Restrictions for many

Hilde Schoening, Buchholz, Germany

On Friday I welcomed nine out of eighteen former students from my last class and had them as guests for a barbecue on our terrace. I had promised them an invitation before Corona and was glad to fulfill that promise as you are by now allowed to come together with up to fifty people. We sat outdoors and kept some distance. They almost all have to change their initial plans for the future but were still optimistic.


At the moment I am preparing the new school year as I am going to get a new class and will work at my vocational school exclusively (after having worked at two schools for 19 years). The current instruction of the educational authorities is to teach the students in complete classes without keeping distances during lessons but always doing so outside the classroom. I hope the concept will work out. The numbers of infections here are on the rise again mainly due to returning travellers from countries at risk.


My feelings on paper

Barbara Warsop, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England

I have been a crying wreck for weeks during lock down having lost my husband of 55years in 2019. I have three daughters who care for me and do my shopping leaving it on my door step at a distance. I would love a hug but its out of the question with covid 19. Writing poetry seems to get the grieving out of my system.

Catherine wrote me a wonderful answer to my [first] contribution, it helped a lot. Thank you Catherine.

I see that everyone has moved on from the begining of March. Whereas I am just starting my contribution.

I am 82years old so in the vunerable group living alone. Every day I try to have an early morning walk up the country lane near me, it takes me an hour. I pass by a beautiful 17th Century Chapel and graveyard that's wonderfully kept. I hear a Black Cap, Chiff Chaff, White Throat along with all the normal garden birds. On this walk during all these weeks the trees and wild flowers have gone on their natural time of change. Linnets have nested in the gorse on the hillside and I see a Whinchat and a Curlew calls its eerie sound and flies off. Sometimes I see a rabbit or a pheasant calls from the chapel grounds and a kestrel hovers above and I think I am so lucky seeing and living in such a wonderful place on the outskirts of Sheffield it's such a lovely green City.

On my lonely walk, I may see a dog walker or a jogger but its usually just me and the beautiful countryside. The highlight of my journey with my binoculars is two little owls that sit together on the old country walls that separate the fields. I have watched them most days and I think they nested in the wall as all at once there was only one bird sitting alone. They are so camouflaged that I wouldn't see them without my binoculars.

Another time there are cows in the field and further on horses around the farm yard.

Last week was a treat as there were four hare chasing one another around at speed through the fields.

Back home it's so lonely. Even though I have lots of hobbies, I do watercolour painting and I have been painting cards from photos on my walk. I also do x stitch and jigsaw. And do loads of repairs for my family sewing patches on jeans taking them up or letting them down. The TV on at all times for company. What rubbish is on along with Boris. During my lifetime I have seen governments come and go but this one must be the worst I have had to live through. I am nearing the end of my life and I feel so sorry for the young and what's to come after covid 19.

It's getting better this week as things move along my friend has started coming and we can sit apart in my garden or walk together up the lane, also my girls take it in turns to sit out with me and do a bit of gardening for me. All the rain has caused a new spring in my garden and my son-in-law is making me a bridge to go over it out of pallets that were going to be thrown away. My family are thinking of my every need. They're all worried that I may catch this virus. I am still not shopping or going anywhere else just yet. I have to get used to living alone as well as with covid 19. Is this my new normal I ask myself.


Cotswold Perspective

Rosemary, Rodborough Common

Tackling many tasks these days outside of the home takes so much longer than prior to Covid-19. This week we had our car serviced, normally it is picked up from our home and returned back later in the day. Alternatively the company lend us one of their cars, but this choice is no longer available due to social distancing restrictions. We had no alternative other than to take the car to the garage ourselves arriving by 8.30am, but then the car wasn't going to be ready until 1.00pm. Whatever could we do for 4½ hours stuck in some unfamiliar, rather boring suburban area, several miles outside the city of Gloucester. Fortunately the morning dawned fine so we set set off on the long trek to find our way into the city centre. After walking for an hour, a bus going into the centre came along, so we quickly flagged it down, hopped onboard, and found our way to the cathedral. 


Fan vaulting is an English innovation not seen elsewhere in Europe, and Gloucester Cathedral's Cloister boasts a magnificent example of the first ever fan vaulting developed in Gloucester during 1350. Following its success, fan vaulting then spread across the country. The Cloister is built in a quadrangle, and it is where the monks of Gloucester lived and studied. It is a magnificent piece of architecture, and although once privy to only the monks it is now open every day for all to enjoy. The Cloister must also be familiar to many Harry Potter fans where it featured as the mystical corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in three of the films. One wonders whatever the Monks would think about such goings on in and around their holy cloister, a place where they spent their lives, living, eating, meditating, and praying.


