Peter Rhodes on an all-white swannery, the art of holiday packing and one idea to beat the moped gangs

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Beer, Devon.

Stop on sight

WE set out for a walk from Corfe Castle on a pavement signposted “Chapmans Pool three and three-quarter miles.” After 100 yards we came to another sign: “Chapmans Pool four miles.” Moral: quit while you’re ahead.

AND on from Corfe Castle in Dorset to Beer in Devon, stopping for a few hours at the world-famous Abbotsbury Swannery where, for £12.50 a go, you can look at as many swans as you want. Have you noticed how many attractions no longer offer discounts for pensioners? They obviously know that, these days, the old ‘uns are the only ones with any money.

AT a time when Oxford and Cambridge universities are castigated for their embarrassingly low numbers of black students, we tend to assume that any national facility should attract equal interest from all. Yet among the hundreds of visitors at Abbotsbury on the day we called, I was surprised to see not a single black or Asian face. Any explanations welcome.

WE were on holiday this month last year when Theresa May’s snap General Election was held. My abiding memory is a pundit on Radio 4 loftily informing us on the eve of the poll that all discussion was pointless because “by this time tomorrow we’ll have a Tory government with a 100-seat majority.” Pundit usually means expert, authority or learned person, but sometimes it means a clot.

AT Beer, we’re in the same cottage we rented last year. This time, my laptop instantly connected to Google. I am impressed that a computer can remember the Wi-Fi password from a single electronic handshake 12 months back while we humans, equipped with the finest brain that 4,000 million years of evolution can produce, can’t remember where we put the car keys five minutes ago. My laptop knows we are here. I dare say it knows where the keys are, too.

BEER used to be home to hundreds of big, bold herring gulls screeching from every roof. Today, there are far fewer. I’m sure there is some clever official explanation for this nationwide decline but I’m sure they were doing just fine until the authorities put up notices saying: “Do not feed the gulls.”

FAR away in the wicked world beyond cream teas and pedalos, last year saw no fewer than 22,000 moped-gang attacks in London alone and the cops seem unable to deal with the threat. The sanest idea I have heard so far (apart from my brilliant drone/Taser zap-the-blighters combo idea) is simply for police to regard any moped carrying a pillion passenger as suspicious and immediately stop and search. Those not in possession of hammers, zombie knives or acid have nothing to fear.

I WROTE some days ago about the importance of a strict routine when packing. Which explains why I took my fishing rod from the hut a week ago and stood it prominently by the coal bunker at Chateau Rhodes so that it could not possibly be overlooked when we packed the car. Alas, it is still there.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world


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