Lempriere Lines

Lempriere Lines

October 2021

Have no idea where the year has gone but I know what’s coming as I am reminded every day in some way that the festive period is just around the corner, it’s the planning right!!

I guess I have come around to the idea that one can just switch off for a week and imagine that life for all is good even though in all reality it is far from it, but for the benefit of those closest I am not going to be a grumpy old scrooge in late December.

However, Christmas is not here yet so let’s get a few sentences in about the state of play.

Covid19 - The government can no longer make this frontline news as its unaffordable, so we will now live with it as was expected, it becomes part of mainstay life.

COP26 - Catchy title but if the people that matter don’t turn up or arrive with personal agendas then its doomed. We pollute our planet, we pay the ultimate price, actually our children do and certainly their children who may not even get a full life.

Our own river is dying, our own members of parliament for Herefordshire still take a nice salary but don’t represent its people, just a few select types, if you know what I mean. Even in rural Herefordshire the biodiversity is changing, whether that is in your garden, in the fields, the hedgerows or city centre. I have wild cowslips about to flower in my garden and certain trees that have not gone to sleep because the weather is so mild. This is not a good thing, trust me. This house is trying to do its bit, we have dropped a car, we are walking more, eating less meat, both red and white and have reduced our energy consumption but there is still more we could do and will when we can. I have never poured fresh water onto grass and my grass has weeds in it, I am hoping to set up a rainwater harvesting sprinkler system next year just so my trees, shrubs and borders are protected from drought, this in turn will help the limited biodiversity that I have in my enclosed garden….it really needs an outlet, a corridor if you will, but that’s the price you pay for having no choice but to live in a modern build where each home is a fortress of fence panels, brick and concrete.

Anyways other decisions, I will not renew my passport and therefore have no plans to fly again or do huge regular commutes. I struggle with the electric thing because of the batteries and besides all rely on the under strain national grid so I am hanging on with the best-in-class diesel, just doing less miles. Electric maybe ok as a local run-around but no good for long haul, I am starting to see the queues at the charging points, the ones that are working, come on hydrogen because I see no other way of getting about at the moment other than shanks pony.

Note to government… unless the cost of electric cars comes down in cost, I am reckoning that by the time you enforce their use most people won’t have any money to purchase one. Let’s just think, £40k electric car or £20K alternative heating system, big decisions eh….so with that in mind let’s talk about that next topic.

The Budget - I am guessing that there is a lot of people out there that have never experienced inflation or high interest rates. Well, you are just about to get a crash course in what it will mean and its scary. It might well be that interest rates might go up on savings accounts (if you have savings) but it will also mean your mortgage rate will jump.

I am not sure who this government is trying to sell this latest budget to but it sure won’t be to the poorer communities amongst us or in fact the middle-income earners who are about to be left behind also…

Note to government…this will come back and bite you, the only reason you may get away with it in the short term is because the political opposition is so poor. Please don’t forget the people though!!

In recent decades some first time buyers have had the benefit of financial help from parents but even said parents will start to feel the pinch for a multitude of reasons so acquiring your first home and keeping it will become a dream and renting will become an unviable option so it could very well be that we will go back to the times when many generations lived in the same house, Trouble is many houses today are not as big as before.

OK, ok, no more grumpiness but I am troubled you see.

This government wants us to embrace our newly acquired independence from Europe, but they are not giving the people any reasons to be motivated and enthusiastic.

These days can you honestly see one member of parliament that has the gravitas and stature associated with a British leader. I can think of a few from my past but it’s been a long while since I observed someone that could be regarded as a true statesmen. Our enemies are laughing at us for they know that the British people have strength, substance, and heart. If only our leaders demonstrated the same. That said I take off my cap to The Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace. The Afghanistan withdrawal hurt him, and he was not afraid to show it.

Reasons to be Cheerful, not many!