The cathedral has been a place of Christian worship continuously for over 1,300 years, since Osric, an Anglo-Saxon prince, founded a religious house on the site in 678-9 AD. At the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066 the Monastery was not thriving so in 1072 King William l appointed Serlo, a monk from Mont St. Michel in Normandy to be its Abbot. He was an energetic, charismatic, devout man, who built up the wealth of the Monastery to the point where in 1089 he was able to start building the magnificent abbey church seen today.

In the cathedral is a memorial to Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, the eldest son of William the Conqueror. He did not succeed his father to the English throne. On the death of William the Conqueror his lands were divided up: Normandy went to Robert, and England went to William the Conqueror's second son William. 


As a result of social distancing, the cathedral to my eyes has never looked more magnificent. It has been pared right back i.e minus chairs or furnishings, and now looks more like it would have appeared a thousand years ago. The fine Norman architecture now takes centre stage and is shown off to its full glory. We actually enjoyed this glorious building virtually to ourselves.


Having the car serviced in what appeared at first to be rather tiresome circumstances, did in fact turn out to be a very pleasant few hours away from home.

The King who never was - Robert Curthose

Fan vaulting in Gloucester Cathedral Cloister 


The Runaway Diaries

Sophie Austin

What 38 looks like


Writing this bleary eyed, the day after my birthday. I don’t think I blame the tequila, but your sweet birthday present to me; a rousing rendition of ‘Mumma!’ yelled at midnight, one o’clock and three o’clock this morning, followed by a demand for an intimate concert of all the lullabies I know until 4am when, defeated, I let you sleep in our bed for the first time since you were tiny and you promptly drifted off while I fretted away the rest of the early hours. 


So 38 in 2020 looks older than her years; furrowed brow and dark eyes, the grey hair I’ve been cultivating since I was fourteen now sits unashamed atop my head suggesting years, and perhaps wisdom, that I don’t own being still, almost, young. 


I spent my birthday working which was the best birthday present I could have hoped for this year. Your brilliant Nana took you on your own adventure while I went to my local theatre, Theatre Peckham, to begin a Research and Development period for a new outdoor play I’m developing. The play will be an outdoor experience that will explore our current crisis through the grief cycle, inviting the audience to journey to different locations whilst listening, seeing, and immersing themselves in others experience of Lockdown and beyond. It will involve visual artists, local participants and an amazing sound designer who, together with me will lead the creation process. 


I arrived, mask on face to be greeted by my new collaborators, unmasked and keen to embrace. We settled on an elbow touch. The day was filled with powerful conversations and it was an honour to spend the time getting to know my main collaborator, an artist born in Damascus, raised in Norway, Manchester and now finding herself in London. Over ten years younger than me, but with a knowledge of the world that dwarfed my own. To be out of the house, out of my family, to be in a strange room, getting to know a stranger and sharing creative ideas felt strangely exotic and by the end of our session my brain was hurting with unfamiliar stimulation. 


We followed our development meeting with a workshop for young visual artists. We invited these six young men to draw responses to the ideas we had been playing with and asked them to describe their work. Their responses were deeply profound, emotionally charged and helped to confirm that our project is worth pursuing. 

My collaborator and I parted ways, both mentally challenged by the day.


When I got home I was met by you, pink as a raspberry, having been playing fast and crazy with your Nana. Over dinner the two of you were in fits of hysterics and I felt so grateful that you have someone you can laugh so hard with. Bath and bed done, I put on a dress (!) and boots with a heel(!) and get an empty train(!) wearing my new mask which arrived in the post along with a birthday card from your fabulous Granny. Off to meet one of my bestest friends who I have not seen in the flesh since March. London Bridge station is empty, a weird ghostly residue hangs in the air as I imagine all the people who would normally be rushing from platform to platform. 


The restaurant is buzzing, welcoming and it doesn’t feel strange to be there. The only oddity being the central bottle of hand sanitizer placed between us and two shot glasses, as if we should drink it, if we are feeling really germy. We don’t and settle for Margaritas instead and the evening slips in to such a familiar and comforting feeling of long-time friendship, stories and gossip shared in-person.


