Family visits

Next Sunday, we’ll have lunch at The Crown. Once a year, they have an almost secret gathering of the best local clog dancers, morris dancers and players. They get in their own booze and there’s plenty of hilarity as they interfere with each others’ acts.

Last weekend we carried out our plan to spend some time in the South. Aunt Margaret and Monica enjoyed each others’ company, which was good to see, and we helped her attack some of the weeds around the front lawn. Monica also gave uncle Michael a few nudges about getting ready to sell and move on. He hasn’t even begun to think about what kind of place he wants. We’ll go back in the autumn to plant a new tree screen at the back. I don’t think it would take much to get the gardens looking good but the work needs to start soon to meet their schedule. Such a shame they didn’t work towards Jill’s design; by now the place would look wonderful and be under control.

Neil suggested we meet at Dover so that he could show me some of his old life there. It seems you all must have mixed memories of the place as your parents went through their separation while you were growing up.

After coffee then lunch, we found our way through the new ferry roads to the beach and then set off to see if Neil’s shack was still there. We hopped the rocks around Shakespeare’s Cliff and ground through the shingle along to the new Channel Tunnel entrance. The shack was gone but there was a newish one just down the beach which Neil decided must be the replacement. I could see he was having a fine, nostalgic time.

On Wednesday, I cycled >100 miles to see my cousin’s family who were gathered for a farm holiday in the west of the Lakes. Monica drove out on Thursday to bring me back so we feel we’ve had a complete week’s holiday, ending with a slow cycle along the canal to Hebden Bridge yesterday. Today I have to fire up the computer and remind myself of the next jobs on my list. I hope to have the main sections of the forest garden marked out by the weekend to give us all a better idea of its shape and size.

We’re taking care to protect our ash plantation for as long as possible, asking guests to wash their boots before they kit up.

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