It was good to wake up to a fairly bright day and the prospect of a nice spring day. Meg and I had already determined beforehand that we were going to make our journey by car this morning and, so after breakfasting, we set forth. I had a particular reason for wanting to take the car this morning. Over the weekend, we noticed in Waitrose that they had some arrangements of ‘sweet peas’ with a little bamboo framework to support the young plants. We have a particular raised bed on our patio which is tailor-made for the growing of sweet peas and we already have our support framework in place against a fairly sheltered wall but in full sight of the kitchen window. I had determined to buy a couple of these plants and to get them planted as soon as possible because we did not wish to ‘miss the boat’ as we have occasionally done in years gone by. But by the time we got there this morning, all but one of the plants had been sold but at least we secured one. We contacted the member of staff whose duty it is to look after the plants and flower sales in Waitrose and discovered that although the Bromsgrove store might not receive any more supplies, the Droitwich store probably had some still in stock. So we resolved to make a flying visit to Droitwich in the morning but we will have to be fairly expeditious as Tuesday is my Pilates day.
We had an earlyish (for us) lunch and then there a ‘little’ gardening job scheduled for the afternoon. This little job seemed to be a bit more complex than originally envisaged as we wish to neaten up where the lawn abuts our paved patio. This job, as it had not been done for some time, involved several ‘passes’ with a variety of implements. First we had to cut off the grossly overhanging grass and then used a veriety of edging tools and our new patio knife to achieve the kind of effect we wanted. The first time in a season is always a little on the time-consuming and demanding side. but subsequent neatening efforts – every few months- should prove to be a lot less problematic now. So although I wanted to only spend about a half hour on the job, I fear it was a little longer and I feel as though I may ache a little afterwards.
The Ukrainian situation is full of foreboding today. Russia is probably looking to ‘double or perhaps treble’ the amount of troops they have in the Donbas area in the next phase of its war in Ukraine, a western official has said. It is evident that Russian troops from around Kyif have been withdrawn and are now being regrouped and reinforcing the trpps amassing in the east of the country. The Russians seem to be augmenting their troops perhaps with some ‘veteran’ troops from past conflicts, removing troops from the Syrian theatre of war and even utilising mercenary forces. In the meanhile, a new general has been appointed who the press have dubbed ‘the Butcher of Syria’, Alexander Dvorknikov. According to John Simpson, the BBC World Affairs correspondent, Dvorknikov has great form when it comes to the planning and execution of war crimes. It is said, for example, that in Syria he would shell a city until the emergency ambulance and fire fighting personnel had been deployed and then he would shell it again to maximise the impact upon the civilian population. Everyone in the west is expecting the next few weeks to get incredibly nasty. One particular date that figures large in the Russian military mind is May 9th, known as Victory Day. This is a holiday that commemorates the surrender of The Greater German Reich in 1945. It was first inaugurated in the 15 republics of the Soviet Union, following the signing of the German Instrument of Surrender late in the evening on 8 May 1945 (after midnight, thus on 9 May Moscow Time). It is believed that Putin wants to be in a position to announce a great military victory on that date – therefore, the Russians may make the most almighty onslaught on the Donbas (eastern) regions of the Ukraine which border Russia and have been the site of ongoing insurrections and conflicts between local insurrectionist and Russian-speaking militia and the Ukraines since the invasion of Crimea in 2014. There is some other Ukrainian news to give one pause for thought. Apparently, some of the nuclear materials have been ‘liberated’ from the wrecked nuclear reactor in Chernobyl. The Russian soldies have contaminated themselves by churning up the ground with their military vehicles and the nuclear materials that they have stolen may well kill them within the year (unless they handled with a great deal of care and specialist knowledge which seems unlikely). The Ukrainians themselves are reporting that the ignorance of the typical Russian militiamen has to be seen to be believed.