Country mouse on a birthday party

The harvest has begun a few weeks earlier than normal. The whole countryside is turning yellow under the baking sun. My cherries ripened and were eaten by the blackbirds before we could lay a finger on them, but we’ve enjoyed the replacements bought from the farm shop.

British cherries have had a torrid time, with hundreds of acres grubbed out as they were unable to compete with foreign imports, but there are signs of a revival thanks to new lower-growing varieties and, blackbirds permitting, they are a delicious alternative to the ubiquitous strawberry.

On Sunday, there was a surprise 70th birthday party for my mother. Dad had managed to organise it due to Mum’s inability to use a computer combined with a series of hushed phonecalls-that could be cut off at any moment when she slipped outside to water the garden.

For a man who has spent almost a year in hospital, followed by another in a wheelchair, it was some achievement to organise the whole thing. For my mother, who has nursed him, it was a wonderful and occasionally emotional thank-you. The fact that Dad managed to walk to the table with his zimmer frame was the cherry on the cake.