Zam Baring admits he was lucky. The son of the late Lord Ashburton of The Grange and his siblings already owned the 30 acres of downland just outside Winchester that would become Burge’s Field Vineyard in 2011. The flinty south-facing slopes have proved ideal for achieving the perfect balance of acidity and sugar in the Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier grapes they wanted to grow.
But turning that land into a profitable business in a hugely competitive industry has required hands-on hard graft, including many sleepless nights. “Faced with frost at a critical point in the growing season, you realise what commitment to your crop is all about,” he says with a smile.
Winchester bowler and batsman Brad Taylor from Hampshire County Cricket Club admits he’s been unlucky. This summer is a welcome return to the pitch for Brad, whose injury-riddled career has seen him miss far more of the action of the past few years than he’d have liked.
“The pandemic combined with a series of injuries has made me miss out on far too much county cricket,” he says. “It’s made me even more determined to get playing this summer.”
The Royal Hampshire County Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit has just a handful of coronavirus patients. The majority of the 42 beds brought in to cope with the predicted demand lie empty. The working day, it appears, has begun a slow return to ‘normal’ – whatever that is now.
“We’re waiting to see what will happen next,” says consultant anaesthetist, Dr Geoff Watson. “There is concern that we’ll suddenly have a new influx of coronavirus patients. We’ve seen fewer than usual seriously ill patients with other conditions over the lockdown partly because of the lack of exposure and a more sedentary lifestyle. Those cases will inevitably go back to the numbers we usually deal with and there are signs of this already happening.”
It’s volunteer honorary chaplain Danny Paine-Winnett’s first day at The Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester. He’s been in the building for fewer than two hours and is leading a minute’s silence to remember NHS workers who have lost their lives to Covid – in the pouring rain. “God certainly tests us sometimes,” he says with a smile, looking at the weather.
Last month I paid for a private Corona Virus antibody test, which is now available from Winchester GP.
Before you say it’s not right, it’s something only the privileged can access and all tests should be sent to the NHS, let me give you a scenario.
Local newsman Alastair Stewart admits for the first time in a very long time, he has some time on his hands.
The former television anchor-man retired from ITV News in January this year, following a ‘misjudgment’ on social media. Until his retirement, he was the longest-serving male newsreader on British television, having worked in both local and national news for over 40 years.