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Monday, 26 April 2010

Fair stood the wind for Wimbledon.


It has to be said that sometimes a few people take me for granted. They are too self-absorbed to possess the self-awareness to know who they are, but a clue might lie in the fact that most of their other friends and family have long since given up on them. They assume that I will always be at hand to sort out their personal problems or listen to their enervating tales of woe. It rarely seems to occur to them that I too have a private life, which does not always revolve around their needs and their time-scale. Thus, it was with a degree of satisfaction that I was able to write back to certain neighbours seeking my help and say that no, I was not actually in Wimbledon at present and any problem requiring my assistance would simply have to wait for my return. As to when that might be would remain firmly in the laps of those gods controlling the amount of ash in the skies over England.

True to form, I had not even made it to the front steps with my heavy suitcase and shopping before I was besieged by a neighbour seeking my help.
“Can you help me prepare an official letter,” he begged, adding generously,” It can wait until tomorrow.”
He had little chance of my being able to help him there and then and it was ridiculous of him to suppose that I would, as he could not post it until Monday morning at the earliest. Moreover, his utter failure to even offer to help me carry my luggage and shopping up to my forth floor flat flat did little to promote his cause. Besides, my garden needed all my attention as many of the flowers had wilted in my absence. After spending the best part of an hour watering the plants in the garden I went up to flat, hoping that my other plants had survived a week of neglect. I had fortuitously kept my tomato plants in a large dish filled with water as they had suffered the most when I had left them for a similar period last summer. Thankfully the remaining herbs and pot plants quickly revived once I had ensured they had been well watered again. I had brought back a wild garlic plant with me and planted it in my own herb garden. I had given instructions to the Head Gardener, (my friend's brother) at Highgate to arrange for the Partridge to bring around a further range of plants when next she came a-calling. Ideally, such plants would be hardy annuals which could survive in all types of soil and shady conditions.

I noticed that last year's sorrel  was again flourishing in the garden. Now that the weather has become a great deal warmer, I plan to make the Eagle and her partner sorrel soup and a main dish requiring wild garlic as a key ingredient. Ever since I returned to Wimbledon, I have found myself nibbling on the wild garlic leaves and using the shoots chopped up in my cooking or with a piece of cheese. That, and the fact I was up long before anyone else in Highgate, gives the lie to the idea that I am in any shape or form a vampire.

In my absence, the cherry trees in the neighbouring gardens have all burst into bloom, providing a cheerful splash of colour. I am especially pleased to see that the cherry tree in the garden next door has survived the stress of being in the middle of a redevelopment site as workers strive to renovate the derelict house. I will never forgive the original freeholder for allowing a 150 year old walnut tree in the garden to be cut down to make way for an extension; to make matters worse he then proceeded to place two hideous bunker like sheds in the front garden. Originally he claimed it was to store the building equipment needed whilst the lower storey was being renovated. Later, the leaseholders found themselves charged the cost of such monstrosities as the freeholder claimed he needed somewhere to house the gardening equipment, now that his building extension has led to additional meters being placed in the space under the stairs, meaning there was no longer room available to store the lawn mower etc. He defended the ugliness of the sheds by saying they were cheap. I had retorted that we would all rather have spent more money on attractive looking sheds and thereby be spared having to look at such blots on the landscape. Last year the Partridge brought me a banksia rambling rose, which I have affixed to one side of the shed.  I have used string to train it across the roof. At the moment it covers approximately a quarter of the  shed roof. I am hoping that its thick foliage and roses will eventually cover it entirely. The cutting down of the walnut tree and the erection of the builder’ yard sheds were just two of  the reasons why I was so keen to buy the freehold and ensure that the garden could never again be despoiled in such a way. Compared to Highgate, our garden will never compete with it either in terms of scale or landscaping, despite all my valiant efforts to overcome years of outright neglect. But, as a consolation,  I do have a splendid view over the roof tops and the countless mature trees currently blossoming in the local conservation area. At this time of year, such a view is priceless and I would not exchange it even for the dubious delights of living in that much vaunted, allegedly eco-friendly six million pound house in Highgate. not so ideal home

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