Today was a beautiful autumn day. At last we are reaching the stage in The Firs garden where we can spend as much time in sitting and enjoying the display as in ’tilling and sowing’. This was just as well today, because I had left my camera battery charger at home in Morden, so we went to Jessops to buy another. It will be useful to have one in each abode. The shop was unable to supply a specific charger for my Canon camera. They could sell me a universal charger which seems to be magic. It charges mobile phones, AA and AAA batteries, cameras; and even has a lead with an adapter for the car. Unfortunately when we got it home, not one of the three of us was able to pass the intelligence test required to make it work. After an hour or so’s trial and error, the emphasis being on error, we had to go back to the shop where the assistant acknowledged the paucity of the instructions, and showed me how to turn a couple of wheels and position the battery without closing the back of the gadget. It looked rather precarious to me, but seems to have worked.
The shape of the new bed is now established. All that remains is to compost it tomorrow. Planting continues apace. Yesterday, Jackie finished her work on the bay tree. A few months ago this large specimen was surrounded by suckers, so that it looked more like a shrub. She began by removing these, to give it more shape. This being a very stony garden, she began to place stones around the base of the plant. Finally she gave the stones a framework of hexagonally shaped tiles. Like much of what is happening here this was incremental. If I wanted to misquote Topsy of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’, I would say it ‘just growed’. Topsy explained her arrival in that phrase, not, as is generally assumed, her manner of gradually developing. This living supply of an essential cooking ingredient now has the appearance of a lurcher practicing deportment.
Danni joined us for lunch. Capitalising on the success of my coastal walk yesterday, she tried her hand at persuading me to join the crew of one of the tall ships of the Jubilee Sailing Trust. My post of 3rd. June featured Tenacious, one of their two sailing vessels providing holidays on tall ships crewed by people of all physical abilities working alongside each other as equals. Apparently they are in need of two septuagenarians, slightly younger being acceptable, wishing to join a week-long holiday group. As it is not actually my scene, I declined. But if you fit the bill and would like to join, visit www.jst.org.uk/ or telephone 023 8044 9108.
The main course of our evening meal was the same as yesterday. To follow, Jackie had made blackberry and apple pie, using blackberries from the garden. These were completely worm free. You can tell that by soaking them in water. If no grubs come up spluttering, there aren’t any in there. Elizabeth and I drank Carta Roja Reserva 2005, whilst Jackie consumed La Gioiosa Pino Grigio 2011. If anyone is wondering, there is a purpose in our having roast chicken two nights running. This is so that I will have enough left-over meat to curry, and enough bones to make stock, for tomorrow night when Danni is joining us. I will produce Jalfrezi, which Indians would serve dry, but we English like our gravy. This is perhaps why chicken tikka masala is now, in the view of many, our national dish. Personally, as you know, I love my curries, but for English food, give me steak and kidney pie any day.