Sunday 28 March 2021

The Oxford-AstraZenica Vaccine

I am annoyed for our talented scientists and saddened for our near neighbours across the water at the way in which the Oxford-AstraZenica vaccine continues to be demonised across much of Europe, ultimately risking the loss of many more lives. 
In February 2020 the Oxford University Scientists, along with their partners AstraZenica, made a bold humanitarian decision to research and provide a vaccine on a not-for-profit basis during the pandemic. Millions of doses of the Oxford vaccine have already been administered to UK citizens. The facts and the figures speak loudly for themselves - hundreds of lives are now being saved each and everyday. Today our hospitals up and down the country have very few Covid-19 patients requiring ventilation or intensive care. 
Europe has just entered into a third wave, and yet their politicians continue to denounce the Oxford vaccine!
Emmanuel Macron claimed that the Oxford vaccine was "quasi-ineffective" for the over-65s, just hours before it was approved for use on all adults in the EU.
In Germany they have been giving the Oxford vaccine to people living on the streets as others do not appear to want it.
Denmark, Norway and Iceland have suspended using the Oxford vaccine until further notice.
In an empty Belgian vaccination centre, the Oxford vaccine was said to have been dismissed as a 'low-budget' Aldi alternative.
The Oxford vaccine blood clotting incidence appears to have been a 'red herring'. According to articles read there have actually been slightly more cases recorded in those receiving the Pfizer vaccine. I was more than happy to receive the Pfizer vaccine myself, but would have been equally pleased if it had been the Oxford vaccine.
Are the other drug companies pressurising European leaders to give them preference? I am very aware of the fact that they are expecting their Covid-19 vaccines to yield them huge financial rewards.
The not-for-profit Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine costs £3 per shot = £6 per person
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine costs £15 per shot = £30 per person
The Moderna vaccine costs £28 per shot = £56 per person.

Sunday 21 March 2021

One Year On........

In this country on Tuesday 23rd March there will be a national day of reflection to mark the anniversary of our first lockdown for the thousands who have lost their lives during the Pandemic. It will include a minute's silence at noon followed by a bell toll. People are also being  encouraged to stand on their doorsteps at 8.00pm with torches and candles to signify a "beacon of rememberance".

The Pandemic has dealt a disproportionate blow to different sections of our society. Those who have been able to work from home or in an equally safe environment, are financially secure, live in a warm home and able to put food readily on their table have been very fortunate. Possibly inconvenienced, unable to travel, or visit family and friends etc. but essentially almost untouched by the virus itself.
Others, however, have spent this past year living in overcrowded, difficult conditions, struggling to make ends meet, whilst often burdened with the extra task of trying to homeschool their children. 
Many have been forced to risk their lives on a daily basis doing menial jobs in unsafe environments putting both themselves and their families at risk. Essential workers have been out there working daily on the frontline - doctors, nurses, paramedics, ambulance crews, and all of the many workers who have helped to put food on our tables, deliver our mail, and take away our garbage; We should remember too the many who as a result of the virus are suffering from the debilitating effects of "Long Convid" a condition which is still under investigation.
On March 23rd we should not only remember those who have tradgically died and their families, but all those who have helped to keep so many of us safe over the past year, and last but not least, the scientists who toiled away night and day to deliver us all a truly life-saving vaccine.
This global Pandemic has been and will continue to be a worldwide tragedy. Hopefully, with the help of herd immunity and the vaccine, a time will arrive when the virus will run out of people to infect. 
For those who have already received the vaccine it is a life saver, but there is no room for complacency.

Saturday 13 March 2021

An Elizabethan Hunting Lodge

Set high on a Cotswold escarpment, surrounded by steeply wooded valleys, this Hunting Lodge was built in 1550 by Sir Nicholas Poyntz; he reused the stones from nearby Kingswood Abbey following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536 - 1541.  A simple square shaped building with a reception area on the ground floor, a banqueting hall to the first floor and bedrooms at the top. Originally the roof would have been flat with four corner turrets to enable visiting ladies to watch the hunting in comfort. Apart from the changes to the roof, this eastern side elevation survives intact.

The doorway is classically detailed having fluted Doric columns beneath a triangular pediment with a roundel in the middle showing the Poyntz family arms.

This pleasing architecture shows one of the earliest examples of the classical order being used in an English building. 

The hunting lodge was remodelled in 1790 by renowned architect James Wyatt for the Clutterbuck family, who turned the lodge into an elegant home.

In the current environment the interior of the property is closed to visitors, so let's head off and wander through the grounds.

The garden is a haven of wild flowers throughout the year. In January and February it is the snowdrops that hold centre stage, but they have now mostly been displaced by drifts of wild daffodils. In a couple of months the banks and woodlands will be covered in profusions of bluebells and wild garlic. Come September and it will be the turn of hundreds of wild cyclamen showing off their dainty pink faces.

