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Some Observations of Country Life

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Weddings Wine And River Beds

Just a couple of weeks ago a local girl married a local lad and held a bar-b-que reception in the grounds of the Church. It was a fine day and the reception was well attended, this included a few people who, although know to both families, were not officially invited but still found their way to the event to take advantage of an all day bar. One such person soon found themselves a little worse for wear and in need of relief so they staggered off towards the Wallop Brook to solve their little problem. Unable to stand firm while trying to pee into the steam they lost balance and fell head first into the brook. Unfortunately at this time of year, and with the current drought, this section of stream had dried out completely. They were found shortly afterwards with a serious head wound and slight concussion. None too happy at the fuss and the attentions of the ambulance crew it was pointed out that had the brook been full he probably would have drowned! A few people said this was a shame as it would have done the village a real favour had the brook been full. Village gossip is like Chinese whispers travelling on wild fire when someone well know but not particularly well liked has a mishap. This occured mid afternoon and by early evening we had already heard the story several times but in several versions, at first he'd fallen drunken against a tombstone, later it was against a tombstone and nearly into an open grave, by early evening it was falling against a tombstone then on into the river bed. I only found out the truth by asking the bride's mother.

wallopweather

wallopweather

 

What Happened To 100 F In August ?

Daily Express "August to be hotter than July 27/07/06 Britain's record-breaking heatwave is set to sizzle on with forecasters predicting an August of “extreme heat”. The blistering sunshine could see temperatures soar past 101F (38.5C) – the hottest day recorded so far in Britain. Experts said August is likely to eclipse July, which is already on course to be the hottest month since records began 350 years ago." That was just one of the many reports in the media around this time, so what happened to the mega-heat? I for one don't have a clue, August has come and almost gone so quickly I have hardly had time to notice the weather other than it has been mainly cool, often cloudy and like today sometimes very stormy. So I guess we can now all look forward to predictions of an Indian Summer in the press next week... Full Express article at: http://express.lineone.net/news_detail.html?sku=245

wallopweather

wallopweather

 

The Wallop Streaker

I really enjoy a night at my local even when it's a bit quiet like last night. At the end of the night a real gem of a story came out. Apparently, on Wednesday night during the thunderstorms which affected our area, a resident of Over Wallop decided to run around the local streets completely stark naked while shouting about God. Peace was restored after the police arrived with an ambulance to take him away.

wallopweather

wallopweather

 

Wine Lakes, Morris Dancers And Flower Shows

It's that time of year again. Lots of little things going on all over the place. The diary is packed with bar-b-ques, birthday parties and annual village events. A week ago Wednesday Winchester Morris Dancers were at the White Hart, the perfect excuss for a mid-week pint and a chance to catch up with a few locals not seen for a while. Last weekend the annual horticutural society flower show, tables of the usual selections of cut flowers, fruit and veg as can bee seen at similar events across the country. Meanwhile the long hot summer continues making village fete and flower show organisers happy across the country unless, of course, they were unlucky and caught one of the many spectacular storms we have seen in the past week. Like many, I do enjoy this hot sunny weather with the long warm evenings, yet I still hear people complain about the heat. It really bugs me how people moan about the weather we have, if it's a damp summer then we complain, if it's a glourious summer then we complain. It was all summed up on the news this week. Farmers are reporting a bumper harvest and are harvesting earlier than ever, but the hot weather has been bad for Barley so we could see food price rises in supermarkets during the winter as a result. There's always a down side. It also made me wonder what happened to the global grain mountain and the giant European wine lake which were the results of massive over production in the past. I guess the wine lake has evaporated in this summer's drought affecting Europe and as for the grain mountain, consumed by mice? pic shows lightning behind the George Inn, Middle Wallop. 26:06:06

wallopweather

wallopweather

 

Goodwood Festival Of Speed

A scorching hot day, fast cars and famous people. What a great day out. This was my first visit to the Goodwood Festival of Speed and I would recommend a visit to any petrolhead. Make sure you arrive early, about the time the gates open, to avoid the worst of the traffic. We only covered about half of the event, choosing to spend the morning watching a high speed parade of classic racing cars through to the latest Formula 1's ripping their way up the hill climb course. The sounds colours and the odd spin adding to the drama of the day. A picnic lunch was followed by a walk around the paddocks. The Formula 1 paddock was the busiest, the wife was inches from Mika Hakkinen at one point and I was very nearly run over by a Williams! this is about as close as you can get to these machines and drivers. Some of the icons of motor racing were also there, we saw Jackie Stewart and John Surtees as well as Mansell. We never made it to the rally section and only managed a quick look around the trade stands before the event closed just before 7pm. We both returned home with hundreds of digital photos and miles of video footage as well as some very sun burnt areas.

