Some years ago there was a farm shop in Worcestershire I loved to visit. It was run by a Mr and Mrs Orchard — yes, really! — and operated out of a tiny wooden hut, next to the barns where they milked their herd of Guernseys.
Beyond were the fields where they grew their carrots, cabbages, potatoes, turnips and so on, whatever was in season — and all of them sold at such stupidly low prices that my jaw used to drop every time I got the bill which, of course, Mr Orchard would tot up in his head from a handwritten list.
The Orchards could afford to do this because, by selling direct to the consumer, they were cutting out the middleman and avoiding those iniquitous deals that supermarket buyers tend to impose on farmers. It was a win-win situation for buyer and seller.
And though they weren’t organic, those vegetables were as crisp and delicious as any I’ve ever eaten.
The Daily Mail‘s James Delingpole headed for Sicily with his family in tow
He spent a week at each of two lovely villas, both of them near Ispica in Sicily
Holiday highlights included a tour of the glorious hilltop town of Ragusa
Don’t tell anyone — my teenagers would die of shame. But my favourite thing about our family villa holiday in Sicily were my 8am Embarrassing Dad nudie swims.
Each morning, ignoring my wife’s protests — ‘Oh really. Must you?’ — I’d stride starkers across the lawn to the cliff at the bottom of our garden, down the flight of steps and — splosh! — launch myself into the Mediterranean.
Then I’d swim out a hundred yards or so and gaze in awe at the empty bay, with its spectacular white rock pillars thrusting up from the sea bed. ‘Wow!’ I’d think. ‘We’ve got this all to ourselves for the whole week.’
Oh, how I wish I’d kept hold of my Skoda Yeti. If only I hadn’t just sold it, I might have stood to make a cool £3,000 in compensation from the class action being brought by motorists against Volkswagen and its sister brands (Audi, Skoda, Seat) as a result of the Dieselgate emissions scandal.
Like many duped motorists, I acquired my diesel car in the naive belief that it would not only be more efficient and cost-effective than a petrol one, but also that it was better for the environment. We now know that this green myth is a nonsense.
The particulate matter produced by diesel engines is toxic, polluting and may be responsible for tens of thousands of deaths annually across Europe.
Some manufacturers such as Volkswagen have known this for ages, but rather than lose business it rigged emissions tests to make its cars seem more eco-friendly than they actually were.
on a once-great institution’s plans to promote the gay and transgender links of our finest houses
Whenever I read in the papers about some new trendy scheme introduced to the National Trust by its tiresomely PC management under director general Dame Helen Ghosh, I feel a pang of regret at having resigned our family membership a decade ago.
One month Dame Helen is singing the praises of wind farms; the next it’s a story about signs in the grounds of NT properties that read ‘Please do touch the trees — or even hug them!’; then it’s a row about some scheme to pay over the odds for a farm in Cumbria that has infuriated the locals.
Every time I read this stuff, my response is: why can’t I still be a member? Then I could resign, to signal how thoroughly I disapprove of initiatives so at odds with the Trust’s culture, history and core membership.
With the civil war over, the north of Sri Lanka is now a wonderful new frontier for holidays.
Northern tip of Sri Lanka was closed to tourists, but is now an adventure
It’s a little battle-worn but there’s plenty of colourful temples to be seen
You can also go to one of the many game reserves and see elephants
Promise me, dad, that you’ll never take us anywhere tropical ever again!’ said my 14-year-old daughter. This is not what you want to hear when you have forked out for the trip of a lifetime to Sri Lanka.
But I knew what she meant. Along with her similarly unimpressed 16-year-old brother and stoical mother, she had been dragged by her cruel father away from the comforts of the lush southern half of Sri Lanka, with its white beaches and boutique hotels, to the northern-most tip of the island, which couldn’t be more different.
Arid, burning hot and scarred by bullet holes, this was the region that saw the bloodiest fighting in the 25-year civil war between government forces and the Tamil Tigers. Until 2009, it was closed to tourists and even now is an adventure.
Anthony Horowitz claims nowhere is more evil than an English village
The former Midsomer Murders screenwriter has spoken out on the subject
He says rural areas can naturally breed mistrust, suspicion and bitterness
Nowhere is more evil than an English village,’ declares author Anthony Horowitz, approvingly quoting Sherlock Holmes.
And having moved from the crime-infested badlands of South London to an idyllic vicarage in the middle of nowhere, I find it hard to disagree with the Midsomer Murders screenwriter.
Yes, when we were in London, a man was shot right on our doorstep; a boy was stabbed in the park; our cat was killed on the lawn by a devil dog that jumped over our fence; and my wife was mugged on the walk home from the Tube.
In fact it was a killer lung clot: It’s the second biggest cause of sudden death, but it’s hard for doctors to spot.
