“It was one of the most ex­hil­a­rat­ing things I have done in years”

In her weekly col­umn, Mad­die Grigg shares tales from her life in ru­ral Dorset . . .

The People's Friend - - Maddie’s World -

FOR years, I thought the song “One Man Went To Mow” was about a per­son go­ing to a place called “Mo”. It’s only re­cently dawned on me that the man was go­ing mowing, which is in­cred­i­bly stupid of me, re­ally, con­sid­er­ing that the next line in the song is “Went to mow a meadow”.

But al­ways, in Mad­die’s world, “Mo-a-meadow” was “Mo’s” rather posh sib­ling vil­lage, so I didn’t make the con­nec­tion.

Any­way, I’ve never mown a meadow in my life. Af­ter years of see­ing my fa­ther mow mead­ows to make hay, and even watching him and my mother zoom around on the ride-on mower at the age of eighty-nine, it’s a joy that’s passed me by. Un­til now, that is.

“I think it’s about time I prised you away from that lap­top,” Mr Grigg said to me one morn­ing last week. “You need to get out in the open air. It’s good for you.”

How charm­ing, I thought, com­ing from a man who hardly ever walks the dog. It’s al­ways me that gets up at just be­fore seven ev­ery day to take Arty out for her morn­ing con­sti­tu­tional.

But then, I thought, he’s prob­a­bly right. There’s only so much surfing of the net I can do with the key­words Jobs For Writ­ers be­fore be­com­ing com­pletely dis­heart­ened.

So we set off in the car with Arty safely in­stalled in the back, then headed across the county bor­der into Som­er­set.

I was there to help him with the gar­den­ing at his late mother’s old house, which the fam­ily is let­ting un­til they can find a buyer.

“OK,” I said. “What do you want me to do?”

It was an un­sea­son­ably hot day and I didn’t re­ally fancy toil­ing in the fruit gar­den and get­ting sun­burnt, although, as al­ways, I had brought my hat.

“Well,” he said, smil­ing. “How do you fancy mowing the lawn?”

Not just any old lawn, mind. It was the or­chard at the back of the house. And on a ride-on mower. I could hardly con­tain my ex­cite­ment.

“Is it easy to drive?” I asked, sud­denly fearful that I might muck the whole thing up com­pletely. I had vi­sions of shift­ing into re­verse and go­ing back – smash! – into the green­house.

“Easy? You’ll walk it,” Mr Grigg said.

“I don’t want to walk it. I want to ride on it.”

“You know per­fectly well what I mean.”

Af­ter a short train­ing ses­sion, I was on my own.

“I’m tak­ing the fruit cage down,” he said. “You get on with it. But watch out for the dog.”

Just as I was about to set off, Arty bounded my way from the other side of a willow tree, chas­ing a rab­bit.

It got as close to me as you are now to your magazine, took one look and sped off in the other di­rec­tion.

The dog lost in­ter­est and promptly jumped into the wa­ter trough to cool down.

“I’ll see you later,” Mr Grigg said as I put the mower in gear and poo­tled off around the lawn.

As a child, I had watched my fa­ther go­ing round in neat cir­cles with his trac­tor and mower in the hay field. I re­mem­bered, too, how pre­cise he had been on his own ride-on mower sev­eral decades later.

So, with that in mind, I pro­ceeded to mow the lawn in the way I thought my fa­ther would have done. I started out­side and worked in, and even man­aged to put it in re­verse to cut the grass in cor­ners I could hardly reach.

I can hon­estly say it was one of the most ex­hil­a­rat­ing things I have done in years. It beat the fair­ground rides at But­lins into a cocked hat.

At the end of it all, Mr Grigg said I’d done a great job. High praise in­deed.

I’m now brows­ing the in­ter­net with the key­words Lawn­mower Jobs to sat­isfy my new call­ing. n

Mad­die thor­oughly en­joyed her time on the ride-on mower!

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