My week; 16-21 August 2021

I’m not so busy these days. I’m no longer a county councillor and I only do a limited amount of business. However I am still a parish councillor and a trustee at the Eastern Learning Alliance. These two positions are likely to come to an end some time next year. It’s a steady drift into retirement which began some time ago and I’m rather enjoying it.

Mon 16 Aug 21: I have an appointment at 1000 at the Cavendish School building site. The Cavendish School will be a special school taking about 80 pupils and is being built next to Impington Village College.

It’s a project which has been live for some time and I’ve been the ELA trustee chairing the committee overseeing its progress. It’s been subject to innumerable delays generally because the DfE has such a tortuous bureaucracy. However we’ve finally got to the stage that it’s been built enough that we can have a site visit. I really couldn’t contribute much to the visit, that was the role of David Adams who’s been an expert consultant to the committee and Stephanie Smith the school’s deputy headteacher. I was impressed by the way that Steph could visualise the school in finished form even though we were seeing little more than a skeleton and bare walls.

In the evening the Parish Council’s Rec Committee gets a presentation from Vicki Shepherd of Cambridge Marketing Research of the results of the survey which it has done about the recent and expected pattern of recreation in the community and the consequent demand for facilities. It’s delivered some apparently useful results, some obvious and some providing food for thought.

Tue 17 Aug 21: We have a Parish Council meeting with Camel, the developers of the School Hill Site at 1100. It’s a necessary meeting because the relationship between the two bodies has gotten very confused. I’m joined by Chris Jones (another councillor) and Theresa King (one of the clerks). It’s a good meeting and we can enjoy good coffee with it because it’s held at the Histon Smokehouse which is one of a handful of venues where you can now get a good coffee. I reckon Histon is becoming the Islington of Cambridge.

I have an appointment at the Railway Vue for lunch. The Vue is run by Loeretta who’s Irish and is one of those people who comes across all fierce before revealing a soft centre. I’m a regular so we are on Christian name terms. I’m having lunch with Ros Hathorn, my successor as county councillor, and Pippa Heylings, one of our  district councillors. They are both immensely strong women and I’m happy to cede power to them.

I enjoy a healthy, low-sat prawn and avocado salad.

Early evening I’m in the gym. My routine is a good two hours with the obligatory cardio warm up and cool down but because it’s less about pushing myself to new limit, more about just doing enough to maintain muscle condition I find it to be a rewarding and relaxing experience. And with my pace of life these days it’s easy enough to fit into my routine. I aim for three gym visits a week. Tomorrow’s cardio session (read on) is a bonus.

Wed 18 Aug 21: Wednesday mornings at 0900 are Cardio time and have been ever since the start of lock down in March 2020. I don’t really enjoy it but I know it’s worthwhile and I feel good afterwards. The classes are on Zoom and run with amazing enthusiasm by Steve Symonds. He keeps up a pretty constant chat with comments about sport and his allotment and the occasional very corny joke.

Lunchtime I’m off to the Queen’s Head in Needingworth to meet Tomas Diaz, sales & marketing manager at Cambridge-Sensotec. Tomas has been on the job for a few months now and he’s proven to be an absolute gem. He lost his way in his career and Sensotec has to a large extent rescued him. Tomas is from Venezuela spent his formative years with Ericsson. He’s also worked in a Danaher company so he and I speak the same language. Our lunches are always constructive and the food at the Queen’s Head is hardly gastro but excellent value nonetheless. Today I have a chicken and chorizo jambalaya.

One of my obsessions is my daily photo blog and I head out in the evening to see what I can find. That’s usually easier said than done in Histon which is not really very photogenic but today I get the harvesting equipment in action on the farmland north of Gatehouse Road. I’m very pleased with a few of the shots which I take.

Thu 19 Aug 21: I have nothing in my agenda for today but this morning I’ve got a job to do namely to deliver some Focuses to Orchard Park because although I’m not a councillor I’m still a foot soldier. It’s not a demanding task but there are a few flats protected by security panels. Generally if you’re there in the morning you can simply press the ‘trade’ button but one landlord has installed a digital pad. Fortunately a friendly postie tells me the code.

I promised myself a coffee at Cafe Camtown in Buchan Street but the outdoor seating is full (!). The grinder’s out of action at the Station House so I’m back at the Smokehouse where I treat myself to a smashed avocado on toast as well.

On the way home I spot the regular queue outside Barclay’s Bank. We’re fortunate that we’ve got a bank in the community but the way it’s behaved during lockdown and thereafter you’d think it were doing its customers a favour. It’s done nothing to improve its processes which is why there’s always a queue because it doesn’t open all its tills and limits access to the building.

Fri 20 Aug 21: technically my agenda is not empty today but the only item in it is a haircut and in the past that would have been something just squeezed into a spare moment. Today it’s a major event because it gives me an excuse to go into Cambridge, do a little shopping and have enjoy another coffee. This time the coffee’s at a coffee shop named Coffee by Real Eating Company which is at the end of Petty Cury across from the Foster’s Bank building.

Whilst I’m enjoying my coffee I’m rung by a company whose catalogue I’d recently requested. ‘Is that David?’ I hear and immediately I’m triggered into grumpy old man mode. After finding out who’s calling me I suggest in future that next time they call someone they start off with something like ‘Hello I’m Sam from Atlas Travel. Is that David?’ I ask if the caller had been given any such guidance. Unsurprisingly the answer is ‘no’.

Sat 21 Aug 21: Saturday morning always used to be a highlight of the week. We met friends for breakfast at Don Pasquale in Cambridge. Sadly one of the friends had died and Don Pasquale is no more so we’ve been more often than not staying at home. Today though we went to Peterborough. Breakfast itself is a disappointment. I chose the Lightbox next to City Hall from the TripAdvisor where it gets good ratings. Not from me it won’t. But this morning was more than rescued by a visit to the cathedral. Stunning. Smaller than most but worth no central divid you get a clear view from one and to the other. Well worth a visit especially given that there’s no charge for entry.

There’s a gay pride event in the afternoon, Peterborough Pride so the main square, Cathedral Square, is slowly filling with would-be participants. Such events are splendid in their own rights but they are also superbly colorful.

On the way home we stop for lunch at the Three Tuns in Fen Drayton. It’s once more run by Frances who ran the Rose & Crown in Histon for a while. I have an excellent baked cod loin with new potatoes and peas washed down by 175ml of Kiwi Sauv Blanc. A good end to a good morning.

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