At home, your dad is back from work and already asleep, I fall into bed, head buzzing with all the stories I have heard today from real people in the physical world and I feel very blessed… and then I hear ‘Mumma!’


Gratefully Sheltering

James Oglethorpe, Virginia, USA

“Friendship likes distance.” Maasai Proverb


My business card reads: Vivian Lomunyak Trevellian. Under the gold crest is the motto of the Guild of Ladies’ Gentlemen: man is woman’s ruin. I serve the emotionally broken and devastated, as well as high performing professional single women. My current Madam is one of the latter.


I was preparing Madam for a rare evening out. As I washed her hair she said, “Vivian, I think edgy this evening, don’t you?”


“Indeed. We are of one mind. May one inquire as to your destination?”


“I think not. I would hate you to think poorly of me.” She reached up and touched my hand.


With subtle movements I unentwined our viscous fingers. 


I have experienced this before. The lines between service and personal affection begin to blur. I am professionally, unswervingly chaste. Loyalty and camaraderie? We have that in spades. But the other? Guild rules: fraternization with clients strictly forbidden. In its storied history, only one Ladies’ Gentleman, Arbuthnot Granger, has ever been ejected from the Guild. While under contract he fled the country with his client, Lady Wisteria, to Kenya, the land of my birth.


My mother, Audrey Trevellian, and my Maasai father, Lomunyak, had a drunken encounter in Naivasha. I was the result. My profile reads: public school education in England, University in America. Trained in London. Clean shaven head. Tall, athletic. Cordon Bleu chef. Expert in personal protection. Carries a legal firearm. A diamond ear piercing. A hidden tattoo of a rampant lion on the inside of the right thigh. Unfailingly discreet.


I dressed Madam in a bespoke Carla Dawn Behrl creation and a pair of Jimmy Choo Merle 100s. The brand of her intimate clothing remain a secret known only to ourselves and the gnomes at Coutts.    


As I finalized her hair she looked at me directly out of the mirror. For a moment I held her gaze. The visceral tide was rising. Time for me to request a transfer.


Madam released me from my role as security as I deposited her in the Bentley. Shortly afterwards I hailed a fast black one. Once onboard I checked my phone. A love heart like a deformed tomato was beating on the screen: olderandwiser was keenly anticipating our dinner date.


Val’s is a premier London dining club. Membership is a perk of my profession. No guests can see one arrive or leave. All the booths are turned away from the door, diners meet secure behind velvet curtains. Quickly and anonymously I was shown my booth — they know me well — and served a chilled orange juice spritzed up with club soda. I checked my watch. olderandwiser was ten minutes late. I sent a text. No reply. She must have got cold feet. I began reading on my phone and was engrossed when the curtain opened. I looked up expecting olderandwiser. I found instead, Madam, with a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket.


I rose immediately, napkin on the floor, book turned face down, ambushed, vulnerable and taken off-guard. I keep my professional and private life separate. Her gate crashing broke that barrier, wrenching my focus from one world to another, shattering convention and boundaries.


“Madam!” I floundered.


“For God’s sake Vivian, sit down.” She did, directly opposite, her hair in disarray.


“May one enquire?”


“No. One may not. I sabotaged your date.” Her words were slurred. “Told her you were spoken for.”


“Excuse me? How did you…’


“…know where you were? You work for me… ”


“…I must protest…”


“…Oh oh. Sounds ominous. Come on. Drink up.”


Madam looked over the top of her glass trying to hold me in her inebriated gaze. Classic Madam is: get hit by incoming; take a beat; remain objective; plan; seize control of the outcome; start negotiations. Not tonight. Straight in.


“I can only function with you as part of my life. I need you.”


“Madam. You are fully aware of the contract relating to intimate relations between…”




“…I would be unable to care for you in the way I do now. I am paid to serve you.”


“So. Serve me. We can fudge it…”


“…No. Dishonest. I should leave now.”


“No. Stay. You are still employed by me.”




“…Vivian. I have something to say. Hear me out. Do you honestly think I could let any old employee get as close to me as you do?”


“My clients frequently do. It allows me to serve with greater precision.”


“Well then. Forgive me. I wasn’t expecting this, so no ring, but may I propose an exclusive contract between us that involves loving, mutual precision?”


“I shall not allow you to regret this in the morning.”


“No. No. Don’t you see Vivian. Your madam has feelings for you. Nobody has ever held my hair while I am throwing up. Nobody records my shoes in a registry. You are made for me. I can’t kneel in this skirt… Make me whole…Marry me…” She mumbled, keeling over, her head falling onto her arms.


