Saturday, 3rd July, 2012

[Day 474]

Today is the day which most of the English population have been waiting for – that is, the quarter-final match between England and Ukraine (the slayers of Sweden when the decisive goal was scored in the first minute of injury time added onto the second period of extra time) This morning, Meg and I walked down into town and I left Meg sitting on our normal park bench. Fortunately, though, I had the foresight to take with us our old bit of tea towel plus one or two sheets of ‘big’ kitchen paper to mop up the inevitable damp park bench.Incidentally, there are two park benches almost next to each and a third which we often used to sit on as it was shaded under a large tree (horse chestnut I think). However, this third bench is by now almost completely unusable because several of the local birds have taken to roosting in it and to relieving themselves liberally on the park bench below. I wonder if the park workers have noticed this and are prepared to take any remedial action- I will mention it to them if I happen to see them. For lunch, I made a kipper fillet risotto (made with cauliflower rice to radically reduce the carbohydrate load) and I finish this off with a bit of grated cheese and yogurt which makes it additionally tasty.

I knew that I wanted to go into town scouring the local supermarkets in search of forest bark and a few other gardening consumables. My first port of call was Aldi where I was delighted to see that the simulated oak planters that they. used to sell are still in stock. These particular planters are made of recycled plastic and from a distance, they look incredibly realistic complete with a ‘faux’ simulated copper band around the top. To be honest, these look quite sophisticated as I am getting a bit fed up with the large 42″ black planters which are starting to look a little ‘naff’ by now. The only downside is there is no evident weak point in the base through which one can drill a drainage hole. This is absolutely essential as otherwise, in an outdoors location, they would gradually get filled with soggy water and one’s plants would perish. The little label inside says ‘inside or outside use’ so I can see why are intact at the moment but some careful drilling is absolutely called for.However, no forest bark was in evidence and so I took myself off to a local ‘Home and Garden‘ cheapish store across the road to see if they had any forest bark. As it happened they had not but I did buy some ‘Growmore‘ (which I badly needed) ‘Blood,Fish and Bone’ (which I also badly needed), some concentrated seaweed liquid fertiliser, some weed control fabric pegs and a 6-litre watering can, all for less than a tenner. Finally, I shot off to my local Asda where I purchased three bags of multi-purpose compost again for a tenner (but no forest bark) So then I struck off for home feeling moderately pleased with my afternoon’s set of purchases.

As is normal on a Saturday evening, we attended church for the Saturday evening service. However, I suspect that everybody’s minds was on the football match which was due to start in Rome at 8.00pm. I have promised myself a beer if England are leading at half time – which they are. However, having scored only 3½ minutes into the game, England have had a fairly pedestrian ‘keep ball’ first half and I fear that a certain degree of complacency might creep in as the Ukraine look dangerous once they have players in the penalty area. I think I will wait are two goals ahead before I relax sufficiently to open the beer!

There is some interesting COVID news tonight. It looks as though half of the countries in Europe are planning to vaccinate school children over the age of 12 – and a further six are planning to vaccinate children with underlying health conditions. Meanwhile we know that schools are a repository of the virus and whilst not suffering COVID themselves, they can certainly transmit it to their elders and grandparents. Evidently, there is a groundswell of opinion against the vaccination of UK school children but I am not sure whether the resistance is coming from the scientific community, the government – or a combination of the two.

Earlier on, I said the Ukraine players looked utterly dejected – as anyone would, with two goals scored within about 4 minutes early on the second half and at that point, England were three goals ahead (and I opened my beer) A fourth goal was added later on the half and after that, England just coasted to victory. There is a semi-final next Wednesday against Denmark (the winners of another of the quarter finals) – if we get past Denmark (which must be a 50:50) then we would meet either Italy or Spain in the final next Sunday.