SURPRISINGLY few people know that, when Parliament is sitting, all MPs, whatever their party, are obliged to be in London from Monday to Thursday to be available for votes.

Permission to miss votes is always extremely hard to come by – but particularly so in recent times.

That is why, when Parliament is in recess, it is a welcome opportunity to take on more midweek engagements in Salisbury and be available at different times. However, recess doesn’t mean that ministerial work stops.

This week, I spent Monday and Tuesday in The Treasury working with colleagues and officials as well as taking meetings with stakeholders from The City of London and financial services. The rest of the week, I am spending in Salisbury.

On Wednesday, I was delighted to be invited to speak to Alderbury Wives and to join Plantlife, the locally headquartered botanical charity, to do some sowing on the Winterbourne Downs.

Over the course of three days, I am also meeting a youth group leader, catching up with Highways England to discuss transport and infrastructure, spending time at Turning Point day centre, talking River Avon flooding and holding around a dozen meetings with local individuals who have asked to see me about everything from the arts to taxation to veterans affairs.

The great joy of a constituency day is never knowing precisely what topics are going to come up or who you are going to meet.

Speaking of which, en route to Salisbury Soroptomists’ charter celebration last weekend, it was a pleasant surprise to encounter Dot and her friends in extremely high spirits on their way back from a shopping trip and looking forward to their forthcoming holiday in Ibiza.

I promised them a mention… duly delivered! I wish you all a fabulous time and I hope the Balearics know what they are letting themselves in for!