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Hi, this is Gerry and this is my Diary for Friday, 6th July, 2018. On today’s show, I’m going to talk about our beautiful weather and a beautiful garden. Then I have some news about a very special new member of the family here. And my niece  has just completed a tough  challenge  in the Welsh mountains.
We’re enjoying the best early summer that we can remember. The good weather started in the middle of May. It’s been warm and sunny and dry for weeks and weeks. And it continues. My garden looks beautiful. This is Wales – remember – where it rains a lot usually, but now we have to water  our pots and the young vegetables. That’s unusual work for us but we don’t mind . We like the sunshine. We just enjoyed the longest day of the year and the sun here shone  from a quarter to five in the morning until a quarter to ten in the evening. Seventeen hours of sunshine in one day – that doesn’t happen very often! The downside  is that the land is too dry. Did you see the pictures of the fires on Saddleworth Moor? That’s very near Manchester. Wild fires  near Manchester – where it always rains? Incredible!
I think my garden is looking very nice but near our little town we have another very special garden. It’s one of the best gardens in Wales. It’s called The Hidden Garden of Plas Cadnant. The garden was first created  in the 19th century but after the Second World War it was abandoned  – nobody looked after it for years and years. At last in 1996 a new owner  arrived. He was a farmer in England but he sold his farm and started to work on the old gardens at Plas Cadnant. There are actually three gardens there: a big walled garden  with a small flower garden next to it, a garden in the valley with a small river and waterfalls , and a woodland garden at the top. As I said, Anthony, the owner of the garden, started work in 1996. And the result is fantastic, but two years ago it looked as if his dream was finished. In 2016, after twenty years hard work, Anthony was still developing the garden. Everything was looking good, but then we had a terrible storm on December 26th 2016. There was a big flood  and a lot of Anthony’s new garden was destroyed. Did he give up at that point? No. He went back to work and now the gardens are looking good again. I visited them last week and you can see a couple of photos. There are more on the Plas Cadnant website.
The highlight of the summer in England and Switzerland may be the football World Cup, but when you hear this, the dream may be over . But for my wife and me here in Wales the highlight of our summer must be our new dog. She’s called Minnie, and she comes from Spain. From Spain? I can hear you say. How do you get a dog from Spain? Well, it’s because of my American niece, Danielle. In January, I told you about her. She’s spending a year in Europe, travelling and working in different countries. She and her partner use a social network called Workaway. They stay with people in different countries and they work for them. They don’t get paid but they get free accommodation  and food. Well, this spring they were in Spain and they stayed with a British couple who have a dog rescue  centre there. They look after dogs that are lost or have no homes. Some of their dogs stay in Spain, but others go to other European countries. Danielle met Minnie there, and she thought: “This would be a perfect dog for my Uncle Gerry.” She sent us photos and told us about the dog, and we agreed. So a couple of weeks ago, Minnie arrived in a special pet  transport van. She’s about four years old. She’s a mongrel  – a mixture of breeds , but she looks like a beagle. She’s a very nice dog and we’re very happy to give her a home. I’m not sure what she thinks of her new home. It’s a good thing perhaps that the weather is so warm at the moment – almost like Spain!
My niece is in Wales at the moment, and she was excited to see Minnie again. She’s staying near Snowdon – in an old church that is now a Bed and Breakfast. She and her boyfriend are very fit and they love the mountains. In their free time they go walking and running. And last week they did the Snowdonia 3,000 foot peaks challenge. Snowdonia is the name for the group of mountains around Snowdon here in North Wales. Snowdon is the highest mountain, but there are 15 peaks , mountain tops, that are over 3,000 feet (that’s about 900m), and if you want to do the challenge you have to climb them all in one day. It’s about 42km in distance. I’m not sure how many metres you have to go up and down in the day. Anyway, they set off at 6 o’clock in the morning from Snowdon and my son Owen and I climbed the last mountain with Minnie to meet them at the end of the day. They were very fast, and they finished the challenge in under 11 hours. They were lucky with the weather, of course. It was a beautiful day and Minnie loved the walk, but she was very tired the next day. Owen and I took two hours just for the last mountain. Can you imagine doing 15 in 10 hours? There are photos on the website.
And that’s nearly it for today. I had no answers to my pub quiz question. But I can tell you that “American potatoes” in the Czech Republic are what we call potato wedges . These are pieces of potato that look like the sections of an orange. They’re fried with some spices, usually paprika.
This is the last Diary before the summer break this year. I hope that you’re having a good summer like we are. If you’re going away on holiday, I wish you a great time. I’m going to Cardiff at the beginning of August for this year’s National Eisteddfod – the great Welsh arts festival. One of my choirs is taking part, so wish me luck! My next Diary will be on August 31st and it’s going to be a special date. We’re going to celebrate 10 years of PodClub. There are going to be some special shows. For my show, Owen my Wandering Son is going to interview me. If you have any comments on the show, you can send them to the website podclub.ch, or you can use Twitter. My Twitter address is @gerrypod. You can also find PodClub on Instagram. Use the hashtags #gerrysdiary and #podclubgerry. And don’t forget the PodClub app, with the vocabulary learning programme. So, until August 31st, enjoy your summer. And take care!