Today we say bon voyage to Oceane and Anne-Celine

The jet stream, unknown of course fifty years or so ago, is misbehaving and as a result summer is at least postponed if not cancelled!

Sadly, we had a still born and premature calf arrive this week, though as slight compensation, we had the birth of a lamb! We continue with our policy of moving stock around in the expectation this is in the best interests of animals and pastures. A second disappointment this week was to find when the lambs were weighed that weight gain had not been all we had hoped for. That said, both mothers and offspring seem in generally good condition.

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A parting gift for Oceane and Anne-Celine, who leave us on Tuesday, was to be involved in helping Tim cope with a nasty case of flystrike on a lamb! Oceane and Anne-Celine leave us on Tuesday after being with us just over six weeks and, as in almost every instance with the wwoofers we have had over the past few years, we shall say farewell with real regret. It has been a real pleasure having them with us and they will go with our very best wishes for the future and knowing they will always be welcome here in that future.

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We were treated to a wonderful farewell feast on Sunday which they created together for us all. As I may have already mentioned once or twice, their cooking sessions each week have been very welcome!

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On Sunday, it all tasted extremely good, and a lovely evening together was enjoyed by all… and there was word that they even saw several bats on the walk with the dogs and children taken before bed.

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Soukaïna and Cherine are with us for a little longer and will be joined towards the end of the week by two young men from southern Italy who will be with us for three weeks.

The programme for the week gets determined, in so far as such things can ever be determined on a farm, on a Friday, and includes this week, completing the emptying of the barn, perhaps some compost spreading, getting the people trailer useable and making sure the farm looks good for the Summer Fair on Saturday.

Interesting to reflect as Passchendaele, quite properly is remembered, that nearly 400 years ago in the English Civil War, the death toll (excluding Irish and Scottish deaths which were dreadful) was in proportionate terms greater than the total death toll of the British (excluding the substantial numbers of Empire troops) for the entire period of the First World War. A horrendous thought.

That historic episode was of course not just a terrible event in terms of deaths and family break up; it determined the future direction of our society. Moreover, unlike the equally ghastly European 30-year-war it pointed our society in a positive direction. But how do we remember it? By dressing up and so-called re-enactments. How strange the human animal is! How short term our sense of perspective, how amazing is the human ability to ‘blank out’ out really awful disagreeable facts.

Giles Brandreth quoted Napoleon as saying: “if you want to know a man you need to know his world when he was 21”. Assuming the quotation was correct, and of course adjusting for sexual equality, does it still hold true? It certainly chimes with the view that politicians when in power follow the views they developed as young people which perhaps enables a more generous view of Herr Junker et al.

On a lighter note, ‘Saturday Live’ was broadcast from Blenheim Palace and people were invited to share their stories about visits to the palace and its grounds. I was tempted to make contact but courage failed, so share our experience now with you. When we returned from our years overseas, to make myself employable, I returned to university to pick up another qualification and we spent the year living in a rented bungalow in the village of Coombe which backs onto the palace grounds.

Aside from remembering the amazing banks of cowslips in spring along the neighbouring lanes, among our memories of that time are visiting the palace with our then 18 month year old son and entering a room with a wall-lined with paintings, which our young man grabbed, causing the whole wall to come alive as all the paintings were connected by chains – we exited left at high speed! And then in the autumn entering the park by the back gates collecting, probably illegally, full size edible sweet chestnuts!

So many good memories acquired over our years together and of course some embarrassing ones!

 

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