play-dates with her children. The house has been in the Hazelrigg family since the 15th century, but has since been sold. Arthur now manages the estate.

Leaving the knowledgeable botanist, our route now took us towards Tur Langton and then on through fields back to our departure point in Church Langton. The views along this stretch, over towards Kibworth and Smeeton Westerby were magnificent. I was surprised to note that the Leicester to London railway line running along the base of the distant hillside seemed very busy, I wondered how many passengers it was carrying under the present lock-down restrictions?

We were home for a late lunch at 1 pm. Despite an inviting and sunny afternoon, we both felt lazy and spent the afternoon resting weary leg muscles, I listening to music and Sue catching up with news on her laptop.

Today was the last working day for Charlotte and her gardening business. Winter has arrived!

16/12/20 UK deaths: 612. Current Market Harborough infections: 226. DOWN from last week: 149. Vaccinating the population against corona-virus will cost taxpayers up to £11.7bn, the public spending watchdog has estimated.

The Rothwells have a visit from Santa

The United States has surpassed 300,000 confirmed COVID-19-related deaths, nearly 3,350 the highest single-day total since the pandemic began. More than 16.3 million Americans have contracted the virus.
During the morning I buried some composted leaves in the vegetable plot and reconfigured the PIR sensor over the front door that had lost its WiFi connection. Sue and Bridget were due to join a U3A ramble in Foxton this afternoon, however due to a heavy rain forecast, the activity was called off as they were about to leave home. It turned out to be a wise move as within 15 minutes it did indeed pour down and remained that way most of the afternoon. Sarah visited Charlotte during the morning to exchange Christmas presents and both of them called in to see us during the afternoon, accompanied by Alice and the dogs. Charlotte was on an errand delivering Christmas cards to clients in Harborough and Sarah was on her way home. It was lovely to see them, but restrictions meant the meeting was brief.

17/12/20 UK deaths: 532. Current Market Harborough infections: 212. DOWN from last week: 169. Today the government reviewed it’s Tier area allocations, Harborough remained firmly in Tier 3! This means we won’t be travelling to swap Christmas presents with Philippa (Devon)

I have FIVE teeth now!

or Sheila (Worcestershire) as they are are both in Tier 2 and movement from T3 to T2 is discouraged. This evening we also learnt that Philippa and Paul have gone into isolation as the NHS COVID-19 App has informed them they may have come into contact with someone infected. They are now arranging to be tested. However, it does mean that we won’t be meeting up before Christmas.

This morning on the return leg of my bike ride, I came across Sue and her friend in Welland Park, they were hurrying into town to begin a U3A Christmas Town Quiz. It is a fun activity designed to finish off the year for the U3A Activity group she is in. Strangely (on my bike again), as I was on my way through the park to do some shopping, I met her returning home. Competitive as ever, I learned she was bitterly disappointed not have got six of the thirty clues! Later that afternoon she went to see Linda Keane to swap presents and see how she was faring. It appears that she has recently had a suspected stroke and understandably she and Paddy are quite worried. What an awful year this has been.

18/12/20 UK deaths: 489. Current Market Harborough infections: 233. DOWN from last week: 147.

After a dull and miserably damp day, during the evening we watched a Time Team programme of an archaeological dig (March 20130) near to our earlier walk through Stonton Wyville. It is a fascinating episode, being the first Anglo-Saxon settlement the team had dug.

19/12/20 UK deaths: 534. Current Market Harborough infections: 186. DOWN from last week: 184. The southeast of England will no longer be able to mix with other households at Christmas, with a new Tier 4 level of COVID restrictions – equivalent to a full lock-down coming into force tomorrow. The Prime Minister has announced that the planned five-day easing of restrictions over the festive period will now be limited to a single day over the rest of the country. Dark days indeed! Global corona-virus infections surpassed the 75 million mark on Saturday. According to industry and aviation experts, Trump may lift the US travel ban blocking Americans from flying to the UK and Europe before Christmas. Surely not Donald! Why am I not surprised when I read that ten of the richest people in the world have boosted their vast wealth by more than $400bn (£296bn) since the corona-virus pandemic began. I do hope they exercise a bit of humanity and use it for the good of the planet.

Jim and Bridget popped around this morning to change the battery on their car which has been parked on our driveway since last June. Sue fortunately made a couple of runs into town to do some shopping as later in the afternoon we learned of the new lock-down restrictions. I planned for the future by planting a row of broad beans in the one of the raised vegetable beds to give them an early start in the spring, then dug out the snap dragons in the flower border, ready to plant tulips tomorrow.

20/12/20 UK deaths: 326. Current Market Harborough infections: 165. DOWN from last week: 211. The government’s original five-day relaxation of measures between 23 and 27 December is reduced to just one, 25th December. Italy and Austria have joined the Netherlands, Ireland, France, Germany and Belgium in banning air travel from the UK due to concerns over the new strain of corona-virus.

Last night we had two badgers visiting.

On a day when Philippa and Paul received negative Covid-19 test results, the COVID Research Group I am a member of sent an email inviting me to take a test. I took the test during the afternoon; result in a couple of days.

Early this morning Sue was off on another one of her rambles. She has recently joined the Harborough Rambling group and today’s 7.5 mile trek was a circular route around Medbourne. While she was trudging through the mud of south Leicestershire I planted up a border with tulip bulbs. Late morning I had a visitor, Jim arrived with a large box of different types of bread for our freezer, baked that morning by his baker brother. It was a thank you for allowing him to park his Honda 4X4 on our driveway. It was a very kind gesture.

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