Let’s face it, 2020 has been a tough gig for everyone but I think I spot a dim light at the end of the tunnel. So time for a little festive cheer from Norwich, a fine city, as they say.
Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. We usually fit in a jolly to the big city just before Christmas to see family. But not this year. Instead we’ll be hunkering down and staying put. My old girl will be one of the first in line for the vaccine as it’s rolled out, so we’ll see her after she’s had the jab. She understands. It’s the safest thing to do.
Liam and I enjoy a tipple or three and we’re all for supporting local businesses. So to celebrate the end of the latest lockdown, we’ve combined both passions with a few bottles of Chet Valley wine from our local vineyard, supplied by our local farm shop, Cannell’s. Cheers!
After the original post went out, we won a bottle of wine at our local church December fair. More from Chet Valley Vineyard. This time pink, dry and fizzy!
The twin villages of Loddon and Chedgrave have ancient roots. Both are listed in the Domesday Book of 1086, that great asset register commissioned by that great asset stripper, William the Conqueror. Bill the Bastard wanted to know how much tax he could squeeze out of his newly acquired kingdom.
The earliest written mention of Loddon (Lodne or ‘muddy river’ in old Celtic) was before the Norman conquest, in the will of Ælfric Modercope written around 1042. Ælfric was a wealthy Anglo-Danish theyn (high-ranking retainer), a favourite of Emma of Normandy, consort to Cnut the Great, king of England, Denmark and Norway (and quite a few Swedes too). That would also be the legendary King Canute who tried to order back the tide. Sadly, that’s just a tall tale. Yes, I have spelt ‘Cnut’ correctly.
It’s not known just how intimate Alfie was with the serial Queen (she was the widow of Cnut’s predecessor) but he was one of the richest theyns in all East Anglia and by far the biggest landowner in old Lodne. Not that I’m one to gossip. A thousand years later, Alfie lives on with his rather butch bronze effigy standing on top of the village sign on Farthing Green.
Chedgrave’s sign features three different spellings of the village name – Chedgrave, as now, Scatagrava, the old Danish name and Chattegrava, the Latinised version used in Domesday.
The name is thought to derive from some Anglian bloke called ‘Cheatta’ plus either ‘Grove’ or ‘Pit’ (depending on the original pronunciation). I prefer ‘Cheatta’s Pit’. Sounds a bit more dark ages and vaguely pagan. I have fanciful notions of Cheatta and his kin dancing naked round a fire pit to celebrate the summer solstice. And the fact we live on Pits Lane next to a recreational space called ‘the Pits’ adds a little spice to the fantasy.
By chance and completely at random, we were invited to participate in a national COVID-19 research study being run jointly by the Office for National Statistics and Oxford University. The aim is to track a large cohort of people from different ages, backgrounds and regions for a year to follow the progress of the virus. The results will influence public health policy going forward.
We agreed to take part and this involves regular self-testing – once a week for the first five weeks followed by monthly tests thereafter. The tests themselves are unpleasant – a swab wiggled around the back of the throat that makes you gag and then jammed up a nostril that tickles painfully and makes you sneeze. I squeeze my thumb hard to create a sensory diversion. It works – kind of. The news about vaccines is looking increasingly positive but we’re not out of the woods yet and so we’re pleased to be lab rats for the common good. And we get shopping vouchers for our trouble too. ‘Every little helps’ as they say at Tesco’s.
So far all our tests have been negative.