Tier Four Christmas in the House of Introverts

And so it goes on. The days are very cold. There is a tension in the air as a hard Brexit approaches and a mean virus lurks. And we carry on.

Miss T is home and we are well

For more news see our newsletter: axtxblog.tumblr.com

(N.B. No Tumblr app or account required, just enter the link below into a web browser, accept any conditions, complete the CAPTCHA process (eg tick the box) and enter tim as the password).

Our simple Christmas was just fine, with lots of top cuisine from Miss T. We lit a fire, played Bananagram and Catan and made a 1000 piece jigsaw by Cold War Steve

After some debate on whether a five minute drive to https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/the-chase for a walk constitutes local (answer is yes as N Hants is now also in T4) off we set.

This has been the worst year of our lives in the global sense but other years were also bad. Take a look at


All that remains to be said is that I wish you the best of all years next year.

I won’t be blogging for a while as I going to busy contact tracing and probably doing some vaccinator shifts.

Stay safe, stay alert and stay local.

Into the Autumn

We have entered Autumn and now a second lockdown. I hope everyone is feeling well. I’m sure some are not and equally sure I flatter myself in thinking there may be something here to cheer you up; but I’ll give it a go.

All Our Own Produce
October Walk

If you want to join the quest to map Britains foot paths, take a look here, there is a link at the bottom to sign up https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-54562137

My friend Wendy Carrig has been awarded the top prize for these lovely photographs, click on the link above
Have a listen!
Have a watch : this went viral in response to Covid in a lot of countries
The Monkey Bridge, Newbury

Below some photos from Newtown Road Cemetery: A heritage site in Newbury where Albert, one of the first people to receive penicillin, is buried. He died because they couldn’t make enough.

Joanna sorted out the garden
Joanna made Abbracci for Halloween
Guess what I’m missing?

And finally, Remembrance Day. At 8.21 am you can here Arthur and I reminiscing. I met him via the International Bomber Command Centre


Indian Summer as Second Wave hits

September has been a lovely month. We’ve spent time with the in-laws at the sea side…..

and picnicked at Shaw House https://www.westberkshireheritage.org/shaw-house

The pigeons continue to nest and fail to start a family, sadly.

Tim has been in hospital, which is a shock as he is never ill! Here he is recovering his taste for beer at last with a Butt’s Mild

Here’s the full story

Wishing all the best time possible in the coming challenging months, and here’s a bit of fun to finish……

Greetings from Newbury

A short walk along the canal on a glorious September day ……

brought me to ‘In Memoriam’ in Goldwell Park, which is an installation by artist Luke Jerram, in tribute to those who lost their lives in the Covid-19 pandemic.

This was created from bed sheets as a place of reflection. The artwork forms a giant red cross that pays tribute to all the NHS and care workers who have selflessly worked during the crisis.

In Memoriam finishes tomorrow, 22nd September.

Autumn comes early

After a heatwave, temperatures plummeted but now we are back in pleasant late summer. Miss T returns to London tomorrow after a lovely fortnight holidaying in West Berkshire. Here are some highlights to distract you from the gathering Covid Clouds.

Caversham Lakes are newly opened and just fantastic. Ecoshowers, portaloos, a cafe and three courses at varying distances. The water was warm enough and calming and the scenery was lovely. Ducks and swans too!

We had another socially distanced alfresco event with our local friends. Jo was chef.

The Cook is back

Poor Tim had to miss the End of the Road Festival (his favourite) due to cancellation but enjoyed his own loud and boozy improvised event!


The above is a good charity to support (although it should of course be a government initiative) and this is a very interesting conversation

Caramellis a la Jo’s homemade pasta
By the K&A Canal on the way to town

We visited an open air exhibition at the Elizabethan Shaw House which is arranged by Tim’s mate, Jim


The Gardner is back

Meanwhile, our government in a spectacularly brazen manner, has made plans to break international law. This is embarrassing and depressing but should keep us entertained as we otherwise curtail our social activities again.

Yes, winter is coming along with the inevitable second wave (when is a national rise in cases NOT a second wave??) This news is also not good and I, personally, am making my own coping strategies; I know everyone else can do this again. (And Boris said all could be well by Christmas)

Remember we all have resilience and we are all heroes.

In May 2013,  His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressed an audience in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  His talk was entitled  ‘Resilience: Strength through Compassion and Connection’ He said, and this is important, “You shouldn’t think the person speaking here is anything special. We are all the same kind of human beings, mentally, physically and emotionally. It is important that we register that all 7 billion human beings alive today are the same.  We all want to live a happy life and we all have a right to do so. If we focus instead on secondary differences and neglect the oneness of humanity:  tragedy takes place.  When 7 billion human beings are faced with a crisis they need resilience.  What is needed is inner strength, connection with others and compassion.  Try to restrain your disturbing emotions. That’s the way we gain strength from our own experience.”

