Mint Sauce, Packet Soups & Gooseberries – Week 27 : 2020

Officially we’re still in lockdown. However, the restrictions have got so vague and the public’s adherence so patchy that it really has been hard to know what’s correct. Even if you could work out what exactly was the situation in England the other parts of the UK have their own regimes. Frankly the mortality statistics informed me a long time ago that the vast majority of the population are safe but unfortunately can carry the virus. Those who aren’t safe seem, to me, to be in no particular hurry to come out of lockdown anytime soon. That is the correct thing to do. With this in mind it seems very adventurous to tell you that I’m flying to the south of France next week with my bicycle (and a humungous quantity of Waitrose’s packet soups). The government have sanctioned travel to a number of countries including Gaul.

These were already pre-Coronavirus booked flights and even if you could contact Ryanair then the reality is that to move the flights would cost the same again in amendment charges. So it was either abandon or for me to at least use some of the booked arrangements. The present Mrs Ives was coming along but for one reason or another has decided to remain at Mission Control. (I suspect my eventual repair of the porch ceramic tiling was such a thing of beauty that the lure Carcassonne paled into insignificance.) I will be blogging. It will be here under ‘Travel’.

My first thought was that this blog would be so inferior to the trip up Australia in February and March (Victoria and New South Wales at least) but then I thought the French cycling would be hillier and more difficult, the heat more intense, the food better and the scenery more sumptuous. So it may not be such a bad writing project. France is my premier cycling destination. Everyday seems a pleasure even in the rain! It is a sparsely populated and large country with lots of roads. Campsites are plentiful (and usually full of Dutch holiday makers). As always there’s some doubt about my final mileage or how I’ll get home. I’d like to get the ferry back from Zeebrugge in Belgium. However, at the moment that route’s not open and it may be Rotterdam. This sails into Hull and then I’ll trundle home. The distance should be around 1,000 miles (or 1,600 kilometres for people who like to exaggerate). Anyway tune in to follow my progress.

In other news I’ve moved into rearing livestock. Well at least these chaps suddenly appeared in the garden. 

As you can see from the photo it appears the sheep are looking at me with the kind of look that suggests I’m the interloper. I found the hole in the farmer’s wire fence and ushered them back with threats of administering mint sauce* should they return. Last year I cycled to Vienna. My bride flew out to join me on my arrival. In her hasty departure from York she inadvertently switched off the electricity supply to the fridge. It wasn’t a pretty odour on our return. My displeasure was increased by the demise of the frozen gooseberries I had originally picked at the local ‘Pick Your Own’ farm. As you can see supplies have been replenished and my first gooseberry crumble devoured.

If I can find one benefit of the virus it is that the football season was suspended. It was a mercy because it meant that I could briefly stop having kittens about Leeds United. Up to the break they had been going well and resided at the top of the league. Not one Leeds fan, I know, genuinely didn’t think that we’d not bottle the promotion. Therefore all the anxieties and misery returned as the season resumed. So far we’ve lost a game, won a game and drawn another. Last season we fell apart at this stage. ‘Groundhog Day’ comes to mind this time around. Escaping the country for a couple of weeks can only be seen as a respite from this tortuous set of remaining fixtures.

Lastly I think I mentioned that a local resident, Carol, puts amazing images on Twitter. I have to show you her latest gem. This was taken in the fields near us. She’s on Twitter @Natwalk101. This amazing snap got 902 likes.

* For overseas readers then the British have for centuries put mint sauce (finely chopped mint leaves with vinegar, sugar and water) on roast lamb. I accept that this explanation doesn’t overcome the observation that the sheep probably can’t understand my barked threats…

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