Friday, 16th July, 2021

[Day 487]

Another day dawns but the news from the continent appears to be terrible with, as I blog, over 120 dead and 1,300 people missing across Germany and Belgium. The fine weather which we are having is due to a high pressure system over the British Isles – but this so called ‘blocking high’ makes low pressure systems bounce of it and hence there has been a huge low pressure system locked over Germany and Belgium which has resulted in huge floods. Although the local population are used to flooding periodically, the suddenness and ferocity of the rainstorms has taken everybody by surprise. Although one should not jump automatically to conclusions, this extreme weather pattern allied with what is happening in Canada, the USA, Japan does lead one to conclude that climate change is ultimately responsible. Whilst the loss of life is terrible beyond all measure, this might be a ‘wake up’ call for Europe as a whole so suddenly we may see massive political pressure for changes at a societal level.

We were a bit slow getting going this morning, for reasons a bit difficult to explain. If Meg and I wake up between 5.30 and 6.00 we pop downstairs and make a cup of tea and in no time at all, we have slept for another two hours and suddenly we are running late. We walked down into the park this morning but one could sense the weather was getting hot, hot, hot and we were actually quite pleased to seek out the shade of the trees in the park. We did have a brief conversation with one of our park ‘regulars’ and she chatted with Meg whilst I went off to collect our newspapers – but she was keen, understandably to seek out the shade again once I had returned form the newsagents. So Meg and I were quite keen to get back home reasonably quickly as I was going to have a telephone consultation with one of the practice nurses at 2.00pm and we needed to lunch before hand. She actually phoned up at 1.45 when I had just dished up our meal but fortunately was not on the phone for too long.

This afternoon was scheduled to be lawn-cutting day and everything ran to plan, although I was a little late starting. When this had been completed, I carried on with my mini-construction work in Mog’s Den. Today, all I had time to do was to peg a board into position to help to mitigate the effects of the sloping ground. Then I enriched the very poor soils with some spare compost I had in a bag – at least I think it was compost! Into this I sowed my mint seed and I have to say that mint seed is about the finest seed must be the finest and smallest seed it is possible to imagine. One sprinkled it into the ground rather than sowing it as otherwise it would disappear beyond trace. Tomorrow, I have in mind the last major bit of ‘heavy’ work in Mog’s Den but not incredibly heavy in the scale of things. I am going to scrape off about 2″ of soil from the last remaining ‘bare’ area. Then I have two half -size paving slabs to put in place – they are probably only about 45cm square so they should cause no particular problem. I have a little bit of builders sand left over which will help to ‘seat’ them nicely. I have decided to leave them 1-2 cm proud of the surrounding area on his occasion but I have some blue slate chippings to surround them and when all is done, the completed surface should be completely level.

The COVID-19 news this evening seems terrible to me. Yesterday, there were 51,870 new cases and 49 more deaths and all of this only three days before the so-called ‘Liberation Day’ on Monday next. The Chief Medical Officer is now saying that we are in for a ‘scary’ time. The ‘R’ number is between 1.2 and 1.3 and the latest wave is showing about a third increase over the week. Something like 57% of the population admit to feeling anxious about the end to the lockdown next Monday and 64% of the population are going to carry on wearing face masks even from Monday onwards. Travel to and from France its looking increasingly problematic – not exactly France being moved from amber to red but nonetheless people returning from France must now quarantine themselves. This may well effect tends of thousands of people and the government has done little to prepare the population for this. Of course, there is a massive trade-off going on here but put at its crudest, it is non-lockdown for some businesses (like pubs) but at the expense of an increasingly large number of infections some of them leading to death (or an unspecified number of long COVID cases) As the great social theorist R H Tawney remarked several decades ago ‘Freedom for the shark equals death for the minnow‘ and whilst not being exactly zoologically correct, the sentiment surely applies to what we see unfolding before us at the moment.