Saturday, April 17, 2010

The forecast?

It seems some time since I last had time to post a blog but a lot seems to have happened in that time.

The party leaders have held their first much heralded TV debate and the pundits seem undecided as to whether much has come from it - Clegg (with nothing to lose and everything to gain) appears to have sparked some voter interest but only time will tell as to whether this will translate into votes on 6 May; Brown seemed robotic and fairly underwhelming; and Cameron appears to have done himself no harm but has probably not made the progress that he would have hoped for going into the programme. We missed watching it live as we were out but it seems to have been too much stage managed, pre-prepared and stilted - a bit like the first leg in a football match - and hopefully it will all get more feisty and off-the-cuff as they move into the second and third debates and as the finishing line draws closer. Will be interesting to see if viewer figures (around 9.9 milion) can be maintained - if not for Sky next Thursday then for the BBC debate on 29 April - as I suspect that the buzz around the first one may weaken by the third? It will be interesting to see and no-one can predict or forecast the outcome at this stage.

Work has been busy with lots of activity surrounding the emerging Destination Management Organisation for tourism delivery across the county - this is virtually ready to launch and the real work will now start to get the initial board in place; to get the staffing structure established; and to get pledges for membership turned into reality. Interesting times, positive times.

On Wednesday I took a rare day off and we went over to the West Midlands Safari Park near Kidderminster. We had a great day and the particular highlight was the drive through the safari enclosures - lots of animals, lots of healthy/active animals, and the ability to actually feed some of the animals. Both Annabelle and Louisa were enthralled to see such a wonderful variety of animals in such pleasant surroundings - despite the crowds and the convoy of cars, it was very impressive - most particularly the white lions and giraffes - especially as we virtually drove through the legs of a huge bull giraffe!

We missed the leaders debate on Thursday evening as we were invited to join the Ridge party at the Oxfordshire Community Foundation Gala Film Premiere for "Beyond the Pole" directed by David Williams and starring Stephen Mangan (Green Wing), Helen Baxendale (Cold Feet and Friends), Rhys Thomas (Fast Show) and Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood). It was an excellent film that I would recommend - funny, moving, sad and thought-provoking in a "climate change/global warming sort of way.

Roger File (our Property guru) and I lunched yesterday with our friends from Cornbury and Great Tew - both these near neighbouring estates share many of the same issues that we face here at Blenheim and it is valuable to chat through such issues and to better understand the threats and opportunities that we all face moving forward.

On the football front - the anxieties caused by following "your team" were never more highlighted than by the Spurs performances in the last week or so. Beaten badly by "relegated" Portsmouth at Wembley in the F A Cup Semi-Final last Sunday and then a storming victory over North London rivals Arsenal 3 days later! The high's and low's - next up Chelsea at home and Manchester United away - it doesn't get any easier on the nerves!

The warmer weather, the blue sky and the sunshine (despite the threat of volcanic ash invasion!) lifts our spirits and visitor numbers have been good through the school holiday week - hopefully we will have a strong weekend and that the tone will now be set for a positive few weeks into the summer.

Have a good weekend - enjoy the weather - a good forecast for once!

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