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May has come and gone. Jack, the brown bomber, has gone as well. A chocolate Labrador has had to be put to sleep, aged nine. The other dogs think it is strange. One day he got into the car with those who feed him but they came home alone.
We have no-one to torment us or snatch our food. He no longer lies just inside the door, beside the dog flap, ready to pounce as soon we come into sight. It’s left to one of us, Maxie, Sam or Gem, to bark at the deer which trespass on his grass.
They say that they have brought him home in that tin box. The box is much too small to contain the brown bomber we knew. Anyway he did not like to be shut up in a room, let alone in a box. It does not even smell like him.
Aren’t people strange? They took the lid off the box and scattered powdery stuff in places where they say he liked to be. In the lake we can understand. But why not on his bed next to theirs or in his little room? A dog’s not just for Christmas you know.
My weekly golf tournament started in the rain. A lot of players scratched but we didn’t want to be seen as wimps. To begin with it was only drizzle and an umbrella was unnecessary. However the rain began to find all the crevices between my neck and collar. I should have known it was bad when ducks from the pond took refuge under the trees.
I had to dry the clubs before each shot. By the time we were half way round the greens became waterlogged. The course was closed.
Then disaster – there were no scones in the clubhouse bar.
Birds rule! OK?
If you are in any doubt you should visit my garden. There they are definitely in charge. The seed feeder requires refilling twice a week, but they won’t eat the nuts. Any scraps on the lawn are scoffed in double quick time by marauding crows, rook or jackdaws, whichever get there first.
Blackbirds are more choosy, looking for juicy worms; they would be more welcomed if only they didn’t uproot all new bedding plants as fast as we put them in. The local sparrow hawk will soon make them scatter or swoop and leave just feathers behind.
The oldest lady at our writing group wrote a story about her grandson’s new dog. It put its paws on her shoulders and licked her face. While she read it, I wrote 25 words about a Lucky Dog which I then read out.
She was so pleased that last week she made me ‘sit’ while she gave me a present of dog biscuits. Today I gave her my story with a photo of a dog.
“I want to be a lucky dog
If I was a lucky dog
I would get the chance
To lick Kathy all over her face.”
I was born in a house made of stone, with a roof of Collyweston slate. The house had no name although it was eventually given the number 100 on the High Street in a village in Rutland. Rutland was the smallest of the counties in England at that time.
The village school, for children up to age 11, was just across the road. The village shop was a short distance up the road. When my brother went to war I had pennies with which to buy a gobstopper each day. He had gone to stick a bayonet up Hitler’s backside.
We get a variety of wildlife on our golf course in the North East of England. It is quite common to see rabbits, squirrels and an occasional fox. Canada geese, moorhens, coots and mallard ducks frequent the ponds. The moorhens have been very successful this year in rearing young with as many as ten chicks following one mother. Magpies and hawks are predators only too willing to take a chick. Just lately lesser spotted woodpeckers have been seen around. Today we had two deer which must have crossed a dual carriageway or a railway line to get onto the course.
In France it’s St Medard’s day. “S’il pleut le jour de Saint-Medard, Il pleut quarante jour plus tard.” “Should St Medard’s day be wet, it will rain for forty yet.” If it’s sunny and dry so will the next forty days be dry.
In England today has been sunny and very hot, so we hope St Medard works for us. However there is a similar saying here in England for St Swithin’s day, which falls in mid-July.
Now we have to wait and see if it’s dry until St Swithin’s in hope that another dry forty days start from then.
The squirrel bounded across the grass and up the fence, running along the top to the three fir trees at the end. It peeked out of the lower branches to eye the feeder and its prize, the cage of peanuts intended for the birds.
It jumped the gap to cling onto the metal crook from which the cage was suspended. The crook shook violently but the squirrel used its tail to aid its balance while it went through a gymnastics exhibition. The squirrel hung upside down or at the horizontal while it ate its fill.
Full at last it left.
The Euro 2008 football tournament has started in Austria and Switzerland. England did not qualify this time. After the first few games, all shown on terrestrial TV, it perhaps as well they didn’t. Other counties seem to be much more skilful and can pass the ball to one another. England would just give the ball away. Holland and Spain have been brilliant in their first matches. Watching Romania v France was worse than pulling teeth.
I should have visited the dentist today for a six-monthly check up. However the dentist was ill and cancelled my appointment until Wednesday next week.
