Chapter Four


So, this would be my fifth attempt at writing Chapter Four which let’s face it is a pretty poor show. I’ve let you down, I’ve let myself down, I’ve probably let a whole bunch of other things down. It’s all rubbish, it was all going so well wasn’t it, words written with such vigour & enthusiasm, words actually put into action, I’m distraught with shame…

Anyhow, I’ve made a list of brilliant excuses, some of which are quite imaginative & I’m sure you will think so too

  1. The dog ate my plan, all of it, my whole book & I was forced to use a chalk board & it’s taken me AGES
  2. I’ve been kidnapped by elves & I’ve only just come home – it was actually really nice & now I’ve got all the ironing & domestic choring to do & it’s been Christmas
  3. I’ve been part of one of the best parent sailing team EVER (obviously) & spent nearly every weekend in the last 2 months ferrying Childer sailor from one end of the country to the other events & I now need a holiday & someone to do my ironing & all the domestic choring & it’s just been Christmas
  4. It was fairies not elves I was kidnapped by – see point 2
  5. It’s been cold
  6. I really am an Elf & I’ve been busy helping Father Christmas out at this busy time of year
  7. I really live in a swanky apartment in the coolest part of Manchester City Centre & I’m making all of this up & have someone to do all my ironing & domestic choring & Christmasing
  8. We’ve been away that much, that it’s taken till now till I could write, rewrite & rewrite again something proper & now Christmas is almost over
  9. I put my back out…
  10. It’s not stopped raining for months
  11. The wild life, led by Bernard the Fox (he is real & visits quite regularly abou 3pm & yes, he does have a magnificently bushy tail), he has negotiated a deal with me which essentially involves me doing nothing & leaving the garden to them

Take your pick, some, one or two, maybe even all could be true, whilst some could be just wishful thinking, I’m passing that responsibility over to you. Some are definitely true. The reality is nothing gardening wise has been done. Not by me anyways. The leaves have repositioned themselves quite spectacularly it has to be said but like I said, nowt to do with me. That’s nature that is.

Now I feel that sorts my excuses out, we can move on.

I have actually been out there nonetheless, brew in hand & wellies firmly on, for the occasional mooch, feeding the birds & attempting some lovely photos & other general pottering. I’ve done that bit. Surveying my kingdom & checked on the resident wildlife. I do love it when I chuck bread out & the birds start twittering to each other. I imagine it goes along the lines of, ‘ Oi Guys look!!! Food! Food! Quick before squizzer gets it! Hope there’s CAKE! Tell EVERYONE!!!’ It’s probably not, though, it’s probably a lot more sophisticated & refined. I do love our birds; we have a quite a nice bunch of residents, full of characters, even the wood pigeons. Utterly boring skittish things but part of the landscape so to speak. And so annoying loud come Spring. But that seems ages off & summer seems a distant memory. Although in reality it wasn’t that long ago, I was sat on a beach eating ice cream, watching little boats go by bathed in warm sunshine. Autumn has whizzed past! So fast I didn’t take any photos, which is pants. Grumble grumble.

Its proper swampy out in the garden what with all the rain. We’ve had a few bits of frost but nothing too exciting & nothing to firm things up. There was a thrilling swirl of snow one Saturday morning, honestly, nearly wet myself with excitement. Goodness knows what will happen if we get proper snow this winter, my head night just pop entirely. I might have to get the sledges & the old faithful bodyboard out in readiness just in case. Pays to be prepared. There’s a fair bit of garden out the front, mostly grass, ok mostly moss, alright mostly swamp, it’s definitely green. Anyways it’s got quite a nice slope to it, perfect when it snows heaps & you’ve got a body board. It’s fairly rapid. There was this one time in near white out conditions & back in the big snow fall of 2010 & I might’ve thrown caution to the wild North wind & encouraged racing so fast the childer made it right across the road on to the pavement & into the garden opposite, just missing going under the wheels of the neighbours car coming down the road. In my defence, we live in a cul de sac, it was near white out almost blizzard like conditions like I mentioned, no one was hurt, the car was going very, very slow due the driving through over a foot & half of snow, the snowboarder thought it AWESOME, said neighbour was duly impressed at the speed, no one was hurt & we all laughed about it much, much later but oh it was close… so close…. Ha ha…. ha…

Still heaps & heaps of snow would be deeply satisfying & I’ve very hopefully.

In the meantime, we have the swamp to look at & smush through, the garden is unsurprising not short of water. It’s like a bog, actually I’ll rephrase that, it is a bog, have I mentioned this. Proper squelchy & sticky, who knows what would happen if I stood still for too long, I’d end up sinking & there’d just be a lone bobble hat, floating in boggy expanse of green. It might be days before anyone noticed. I best wear the brightest hat I’ve got then, just to be on the safe side. Maybe armbands too or a rubber ring. Safety first. Maybe a goggles & a snorkel too, I know we’ve a set somewhere & flippers too, I think.

