Presence, absence and processing

Life is different, but the ‘old normal’ shows no sign of returning yet. A steady flow of visitors has been arriving, staying and departing since last Tuesday. 12 days now. We’re not currently offering camping, B&B or the big house.

There’s more space between bookings. Which is just as well – we are a smaller team and the whole changeover between guests takes longer. There are more processes and safeguards in place. And we’re slowly getting used to the new system.

Two of the smalls just asked to feed the fish and we all noticed that the eco pond cleaner has stopped working. Once again, the water is green and gloomy. Also, someone has donated two small yellow plastic bath ducks to the pond. It’s a little mystery.

There’s been lots of outside activity. A newer yard tipi has been put up. An ugly old farmyard wall is now white. After a couple of weeks of lifting, carrying, climbing and lifting again the husband has hurt his back. Earlier, he took a couple of anti-inflammatory tablets and went for a brief siesta.

While he was resting, a neighbour came to tell me about ragwort – evil poisonous stuff – which has popped up uninvited in one of the fields we use for the donkeys. I immediately went and pulled out what I could. But there was still some left, deep-rooted and resistant to my feeble tugging. Reinforcements arrived in the form of a young male volunteer and the loan of a very conveniently located small fork. The husband emerged just as we’d finished and has now removed all the ragwort we’ve collected. All’s safe in the donkey field for now.

Earlier today I was reading that it’s the first anniversary of Mr Johnson as Prime Minister. The headline, I think, was – ‘Twelve months at the helm of government.’ I’m not sure that’s strictly accurate .

Ragwort – a poisonous weed.

Paper aeroplanes and a concert (or two)

The children had made and coloured in a flag. We brought plates of food. I am surrounded by people who bake often and well, so I’d got out of the habit of baking. But yesterday afternoon I made a passable chocolate cake. The girls wore party clothes and all four kids flew paper aeroplanes in the garden. We had tea and G&Ts.

Our poor spaniel is suffering so no walk last night, or tonight. After putting the donkeys to bed and clearing up the worst of the chaos, we watched some of the VE Day coverage, including Katherine Jenkins. Her dresses were extraordinary.

I think it was the summer of 2007 – definitely no later than that – when I went with the husband and his father to see Katherine Jenkins live outdoors in Aberglasney Gardens. My father-in-law had all her CDs and it was planned as a special treat for him. Because he was in a wheelchair, we were led to the front row. He had an aisle place and we sat next to him. He knew every number, from wartime classics to arias and he either hummed or sang along to all of it. People shifted in their seats and shushed disapprovingly in a very British way. We were embarrassed but my father-in-law didn’t care. Or was blissfully unaware. He was having a ball.

Looking back I think – good for him! He caught shingles not long afterwards, and never fully recovered.

Today, after the First Minister’s announcement, I blocked out booking calendars for another three weeks. Worries nibbled around the edges of my thoughts but I pushed them away. No visitors for a while yet. Don’t know where, don’t know when…