The nation’s collective temperature is rising as high as the mercury on the thermometer outside the potting shed door. World Cup fever has gripped the country as ‘The waistcoat man’s’ team of warriors edge tantalising close to the main prize. Apparently 20 million viewers tuned in to watch yesterday’s quarter final match against Sweden; those sorts of numbers are a throw back to the heady days of Christmas specials by the likes of Morecambe & Wise, Mike Yarwood and Only fools and horses. If you’re not sick of the sound of the strains of ‘It’s coming home’ now, you soon will be. If England makes it to the final next Sunday the audience for the men’s Wimbledon final could take a bit of a backhand smash. In my opinion the England team has got this far without playing particularly well (if you discount the demolition of Panama, a team of part-time plumbers and lock gate keepers), so my hope is that there may be a great performance itching to come out; let’s hope so.

I had a very birdy kind of morning at the garden. Soon after opening the greenhouse doors, two pigeons decided to go in for a look around, and then couldn’t find their way out through the open door or any of the 4 open windows. They were thrashing around in there smashing into plants and panes of glass. I managed to coax one out through the door, but the other one continued to behave like the half-wit that it clearly is. Eventually it did discover an open window, and headed back to its excuse for a nest, which in reality is just a few twigs criss-crossed on an unstable foundation, and is guaranteed to fall apart. I can’t imagine how they breed so well. Anyway, getting back to this morning; I just returned to the polytunnel following ‘Pigeongate’, where I had been working, when I was confronted by a cock pheasant strutting about amongst the tomato plants. I had to do a bit of a loop around the outside rows of plants to get behind him to guide him out the tunnel. And then, I was standing out the front of the potting sheds in the shade, when an adolescent Moorhen walked to within about 2 metres of me before making an exaggerated detour around me before heading along the beech hedge where it often grazes. I felt a little saintly, in a Franciscan way, or maybe a touch Doctorish in a Doolittlian fashion.

Did you see the photos of Angel Hill in Bury last week? In front of the Angel Hotel and the Atheneum was transformed back to its late Georgian heyday, complete with stage coaches and other horse drawn vehicles coming and going on what is usually the car park, which was covered in soil for authenticity. It was for a film that will be released next year, based on David Copperfield, and stars Dev Patel, who apparently engaged with spectators viewing the shoot. In the sunshine the town looked magnificent. They apparently did a lot of filming in the Theatre Royal too.

I’m not going to go on about how dry everything is, or how difficult a growing season it is, you only have to look in your own garden to know how desperate things have become. I am spending a good percentage of my time watering crops that are most in need of a drink, but some things are being left to take their chance, because it’s impossible to get round to everything with the hose. It’s a stunning summer, and it must be a  real shot in the arm for the UK leisure industry. Ordinarily I would have been going for my annual week in Cornwall next weekend, and the weather looks set fair for the period that we would normally be away, but this year we are going in mid August, so what’s the betting that the weather will revert to a ‘normal’ pattern by then?

I will be offering tomatoes this week for the first time, but there won’t be enough for everyone, so do order early if you would like some. They will be bags of mixed shapes and sizes, but availability will be very limited. There are now plenty of courgettes and cucumbers, and I am hopeful that there will be enough aubergines to go round. Lettuces ready for cutting are red little gem, green loose-leaf and red oakleaf. Broad beans will be available, plus beetroot, bunched carrots, onions, mushrooms, new potatoes, and cabbage. The chard has now bolted in the heat, so that drops off the list, but I will glean enough for chard and chive pesto.

I will be at Wyken as usual on Saturday morning, and Jennifer will be attending the farmers’ market at Ridgewell village hall at the same time.

I will be heading back to the garden shortly to begin the daily round of watering, I might even dowse myself down. Stay cool folks, and that counts for Wednesday evening too.

Phil

 

 

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