Fingers crossed, I may be emerging from beneath a six-month period of immense office based activity. During this time my garden has pretty much had to fend for itself. The appalling weather last summer helped; the seemingly constant rainfall gave plants a head start, only to encourage an explosion of slugs and snails that chewed everything in their nocturnal path. Plenty of growth but no harvesting or weeding problems... My favourite iris, smuggled back from a beach path near St Malo and nurtured for the past three years finally sent out a flowering stalk. Then one morning as I came to the terrace with a cup of tea, there it lay, flopped to one side where the damned slugs had chewed it through that night. How do you swear at slugs? Loudly and at length, that's how.
Every bit of cavolo nero chewed to bits as it emerged, and I can't even begin to describe what happened to my adored purple sprouting broccoli without genuine tears of regret filling my eyes. Adding insult to injury the blasted rabbits decided to have a population explosion and joined forces with the slugs and ate all my bean crop. Only the pumpkins and tomatoes survived.
I was reminded of this a couple of weeks ago during another prolonged period of rain and blustery winds whilst walking towards the house along the drive after another office-bound slog. "Bloody cats!" I said, as I narrowly avoided stepping on a pile of cat poo slap bang in the middle of the drive. Except it was too big to be a pile of cat poo, and anyway it moved slightly. Thinking there might be a tapeworm in there, I bent in for a better look (it was nearly 9pm, after all and we don't do street lamps in our part of sunny Derbyshire). It was an enormous toad. The frogs and toads had arrived for their annual sexfest in my pond. Huge, bloated things were all over the paths, drives and lawns, all moving inexorably towards water, aided by the shiny wet surfaces all around us. "And where were you buggers last year," I muttered, and went on into the house.
The weekend's weather of blisteringly cold and clear early mornings with rainclouds moving in by lunchtime means I have a few hours to get the laundry out onto the lines to dry, before the deluge begins. Last night I went to bed to the sound of quite a gale rattling round the chimneys and rain lashing against the windows. Lovely. This morning I woke just after 6am (nine hours kip? I must be knackered) to another clear morning. Maybe I'll start some proper gardening today.