Monday, 10th May, 2021

[Day 420]

Today was one of those days, weather-wise, when it was very hard to predict exactly what kind of conditions one was to endure. Before our walk, I read my emails as is usual and was delighted to receive one from our university flat-mate and life-long friend who hails from Sri Lanka (Ceylon in our day). It was not particularly surprising to get such an email because our birthdays happen to be be on exactly the same day (ie. tomorrow) and therefore it is easy for us both to remember. I sent off a reply, giving our friend some more up-to-date news, informing him of Meg’s medical problems (as he may be suffering in a similar way) and pointing out to him this blog so that he could thoroughly bore himself with all our comings and goings in the last 419 days. We then got a reply in which our friend indicated that he had been bi-polar for 35 years (absolutely unknown to either of us) but it was kept under control with medication. So we finished off wishing each the best for tomorrow and I said that we give him a toast if we happened to be anyway near any alcohol tomorrow. When Meg and I set off for our walk, somewhat delayed this morning, the sky was blue and the sun was shining. By the time we got to the park, however, the black clouds had rolled over and whilst sitting and having our coffee and biscuits the heavens opened upon us and we got quite a wetting (but were not drenched to the skin as could have happened if it happened to be a cloudburst which is not unusual at this time of year). As we walked down to the park this morning, we came across our long-established Italian friend who had bought me a bottle of something (as it is a present it remains unopened until tomorrow). On our way to the newspaper shop, we were intercepted by our oldest Waitrose friends who again had bought me a bottle of something and also baked a special cake, divided into four quarters to drink with our coffee when we are on the train for our expedition tomorrow. Having picked up our papers, we decided to pop into our local Waitrose to remind them of tomorrow’s date.The store opened exactly four years ago tomorrow (which is one of the reasons why I always remember the date).On that occasion, four years ago, I wanted to be the first person through the store doors when it opened but in the event, I was beaten to it by a rather pushy young woman in her 30’s – nonetheless, I am proud to wear my status as their second oldest customer. Several of the staff I knew remembered the date but they didn’t think that the management had got anything special organised for them. As their second oldest customer, I intimated that the staff should remind the current manager of the significance of the date and reward all of the long-serving staff with a bottle of Champagne (or Prosecco) – this they promised to do but also thought I should grace them with a visit tomorrow. I will take one of our blank (useful for any occasion) cards and give the whole store (and its staff) a suitable greeting tomorrow.

By the time we got home for our lunch, it was already past 2.0 pm so we had to make ourselves a lightning lunch (which is happening quite a lot these days) We raided our emergency supplies (ie a tin of chicken) and this having been heated up in the microwave we then served it on a bed of onions, green papers and a dollop of pesto and then the whole was served on a bed of cauliflower rice. So the whole meal took about 10-15 minutes to prepare, which is just as well given the lateness the hour.

Not last summer but the summer before, I had constructed a special kind of plant-pot holder. This is designed so that we have a display of potted plants on the same level of my study window – when I look out, instead of seeing the blank wall of my neighbour, I can see a wonderful display of whichever plant I have acquired. This arrangement took quite a long time to construct and, it must be said, is strange to look at but it fulfils its purpose very well. But last summer’s plants had died off so I needed to get the plant pots off the stand, pull out and dispose of the dead plants and their roots and then preserve all of the ‘good’ soil, ready for any new plantings. I did this afternoon because it is just possible that I might acquire a colourful pot plant tomorrow so I wanted the staging to be all ready for it. As I was finishing off my preparations, there was a tap on the window and there was our domestic help who had called round with a few more goodies for us to enjoy tomorrow and in the days ahead!