Tidying up and weeding in the front garden hereabouts is a job that has to be over and done with at the crack of dawn, under cover of near-darkness, before the rest of the village is up and about. Either that, or plan to devote at least three-and-a-half hours to the job. The garden in question is south-facing, is mainly gravel and rocks, with borders of grasses and plants which are happy to be baked year-in and year-out. The grasses and some other stuff have self-seeded into the gravel and periodically need a bit of ho-ho-hoeing to keep them in check.
As I say, this is a task that requires an early start. Anything after 8.00 a.m. and this will be the morning story:
The garden has a low wall and is on what passes for the main road through the village. This low wall is just the right height for the legion of puffed-out dog-walkers (PODW's) to sit and have a rest. The prickly Berberis hedge hasn't grown quite high enough yet to be a deterrent and make this perch inhospitable. Well, not to those in Barbour jackets and country tweeds. Anyway, while they and Rover catch their breath, PODW's always seem to have some guidance for me in my labours. Or want to know who's buying the house for sale at the other end of the village. Or what X said to Y at WI last week that caused such a-muttering and a-mumbling. Before you know it, twenty minutes have gone by and I'm still leaning on my rake, grudgingly accepting their advice, racking my brains to see if I can remember if the mobile library is due this week, or just popping indoors to rustle up half a dozen empty jam-jars for their chutney.
The passers-by who don't sit down are usually the ones offering a cheeky remark over their shoulder and therefore require a quick getaway before the business end of a garden implement helps them on their merry way. (You know who you are .....) They don't, I have to confess, take up much time, but they are a distraction from my weeding duties, while I try in vain to think up a witty riposte for their return journey.
And then there's the car-horn tooters, who, I'm afraid, hardly ever get an acknowledgement. By the time I've straightened up and focussed on the middle-distance, they're long gone. I have to admit to wearing a hat with a big brim these days so that I can avoid making eye-contact. Either that, or just make a point of waving indiscriminately at every car driver. Which you have to do anyway when the PODW's are comfily ensconced and the hat-brim-lowering technique can't (politely) be employed.
The least time-consuming conversation is the one I have with the chap over the road. He's a tough-guy professional motor-bike racer, and walks with a severe limp from injuries sustained in the line of duty. But he walks very very fast, starts talking to me before he leaves his own drive, keeps talking as he speeds past me and doesn't stop until he's a good many yards down the road. There's a kind of doppler effect to our exchange, which never varies. "How are you Chris?" "Oooh ... you know, Tony. How about you?" "Stressed out, Chris, stressed out." "Oh dear, Tony, what now?" But I never hear the response, because by then he's almost at the corner and whizzing off down Church Road to see his mum. I don't even really have to pause in my weeding and Tony seems quite happy to address his remarks to the top of my head. Good Old Tony.
Thanks for visiting, hope to see you again soon!
The photo's actually the Fire Hydrant warning fixed to the wall, but PODW's beware!