September 2021

My mother’s passing has required adjustments to my life. We would banter every day on the phone and rarely a week would go by without a journey down to the ancient capital. Over the summer months Heather and I got away and one such place of escape was Gairloch in the northwest of Scotland. This was new ground for me but very enjoyable. The drive up through the Highlands was a pleasure in itself. We stopped off at Loch Marie and finally found our crofters retreat in South Erradale just up from the sands of Redpoint Beach. It was a great idea, thanks Heath. We also managed the odd city visit checking in with both Stirling and Edinburgh however ongoing covid restrictions in Scotland meant the retail shopping experience was different. I remember Prince's Street from the past, but its shopping crown has been passed over to the new St. James’s quarter.

Covid still impacts our lives, attention now moves on to the effectiveness of such vaccines over time which was coming of course, so where do I stand on this? Well, here’s the thing, for me it was important to deal with the outbreak the way we did. The NHS was unprepared for it and in the early days had to learn about the antics of the virus as it got started on its crusade. This bloody thing has divided us, and evidence can be seen when out and about. “To wear or not to wear a mask,” that is the question. We are split over this for sure. I probably won’t go for a top up vaccine, I will take my chances with natural exposure but for the sake of common courtesy to others I will wear a mask in areas where you are in close proximity of fellow folk. My life now is about taking in the air, maximising the use of all those senses that were gifted to me, senses that still perform, absorbing all the natural world that surrounds me as I travel through each day.

Our staycation summer is nearly at its end, we have been lucky as the weather has been kind to good old blighty but if you know your natural world, have an interest in what you see then you would have observed that changes are afoot, and they are not so subtle anymore.

Whilst most life species are in decline our own continues to multiply and grow, we are indifferent, we have expectations, we cannot comprehend that what we want and expect cannot be delivered until perhaps one day when the penny finally drops.

Covid made many of us get up and move for a better life because it was possible, but what about those that couldn’t, because they did not have the financial means to do so?

I recently had a conversation with someone who was moaning about his time on Brighton Beach. Covid was blamed as were the fires in Greece but as he divulged the extraordinary price of a south coast 99 flake, he dropped into the conversation the picture of an inflatable arriving on the shore, full of refugees seeking a better life. I bet he didn’t convey his angst to them!!

Our preferred ignorance of life’s situation defends us from the realities of what is going on and for many that is more palatable. Sadly, that is the truth of it, we have a natural fear of the unknown but what must it be like when you see something dark and desperate in every way. Your only option is a natural response which is to fight or flight, I guess that is what you see in Afghanistan.
But heh that’s over there, could not possibly happen over here, right?

Just ending with a note on my book which is at the printers at the mo. Will let you know when I have the finished article, would like to promote locally within the three shires if possible but we shall see.

June 2021

The month of June was about saying goodbye, a lot of reflection, support and consolation, you know how it goes. Just right now the most important thing is keeping a watchful eye on those that are special and they are doing well. I only have the best of memories for my old girl, and should I need to laugh within then it’s a conversation with her that begins.

Although I had long prepared for what eventually took place it still knocks you just the same. Have taken to parking up by the Castle Pool and walking for my first coffee of the day. My route takes me through open places and sacred spaces, it’s a calming, thought provoking kind of thing.

There is nothing like an emotional knock to feed a mind and drive a decision so it’s time to get on with that book, my mother would have wanted it so it will go to print next month hopefully. The book will be called “Reading Between”.

It is understood finally that we must learn to live with Covid and there are signs that we are moving on. I had my first medical devices trade conference in Milton Keynes which was reasonably attended. Some of the empty shops around Hereford are starting to fill and with novelty ideas, thank you for having the courage! There is life here and plenty of characters so go the shire!

Having got back into the car a little more of late it is my general opinion that the roads in our county are by far the worst in the UK and could explain why local tyre dealerships do very well. The southbound side of the A49 on the top of Dinmore Hill has an unsafe road surface that is poorly maintained yet we still get notice of accidents up there.

Hereford City is the beating heart of the shire with all main arterial routes having to work their way around. As we see many times when a blockage occurs the whole local road network comes to a standstill.

It is true however that as soon as you step off the local main road network you can find peace very quickly, a great quality about Herefordshire and some of its neighbouring counties.

