For a change, and having forgotten that the copy date is looming, I wrote this article at 8.30 in the evening having just enjoyed a meal cooked by Management and a glass or two of wine.

This reminded me of the effect that alcohol is having on the young and not so young, who seem completely unable to enjoy an evening without ending up in hospital at enormous expense to the NHS. Quite rightly our lords and masters are terribly concerned about this and believe the only answer is to have a minimum price per unit of alcohol.

This is fine if it were not for the fact that they are penalising those who drink responsibly. Further, I am not sure that members of parliament and the House of Lords are setting a good example. Not only do they eat and drink too much, but their noses in the trough are subsidised by the taxpayer to the tune of £7 million each year.

In addition, we hear that often some MPs are so drunk in debates that they have no idea what they are voting for anyway. There are several restaurants and bars in the House of Commons and research reveals that in the members dining room you can enjoy a chargrilled, rib eye steak with hand cut chips and bearnaise sauce for £7.80 and wash it down with a malt whisky or liqueur for £2.55.

If you are still hungry you can go to another restaurant and enjoy half a spring chicken with stuffing for £2.95 and wash that down with a 2010 Merlot for £2.35. For every £10 that an MP spends the taxpayer is contributing a further £7.60! No wonder they have all night sittings – not many of them can stand up!

The other hot topic right now is the vote for Scottish independence. I have recently spoken to my sister and brother in-law who live in Aberdeen and they say that any Scot with half a brain will vote against it. This has been confirmed by a physiotherapist I met recently at a lunch party down here, who also confirmed that were she able to vote, she would also be against devolution. It’s interesting to see that Labour’s Alistair Darling, who I admire a little, is leading the no vote in debate with Alex Salmond, but it is also worth noting that were Scotland to devolve, the Labour Party would lose a lot of Scottish MPs in Westminster and lessen their chances of forming the next government. What a pity!

Farming can be a lonely profession and it is always a pleasure to observe how many folk attend on market days at Ashford, just to enjoy a cup of tea and a chat, or a roast dinner – even if they have no stock to sell. It’s always a good place to pick up a story or two and hear the latest gossip and for me to find out what is going on in the area.

I recently sat at breakfast time with an 84 year old sheep farmer who related the tale of a rather good looking young lady farmer who was showing her mother’s sheep in the sale ring. The old farmer observed a young buck, who was obviously keen on the girl, sidle up to her mother. At this point he shouted out: “Quite right laddie –always stroke the mare if you want to catch the foal.”

The same day I was sitting with a rather younger farmer, and we both observed a quite striking lady walking by the café. “Woody” he said, “you’d be like a sheep dog chasing a motorbike – if you caught it you wouldn’t know what to do with it.”

The farming fraternity need to stick together – so if you’ve nothing better to do, pop into Ashford Market on any Tuesday. I will know if you are a newcomer, and I can certainly do with a few more stories!