Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Round and round the garden

I came to the realisation recently that I’m getting old. It wasn’t due to the aches and pains I’ve had for a while now; the little creaks and groans my joints give off every time I move, but more that my attitude and interests were shifting to things that young me would have scoffed at. I distinctly remember going to a house party, many years ago. My friends were talking about the virtues of various garden sprinkler systems. I laughed at them, called them old buggers and wondered off to find more scintillating conversation. But here I am, 12 years later (give or take), thinking about gardening equipment.

Take, for example, my new garden storage box. Our garden has long been a point of contention: we’d love it to be somewhere we can use to relax, that our son can play in and that we can have dinner in during the warmer summer. Instead, what we generally have is a garden that looks like a set from Jurassic Park. 

An actual picture of me last time I ventured out into the garden

The issue is two-fold: to get it to the point we want will cost money we’d rather (or even need to) spend on other things and neither of us like gardening. But despite this, I’ve recently been thinking about what we could do relatively simply and cheaply to improve things.

Enter this storage box. We have a shed at the top of our garden that we never use. It is currently in a war with an encroaching ivy bush and the bush is winning – you can’t actually see the shed from the bottom of the garden any more. We don’t store anything in it except for some ripped up carpet, an old TV and a smashed fluorescent strip light. We also have this brick outhouse thing that I assume was once a toilet, way back when. This is where I store what can be loosely called my garden ‘tools’, which are mostly hand-me-down, second hand, rusted old crap. This brick outhouse is, I am ashamed to admit, a spider-infested, mouldy hellhole due to neglect. My tools, including my lawnmower, are covered in webs, damp and rust. I don’t think the outhouse is properly shored-up and I have no idea how to fix it (although a flamethrower for all the spiders might be a start). I don’t mind spiders, generally speaking, but when you open a door and spiders in the double figures all turn to look at you, you know you’re in trouble.

I see you, you bastard. Don't you think I don't!

So a couple of weeks ago, and almost on a whim, I decided enough was enough. This was the year I’d take affirmative action. This was the year I wouldn’t just do the bare-minimum to keep up appearances and appease my grumpy next door neighbour, who goes out mow his lawn and wash his car every. Single. Day, and makes a point of giving a disapproving look at our front garden every time he walks up the path. This would be the year that I turned our garden into a proper garden. So I bought this storage box. It’s one of those plastic ones made to look like really plasticky wood, with a lift-top and a front that swings out into two doors.  It’s nothing fancy, but it was a revelation. 

But it was also a turning point for me, personally. I realised, as I sat at home working, that I was excited for it to arrive. I was anticipating it. This kind of reaction is usually exclusively seen when I wait for a new bit of gadgetry or tech, such was when I recently bought a PlayStation VR kit. 

More Daft Prat than Daft Punk...

But here I was, feeling it for what was, essentially, a box to put stuff in. I came to realise that it was not because of what it was, but because of what it represented. I was getting serious about fixing this issue! I was taking my garden back, one weed at a time!

Oh, storage box, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

And it’s escalated! I found myself gravitating towards YouTube videos and forum threads on maintaining the perfect lawn, or what makes a good shed, or how to lay block paving. Yesterday, I even drew a little picture of what the garden end-game would look like, with things labelled up. I went so far as to colour the bits of grass in green. I even showed it to my wife, proudly. I went out and cleared the patio, yanking up all the weeds. This morning, my new lawnmower was delivered. Things are happening!

Grrr. Sexy.

Hopefully this is a turning point. Hopefully this isn’t just typical me, getting a bright idea, starting something and then seeing how much work is actually involved and giving up.

Perhaps feeling “old” isn’t the right term. Perhaps it’s more that I’ve matured. Now, if I can forgo a few hours playing video games at the weekend, I might actually put this new-found maturity to good use…

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