Tuesday, 20th July, 2021

[Day 491]

The heatwave continues – can one have too much of a good thing? In about 2-3 days time, the heatwave may break down in a series of thunderstorms and I think we can’t wait until this happens. We got some of our daily jobs done and then decided to take the car into town and treat ourselves to a coffee and a pastry in Waitrose. I have been looking at the display of flowers and plants stocked outside the store and eventually, I was tempted by a fuchsia which advertised itself as a hardy variety and goes by the magnificent name of Alice Hoffman. Looking at prices on the web, I think that the Waitrose price of £6.50 is quite reasonable so I have given this pride of place immediately outside our back door. We do have a large earthenware pot outside but the sunflower we had planted in there failed miserably and so I was delighted to give it a good home. I made sure that it had a good soil preparation of ‘Blood, Fish and Bone‘ (my fertiliser of choice, being completely organic) Now that Mog’s Den is all ‘gardened up’, I am now at the stage where I can do little things to tidy up the overall. Today, I found an innovative way to hang a series of miniature garden tools which I use constantly down in the den. These miniature tools were sold in the hardware section of Aldi sone years ago and I find them to be excellent. They are designed to be children’s versions of adult tools so they are generally about one third size of these and I would estimate one tenth of the weight their adult-counterpart. Why I like them so much is that as lightweight and miniature tools, they can be operated one-handed. Anyway, I have a small triangular spade, rake, lawn rake, brush and shovel and I have got them either hanging off garden fence and cunningly hidden in my little ‘wood store’ of staves and useful timber so that it is almost impossible to discern they they are there- this makes them accessible and also concealed so that the whole site appears to be much less cluttered. After we returned home after our Waitrose repast, it was already quite late so we did not allow ourselves a walk in the park so we came straight home. As it was so very hot inside the house, our appetites were well and truly depressed and we made do with a hearty bowl of soup followed by a choc-ice (Waitrose produce them in packs of eight and they are excellent)

After the completion of the external work on Mog’s Den, I now have another great project in life which might take months to achieve. That is, I want to do a radical de-cluttering and throwing away of the surplus ‘stuff’ accumulated over the years. When I recall the last four houses in which I have lived (including this one) then the following pattern emerges – 14 years, 10 years, 11 years, 13 years. You can see that there is an evident pattern here in that I have moved house on average once every 12 years and, of course, when you move, you throw away an awful lot of stuff you have accumulated over the years and never actually used. When we moved from Bromsgrove to Hampshire, I think we filled three skip fulls and I can honestly say that I have never missed anything that got thrown away. The obvious place to start is on my collection of academic books and doing a quick count of one shelf followed by a multiply, I suspect that I have over 500 books accumulated over the course of a teaching career. I did make some enquiries as to whether I could find a ‘good home’ for some of these rather than consigning them to landfill and I did find one organisation that would have taken them all – but only after I had catalogued them and given full bibliographical details on each one. As this would take at least 40 hours of continuous work, I think you can see why I never got round to it. Apart from books, though, I am trying to reduce clutter wherever I find it (which is all over) but I probably need to spend at least one hour a day for months to get to where I want to be.

In the late afternoon, I engaged in a little horticultural experiment. I have discovered in my collection of vegetable seeds some dwarf beans and some sugar snap peas. These are beyond the stated date on the back of the manufacturer’s packet so I have filled a couple of yogurt pots with five seeds in each. With a bit of TLC and some regular watering and observation, I may strike lucky. Certainly, the beet seeds I sowed about eight days ago are now showing through, so I am just waiting for them to grow large enough to thin out to about one per inch.