An Uncomfortable Night

Sweet peas 8.12 trimmed

Today, much cooler and less humid than last weekend, was a very pleasant day for gardening.  Jackie, proud of the sweet peas she had grown from seed, continued with her planting and weeding, whilst I continued with the new bed.  This time, my main problem was the ivy.  Had I known just how much ivy there was concealed in what was once perhaps a shrubbery, no way would I have expected to finish this task so quickly.  Elizabeth and I had, in the spring, cleared a great deal of ivy from the laurel hedge at the front of the house.  But this was nothing compared to Sutherland Place, which I mentioned yesterday.  When I first took up my tenancy there in 2008, no-one had entered the small London terraced garden for 20 years.  The ivy had taken over.  It took me two complete weekends to clear it.

Jackie also mowed the lawn whilst Elizabeth, who has been unwell recently, weeded the herb bed.  Some years ago, a statue that Jacqueline had given Elizabeth, lived on the grass.  This little girl was moved around from site to site as the mowing required.  Last year, thinking that she really deserved a permanent home of her own, we moved her into a flower bed.  Now she stands on the remains of one of the brick pillars that held up the former pergola.  Mowing can now be undertaken without having to shift her, and she is left in peace to survey the activity.  Later Elizabeth mowed the front lawn.  I got a bit further past halfway in digging out the new bed.

I have never been one for camping, or barbecues, for that matter.  I like my home comforts, and cannot see the fun in struggling to light, and keep alight, an outside facility when there are perfectly good ovens and grills in the kitchen.  Yesterday I described Wolf and Luci’s caravan, which seems to me a pretty good method of going camping.  Louisa and Errol and their daughters are currently being flooded out of their tents, but they think that is all part of the fun.

So, why am I going on about the outdoor life?  Well, Barbara made a witty comment about camping after reading yesterday’s post.  This reminded me that the last time I went camping was by accident.  On 28th. May I wrote about the fundraising walk I had done in the summer of 2003 in support of Sam’s Atlantic Row.  Walking 215 miles in 11 days, as that post shows, was only the half of it.  What I didn’t mention in the Nettle Rash story, was the ten nights involved.  Sam’s friend James was accompanying him on the boat.  The vessel Sam was to spend 59 days alone in, rowing across the ocean, was purpose-built.  There was therefore a small cabin on board.  Designed for one, it was going to have to accommodate both Sam and James.  As I have already stated, I like my comfort, so the plan was that wherever we stopped at night, we would find me bed and breakfast accommodation.  That worked pretty well.  Most of the time.  The two occasions on which it didn’t would have to be consecutive, wouldn’t they?

Fortunately the nights were warm.  Fortunately James had brought a small tent which he was generously prepared to lend me.  Unfortunately there was no mattress, no ground-sheet, and no sleeping bag.  Because we hadn’t considered the possibility that we might decide to stop in the middle of nowhere.  On the first occasion, we managed to find me some sort of camp-site with tents, but no bedding of any sort, and latrines which I was quite unprepared to use.  I slept on the hard ground.  Yes, I did actually sleep.  When you’ve walked as much as I had, you’ll sleep anywhere.  I thought.  Until the next night.  This time I used James’ tent.  These outdoor nights were spent in my day clothes.  The place where we had pitched the tent seemed to be incredibly stony.  One particularly sharp stone dug into my left thigh all night.  I was just too tired to attempt to move, and desperately trying to get some shut-eye.  I’ve no doubt I did sleep a bit, as is always the case when you think you haven’t slept at all.  When, early in the morning, I finally decided I’d had enough, I looked for the offending stone.  I couldn’t find it.  Then it dawned on me.  I fished in my left trouser pocket, and pulled out my bunch of keys.

This evening we were joined by Elizabeth’s lifelong friend Nicki and her children Georgie and Josh.  Elizabeth produce spelt spaghetti with a chicken based bolognese sauce, which was followed by coffee roulade, French apple tart, and M & S chocolate coated cornflakes. Three different red wines were drunk, Jackie preferring Hoegaarden, and the young people bottled ales.

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