I have just come in from the garden where I have been contemplating my day over a tonic water on the green bench. The air was still soft at 10pm (remarkable for up here – but then it hit 30 degrees in Buxton today – equally remarkable for the wettest town in Britain!), the honeysuckle hung heavily in the atmosphere and I listened to the sounds of the evening. A horse snorted, birds sang, sheep bleated and some human voices drifted up from the valley. I could have sat there for hours. In fact I could have sat in my garden all day today such was the perfection of it all: hot sun, warm air, no wind, all plant life exploding in the combined conditions of wet and warmth (we had a big load of rain yesterday afternoon and evening, and another big dump at the weekend – my mother, in the arid south east, spending hours watering to keep things alive, is hugely jealous). There are compensations, I guess, for suffering our temperamental climate up here. We had friends staying overnight last Friday. He is a very keen gardener – took a course at the Chelsea Physic Garden and came out highest in his class (aka Chief Gnome). They haven’t visited for four years so we wandered round the garden, clasping our tall glasses of bubbly, and exchanging conversational titbits, when Chief Gnome was heard to comment on the marked abundance of astilbe and loostrife which, no surprise, apparently love a wet climate. I will say no more!
I must say, the lawn is looking rather good at the moment. When we first moved here, it was a mossy mattress. I will never forget lying down on it that very first day we moved in, 31st May 2003, utterly exhausted. Its soft green sponge caressed my weary limbs and welcomed me to my new home. At a certain point, I decided that it needed some attention, and employed Green Thumb to get rid of the over-abundance of moss and some nasty pernicious weeds which were increasingly invading it. A few years down the line and the lawn started to look worse than it ever did – uneven, patchy, not appealing. I took a brave step and got Chief Mr Green Thumb to come and have a look and declared that I didn’t think their attempts to make it like Wimbledon Centre Court were ever going to work, let alone be appropriate, up here on our windswept, sun-deprived hill. It was agreed that we’d let the treatments stop and see where we got to. They phoned the other day and I was pleased to say ‘Actually, it’s looking better than it has done in ages, so I think we’ll give the June treatment a miss, thank you.’ She was very understanding. True to say, I think they helped reduce the moss and weeds, but right now, it seems to have reached a happy equilibrium between moss and grass, and I want to leave well alone for now. Nature has regained its balance.
So, I was supremely jealous when, on Wednesday, I had to leave the gardener sitting on our new bench, contemplating his lunch while I charged around, scissors in hand, frantically cutting flowers to take to my friend for lunch. I should never have said I would go. I’d only just got in from other duties, and now I had to rush out again, AND miss Wimbledon. It truly was a sublimely beautiful day. The garden in all its glory – lush from that opportune combination of rain and heat in recent days and weeks - hot, still, fecund. Glorious. My friend declared me ‘a little stressed’. I know, I was. Because I wanted to be at home in my garden, OR watching Wimbledon, anything but running all over two counties again in a hot car.
This week has loomed large in my diary for some time. It’s an ‘Oh God, no’ sort of week. A music festival, two sports days, a Welcome Day, a school concert, a party and a child going away on Friday for a 3-day PGL school trip. No husband. Wimbledon on telly. It was going to be a battle between selfless devotion to children and selfish devotion to self. I had a feeling I knew which would win. They always do. Conscience and kids – as devastating as an Andy Roddick serve.