Tuesday, 20th June, 2023

[Day 1191]

Tuesdays are a day to which we look forward because it is the day when we tend to coincide with our friends in Waitrose But when we got up, there was a fine and gentle rain which I am sure will do the gardens an immense amount of good. According to the weather forecast, there is a band of rain sweeping up the country so we expect that by this afternoon, the weather might be quite fine but, we suspect, humid. Meg and I got to Waitrose but were somewhat disappointed because none of our usual coterie of three friends were there and we speculate that the poor weather was deterring some of them from venturing out. Nonetheless, Meg and I returned home and enjoyed a little of the midday Politics program with the aftermath of the Committee of Privileges vote. We suspect that the Tories were trying to avoid a vote but it looks as though the Labour Chief Whip shouted ‘No’ when the proposition was put to the vote which was sufficient to trigger a division. In the event, despite much huffing and puffing, only seven Tory MPs voted to reject the report. It looks as thougb 250+ Tory MPs took the easy way out by abstaining but Theresa May (ex Prime Minister) and I think about eight members of the present Cabinet voted that the report be accepted i.e. Boris Johnson is officially branded as a liar. Incidentally, the word ‘lie’ and ‘liar’ are judged to be unparliamentary language and may not normally be used but Mr Speaker had ruled that in the context of this particular debate and the conclusions of the Committee, a dispensation was awarded so that these words could be used – which they were, liberally, on the Labour side. Rishi Sunak has come in for a great deal of criticism by abstaining whereas, as the current prime Minister, he should really be reaffirming our democratic standards of accountability by endorsing or at least voting in favour of the report. So I set off for my Pilates class but just before I went, I took a quick snapshot of my new keyboard and its two ‘side-by-side’ seats so that I could show it to one of my fellow Pilates class members who had kindly dropped the recently acquired bench at my house last week, saving me the problem of lugging it home a mile in last week’s heat. After Pilates, I popped into our local Asda because there are a couple of items I wished to purchase. The first of these was some beet juice which few supermarkets seem to stock but Asda have traditionally had a good supply until today. I looked in vain through umpteen varieties of not particularly ‘good for you’ fruit juices and it looks as though my local store have now decided not to stock beet juice (which, of course, has various health giving properties as opposed to the rest of the more junky stuff). Nor could I find some grapefruit juice which I recently saw in Waitrose but they, too, had none in stock. So I scored a blank on both items and trudged home to cook our Tuesday dinner of fishcakes.

This afternoon, if the weather was fine, I thought I would go out and pick our crop of gooseberries. I bought a stock of (if I remember) Japanese gooseberries which always mature in mid-June. The goosberries looked nice and plump, particularly after the recent rain but I was anxious to get them picked before we had a spell of stormy and windy weather which causes all of the crop to fall off the bushes. Whenever, I collect fruit like this I inveditably count the number successfully picked and once I had negotiated the long spines on the goosberry branches, altogether I picked 577 goosberries. This, when I got them inside the house, weighed in 2.5 kg (about 5.5.lbs) so I reckon we had a good crop this year. Of course they all need ‘topping and tailing’ before they can be cooked but I prepared about 10% of cour crop which I then stewed in a modicum of boiling water and just a little brown sugar. This only took about fine minutes or so to stew and was served with some vanilla icecream for our evening meal. The flavour was just as I had anticipated which was very delicate but with just a hint of sharpness (acidity?) on the palette.

The first Test match between England and Australia is taking place just down the road in Edgebaston and Australia wre set quite a challenging target for a 4th innings score. But when I heard that the Australians had got to within 37 of the required total and with two wickets to spare, I suspected that they would actually win the match, which of course they did. Their captain who is noted for his fast bowling batted fairly low down the order but once he was in, it would have taken some incredibly sharp play to remove him. At one stage, the English captain (Ben Stokes) caught a difficult ball but then the ball popped out of his hands when he hit the ground. But we always knew that this match was going to be decided by the finest of margins between these two teams and so it proved.