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A quiet day

4 MAY 2020

Some days you just know that you will not get much done, it started well and I was outside opening up the polytunnel and cold frames by about 10:30am. I then walk around checking things are ok and deciding what needs doing that day… the day is full of promise. I make a delightful discovery – tiny little bunches of grapes on the new vine, very encouraging, although I wonder if I’m supposed to remove the first seasons fruit to encourage growth and vigour as you would do with other types of fruit.


I come inside to grab breakfast and I am bombarded with various requests, look at an email, check the blog, has manure and grass seed been ordered, do we really need chalk for the mushroom beds? I decide to phone the supplier of the mushroom spawn to check about what is suitable for casing the mushroom beds (casing is the final covering to be applied to the mushroom beds). It is suggested 90% peat/peat substitute 10% chalk, or 45% loam, 45% peat/peat substitute 10% chalk. We are having difficultly sourcing chalk. I speak directly to the namesake of the nursery who is from Insch, Aberdeenshire, and she expresses reservations that I am not composting my own horse manure and that she hopes there will be no ‘wee beasties’ in my commercially supplied manure. I am now feeling quite inadequate, but she tells me I can use horticultural lime instead of chalk.

Before I can order anything or even drink my tea (forget breakfast) the district nurse arrives to check Jeans legs which are quite horrendous, and also to check something with dad. After lengthy debate, it is decided to dress jeans legs with absorbent dressings. I have to answer lots of questions about how we are coping and why we are doing some things (this nurse has not been here before) by then end of the visit I am feeling even more inadequate.

I retreat outside to my polytunnel refuge and busy myself with little jobs. I pot up some tiny tomato plants and sow some more cucumbers – these can replace the inevitable losses to come. I now suspect woodlice are responsible for attacking the stems of my cucumber plants. I then start moving tagetes plants from the tiny cells of an 84 cell tray to the larger 40 cell tray.

Aideen arrives to offload after another deeply unsatisfactory online harp lesson. This remote teaching method is trying the patience of her teacher and leaving Aideen feeling frustrated and exhausted. I try cheering her up by showing her the tiny grapes… this does seem to help. We then both become distracted by box tree moth caterpillars and start picking them out of the hedge and squashing them. Our first spraying attempt has killed some caterpillars but it obviously needs a second dose!

I then spend ages tying up sweet peas to their supports in the tunnel and dead head any fading blooms. I am briefly visited by James who says he is being harassed by another bee, probably a cousin of the one that stung him yesterday. Diane then asks me to help take Grandad for a walk in the orchard. He is determined to see the bees and the new shed – Grandad likes sheds! This is quite a long way for him to walk and not easy to push his outdoor walker through the grass. We help push the walker and dad just walks with it, we are accompanied by Pip, Grandad’s favourite of our cats. Pip has made it her special business to monitor all aspects of Grandad’s care since he fell ill in November. She checks out medicines and helps put him to bed, she has been an absolute tonic for him through this difficult period and deserves an award. Dad makes it to the bees but we don’t hang around the hives because the bees seem a bit defensive. We then head off for the new compost yard to view the new shed, flint bench and fire pit. Grandad is very approving, his favourite thing after sheds is bonfires! We then head back to the Annexe still accompanied by Pip and Bella who lead the way. The day is now fading and I finish up by potting up the last of the succulents in the old terracotta pots.

Oh well, tomorrow is a new day and hopefully (to quote Captain Tom), “It will be a good day”.

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