Some time ago, my friend Harri sent me a photograph of an owlet in her garden. Yesterday, Chris sent me two shots of a sparrow hawk seen in his. I seem to be collecting donated photographs of birds of prey, better than any I could have taken myself.
Jackie’s sister Helen has a collection of models of owls which has developed in a similar manner. I do hope reading this doesn’t prompt her to send a photograph of one, otherwise I will have to put it in a post. This reminds me of Mary, an old friend who had a vast number of frogs made of all kinds of material. Her apparent love of these amphibians was apocryphal. It had begun with one gift. Someone else had seen that and donated another. The present-giving snowballed, and the creatures took over her flat.
Fortunately my brother’s missive arrived before I was rash enough to telephone BT to sort out an e-mail access problem. I am so frustrated by the lack of service that I cannot be bothered to give you the usual detailed saga. Suffice it to say that two advisers, and virtually a whole morning later the reception is no better, and that it was only the second one who thought to tell me that the problem was widespread and maintenance was being carried out.
Later Jackie, Elizabeth, and I began another blitz on the kitchen garden. Although there was a sharing of tasks when necessary, I was assigned to digging up concrete and stone, whilst the ladies cleared weeds and shrubbery. I was required to extract two rather more mature shrubs.
One piece of natural stone I could not lift was ideal, Jackie thought, for the path-edging she has been working on. This meant it had to be moved. We upended a wheelbarrow, prised the rock into it, transported it to the relevant site, tipped it out, and wobbled it into place.
It has gradually become apparent that, in many places, the removal of one layer of material from the site is not enough. Beneath a thin layer of soil more concrete will be found. A little Time Team type excavation is necessary in the search for such blocks. As I was unable to access the service of one of the family Jack Russells, Scooby or the late Oddie, Elizabeth stepped into the role, knelt down and scraped away at one particularly stubborn slab that turned out to be one of the biggest, turned on its side. Even after she had exposed it, I could not shift it with fork and spade. She therefore drove me off to Milford Supplies where we bought a grubber axe which eventually did the trick.
As often between stints in the garden, Jackie cooked our dinner. Tonight’s was a piquant pork paprika, served with savoury rice. Needless to say, it was delicious. Tiramisu was a suitable dessert. Elizabeth and I drank Blason de Bourgogne 2012, and Jackie continued with the white Cuvee St Jaine.