I know you’re all wondering where I have been.
If I’ve nipped off into early retirement.
If one or even both of my injured legs have fallen off.
If I’ve pulled all of my hair out and ran around the house screaming, completely starkers and been taken away by men in white coats, in a van, with blue flashing lights.
I can tell you the reasons I have been
ignoring you distracted, cannot be explained by any of the arguments above.
OK. In the spirit of honesty, I did have a little shot at the screaming bit. But in my defence: I was neither running nor naked. In fact, I stood quite still as I let out the tiny, shrill utterance. And no men came running. Only concerned children appeared at my feet. I tried to ease their distressed expressions (they believed I had yet again injured myself) by telling them that, “Everything is well, Mummy is just loosing her marbles.”
The elder two, apparently pacified, returned immediately to their previous, more entertaining activities. But the youngest one remained. Her faced advanced from worried to sceptical and then, she questioned, “Do you even know what marbles are?“
I’m going to tell you what I’ve been doing for the last few weeks.
Why exactly I’m
losing my marbles not finding time to blog.
But be prepared, it will take several posts.
It all started with the garden
And to be more precise: it all started with the bamboo.
After more than a little digging and carrying, we decided the intelligent decision would be to purchase a wheelbarrow. Which my husband then duly decided that, having a wheel, like a bike, must mean that the tyre requires a ‘good pumping’ before the very first use. Naturally leading on then to an ear-splittingly loud explosion.
It seems even our new neighbours are used to our carryings-on as no one came running and no one called the fire brigade.
As it turns out, a wheelbarrow full of bamboo roots and soil and ants and once complete worms is pretty much unshovable up hills and down dales with a flat. So we paused our digging momentarily, and poured out our woes to a good-natured shop assistant who kindly gave us a replacement wheel, free of charge. I can tell you, that action was a little ray of sunshine in those damp, dark days. We have finally
given up on finished digging up bamboo roots and I can go to bed of an evening, without seeing their demonic dancing before my eyes.
Of course, it wasn’t as simple as that.
It actually went more like this:
We dug out the mass and transported the
world-taker-overer the bush in our once shiny, no-soil-trodden-in-the-carpet, rented car. My husband then gently coaxed the very unsure gentleman at the recycling centre to take the evil infiltrator damn bush off our hands. Then we dug and discovered and dug and found. I flipped out about the sheer mass of ants (they have conquered, there we have no chance, there are at least three billion of them, which is only slightly more than the total number of roots we attempted to dig up). We panicked (rather a lot) about the proximity of the roots to the house and we dug and sweated and swore and hacked up worms and detected even more roots. We argued and I cried and we exploded tyres and got a sunburn with sunblock on on an overcast day. We discussed putting a pool in the hole or even a lake. Then we dug and unveiled even more far-reaching roots. We agreed stealing a panda from China would have been an easier way of solving the problem.
And then finally, after quite a lot of wailing and hallucinating, we decided to stop with the digging and start with the filling.
Which opened up a whole new can of worms in itself.
We caused the share prices in potting soil to rise steeply as we continually packed the car with sacks of the black stuff.
Then the gardener, who’d just laid our new terrace, politely informed us that: grass wouldn’t grow as the soil we’d used was far too sour. I think his heart went out to us and our enormous cavity in the ground, because he offered to deliver us some free humus the next time one of his workers would pass by. We almost bit his hand off and we happily waited for his truck to arrive. But despite his generosity, the hole still had a great big gaping, well, hole in the middle.
We’d wanted the outside to be ready for my fortieth, so we marched on with other garden work – which coincidentally provided us with extra suitable soil – including: building a wall made from giant plant pots (with the help of two hard-working friends). I subsequently stocked those with flowers and herbs – meaning I finally fulfilled my herb garden task! And with massive success. We now have ample supplies of fresh mint and coriander and chives and sage and rosemary and parsley and erm… thyme.
The thyme looks great and has grown tremendously. But when we ate it, we discovered that it was erm rather chewy and erm very bitter and also, it didn’t have that all-engulfing smell that fresh thyme normally has when it’s cooking…
Finally, I ascertained that we’d been eating – thyme - the bush.
Oh well. It still looks pretty.
I bought a new thyme, the herb, and now she’s sitting happily on the kitchen windowsill next to her new friend, Basil.
We bought and planted new bushes. I wish I could gleefully crow that that means I fulfilled another challenge. But alas: no. Only three have survived. The rest have been slaughtered.
One didn’t even have the chance to blossom before some ravished rodent chomped its way through the roots.
A second found itself de-stemmed by the gardening firm who arrived to lay the terrace and the new stone steps.
