Do people even deadhead in December? Well, that is what I found myself doing last week.
The month of December sees a lot of footfall to the Vicarage; just very kind parishioners dropping off Christmas cards and presents. For this reason, I was very conscious of our front garden looking very grubby. The Vicarage gardener has gone AWOL again!
I decided to take matters into my own hands and started deadheading and trimming the overgrown hydrangea bush. The large flower heads were drooping and were such an eyesore!
I quite like the winter when everything is bleak. I love looking at the bare trees that have been stripped of their leaves. However, this winter, everything around me looks grubby . Take our hydrangea bush for example; by this time of the year, it will be completely bare but this year half the leaves are still intact. Wait for this… there are even green buds appearing on its branches. I have never seen anything like this before! The same is repeated everywhere else in the Vicarage garden. Not one tree has been stripped bare. It feels like as if someone has not done their job properly😁😁.
I like a slow start to my day but the Thursday before our holiday was nothing like my usual start to the day. The Mhinisteir was out at a church service and we were expecting the tree surgeon to chop off the conifer trees. The Mhinisteir assured me that they will not be bothering me. Excellent I thought…..
Just as I was entering the shower room, the doorbell rang! I took a quick peek at the window and it was the tree surgeon and his chum. They were young men and I most definitely wasn’t going to meet them in my dressing gown so I ignored them and went ahead with my shower! When I came out, they were still in the driveway instead of the garden. Mmmm….. I got changed and went to greet them from a distance. They said all was well. Great!
I went to the kitchen to do the dishes when I suddenly saw two faces smiling at me through the kitchen window. Just for a split second, I assumed that they were that of the tree surgeon and his chum but no it wasn’t. Instead they were from OpenReach (British Telecom). They were not due until Monday!!!! I went to the door and they introduced themselves and said they were here to do some work on our telephone line. I said that we were told to expect them on Monday. Apparently, the people coming on Monday will be dealing with a different issue but these men were going to work on the telegraphic pole. Just then I remembered the Mhinisteir had an important zoom meeting with our Bishop!!!! Oh great I thought! The meeting was really important as it had to do with the safeguarding issue that I had wrote about some time ago. The men from Openreach assured me that the internet connection will not be affected.
The tree surgeon and his chum were working away in the garden until 3pm. Just as they were leaving, our cleaner arrived!!!! By then, I was so exhausted that I couldn’t wait for her to leave…..
Anyway, the good news is that the conifer trees are gone and there is so much light coming into the Vicarage which is wonderful.
The next day we got a telephone call from the Diocesan housing department informing us that the tree surgeon’s chum’s girlfriend had tested positive for Covid19 and so he is having to self isolate! Thank God that we didn’t have any close contact with him!!!
Our weather compared to this time last year is very different. It is humid and wet. I for one am not complaining as I quite like this weather compared to the extreme heat where you can’t sleep at night!
One of the big tasks this week was to tackle the mountain of washing that needed ironing. I am the sort who irons everything that goes into the washing machine so I inevitably accumulate more things to iron. I also have been doing something naughty. I have been leaving some of my dresses in the ironing basket for another day but whenever that day comes along, I have new washing that needs ironing so the dresses never got a second look!
My new found hobby has also been taking me away from the mundane but very necessary task of ironing! I am not even sure I like ironing??!! Some days I think I love ironing but other days it feels laboured.
At the end of last week, I gave myself a bit of a scare while gardening. I began to feel quite unwell and had to get back inside the house. Since then, I have decided to stay away from the garden for a wee while. It is a blessing in disguise as it means I have more time to focus on ironing. I am pleased to report that I have ironed every item that found its way into the ironing basket!!!!
Finally, another good thing to happen this week is that the gardener is back! He has come back with great gusto and has transformed the garden. Well done to him!
Recently, I have discovered a new pastime. I never thought that I would enjoy my new hobby this much but I have surprised myself. For health reasons, I am not able to commit more than half an hour each day and even that it can only be on good days.
I have always enjoyed a tidy garden but have NEVER spent any time tending to it. It is just not my thing(neither the Mhinisteir’s). We have always paid someone to cut the grass and keep it tidy.
In any case, in a place like the Scottish highlands, you would only want to be in the garden if you want to be eaten alive by the midges!!!! For those who are not familiar with midges. You can read about them here. If it is not the midges than it is the weather. We rarely got good weather in the summer.
Until some weeks ago, I had never done weeding in my whole life.
We are having the same problem with our gardener as with our cleaner (same company!). As mentioned before, I like things to look tidy.
Our garden was beginning to look messy and that was when I decided to take matters into my own hands. We tried getting in touch with other gardeners but none was available.
At that time, I only had a pair of secateurs. I have since added a weed fork, rake, lopper and the most recent purchase is a pair of shears. It has taken me a whole month to figure out how the weed fork and rake worked! Being left handed doesn’t aid anything!
Ever since I started doing very gentle tidying up of the garden, I feel wonderful and can’t believe how much I enjoy it. Needless to say that the garden is looking wonderful too. However, I stop at tidying. I have no desire to plant or grow anything.
The Mhinisteir was angry on Friday afternoon which I thought was very unusual for a person who is always normally cool and calm. I wanted to know what happened but was also careful to tread carefully.
