Saturday, 25th April, 2020

[Day 40]

This morning on the way to the park, we called in at the house of our dear friend who is on an ‘end-of-life’ pathway as we were informed by his grand-daughters yesterday. We were fortunate enough to see his son who is staying with him at all times and we managed to give our friend a (farewell?) wave through the window. We will call around every few days whilst he can still recognise us. We felt a mixture of emotions, evidently feeling sad at the thought that we would soon be without him but also comforted by that fact that he was receiving excellent medical care, was dying with his friends around him and was spared what is happening to perhaps hundreds of people who are dying daily of the COVID-19 virus with no family members present and the prospect of no funeral to speak of. The tragic thing here is the last that some relatives see of the patient admitted to hospital under the COVID-19 regime is that all they can do is to wave at the rear doors of a departing ambulance.

Now for some cheerful news. We met our good friend, Julie, in the park and exchanged notes about mutual friends. Then an elderly lady who we know by sight stopped by and she told us it was going to be her birthday on Tuesday so we have to see if we can get a little cake organised. As we were leaving our customary park bench, she said to us that she was so glad we occupied that particular bench as she had donated it to the local authority after her husband had died – it happened to be located in such a place that she could actually see the bench from her house near the park and she was always delighted that other people could sit down and admire the park that her husband helped to look after for the last fifteen years of his life. On our way out of the park, we encountered the same gentleman that we had met yesterday and he informed us that he had personally organised one of the flower beds in the park to be a permanent reminder of the holocaust – accordingly, he had supervised this whilst he was the leader of District Council. Finally, we met an old Italian friend who was working at home on her incredibly well-tended garden and remembering the fact that her husband had died at this time of year about three years ago. As you might imagine, it was full of emotions of one sort or another – we never know what we are to encounter when we start our journey to the park.

In the afternoon, I devoted about an hour to the (part) clearance of a gully where the land slopes away from the grassed communal area to the boundary fence. This is itself on two levels – a top level which is easy to get at and to keep cultivated and a wilder lower area, the boundary between the two being a fallen tree that forms a sort of natural division between the two areas. I have a sneaking suspicion I forget to ‘do’ the lower area last year – this involves throwing away a lot of brambles and associated debris but replanting the occasional tree sapling I come across (these may be beech or hazelnut (Avellana) – I need a ‘proper’ gardener to give me a definitive answer) This ‘heavy’ bit of gardening only needs doing once a season and, after that, a quick rake should keep it in good condition before I move onto the next job.