First, in the interests of passing walkers in our unlit nights, I would prune the overhanging trees along the front pavement, so they are not forced to step into the road;
Secondly, I would weed the front garden gravel path which I had created about 8 years ago, and tidy the borders.
Having spent an hour on the pavement lopping, chopping, and bagging up the offending limbs whilst ensuring that no part of me ran the risk of being hit by any part of the steady stream of vehicles of all shapes and sizes, often exceeding the 40 m.p.h. speed limit thundering and clanking close to the kerb, I staggered down the Brick Path to add two more bags to the stack for the next dump run, sat with Jackie in the Rose Garden, where Becky bought us each a drink, for long enough to decide that the next task had “gang agley” and would wait until tomorrow.
Following sound advice from some of my blogging friends I have broken my “no more books” rule and allowed Jackie to complete my Avignon quintet with an Amazon order. In the meantime, Durrell’s Inquisition theme has encouraged me to return to Malcolm Barber’s history of The Trial of the Templars, which first read 20 years ago – long enough ago to have forgotten most of it.
For tonight’s dinner, Becky, in her own words, produced dry roast chickun, stodgy potatow salad, lack lustre carretts, and limp brockally, with which Jackie drank Zesty and I drank Entire Quintas Reserva Douro 2021.
This morning we both worked at the front of the house. I remained safely within our walls.
Jackie, however, diced with death by sweeping the whole length of the narrow pavement. The speed limit on this road is 60 m.p.h., and is often exceeded. Stepping back to admire your work out there does not bear thinking about. Jackie also tidied up the front of the trellis. This was rather bad luck on me, because it involved the removal of a couple of euphorbias. A good hour of my morning had already been spent hacking out the roots of one penetrating the gravel path inside the garden. I hadn’t really contemplated tackling any more. Not previously being familiar with the plant, I had thought that this was just a large flower. Not so. It
was secured by roots as thick as those of small trees. The front garden is on a higher level than the small drive and the road outside. This has meant earth has slid under the trellis. Some attempt has, in the distant past, been made to hold back the flow with piles of stone. This last euphorbia had grown through the stone. Sometimes it was only the clink of the rock on fork or spade that distinguished it from the apparently equally steely roots. They were also esconced on both sides of the trellis. After an hour, I gave up. Definitely a job for that powerful weedkiller, Roundup, I thought. Superwoman had other ideas. She knelt down with a trowel and, feeling like a member of The Time Team, chipped away at the earth between and beneath the stone, exposing the two large roots straddling it that were eventually all that was holding the tangled mass. Proudly, after a cut with the loppers, she drew it out. As part of her clean-up of the pavement, Jackie had cleared a blocked drain in the gutter and hosed down the footpath.
This is a picture of the gutter opposite our driveway, at about the position of the red car in the first picture. Fast-moving vehicles come so close to the kerb that they sprayed us with muddy water. This afternoon we worked in tandem. Jackie cleared out the earth fall from under the trellis, I toddled off and brought back some concrete slabs from elsewhere in the garden, and together we put them in place against the bottom of the latticework. We left a little of the euphorbia in place near the entrance arch, and tied up rose, clematis, and honeysuckle. A few more climbers should obscure the ugliness of the concrete.
Weeding, eradication of bramble and ivy, and heavy pruning, resulted in us at least having some idea of the shape of our front garden. As I scratch my head, determining what to write next, I am reminded of the vicious thorns on the old pink rose that seemed to make their mark each time I stood up straight. On the inside of the wall at bottom right of the last two pictures, can be seen traces of pink and turquoise paint. Underneath the nondescript brown wash along the front, remain vestiges of these two colours. Much of the inside of the house has similar traces beneath a weak white daub. There had clearly been an overall attempt to produce a more anodyne decor than the house had once enjoyed. After a Hoegaarden and a glass of Chateau les Gauries bordeaux 2011 on the decking situated to catch the evening sun, we dined on a repeat of yesterday’s delicious dinner. I drank another glass of wine with it, and Jackie didn’t.