Thursday, 25th March, 2021

[Day 374]

Today’s date was one of those that sticks in one’s memory if only because it is my son’s birthday today. I remember the original day of his birth quite clearly as they happened to be short-staffed in St. Mary’s Maternity Hospital in Manchester when he was born and as they were short staffed that night I helped to deliver him. Today, though, was just a normal working day for him and so he opened his various cards and then set himself down at his computer to start his normal day’s work. We were a little delayed in our daily walk routine this morning as it is the day of our Waitrose delivery – this arrived within seconds of the end of our allocated time-slot (from 9-10) and then, of course, we have to put everything away (and wonder if we have missed out on any essentials). We knew that today having picked up our newspapers (well, The Guardian hadn’t been delivered to the newspaper so we had to pop into Waitrose for our copy) we needed to make a lightning visit to the High Street. In common with much of the population, an increasing number of everyday transactions are now done electronically but we still need a supply of cash to pay some of the people who do jobs for us. Accordingly we have to visit an ATM to replenish our cash reserves but this only happens about once a month or even less. I imagine a lot of the population are finding themselves in the same situation.

In the park, we were delighted to bump into various groups friends – church friends, park friends, friends of friends so we stood around for quite a long time chatting. One of the topics of conversation was the idea that not everybody has had an absolutely miserable lockdown. Whilst we all empathised with the plight of those who had been stuck in a flat (particularly a high rise one), most of the park felt we had a pretty good ‘lockdown’ so far. For a start, the fact that we all had a daily walk to the park was one thing and the good company we enjoyed was another. I recall an article I had read in The Times (I think) that ‘whisper it softly’ some people are not at all displeased to be released from the treadmill of work as we used to experience it – now individuals have a judicious mix of work, exercise, voluntary work, some time helping family members and so on and they are not at all sure having experienced these new ways of filling one’s life-space, they are not at all sure that they want to go back to the way things were before the lockdown(s).

This afternoon was designated as the lawn cutting afternoon and I was pleased that the clouds had held off and the weather was fine for mowing.For the very first mow of the season, the mover has to be filled with oil (and petrol naturally), the oil filter cleaner has to be conditioned with engine oil and the height needs adjusting to the highest possible cut (to cope with the clumps of grass that has grown since last November) I was delighted that the mower actually started on only the second pull of the starting handle which bodes well for the season. Normally when I mow, I overlap the preceding row by about 1/3rd to 1/4th of the width but today, the grass was so thick that I overlapped the preceding row by about 3/4 of the width making the task so much longer. The cutting process seemed particularly arduous with the mower constantly threatening to ‘baulk’ (choke on the volume of grass) and then stop so I had to do a first cut using very small increments of grass. The first cut was both time consuming and energy-sapping so I treated myself to a cup of tea and some chocolate biscuits before I ventured to cut the grass transversely rather than longtitudinally for its second cut. I thought I would examine the mower height again and found to my chagrin that the difficulties I had experienced in the last hour was because I had mistakenly set the mower on its lowest rather than its highest setting (normally, after the first cut I put it into the middle position of five where it stays for the rest of the season) With the height properly adjusted, I did the second cut in no time at all and then whizzed round our back lawn as well.

Before we set off for our walk this morning, I had received a very welcome telephone call from our close friends in Oxfordshire. Like us, they have been keeping an eye on both the calendar and also the weather forecast, so on the basis of this (and following the easing of some restrictions on meeting next Monday) we have a lunch date scheduled for next Tuesday. Naturally we are very much looking forward to this (and it is the first long run for our new car picked up last November as well).