5 highlights of 2021

It’s not been a great year. The Covid constraints limited what we might do but except for the lockdown of early in the year we’ve had enough freedom to get out and enjoy life in the UK and then I was able to visit Spain on business on November. Then the Omicron virus hit and rules have been tightened and we can expect more of the same at least for the start of 2022.

So: looking back what stands out?

Getting Ros elected as my successor County Councillor. I’d been a county councillor since 2007 and decided that was enough but reckoned that I still had a responsibility to make sure that my nominated successor got successfully elected. I should not have worried. Ros Hathorn worked hard and was well supported by the three district councillors (canvassing), Chris Sidell (photography) and Matt London (stakeboards). She retained the seat for the Lib Dems with an improved majority and the highest in all of Cambridgeshire.

So that’s it: no more council activity and little political activity. I’m happy to remain active and supportive but I have now called an end to active campaigning.

Making a first visit to Lincoln. As the lockdown rules were relaxed Juni and I arranged to visit Clare and Alex and our grandchildren at the end of May. We took a detour on our way up and stayed overnight in Lincoln. We’d not been to Lincoln before and really enjoyed a city with history and character. There’s a photo of the cathedral above.

We stayed at the excellent White Hart just off the open area at the top of the city. This gave us easy access to the castle and the cathedral. It was also an easy walk down to the river but then quite a stretch walking back. Lincoln struck me as being another example of the adage ‘don’t confuse a territory with its capital’. Lincolnshire voted heavily for Brexit, three Lincolnshire constituencies had the highest Leave vote %, but Lincoln has the feel of a prosperous trading centre and seat of learning with all the attributes you’d associate with it.

Lincoln was not our only first visit of the year. We followed it with visits to Piece Hall in Halifax, to Burghley House close to Stamford, Winchester (where we met Peter and Ludmilla), Weymouth and the Jurassic Coast (where we met the Muellers, our neighbours in Switzerland), the New Forest (see below) and Harewood House near Wetherby.

Great meals at Al Molo in Weymouth and at MJP@theShepherds in Fen Ditton. I do enjoy eating out; I like to enjoy the dishes you don’t get at home, to be served by people who do the job with pride and professionalism, and to support the employment of people who are an important part of our economy. I do my bit locally of course but for something a little more special you need to go a little further afield.

We had a week travelling across the south coast in August and stayed for a couple of nights in Weymouth. Al Molo is an Italian restaurant on a small pier in the centre of the bay; a corner table by the window gave us the best of possible views. We ran through the menu from stater to desert and I finished with a grappa. Perfect.

The second great meal of the year was closer to home, in Fen Ditton just 20 minutes or so away from Histon. Whereas al Molo is perhaps a ‘traditional’ Italian MJP@theShepherds is very much of the new style with mix and match dishes of various sizes to share (if you are that way inclined). It was another evening of a full menu and this time I started with a cocktail before enjoying excellent wines by the glass with each course.

I’ll give an honourable mention to the Peacock in Rowsley, Derbyshire. I booked lunch on our way up north and it was excellent. Sadly a ‘to the letter’ adherence to Covid rules made it a little grim indoors but we took out desert out on the terrace and that was much better.

A photo weekend in the New Forest. I was searching for a course to follow up the one I did on Photoshop in 2019 and came across a weekend on the Kent Coast in October and signed up for it. As luck would have it it was cancelled and I was switched to one in the New Forest in November which probably was a better option. We had a super hotel and although the sun barely shone and there wasn’t a great deal of instruction it was a great weekend. I enjoyed the autumn colours and challenged myself to come up with photographs which weren’t simply pretty snaps but told, or at least implied, a story.

Two new coffee shops in Histon. We’re fortunate in Histon & Impington, to give our community its full name, to enjoy a degree of village life along with the benefits of living in a more sophisticated community next to, but not a part of, Cambridge. I call it urban edge and it has resulted in H&I boasting a manufacturing site, an office park, a full set of schools, six pubs and a vibrant high street. It has meant that we’ve enjoyed three cafes where you can get a good cup of coffee and this year we got two new coffee shops: Stir, as a part of the School Hill ‘redevelopment’, and ‘Station House’, as a part of the redeveloped station site.

Neither is cheap but they’ve clearly tapped into a market because they’re attracting good custom with little apparent impact on the other three which clearly have their own niches.

And to be fair to the other three they are the cafe at the St Andrews Centre, Delicious at Vision Park and the Histon Smokehouse. I use them all.

You’ve got to accept that, as always, lots of people have a worse and less fortunate life than I do and in those terms I should be thankful that I’ve got through the year as I have. Although I did get pinged on Christmas Eve but tested negative. Fingers crossed that next year is ‘more normal’.

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