Sunday the 23rd was Douglas’s birthday. He decided he didn’t want to celebrate it but we were invited to the Baxter’s for a barbecue supper, the penultimate evening of their holiday, they leave for London this morning, and had a delightful evening (and a delicious one – no one does roast potatoes like James). We tried to view a very bright star through his telescope but he couldn’t get it to work and, no wonder, yesterday morning Douglas said with sudden revelation, ‘There was no lens in it!’ With less light pollution here than there is in the UK more stars are visible although with the amount of new building that has been going it might soon be the same as the UK. I remember walking through the bush in Liberia with zero light pollution looking up at the night sky and feeling totally overawed by the, not thousands, but I’m sure millions of visible stars. That is when you realise just how vast the universe must be. And, talking of stars, is it in the stars that we have had such a shitty year so far, particularly as far as health goes and not just the humans, but the animals? Betty the cat had to go back to the vet yesterday for yet a third very expensive injection in an attempt to stop the little raw sores breaking out on her head and tummy. Chris has been putting aloe vera on them but even though that dries one out, another one starts. Now Merrill the dog has to go to the vet to have her claws clipped and I think she has snagged one and almost pulled it out. I hadn’t noticed it until I saw her eating her breakfast standing on three legs.
I noticed for the first time the Baxters have a mango tree growing in their garden. It is still small, about four feet high, and has one green fruit hanging there but I warned James mango trees grow very large indeed. Still I think where it is there is room for it. Despite being a tropical fruit I don’t see why mangoes can’t be grown here. Our winters aren’t that cold and avocados do extremely well. Which reminds me; I must go out and see how ours are doing, and the nut peaches.
I read that in Mali, a law has been proposed giving women greater freedom but would you believe, it’s women who are opposing it? One spokesperson said, ‘It’s only intellectuals and people like that who want the law changed. We ordinary people don’t want it. A wife should obey her husband and a husband should protect his wife. That is Sharia law.’ Meanwhile the Lutheran church in America is making waves by voting to admit gay clergy (providing they are in a lifelong monogamous relationship!) and causing yet another schism with the traditionalists threatening to break away and form a Lutheran church all of their own. Religion is truly weird.
The Italian lotto has been won at last after 18 draws and a Sicilian villager has won 146.9 million euro. His life most certainly will never be the same again. Evidently he paid 2 euro for his ticket. Now the villagers are all trying to find out who it is, but of course! And when they find out he had better move house.
Yet once again during a hot hot summer, fires have broken out on the mainland and one or two islands. This year has been devastating with over seventy fires to try and control; houses, churches, vehicles have gone up in smoke and Athens was virtually surrounded by fire. Evidently, so they say, the worst is over but what an ecological disaster, what a catastrophe. Fortunately there has been no loss of life.
And finally, England won back the Ashes beating Australia by 197 runs. Australia was set an impossible task by being required to make 546 runs in their second innings, a feat never before achieved. Well, the Brits didn’t muck it up after all and they didn’t even need a final day.