We have two Conifer trees in our garden that have grown out of control. I hasten to add that these trees were not planted by us.
If you are a Church of England clergy or spouse reading this, living in Diocese owned Vicarages, please please don’t try and turn the garden into Kew Gardens! Please think of those who will come after you. Most stipendiary Clergy can’t afford to keep your Kew Gardens going.
Regular readers will know how difficult it has been for us to find an honest gardener. You can read about this here. At the moment, we do have someone for grass cutting but we need a tree surgeon for the Conifer trees.
The Mhinisteir contacted someone for a quote. Sadly, he decided to change his quote twice, increasing the price at both time which was what made the Mhinsteir angry.
I have lived in many different parts of the United Kingdom with very contrasting wheelie bin policies that it can get confusing.
In our current location, we have one slimline black bin and 4 huge green bins! Until recently, I hadn’t realised that we needed another bin of a different colour for our garden waste. What? I didn’t know about it earlier because our former gardener took away the garden waste for £10 per bag! Usually he will fill at least 2 bags! Heaven alone knows if it was just all our garden waste!!!!!
I got in touch with the council for a garden waste bin but was told that I had to pay just under £60 for a garden waste bin. In my previous locations, I never had to pay for garden waste.
Since we have a new gardener, I decided to go ahead and order a garden waste bin.
In another news, yesterday was the first time our wheelie bins were due to get professionally cleaned. I had so much trouble finding someone to do it. In the city, we had a man who came and did all the cleaning inside his van.
Anyway, the people came to wash but it turned into a mini drama as we couldn’t find the valve to turn on the tap outside and so the cleaning didn’t happen! Ah nice! (just like how Hyacinth Bucket’s brother-in-law, Onslow would have said!!!!)
For the past one year, I have been on the lookout for a handyman for jobs both inside and outside the Vicarage. Imagine my joy, when I discovered that the Gardener was also a handyman. By this time, I had accumulated a rather long to do list.
To test the new handyman, we asked him to change two of our security light bulbs which had blown out. No problem he said. He promised to buy the bulbs and change them the next time he came.
When he came for the fortnightly grass cut, he told the Mhinisteir that a order had been placed but the bulbs hadn’t arrived yet. Fair enough. Four weeks later it was the same story.
Finally a slight change to the story. The bulbs had arrived but his wife mistook them for their fridge bulbs and took them away!!!!! Need I say anymore????!!!!
Our new gardener has been coming over once a fortnight to cut the grass and tidy up the garden. We are very happy with his work. He usually brings an assistant with him but sometimes two. I was initially a little worried that he might charge us more than he had quoted because he had advertised himself as a one man band. So far, he has been fair. We are usually about £45 poorer when he has finished.
He came over as usual a fortnight ago. Again he did a good job. The garden is looking very tidy thanks to him. Unfortunately he dropped a bomb! He has started charging VAT!!!! I wish he had given us some warning but he only told us after he had cut the grass and it was time to pay.
I am very disappointed as he is a good gardener but the 20% VAT will burn a hole in our pockets. It was precisely for this reason that we had been looking for a gardener who didn’t charge VAT. The Mhinisteir and I decided to spend the weekend praying as to what we should do. In the end we both decided that we had to let him go.
The initial quote was for £15 for an hour’s work. He told us that it would only take 45 minutes to cut the grass and that he would use the other 15 minutes tidying up. However, since he started, we have never paid him anything less than £45. He always takes upon himself to do more than the General grass cutting. We were okay with it as our garden was looking tidy but springing the VAT upon us like that was a little unfair.
I got in touch with his Wife to break the news and it was only then that I began to wonder whether they had taken us for a ride. When I told the Mhinisteir about my telephone conversation, he wondered the same. It is a real pity because all we wanted to do was help a small business.
Our new gardener cum handyman came again last week. That was his second visit. He has been good so far but I tend to be cautious of tradespeople. He even has a card machine!!!! I have never come across a tradesperson with a card machine! I think it is very clever of him but with every visit we are £45 poorer.
Our garden is in such a mess despite extensive work done in the Winter. I am quite sure that the garden is in such a state thanks to the previous occupant.
Just looking at the garden, I imagine the previous occupant (another vicar) to be an amateur, overzealous and untidy gardener. The garden has got plants not weeds growing from EVERY space that is available. It is actually quite painful to the eyes. It is a small garden with at least two large trees. I am not a gardener but can’t stand untidiness. The trees have grown so tall that they need to be chopped down before they fall over our neighbours fence!!!!
I think dioceses should have strict guidelines as to what clergy should and shouldn’t do with the vicarage garden! I am very grateful to have a garden and accept that the Vicarage garden is our responsibility but I prefer one that is manageable and feel that it is unfair to be tidying up someone elses mess! End of rant 🙂
He promptly arrived at the said time on Thursday afternoon. This is the one whose wife was so desperate for my surname
He was a little over enthusiastic for my liking but the Mhinisteir thought that he would make a good gardener and handyman. His rates are very reasonable. He is very eager and hungry for work. One thing that impressed me was that he is prepared to cut our grass even during this time of lockdown. I must emphasise that safe distancing was followed at all times during our meeting in our garden.
He hopes to come round next week to cut the grass.