wallopweather

wallopweather

 

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Took the day off on Thursday to visit the Hampton Court Palace flower show. It was our first ever visit to the show. The journey was wet most of the way up the M3 traffic was busy and after queuing from the A3 slip to get into Esher and on to Hampton we were starting to feel just a little like we had picked the wrong day, but by the time we parked up the rain had stopped and by lunchtime the sun was pearing through the clouds. The day ended hot and humid. The show itself was a little overwhelming for a first time visit. It may have been better to visit with someone who had been before. However we soon found our bearings and worked our way logically around the marques full of flower and plant displays as well as the outside show gardens. The main aim of our visit was garden inspiration. Living on chalk it is not always easy to grow some plants and I was keen to see the chalk show garden. What a disappointment, based on a disused chalk pit the whole garden was totally impractical, as anyone who lives on chalk would point out - you certainly do not have chalk footpaths unless you want the whole of the inside of your house to have white floors when it rains! Apart from this little let down the rest of the show was fantastic and I would recommend a visit to anyone who has a interest in gardening and what you can't find on the trade stands just isn't worth mentioning. I now so want to dig a huge water feature in the garden and surround it with exotic flowers - oh, I have just remembered I lost all my exotic plants during the coldest winter for years a few months ago and using a hose pipe to fill a 1/4 acre pond might just upset the local water board. Guess I'll just have to trim the hedge and mow the lawn on Sunday as usual and be happy with the fact it all looks tidy and green again after this weeks downpours.

wallopweather

wallopweather

 

Lows And Highs

We seem to spend most of our recent weekends travelling back and forth to Somerset. On Saturday morning we were at Olympia in London, fairly hot and stuffy up there especially on the balcony under the glass roof. We left London mid-afternoon and travelled on down to Somerset, after a quick stop at home, to join my family for another Birthday and to watch England depart from the World Cup - at this point a low decended over the birthday party and everthing just fizzled out. After a stop-over, we woke this morning to dark skies and rumbles of thunder. The storm went on for about and hour or so with a few good sightings of fork lightning before it all cleared. That was a real high for me, just wasn't expecting a storm and so much more fun than watching England fall short of the final stages yet again.

wallopweather

wallopweather

 

Middle Wallop Factory Explosion

A long grey wet day was abruptly interupted just before 3.30pm this afternoon. I was stood waiting in a short queue at the local post office when the loudest bang I have ever heard shook the building and lifted the firbe-board tiles to the false ceiling. The few of us in the village shop (same place as the post office) looked around at each other puzzled as to the cause of the explosive noise so I went outside where I could see a large mushroom plume of smoke rising above the fields in the direction of the airfield. Between the post office and the airfield, roughly in a straight line is a company called Wallop Defence Systems where they make flares, someone who had just driven down the lane which divides the factory site told us that one of the buildings had blown up. I made the short trip home where everything was ok, and found my wife chatting to a neighbour who had a very large mirror fall off the wall because of the explosion. We decided to get in the car to try and see what had happened but by the time we arrived near the scene the road had been closed and all we could see across a nearby field was the water from a fire engine being hosed onto the explosion area. Local news has since reported the debris covered an area the size of a football pitch and sadly one person has died.

wallopweather

wallopweather

 

In Hot Water Or Rather Not

Last Sunday was supposed to be an early start but the alarm never went off, power cut. A closer investigation showed the trip switch had cut off the electric and a failed emersion heater element was the cause. Now we have been waiting some five months for our plumber (I'll be out next week) to come and fit a new emersion tank as the old one was leaking around a small split near where the element fits in, so as I am sure you can already guess, the wife was less than impressed. I calmed her down and we set off, a little late but we still arrived in reasonable time. On our return home we decided to have a little nightcap in the village pub. A quick chat with a few friends revealed an additional problem to the hot water scenario, the plumber was on holiday! So we've spent an entire week without hot water. It's a great excuss not to have a shave, but the washing up has been done by heating a wok of water on the cooker every night and showering has meant a trip across the road to the inlaw's to use their facilities. Thankfully the plumber is here this morning, but I reckon the next village I live in I'll be trying to find out if there is more than one good plumber resident locally.

wallopweather

wallopweather

 

1966 And All That...

Another trip to Somerset again this weekend, this time for Father's Day. Another Al Fresco meal dispite the chilly breeze and lack of sun...what is it with us Brits, it's Summer, so even though the weathers not suitable, we are going to sit outside and eat! Brings back memories of people sat eating ice cream in shelters on Bournemouth promanade during a force 10 gale just because they are at the beach... Conversation came and went throughout the afternoon with nothing constructive said when out of the blue the old man piped up, "it all started with the World Cup in 1966, if England hadn't won we wouldn't all be sat here." It's a great statement, and to be honest I guess there are a fair few of us who would not have been here if England hadn't won that year, but I can also point out that such statements don't always go down well with the other half of the relationship - my Mum - just a young girl at the time who unxpectingly ending up with a World Cup bun in the oven! So here's an advance warning to any fathers out there, just in case England find themselves in a World Cup final again - lock up your daughters!

wallopweather

wallopweather

 

Balloon !

