THE GREEN DIARY : Saturday, 12 December 2020


We have just returned from Snape where we listened to and watched the wonderful Nicola Benedetti playing works by Biber, Bach, Paganini and Ysaÿe, whom I’d never heard of but glad I’ve now met.  She has a charming presence and took us through the works with such warmth on her £2,000,000 Gariel Stradivarius, that the hour flashed by far too fast. We wanted to hear more, especially Paganini, but with a concert immediately following, there was no time for an encore.

Here is an interesting link. Nicola chats about her violin.

Speaking of violinists, Jorge Jiménez, our wonderful composer/virtuoso and neighbour, has just released a new CD, Lunaris featuring his own compositions and works by Ysaÿe, Berio, Bartók and Merula. Along with Anna Stegmann, the Recorder player, has created an eerie, moody Lunar soundscape in the pattern of the 28 day moon cycle: New, Crescent, Full and Eclipse. It is rather esoteric but fascinating – and certainly creates atmosphere.

Jorge continues his work with the Hanover Band on their project to complete the full set of Beethoven Symphonies recorded in the Mansion House in London. All eight of them have now been presented and the 9th will be streamed next week. Here is Mark Elder talking about the symphony which he will be conducting.  Jorge is the lead violinist. It has been beautiful listening. All the instruments are period pieces:

I thought I should mention this 1-MINUTE-FILM-ABOUT-MARRIAGE. We’ve not been streaming only escapism only but trying to find other insightful creations too – “art baby!” There’s a limit to how far MAR DE PLASTICO and BARBARIAN can take you! Have a look at this, it is very sweet and only takes a minute:

This is delightful, Friends.


Our walks continue. 22 kilometres was our biggest one since my last post. On this subject may I have a little rant? Forgive me, but today it’s farmers!


As you know we walk a great deal all over the Tendring and Shotley peninsulas taking advantage of the literally hundreds of specially marked pathways that crisscross farmland, through woods and along riversides. Most of these we have memorised over the years but we have a set of survey maps of the area to make sure we do not stray into forbidden territory or get lost. East Anglia is flat and low lying and once you’re out there it can be confusing despite the smallness of the landscape in these islands.

Why are farmers so grumpy always? Our experience is purely anecdotal of course and I have no statistical evidence to back me up here other than what we see and hear around us on our walks, on the television and the radio.

With Brexit coming up and all the lunacy surrounding that, the farmers are now holding their collective breaths. Gone will be the protections of the Common Agricultural Policy and who knows what will replace it? Yet it was many farmers that wanted this; they want ‘out’ but want the privileges of ‘in’; they never get enough subsidy or if they do its unfairly distributed; the weather is too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry; the public are a nuisance; the public should not roam the land; they don’t want immigrants but can’t find migrants to harvest their land, to pick their cherries and apples and fruit; English labour is useless we have been told; they don’t want immigrants but are not prepared or are incapable of doing, themselves, the grubby, back breaking jobs that migrants do. 

Farmers plead poverty but seem in many cases to be able to afford public schooling for their children and, one hears, private medicare, Bupa and so forth. I know this is not universal but it happens.

One of the things they frequently do around here is obliterate the pathways and even maliciously destroy signposting so that you can suddenly become lost in a clod-turned field, reminiscent of the muds and clays of the trenches of world war one! Short cuts become long doglegs turning for example a ten miler into twelve or thirteen; what was there last year has gone this. It can be infuriating. 

Then there is the evidence hidden in ditches of carelessness with rubbish. Driving along in a car you see a beautiful landscape, hedgerows, avenues of trees and immaculate fields. But walking slowly along these routes you see evidence in the ditches and under the brambles of detritus strewn about. Not just coke cans, burger boxes and bottles (which could be passing cars) but empty plastic containers of fertilizers and chemicals and other farming detritus just dumped in ditches and concealed by brambles. 