The Globe Theatre, a Grade II listed building, is no longer used and is infested with rats and pigeons. The old dressing rooms located below ground are flooded. There have been proposals for the theatre to be redeveloped into a smaller theatre, shops and flats. No-one can find out what is happening. The local town council will not reveal what plans the developer has for the site.
Many world famous stars performed at the Globe from the 1940s through to the 1970s, before its eventual demise as a bingo hall. The night JFK was assassinated the Beatles topped the bill.
The Alumnus Chronicle 2008 arrived today. St Andrews University was founded in 1413 making it the oldest university in Scotland. I graduated fifty years ago. Each edition of Alumnus Chronicle contains facts about particular years during the history of the university. This year it deals with years ending in 8. Five hundred years ago Walter Chapman and Androw Myllar of Edinburgh printed the first books in Scotland.
This puts my puny efforts at writing in perspective.
What I have been doing today is much more mundane. I have started redecorating the kitchen.
It rained last night. Who was St Medard?
Why do computers let you down at critical times? I am currently doing a comprehensive writing course. My normal email address gives me trouble when I attach rft. files. When the tutor responds the files are returned in a format I cannot open although he says he has attached rft. files also. However if I use yahoo mail he sends the same files without any problems.
Today yahoo is playing a different game; I attach a file but only half of it is received by the tutor. Is there a name for gremlins such as these? My comments are unprintable.
It’s competition Saturday with a par tournament at the golf club, about which the least said the better. This afternoon it was the Stella Artois lawn tennis semi-finals which were won by Nadal and Djokovic with ease. It’s the third round of the US Open Golf tonight with Tiger Woods handily placed despite his recent knee trouble.
Tonight there is a double rollover in the UK National Lottery. We have two lines and are in a syndicate that has twelve. It doesn’t change the odds of 14 million to 1 of getting six numbers to win the £12million jackpot tonight.
Just over a week ago I use lawn sand to kill off moss in my back lawn. To be effective it needs to be watered in if there is no rain for 48 hours. There have been intermittent showers since the 8th, so the St Medard prophesy of fine weather was wrong. Today came the hard bit of raking out the blackened moss. This took over two hours with the dead moss filling a refuse bag. You are not meant to use it or the first grass cuttings for mulch. so it did not make it to my compost bin.
I sat in the garden this afternoon watching the sprinkler going round and round. A buzzing sound caught my attention; it sounded like a bee. Finally I located the bee on the small pink lavender bush set this year in a terracotta pot on the patio. Some of the lavender’s forty flower heads are fully open revealing the petals, on others only tips of the unopened petals may be seen. The bee visited each in turn, its golden thorax contrasting with the pink flowers. On each back leg it had an orange pod, full of the nectar it had collected.
What a golf tournament! No, not Tiger Woods again but our weekly qualifier. My partner and I had the game of our lives, but we needed to add our scores together if we were to win. In mitigation all that we may claim is that we are both considerable older than Rocco Mediate. I hadn’t even started playing golf when I was his age. I may only dream of playing Tiger and having seen him play in the Ryder Cup I can only take consolation in Europe beating the USA. I would dearly like to be at Valhalla this year.
It was interesting hearing readings of Joyce Grenfell’s monologues at a talk about her life. An English entertainer, Joyce had an American mother and was niece of Nancy Langhorne who became Lady Astor, the first woman member of parliament. Apart from her monologues, Joyce was well known as the gawky games mistress in the original St Trinians films. Early in her marriage, Joyce lived on the Astor’s Cliveden estate later infamously associated with the Profumo affair. One of Joyce’s friends was Diana Mitford, later the wife of fascist Oswald Moseley. For many years Joyce appeared on TV’s ‘Face the Music.’
It was windy overnight with some heavy rain. This morning we found that the best display of lupins we have had for years had suffered badly; most were laying flat and only one could be stood upright supported by a stake. The rest were snapped off and had to be removed. These included flowers that had not opened. Only one flower head had gone to seed. Perhaps we will be able to use the seeds to ensure that we get more next year. We must stake them earlier next time.
We also have a wild rabbit eating some other plants.
I use a UK based website that permits you, for an annual charge, to submit stories and articles on the site. Anything you post stays on the site for ten days, during which time other members may review your work. They may award you up to five stars and comment on what you have submitted.
You become a ‘spotlighted’ writer if you are awarded forty stars for a piece of writing. This is not easy to achieve. It is rare to get more that three reviews inside the ten days, so it looks as though I must try harder still.