Next morning as I was dressing her she said: “I am mortified by my behavior.”


“Very good, Madam. I have asked to be placed in a new position.” Recent behavior alone demanded nothing less.


“Please don’t. You know me. I have to blow off steam sometimes. I apologize unreservedly.”


“And next time…?”


“If you were with me it wouldn’t happen.”


“Please sit.”


As I began corralling her flamboyant hair into a semblance of order she stared at me.


“You turned my life around. Don’t leave me.” Madam never cries. But she was close. Her phone rang. A fire to fight. I withdrew leaving her framed in the mirror, oblivious, lost to me.


On my return from a holiday in Kenya I entered service with a recently divorced film star — homes in Hollywood, Paris and Cape Town — with wardrobes and manners to match.


The shares Madam’s company gave me as a parting bonus have tripled in value.


I am a Ladies’ Gentleman. Intimacy demands distance.


From Rural New York

Sandy Connors, USA

It has been incredibly hot and humid here in the northeast this past week which saps my energy. So very little gardening except for walks to the back of the property to sit with the dogs in the evenings for a while ~ they seem to like it when we all go out and I sit down for a half an hour or so and will lie down at my feet enjoying a different spot to be near one another. The weeds and the perennials that have gone past need my attention, but I am afraid I can’t muster up the enthusiasm when I am uncomfortable except for a few obvious weeds which I pluck out as I pass by.   There will be cooler days ahead, and in a matter of a few hours all will be tidied up again and I tell myself the garden gets a chance to be a little wild looking which I rather enjoy for a short time anyway.  


Plum seemed to have a setback not eating much and just lay around looking rather forlorn but after a few days she perked up again and she and Dickens are back to running around the back for a while especially if I go with them and throw a ball or two, but then we are all very happy to come back in to sit in front of the fans to cool off. To think we still have all of August to look forward to! These are times when I miss living by the ocean ~ a dip in the cold sea is just perfect for these dog days of summer.

The one exception to the week was a lovely picnic with a friend I haven’t seen since last November. We chose a spot half-way between her home in western Massachusetts and mine on the eastern side of New York ~ a very old rather small cemetery which was beautifully shady and quiet with views of a lovely little pond. We met masked, and after a bit decided to remove them, and shared a large quilt sitting at a good distance from one another. It was wonderful to see her and to share all the happenings in our lives. She is an artist so we often compare notes on whatever we are working on getting input and feedback which I value. The dogs had to stay at home, and as it was another hot day, we only stayed for a few hours but it was so good to be in a friend’s good company once again.


Youlgrave lockdown

Dianne, Youlgrave Derbyshire

Quote from our friend’s five year old son in New Zealand - ‘Why don’t we make another Jacinda and send her to America.’ Why not indeed, can we have one too? After all we already have Dolly the sheep and I once watched an hilarious comedy where a young man kept making clones of himself so they could do all the things he was obliged to do but didn’t want to do. I have to say it didn’t end well.


I am watching the second series of My Brilliant Friend and find myself singing Peter Sarstedt’s ‘Where do you go to my lovely’ all the time especially the line ‘I remember the back streets of Naples.’


Greater Manchester is in lockdown now which affects our oldest son and family. Emma thinks they have done it because it is Eid this weekend and are worried about all the big congregations of people. Apparently you are not allowed to visit people, even in their gardens but you can go to the pub with family members!


We had our first non-Zoom drama workshop in our garden on Wednesday. Perfect weather and so lovely to see everyone and be able to chat normally. We did a bus activity where we arranged our chairs in two lines - socially distanced of course. We each had a line to say which we could say at any time and in any way we wanted as long as we didn’t talk over each other. It was very funny. My line was ‘Did you see what she was wearing.’ We then each thought of a line to say about Covid and repeated the activity. Some of the lines as you might expect were things like - Barnard Castle, ‘Testing my eyesight’,’ Follow the science’ etc. We had our director’s 9 year old granddaughter who said very severely, ‘Wear your mask; I don’t know what young people are coming to today!’


Right on the deadline this week. We had friends round for coffee at 11am and they didn’t leave until nearly 2pm. One friend who lives on her own needed someone to have a rant with and I told her I can lend her Jeremy whenever she wants. Actually Jeremy would call it a discussion. 

