Would you just have a look at that! Have you ever seen something so fabulous in your life? A beautiful blue sky. My scepticism was, happily, unfounded. Fair weather has arrived and the temperature soared into the mid 20s. In the space of just a few days, barren wintry branches have sprung to life. Hesistant cherry blossom has decided now is the time to turn our dreary streets into a kaleidescope of colour. The sound of the lawnmower has returned, bringing with it one of my favourite smells – freshly cut grass. It’s almost enough to make you sing out loud Lennon and McCartney’s famous ode to our solar friend.
I spent Friday morning wandering around Christchurch, which is a perfectly pleasant place to be on a sunny morning. I was at liberty for about three hours while my car had its MOT Test. That stands for Ministry of Transport, a Ministry which ceased to exist many years ago. We don’t seem to do ‘Ministries’ these days. Now we do ‘Departments’ instead.
But the MOT acronym has stuck. Perhaps because a DFT Test would sound a bit daft. A new set of brake pads needed fitting before my Mazda could pass its annual check, at a cost of about £120. But I had the discs changed too which added another £118 to the cost. Apparently, the underbody would benefit from some anti rust treatment before winter. It sounds expensive. I’ll wait and see how that fits in with my holiday spending plans.
What do you need to know about about Christchurch? It’s a pretty old town, dating back to the 7th century. It’s a town full of pretty old people as well – a third are over 60, and my short stroll seems to have confirmed my belief that the average age here is around 106. As well as being pretty old and full of pretty old folk, it’s also very pretty. There’s a ruined castle, a priory and a mansion masquerading as a castle. And two rivers, the Avon and Stour, both empty themselves into the town’s harbour. I’ve discovered that there is a pathway along the River Avon all the way to Salisbury, 34 miles away. That’s a project for the future.
There’s a dunking stool overhanging one of the little streams that winds its way through town. Once used to punish naughty women, plans are afoot to bring it back into action to punish Remainers until they promise to convert. This is, after all, Brexit territory. The population here are old fashioned enough that the N word would spring to mind in the unlikely event that they were confronted with a black face. But polite enough to pause, think and use ‘coloured’ or ‘half-caste’ instead. Vocabulary which is still a decade or two out of date, but nevermind.
We finish back at the harbour, full of swans, dinghies and – surprise, surprise – old people. Mrs P and I rented one of the little motorised boats on the left a couple of years back, and tootled up the river for half an hour. And thirty minutes back. It was as lovely a day as today, and time well spent. Maybe we’ll do it again in the summer. But now I have to head back to the garage to collect the car. But I hope you enjoyed the little tour of Christchurch…