Apologies for light blogging. I am taking advantage of August to have a long weekend away on our canal boat and we are happily making our way from Oxford to Cropredy in no great hurry, handicapped in my blogging by (a) too many canal side pubs selling Hook Norton ale, (b) a lack of internet access, and (c) a lack of politics of any kind to make a blog worthwhile.
Yesterday we drove into the lovely Cotswold town of Burford in search of dessert spoons, teaspoons and port glasses - and happily found all three. If you have never visited Burford, you really should. It is a town of rare beauty, nestled in the Cotswolds close to the River Windrush, a few miles west of Chipping Norton. It has one of the most beautiful medieval High Streets imaginable, lined with pretty shops built from Cotswold stone, glowing in the August sunshine.
I got the impression that Burford is one of those towns (like Hampstead and Port Isaac) far more attuned to the needs of visitors than locals. There were six shops selling Panama hats and three selling red trousers, wood carvings and wholemeal crepes aplenty, but if we had gone in search of anything as mundane as lavatory paper or potatoes I fear we would have left empty-handed.
Another novelty in the Town was 'diversification'. One shop sold 'hats and books' (where I bought a copy of Philip Gould's 'When I Die - Lessons from the Death Zone' (happy holiday reading) and later I popped into an art gallery which also sold brushes and shoe shine supplies. The lady behind the counter was very welcoming and chatty, but also seemed familiar, though I had no recollection of us ever having previously met. After a few pleasantries I asked if any of the paintings were hers, to which she replied that she was a writer not an artist. 'And what do you do?' she inquired. I told her I was a Conservative Party Agent in Kent, at which point she beamed enthusiastically whilst digging into her cleavage and pulling out a gold necklace adorned with a portcullis pendant.. It turned-out that she was the widow of former Hampstead & Highgate MP Geoffrey Finsberg.
We had a lovely chat about people we both knew, people she thought I knew and people I once knew, and as I left she gave me a few messages to pass on to various people at CCHQ and Westminster with whom she had lost contact, which I have now done.
I don't know what it is about politicos, but we always seem to find each other in a crowd. Maybe we are like Freemasons, giving out hidden signals and codes, or perhaps we have our own pheromones - but it is remarkable how often something like this happens.