Last night was one of those clear, cloudless nights that presage quite an extensive air frost so it was no surprise that the ground was white over when I set off bright and early for the newspaper this morning. I enjoyed my weekly ‘bash’ of classical tracks on my trust old iPhone (which I use an an MP3 player) and then got back in plenty of time for breakfast in front of the Sophie Rayworth politics programme. Apparently Laura Kuenssbereg is going to take over as the permanent host of this show later on in the year so we can look forward to more political interviews in which the punches are regularly ‘pulled’ and there will be an absence of any really penetrating questions to the leading politicians of the day. After we had our breakfast and watched the Politics show, we got ready slowly and then took the car down to the park. On our walk we bumped into our Irish friends (as yesterday) and had a little chat before getting to our ‘normal’ bench. After we had our coffee, our University of Birmingham friend, accompanied by Seasoned World Traveller, hove into view and we caught up with events of the past week (nearly always a mixture of COVID news plus politics). Then we made our home for lunch where we had a gammon joint slowly cooking in the slow cooker. Then I prepared a parsnip-and-carrot mixture (which I mashed with a big knob of butter and a little yogurt) and this was delicious, together with some tender-stem broccoli. Sunday lunch always takes a little longer to prepare but I took our gammon joint as it had been cooked and I saved half of it to freeze for another occasion. This is part of our policy of having enough ‘red meat’ to keep us healthy but trying to limit our consumption of it overall.
This afternoon I was keen to carry on doing my little bit of gardening, even though I was not particularly inclined to brave the cool afternoon winds. Nonetheless, I think that if I get used to doing about 20-30 minutes a day and I get things nicely set up for the season, then life will be easier in the long run. Today, I am still working on getting my communal area adjacent to the roadway properly edged. This is a fairly complicated procedure and I do it about six feet at a time (the kerbing stones just happen to be 3′ long) First the excess grass gets cut off with some edging shears and then an edging tool is used running along the inner edge of the kerb stones. Then I use an old bread knife to cut off some of the adjacent roots followed by one of those tools whose name I do not know but might be described as a ‘patio scraper’ (but it is designed to be used vertically and not horizontally – is it called a ‘hawker’ or perhaps a ‘weeding knife’?) This is then followed by a final cut with the edging shears practically operated horizontally followed by a clearing up with a gloved hand. The end result looks good, though, and I have the final third to finish off tomorrow. I tend to develop these combinations of tools and technques when I engage in these types of jobs – the problem is that if I have not deployed the technique for a year or so, I tend to forget exactly what combination of techniques worked last time. Then I think the solution (much in the same way that I have discovered when I work how to do something on the computer) is to write down the tools used and techniques deployed in my ‘gardening book’ so that I am not constantly having to re-invent the wheel year by year. Whilst toddling about outside, I had a friendly chat with our next door neighbour – we tend to cut our lawns within a day or so of each other so each neighbour’s lawn acting as a reminder to the other that the weekly chore is upon us. As I was putting my garrdening tools away for the day, I was observed at a distance by Miggles the cat who waited until I had put all of my tools away and then quietly let himself into our back garden and waited patiently for some cat treats.
The news from the Ukraine is pretty horrifying now that the Russians are retreating/regrouping. Images have emerged of Ukrainian civilians lying dead on the streets of Bucha with residents saying the victims were killed by Russian soldiers without any apparent provocation. Vladimir Putin’s forces have been accused of ‘genocide’, but Russia has denied its troops killed civilians. Bucha’s mayor, Anatoliy Fedoruk, said more than 300 residents had been killed. Ukrainian prosecutors have found 410 bodies in towns near Kyiv and 140 of them had been examined, prosecutor general Iryna Venedyktova said. Evidence is emerging of mass graves with some victims having had their hands and feet bound and then shot in the back of the head. This is undoubtedly a war crime – but which individuals actually get prosecuted?