Sunday, 30th July, 2023

[Day 1231]

Today was always going to be a slightly different routine. We got up reasonably early and then made sure that we were all ready for the political comment programs starting at 8.30. In the event, though, I tended to doze through both of them so there was evidently not at all that much to sustain our interest. We knew that our normal newsagent was going to be shut this morning as the proprietor was off to a large Asian wedding so we needed to call in at Waitrose to pick up our copy of the Sunday Times together with some extra supplies. This we did and then we set off to rendez-vous with our University of Birmingham friend and another park friend. We received a text that the other park friend could not make our meeting as things had popped up at the last moment so the three of us spent a happy hour chatting before it was time for us to go home for lunch. Once home, I set about cooking the Sunday lunch which was a piece of beef cooking in the slow cooker. Once cooked, we divided it into three parts and one part will be our meals for today and tomoorow – the other two parts, once cooled, will be put in our freezer and used up in the weeks to come.

This afternoon after we had our post-prandial cup of tea, I resolved to put the ‘beeswax’ experience to the test. I had got the three necessary ingredients in place, namely the beeswax itself, some grade ‘0000’ steel wool with which to apply it and some unbleached cotton cloths for the eventual buffing. I followd the instructions I had seeen on a video explicitly, of which one of the most important is to leave the beeswax for a period of some 20-30 minutes after application and before buffing. When I eventually got round to the buffing process, I was delighted with the results. The piano stool handles looked worn and somewhat dull and tired before the treatment and I had followed the advice to only treat a small piece of the piece of furniture at at a time. Afterwards, the handles were restored to a beautiful lustrous appearance which allowed the natural beauty of the original wood, probably mahogany, to shine through. In particular, there was not that ‘deep glossed’ look that furniture polish manufacturers used to deploy (‘a shine too deep to measure’ as the person doing the cleaning measured it with a tape measure!) Rather, the whole appearance of the piece I think was massively enhanced and gave it a rather subtle and ‘well cared for’ look. If the author of the website that I had originally consulted is to be believed, then this treatment may well last for up to five years which almost sounds too good to be true.

I am making some slow progress on my attempts to learn small, easy classical pieces on our newly acquired organ. So far, I can play the relevant parts of ‘Wachet Auf‘ (‘Sleepers Awake‘ so good for an early morning practice), followed by the ‘Barcarolle‘ from Offenbach’s ‘Tales of Hoffman’ and finally the opening sections of ‘Ode to Joy‘ Incidentally, this last piece is a bit of a cheat,really, as all of the notes are next to each other and no sharps or flats are involved so all one has to learn is the starting note and off we go. To these three, I will add the ‘Largo’ from Dvorak’s ‘New World Symphony’ and then I will be in a position to put on a mini-concert lasting the whole of five minutes. I find, as I suspected, that I have not really got the spare time to practice for sustained periods but I tend to do things in little bursts of a few minutes at at a time. I find the time that it takes a kettle to boil is good for a ‘quick burst’ as it were and I actually find it extremely therapeutic and relaxing to have my little tinkles in this way. In the fullness of time, I should really learn how to deploy the left hand for the supportive chords as well as using all of the fingers of the right hand. It is helpful, though, to know when you have got the melody right before I start to incorporate these refinements.

Meg and I were starting to worry a little, but not unduly, that we had not seen Miggles, the incredibly look looking cat who has adopted us, for a period of about three days now. We wondered if the real owners had gone on holiday and had him put in a cattery for the duration of their vacation. But today when we returned from the park by car, the cat recognised us and immediately bound towards us expecting (and not without good reason) that some tasty morsels were in prospect. The cat really did seem exceptionally pleased to see us and broke into quite an audibly loud purr so evidently, there was nothing for us to be concerned about. I wonder to myself sometimes whether this cat might do the rounds and be fed by several neighbours in the locality. This happened in Leicestershire where we used to live and a Siamese cat by the name of ‘Bimbo’ used to work her down the row of houses being fed in each one (and still keeping as thin as a racing snake)