Monday, 26th July, 2021

[Day 497]

Today was the day when our gardener was going to call on us at 9.00am and, between us, we were going to repair the archway trellis, replete with a heavy honeysuckle, that had become both overgrown and also unstable as each of the supports had rotted at the point where it made contact with the soil. This proved to be a much more demanding – and heavy – job that either of us had anticipated. The first thing that had to be done was to give the honeysuckle a radical pruning and this took about an hour and was the easy part. Then we decided to dig (or rather dig out) four new fence post holes. Rather than using a thin narrow spade which is typically used in operations of this type, we used a specialised tool which I already happened to possess. This was an augur which is like a giant corkscrew and operates in a very similar fashion. If you are working on virgin, un-stony ground then this tool will work exceptionally well. Its diameter is just slightly larger than that of he average fence post and, I general, you get a lovely clean hole in which the new post is located and which requires the minimum of specialised fencing post concrete (‘postcrete’). But this is the point where we ran into problems. Evidently the original fence erectors had used concrete and about 5-6″ down we met this layer of concrete. In order to circumvent this we needed to deploy a large, heavy metal 2-metre tall implement (it might be called a wrecking bar but I cannot be sure.) This tool has a wedge shape on end and a point on the other and it requires a certain degree of concentrated thumping with this to make an impression on the concrete. We eventually broke through with a combination of thumping and hammering with a sledge hammer and of course we needed to do this four times over. You would have thought that all we had to do was to pop the structure into its seated holes but nothing in life is this straightforward. We soon discovered that the old and thick honeysuckle branches acted in much the same ways as metal ties on a bridge – at one point we had the ‘support’ hanging in the air over the support holes with the thick branches holding everything up. So we then had to identify which branch was providing the most impediment and started on a policy of snipping these right around the structure. Eventually, we got the structure more-or-less in place and more-or-less stable before we started to make the structure a bit more stable by the simple expedient of getting some old Victorian style building bricks, bashing them into several large pieces and then using the irregular pieces as wedges around each post. Then we started to pour the fence post concrete around each post and finished off by tamping down with some of the decorative stone which was already in place. So what with the screwing, the thumping and the heaving around, I had an intensely physical morning which I did not particularly want. Still, we got the job done and as it been postponed on at least 2-3 previous occasions we were mightily pleased to get it done at last. We just want the concrete to stabilise and harden now – the gardener filled his wheelbarrow with water and sloshed around the while structure just before the tidying up part.

This afternoon, I was scheduled to go off to Worcester Royal Infirmary to have a COVID-19 test of the PCR type (before my investigations on Friday) I got there in plenty of time and was actually half an hour early but there were only about a couple of cars in front of me so it did not seem to trouble the staff. The entire swabbing procedure takes place inside your own car and went more or less to plan. I must admit then when the nurse was taking the throat swab I gagged several times as it touched the vagus nerve (which makes to retch if you touch it) but one way or another she got her sample. Then it was a swab up each nostril and although this was unpleasant, it was not massively so and therefore I could be on my way home very quickly – I actually got home before the swab procedure was theoretically to have taken place.

I spent the afternoon by a certain degree of quite pleasant ‘pottering’ in the garden. I managed to rescue and support a bit of a red campion that I had in an obscure corner of the garden. But the principal thing that I did was to resurrect one of those plastic contraptions designed to grow a multiplicity of herbs and actually planted acorns in it (14 in total) I think these might be my own acorns and I do not recall having gathered them but they have been in a clear glass jar in the garage waiting for a suitable moment at which to be planted, We shall see!