Looking forward to a few days in the van on the east coast from Monday. Hope the weather is kind to us. I need some sea air.


Staying home

Nicky, Vermont, USA

We live near a couple of lakes. This week we went to Boulder Beach together. B is not a big swimmer, she had asthma as a kid, and hates the thought of not being able to breath in the water, but even she went in. We went about five pm when most people had left so it felt safe, and she paddled in and lay on her back floating, watching the sky. It’s a huge lake, so there was a lot of sky, and the occasional wave from a motorboat towing a waterskier. I swam up and down and wriggled around. I think I love being in water more than anything else. Or almost anyway. 


Yesterday I went to visit my friend Daphne. We’ve been friends since the seventies. She’s from Felixstowe, and I lived in Ipswich and in a village near Felixstowe right after I got married. On my way to visit Daphne I stopped at Number 10 Pond which is a most unromantic name for a gorgeous lake. It’s what’s called a kettle pond, very very deep, so I worry less about having my toes eaten by snapping turtles. B. has been worrying about me swimming alone so I ordered a, well, I’m not sure what to call it, an orange thingie that you blow up and then is seriously visible in the water. You attach it to your waist and it floats behind you. It’s made for triathlete swimmers so they can be seen in the water. I’m not a triathlete by any means, but yesterday was the first time I tried it and sure enough it floated along behind me. I suppose the principle, or one of them, is that if I drown someone will know where to find the body! But it is very buoyant so I could hold onto to it and kick my legs. That was kind of fun too. But mostly I took it to relieve B’s worry about me swimming alone. 

I was just about to clamber out of the lake when a loon appeared. They are really large fresh water ducks, about double the size of a mallard, with distinctive black and white markings, and they call to each other across the lakes with eerie sounds, hence the expression crazy as a loon. I find them stunningly beautiful. Just getting in the water was a woman who swam out cautiously. She said she was a long distant swimmer (no orange thingie, I noted,) and it turns out she’s very frightened of loons. Not only are they big but they also surprise you: they dive very far down then pop up where you don’t expect them. Often quite close, though they are actually shy. Anyway, I stayed in the water as a sort of reassuring presence until she got to the other side of the lake and started her long purposeful swim. I was hoping for another sighting of the loon, but no such luck. I respected her for swimming anyway, despite her fear.  

I managed to get dry and dressed under a copious dress, and headed for Daphne’s where we had take out Italian food on her lawn and a truly divine carrot cake, B’s favorite, so I brought a slice home to to B. It was all satisfying. I’m looking forward to lots more swimming before the weather turns cold at the end of August.


Rural Norfolk

Chris Gates, Norfolk UK

Went to Norwich for the first time in 4 months for the frankly frivolous: a beard trim at my favourite barbers, Swagger and Jack’s. The protocol had to be observed within the bounds of practicality, so I was greeted at the entrance by a masked greeter and asked to mask up while on my way to the chair. Hugo, my Man, was waiting, masked and visored. I settled in, dismasked and was attended to, then I masked up again for the passage through the shop, via the till, and finally outside where I dismasked again. The streets of Norwich were notable for their normality ie lack of masks... unwise complacency? Anyway, the throng was relaxed, I got some fish and slipped back out to Rurality unscathed - I think. Altogether, a heady hour and a half living on the edge.

Here’s an odd thing: it’s mandatory to wear a mask in a shop - but not for shop staff.


As we ‘went to press‘ last Saturday evening came the news that visitors returning from Spain face two weeks quarantine and that in response - and anticipating downturn, Tui immediately stopped selling Spanish holidays. 

In the days that followed stories emerged of holidaymakers who’d left and only heard this new edict on arrival in Spain immediately turning around and flying back, rather than face what amounts to four weeks off work. Mind you, their numbers were balanced by those with grim determination continuing to depart, helped by Ryanair who declined to cancel flights. Nicola Sturgeon appeared and took the initiative, declaring no-one should fly anywhere, but rather, take a holiday in Scotland and in doing so a) stay safe and b) help the Economy.


Poor Peter Green has died. One of those mercurial figures from the 70’s who burned themselves out - and effectively squandered a huge talent - largely through chemical abuse and the demons it brought. ‘Man of the World’ says it all. Most poignant, in recent years and driven mad by requests or unwelcome ‘encouragement’ to make a comeback, he grew his nails so long that playing guitar was impossible, hoping to silence them. How desperate, how unhappy he must have been.


