After months of small wins…..getting excited about the discovery of the perfect rug, chair or mirror for example…this week saw the refurbishment stakes being raised considerably with the arrival of three lads …..and a chainsaw.
The knock came at 7.30am.
“Oh ….its J!” I said referring to a newly employed but already rather familiar gardener following a considerable number of scoping visits. One such visit had resulted in him telling O he lived on the moon whilst another had, more truthfully, confessed that he in fact hailed from East London. With his measuring and tea drinking (or should that be the other way round?) visit overlapping that of friends stemming from the same area it turned out they just so happened to know his family or at least extended members thereof and so we are now privy to the knowledge that his father lives on the Costa Brava, Aunt Jane had a recent hip replacement whilst Uncle John and the rest have moved on up in the world to Essex.
I opened the door.
“Hi luvvie” he smiled. “Hi mate” he said directing his greeting somewhere near knee height.
“Its J” I said again and in the customary manner for which we mothers are famous, continued in the third person whilst facing said person square on. “J’s early!”
“I wanted to make sure I was here before you left.” he apologised “and the traffic is bad from where the boys are coming from so I knew they wouldn’t get here first.”
“Its fine,” I said “Come on in….I’ll pop upstairs to get O quickly dressed then get the kettle on”.
J shook his head. “Don’t worry about me, I’ll make myself at home” and with a wide smile made his way outside to the garden to asses the mess still remaining from the destruction of HTJB as O and I went upstairs…past a handsome collection of newly mounted stamps….to dress.
Alas morning dressing is not an operation that can be done quickly. Pulling a tshirt from a drawer I was halted in my tracks by the almost-three-year-old fashion police.
“No, not Thomas” O said, referring of course to the famous Tank as he busily peeewed peeewed knight-style with the loft hatch pole. As his robot clock came crashing to the floor I replaced Thomas and extracted a Toy Story version….Rex to be exact…..whilst books fell from the shelving and a picture frame plummeted atop.
“I a knight” he explained “Raaaaaaaa”
“Quickly” I urged in a hushed tone as I beckoned the dinosaur-knight close. “Let’s get dressed and then we can go and see J downstairs”
O listened wide eyed before marching determinedly out of the room.
“I go see J” he called back over his shoulder, weapon of mass destruction still in hand. “I back in a sec…..”
I rushed after him. “Uh uh….no….we need to dress first…” I nodded “then we’ll go and see him”
He appeared to agree with the proposed plan and paused long enough to relinquish the pole and allow Rex to be slipped over his head before hastily taking to the stairs two at a time.
Placing Shreddies before O I enquired as to whether J had had a good weekend.
“I’ve not had one” he said “I had to catch up on a pointing job as it had rained in the week” he rubbed his tanned face tiredly, “but that’s life.”
I put a cup of hot tea in front of him.
“Do you take sugar?” I asked.
“Just one. I’m trying to lose weight..” he walloped his belly, “but the problem is… it keeps finding me again….”
O, little fingers hooked into the sides of his mouth, gave him a grin.
J’s belly laughed.
“Alright mate. Wide Mouthed Frog?” He laughed loudly again.
“I think…” I began hesitantly “it’s meant to be one of the trolls in Frozen. I could be wrong. Perhaps its the monster…… eat your breakfast darling…” I encouraged.
O ate a spoonful.
“So I’ve not ordered anything” J went on “it being bank holiday and everything.” He was referring, worryingly, to our fence. “Thought I’d order it once I was here. So today I’m not sure yet what we’ll do…probably start clearing.”
“Ok” I said taking a bite of my toast.
O pulled at his mouth with his hooked little fingers.
J erupted in laughter.
“Eat your breakfast baby” I said.
O ate a spoonful.
“A skip will come tomorrow” he continued “so we’ll throw in your old shed..”
“I’ll try and sort out some of the other rubbish” I promised, “as a lot out there can probably go straight on it…..give you more room to work”
O pulled at his mouth ….now well aware of the gutsy reaction he would receive. He wasn’t disappointed.
