Thursday October 6, 2005

I’m well embarked on the big clean up operation in readiness for Graham’s return on Monday. There’s plenty of time to get the list of jobs done, though I’m slightly concerned that the continuous misty fog of the past couple of days, along with intermittent light showers, has made the grass too wet for me to cut. I’d really like to have the lawns neat and tidy ready for him to take over but, at this rate, it’s unlikely. Not that the grass is overgrown, but even so. If we were fortunate enough to get a good, stiff frost, it’d stop the growth altogether, and I’d feel easier about it.

The gardens aren’t too bad considering. They’re in need of an autumn tidy, that’s for sure, but it’s a job that’ll keep Graham busy for no more than half a day, possibly as much as a full day. It’d take me a full week of dedicated labour, with the constant risk of injuring my back. I’d do it, and have said I’ll do it, but he told me in rather colourful language that I must not. “Just be sure to have a good supply of green waste bags,” he said. “I’ll have it done in no time.”

It’ll be good to have that kind of support for the more physical things once more.

I’ve learned a lot about house and garden maintenance from this home alone period. Mostly about the limits of what I can and can’t do, but also about the discipline I need to keep our home in good order as I grow older. It’s been an illuminating experience, and is colouring my thinking on the kind of house we should have next time. I’m thinking a lot smaller than hitherto. I do love having plenty of room, inside the house and out, but it all presents a burden of maintenance.

It’s a matter of common sense and good design. Inside the house, storage is vital. Storage behind closed doors, solid or glazed, rather than open shelving. Open shelving increases the cleaning load out of all proportion. Outside the house, gardens need to be designed for ease of operation and, regardless of size, need a utility area for composting and the storage of plants when they’re in the dormant stage. This garden has none of those. It has the space, but it was designed without regard for the work side of gardening. As a house needs a utility room, no matter how small, so a garden must have a utility area. Both work best when the utility facilities are written into the basic design, and sized appropriately.

I think we ought to aim for a far more modest house and garden than we’ve had for a long time. We do not need four bedrooms, and there’s no virtue whatever in having so much grass that it becomes a burden rather than a pleasure.

Hey ho. We have to sell this one first, and that’s a slow process just now.

It’ll be good, once Graham has caught his breath and settled in, to be able to discuss our options at leisure. While I would not have wanted to do without the phone and the daily contact it has made possible, I’ve never been keen on telephone conversations and this period has done nothing to change that.

Down in Somerset, Graham’s been negotiating caravan accommodation for the two or three periods between now and New Year when he needs to go back to open up the bars for special events, taking Dolly and me along for the ride. Christmas is going to be a strangely disjointed affair this year. I’ve been told I must expect to eat a Christmas lunch every day for nearly two weeks before the actual festival. Turkey and all the trimmings. That’ll not stop us from celebrating as we normally do, but the meal will need careful design if it’s to stand out from the crowd.

It all comes down to careful design, really, and planning, too. Just as well they represent two of my favourite occupations.

* * * * *

Reader’s note:  My waking hours and efforts will be fully occupied for a couple of days now, cleaning and such, so I’m taking a two or three-day hiatus from the journal, and from the Internet. I hope to be back on Monday morning (my time) with an entry to cover the break. Keep safe and, as always, thanks for reading.



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