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Sometimes in the country everything happens at once. Others, nothing happens, twice in a row. That’s been the last week. Not strictly true of course. The fire got worse, so we waited patiently for lovely Michael Penfold (great local name) to turn up this morning with his ladders. I’d do it myself but climbing to the roof ridge and wielding several tools at once while hanging onto the chimney pot is the sort of thing that belongs in my youth. The cowl was completely blocked with tar. Solid crackling evidence of global warming since this was half a bucket full of rock hard CO2.

I think we’ve had the nicknames conversation before. But a few more landed on Friday, courtesy of John and David Paine, who of course do not have nicknames themselves, but simply confer them on others. It was a confusing conversation, but it involved three people called The Jelly Woman, John-boy and Randy Mandy. I’m uncertain who was doing what to whom, but I do know I would not like to do anything to Jelly Woman. ‘Biggest woman you’ve ever seen, must be 17 stone. Goes next door for a bunk up’. This was an image I did not want in my head.

I also rediscovered the word ‘splut’ as in ‘that big old piece of wood got splut in half’. Lovely word.

In The Dean Wood I kicked up some leaf mould and there were the year’s first green shoots. Early bluebell plants, although the wood anemones will overtake them. This winter has dragged on longer than most, so it was heartening to see. Then of course I started seeing green shoots everywhere. Even a couple in the hedgerows, tiny glimmers of buds on the hawthorn. Daffs poking small heads through the grass in the orchard. Grass looks slightly greener. Still, we’ve got February to go yet, and the last one was shocking.

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