Today I am mostly typing with my hideous, scaly, thorn-embedded, scarred, muddy fingers. Yes, I have been gardening.
Mr WithaY and I are both on leave from work for a couple of weeks, and despite many conversations about Where Shall We Go For Easter, we are still here at home.
I have to say, I don't mind at all. The weather has been gorgeous for the last week and a half, and looks set to continue that way for a few more days, so being at home is no hardship. This weekend we did a lot of sorting out in the garden, clearing crap (not real crap, metaphorical crap) off the patio.
Things we cleared included:
- Broken garden umbrella, which was lying on its side on the floor, and had been left forgotten about for months and months. Note: When testing a garden umbrella for broken-ness, try not to stand under it as you open it. It will invariably be full of dead leaves, mud, litter, woodlice and snails. Top tip.
- Assorted garden detritus, plastic buckets, broken flowerpots, sticks ("for poking the drain with" according to Mr WithaY - too late, sunshine, they are in the green bin,) and blown-in litter that was all tangled up among everything else.
- Huge builders sacks full of old loft flooring material, which we have been meaning to take to the tip for ages. In fact, we discovered that as it is made of compressed sawdust* and other wood-based goodness, we can smash it up with a spade and then put it all on the bare patch behind the shed to suppress weeds. Plus it will give the rats somewhere cosy to sleep.
- The dead camellia that I have finally admitted is dead, and consigned to great compost bin in the sky. The cold winter did for it. I moved the other camellia (they're both in tubs) round to the front of the house where it is more sheltered, and where it will hopefully be a bit happier and actually produce some flowers next season.
With all that lot out of the way, we were inspired to begin the vegetable planting. Mr WithaY carefully put courgette (2 types) and squash seeds into little pots, then put the pots in the plastic greenhouse thingy. I planted "mixed salad" seeds in a big tub. Next month the aubergines, carrots and French beans go in.
Today I planted six lavender plants in pots and along one border in the front garden, some golden thyme in a different border, and a rosemary plant in a large pot. I need to get a new bench to go out the front though, the old one - at least 16 years old now - creaks alarmingly when it is sat on, and I have visions of us crashing to the ground in a miasma of tea and bad language one sunny afternoon.
Unfortunately, having been out in the garden so much, I noticed the bastard sparrows. The bastard sparrows who are nesting in the hedge are using my car as a sort of avian amusement park, sitting on the wing mirror and shitting liberally all down the driver's door. Sometimes, for a change, they hop down onto the rubber window trim and fight with their own reflections in the wing mirror. This is clearly alarming and makes them shit themselves. If they win the fight with themselves, they have a celebratory great big shit.
I tried folding the mirror back, but they still manage to get themselves between it and the car for a good old mirror fight. And a shit, of course. Bastards.
I wouldn't mind so much but we feed them, we have a little bath out there for them, we have nesting boxes all over the place, and how do they repay our kindness? By covering my car in a thick, copious layer of second-hand birdseed.
I have been washing huge amounts of sparrow crap off my car for three days now, and every time I go out there it is encrusted again. I might admit defeat and harvest it to sell on eBay. My own Organic Guano business.
Other News: It was Mr WithaY's birthday at the weekend.
Me: It's your birthday soon - what would you like as a present?
Mr WithaY: Oh, something bushcrafty please.
Me: ....? *thinks* Ohhh fuck...
"Something bushcrafty" could mean almost anything. An interesting stick? A pet squirrel? Snowshoes? A canoe? A week in a Youth Hostel in the bleakest corner of the North of Scotland? A banjo? I have no clue.
I chickened out and gave him some money.
Guess what he plans to spend it on, readers? I bet you won't, not in a million billion years.
He's booked himself onto a bronze axe-head forging course in Wales.
He's very excited about it.
Anyhoo, in a slightly less mental birthday vein, we went out for dinner with some friends on Saturday night to a fine local eaterie. We ate and drank like kings** then sat around chatting and drinking coffee. The owners of the eaterie have a splendid dog - a Rhodesian Ridgeback, to be specific - who came trotting out to say hello. We all made a huge fuss of her, and she was charming company, greeting everyone and being good-natured and friendly.
It came time to go, and we stood up, putting on coats and jackets, the lovely dog still milling around, sniffing hands and wagging her tail. One of our group pulled his jumper on, and was pulling the sleeves up over his hands and up his arms when the dog went mental.
Still wagging her tail, she jumped up and put her paws on his shoulders (she's a big dog) and started mouthing and biting at his hands, still hidden in the sleeves. She was clearly playing, but it was all a bit sudden and unexpected, and the owner rushed over to grab the dog and pull her away.
"I'm so sorry," she explained. "My husband plays a game with her where he puts a sock over his hand and they romp about - she loves it!"
She'd spotted our friend with his hands hidden up his jumper sleeves and thought "Great! Not only are these nice people making a huge fuss of me, but they also know the sock game!"
*If any builders out there know that the stuff is actually impregnated with deadly toxic chemicals, please keep it to yourself.
**Greedy kings who like steak. And booze.