The Pig Yard

June - This was a very hot month with two mini heat waves in the first two weeks - temperatures in the high 20's for several days at a time. As far as ballooning goes it has been disappointing, even the ballooning business only managed to fit in four flights and we didn't fly at all.

We had a really busy month and as always squeezed in as much as was humanly possible - Jane is inhuman and lives two parallel lives.

In the early part of the month Northampton Borough Council attempted to put on a week of street entertainment. We decided to go into town on the Saturday morning for a 10:30 start but nothing happened until 11:30 and the first entertainer to take to the streets was this very entertaining escapologist. Dave was reluctant to get involved at first but when he saw it was bondage he couldn't resist - Lucie had better watch out because he was thinking of taking his work home.

AJ, the escapologist, kept the audience laughing and clapping for over twenty minutes, he was a quality act. He managed to escape from 3 sets of padlocked chains within 60 seconds and he had time to spare. Jane thought he had a pretty fit body too (AJ's that is, although Dave's is not too bad!)

Next along the street was this group of musicians and they were really great. The music was lively and they were obviously enjoying their work which was very infectious. They sat on fat ladies laps, sang love songs to little old dears and generally were captivating. We stood watching them for a long time and they influenced our mood for the rest of the day.

Northampton audiences are generally exceedingly dull and reserved - that might explain why Steve fits in so well - and this day was no exception with the crowd either completely ignoring the entertainment or even going out of its way to avoid contact. We approached the day as though we were on holiday and whooped and clapped with gusto - life's too short to hold back in these situations although we wouldn't go as far as joining in.

Jane went to the BBC Gardeners' World show held at Birmingham NEC. Apart from getting expert advice from from members of the Royal Horticultural Society it was also an opportunity to get a glimpse of the TV gardening stars such as Alan Titchmarsh.

This affable, relaxed and knowledgeable gardener is a favourite with most amateur gardeners. Jane was very amused by one of the jokes he told whilst waiting for a reading on the PH level of a soil sample.

The Gardening show was very much a ladies day out and it's apparent from this picture that Val, Lucie, Jane, Kate and Sue had a very enjoyable day.

Jane received advice on how to treat the weeping willow that has a leaf virus, what would be a good plant to put into the deepest part of the pond and how to deal with "Pip", an orange tree grown by Lucie from a pip (unsurprisingly) which has canker or scab. Jane is taking her surrogate motherhood seriously.

A group of us went to see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Jane had been rereading it so she could check out how true the film was to the story. There were significant omissions and the story line seemed a bit thin but the special effects were really good and made the whole film worthwhile watching. This was the darkest of all the films and as Harry grows up so the simple innocence of the first films is being lost. The architecture of Hogwart's was superb and featured far more than the previous two films.

Many months ago Lucie expressed a desire to see a play at the Globe Theatre in London. We'd done the guided tour before but we'd never seen a play there. After some consideration we booked tickets for us to see Measure for Measure. This was one of Shakespeare's plays that we knew nothing about and therefore it was going to be a new experience for all of us.

The day was damp and very windy and after a brief stroll around Covent Garden and lunch with Jane's brother, Richard, in the basement restaurant of Tate Modern we had a short walk to the Globe.

The play was excellent, the setting was perfect and the actors were very good. This was an experience that will be with us for many years to come. The sheen on the stage is caused by rain, thankfully we were in upper circle seats under cover (smug or what!)

The film Day After Tomorrow came highly recommended by several friends and although the critics panned its weak story we decided to go and see it. Because of ballooning we have a particular interest in weather forecasting and this film is the ultimate in weather forecasts and the power of the elements.

This film has everything - tornadoes, hurricanes, tidal waves, snow, ice and humanity's ability to retain a sense of humour in the face of adversity. It also has the ubiquitous stories of teenage love and the relationship between father and son.

On the last Sunday of the month we were fortunate enough to get tickets to see Norah Jones in an open air concert on the Althorp Estate just north of Northampton. We arrived very early to get a decent position only to find a very long queue and therefore we didn't get as near to the front as we had hoped.

An hour before the concert was due to start the heavens opened and despite raincoats and a very large umbrella we did get wet. The camaraderie of the British against adversity came to the fore. Eventually the clouds cleared just before sunset and Norah came on stage, by this time there was a distinct chill in the air. The atmosphere was brilliant - for an hour and half she sang all of our favourites. It was a really good night especially as there were no hold ups getting out of the event and we were home within 30 minutes of leaving the arena.

Steve took a week's holiday and finished off decorating the utility room. Jane had gone part way there but the ceiling and woodwork needed to be completed. It also gave us an opportunity to rethink the kitchen. We were going to have all new kitchen units but we decided that it wasn't the right time and we've got enough going on without taking on more projects. Steve did make some minor adjustments that mean we can now get a small table and chairs in the kitchen, thankfully this means we have to take a trip to Ikea, soon Jane hopes.

We also took possession of our new garden seat. We saw this in a local landscapers barn and immediately fell in love with its simple, rounded shape - within days we'd decided to buy it.

Other new arrivals are our family of swallows - this year the parents have managed to produce four healthy youngsters and before the end of the month all of them are happily flying around the rafters of the garage and then venturing outside when the parents encourage them. As long as the cats keep away we hope they will stay around until they fly south for the winter.