This morning brought with it one of the year’s less welcome moments. Going out around nineish on a fresh, breezy morning with promise of merry sunshine after torrential rain, I had no sooner come to a halt in order to encourage Miss Kit’s ablutions with glad cries, when I was surrounded by small black flies. Not bluebottles, but the sort which are black and about half a centimetre long. They don’t feature in spring and early summer, then suddenly, as this year, there often seems to be one particular day when an evil battalion of them rises up from somewhere or other, sufficient in numbers to block out the sun. What I really loathe is the way they buzz round you in a sort of ‘not dead yet?’ … a second later, ’still not dead … pity’ sort of way — I have a tiny injury on my thumb where I damaged a hangnail, and one of them bit it in a spirit of mindless enquiry. The shy and elusive gardener reappeared today — we celebrated this by buying some good cutting chrysanthemums for later in the year, and quantities of basil. What has not yet reappeared is the shy and elusive joiner. As of Monday, some ouvriers turned up and poured a concrete floor. Since when, nothing has happened, except that I think the concrete has set. Smiley Brian of our heroic local heating engineers (not sarc: their efforts to keep us warm over the winter were, though not always successful, like something out of Scott of the Antarctic) — Smiley Brian, to resume, is planning to turn up with a hugely expensive state of the art boiler on Tuesday, which I do hope he is not proposing to attach to thin air, and just now, the walls of the new back kitchen, though extant, are still in a heap on the gravel. By Tuesday it will also be four good weeks since they took the previous boiler away, also, while they were about it, some minor but essential part of the Rayburn. The only mitigating factor is that as a result, we’ve saved a bit on heating oil since otherwise we would certainly have put it on from time to time.