February 2020


The above photo is where I will be in a few hours, all being well. An escape from the wind and rain and depressing news and general online misery and hate. A full week where I can put everything to one side and ignore the world. Plus, as an added bonus, I can still use my EU passport as we have not yet been issued with those marvellous, blue tickets to the long queue.

In all fairness to Portugal, they’ve already made it clear that they will do all they can to alleviate any undue queuing or difficulties at their border. Over two million of us from the UK visit there every year and they don’t want us to stop going. They’re even toying with the idea of giving us the same rights to healthcare as Portuguese citizens. I know it’s not entirely philanthropic, it’s more to do with maintaining their tourist industry, but anything that makes my life easier has to be a good thing.

But it’s not all bad here. We’re on the cusp of spring, despite half the country currently bailing sewage out of their living rooms and kitchens. And, I understand, there are plans afoot to build even more housing on flood plains. That’ll be the ‘affordable housing’ that we keep hearing about then. Maybe they should build them on stilts.

But anyway, spring is round the corner and some of my favourite botanical pals are making an appearance. DSC06647Snowdrops and Crocuses, even a few daffodils have shown their brave yellow faces. I know we can still get snow and unpleasantness but I can only see these beautiful flowers (surely superior to most of those vulgar, over-coloured specimens that are pushed on us by supermarkets and petrol stations) as a marker for sitting in the sunshine with a gin and a good book. Listening to the insects buzz as a light aircraft passes overhead in the blue, clear sky. Most of all, I think it’s a case that they represent hope of a new beginning. That everything is going to be alright and that the cold and rot and damp of winter is slowly falling behind us.

Not that I have a major problem with rot; some of my favourite things are also involved in the process of rotting. I used to be a member of the Sheffield University Mycological Research Group and, DSC06646although I’ve forgotten almost everything that I learned while trudging through autumnal forests with those guys, I’ve retained enough to still enjoy the magic and majesty of these fascinating fungi. Here is a picture of some fruiting bodies that I found in a bin bag on wet cardboard yesterday. A little family of pezizas. They’re not in their natural habitat, I’ve displayed them on a green bin against a tin of roofing repair. Peziza is their genus; there are over a hundred species within that genus and actually identifying which one it is would be a challenge even for some of my old friends from Sheffield University.

So, a positive start at the end of February. That’s what I’m aiming for. All the angst and petition signing and arguing the merits of staying close to our friends in Europe can now be put behind us. The alternative argument won. I hope they’re happy, because whatever happens now, no one can claim they weren’t warned. DSC06648Us neoliberal, softy, left-wing snowflakes have to put it all behind us now and concentrate on making the best of what we have. Maybe there’ll be a change sometime in the future. Maybe there won’t be. Maybe everything will be great and we were all wrong. I genuinely hope that to be the case even if it’s not particularly looking like it so far. Maybe something huge might emerge and everything will be flung into flux yet again. Who knows? Just keep staring at the pretty flowers and thinking positive thoughts. (There’s even a sneaky little spring snuck its way into my snowdrop picture)

It has to be a short one this month as I have to go and pack my disco shorts and yellow vest. So, thanks for reading and keep your chins up. Also, don’t forget to check out my¬†Web-site!

See you in March.