Another beautiful month in the garden. The pheasant and his partner seem content. The moles are staying away and we are about to trim the box hedge, something of a marathon! No sign of any potential house buyers yet.
Over in Hagley, the rabbits are content, the neighbour has bindweed in his lawn and all the neighbours have box hedges planted by the developers, the plants just too far apart to grow into a decent hedge. Ollie, a brilliant ground worker I have used for the patio, shed base, etc., has brought his mini-digger and removed 2ft depth of clay from a lot of the garden before replacing it with good top-soil. I shall now start moving some of our more precious plants to the new garden. This has been an immensely frustrating year so far. Usually, I grow over 1,000 plug plants to fill the beds and we buy plants as we see them in garden centres and emporia such as Aldi, where I used to rescue the plants from certain dehydration and death. Not this year, however – the unsettlement and limbo caused by a frustrated house move has put paid to all that and we have had to exert extreme discipline in the garden centres. This has been difficult, because there is a wonderful Webbs Garden Centre a quarter of a mile from our new house, bulging with beautiful plants. The good news is that they do a really good cheese on toast and we are still working through the card of 12 free drinks we were given when we took out their loyalty card.
The local B&Q superstore is only 4 miles away in Kidderminster. Utopia, much nearer than Cambridge, our current nearest big B&Q. We bought a new swing seat for the garden. The offer was attractive and the box said it could be easily constructed by two people! It lied. It took four of us a couple of hours. I treated it to a cover and it now sits on the corner of the patio – very comfortable and soporific.
We are having to arrange our trips to Hagley around the events the children gave us for Christmas (they thought we would have moved by now). They arranged for us to see Funny Girl a few weeks ago and, next week, we have afternoon tea on the Severn Valley steam railway. There will be the usual grandchildren fest – they all descend on us frequently. Happily, Fraser, our 11 year old grandchild who had major heart surgery six weeks ago, is now at home and doing really well after a torrid time in hospital. We have a lovely time when we go to Hagley – it is a bit like visiting a timeshare and we have to remind ourselves that there are things to do and that we are not on holiday!
Management and I enjoyed a day out on East Anglia’s railways with our friends Nick and Dawn. Arranged by Nick, we took the train from Ely to Norwich and had a cup of coffee before boarding the antique diesel train to Lowestoft where we had sea food and a drink before climbing on the much newer train to Ipswich where we had lunch. Finally, we caught a very smart Peterborough train which took us back to Ely. Run by Abelio Greater Anglia, all the trains ran exactly on time and had a ticket inspector / host, all four of whom were very friendly. Beautiful scenery all the way, especially around the Norfolk Broads. All the trains were diesel powered and we asked the hosts how they go on about filling up with diesel. “We drop in at Tesco’s” was the usual initial response but, in truth, the trains only have enough fuel for 2 to 3 days and they are refuelled at Norwich or Ilford. There is a department which determines which units run on which routes, scheduling them to be in either Norwich or Ilford every second or third night so that the maintenance driver can take them off during the night and “fill ’em up”. They are serviced on a similar principle. This seems a bit sketchy to me so homework is called for and there may well be a future article.
Airman Jones was assigned to the induction centre where he was to advise new recruits about their government benefits, especially their GI insurance. It wasn’t long before Captain Smith noticed that Airman Jones had almost a 100% record for insurance sales, which had never happened before.
Rather than ask about this, the Captain stood in the back of the room and listened to Jones’s sales pitch. Jones explained the basics of the GI Insurance to the new recruits, and then said: If you have GI Insurance and go into battle and are killed, the government has to pay $200,000 to your beneficiaries. If you don’t have GI insurance, and you go into battle and get killed, the government has to pay only a maximum of $6000.”Now,” he concluded, “Which bunch do you think they are going to send into battle first?”
A married couple moves into to a new home. After a few days, as the husband returns home from work, his wife says to him, “Honey, one of the pipes in the bathroom is leaking, could you fix it?” “What do I look like, a plumber?” asks the husband, and goes to sleep. A few days later, the wife once again turns to her husband and says, “Honey, my car doesn’t start. I think it may need a new battery. Could you change it for me?” “What do I look like, a mechanic?” asks the husband with a frown. A week goes by, and the wife once again turns to her husband and says, “Dear, the roof is leaking, could you do something about it?””What do I look like, a roofer?” asks the husband. “Take care of these things yourself!” He then leaves home for a week on a business trip. “When I come back,” he says to his wife, “I’d like all these things taken care of. He comes back a week later and is astonished to discover the roof is fixed, the car is running and the pipes are brand new. “Great! How much is that going to cost me?” he snarls at his wife “Nothing at all.” said the wife. “The neighbour popped in and turned out to be a handyman. He said he’d fix the whole thing if I’d just bake him a cake or sleep with him.”
“Wow,” said the husband. “What kind of cake did you make him?” “What do I look like,” exclaims the wife, “a baker?”
Best wishes to you all Ian Nisbet