Monday, 27th March, 2023

[Day 1106]

So Monday morning dawned nice and bright after what would have been quite a frosty night, I imagine, as the skies were so clear. After Meg and I got ourselves showered and breakfasted at a fairly leisurely pace, it was time to venture forth. We had to get our logistics right this morning for reasons that I shall explain. After we had picked up the newspaper, we went straight to the park where we enjoyed a pleasant little sit in the sunshine. Some of the flowering trees in the park are already in full bloom whereas others will achieve that happy state in only a day or so now. We have a flowering cherry in our back garden which we planted about 12 years ago now and which has matured nicely. When viewed from our bedroom window it looks so magnificent that I made a mental note to myself to go and get a photo of it on my iphone in the next day or so whilst it is at its best. In the park, we exchanged greetings with Intrepid Octogenerian Hiker who was now nearly completing his (simulated) walk across the Rockies and we also had a quick chat with some old Irish friends of ours. We also bumped into the couple we know who live in the Lickeys but they/we did not stop for a chat as we were already deep in conversation with our Irish friends. Then we set forth to buy some coffee of which commodity we are nearly out and finally called in at the garage to get 5 litres of the highest quality petrol for the lawnmower. I finished up buying ‘E5’ which 5% ethanol rather than the cheaper ‘E10’ which is 10% ethanol. As I suspected, and a quick search on the web confirmed, it is always a good idea to get fuel with the lowest possible ethanol rating and the highest possible octane rating for the lawnmower. Ethanol can attract water vapour making the engine difficult to start or to run erratically. I bought my fuel as the last call in the morning because I thought that there was a fair possibility that I might give the lawns their first cut of the season this afternoon and I wanted to get the fuel home as soon as I could so that I did not want to smell the car out. As soon as we got home, I started preparing the midday meal and I started off by making an onion gravy (as per usual) But when I went to the slow cooker with the joint of beef inside, I had set the timer but in my haste this morning neglected to actually start it. Hence when it came to dishing up the meat, I found myself staring at an uncooked joint. Fortunately, I had something in the freezer which is helpful in the case of emergencies like this. A few weeks ago, I had bought from my local Aldi supermarket some cooked sliced chicken and so I liberated some ‘fingers’ of these to add to my onion gravy and this saved the day.

This afternoon, the weather was set fair and it seemed a glorious spring day so it was a great opportunity to give the lawn its first cut of the season. At the start of the season, the mower needs to have its quotient of oil of which I nearly had enough but I can top it up if ncessary in a week or so. I ensured that the air filter had been soaked in oil as per the insruction manual then fueled it up with the good petrol bought this morning. Then there is always the moment of trepidation whether or not the mower will start after a four month sabbatical. To my delight, it started on the first pull of the starter cord and then proceeded to run sweetly for the rest of the afternoon. I set the mower on its highest setting and then reduced it by one notch for the second cut (which I perform at right angles to the first one) and both the front and back lawns were done in the normal time. I do give myself a little break in between the mowing of the communal area front lawn and our own individual back lawn but I know that once you start the mowing pocess, the act of cutting releases a hormone in the grass shoots which encourages them to grow again. So once the cutting season starts, it will be a weekly job between now and the first week of November when the season finishes.

The political news has been dominated by the news that the vacant leadership of the SNP has been won by Humza Yousaf who was the ‘continuity’ candidate but is the first ethnic Asian (and Muslim) candidate to occupy that role. I suppose that the rest of Europe may be a little surprised that we have a Hindu PM of Indian extraction resident in Downing Street whereas in Scotland we have a Muslim First Minister of Pakistani heritage. As Yousaf gained about 53% of the vote and some of these were second preference votes, then he may have quite a hard job in front of him to unify the SNP after a fairly rancorous election campaign.