 Growing amidst the daffodils we discovered some minature Iris tuberosa - "snake's head iris". 
(the flower is even smaller than this image) 
 Early flowering Prunus mume.
 I am very grateful to my blog friend Yoko, who lives in Japan, for telling me its name.

The Clutterbuck family introduced this Georgian carriage entrance driveway and also landscaped the surrounding grounds.

   Various pathways wind their way down into the valley bottom...............
.....where a small lake and a Georgian crinkle crankle wall are currently being restored.
We returned home from Newark Park feeling refreshed and ready for our lunch.

Friday 12 March 2021


From my point of view this quiz was not my most successful, you are all far too knowledgeable and knew the answer. Until I found these lying beneath a nutmeg tree, in a Spice Garden in..........

Sri Lanka.............

I personally had not realised that Mace was red and that it formed such a pretty lacey covering around the nutmeg. The Mace takes on its amber/brown colour when it is removed from the nutmeg and laid outside to dry in the sunshine for a couple of weeks.


Shown in the order that they arrived are those who answered correctly

1. MrsL was first so she is awarded a⭐

2. Jim @ Road to Parnassus

3. Cherie @ North Yorkshires Craft Guru

4. Mariette's Back to Basics

5. Anita @ Hiking in Norway

6. Lorrie @ Fabric, Paper, Thread

7. Pipistrello @ Flying with Hands

8. Bob @ Blue Sky Scotland, but he was naughty - only he and I know why. But rest assured it wont happen again Bob!!! 

9. Polly @ Olive & Pru

Well done to you all⭐

Tuesday 9 March 2021

Quick Quiz

Three separate lifesize items are shown here.

1, What are they?

2. In which country did I find them?

3. I spotted them lying together on the ground, but where was I? - e.g. was it in a park, on a beach, perhaps it was on a mountain side or none of these?

4. Each individual item yields two separate products. Both of which you probably use or will be familiar with.

I am switching on comments moderation - the answers will be posted on Friday.


I am happy, the sun is up, and I have secured an online booking for us to walk in a locally owned National Trust garden this morning.

Sunday 7 March 2021

"It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is.

And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so much ! - Mark Twain.

Mother Nature has cast off her winter mantle, rubbed the dust from her eyes, and opened wide her paint box splashing delicate yellows, pinks, blues and shades of white around our land.

The National Trust has once again opened up its grounds to those who book online. However, although we would love to visit one of their spring gardens, our "lockdown" instructions are to stay local, so remain local it must be.

Fortunately we have a wide variety of different landscapes here on our own doorstep - hills and valleys, canal towpaths, woodland glades, and Common land.

With the warm sun on our faces It felt more like a fine summers day, so we decided to walk along the canal towpath that runs through the valley below where we live. People were picnicking, and paddle boarding, birds were being skittish as they swooped playfully across the water.

A group of Black headed Gulls - the white headed one is still wearing its winter plumage.

A church dedicated to St. Cyr has stood on this site for over a 1000 years, more than six centuries before the navigation canal was built in 1775. But who was St. Cyr?

He was a child martyr at the time of the last but most severe persecution of christians by the Roman Empire. In A.D.303 the Emperors Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius issued a series of edicts rescinding Christians' legal rights and demanding that they comply with traditional religious practices.  Cyr and his widowed mother, Julitta, fled to Tarsus in central Turkey [Tarsus being the scene of the first meeting between Mark Antony and Cleopatra, and the birthplace of the Apostle, St. Paul]. But, Julitta and Cyr were betrayed and arrested on arrival. When questioned by the heathen Governor Alexander, Julitta would only say “I am a Christian”. The Governor tried to persuade Cyr to get his mother to change her mind, but Cyr replied “I am a Christian too.” This so enraged the Governor that he stabbed Cyr then threw his dead body down some steps and Julitta was then crucified. 

There are only 7 churches with a dedication to St Cyr across England and yet curiously there are two of them close together in this area. 

In France dedicating a church to St. Cyr is frequently used and not considered unusual.

Nutshell Bridge was built at the same time as the canal to enable the wool merchants to carry their wares across the water and to the mills beyond. Today it is hard to imagine just what a busy throughfare this area would have been with barges plying up and down the canal all day long carrying various materials - coal, timber, coke, tar, and withies used in basket making.

Leaving the water boarders leisurely paddling their way along the canal, we decide it is time to return home for a refreshing cup of tea.

Monday 1 March 2021

When Life Gives you Lemons

 ..........................make Lemon Curd.

zest & juice of 4 large unwaxed lemons
125g salt free butter (cubed)
4 large free range eggs - beaten gently
250g caster sugar
put lemon zest, juice, sugar and butter into a heat proof bowl which has been place over a pan of hot simmering water i.e. a bain marie - don't allow the bowl to touch the bottom of the pan, stir with a wooden spoon until sugar dissolves.
Add beaten eggs, and continue to cook gently until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon - roughly 20mins, then pour immediately into sterilised jars.

One jar has gone to the lady whose generosity and kindness over the last few months has touched several of us. She was delighted - she loves Lemon Curd.