The Old Old Shed

Anyway, Garden Plans. I’ve worked out where I can fit 4 veg beds for optimum growing & there’s ruddy great big shed in the way of 2 of them. It’s not in the best condition. It’s hanging on by a thread, well more like well-placed nails. The lean on it is quite something & I’m sure if I took the set of shelves out from the back wall the whole thing would gently but resolutely crash into the ground. The house actually, which would kind of be spectacular to watch & therefore to be avoided at all costs & cost it would. All ideas of salvage would go literally out the window & possibly through several too. So calmly, methodically does it. I want to use salvageable bits for new compost bins & for cold frames (using the hinged windows & frames from down the side), even planters if there’s enough. I’m quite excited. Demolition is always a good hobby. Shame about the shed really, but it’s done us proud & has been hammered literally by the apple & pear tree & lost. And it has to move. It’s in the only way. Don’t worry though, plans for a new AMAZING shed are afoot, to go down in a redundant patch down the side of the house. Just need to get other people on board with that one & ‘gather’ some materials given the Thrift element of this project, move a load of concrete slabs & dig more bloomin soil & then put slabs back. And gather myself the constitution of an ox & improve my inner core too of course. Back breaking stuff this digging. Look what happen with just the thought of it all.

Just planning & looking out on to the garden with a brew is lovely. Despite the gloom & brambles & bog & the 30 ft laurel hedge I do love the view. I love the bare bones of all the tall trees. The light as it hits the branches at different times of the day is just magnificent. The garden is SSW facing which is very nice with this ginormous 35ft laurel hedge running along the back which create nice shady patches in the event of hot summer sunshine but in winter, the sun, when it makes an appearance seldom reaches our back garden, making it cold & gloomy but the tall trees over it light up beautifully. There’s some stunning silver birch & the bark literally does glimmers like silver as the sun sets, its stunning. Nice to see the bramble is still as green as ever, still waiting to trip me up at any given moment. The silhouette of branches at twilight look so spooky & dramatic, I just love it. I only wish we could see the sunset properly from our garden, not so sadly, next door is firmly in the way & I don’t think the small request of asking them to demolish their entire property would go down too well do you. Although I’m sure it’s worth a go at some point, don’t ask, you don’t get. Failing that, win the lottery, buy a property with an acre of land & acres & acres of sky & without a 40ft laurel hedge or neighbours.

And now we’ve had combination of hibernation, hygge, Yule, & most resoundingly Christmas & the small matter of gentle back recovery The annual clearing the decks has been in full swing, which meant stuffing anything & everything not needed downstairs into boxes & shoving them somewhere out of sight upstairs till after Christmas, giving the illusion of a ‘tidy home’, under delegation of course. The traditional pre-Christmas DIY stress fest (because at any other point in the year would make no sense). The tree purchased from up top at Macclesfield Forest, it was freezing, proper freezing. The traditional discussion about leaving it naked or not ticked of the Christmas list. Those in favour of tree decs win again for the millionth year – it looked beautiful. Christmas music was only on from November none stop, I was very restrained.

Rough & Ready Wreath

I even managed to make the wreath. A little from the bottom of the tree & then the rest from the garden. Bits from the holly, the fir, yew, the rosehips, ivy, the laurels, heather, NOT the brambles, definitely not them. Last year the hydrangea were fantastic, a bit bedraggled this year but still beautiful. Then a little red ribbon & garden twine I keep from year to year. It’s one of my favourite jobs. I try very hard every year to make it small, never achieved this yet, & its fun watching people trying to get past it through the door. It’s the small things that amuse me. Rumour has it, it was traditional to place certain evergreen sprigs over doorways, windows & chimneys back in the day to ward off evil spirits. I like this tradition very much & feel lucky we have such an evergreen garden. I wonder if it works with people.

The Towering Laurels

And now the season of Christmas is almost over, although there’s still a few presents to present, timing & organisation not been my strong point this year, & as for cards, I offer this job up every year & there’s never any takers, perhaps I should write them in January when we get snowed in (fingers crossed), get ahead of the game. I have made an abundance of Christmas cake so that’s sorted, just need to feed them. May even make a start on the mince-meat, in fact there’s no rush to put away the Christmas books just yet. I could do loads of prep now or is that being too organised? In the meantime, there’s treats in abundance still, adventure planning for 2020 to think about, a few mince pies still to consume & cake a plenty. Dechristmas – I really am sad to do this. I deliberately leave some things out so in some part it’s Christmas every day. The domestic coring & even the shopping can wait for another day, there’s beans in the cupboard. I’ll do stuff in a bit, resting up, been busy, got to rest this back although it’s much better, such bad timing, need a holiday, maybe a spa… May take a nap…

So here’s my final excuse No. 12 – it seems apt given the season. It’s been Christmas, over now & I really do enjoy a good hibernation if I’m honest, I’m somewhat resistant to returning to the bright lights & hum drum, bring on the frost & heaps of snow & warm indoors with lovely candles, hot chocolate with marshmallows, hot buttered crumpets & toasty toes, warming soups, a little bit of hygge never did anyone any harm I’m quite sure. Yep not ready to leave hibernation just yet.

Send crumpets & marshmallows by Friday, will need supplies by then if not earlier.

Happy New Year then.

Bye Christmas then

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