Glimpses of Berkeley Castle, built in the 12th century to keep out the Welsh, which clearly hasn't worked. It's also where Edward II is believed to have been murdered in 1327. It's pretty much been in the same family the whole time, although it's a wedding venue as well as their home now and also does a bit of jousting and that sort of thing from time to time. It's basically like Lower Loxley, if you are familiar with the Archers.
The white house nearby was the home of Edward Jenner, 'father of immunology' who pioneered the concept of vaccines. He also created a vaccine for smallpox which had killed around 10% of the global population. He experimented with it on his gardener's 8-year-old son. Good job it worked.
Check out the glasshouse round the back. I reckon I could grow my own pineapples if I had something like that.
Did we all power through Christmas okay? It has been nice to have the biggest boy back, although I had forgotten how much space he takes up and how much food he eats. He came home and opened the fridge with a happy sigh, saying, 'The good thing about being at home is there's food in the fridge. Oh.' Turned out it was disappointingly empty.
He texts me and the littlest boy photos of his meals sometimes. The littlest boy looked at one of them and said, 'His food looks so much better than ours mum. How is he outdoing us?' Sigh.
Did I ever tell you about the food shopping insurance? Some student insurance provides £200 of cover in case you are robbed on your way home from the supermarket and all of your shopping is stolen. This type of thing is not reassuring to a mother, imagining some post-apocalyptic urban hellscape where you cannot even get your soya milk and organic lentils and Morrison's vodka home safely.
The dog pretended he couldn't see him when he first came home after three months away. Literally turned his back on him and studiously ignored him. I think he may have forgiven him now.
Thank you for all of your bench commiserations and pep talks. I love the sound of subdued aubergine and also embracing Mediterranean tastes and stepping out of my comfort zone.
On another garden topic, I have finally found a use for figs. I usually pick off all the small fruits that are left at the end of the season, but I couldn't reach the high up ones and ladders made me very nervous, being highly clumsy, so I left quite a few this year. It turns out that the birds really like them, or at least they did during the cold snap. Which made me think that maybe I could freeze some of the ripe ones and bring them out for the birds in the winter. They've also been getting through loads of sunflower seeds.
The local garden shop has just closed its doors for good which is a shame. They sold beans and peas and onion sets loose and you could just put as many as you wanted in a paper bag. They grew all of their own beddings and vegetable plants and the rest of their stock came from local nurseries. And apart from pet food and food for the wild creatures, it was all plants and no novelty hot water bottle covers or peanut brittle.
The urchins had a go at skiing the other day on the dry ski slope. I say dry, but actually there was biblical rain, so they got soaked. Someone accidentally slid backwards into a row of new skiiers. Honestly, is there anything funnier than seeing a bunch of people who can barely stand up themselves trying to stop someone sliding away by all holding onto a bit of their anorak. And probably nothing much more annoying than seeing someone who is sitting drinking a nice hot flask of coffee and laughing instead of actually getting off their arse and giving it a go.
Hope you all had a good festive blast and are ready for the clean, clear energy of January. I also hope American friends are all okay in the storm. CJ xx