Wednesday 20 February 2008

Calling a spade a spade

Do you have to be fit to work on an allotment or does an allotment make you fit? Today, I would say the former. I ache in many places. Today the Lovely Son fixed the shed, and set to with wood and screws, creating a new compost bin of gargantuan proportions to replace the rickety old one. I took the opportunity of emptying the current compost heap, sorting the new material, ie still-recognisable kitchen waste (so many teabags!!) from the rich dark crumbly "black gold" that the sainted Monty enthuses about. Then flushed with pride, I wheelbarrowed the black gold to other places in dire need of a bit of organic oomph. I hadn't realised until today that the old wheelbarrow, rescued from a skip, has an inflatable tyre, currently in need of a bit of an inflate. Another item to continually forget to bring from home: tinsnips, garlic, peanuts, dibber, bicycle pump....Oh, and someone has stolen our good spade, and the shears. Curse them.

I also tried to construct the new rose arch, the old one having eventually yielded to corrosion and gales. The replacement cost £4.99, about £1 more than its predecessor, so we don't expect much from it. Opening the box was my first mistake. No glasses (again), tiny instructions, 5000 pieces of metal, with bolts, and I could feel my enthusiasm draining away. I rang Sandra, who is handy with such things, and sweet-talked her into coming down to do it for me, and could she bring some matches too? Yes, she said, obligingly
, not knowing what was in store. She looked at the many pieces of metal and all the bolts, and I could see that her heart sank too. Silently, we put all the bits back in the box and promised ourselves that we would do it another time soon. Preferably by encouraging Dave to do it for us. But we had a little fire, and yesterday's evil rose prunings went into it, just to make sure. Within moments we smelled well-kippered; people talk fancifully about the evocative scent of woodsmoke, but it isn't thrilling when it permeates your clothes and newly-washed hair and makes you cough like your grandad.

While we were in malodorous mode, I shovelled manure, and Sandra bravely emptied the stinky pond. And how worthwhile that was! for at the bottom, deep in black mud, sat a little frog - yes, alive - proving that optimistic Angus was right. We filled the pond up again with fresh water, hoping that the shock of icy barrel water wouldn't put the little creature off from telling its mates that there was now a delightful and salubrious breeding pond in place of the Mordor-Class-A cesspit we had neglected so irresponsibly during the autumn leaf-fall.

After a bit of general light duties, including leaning on shovels and sucking our teeth in a contemplative manner, Sandra and I went home, leaving the LS to finish his tasks but promising to have his lunch ready for him. The dog was too quick for me, and tracked mud all over the sitting room; the revenge of the second bath in a week might be in order now.

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