Wednesday, 15th September, 2021

[Day 548]

Today has been an interesting day in all kinds of ways – but first things first. We knew that it was to be a little cloudy this morning but the weather forecast indicated that we might have quite a bright and sunny afternoon which was just as well given what I had in prospect for later on today. Meg and I walked down into the park and I left Meg, as now is customary, on our favourite bench with a copy of yesterday’s Times. I knew that I had several errands to perform on the road and the first of these was to replenish our cash supplies with an all too rare visit to an ATM. This having been done, I then popped along to pick up our copy of today’s newspaper and then doubled back to visit our local Waitrose. Here I bought a bottle of Prosecco and also a nice bowl of something akin to succulents which I thought might make a particularly good wedding anniversary plant as our friend had just been discharged from hospital and might need to take it easy for a few days. I thought this little pot would grace a window sill or a place in the greenhouse but would not have to be replanted if bending was out of the question. Whilst in Waitrose, I was greeted by one of our favourite store staff who was not on duty when it was the day of our own wedding anniversary last Thursday. To cut a long story short, we were the grateful recipients of a whole bunch of red roses (in addition to the flowers we were already given last week) and a wonderful box of chocolates as well. As you can imagine, none of this was expected but when I met up with Meg in the park I was burdened with plant, wine, chocolates and newspapers. Meg was chatting with an old lady we know well and who often comes into the park – her husband, whilst alive, was a local authority gardener and the family donated a bench in his honour (upon which we used to sit upon occasions). So Meg and set off for our journey home but we decided to unburden ourselves en route. I popped round to the back garden of our friend’s house (as they were not in) and left the present of the wine and the plant outside their back door. Then I knocked on the door of our other Irish friends a couple of doors up and presented the lady of the house with the bunch of red roses saying they were from a ‘secret admirer’ (which fooled no-one) We still have a card to hand deliver tomorrow but at least the heavy lifting has already been done.

This afternoon, after lunch, I had set myself the task which i perform annually of picking the damsons from the incredibly old hedge which forms the rear boundary to our garden. Having done this over the years, I have got everything off to a fine art and go equipped with some plastic buckets which I reserve just for picked fruit, a long handled rake to pull down some of the upper branches and a couple of old milk crates which I use in the garden as an instant platform if I need a bit more height. I count the damsons making sure that I transfer a penny from my left hand pocket into my right hand pocket so I do not lose track of the 100’s. This year the crop appeared a little disappointing – the damsons were of a good size and inhabited some lower branches for me but the crop seemed a lot thinner than usual. I would regard 300 as a complete minimum and had only picked 115 (about a couple of lbs). But last year, my neighbour had availed herselves of damsons on the field side of the hedge so I decided that I would do the same but would have to negotiate a barbed wire fence at the bottomn of a slope at the end of the garden. Having got my milk crates in place, I tried to negotiate the barbed wire fence only to take a wobble and a tumble – I finished up like a turtle with my feet enmeshed in the fence but I took great care to fall in such a way tht I didn’t leave any dangly bits on the fence. Once over, I managed to collected 550 damsons in total, well supervised by our friendly neighbouhood cat, Miggles, who always wants to acxcompany me whenever I am doing jobs in the garden. I calculate that I will need six litres of alcohol this year (three of gin, three of vodka) and 3kg of sugar so I will get the fruit prepped tomorrow, However, my shoulder aches from much stretching, as does my left knee (old war-wound), the place on my leg where I entangled with the barbed wire, a few scratches and assorted nettle stings. I am going to traeat myself to an early night complete with electric blanket this evening to recover somewhat.