They never cease to fascinate, drifting silenty across a cloudless sky with just the occassional roar of the burners as the pilot, powerless to control direction, just controls the height of his multi-coloured marvel of the skies. It's not often a balloon wanders over our village, especially with the army airfield just up the road but tonight we were treated to the sight of a balloon glowing orange as the gas burned bright against a cloudless, dusk laden sky drifting directly over the roof of our house and close enough to the ground for us to wave at the passengers as it passed by, landing just two fields away. I took a few shots (with a camera not at the balloon,) this was the best of the lot.

wallopweather

wallopweather

 

Golfing Weather

Wednesday, A day off, the storms and rain had passed, disappointingly we just had the rain, but the day off was a chance for a game of golf with a friend in Swindon at the Broome Manor course. The day started grey but the BBC forecast predicted a clearance from the west and the possibility of some sunshine - shorts for golf perhaps? A few minutes outside and I soon changed my mind, too cold for shorts but a t-shirt would be ok. The drive to Swindon took an agonising hour, a horse box, several motorists with a top speed of 40mph and a tractor all helped to almost double the journey time. Things only got worse as I passed Marlborough, fog and low cloud obscuring the view, this was not going to be a fun day in the sun! 3 & half hours later I decided it was the coldest June day of golf I'd ever had, me on the course in a t-shirt everyone else in full winter warmers, moral of the story, never trust a weather forecast, the English weather is ever changing and always keep a sweater in the car!

wallopweather

wallopweather

 

Of Mice And Mistakes

It's a fact of country life that when you live in an older house you will encounter mice. This usually happens as the winter draws in and the cold damp air drives them inside. However there is always an exception to the norm and that was last night. Both happily sat watching TV when we were disturbed by a noise under the kitchen sink. Closer investigation revealed a young mouse trapped inside our undersink bin, jumping for all his worth he was just unable to clear the top edge and escape. Feeling a little compassion for the small fellow I removed the bin and went outside to release him. One small point I over-looked was that the local cat was sat under our garden bench, no sooner had I released the mouse on the lawn the cat had shot past me at high speed chasing the mouse under a nearby hedge. The cat emerged triumphant and I was left feeling a little guilty, but in the end I guess it is all just natures way.

wallopweather

wallopweather

 

Nothing To Report, Oh, Except A Fire Engine

After a day on Hampshire storm watch, nothing to report. A real shame, the day started well, it had already been raining when I got out of bed at 8am (some of us do sleep-in in the Country) so with a bit of thundery cloud about I really felt there was every chance of a storm at some point in the day. A mid-afternoon trip to the dentist for the first stage of a crown fitting did nothing to improve the day especially as it was stinkingly hot in the small surgery room even though two fans were going flat out. Back in a fortnight for the final fit (glum face) One small highlight and slightly weather related. The car park I parked in was the site of some high drama. A fire engine came screaming into the car park all lights blazing after it's short trip of about 750 yards from the fire station, to attend to a car which was overheating, appeared to be dripping petrol and in danger of catching fire, it was just a shame the fire station was so close as the very old astra was saved from the flames before they even got going. Good Job Boys!

wallopweather

wallopweather

 

Long Weekend

It's been a long busy and hot weekend. Saturday's main event was a trip across the road to the village pub to see the football, but ended up being a chance to catch up on the local gossip from all the people in the village I hadn't seen for a while. Sank a few beers in the local before retiring to my Brother in Law's for a bar-b-que and a few more beers - the evening weather was ideal for this warm and sunny with a nice breeze. Woke early Sunday to a bright hot morning but it soon started to cloud up. Travelled down the Somerset in the afternoon for my Grandma's 80th birthday, another bar-b-que! weather here was more cloud-free than back home but by late afternoon the clouds had filled in and the sky darkened, really looked stormy, but by the time we left, just after nine, we had only seen a few spots of rain. The journey home was dry and still just light as we approched Stonehenge. I know several of the local farmers were hoping to have some hay making done over the weekend, I sure they managed to get done what they had planned.

wallopweather

wallopweather

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