I might have been over-optimistic thinking I could fit in a couple of hours' gardening before meeting a friend for coffee, then a trip to B&Q and Waitrose before doing the cleaning. The Systems Administrator, returning from a day at Lords, found me still pushing the vacuum cleaner round the study at gone eight, which felt like my cue to stop. The SA has kindly agreed to vacuum the upstairs sitting room in the morning.
I had hoped to buy a replacement box ball in B&Q, or a medium sized box that could be trained into a ball fairly quickly. One of the four in tubs by the pond has drowned, not anything to do with the pond but because its drainage holes must have blocked up. Water has been sitting on top of the compost when it rains, or if I water it too much, and while I was thinking that I had better investigate the problem and repot the plant it quietly died. August is really too early in the year to buy box, as by a strange convention it is one of those things garden centres tend to stock up on in the autumn, but I thought I might find some in B&Q. I did, but half the plants had nasty looking brown patches, that might have been down to erratic watering but equally might have been box blight, and I wasn't taking the risk of buying one to find out.
As I set off to Waitrose it suddenly occurred to me that they might sell box balls at some point. If they do I expect they will be immaculately healthy and correspondingly expensive, but they didn't have any today. Maybe in the autumn. They did not have any caramelised condensed milk either. Just now as I opened my laptop a new email popped up, which was a survey by Waitrose asking about my shopping experience. I filled it in, because I am an obliging creature, and in the box asking how they could have made my shopping experience better wrote that they could stock caramelised condensed milk, and added that the lamb steaks could have been longer dated. After I'd gone on from that page I began to wish I'd added that their bread wasn't awfully good, though I wasn't actually buying bread today. I am afraid they ask rather a lot of their staff. I wasn't inspired and enthused about food by any member of staff, but I wasn't expecting to be and would have found it off putting if they'd tried. I had a list, or rather two lists, the one from the pin board in the hall and the notes I'd made on the bottom of the list of things to get in B&Q. If I'd been unable to find anything on the list I'd have been happy to ask a member of staff where it was, but I knew it was no good asking about the caramelised condensed milk because Waitrose don't stock it. They never have it, and there is no gap for it on the shelf next to the ordinary sort.
I bought the Systems Administrator a pork pie, as the SA had asked me specially to get one. It was a proper Melton Mowbray pie, which have enjoyed Protected Geographical Indication Status since 2009, and said on the wrapper that it was succulent. That, as the SA said, was to distinguish it from the dry pork pies people might buy otherwise. Pork pies are one of the SA's favourite things, for a treat. I am partial to a pork pie myself, though I have never been especially keen on Melton Mowbray since we stopped there on a long car journey to grab some lunch and a comfort break, but found it seemed to have no public lavatories, and ended up having to go back and buy another half an hour's parking to give me time to nip into a pub and drink a tomato juice I didn't want so that I could use their loo.