The longest day and it has rained continually since noon. At this rate it will be dark enough by seven for us to need the lights on to see what we are doing.
I have been condemned to the internet to check out the website of the The Times newspaper. They have made available, free for now, access to their newspapers printed for 200 years until 1985. More recent papers are to be added. A journalist tested it out researching all the reports connected with the American Civil War battle at Gettysburg. How much quicker if e-mail had existed then.
Today the town of Yarm celebrated its days as a thriving port on the River Tees with the first gala of its kind since the 1920s. Events on the river and in the High Street featured street entertainers, a Victorian funfair, bellboat competitions for children and adults, rowing and canoeing, a tug-of-war and the Lions Charities Fair. A bell boat is a double hull canoe. On the Live Music Stage local bands performed between noon and 7 pm. Bands included a psychedelic folk group, pop, indie and jazz groups.
Winds of 50 -60 miles per hour kept the attendance down.
Wimbledon started today and as usual my wife will watch all the matches she can on TV. That’s not so bad; I can pick and choose whether to watch or not. She records the results of every match on a chart from The Times; this is annoying as using the text takes off the match being played. I dare not comment too strongly after all it is the Euro 2008 football semi-finals later this week. I want to be in charge of the remote by then.
My six-month dental check up shows I need one filling, a scale and clean.
The problem with using lawn sand is, I’ve found, that after a period of alternate days with rain and sun you don’t have a lawn to cut any more – you have a hay meadow! Ninety minutes to trim the edges and a further forty-five for mowing takes a sizeable chunk out of your afternoon. Oh the joys of having retired! I am just tired instead.
It really was a joy to be serenaded throughout my hay making by a song thrush perched on a neighbour’s tree. Not even the raucous cries of the magpies robbing nests disturbed its melodious song.
I now see the North Island of New Zealand in a different light. At the weekly library meeting we were told of experiences from a rally of vintage cars and motor cycles in 2000. The talk was illustrated with photos of a few of the vehicles at the base on the Agricultural Show Ground and at venues visited each day. We learnt about the kiwi, the New Zealand national bird, which may only be seen at night. It is virtually extinct thanks to many years of attack from rats, cats bought in to control the rats, and eventually from dogs.
We were on our way to visit a security company to take part in a management review of their quality management system. We did not reach our destination. Our trip ground to a halt on the A19 south of Middlesbrough. When I rang up to say we were stuck I was told that there had been a crash blocking both carriageways of the A66. We were stationary way short of the exit to take us west on the A66. We gave up, turned east instead and returned home. The meeting is to be rearranged.
Oh well! Condemned to decorating again!
An uneventful day. Just a morning stroll to collect a newspaper, with a few stops to ‘talk’ to dogs and to give them two of Kathy’s treats.
Even though I am well past retirement age I am a relatively computer novice. However the writing website to which I belong provides a facility for you to set up a blog. I was surprised how easy it was to set up; all I have to do now is to think of what to put on it.
That’s two new projects this month, first attempting 100 words a day and now a blog.
Saturday again. That means golf and a gentle meander through the newspaper – news, reviews, colour supplement, completing a Samurai Su Doku and a start on the Jumbo crossword. All the household jobs of gardening and internal decoration are put on hold for two days at the most.
At Wimbledon it’s Murray and Nadal and a host of others less memorable between noon and nine pm. No wonder the TV warms the room. Murray gets to the second week which is the furthest he has been; Nadal is aiming to win this year and not play second fiddle to Federer again.
This is a leisurely day with just a visit to a Homebase store to buy some white paint for when decoration resumes tomorrow. Otherwise time was spent on a writing exercise – one of my articles is on its last day for review. It has thirty-two stars, so it looks like falling short of reaching a spotlighted status. Nevertheless the reviewers liked it and have given some constructive comments and even have made suggestions for where it might be published. One magazine I had identified as well and I have a sample copy to study. I now have to submit it.
The last day of the month and much to my surprise I have managed 100 words each day. If nothing else it has cured any tendency to a writer’s block.
Looking back on the month I see how mundane the life of someone past three score years and ten must seem; no earth shattering events to report. Oh well, next month perhaps.
There was a local government consultation meeting today about the sustainability of the village in which I live. Only one village in the borough is classed as sustainable; we’re in the second tier ranked ‘Fairly,’ whatever that means.
The Tip Jar