On the upside, BJ announced on Tuesday a new and partially funded initiative to encourage biking and walking, even opening up the prospect of Doctors ‘prescribing’ cycling, though details were sketchy as to how this might happen. It’s thought there will be some form of NHS pool of bikes made available to the clinically unfit and/or obese patients, and they be encouraged to take themselves in hand. Money is to be made available for joint Council initiatives to create safer cycling and walking routes to extend the Fatties range, safely. I have a personal interest in this as a) at a recent ‘well man’ clinic, the Nurse declared me obese and b) I have a bit of a campaign running to get a cyclepath from our village to the nearby town - or, rather, completion of a missing 250m link - which would seem to neatly combine both aspects: I’ll be able to bike to and from the Doctor’s as the surplus poundage melts. One firm promise was that from midnight the public could apply for one of the first tranche of 50,000 £50 vouchers to get their bikes serviced at participating bike shops. The website crashed. 


By Thursday Jet2 were telling their holidaymakers to consider cutting short their Spanish jaunts and get themselves home. They were concerned that with dwindling numbers setting out they would soon be faced with sending empty planes out to collect them - and rather than do that, they would abandon them. Tui was closing down branches of their Travel Shops. With mainland cases of coronavirus increasing, the Spanish situation is causing concern. The Islands are clearer but caught up in the same boycot.

At home, those thinking they have contracted the virus are being told to self-isolate for ten days, not seven as before. There is talk of localised ‘spikes’ particularly in the North - Oldham, Manchester Bradford included... and restrictions on social meetings are imposed with immediate effect on 4 million Northerners. Then modified as one Government source said don’t go to pubs and another said you can go to pubs but can’t meet others at home. It will disrupt home-based Eid celebrations, that’s for sure. No doubt it’ll be more fully-formed later. 

And "Panorama” produces an hour-long documentary cataloguing the appalling lack of consideration Matt Hancock’s department showed to Care Homes through the bleak, worst days of virus in complete contradiction to his blandishments. 22,000 covid-related deaths are recorded at Homes throughout the UK, 19,000 in England alone. 


Friday, and thus 12 hours later, well, it’s simple: Northerners must not meet with other households at home, but can meet them in pubs as long as they don’t go with them to the pub. And when they get there, pretend not to have seen them. That’ll work then.

BJ himself (flanked by Whitty) appears and announces businesses - bowling alleys, casinos, some spectator sport - that were due to open, finally, this weekend have been told not to (not just up North, but everywhere) and wedding receptions will have to be cancelled forthwith too. Confirmed Covid cases are showing an unwelcome increase, shown on a graph (how I miss those daily briefings) and Chris Whitty looks stern and suggests we’re at the limit of what may be eased, and anything further may have to be ‘traded’ in some way... quite how that would work without alienating further swathes of Public is going to be tricky. As it is, 1000’s of Muslims won’t be allowed their family Eid, and one went on camera to say ‘imagine if you’d spent a week really looking forward to Christmas, cooking a ton of food, buying presents, inviting everyone around - and then on Christmas Eve Boris cancels it...


Home Thoughts

Hilary Q, North Norfolk

Success! On Monday, serendipity presented a huge galvanised water tank lying on the grass verge outside Rory’s Skips and Scrap on the coast road at Wells.  


The Hornet screeched to a halt and I leapt out to transact with Rory who agreed to remove extraneous pipework and deliver it the following day. Not having met one another since before Lockdown, I was delighted to be asked how I ‘had bin during this Cromer virus’!!!


Without any further hassle or expense we have an instant outside counter top with integrated wood store for the pizza oven. Better yet, Martin made his first three pizzas which were all as good as the best in Naples! Well, all except for the first one which stuck to the shovel on entry so that all the topping flew off onto the ashes at the back! 


It is now Friday and this morning I went early to Burnham Market to buy fish before the first physical staff meeting at the Brazen Head Bookshop which has now reopened. Over forty people in the fishmonger’s queue but it moved very efficiently, very quickly and very expensively! The bookshop looks great. David and Susan have done an excellent job in revitalising it and the stock looks terrific. Can’t wait to return. By 1030 I was back on the coast road towards Wells. It was heaving and the tailback for the already crowded overflow car park at Holkham was without exaggeration a good mile long.


Home again and the buddleia this year continues to be a magnet for the entire Observer Book of Butterflies. 


No report of Anish Kapoor at Houghton because our tickets are for NEXT week!

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