A mixed bag

Why is it that August has the reputation of being a sunny summer holiday month when in reality it is infuriatingly unpredictable and almost always disappointing? This year’s been no exception, so why should we be surprised. Partly because we’re all optimists I suppose but mainly because our brain is wonkily programmed to tell us that August was always hot when we were young.

But in between the rain, the chill and the bank holiday heatwave there were many jobs to be done: the wild flower meadow behind the house had to be cut, allowed to dry, raked up, transported to the bonfire and burnt, the lawns needed mowing every week and the two beds in front of the terrace needed a complete renovation. All this sandwiched between my continuing obsession with butterflies and visits from our grand-daughter, to whom, for some reason, I am God.

The meadow job is, in decent weather, hard work but fun. My trusty Tracmaster cuts the long grass to snail height, the sun and wind dries it within a few days for it then to be raked up and burnt though not before leaving the best bits to be deposited elsewhere in the meadow to drop their seeds.

But the job that really needed doing was replacing the lovely but ancient lavenders, rebuilding the retaining wall of one of the beds and digging to remove hundreds of allium bulbs of various sorts, the Japanese anemones and the knackered topsoil. What we didn’t anticipate was the extent of the task nor what we’d find within the two beds. Cue photos:

Whoever made these beds twenty or so years ago hid a multitude of sins: an ancient brick path, an unprotected main water inlet, a rusting but disconnected tap, lumps of concrete, many and huge flints and worst of all an old rubbish pit containing years of rusting metal, old bottles and broken glass. In those far-off days there weren’t council rubbish tips so a hole in the ground was the only answer. The one thing there wasn’t was treasure: no coins, no jewels, no gold bars, just a few clay pipe stems. Not surprising really as the inhabitants a hundred years ago were impoverished farmworkers, toiling their socks off for the lord of the manor in order to pay their rent. 

And here’s me complaining about the lack of treasure when the same house is today worth half a dozen gold bars. How times change.