All, for now, stay safe, well and happy.

The Heat Wave

Trying to decide if this is funny or effective, both or neither……

Why go to Bournemouth?

Undisclosed destination on South Coast
Sitting out till bedtime
Home produce keeps on coming
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_3565.jpg

At last, lovely lovely rain

Jack and Joanna have done it: 19.2K in under two hours

It’s not too late sponsor them and raise money for Amnesty International https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=jackandjoannaridelondon&pageUrl=1

Re Test and Trace, NHS staff members are not being laid off and I actually have some shifts booked now, so I may not be blogging so much……………….but I will be thinking about all those lovely people I know and love!

Eating out to help out, locking down again and swimming in the rain

So summer continues, cases bubble up and Boris says it will be sorted by Christmas. I am not holding my breath but instead considering a self imposed lock down.

Available to all who subscribe to New European

Below and twenty minutes in, there is a short by Elizabeth Winthrop, a published writer in the US and Jason’s Mrs. The other stories are good too, if you want something to listen to while driving, gardening, sunbathing etc.

The pool continues to excite!

What better way to spend an hour, perhaps on a rainy day or during the forthcoming challenging winter.?   This has something for anyone who is interested in gardens, or wants to recharge the batteries in a garden and B&B in Derbyshire, or has been to Tibet or Dharamshala,  likes the Dala Lama, is interested in Buddhism etc etc

The beans are coming on, with Jacob seeing off any birds
We ate out to help out with our friend Jeremy in a teepee at the Craven Arms; it made a change and felt safe

I wouldn’t normally mention these things but….seeing as it’s my lovely daughter…. and Amnesty! ……….Jack says

Since lockdown, I (Jack) have found myself cycling for fun, not just to get from A to B.

When Amnesty International sent me an email inviting me to join “My Ride London”, it seemed like a great opportunity to do something to support an organisation which is doing really important work, at a time when lots of charities are under increasing financial pressure. It’s also a chance to challenge myself to cycle more. I signed up for the 19 mile version (the next version up being 49 miles – because Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1949) – which will be my longest cycle yet.

Then my old friend Joanna offered to join me. And it’s much nicer to do these things together

Our plan is to cycle from Kentish Town, south over Blackfriars bridge, then following the river to Greenwich and back.

Hello Aubergine!
Cider night!
And meanwhile Jo is at Brockwell Lido taking advantage of the sophisticated booking system

So, I hope you are all well out there. I’m thinking of everyone.

And then there were two……

The Head Gardener cum Art Historian has returned to work for at least two weeks. We are too happy that she is there to be sad. I am on a steep learning curve as Locum Head Gardener cum Track and Tracer and and Mr T has been helping sort out Jo’s bike. Cycling to work is not an option yet so is on a mixture of overland trains and London parks.

Gardening produce is now coming into it’s own

Lots of Brownie points were gained from locals when we completed our #PlasticsChallange on the Kennet and Avon Canal!

Here are some sculptures by my friend Jemima, ( https://www.jemimabrown.com/ ). She’ll be having an exhibition next year in West Berks museum. We are hoping it will be part of a wider event to celebrate the arrival of the peace protesters at Greenham Common forty years earlier, Covid willing.

The Friday before Jo went back to work, the sun shone and we headed to the coast. Then, after a rest in the garden, we went to an evening outdoor class at Kate, the teachers’s house. I’m not cheeky enough and also too focussed to take a picture of the event but ‘chilled out Jo on the way home’ features below.

On Jo’s last evening we ventured out to see local friends for the first time since lock down. Hair was let down and we had fun. First, we visited David’s allotment. This was the first time we have been in the allotments which formed the basis of the view from my Mum’s flat. It’s a lovely sunny spot and D’s produce is really amazing.

After this: curry in the back garden!

At the beginning of the week that Jo was back at work, the Nicotiana came out, changing colour from lemon to white overnight

A dark sunflower came out


And Tim survived by adding Jo’s basil to his groovy salald


It was really lovely to visit the in-laws for a day. Joseph just wanted to play ball. S and I had an amazing swim: 18 degrees and it did not feel at all cold as the ambient temperature was lower than last week (but still warm)

And now we know how N coped with lock down!

There was one day old ducklings in the local pond.

Recently we have watched

Sweet Country, an Australian film, set in 1929 in the Northern Territory, and based on a series of true events in a divided, racist society.

Twelve Years a Slave,  the film based on an 1853 memoir by American, Solomon Northup, a black man who was born free but kidnapped and sold into slavery. 

The Luminaries, a TV series based on the novel of the same name. Set in the South Island of New Zealand during the nineteenth century Gold Rush, the novel is a complicated mystery involving a series of unsolved crimes and some excellent characters.

These were all really interesting, especially as I had been to all three settings.

