The Beast from the East melted away many days ago and temperatures soared into the teens. Everything has turned to mud but the sun has shone forth and we have turned the wintery corner toward Spring.
The snowdrops are out. The daffodils are peeping.
The beginnings of the glorious Bluebell season can be glimpsed as green tufts. Early. We expect them in April/May but with the weather see-sawing who knows?
Along the Stour and at Alton Water
It’s an anniversary.
A year ago we returned from Madeira never for an instant suspecting what awaited us. The map ahead was unclear; now we look back and wonder how much like ours your map has been?
We went to London after we returned from Madeira.
On the 2nd March we went to the Park Theatre to see La Cage Aux Folles.
On the next day the opera house for Fidelio. Only on the 4th did we return to Mistley and watched Parasite at the Curzon in Colchester.
Friends Mandy and Richard came to lunch the day after that.
I see that oven cleaners came on the 6th followed by lunch out on the 7th with friends near Maldon. Could we get more mundane and, no, we don’t have an Aga!
Then to London on the 10th. Do you see where I’m going with this?
The 10th was the critical day for me I think. I attended the clear ear clinic in Harley street where my audiologist who was Spanish and had just returned from Spain, suctioned my ears; we breathed intimately over each other with not a mask in sight.
That afternoon, Cyrano de Bergerac at the Crouch End Picture House. Still no masks
No lockdown instructions had yet emanated from the Downing Street Clown Office, nor any sort of plan at this stage.
The next day, the 11th March, we lunched with Friend Helen in Hammersmith and dined with Friends Oona and Paul in Crouch End – again. They expressed surprise that we had come to see them – already we were starting to become twitchy.
Thursday the 12th saw us at Covent Garden for the ballet, Swan Lake – but we noticed a distinct thinning in the audience and started to worry that perhaps things were not right.
All this on tubes and buses and still no masks.
Friday the 13th found us in Camden’s Jamon Jamon tapas-ing with friends Rose and Rob and in the evening we hied us to the brilliant Uncle Vanya at the Harold Pinter. There our friend Jane Balfour cried off and we could find no replacement at all.
Alarm bells now started ringing!
On Saturday the 14th March we came to Mistley but the Village Quiz in Lindsey with friends Jacqui and Mali we were supposed to attend was scrubbed as Downing Street at last imposed restrictions; which we now know were too little too late. Impromptu dinner with Friends Ruth and Miranda.
Uncle Vanya was taken off three days later on the 16th March but on The Ides of March, the 15th, our 35th Anniversary, I came down with the virus followed shortly by Tony and we spent the next several weeks getting over what turned out to be a nasty experience.
I would not wish this virus on anyone.
We have been here ever since.
954+ meals have been planned, prepared and eaten.
Mounds of popcorn too.
100’s of kilometres have been walked.
Many games of BridgeBase Online have been played.
Hours of webinars and zooms and play readings.
Locktails and zoomebrates.
Books, films, mini series, documentaries and endless news – most of it bad.
Multiple Clicking & Collecting.
Deliveries, deliveries and more deliveries of fish, of food and wine.
Notional shares purchased in FedEx, Amazon, UPS as piles of cardboard boxes proliferated to be recycled.
Blogs, blogs and more blogs! (You poor people!)
Then in the summer Bojo and his Shudder of Clowns stupidly lifted restrictions with we know what result – Covid numbers through the roof.
A short Staycation in Norfolk was squeezed in and a visit to family at August Bank Holiday; dental procedures happened, masseurs briefly visited along with oven cleaners, again, and a plumber.
One funeral has been zoomed and I have nearly set fire to the kitchen on several occasions and cut most of my fingers during the hours and hours of food preparation! So far no-one had either fallen or been pushed into the cellar!
Swathes of tickets to the theatre were vouchered off or refunded; trips to America, to Canada, to Germany, to South Africa were all cancelled and flights vouchered too, along with a proposed revisit to Madeira.
In another brief moment of madness, Bojo and The Shudder allowed us with special permission, to visit long missed family in Canada at Christmas where we all locked down in quarantine together for three weeks, just squeezing the to-ing and fro-ing between international travel restrictions.
At Heathrow on our return no-one asked to see our test certificates, take our temperature or even enquire where we would be quarantining.
The media have been full of news of these lunacies.
But, miraculously with the year not even out the wonder of science has produced a vaccine which we went to London to receive not three weeks ago!
That is the great and good news.
And Trump has gone!
Other good news has been that after twelve years the village of Mistley has finally won its fight to remove the ugly fence that was installed back in time to ruin the view over the Stour Estuary and cut us off from the river to which access has always been free for many hundreds of years.
Thank you, Misteliers for your hard and patient work. The fetes, the sales, the sponsored walks, dinners-out, cook-ins, quiz evenings, annual calendars and of course even the theatrical talents of some were stretched to their limit to raise the legal fees for this victory.
Our self-styled Burgomeister, Herr Villy “don’t-mention-the-war” Meston, gave us Dame Edme, an unforgettable evening in local theatre history where we witnessed a titanic performance of mirthful malapropisms unintended by the author but very funny nonetheless.
“Big bosomed, bold, becalmed benign,
Stands Dame Edme foursquare on the Mayflower Line! “
SUPREME COURT JUDGEMENT ON MISTLEY QUAY:
The Supreme Court today delivered judgement on the challenge by TW Logistics to the registration by Essex County Council of part of the Port of Mistley as a Town and Village Green.
The Court upheld the registration as a Town and Village Green of land which inhabitants of Mistley have used for lawful sports and pastimes (the legal definition of a Town or Village Green). The inhabitants of Mistley now have their village green.
The decision stems from the erection of a fence along the edge of Mistley Quay installed 12 years ago which attempted to prevent the use of the Quay by local residents. Ian Tucker, who lived on the Quay, applied for registration of the quay as a village green. Following a ten-day public inquiry Essex County Council registered the relevant part of the Quay as a Town and Village Green.
TWL challenged registration in the High Court and subsequently, on appeal, in the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court on the grounds that the registration was incompatible with commercial use of the port and would criminalise many port activities. The Supreme Court ruling confirms existing law and provides that the public activities on the Town and Village Green may co-exist with those of the landowner. The fence on the edge of the Quay will not be removed as a consequence but it is now an unlawful obstruction on the Village Green and steps can, and will, be taken to remove it.
The long drawn-out battle was won with the support of very many residents of Mistley and the local area who will now be able to continue to enjoy use of the Quay as they, and their forebears, have for many years. Success would not have been possible without the support and determination of Essex County Council.
Simon Bullimore, the Chairman of Free the Quay, said: “We are all delighted with the result after such a long battle. The next stage will be the removal of the fence which is now finally established as an obstruction on the village green. We hope that TW Logistics and Mr Parker, who owns the business, will now change his mind and talk to us about an environmentally and aesthetically acceptable form of safety barrier along the quay edge, allowing traditional use of the village green”.
Nancy Bell, who lives on the quay said: “It is such a relief that the registration of the village green has finally been confirmed. The fence went up when my daughter Daisy was a toddler; she is now 14. She has never known anything else on the quay. I am so happy that we can now look forward to enjoying the restoration of the quay to its historic setting”.