Another came a cropper when my exhausted husband forgot about it’s whereabouts and accidentally mowed over it with the lawnmower. ‘Twas only a baby.
Then two had a mishap, on two separate occasions, with the strimmer!!
We turned our attention from bushes to arches. We marched through DIY stores and I found an arch that I adored, and I soon loved it even more, because being the last one in the shop and the display model, it was actually reduced to almost half price! They even freely included the cobwebs and the spiders!
We somehow, managed to wrap the metal thing around two of the kids and were able to transport the already-built-up-for-us arch, home.
We found some budget, out-of-date concrete mix in the cellar, thought, “that’ll do” and rammed it in the ground.
Immediately afterwards, I planted what I’d believed to be two so-pale-purple-they-were-almost-blue clematises. Of course, once they both flowered I discovered that one was actually bright purple.
We marvelled from the new terrace at our wonderful handiwork. At the glorious colours. At the perfect precisional placement of the arch against the stone steps.
Then a hurricane force wind appeared and we watched in full Technicolor horror as the trampoline flew past the window, smashed into the arch, removing it completely from it’s out-of-date concrete, taking both blue and purple flowers along with it, and everything landing jammed up against the carport.
After a few wrestling moves that quite frankly, would open the WWF’s eyes, my husband managed to free the now slightly askew arch from the carport’s clutches.
We bought some new cement mix and started all over again. As you do.
The clematises weren’t happy. They haven’t grown much. And have only occasionally revealed to us their pretty petal components. But I can’t blame them. Firstly, they believed themselves to be twins of the identical persuasion. Then, just as they were starting to get used to one another, they were traumatically wrenched from their new homes only to be put straight back with the renewed aroma of fresh concrete within nauseating proximity.
I took my anger out on the weeds. I yanked them out one by one with a grab and twist hole-leaving contraption. I ached and the weeds just laughed and spread. My husband mowed over them and conceded that, at least they were green. But I had hatched another plan during our frequent trips to the gardening centres and DIY stores.
I bought it.
I brought it home.
I pointed it.
I sprayed it.
And then I laughed menacingly.
OK. That last bit was just for effect.
But anyway, the weeds slowly withered and turned brown.
And I whooped around the lawn.
As you do.
Then the grass, slowly withered and turned brown.
And my husband pointed his finger at us all and questioned, “Who poured weedkiller?” on his
precious well-tended grass. I reluctantly raised my hand.
Luckily though, the weeds grew back and there are now quite a few patches of green where the lawn used to be.
We put a few finishing touches to the garden like stepping stones to the featuristic archway. And we decided we’d do something exciting at the front door.
I had a vision of a stone garden. At first, I thought with plants dotted around but the only things that grow well there are, you got it, weeds. So we hit on another idea. A metal sculpture set in a stone garden.
Metal sculptures are quite ‘in’ here at the moment, so they’re easy to find. But having picked and laid the stones first, we decided that we’d prefer the sculptures to be in their pre-rusty form. And stay like that. “Easy!” we thought. We’ll just varnish them.
We traipsed back to the DIY shop and were greeted by a friendly assistant, she is, of course, more intimate with us than she is with her own family by now, due to our regular visits. After a little bit of consultation, we purchased our very own bottle of spray varnish.
I would like to point out at this point that I really wanted to buy a brush and a conventional slap-it-on varnish. My husband had to sympathetically pacify me by showing me that none of the slap-it-on varnishes were for metal that would live outside the home. Only this particular can of spray varnish said it would work the miracle of protecting metal objects standing outside, from the splish-splash of the rain. I felt unconvinced. Firstly, the metal object shown on the can was a wheelbarrow, not a shiny sculpture and secondly, I thought the fine mist provided by a spray can would take a right old battering in German storms. So we agreed on several coats.
I trust my husband, you know.
Despite him mowing over my bush. And using out-of-date cement. And exploding wheelbarrow tyres.
We returned home and started spraying. Then I recalled: I’m asthmatic and had to wander off and suck on an inhaler for a while.
After that, I could only wave from the closed window as my husband set to work with his aerosol.
And the next day the shiny metal sculptures had started to rust.
So he sanded them down, then sprayed them again.
Then sprayed them again. And again. For good measure.
It chucked it down.
He called the manufacturer and they informed him that unless the sculptures are kept indoors, they would rust. He begged for an idea of something, anything that could protect their silverness.
They told him about a plastic coating that’s used on planes. So of course, he bought some on the internet.
Are they still silver? Judge for yourself!
N.B. More 101 updates coming up.