Perfect weather for the Annual Horticultural Association Coach Outing on Thursday, and everyone’s polite muttering about lack of air-conditioning in our Luxury Executive coach is soon forgotten at first sight of Great Dixter; house, gardens and surrounding countryside all looking stunning in July sunshine, and find it impossible not to smile at complete strangers when confronted with such glorious Technicolor exuberance. Am, childishly, excited to bump into well-known Head Gardener down one narrow path, and tell him (no doubt to his great relief) that The Gardens Are Looking Good.
Return trip takes us through one ridiculously picturesque village after another, and we make afternoon stop in particularly charming town where I buy plasters, book about Homer, and a solar-powered hula girl model. Man from Head Office has meanwhile been despatched to fix coach’s air-conditioning, and we travel home in cool Executive comfort and general agreement that it has been A Lovely Day.
Spend yesterday doing best to resist Siren Call of garden and make some headway on overdue deskwork (efforts to resist further village duties having proved almost wholly futile). Decide that my confident observations to son about “Romeo and Juliet” in preparation for his Controlled Assessment on Monday might carry more weight if I had actually read the play, so do so, and find own intermittent concerns about teenage relationships usefully Put Into Perspective.
Temperatures are rising and Tuesday walking group heads to beach for swimming, sunbathing or (in my case) fully-clothed paddling at water’s edge. Generous and capable friend arrives with freshly-baked muffins and cafetière of coffee for us all, and we discuss Greek economic situation, summer dressing, and the many advantages of being middle-aged – though rather suspect that we have more advantages than most.
Village Garden Safari at weekend generally adjudged A Success; slightly nervous before arrival of first visitors on Saturday, but soon get into the swing of boasting about the roses, apologising for the vegetable patch, and trying to explain why we generally call tortoise Tortoise (visitors are not impressed by this). Everyone very friendly and kind, and full of helpful suggestions for Slug Control.
Much talk about Heatwave tomorrow. Daughter is attending university open day and will have to battle with London Underground, and sons as usual seem to have several demanding sporting events apiece. I plan to do very little indeed.
Organiser of forthcoming village Garden Safari rings to congratulate me on prominent photo of self, husband and garden in this week’s local paper, apparently appearing above photo of local MP who will also be opening garden to public. Am forced to point out that standards of local journalism are perhaps not all that they could be, as no press photographer has visited us since previous Safari two years ago; though am of course greatly relieved that we have not had to repeat our awkward pose with trowels and rictus smiles among the peonies.
Preparations for Safari pleasantly interrupted yesterday by visit from nephew who has finished first year at university and is leaving bike with us over summer. Slightly disconcerted to discover that actual teaching for year stopped some time in March, and spend some time discussing Value For Money, as well as Roman Britain, music festivals in Czech Republic, and interesting perspectives on our local cathedral city afforded by his part-time job in its McDonald’s. Wave goodbye to him at bus stop as primary school disgorges excited children and exhausted parents from annual PFTA Summer Fayre and am struck by how distant my many years of Children’s Tombola or Hook-A-Teddy duties now seem.
Enjoyed reading my lovely friend’s post on inspirations for gardening, and spend some time thinking about influences on own garden; narrow it down to all the books, magazines and blogs I’ve ever read, and all the beautiful places I’ve ever visited, and realise that I might have been slightly over-ambitious trying to encapsulate all of this in a small plot regularly trampled by dog, tortoise and ball-playing children; though still hope that one day it will magically combine the best of Sissinghurst, Christian Dior’s Garden and my late mother’s lovingly-tended Herbaceous Border.
Spend happy few days staying with sister and family. Have offered to Make Myself Useful while sister Juggles children, work, mother-in-law, imminent house move and organising the Church Fête, and hope that my talking to her incessantly while she continues to do all the above will have made All The Difference.
House sale proceeding rather faster than anticipated, and sister’s family will be renting for some time until new house is found; this does not stop us making forays into surrounding villages and towns in hope that Perfect House will somehow magically appear, but succeed only in realising how beautiful everywhere looks on a sunny June day.
Leave sister making prototypes of jungle animals for monthly Children’s Activity Morning in village library, and return home in time for lunch party organised by friend in honour of her son’s 21st. Relieved on his behalf to confirm that this forms only part of his birthday celebrations and have merry time sitting in rose-filled garden, talking about Network Rail, children’s names and cat cafés, and trying to ignore his rather Loud second cousin at next table explaining at length to his companion why the bottle of wine I brought was Not Great.
Weather continues to be sunny and bright, poppies are blooming in garden, and daughter’s exams finish at lunchtime. Feel that housework today may be rather Cursory.