Victoria Bridge hosts a fab little coffee cart partnered with an ice cream van on certain days. Plenty of people out walking and still a kingfisher goes about his business unnoticed.

I actually like the new planters now located in the centre of Hereford so long as they are maintained, the hanging baskets are very visible in some places and it’s great to see the Knife Angel which gathers a lot of interest. Maybe it’s a staycation summer but there are more tourists around the cathedral this year.

Enjoy the summer.

June 2021

So much can happen in just a few short weeks, you blink for a moment and another season passes you but on the cool winds of this season went the soul of a girl who will always touch me. Sadly, we said goodbye to my mother just a few days short of her 85th birthday, now laid to rest with my father on the beautiful chalk downland overlooking Winchester. Of course, I am biased for she was my old girl after all but the service at the Chesil Rectory was fabulous, tears with laughter, music from the stars and a eulogy befitting of this village girl, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and friend. The setting complete with the River Itchen a backdrop, rushing, with city life continuing all around. Video linking for those that could not be present and a Chaplin called Phil Collins!

It was a beautiful service which I will always remember.

We never completed mum's bucket list but Heather, sister and I did fulfill a need to go around Marwell Zoological Park for just one last time!

It was good to be with the family again.

My memories are of you,
Shirley June Lempriere
16 May 1936 - 13 May 2021

March 2021

So here we are its March, the weather has changed and for the better! The light stretches through the supper hour and the first male blackbirds craft their early riser songs to anyone that listens and that includes me. We were gifted with an opportunity to see a barn owl hunting just metres from the house and this happened over several days. The lugg flats have looked mystical of late with low mist under a full orange moon, the Covid winter will need his coat as we are kicking him out very soon.

I get it, it’s not over yet, but sunnier days with smiling faces and neighbourly chatter can’t be a bad thing, right?

As for the vaccine well most of my closest have taken the needle having formed that orderly queue! My turn soon for sure and although I may have been a sceptic at first, I admit now that there seems no choice but to accept my invitation for without it, I will be unable to walk hospital corridors or enter critical care areas again, these enhanced credentials will be required for work and that overseas holiday so we will have to lump it. Of course, if there is someone out there that is happy to pay my mortgage then please feel free to make a donation!

It may be nothing to do with the vaccine, but my old girl seems to have found another twenty years just recently, have never seen her so positive but I think she is stretching it by purchasing a bathing costume at 85! Her bucket list seems endless, but I wish to remember her in this frame of mind and not drowning in a sea of doom and gloom besides, it makes my sister happy and with it an easier life. WhatsApp video calls have been a joy of late!

We have a budget coming and of course the easing of restrictions. This might not be the exact moment when we have to start paying back what we have borrowed but it will come, perhaps next year. Very soon small businesses will have to make difficult decisions as their very survival will depend on the outcome of the Chancellors words. I wish them well, it is one thing trying to remain positive but sometimes this is hard to achieve when you have run up debt and thrown your heart and soul into something which through no fault of your own you may lose. I cannot remember reading a book that gave insight into ways you can preserve your business through a national commercial lockdown.

I have been working on a project which should go live very soon. For reasons of confidentiality I cannot say too much, but this new venture started weeks before the pandemic and has had to be patient. We are finally getting somewhere despite all the difficulties and restrictions, perseverance is key.

Finally, my local hospital reported the sad loss of a guy called Dave Morgan who worked in theatres. Dave was my main point of contact whilst working for the Australians. He was a pleasure to deal with and would always reply to a phone call or e-mail. A really nice chap and I am sure the theatre team will miss him. My condolences to his family and friends.

Let’s leave it there I think, I will see you in April, it will be spring after all.


February 2021

January gave us all a little of everything with rain, sleet, snow and yes, we are in yet another lockdown with no end date this time around. As part of our daily life we build a walk into our Covid routine. It is more noticeable how many people are wearing masks around the city, particularly around the concentrated shopping areas. I am compliant to this idea but will always remove when possible. I like to grab that takeaway coffee whilst treading the pavement, picking up the fruit & veg, using the independents where possible.