Well that’s enough rant for this post! At least we get to walk the routes and draw sustenance from this beautiful landscape – despite the farmers, not because of them.

We are going to Canada for Christmas – seeing our family there at last. It has entailed the most extraordinary skill navigating the labyrinthine eVoucher and airline schedules; the restrictions, the quarantine regulations – all an exciting travel adventure on their own. There are no direct flights to Ottawa; we fly via Toronto being one of  the three airports open in Canada for Inbound international flights. We have had to fill in special quarantine forms which, in Canada, unlike here, are properly policed. So the entire family will lockdown at home for two weeks. Stocks have been laid in and all measures to survive the siege are in place! It remains to be seen whether we are all sane at the other side! Watch this space, dear Friends.

I don’t really like Round Robin Christmas Cards and have sent real ones this year to as many as I can but for those who are in parts unrefreshed by my postal enthusiasm I want to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and, please god, a very Healthy, Prosperous and Vaccine-filled New Year. Great Mistley talents, Derek & Nancy Bell designed the Christmas Window here. I love it because it is both Festive and Hopeful. Their home overlooks the ghastly fence along the quay which we have all protested about for twelve years now. At last the Supreme Court will rule and we are all hopeful that we will win and the monstrosity will be removed. So the little fence at the bottom of the picture will perhaps not appear in next year’s festive greeting!

The fence is at the bottom and we really do have black swans in the Stour River.

For those of you watching the Good Ship Britannia slipping itself from its European moorings on an unchartered course to who knows where, we ask your prayers!

And here is a wonderful Christmas Carol by Friend Jo Michie in Scotland to be sung to the tune of the 12 Days of Christmas:

The first day of Christmas Covid gave to me
A pandemic level tier three.
The second day of Christmas Covid gave to me
Two hand sanitisers …and a pandemic level tier three
The third day of Christmas Covid gave  to me
Three potential vaccines ..and a pandemic level tier three.
On the fourth day of Christmas, Covid gave to me
Four in our bubble  ….and a pandemic level tier three!
On the fifth day of Christmas, Covid gave to me
Five flimsy face masks  ….and a pandemic level tier three!
On the sixth day of Christmas, Covid gave to me
Six pairs of  gloves …..and a pandemic level tier three!
On the seventh day of Christmas, Covid gave to me
Seven shops going bankrupt….and a pandemic level tier three!
On the eighth day of Christmas, Covid gave to me
Eight pubs a ’closing …and a pandemic level tier three!
On the ninth day of Christmas, Covid gave to me
Nine Zoom meetings ….and a pandemic level tier three!
On the tenth day of Christmas, Covid gave to me
Ten exhausted medics …and a pandemic level tier three!
On the eleventh day of Christmas, Covid gave to me
Eleven MPs faffing …and a pandemic level tier three!
On the twelfth day of Christmas, Covid gave to me
Twelve more days of lockdown  …and a pandemic level tier three!
                                                                                                            Jo Michie

6 Replies to “THE GREEN DIARY : Saturday, 12 December 2020”

  1. Chatty as ever, fir which thanks. Have a cosy Canadian Christmas, both of you. When you return to England we will have stepped through the magic looking glass into a post Brexit world. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather stay in Canada?

    On a last, and hopeful note, my mother has just been given two appointment dates for her Covid shots….a corner turned.


  2. Damn the farmers! Just make sure that your Covid-19 tests are still valid when you land in Canada. I think you may have heard the story about Mike and Lorenza discovering that their tests would have expired three hours before touching down in Denmark. They had to have new tests and catch the next flight.

