City to County

James is get­ting ready to fire up the lawn mower... in a while

EDP Norfolk - - Inside - James Matthews

IT’S SATUR­DAY morn­ing and I’m sit­ting on my lounge sofa with a cup of cof­fee in hand, star­ing out through the pa­tio doors into my back garden with a sense of duty and dread. Now that spring has sprung, I have a duty to tackle the jun­gle that’s grown out­side my win­dow over the last six months and I’m dread­ing the hard work ahead.

There was a time when I would sit on a cheap fold­ing chair on a tiny bal­cony of an even tinier Lon­don flat dream­ing of the day I’d be the proud owner of a bowl­ing-green lawn, pris­tine deck­ing and maybe even one of those se­ri­ous, grown-up bar­be­ques mid­dleaged men are so proud of.

The thing about a bal­cony that’s only just big enough for two chairs and a bud­get bar­beque (used once and left to rust) is that it is rel­a­tively easy to keep clean and tidy. Af­ter the long win­ter a quick sweep of the deck and a dust­ing down of the fur­ni­ture would quickly have you back in busi­ness for spring.

But from my lounge sofa the garden I left in Septem­ber (and have barely stepped into since) is now un­recog­nis­able. My once im­mac­u­late deck­ing is cov­ered in a shiny, greeny-brown slime, a pre­vi­ously iden­ti­fi­able gravel path seems to abruptly dis­ap­pear un­der a sprawl of uniden­ti­fi­able fo­liage half way down the garden and where I re­mem­bered a flower bed run­ning around the edge of the lawn I now seem to have weeds and yet more grass.

Like any man, when I do get around to pre­par­ing the garden for our fort­night or so of Bri­tish sum­mer I plan to start with an ac­tiv­ity I know I can ex­cel at – wak­ing a tired-look­ing lawn mower from its hi­ber­na­tion for the first cut of the year. Of course, with a petrol mower it’s never as easy as wheel­ing it out and in­stantly glid­ing ef­fort­lessly through the long, tan­gled grass. Af­ter a win­ter sit­ting dor­mant in a cold, damp shed I know it’ll be a test of patience and brawn to coax the lethar­gic ma­chine into life.

And I know the satisfaction of a neatly-mown lawn will quickly wear off and I’ll then need to start pac­ing around the once-tidy flower beds and bor­ders try­ing to dis­tin­guish a mass of weeds from the green sprouts of some­thing I vaguely re­mem­ber be­ing quite at­trac­tive

Af­ter a win­ter sit­ting dor­mant in a cold, damp shed I know it’ll be a test of patience and brawn to coax the lethar­gic ma­chine into life

last sum­mer. My neigh­bour will oc­ca­sion­ally pro­vide some green-fin­gered point­ers over the garden fence. “Well, that should’ve been pruned a cou­ple of months ago,” “I’d cut that back,” or just “yes, yes, that is a weed”.

I’ll per­haps sit for a bit longer be­fore I get started. Maybe even have an­other cof­fee. It is the week­end af­ter all. Af­ter that, if any­one needs me I’ll be in the garden.

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