1 All chickens had come home to roost, good girls (and boy)
2 Stevo came over to help and a prodigious amount of work has been done – in the past week, the wall at the end of the drive has finally been mended, thanks to Dave; the new gate and its posts have been erected to the Ups and Downs, thanks to Jamie; the shrubbery has been drastically (and necessarily) cut back, thanks to Stephen; all the cut-off shrubbery has been barrowed down to the bonfire and burnt, along with the old gateposts and sundry other rubbish, thanks to Stevo and me. Oh, and the feed bin in the wrong place has been moved, also thanks to Stevo and me. I am just so damn sad that Russell never let us get on and finish a job and that most of these weren’t done a long time ago. Three sessions, that’s all it took. And the pine needles and Virginia creeper leaves have been raked up too. Oh, the flower bed by the small section of The Wall is nearly completed, thanks to Jamie and Stevo.
3 Charlotte and her cousin Ed are coming to lunch tomorrow. Ed’s wife died just before Christmas last year. He’s a year older than I, she was rather younger. There’s a lot of it about. Unfortunately, it’s just dawned on me that the All Souls’ Day service must be tomorrow afternoon – this was instituted some years ago by a former rector, to commemorate the dead, and I’ve had an invitation. I’ve played the organ at it many times and I’d intended to go, not that I want to – but I clearly can’t. I’m pushed to go to the 9.30 service, but I’ll have to, if only to apologise.
4 Food, a rather more cheery subject. Lunch yesterday was a Twiglet occasion and today it involved the last of the packet (which had done two meals) plus a couple of cold sausages. However, Al & co came over this afternoon and I ate a biscuit, followed by a mini Almond Magnum (these are choc ices, darlings, if you are not so fortunate as to live in this country), which filled something of a chink. Then I roasted a duck breast for supper which I’d previously rubbed caringly with ras el hanout and, when within a gnat’s crotchet of being cooked, I drizzled with honey – some of the last from Al’s bees, in fact. I also had roast potatoes and several other vegetables. When I put it on the plate, Benje put his head lovingly on my knee and his tongue flicked in and out – but he was a good boy and didn’t try to steal. I saved him a bit for the end.
5 Ben had a lovely day because Bex and family took him out for a long walk. He adores them all and was so happy and relaxed by the time he came home. He’s curled up on the sofa next to me now.