One year ago

A friend sent me a picture of the boys making hay a year ago. There was no pandemic, no furlough and there was a sunny window of opportunity between weddings. So we made hay. While the sun shone. Although it looks overcast and brooding in the photo.

Our first guests arrive tomorrow. It’s been like a March pre-season flurry of busyness, only it’s mid-July. Some of the activity has been the usual stuff – bringing yurts and their contents out of their winter hibernation, putting them up, re-waterproofing them and getting them ready them for occupation. But there have been processes to document, forms to fill in. A lot of paperwork. Added to this has been the return to part-time work of a few of the team, and introducing them to the way things have to be done now. The new normal which is anything but normal. It seems sad that we have to pare down what we provide in accommodation, prune it right back. No frills this season.

There’s been productive busyness down the lane. My daughter’s hive was overpopulated. Just before the weekend, her beekeeping mentor visited and helped her to set up a second hive.

There are 44 big round wrapped bales waiting to be taken away. This strange year, we decided to sell hay off the field, rather than deal with it ourselves. Three fields were cut and I think they’ve made haylage.

I’m a romantic. I confess it freely. I love the scent of fresh hay and the look of the small rectangular bales stacked high in a barn. The job has been done anyway. These bales will be gone soon.

Lady Lindy and why does he call you Eeyore

Previously, I mentioned Charles Lindbergh. No-one tried to repeat his solo transatlantic crossing for five years. And then, the someone who did attempt it in 1932, was a woman – Amelia Earhart. Just as Lindbergh had done, she set off on May 20th. In bad weather she was blown off-course but she did make it to Ireland. Not to Paris, but still across the Atlantic.

What I didn’t realise is that she was selected for the role. There were other potential female candidates, but she had the right look, the right image. She even resembled Charles Lindbergh, and the media often referred to her as ‘Lady Lindy’.

There are two monuments in South Carmarthenshire to Earhart. These mark her crossing in 1928 as a passenger, (and keeper of the flight log), in a seaplane called ‘Friendship’. The records in 1928 were for the first female crossing of the Atlantic, not solo and not as pilot. There’s some controversy about the landing place. When this is over, I’m going to visit both Pwll and Burry Port, the two contenders.

The wearing of two hats, or more, is common in this part of the UK. It’s necessary for survival, for making a living, to be versatile and multi-facetted. We have many strings to our proverbial bows. To an extent, this place attracts diversity and eclecticism.

The lady who works at most of our weddings as our bar manager, is a very talented ceramic artist. Her friend is a sculptor and a teller of jokes.

I know how they work, with the pay-off and punchline. Some can remember and deliver jokes with aplomb. I can’t. Or I’ve never really tried. Pretty sure it wouldn’t be my forte anyway.

Apple decided it knew better when I tried to send the husband a text the other morning. I was in still in bed, answering emails and messages, and writing a haiku. It was about 8.30 and he was already in the barn, doing something usefully DIYish. I was trying to ask ‘have you fed the Eeyores?’ but predictive text insisted I was enquiring ‘have you fed the retirees?’ You know – the ones we keep locked in the barn…

Later, after I had explained this example of smartphone interference, my listener started on one of those man-and-mate-went-into-pub stories. The landlord – to clip short a rather unruly shaggy dog – asked, ‘why does he call you Eeyore?’

Man at the bar replied, ‘ I dunno…’ee yoreways calls me that.’

It’s how you tell them really. You needed to be there.

But isn’t it strange how alien a man-going-into-pub anecdote sounds after all this time?