We sit under an inversion layer: particulate pollution thickens the air to several thousand feet. Despite dusty sunshine and gusty winds we decide to visit a country house this afternoon: Clevedon Court.
We travel the scenic route. As I drive through Burrington Combe for the first time we both mistake it for the Cheddar Gorge. An acrimonious argument develops as we discuss who is navigating (not the driver - obviously). The Combe itself is outstandingly beautiful and must be exactly what Cheddar Gorge would look like without the commercialisation. There are some good walks in the area (Beacon Batch) so we will be back.
Eventually we get to Clevedon and our destination. The gates are firmly barred and the sign says: 'Open again in April 2011'. The driver should have checked more closely in the National Trust handbook.
As a consolation prize we progress to Portishead to play the game of 'find the beach' - it's dramatically poorly sign-posted. Can anyone have ever envisaged a beach so desolately windswept, comprised in equal measure of shingle and mud? No surprise that they don't want you to find it. Clare fronts the evidence below, looking like Trinity in The Matrix.
Most of Portishead-proper shelters from the Severn estuary behind a line of coastal hills and seems well on the way to gentrification as a posh Bristol suburb.
Reclining in a pub overlooking the water I order a hot chocolate for Clare and it comes as a big glass full of hot milk plus a cube of chocolate on a stick. In a self-service moment Clare gleefully stirs in the chocy-block until it completely dissolves: delicious!
Ed Miliband's new shadow cabinet of 28 people includes 11 women, a much higher ratio than in the past. Does this enhanced gender ratio have no implications (on the basis that men and women exhibit no gender-differentiation) or does it mean the Labour Party leadership will now demonstrate a kinder, more consensual, less aggressive politics (on the basis that these no-doubt-desirable attributes are differentially brought to the table by women)?
I try but it's sometimes hard to keep up.