My first indication that this wasn’t going to be an ordinary Monday was when I coughed in to my handkerchief and saw, to my surprise, a big splodge of deep red blood.
‘Oh dear. That can’t be right,’ I thought. But still I wasn’t too worried. Four days earlier, I’d had surgery to repair a clavicle (shoulder blade) that I’d broken quite seriously in a riding accident. Add to that at least three broken ribs and it was no wonder I should be feeling rough.
Perhaps, I wondered, the blood might be some delayed result of my accident. Maybe the sensible thing would be to get back into bed and continue the nice long rest I’d been having since the operation.
But then it struck me that one of my friends on Twitter was a surgeon. So I told him about the blood; and about how I’d woken up that morning, tried to take the dog for a walk, but been unable to continue because I’d been short of breath.
As an afterthought, I added that two nights earlier I’d woken up drenched in sweat, as a result of what I thought was a fever induced by fighting off a cold. ‘It would be wise to see your GP or go to hospital,’ advised the surgeon.
Even then I wasn’t sure. That word ‘wise’ didn’t seem very strong. Also, I was wary of bothering my wife with my worries. I’ve always been a bit of a hypochondriac, prone to depression and anxiety, and forever thinking I’m dying of some incurable disease.
The result will be a nation LESS tolerant than before.
‘When I get married — whether it’s to a man or a woman…’ my 11-year-old niece told her grandpa the other day. But I don’t think she thinks she’s a budding lesbian (would she even know at that age?).
It’s just the way she has been taught to think at her impeccably right-on school in the People’s Republic of Brighton.
It reminded me queasily of another niece’s experiences — this time at an overwhelmingly white, Christian state school in Worcester. Her dad had wanted to know why when she said ‘Mohammed’, she automatically added the phrase ‘Peace Be Upon Him’.
‘Oh, it’s what we’re taught we have to say in RE,’ my niece replied.
Did the schools ever consult us on whether we wanted our children’s heads to be filled with such politically correct bilge?
After 25 years’ ongoing exposure to this nonsense, I suppose I should be used to it by now. My elder son’s headmaster explaining to me airily how it just wasn’t the modern way to punish children for not doing their homework; my daughter coming home with the news that her primary teacher had advised her to ‘go veggie’ for a week; my younger boy being co-opted into some grisly global sustainability club, so that his school could win more eco-star ratings from an EU-sponsored green scheme.
Such indoctrination never fails to irritate. More than that, though, I am genuinely terrified about the kind of havoc these brainwashed mini-revolutionaries may wreak in the future.
When you mention to a Muslim or Hindu that the year is 2011, do you ever feel a twinge of guilt about your closet religious chauvinism? When you watch the old Raquel Welch film One Million Years BC, do you blushingly avert your gaze from the title sequence? When you catch your children reading 2000AD, do you furiously insist that they read something less offensive, such as The Beano or The Dandy, instead?
Well, the BBC thinks you should and it is taking action on your behalf.
Bob Meyrick says:28th September 2011 at 12:43 pm“No longer will its website refer to those bigoted, Christian-centric concepts AD (as in Anno Domini – the Year of Our Lord) and BC (Before Christ)… All reference to Christ has been expunged, replaced by the terms CE (Common Era) and BCE (Before Common Era).”
How odd, then, that these appear on the BBC History site in an article about the fall of the Roman Republic (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/fallofromanrepublic_article_01.shtml) –
“In 133 BC, Rome was a democracy. Little more than a hundred years later it was governed by an emperor.”
“At the end of the second century BC the Roman people was sovereign.”
“By 14 AD, when the first emperor Augustus died, popular elections had all but disappeared.”
That’s just from the first few paragraphs. The rest of the article is littered with BCs and ADs, and amazingly in none of the articles about the Romans are there ANY references to BCE or CE. Your article is, I’m afraid, just inaccurate nonsense. You seem to agree with Ronald Reagan that “Facts are stupid things.”
The library is home to nearly 6,000 books, dating from the 16th century. It was used as a meeting room by the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) in Downton Abbey, where he would discuss the workings of the house with his butler, and where he interviewed his Irish driver
This time last year, Highclere Castle was just another struggling English family home with the usual 5,000-acre estate, 50-plus bedrooms, portraits by Van Dyck, Victorian gothic design by Charles Barry (who also did the Houses of Parliament), towers, follies, tapestries, heraldic shields and attached museum of Egyptian artefacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb. And the usual collapsing roofs and millions of pounds worth of debts.
But what a difference a popular, prime-time, period drama series can make. Today the house is the most famous stately home in the world – known as Downton Abbey – with a future perhaps more secure than at any time in its 450-year existence.
The sturdy, dark oak gothic main entrance you see set into the castle’s honey-coloured stone as you stride across the gravel driveway is where the pompous butler Carson lined up his entire domestic staff, to parade them before the caddish (and secretly gay) visiting Duke of Crowborough.