The Jubilee ends in more rain
It’s sheeting. I’m not complaining. I MUCH prefer deluges to hot—and the worst of hot and dry is the fact that you’re out there watering your garden constantly. Constantly. Especially if you have a little potted-plant problem. Especially if you have a little potted-plant problem and you’re a snob and prefer terracotta pots to plastic. Although I’m getting over this one by sheer force of . . . wanting to be able to do something besides water the garden in hot weather.
But today it meant we didn’t go to Wisley. Sigh. Wisley is the big flagship R[oyal] H[oticultural] S[ociety] garden in Surrey*, and not impossibly far from here, but far enough that I keep chickening out in case we get there and I realise I can’t drive home. Especially because you have to drive on the motorway**. There has been a rumour about a back way for years but no one has ever found it. And the rescue team sent out after the last expedition also disappeared. Wisley exists in a super-dimensional bubble surrounded by foaming toxic desert. Invisible foaming toxic desert. When we were still a two-driver family and still going up to London fairly often we used to make a loop for Wisley pretty regularly.*** That was a while ago. And now. Unh. But I have been having quite a good patch for driving and their roses will be coming out† so we had made plans to meet friends there today.††
Then the weather, which has not been kind to the four days of the Diamond Jubilee, decided it was going to rain some more today. That’s RAIN. None of the peekaboo doodah we’ve been having here lately††† but serious, sky-opening ‡ RAIN. I might have gone anyway because I was all primed for it, but Peter pointed out there were going to be a lot of people on the fourth day of their four-day holiday saying exactly the same thing, and the tea room, the glasshouse and the plant sales were going to be jammed with these determined-to-have-their-outing-so-we’ll-bring-our-life-preservers-what’s-the-problem? folk. Sigh. So we cancelled.
I was in the throes of a serious sulk‡‡ when Penelope rang and said that if we had cancelled Wisley due to meteorological inclemency she had a small alternative to offer. Very small: about three months old. Their youngest daughter lives in Mauncester and has lately produced her first baby. Possibly due to never having been in a position when I couldn’t give it back, I have retained my fondness for babies, and have expressed an interest in meeting Brunnhilde if the opportunity ever presented itself. Brunnhilde was on her first excursion to New Arcadia this afternoon.
So we went round to inspect. I can report her a very satisfactory baby, which is to say that I held her for quite a while and she (a) smiled and (b) didn’t throw up. ‡‡‡
Meanwhile . . . I’d booked my dogminder for this afternoon and I don’t like messing her around—especially since I seem to end up messing her around anyway—so she was still taking hellhounds out for a (wet) hurtle this afternoon. I got back to the cottage about the time I was expecting her to be returning. I am neurotic and I hate being at any of my/our three houses without my hellhounds.§ Well, Mavis hadn’t come back yet. Whimper. So I washed the dishes and put out some more mealworms for the robins and watered all my indoor plants and folded the laundry and listened to the silence§§ and . . . Mavis still wasn’t back with hellhounds. I started to feel Rather Anxious.
Forty minutes after I’d got back to the cottage I phoned her mobile. We’re on our way home now, she said. I’m only just back in signal range. We’ve been out in the wood beyond the Warm Upford common and I got lost. —This is wholly plausible, by the way. The common wood is mostly plantation, and the tree-harvesters are always rearranging the footpaths and you can find yourself . . . on the mythological back route to Wisley, trying to demaze back out of the wood again.§§§ Furthermore in these days of mobile phones, Warm Upford is a dead zone. It’s pretty interesting how quickly you assume you can rely on can useful technology: Mavis was quite freaked out by the fact that she hadn’t been able to phone for help.
But I have my hellhounds back. Whew.
And Niall and Gemma and I ran late, ringing handbells this evening, because our final touch, which we already didn’t have time for but it would break down in a minute or two anyway, ran twenty minutes and came out to rounds at the end. Yaay.#
* * *
** Any British person who wants to tell me the A3 is not a motorway can stick it in their ear. The A3 is a great big fast ugly scary road and as far as I care it is a motorway.
*** We had stopped for lunch and a stroll at Wisley the day we came home and discovered the World Trade Center going down in flames. Just by the way.
† You know the real reason it’s raining just now. My Souvenir de la Malmaison is trying to bloom. She’s in the cottage garden now cackling maniacally and turning into wet grey-brown wodges of mouldy, matted tissue paper. Sigh.
†† So Peter will have someone to talk to while I take notes on the roses.^
^ No, of course I’m not finished yet. Can’t you go have a cup of tea or something? What? Well, go have another cup of tea then.
††† If they’d had the Jubilee flotilla on our river they wouldn’t have got nearly so wet. Although it would have pissed the swans off. But almost everything pisses the New Arcadia swans off.
‡‡ Although it was not at all a bad thing that I was not doing extreme driving today. Siiiiiiigh. I’ve been pushing it the last couple of days and the quality of last night’s shatteredness was ominous, as was the getting out of bed this morning. Getting . . . what? Out . . . what? Unnnnnh.
‡‡‡ I don’t mind screaming tinies so much. The whole birth thing is a ratbag, I understand it takes a long time to become accustomed to the new system. It’s when they get old enough to look at you, and their faces break into an expression of disbelief and outrage before they start screaming, then I start feeling that boarding school till they’re about twenty-five is an optimal plan.
§ The positive way of looking at this is, you have your domestic fauna for company, right? So why shouldn’t you want them around? It’s what they’re for.
§§ Relative silence. There’s an awful lot of chirping going on in the garden. Mealworms! More mealworms! We want mealworms!
§§§ In one of my prior lives as a horse rider I used to get lost in these woods on horseback too.
# We wasted some time over tea and biscuits discussing how we’re supposed to pick up more tower recruits. The arcane-secrets-and-you-have-to-be-crazy aspect of bell ringing is amusing, but in the present day when we need more ringers I think it does us more disservice than service. But we’re at least one up in the recruit department. Katsheare from our very own forum has finally succumbed . . . to being belted about the head and ears with this very blog going on and on and on about bell ringing and is going to give it a yank herself. Yaaaaaaaay. And here is a really good debunking page that she posted the link to: http://allsaintswokinghambells.org.uk/AbRinging/Myths/Myths.html ^
^ Although I like the British understatement of ‘. . . even become quite addictive’. Snork. Also note: ‘The modern Church supports many activities that involve the community outside its own members.’ Yes. There are churches, and probably some of them have bell towers, which are only concerned with their own tithe-paying members, and there may even be some towers that only allow, which is also to say can afford only to allow, church members to ring the bells. Generally speaking it’s a much wider remit. I’m not a Christian, but I do believe in community.
I wouldn’t say that having a stay break, the bell topple over the wrong way and the ringer hanging on to the other end of the rope carried briskly toward the ceiling is vanishingly rare. It happened to me. (Urgent cries of: Let go! Let go!) I’d say that the important point is that while bells are big heavy objects and must be treated with complete and unvarying respect, accidents where anyone gets hurt really are vanishingly rare. (I was not hurt. A little startled, but not hurt. And someone else had broken the stay. But I was enough of a beginner still to need a stay—and the bell fell over backward through the cracked stay.)
And if you’re ringing down slightly faster than you can, it’s quite useful to allow yourself to be lifted tactfully off the floor by the weight of the swinging-down bell . . .
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