Cabin fever

It’s hardly stopped raining for the last two days.  I’ve been stuck inside this metal box and I’m beginning to climb the walls. Yesterday it left off for an hour and I put some rhubarb roots into the corner of my patch.  The first real planting since I took it over as it’s been mainly clearing up all the junk and rubbish that had been left all over the site.  And I LOVE rhubarb.  I have a great new recipe for rhubarb and strawberry flan, and there is already a huge strawberry bed in the new garden.

But then a major thunderstorm stopped all that and we had to retreat back home.  Nothing to do but hold onto two terrified dogs as the thunder raged the sky and hail and rain lashed the lorry and we had a biblical event for twenty minutes! One of those storms that you really can only watch and be awed by.  It is always an even more physical experience in the lorry as the whole thing rocks with the storm.  It’s like being on a ship. More of those to come I guess as we go through the climate changes we are promised.

After the worst was over it was obviously going to be another one of those days when the rain wouldn’t leave off.  A good time to catch up on the tv programmes I’d missed.  I didn’t go further than Benefit Street, Channel 4’s examination of the street in Birmingham where most people are on benefits.  I found the programme fascinating but very uncomfortable.  Maybe that is what the makers intended, as the people it focused on seemed to lack some basic human dimensions.

There were three people who showed real humanity.  An Indian man who gave food to a group of Romanians who were penniless and being conned, a Jamaican young man who gave free goods to a penniless family and an older white man who left allotment vegetables on people’s doorsteps.  Almost all the rest of the hour and a half of programmes I watched dealt with people who were dishonest, immoral or self-centred.  Some were all three. It is compelling watching, even though I felt rather ashamed of humanity afterwards.

Just then the phone rings.  I had made an arrangement to visit Crich Tramway near Matlock and I had completely forgotten.  Nick, one of their volunteers, was waiting there for me, two hours’ drive away!  I apologised and said I would leave immediately and we did, off down the motorway and across the country towards Derby.  The place was charming.  By the time I arrived the rain had stopped, the sun was out and the reconstructed village, including many buildings taken down brick by brick from places across the region and reconstructed there, was very impressive (  I’m booked to be there May 26th - 29th inclusive and you will find me alongside the Red Lion pub.  Very suitable location I thought for me, especially now I’m not drinking!

And on the way back I have another phone call, this one from Ken at Betws Y Coed.  The 2014 Ferret Derby has been cancelled.  This is sad for them and very sad for me.  I’ve been attending the Ferret Derby for maybe twenty-five years. Previously it was a Donkey Derby but they turned the church field into a carpark a few years ago and didn’t have room for the donkeys, so it became ferrets instead.  Certainly I remember my daughter Jayne trying to coax an unwilling donkey round the field.  She must have been twelve or so at the time.  They (the Church) raise money for great charities around the world and I loved the event.  Mimi, Blue and I are the judges at some of the pet competitions, and I always pitched up early there, have a great breakfast at a café in the town that welcomes dogs (how rare is that these days?) and enjoy a lovely day at the smallest event I visit in the year.  It’s really sad that it isn’t going to happen in 2014.  Apparently those who do the really hard work are getting on a bit and they aren’t being replaced.  Now that is a common story…

Ah well one door closes, and another opens.  Farewell Betws Y Coed and Hello Matlock Tramway.  Heigh ho, the life of a travelling show.

All the best from a road near you,

Mr Alexander
Mr Alexander