Organic matter


Oh, this rain! It has at least usefully told me just exactly how unwaterproof much of my walking gear has become. The Berghaus that got drenched on Easter Sunday; the boots that caught the attention of the dog and carried me across Northumberland, both are provably unable to cope with hour after hour of rain and swishing through long, sodden grass. Yesterday I carried out the same experiment with a different jacket. It was very waterproof but features a hood of such poor design that the water trickled down my face and, by then warmed to unnoticeability, flowed on down my neck until I unpeeled at home and found my front was wet to the waist. Bah.

Today I was supposed to be enjoying more of this unseasonal grey chill at my nephew’s school open day. He was due to row in the parade of boats but, during a rehearsal the other day, another boat was caught by the current and smashed into his crew’s, catching his hand between them. Seven stitches in his writing hand later, he is looking forward to his AS level exam next week. He’s going to be one of those special kids in a side room, with his own invigilator and a stopwatch, to let him take time off if his hand hurts too much. This is glamour beyond my ken. Such a risk-averse, unsporty and swotty kid was I that no way would I have been nursing any kind of injuries beyond something caused by slipping on spilled food as I hastened my waddle to the lunch counter.

Anyway, the school decided that the river was too swollen and they couldn’t afford any more bashed-up students, so they cancelled the parade of boats. Since this was the centerpiece of our day, my brother called the gathering off, and thus it was that I swapped a cold, muddy riverbank for an attractively warm and dry office.

More plans changing: a trip to my garden partner last night was postponed as the rain drilled on and on and on. The plan was to take round some seedlings/infant plants – courgettes, cucumbers and lettuce – that I’ve raised from seed ready for planting out. This will be the third lot of vegetables I have nurtured for Phyllis’s garden, only to have them eaten completely by slugs. In my own garden the yield is high, thanks to slug pellets, but Phyllis’s laudable insistence on the organic method (the buggers even ignore copper tape) means that absolutely nothing beyond hairy, sharp-tasting tomato plants survive. However, my will is broken and yesterday, for the first time and safely over the phone, I uttered the phrase ‘slug pellets’. Lettuce hope that from this small seed sprinkled on the breeze, Phyllis will come round to my way of thinking and let me give up on beer traps, human hair, copper tape, picking them out by hand and hoping for the bloody best. I’ve had enough, bring on the big guns.


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