The big relaxation of the rules and the potential return to “normal” has been delayed by at least four weeks then. Disappointing and annoying though this is personally I would rather have the level of freedom we currently have rather than things opening up and then we potentially have to go back in to lockdown again. The vaccination programme does appear to be working well but while we still have people able to pass the infection around I understand the concerns over the situation escalating once again.
We can still meet up in groups of six people inside and up to thirty outside. In normal times how often during the year would you have many more than that in those situations weddings and parties aside of course. While not ideal it is enough to be getting along with I feel. You can still see your family and it is still just a case of being careful and sensible. I appreciate that I am lucky as I have already had both of my jabs, so I have that extra level of protection. However I am still extremely careful when I am out and about as that just feels like the right thing to do to me.
We just need to be a little bit more patient still, as a country we have done a decent job getting this thing under control compared to some of the others. One more big push then we will hopefully be where we need to be and we can start to do all the things we used to, possibly appreciating them more than we did before. The important thing is that we can meet up with and talk to people, see friends and family face to face, communicate with each other and help everybody to get through this together.
A few weekends ago my girlfriend and I booked ourselves a couple of nights away at a converted barn near Faringdon in Oxfordshire. We both just fancied a bit of a change of scenery and the chance to discover somewhere new. When we arrived the weather was lovely so we thought it would be rude not to help out the local economy by finding a pub to have a drink at. The accommodation was next to a farm down a long drive and a fifty minute walk from the nearest watering hole so we decided to drive there.
We found a nice little place with space in their beer garden. I have only been inside a pub once since lockdown one. I will admit I am easing myself in gently so I am only mixing with strangers outside at the moment. It was a village establishment who were doing table service. This was the first time I have been to a pub since I have been Coeliac. I did enquire if they had gluten free beer surprisingly they did but sadly it was not one I really liked. This meant that I decided to reacquaint myself with Cider.
I sampled a pint of Thatchers Haze which for the record tasted great in the late afternoon sunshine. It was not until that point when I was sitting there enjoying my pint that I realised how much I had missed pubs and sitting outside having a refreshing beverage. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I instantly settled back into it. We only stayed for one before we headed back to the barn for dinner. For a change we both cooked the meal Lynda made a pasta dish from scratch and I cooked the two fillet steaks. Clearly equally sharing the task.
I must say I did do the steaks absolutely perfectly. I reckon that you could easily have served them in a five star restaurant. After we had eaten we ended up having a long video chat with my oldest friend and his wife. We met on our very first day at Primary School. We instantly became mates and have stayed in touch ever since. It was brilliant to see and talk to them both albeit on screen. It was just great to have a laugh and catch up with each other. I cannot wait until I get to see them both in person again, which hopefully will be fairly soon.
The next day as we had enjoyed it so much we decided to try another pub’s beer garden. The weather was nice and this one had been the one that the host of the property we were staying at had mentioned to us. It was right next to the river so after we had enjoyed a pint of this time a nice red berries fruit cider we went for a lovely walk along the river bank. I have always enjoyed walking next to a stretch of water. I do not know why, I guess I find it relaxing and peaceful.
We then went back to the barn for dinner. We decided to get an Indian food combination from one of the local supermarkets. The buying of which involved me testing half of the items with a special app I have on my phone to make sure that they were gluten free, so I could eat them. Happily we found more than enough options for a big feast, which may or may not have been washed down with a few glasses of red wine. Just in case you were in any doubt it was.
The next morning we had to come home. By now we had seemingly got a bit of a taste for pubs and being outside them. Therefore on the way back we decided to stop for lunch at one of my local ones. It was the venue where a former Prime Minister accidentally left one of his children in the toilet after a meal. I am not sure if the current one has been there or not yet but it is quite close to Chequers, so you never know. Anyway the sun was out once again so we found a nice table in their back garden. This was first time that I had attempted to eat out since having to become gluten free.
It did make it easier than before to decide what to have as there were only about three things on the menu that I could safely eat. I also have to be wary of cross contamination, which does rule out a few extra options. I had a very nice chicken, bacon and avocado salad. The Coeliac diet is quite a healthy one as it turns out. It was a perfect meal for the weather. They very kindly supplied a dressing with it. But I could not have it as I did not know exactly what was in it. As believe it or not some mustards and vinegars contain gluten. It is a minefield. It was nice to be eating out again and I look forward to getting more confident with the food ordering the more I do it.
I was planning a trip to America in September. I was going for a few nights in New York a place where I have never been followed by a few nights in Las Vegas, where I have been once about fifteen years ago. This week I decided to pull the plug on it. It is so difficult to say what the travel situation will be like by them. It is not on the United Kingdom’s green list currently. Nor are the United States welcoming visitors from Britain either.
Even if it was on the green list and they were accepting us by then. The process still requires a lot of additional things that you need to do to leave and return to the country. Therefore I decided to wait until everything opens up a bit more on both sides of the Atlantic. This is not me complaining by the way, I understand the global situation and I think I have made the right decision for me. I will visit both places at a later date. But I think we all have to be a bit flexible with our plans at the minute.