“Eat your breakfast” I said.
O ate a spoonful before adding with a point of his utensil, “That man lives on the moon.”
“What?” asked J.
“You told him last time you lived on the moon.” I explained.
“Ah yes, I’m glad you remembered that” he said touching his nose conspiratorially and taking a gulp of his tea “as I’d forgotten….”
I tapped gently at O’s bowl. Shreddies were awaiting.
“Ah” said J hearing a knock at the door “that’s my boys now.”
O’s face lit up, soggy Shreddies instantly forgotten at the prospect of playtime.
“Well, men really” said J as he got up to let them in.
O turned to me in transparent disappointment.
“Mummy. Men …….not boys.”
“No….no you are right….its more of an affectionate term…..” I looked at his little perplexed face. “No darling.”I started again, “Men are not boys. Come on. Its time go.”
J’s boys….or men…..have their work cut out. We want the line of light-sucking Leylandi felled at the front of the house, the old ramshackle fence at the back replaced, a concrete base built for the shed, new shed erected and the sloping garden levelled. We then asked for a little veg plot with raised beds at the back, probably with a step up from the lawn, and turf laid. Inspired by the drawings of a kind-hearted and green fingered friend (whose actual design we couldn’t go with only as I’d slightly miscalculated the measurements by…like…five metres….) we’ve gone for a rounded lawn with plenty of kick-about space for the males about the house and a couple of deep triangular beds for the female. Somewhere amidst it all room also needs to be found for a playhouse which O asks for on a daily basis. It has to have a red roof we are told, though men about this house rarely have a say where colour is concerned so he might have to get used to disappointment there. However the playhouse is, like our fence, still in the shop. The ‘crips’ shop O believes …..by which he refers to our local M&S from which he is used to seeing one or the other of us emerging with bags of spicy tomato (S’s vice) or salty squares (mine). In reality playhouses do seem to be in rather short supply amongst the taramasalata, bagged salad and Percy Pigs so the internet hunt is on to find one big enough for the purpose of playing, wooden enough to take paint (albeit not red) yet small enough to fit somewhere neatly…..shrouded, I hope, with generous planting.
Returning home that evening I discovered that J and his men had indeed been working hard and had managed to, albeit temporarily, double the size of our garden. It now incorporates that of next door with what had sufficed as a partition of sorts piled like firewood at the back. Indeed firewood was indeed what it was to become when shortly after the boy’s arrival the next day a match was lit and the Robinson-Crusoe like fence came to an appropriate end. Meanwhile the chainsaw was taken round to the front of the house and in a few short moments the thick bushy curtain of the Leylandi trees had been drawn.
Feeling it was time for another round of coffees I put the kettle on. I asked J for the hot drink preferences of his team.
“Tea for me, coffee for him and nothing for that one as he’s a vegan.”
“That one on the left. One who looks like he could do with a square meal. Vegan. Training to be a Buddha. Does this work as he’s saving money to go to China. Lovely boy.”
With drinks drunk J disappeared to try to get the better of our National Fence Shortage and pin down not the panels….those he has on order….but the crucial and as yet elusive posts. Meanwhile his boys picked up their spades.
“Come on then, let’s do this” said one to the other and for the next few hours they dug, wheeled and spirit levelled until the first third of the garden lay brown and flat.
“Its good earth, it smells good” J commented on his return as he surveyed the progress made here and relayed the lack of it he had himself experienced. Picking up a spade, he joined his team for the last hour of their day.
“We won’t be back tomorrow” he warned as they readied for departure. “Its forecast to tip it down. It would be a mud bath and we ideally need to be laying concrete for the shed base. But we’ll be back Friday. Well. They will. I’ll be shopping for fence posts…..I’ll sort something…..” he said hopefully as he shut the door behind him.
Personally I’m happy without. I could get quite used to this extra large garden……