Thursday, 15th September, 2022

[Day 913]

It was rather an overcast day but rain did not threaten so we were happy to make our daily trip to the park. Being a Thursday, I got to my favourite supermarket at about 1 minute past 8 in the morning and as usual I could do a quick whizz around unimpeded by other shoppers. Practically everything on my mental list was actually in stock, which removes frustration. There was an article in today’s Times which shows that Aldi have now overtaken Morrisons to move into the 4th position of supermarkets by market share. It is being said that some middle class shoppers can now find Waitrose quality at much reduced prices, but Aldi also has a secret weapon. This is the famed ‘middle aisle’ which is devoted to hardware, kitchen and clothing bargains. When I have done my regular food shopping, I treat myself to a trip up and down the middle aisle to see if I am tempted by anything. This is not just theoretical as about a month I bought a couple of ceramic saucepans which are a delight to cook with and are so easy to clean. I suspect that many of the items are ‘end of range’ items from reputable manufacturers but if an item sells out, that is it – it certainly cannot be relied upon to find it the following week.

In the park today, we met with a ‘doggy’ couple we have had conversations with before and to whom I told my Queen and corgi anecdote when we saw them last Friday. We also coincided with Inveterate Octogenerian Hiker whose daughter-in-law has presented him with an app on his phone which ‘pretends’ that he is actually walking a favourite route else in the world. When he has completed the required number of kilometres he is entitled to be rewarded with a commemmorative medal.Today, he was near the start of a new walk and was located on the Florida keys (an archipelago of small sandy islands on a coral reef). So we left him as he was starting on the next leg of his journey and will evidently see him again in a few days time to check his progress.

After lunch this afternoon, I set myself the task of getting the bulk of my damson gin/vodka bottled. This is not just a job of filling smaller bottles from larger ones but decanting the fluid part of the Kilner jars and straining the contents through some fine muslin dish cloths. As I suspected, my limiting factor was the number of small i.e. 200cl bottles and last night I was engaged in the time consuming task of soaking and scratching off some labels from old bottles. By the end of this afternoon, though, I had bottled two thirds of last year’s crop which was a bumper one. I have filled 42 bottles so far but unfortunately I forgot to label which was gin and which was vodka. However, I am pretty sure that I put the gin versions into the largest Kilner jars and the vodka in the intermediate size. I had to do a quick tasting to ascertain which was which but I do not imagine there is a world of diference between the two. I have to ensure that I have enough Ryman sticky labels of the design I like and have used over the years. I seem to have supplies enough for about two thirds of this years vintage but I have managed to order some extra labels which should be delivered to the Ryman store in a couple of days. After the bottling has been done, there is quite a mountain of Kilner jars to be washed up and eventually sterilised but I have made a good start on this and will certainly now have jars on hand to accommodate this year’s harvest once it is picked.

The news media is still dominated by the news of the Royal funeral and today is the opportunity for members of the general public to bid their last farewells. I have found it quite interesting to listen to the personal testimonies of those intending to join the 4-mile queue. Two recurrent accounts are typically found. The first is members of the armed services who feel almost duty bound to bid farewell to the monarch in whose name they have fought and may have been injured. A second category are people who have met the Queen in the past and have such long lasting memories that they almost feel obligated to pay their respects. There is a live camera feed of Westminster Hall on the Parliament Channel and people often do not know how to react until the moment at which they are in front of the catafalque. Many bow their heads, some make the sign of the cross, ex-military personnel tend to give a salute and others just have a few seconds of almost personal communication with their ex-monarch. Many are saying that they would not have missed the experience for the world, even though they have to queue for hours beforehand.