There is a new series of Celebrity Goggle Box back on Channel 4. I am a late convert to this and the normal version of this show. I will admit before I started watching it I really could not see the point of watching people watching television. But it is actually quite funny. For the record I think I would be brilliant on this programme. I have lots to say and often talk through TV shows anyway.
A lot of the old favourite combinations are back like Shaun Ryder and Bez. They seem to live on a different planet to the rest of us. There are a couple of decent additions. Mel C is my favourite Spice Girl so it is great to see her on there with her brother. The surprise package for me is Jamie Carragher and Micah Richards. They seem to have a great laugh together, which is good to see.
I do not watch a massive amount of television so another benefit of this show is that I can catch up with anything major that I have not seen, bits of films I will never see and snippets of programmes that I would never watch under normal circumstances. Like for example Naked Attraction. I was aware of it but never felt compelled to see it as it sounded horrendous. Having now seen a bit of it on Goggle Box I have not changed my mind. It is totally ridiculous!
How people can seriously think they will meet their future partner on it I do not know! What sort of person do you have to be to want to do that on TV? The first thing anybody sees is your privates. That said somebody I know who is a great laugh and a top bloke has been on it. I have never watched his episode and have no plans to. To add insult to injury I believe he may have been voted off it first. That is surely the ultimate walk of shame. We have clearly come a long way from Cilla and Blind Date to get to this!
Last Saturday the weather was brilliant so my girlfriend decided to throw an impromptu barbeque at her place. She invited a few people round. There were six of us in total. It started at around three o’clock with a few glasses of Strawberry Pimm’s. A text book way to kick off an occasion such as this I would say. We ate about half four with all the usual options available chicken, sausages and burgers. All gluten free as she is far too good to me. We then just continued to talk and have a few more drinks.
One of the invited guests was working so they did not get there until around six thirty. Due to the fact my girlfriend is such a considerate host she cooked more fresh food for the late arrival but pretty much did the same as she did earlier. Therefore barely two hours after our first sitting, we had another barbeque meal. Well you have to make the most of things at the moment. I was surprised and impressed at how much I managed to eat. I like my food but two decent meals that close together is unusual even for me.
Owing to a combination of the weather being so good, the fact we were having a good time and because we were so full of food that we could not really move. We ended up sitting outside and talking until gone ten o’clock. It felt like the most amount of fresh air that I had enjoyed for ages. That was my third barbeque in four weeks. I feel I am making up for lost time having missed out on lots of things over the last eighteen months. The sun just makes everything better as far as I am concerned.
It is Royal Ascot this week with the final day of the racing festival today. This is an event I normally go to at least on one of the days sometimes more. Obviously I could not go last year as nobody was allowed in. They are allowing reduced crowds of spectators in this year. I decided not to apply for tickets in the end. It is a great event. What makes it so are the people and the quality of the racing. I just felt it would not feel the same so I have decided to wait and hope that next year it can return to full capacity once again.
It has been a fantastic week of racing as it always is. It is a shame I think that the Queen has not been in attendance so far this week. That is always one of the highlights for me when she arrives. I have a huge amount of admiration for her personally and all that she has achieved. When I was at school the whole class wrote to her and we got a lovely letter back. I actually wrote to her myself with a bit of an update a couple of years ago, well we had not spoken for a while and I thought she might be curious how I was getting on. I did receive a reply from the palace again, which was very nice of them.
I do have shares in a couple of race horses and it would be great one day to see them race at one of the big events like Royal Ascot. One of the best things about it when everything is normal for me is when at the end of racing everyone gathers around the bandstand for a huge sing-a-along. It is very British and there is lots of flag waving. I find a glass of Pimm’s is the perfect accompaniment to these proceedings.
A group of my mates try to do an annual trip to Ascot for one of their October meetings. Obviously it was on hold last year. But it would be nice if we get to go this year. Fingers crossed we might, but unless you have a crystal ball it is very difficult to be completely sure what will be happening by then. I have not really seen any of them for the whole year and an half so what better place to meet up than there?
The Euro 2020 football tournament is underway albeit a year late. England started with a great win against Croatia. The first time we have ever won an opening group game in the competition. Scotland were beaten two nil by Czech Republic in their opening game. Then last night England and Scotland played out a goalless draw. I thought Scotland were the better side on the night. Look England will still get through and a win in the last game means we will win the league. But the performance did not fill me with confidence. Wales have got four points from their first two games, so are in a similar position to us.
I have been watching all the England games and the odd match here and there. The teams that you would expect to be in the mix towards the end mostly seem to have got off to good start. England have the potential to be able to play all of their games at Wembley depending on where they finish in the group stage. Add to that the fact that the semi-finals and finals are both at the home of football. You have to think that if we could get to that stage it would help our chances. But it is too early to dream of that just yet. That old cliche’ still holds true I feel “let us just take one game at a time”.
A quick reminder that you can listen to me every Saturday afternoon between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/
Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.