I don't think I'm feeling particularly narked with anyone this week, but such is the ferocity of my sanding action that parts of the velcro face on the electric sander have worn smooth. Improvising with blu-tack isn't working - the sandpaper shields skew as soon as the vibrations start, and within a few seconds they fly off and land on the floor. Since I'm sitting on top of a cupboard and the floor is a precarious ladder climb away, it doesn't take too long for the novelty of playing 'fetch' with the sander to wear off.
I did my allotted stint of hand-sanding yesterday, switching to the power tools to give my fingerprints a chance to regenerate. So, thoughts turn to the garden. With a rainy weekend forecast, it would seem WILDLY inefficient not to make the best of the sunshine.
I have in mind which of the myriad outdoor jobs to get stuck into, but I always take whatever opportunity I can to walk around the garden to see what's coming through. The big story at the moment is the bluebells. Whereas in Hove, April would be trumpeted in by the fat, periwinkle-blue cloches of Spanish bluebells, I'm delighted that our new garden is swathed with the dainty native ones - luscious lapis-blue and the stuff of woodland glades and fairy rings. It's also a bonus to see that the unpromising mess of dried out threads and tips by the wall has miraculously morphed into juicy lime green hosta whirls, which are just starting to unfurl. To top it all, there are signs of life in my pots. A trail of new leaves marks where I sowed radish seeds just a couple of weeks ago. I know that it's virtually impossible to fail at growing radishes, but as an allotment virgin, I regard this as a genuine personal triumph.
Less exciting are the borders of old leaves, twigs and assorted crud that line the drive and paths to remind us that there is a circle of life at work here; and with every new bud emerging now there will be a casualty come the winter frosts. With so many trees, and with the garden being left to its own devices for a stretch before we moved in, we're left with sad piles of decay putting a downer on the optimistic progressive vibe in the garden. So it's been on my mind to get spring cleaning. It's not the most inspiring of prospects, but a work colleague used to say 'when life gives you lemons.....stick 'em down your bra' (the advice meted out by mental health professionals in Yorkshire is, I'm sure much less directive). Looking for the upsides, I decide that our leftover garden waste will probably make nutritious leaf mould, so out comes the spade and off we go.
The shovelling begins with a rhythmic sense of purpose, but what soon becomes clear is, just as some humans have evolved a supernatural ability to sleep on aeroplanes , we have a strain of plants at Briarcourt that can set roots in the finest layer of leaves on tarmac. As I scoop up a lovely big wodge of leaves ready to fling into the trolley, submerged stems and roots claw them back to the ground. So, now we're into pruning territory, multi-tasking, and a shift in gear from motorway cruising to traffic jam crawl. Ah well.... 'marathon not sprint', I remind myself.....yet again.
The lighter evenings have also brought with them huge upsides and the odd niggle. The cats have decided that the garden is far more interesting at dusk and have taken it in turns to disappear for hours on end as darkness falls. All we can do is age as we hear the foxes yowl and hope that they return safely - Stan came back as dishevelled as a fell-runner the other evening but his eyes and tail told us he'd had a tremendous adventure. However, the evening light is an important asset for Dunc because it gives him some precious time away from his computer screen and knotty coding problems, to rest his mind, and move his limbs at the end of another busy day. He relishes a challenge, and attacks the paths with gusto and brush.
The robins follow in our wake, hunting for worms.