Tuesday, 21st June, 2022

[Day 827]

Today started off with what is becoming a regular pattern. When I get up in the morning and before I start to shower and to breakfast, I have started a little routine whereby I use a soft brush to sweep the newly restored path by the side of the house free from holly leaves and holly seeds which fall constantly. Making this into a daily routine is a nice way to get a breath of fresh air and is not at all onerous if done on a daily basis. However, our adopted cat Miggles who evidently has the most acute of hearing will respond to the sound of a soft sweeping brush ‘shwooshing’ along our paving slabs by leaping over our six feet high garden gate knowing that a little tasty treat of a fish breakfast awaits him/her. The cat, like myself, has routines in that it as some breakfast, comes for a limited amount of fondle and then seeks out a space in the sun where a spot of sun bathing can be indulged in. The same pattern will repeat itself in the afternoon particularly if we have been out in the car. The cat will respond to the car’s arrival by coming to greet us and, when I indicate to the cat that it should stand by the (locked) back gate, it takes the cue that the gate is to be jumped over as food treats await shortly. Today being a Tuesday, it is my Pilates day so we went by car to pick up our newspaper and thence to repair to the Waitrose café to meet some of our regulars. We met with some of our pre-pandemic regulars and we got joined eventually by our University of Birmingham friend and Seasoned World Traveller. I rather indulged myself by telling some traveller’s tales centering around my month long stay in Jakarta, Indonesia when I was teaching a module on De Montfort University’s out-distanced MBA. This was an interesting arrangement as each teacher was ‘the University’ as they taught their module and I was the second person along in the queue. Once we had several conversations with different groups of friends, we bought a birthday present for our domestic help but as it was her birthday today we took a card and a bottle of wine around today to deposit on her doorstep but her ‘proper’ present will wait until tomorrow which is now her regular day.

A lot of today is devoted to some preparations for the visit of our University of Winchester friend who should be arriving, motorways permitting, at some after 12.00 tomorrow. I have some plans afoot for us to share in one of my more special risottos which I am going to make with mackerel and some of that ‘low calorie’ rice occasionally to be found in Waitrose. After that, we are booked into Harvington Hall, a local Elisabethan Manor House just down the road from us which we have visited several times before but is fascinating for some of its features, more of which tomorrow. I managed to negotiate the website and got three tickets for the last of the ‘timed’ tours of the house which starts at 2.30 tomorrow afternoon. Hence the lunchtime meal of risotto which can be prepared quickly, consumed quickly and we can be on way for our afternoon visit. On my way back from my Pilates class, I popped into Asda to get a few things that I know we need and I may well get up early in the morning to do a more regular weekly shop up before our guest arrives. After a delayed lunch an a quick doze, it was time to get some jobs done before tomorrow. The first of these was to get our gooseberries picked before they dropped off the bush. Our gooseberry bushes were quite prolfic at one time but their productivity has dropped off a bit and I suspect that the long straggly branches could do with a dramatic pruning which I shall do shortly now that the fruit has been picked. Altogether, I picked 145 gooseberries which gave me about 650 (two thirds of a kilo) of fruit. Tomorrow, I will stew some of them in a little sugar and although they may be a little tart, the taste of freshly picked gooseberrries is always superb. We will eat them with a dollop of raspberry icecream and some plain yogurt. Then there was dead shrub which needed removing and cutting up for disposal into our garden waste bin. Then I needed to tie up a large branch of one of our very old damson trees which is laden with fruit and well worth preserving but the branch still needed hoisting back into position where it does not block one of our paths. Finally, I chopped a large chunk out of my neighbours Alchemilla which had started off in our garden but an offshoot of which had been donated to my neighbour’s garden whilst its parent in our garden (donated by our University of Winchester friend on a previous visit) had died.