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A year at The Old Fox House

Monday, December 6th, 2010

It has been a topsy-turvy year. The coldest winter in living memory killed plants I’d nurtured for two decades. My passion flower withered and died, once rampant on a sheltered south-facing wall. Brimstone butterflies normally wake in January, in 2010 their first appearance was in March and even then they fluttered only tentatively.


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Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Sir: Could the bankers who seem determined to hang on to their huge bonuses do us a favour this Christmas…….re-inflate the economy by spending the lot?

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Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Sir: I must take issue with Angela Elliott re “feminism & child rearing”. As a 70’s feminist I worked both before and after having a family but I was lucky to be able to stay home with my children when they were young and never thought this was incompatible with my feminist beliefs. Like many women of my generation I have always viewed feminism as a simple, (or not so simple) matter of “Liberty, Equality & Fraternity”. The struggle must still go on; (witness the reportage this week of an honour killing and blatant city misogyny); it is important as ever, but we do not hate men and these days not many of us wear dungarees.

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Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

I have a Victoria plum tree which was laden with fruit. I think to myself I will pick those plums tomorrow before the wasps get them so at first light I go out with my baskets…..

But wait… (more…)

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Monday, July 13th, 2009

I have a new car in all senses of the word. It is brand new and straight from the showroom as well as new to me. I was told it had come from Germany although a man who helps in the garden told me it was made in Brazil which he deemed to be “a very bad thing”.


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Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

As featured in The Independent, July 2009

Sir: Deborah Orr’s account of her day on South West Trains (June 27) rang a number of bells. I have had the same kind of experience dealing with railway officials, banks, shops and call centres. It seems in many organisations the “nyet” factor, (anyone visiting the USSR before 1989 will remember the frustrations), is positively fostered thus enabling small people hiding behind the rules to feel a misguided sense of importance. However the real culprits are the managers who set up the kind of directives that make no allowance for common sense. It is in fact an insult to their employees tantamount to saying they are incapable of exercising judgement, and the opposite of empowering.

read more stuff

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Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

As featured in The Times, May 2009

Sir: In response to David Green (Letters: May 25th) may I say that I believe lawyers and solicitors very much over value their services. My own experience of this profession is that they muddy clear waters, spin things out by making simple things complicated, cover ineptitude with jargon and expect you to do most of the donkey work yourself, yet still send out a huge bill. They almost always demand money up-front so by the time you realize their incompetence you are locked in. The average person has no means of knowing who is capable and who isn’t. Trial and error in this case is not only an expensive business but can have catastrophic consequences. Furthermore when recourse to the law is needed it is often when you are at your most vulnerable and it is all too easy to have the wool pulled over your eyes. There are no guarantees that by paying more you get a better service. Legal costs already make the law out of reach of the majority.

In addition this cartel has lead to a fear of litigation that has affected every section of society; over zealous health & safety procedures are not usually about risk management but the possibility of bankruptcy. This state of affairs is one of our least attractive American imports and has been enthusiastically waved in under the radar by the British justice system. Any measure that shakes up this self-satisfied and complacent group is to be encouraged.

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Winter is over, spring has sprung, summer is on its way………

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

It was a hard winter here in Sussex but the wild orchids, like so much else, seem to have come through. Every spring I check my known locations of early purple orchid; this year they are all present and correct and in about the same numbers. No decline; on one roadside they even seem to have increased. (more…)

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Goodbye Cuckoo, Hello Badger

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

It is April 24th and I have still not heard a cuckoo in my garden. They are elsewhere in Sussex but not here in this valley. They were calling the day my daughter was born in 1992 but now she is revising for A Levels they are gone.  (more…)

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Monday, April 20th, 2009

Something wonderful has happened on the Uckfield line!! Some amazing person or persons has planted daffodils in the cutting just before you arrive at East Croydon. As the train roars into the station you see a flash of yellow light, and then a host of golden daffodils. It is enough to restore your faith in humanity. Praise be and halleluiah to those people. (more…)

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