Sunday, 18th July, 2021

[Day 489]

The hot weather continues today and we knew from the start that we were going to be in for a scorcher – or as the famous comedian Harry Enfield used to say when presenting a weather forecast from a generally hot country, it was a case of ‘Scorchio’ all over the place. I walked down to our newsagents early on as I normally do on a Sunday but sometimes the newsagent is shut for 5-10 minutes and so it was this morning, Whilst waiting outside, I noticed that the newsagents had to post various messages warning schoolboys from the local school against the pilfering that had evidently taken place when a crowd of them had entered the shop. This sort of adolescent behaviour is not unknown in sweet shops particularly of the smaller variety with Asian proprietors (who are seen as fair game?) I suspect that what happens is a group of schoolboys enter the shop and whilst one is making a legitimate purchase and the shopowners attention is diverted then other members of the crowd help themselves. So now once the headmaster of the school and the police had been informed, it was just a case of reminding any would be miscreants that their faces might be recorded on CCTV. I spent a few minutes with the Asian proprietor, commiserating with him over his troubles and hoped that he had nipped the problems in the bud. Then it was a walk home and a viewing of the Andrew Marr show (who should have had Sajiv Javid as a guest but we had a substitute as the Health Minister himself is having to self isolate for at least 10 days) After this, we were prepared to walk down to the park, which we did complete with suitable head gear as the temperature must have been approaching the 30° mark by now. In the park, we were delighted to meet with our University of Birmingham friend and another mutual regular and we spent some time chewing over the immediate political situation and how the pandemic response was likely to develop. Then we were joined by another of our regular park-walking couples and we exchanged views over the best ( and the worst) of low alcohol and other forms of beer about which we are rather fantasising in the heat. Then it was homeward bound and a case of rescuing the Sunday roast from the slow cooker and preparing the meal for our Sunday lunch -although the hot weather certainly plays its part in depressing your appetite.

After lunch, it was a question of getting some plants in position in Mog’s Den now that the construction work has been done. The first thing I wanted to plant was my ‘pussy willow’ but in its preferred location I had to abandon my plans as the roots from a neighbouring silver birch (which we planted about a decade ago) ran transversely across my preferred spot. So I put in a Hydrangea which I bought from Asda a few days ago but I intend to give this one some special treatments (which I happen to have in stock) to turn it bright blue – as they often are at the seaside. One of the special treatments is to add ‘Sulphate of Iron’ (of which I just happen to have a supply in stock) but I also think that Epsom salts and a few rusty nails might be called for, I had better consult the web to see if I can find a few gardener’s tricks to help me in this venture. Then I went ahead and planted my pussy willow in one of the tubs I had bought earlier (and ensured that it had drain holes) and I am hopeful that if all goes well, I should have a showy display of catkins at the end of next winter and in the early spring. Finally, I split the Penstemmon that I have in another part of the garden and I trust that this will grow and multiply and provide a perennial splash of colour. So basically, I had got the planting done that I needed to do and all that remained was to give several good waterings (which I did immediately, of course) and several other times in the course of a very hot evening.

In the early evening, the rooms inside the house were so unbreakably hot (timber framed houses like ours are famed for preserving heat) that the whole family retreated to the outside to savour some of the cooler air of the evening. We regaled ourselves with some stories from the joint family holidays we have held together in various regions of Spain – for one reason or another, these have not always worked out well. For example, we spent one family holiday in Barcelona but our son had an incredibly bad episode with his back and spent most the holiday on the bedroom floor. Our daughter-in-law helped me to identify one of the plants which is growing particularly well in Mog’s Den but which we can’t identify. The phone app identified it as ‘Chinese privet’ but we think it may well be a Forsythia. A close examination of the leaves (and its probable parent) tomorrow might help to identify it.