An open and shut case

Ruthven has been a hive of activity over the last few weeks as we completed final preparations for our annual open day. Mum came over and, with her usual stakhanovite zeal, sneaked out every morning at 6am and had several hours of weeding under her belt before anyone else surfaced. Our friend Anne came down from Edinburgh, fresh from completing her RHS level 1 exams no less, and piled in with gusto. Raymond and Anne next door appeared with hoes and forks and tackled the rose beds (which certainly needed it). I limped about and did what I could with the boot of shame on. It was blisteringly hot for the first few days and the weeding tool of necessity was a pickaxe. However, the final three days were damp, with alternating downpour and mist. This made everything much easier (if moist) and Anne, mum and I drove Keith mad by persistently sneaking out to weed in the rain (which he declared to be a form of group hysteria akin to the Salem witch outbreaks). On the day itself the sun reappeared, along with myriad other helpers willing to man the parking, sell the plants and answer tricky questions. We had a glorious day. The Macmillan ladies were on top form and cake and scone consumption in the TD12 postcode hit an all time high. Lyra thought all her ships had come in and spent the day moving from group to group looking soulfully at the mini sausage rolls.

The helpers barbecue afterwards was quite the riot. The next day was designated an official “hangover day”. We moved around slowly and talked in hushed tones, remarking that, all things considered, everyone felt more or less fine.

Today, I was up with the lark and went for a poppy safari in the early light. We had a spectacular crop of somniferum this year, of every shape and colour (though none of them bore any resemblance to the poppy seed I have sown in recent years). I will try to save and scatter the seed but I do seem to find that they often skip a year and when they reappear it is somewhere unexpected. I am now settling in just to enjoy the place for a while (though the odd visitor or two will always be most welcome). Gardening proper can recommence in the autumn. Until then I plan to be floating around from morning coffee seat to evening wine seat, admiring the view, listening to the birds and making the most of everyone’s efforts. With that in mind, Anne, mum and I were having a highly satisfactory cackle by the pond over coffee this morning when Keith loomed into view on his way to the gym. He was eyeing the three of us with deep suspicion and muttering. Doubtless he had the Witches of Eastwick playing through his mind on a loop as he hit the cycling machine.

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