Friday, October 03, 2008

Random acts of kindness

This is a bit of a general waffle on life, due in part to the lack of any significant progress in the house, and also because Keith and I have been away in Gib recently, enjoying at least a few days of sun before the darkness of winter descends.

It didn’t occur to me until earlier this week how much I love autumn. I don’t think it had really occurred to me that autumn was even here, I suspect because it didn’t seem to vary in any way from the previous few months of non-summer.

One sure sign that winter is on the way though is the lighting of the first fire of the year. It was a bit like watching Bambi on ice to start with, as Keith and I had both forgotten the intricacies of tempting our often reluctant fireplace into action. It didn’t help that I had acquired a car full of free wood from Freecycle which had come in 8ft lengths, and I was too tired after a day at work to bother cutting it down to a suitable size. The result? Several 2ft chunks of wood were precariously balanced half in, half out of the fire on the premise that they would eventually fit when the blazing end burned down. I was also making dinner at the time so I was forced to employ my spidey senses and issue bellows of LEEEEEAAAAAVVVVE to the thieving hound at regular intervals. Luckily Keith returned and stopped the madness, stomping laps from the barn to the lounge muttering darkly about women and saws.

On the subject of fires, we are currently trying to purchase one for the barn and it proving to be a lot more difficult than anticipated. Who knew that the market for second hand log burners was so cutthroat?! You bid a sensible price on a fire, and then in the five seconds before the auction ends, there are camels being traded, first born children sacrificed, and you’re left wondering what just happened. Not easily deterred I have now started doing something I hate, contacting the sellers and making deals. I am currently in negotiations for one particular fire and having had my best offer bumped up by £25 I am now trying to play hardball while juggling the fact that I might get it cheaper if I just hold out until the auction ends. Sometimes it’s all a bit too much like hard work.

My favourite moment at this time of year is the Changing of the Duvet (much less popular than the similarly titled ceremony in London, but much more personally satisfying). There is something about putting away the puny covering of summer and stuffing the cumulonimbus of a winter duvet into the arm achingly heavy covers that makes me smile. I find that the chances of me oversleeping at this time of year are dramatically increased, not just by the fading light, but by the fact that I need to build up a serious amount of muscle to even fight my way out from under the weight of the duvet in the mornings!

In keeping with the responsibilities of having a kitchen garden, there was a flurry of activity last weekend as plants were given their winter trim. Keith also weeded the area around the pond in his own inimitable way giving it something of the look of a WWI battlefield. The only job left to do before the frosts is a damn good mulching, which I may attempt this weekend, depending on whether we are taken up with motorbike based activities.

It is around the garden that the title of this entry comes. As most of you will know we live next door to a social club which in the main, has brought us a lot of frustration and annoyance, but it has also brought us a man of what could be called ‘character’. Shamefully, I can’t remember his name right now, but this guy has lived in Arlesey since God was a boy, and was one of the first people to stick his head over the wall and welcome us to our new home. He has kept a weather eye on my gardening and given me advice (wanted or not) about where I was going wrong. He seems to enjoy leaning over the wall and talking to “Henry”, who in return shows his appreciation by not barking at him and occasionally wagging his tail.

Now this lovely old boy collects stamps – so if any of you have any, especially foreign ones then PLEASE may I have them!! – and I have tried to keep him supplied on the odd occasion we’ve received something of interest. The other day I came home to another surprise though. Going down the line of peppers on the top of the plant nursery, I suddenly realised there was one extra, and not one that looked very pepper like either.

It was a jasmine cutting that I vaguely remember I had said I would really appreciate having that he had taken from his yellow flowering jasmine and grown on for me. I was really, really touched. I’m going to plant it this weekend in the area formerly occupied by the rosemary bush so that with any luck, next summer, the side of the barn will be covered with a profusion of flowers and the heady scent of the jasmine will fill the garden.

As long as I can get the social to move the “smoking area” that is. Hmmm.

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