There has been more flooding, so I am feeling sorry for those in Greyfriars and other areas that have endured these repeat flooding performances, something has to be done to protect those affected. Incredible scenes once more around De Koffie Pot but these guys just won’t be beaten, nor will the guy who has set up his little cart near the Viccy bridge. He is lucky though, a simple hook up and his business can be towed away to safety, others are not so fortunate.

Not sure what will happen to the Debenhams store as their will be no buyer for the retail side of the business. One can only speculate about how this massive space will be filled but I will go for either a Primark relocation (for the space), or perhaps a new M & S as I believe they own the freehold on their current premises which could be sold. This would not be good for old town, but I wonder why we cannot look at this as a starting point for new ventures. If only the council and commercial landlords opened their minds to the prospects of redesigning the shopping experience. One thing is for sure, the days of huge stores are over. Smaller commercial retail units, mixed residential offerings, greener spaces and economies, more eating and leisure experiences. Free parking for greener transport, endless opportunities really if only our masters could come together. This is the time for retail independents, shop local, limit the amount of online purchasing and if you need too why not check out your suppliers credentials. We may think we are doing the world a favour by purchasing online but really, all those diesel vans chugging around with parcels from China and the Far East.

Covid has shown us our vulnerabilities so why can’t we learn from this. If Herefordshire Council thinks that the answer is to raise taxes and build homes that are not representative of their surroundings then they are storing up trouble for the future. The patience of people can only be pushed so far. Our roads, pavements and public services are atrocious. I can see the county merging with Worcestershire once more and if that happened then that would be the fault of all those political parties who thought they knew best, none have delivered so far, too much squabbling.

The virus has shown our vulnerabilities as humans, it does not matter how much money you have or want, money won’t protect you from this infection or others. As the population grows and our environment declines, we are on a course of self-destruction but for some its just about fighting over land and financial ownership. It has always been this way, it saddens me because life for our children and grandchildren is gloomy, so many of us are not getting the message, we just expect or demand without accepting any responsibility or making any contribution, most of us certainly don’t give something back without strings!

I end my rant with an observation. Have noticed during our walks that so many people these days have more than one dog, Have I missed something, are there tax incentives, do you get a discount at your nearest food store if you present with more than one dog on a lead, perhaps a his or hers arrangement in case of a split. You do know they will be the next thing in the firing line for Covid!!

Its tough out there but I am optimistic, really, I am.


January 2021

I am pitching a positive approach for 2021, we all need to get into this mindset so that we can push through challenges that will come.

Have set a few personal goals for the year and have returned to using a written diary through my working week. At this time Herefordshire sits within Tier 3 which means the gym is still open. This is great news because I can now put my new Garmin sports watch through its paces. A little weight went on over the festive period however a good few walks have kept things in check! Another national lockdown is coming though.

My old girl back in Winchester has already had the Covid Vaccine which I’m pleased about although I have personal misgivings about accepting this needle and will not be jumping to the front of the queue for mine, someone else can take my place for now. I did take advantage of a free flu jab though. It was difficult not seeing my mother and sister over the Christmas period and like so many people out there we still have a small pile of pressies waiting for their destined beneficiaries. Have also missed seeing so many friends over Christmas, lots of people to catch up with in 2021.

My partner Heather inflamed a disc in her lower back at the beginning of December and has only recently returned to full mobility. Work beckons for her and the rolling out of the Covid vaccine will take centre stage though all other duties within the medical practice still continue also. Not sure how the primary care service delivers with so many requests coming down from NHS England.

Brexit came and went so we get on with it now, just pleased not to hear about it anymore. Only time will tell if we suffer economically as a consequence, but I am confident that we can make the best of it.

I was excited about a recent offer by a publishing house for my first book of poems. I declined this time around mainly because of the cost but I will push on adding more poems, getting something to print would be great.

My consultancy develops and it is my plan to promote a few medical devices on this website over the coming months.

To end, my thoughts are with all those who lost someone in 2020.

They walk a different path now and let’s hope they do it in peace.

Cheerio for now and stay safe.

email gk@lemprierelines.com

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