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Excuse the lack of blogs these past few days but life’s been rather hectic and also unpredictable. We’re currently staying in a chalet outside Tilford in Surrey for a few days break and chance for Dawn and her parents to catch-up with Dee’s brother and his family. Covid had prevented us doing this for quite some time, so as you can imagine, there was a lot of catching up to do. The fact this co-incided with a minor sporting event and (amongst other things) has complicated the picture even more.

The four of us, plus Jet, our ageing moggie drove down here on Friday. Yep, the cat’s with us. When we go away for more than a couple of days we normally leave the old boy with Dawn’s folks. The fact they were coming with us left it a no-brainer – Jet could come too! Having a cantankerous cat with you on a long road trip could be problematic – especially a cat that’s never left Yorkshire in his (nearly) 20 years of life. But in reality he was a star – talk about ‘cool for cats’! He’s always been an inquisitive soul so he spent the much of the trip looking out over the top of his cat-basket, watching the world go by. He’s too old to start leaping around nowadays so we knew we could trust him. That said, Dee did buy a little harness and lead for him – which is the first time he’s ever worn such a contraption. There was no fussing and fighting, just a resigned look on his face as if he was saying ‘do I have to’? The harness was more so that if we had to hoik him out of the way of less relaxed animals (well, dogs really) when we stopped for a break on the motorway, we could do it with ease and didn’t have to worry about him doing a runner. We needn’t have worried. Other pet owners at Watford Gap were quite amused and also very good when they saw a cat on a lead and Jet took it all in his stride – not bad for an old boy!

Jet deciding that he didn’t need the services of his litter tray, despite a four hour drive…

When we arrived at the chalet he took a little time to settle. Not that he seemed stressed, more for the fact that it was all new and he was having a good sniff around. Now he’s settled in and if anything his appetite’s improved, not suffered. He still can’t work out why there’s no stairs to climb tho!

The chalet’s where we’re staying are busy but it’s a relaxed atmosphere. Right now I’m sat outside on the verandah, keeping one eye on the very stormy skies as the weather forecast’s predicted thunderstorms. The heaviness and stillness of the air along with the massive grey clouds makes makes me think one could arrive any moment. Today’s been a pretty relaxed day after the excitement and disappointment of watching last nights Euro2020 football final. the five of us watched it on Darren’s (Dawn’ brother) cinema sized TV screen at home, so we avoided some of the more excessive and effusive mpments you’d get from watching it in a pub. Sadly, the early lead evaporated and the match ended in the worst possible way – a penalty shoot-out in which England lost. Despite that, I feel the young England team have a good future ahead of them and the way so many people rallied around the black players who suffered such vile racist abuse on social media gave me hope – even if the fact they’re still receiving such abuse in 2021 makes me cringe – as did the behaviour of some of the England fans both in the stadium and in central London. Surely, as a country we can be better than this?

Away from football, one lovely thing to see again was cricket. Tilford boasts a village green that’s bounded on one side by the Barley Mow pub and by the Sir Edwin Lutyens designed (grade 2 listed) Tilford Institute on another. It’s so very English. Just be careful where you park or sit as incoming cricket balls have been know to pepper the pub, its drinkers – or their cars!

It’s delightful to be able to sit outside the pub and watch scenes like this again. This was Tilford Vs Hook on Saturday.

We’re here for a few more days yet and hoping that the weather will pick up. Whilst I’ve been writing this the thunderstorm arrived with a vengence, causing me to retreat indoors as laptops and torrential rain really don’t mix. I do enjoy a good thunderstorm so I wasn’t unhappy to see this one arrive.

I’ve had worse temporary offices…
Dawn came the rain – accompanied by a fair few claps of thunder, but no lightning…

I’m also happy it’s turned up today and not on Tuesday as I have a media visit to an HS2 railway construction site tomorrow. I can’t give out details now, but expect a rolling blog from the days events, starting at silly o’ clock in the morning as I have to make my way from Surrey into London first. Travelling on South-Western Railway during what should be the early rush-hour should be instructive. Hopefully, this section of railway won’t be suffering from the flash-floods that have hit the lines out of Euston this evening. Our Victorian infrastructure certainly wasn’t designed to cope with the heavy rains that are a feature of global-warming. Thankfully, HS2 – our new railway spine – is.

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