Monday, 28th March, 2022

[Day 742]

A nice fine day today, but I wonder how long it is going to last. Last week, it was being indicated in the longer range weather forecasts that today the high pressure system which we have been fortunate enough to experience for the last few days is going to break down under the influence of a mass of arctic air moving its way south. So it appears that we may be subject to a bout of rain and perhaps even snow slowly sinking from the north towards the end of the week. This has quite a practical implication for me as I want to get as much of the routine gardening (mainly edging, gully and border clearing) done whilst the weather is fine. Meg and I were a lttle delayed this morning but eventually we got our act into gear and got into town by car, where we picked up the newspaper. Afterwards, we pereginated to our ‘normal’ park bench where we chatted with a couple of regulars, all of us enjoying the sunshine whilst we can, but conscious of the fact that some unpleasant weather is on the way. Then we popped home and finished off the other half of the beef joint that we cooked in the slow cooker yesterday.

As the weather was set fair, I thought I would make a start on the garden tidy-up. As I was assembling my garden tools I was visited by a little furry friend (the local cat who has adopted us – Miggles) so evidently the cat had to have some of its treats. Then I had to look out for the set of handtools which I particularly use in clearing my borders and gullies. The biggest of these is evidently some edge clippers whch I try to keep sharp and in good condition – I tend to put WD-40 or its equivalent on the blades both before and after use. Then I have two or three particular tools without which I would be lost. The most important of these is a weeding tool which has a bit of a swan-neck and then a deep V-shaped notch in its working end. I also have a dandelion rooter which has a long shaft, much needed as dandelion roots can be very long and persistent. Finally, I have a really stout stainless steel trowel. I find I use these three tools constantly and I take care to look after them before I put them away for the night. I ought to mention last but not least are those kinds of gardening gloves that have a fairly ‘grippy’ coating on the front – this enables one to get hold of a weed and give it a long, slow tug in order to clear the roots from the soil. Once I started on my task, I never cease to marvel at the versatility of the human hand which I use to sieve the surface of the soil as well as removing weeds by their roots. I have deliberately set myself rather limited objectives so that I do not absolutely exhaust myself on ‘Day One‘ and I managed to achieve a clearance of one third of the long border by the side of our green communal areas at the front of the house.

Perhaps I do not need to mention that in all of my gardening activities this afternoon, my efforts were supervised at all times by Miggles the cat. After leaping about in the sunshine as though to capture imaginary beasts, the cat decided to show off by climbing as far as it could up the ‘acer campestre‘ (field maple) I planted some years back. When the cat got to the stage where each branch swayed perilously and was in danger of shedding the cat back to earth, Miggles turned around and decided it was time to beat a retreat before a bout of lying around in the sun. Then it was obvious that it needed to sit on a patch of cleared earth about 9″ in advance of where I was working. I rather think the cat thinks that some strange beastie is going to appear from the earth and weeds as the border gets cleared and is getting itself in a good position to leap on it. After an hour, I packed up my tools, had a nice cip of tea and left the cat to walk up and down the patch of fresh earth I had just cleared ( a pettern of behaviour I have witnessed before. More of these activites tomorrow, I am sure, if the weather holds up.

There are hints tonight in advance of further peace talks tomorrow in Turkey and Russia and the Ukraine are edging towards each other. Each side has conceded an ‘easy’concession – the Ukrainians are indicaing that a ‘neutral’ i.e. non-NATO Ukraine could be on the cards whilst the Russians have claims to take over the wjole of the country. The really difficult bit to negotiate is how much of the east of the country to cede in exchange for peace. As it is now, Zelenskyy has said he was seeking a ‘compromise’ with Moscow over Donbas, the region which has been partly controlled by Russian-backed separatist groups since 2014.