All Things Green & Pleasant
When I hit 40 last year I panicked that I was going to fall head first into ‘being old’ activities like gardening and Radio 4 and have been actively rebelling against them ever since.
Apparently I failed, a couple of Friday’s ago, I found myself listening to Radio 4. In my defence it was a wicked documentary about the birth of Soul 2 Soul, so does that act as a pass, or does it just mean that Radio 4 is now my natural habitat? No, no no it isn’t! They just caught me temporarily off-guard by producing insightful and engaging documentaries that thoroughly appealed to my love of British Soul music, the b*stards!
I am most definitely sticking to flicking between Radio 2 in the weekdays until 2 pm when Steve Wright comes on, and I’m off. Then it’s Radio 6 for the evenings and weekends and Mixcloud for the rest of the time.
Talking about the natural habitat; after this happened there was only one way to go, and that was the garden. Oh how I hate it, but now I am a fully-fledged middle-aged suburbanite, this comes with the territory.
Don’t get me wrong; I love sitting in the garden, eating in the garden and relaxing in the garden. It’s just the hard working in the garden that comes with it that I hate. We have one that is decked so at least I don’t have to spend hours cutting grass. Er Indoors’ is a mad keen planter of things, and the Duke is her mad keen apprentice of anything of that involves getting dirty. So I am getting a bit left out.
Our garden is a massive sun-trap so the idea of being able to eat outside in comfort, sit in shade, BBQ in style and annoy the noisy neighbours two doors up by playing my music and singing loudly and perhaps even invite some friends over to do the same was enough to convince me to get up, get cracking and sort the garden out once and for all.
So I pulled on my old pair of jeans and got moving over the next two Saturdays.
I drew up a list of what we wanted, these included:
- Something to sit on and eat at
- Something to cook on so I can get all BBQ macho
- Something to keep us warm in the evenings, when I am being less macho
- Something to play games with
- Somewhere to store all the cr*p away when the shed is full
Then we started. Er Indoors’ kindly let me fill up a range of sacks full of old leaves and plants and gave me the very responsible job of shifting them. She is ever so thoughtful like that and let me take them to the local tip. Living the dream or what!!
Any sort of D.I.Y takes time and patience, so make sure if you are going to do any of this you have plenty of both. I had a lot of one but scarcely little of the other, so it is incredibly fortunate that I live with a very pretty lady that is nifty with a screwdriver and is blessed with a wealth of common sense to call upon.
For any of you fella’s out there that might be contemplating doing something like this, I have come up with six rules to help you.
- Don’t do DIY with a hangover. Sweating out 6 pints of best Belgium beer in the blistering sunshine isn’t great
- Make sure you observe rule one like your life depended on it; it doesn’t, but your sanity might
- Don’t let a small boy play with the small parts while sitting on decking or said small parts may disappear down the slates of said decking causing you to wish you could swear loudly but not have any ears under 18 to hear you do so
- Make sure said small boy has other things to keep him occupied or you may turn around to find him using the new table as a great Spiderman launch pad causing your heart rate to shoot up like Mo Farah’s on drug test day
- Buy the wife something nice; you are bound to have at least three arguments. The male religious fever of not wanting to read instructions because they are for idiots causes untold delays
- Make sure you turn up the music so the neighbours can’t hear you swear when you inevitably do. I chose the best of the 80’s four-disc compilation.
This is not of course compulsory, but I wanted to feel like a dad, so dad dancing in suburbia while belting out ‘China in your Hand’, fitted ever so nicely.
So here’s a view of what we’ve been doing.
In the best tradition of daytime telly, I have presented the “Here’s one I made earlier” approach. I’m not sure photos of me red faced, sulking and throwing a wobbler when things didn’t go my own way surrounded by a sea of nuts and bolts would add anything to this story.
To be honest, it took us around 8 hours to do it all. People like my big sister could have it all done in 2.30 hours because they read the instructions – Idiots….
But, all in all, it was worth it. We now hang about outside most evenings, Duke sits happily in the corner trying to see how much sand he can get up his nose in secret stuff experiments.
Er Indoors’ potters around planting even more stuff that I haven’t got a clue about, but the boy likes to take care of.
And me? Well, if I am not BBQ’ing or p”sing off the neighbours with my Carol Decker impersonations. I can just sit back, have a snooze or a chat to my dad, who is now able to sit comfortably in the shade on his old favorite chair, by a new shiny table where he can rest his cuppa and newspaper any time he pops in.
You see as Duke says “Granddad Dan now lives in the clouds and has a job turning on the sunshine” so it’s nice that he gets to the enjoy the benefits of all his hard work and hang out with us in the garden, like he used to.
Tune in next week for DBTH goes to Bingo and starts buying trousers with adjustable elasticated waistbands..
*Big thanks to Asda for supplying the props, getting me out and about and making our garden something we can all enjoy.