  3. Dear Peter,
    I do enjoy your Green Diary – and am both envious of all that you do and see and enjoy and somewhat intrigued and very admiring of how the two of you find so much to do and explore and appreciate.
    I love all the walking – i too have detailed maps – not for walking – in the Eastern Cape to find the old old farm names from when i was researching dead soldiers and for France when i go hunting them. Havent been since we were there in 2016 but am hoping to do a little detour there in 2021.
    But here we would not be doing any walks in the country. Things are appalling for most people with poverty on the increase, joblessness affecting ever more young people and older now also out of work. there are beggars on every intersection – not just one – but four each manning (or personning) each one of the four stops!!! It is quite dreadful.
    Either one ignores, hands out nonstop or berates people who keep on having five or six or ten children with no hope of ever supporting them. And you can understand the desperation behind the xenophobia about so-called ‘refugees’ who are perceived as taking up spaces in classrooms, filling up the queues in pubic hospitals etc etc. not a happy situation.
    i find i am more and more to the right on every issue – and i am insulated from most of the angst.
    save for security – our suburb – whose security whatsapp i have just joined – has daily films of car jacking in driveways, people being mugged in the street, burglars climbing over walls and into houses.
    all very distressing – no hope really in sight – and my generation moans and groans about not having emigrated!!! but then we had things to do – and can hardly complain about lifestyle – just worries about security and guilt about seeing poverty.
    So that is the moan – in response to your lovely walks and going to Snape and etc.
    here, i am not going away to the coast over Christmas – Covid abounds, no water in the eastern cape as municipal services collapse under the tide of nepotism and incompetence, so happily being at home until about March when i will amble down and then meander on to the Cape.
    Enjoy Canada, the family, grandchildren, the snow, isolation and presumably lots of Xmas eating and drinking.

  4. Sorry you have had to have an unoriginal rant about farmers.
    They are an easy target for radio, television and some of the press, usually urban intellectuals. Often misguided and unversed in rural ways. But you now live in the countryside so deserve an explanation.
    You may not know but farmers can legally plough a footpath on the land they own whilst establishing a new crop but must reinstate the footpath once drilling or planting is completed. The process from turning the stubble to planting may be a day or two or could be weeks. All weather dependent. Of course unless you walk that particular path every day you would not be aware and so be upset. Footpaths are historically for local people to
    get to work or to the village and home again. As a walker, I consider it a privilege to use farm footpaths but recognise that sometimes I may be inconvenienced by ongoing work. Of course, there are farmers (as in all professions) who ignore the rules but they are a minority. I too deplore litter but that is a British disease. Just take a motorway or saunter through any English city.
    Not many farmers send their children to public schools as the average farm income is £46,000. Harrow fees circa £41,000.

    Enjoy Canada and have a lovely Christmas.

    1. Hello Roger

      I’m so sorry about my little rant! I take your point – in fact all your points. My views are all anecdotally based! We have a particularly nasty group of farmers around here (all ardent Brexiteers and supporters of the ghastly Sir Bernard Jenkin) who seem often to go out of their way to remove the signposts as well. I understand the need to plough and maintain the land and so forth but it seems little to ask that the signposting which is always at the sides of roads and fields, should be left alone and pointing in the correct direction. We never stray from the survey maps and go out of our way to respect the farmers and their work.

      You are right about litter being and English disease. I simply don’t understand it. Neither do I understand dog owners going to all the trouble to pick up their dogs’ crap, place in a black plastic bag and either leave it hanging in the bushes or lying on the ground??? What is that? Why not just let the crap naturally biodegrade which it cannot do in those silly plastic bags – or take the bag to a disposal point? Aaaaagh. Grumpy age setting in!

      Thanks for the Christmas greetings. We got to Canada literally in the nick of time and are not not sure whether we will be able to get back again in January! Ha! Ha! Canada has suspended flights to and from the UK. But we are comfortably in quarantine with family; well supplied with everything from gin to Netflix so wait to see how events pan out. Peter Houghton in Victoria cannot even visit his family in Vancouver for Christmas is how strict they are here. We get daily phonecalls from ArriveCAN who run a very efficient monitoring service.

      How are you in the islands? Okay I hope? Are you spending Christmas there? I guess so.

      Have a good one. And apologies for the rant. A number of farmer friends have ticked me off!



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