However, feeling fully averse with, and appalled by, our colonial past we needed light relief so are catching up with the second episode of the excellent and hilarious ‘End of the ***cking World’ on the iplayer.


and finally……………………………..YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday 25 July : beyond my wildest dreams: unable to contain myself on entering, I whooped for joy. Bliss: the feel of the water; back in my natural habitat. And after 28 lengths I’d worked out how to swim with my dodgy knee: like a frog!

So I hope everyone is having a good time, I am sure some won’t be and send them all my care and concern.

I’ll leave you with the latest from the garden

And a bit of a laugh from Jason in the US (if you can open videos)


Introverts in the house stay in Lockdown (mainly)

Apparently we mustn’t talk about a second wave. That’s what flu does. With Covid we need to think resurgence. People are not very confident at present and not flocking back to the temples of consumerism at any great pace. I’m not risking being part of the resurgence just for Rishi’s £10.00 voucher. There are other ways to help the recovery, especially for people of my age. Becoming a friend of the Royal Academy seems a good starting point for me.

I hope my friends, family and indeed all the world is going to keep well.

Jo has cut my hair! Spot the silly T shirt which is the reason I came off instagram. It kept selling me things!

Our best news of all is that Jo is being brought out of Furlough!! She is going back on Monday! This is just for two weeks to do a specific job and then she may be furloughed again. She has bought herself a bike for the 6.4k journey to work. We will miss her like mad (she’s been such an asset) but it’s worth it to see her beaming face and know how good this is for her.


More News:

I won at Scrabble for the first time in my life and we took some books to Regent Shop in Wantage.

So pleased that pools will re-open. I am falling apart at the seams since they closed. Running and gardening have not been kind to my musculoskeletal system .

Tim found a photo of the back garden just after we moved in. He noticed that the path I cleared was in fact paved. Both he and Jo suggested I clear it further! So I did. No wonder my back is playing up!

Thanks to Catherine for this lovely clip of someone who is blind enjoying music

Here is some colour from the garden

And below, the harvest……

Of course, we have been eating well….

Meanwhile I highly recommend the podcast WHERE ARE YOU GOING with Ajahn Sucitto & Nick Scott. This is a not to be missed by anyone who travelled round India back in the day or perhaps just likes the idea of two blokes (one a Buddhist monk) having an experience and maybe even a bit of fun.


Similar but different is a book I am reading at the moment. A fantastic true story with a bit of self help thrown in. Definitely one for the times. (The audios are especially good) It’s not about magic, by the way


We finally got to see Twelve Years a Slave. (on Netflix, with our weekly pizza). Highly recommended for those who haven’t seen it especially with the recent emphasis on blacklivesmatter

And look what I got! How annoying: just when use of public transport is discouraged. It’s a bad enough being a WASPI, but this is too much!

Despite the inconsequential nature of a 66th birthday (as Chris would say) I was thoroughly pampered. So to finish, here are some photos from the walk I requested. This was a 6km walk in the Pang Valley starting at Rushall Manor Farm. http://www.rushallfarm.org.uk/

All the paths were superb and passed through agent woodlands, meadows, pastures and the village of Bradfield.

Later (after yoga and a foot spa!)

And finally,

https://kennet.redio.co/listen/again?date=Mon,%2013%20Jul%202020%2018:00:00%20GMTHave a listen to my good friend the photographer David Hatfull talking about his allotment and related photography project. Half an hour of joy! at approx 30 mins.

We will be having beers in the allotment soon. First social event since Lockdown!

Dahlia grown from seed

Mrs P is in residence for a third time: Lockdown 11

I hope all is well with my friends and if it isn’t I’m very sorry.

Well, restrictions are being eased but I remain cautious and in voluntary lockdown.

I’ve gained 3kg and bu**ered my knee while completing Couch to 5K, yet most of the time and despite my sadness over our situation I feel much calmer and more joyful than pre-Covid.

Basically, lockdown works OK for me.

Not sure about the pigeons. They came for 48 hours, then tried to make a nest in our tree and then gave up again.

Ms Thomas is still in furlough, only front of house staff are going back. So creativity continues to abound.

Jo’s home made bath bombs
Rees-Mogg is seeing off the birds
The courgettes are delicious
Spinach balls with home made pasta
Home made pasta and anchiovy sauce
Flying saucers or home made ravioli?

Thanks to Catherine for this funny…..

Home made pancakes on Father’s Day
Nasturtium Vinegar: amazing

When the good weather came we headed for the Solent.

Jo and I are watching ‘Call the Agent’ on netflix. It’s a french comedy and an antidote to the times.

Future plans include a home made pizza oven and doing the plastics challenge on the canal. Watch out for the next episode

I will leave you with an image from the 80s : found while decluttering : a window in Jericho, Oxford: food for thought….

How much has changed?