Monday, 29 July 2013

Our garden

Although this is the shortest summer I have had in 5 years, it certainly feels like a summer well-deserved after a long, long year!

Having had to abandon all hobbies in favour of endless planning and resource-creating, I have already begun to make attempts to reclaim my pre-PGCE self. Yesterday, I finished the third book I have read since I finished the course, and the fourth book I have finished in 4 years whilst escapism into fiction has been replaced with endless academia. The book was Summer Book by Tove Jansson (author of the Moomin series – although this is one of her ten adult novels) and it was very idyllic and nostalgic with beautiful, simple imagery throughout. While summers for Sophia and her grandmother seem to be marked by events of interest, mine take a rather more habitual turn (particularly the parts of summer spent at home). Each year I seem to find myself doing the exact same things that I have done every year before. Already, having spent less than a week at home, this summer is no exception! 

Days will usually go in one of two directions (or, more often than not, consist of a combination of the two)

1.      A day spent in the garden 

2.       A day spent reminding myself how to play my instruments

As I write this, I am sat on the decking in the garden enjoying the sunshine, surrounded by an extraordinary amount of butterflies and buzzing things (I admit, the buzzing things are slightly off-putting, and slightly too close to my head, but it’s a comfort to know that they’re certainly not dying off in our garden)! Today the temperature is only in the low 20s, and there is a slight breeze rustling through the trees and tickling my neighbour’s wind chimes. To my right is brilliant blue sky, to my left the clouds are looming, but I’m convinced that the temperature won’t drop too far and the rain won't come and force me to move! Not quite the conditions to participate in my favourite garden pastime, a day like today is instead an opportunity to entertain my inner-middle-aged-lady and do a spot of gardening! Of course the hard graft is Dad’s responsibility, so I’m left in the fortunate position of being able to use the garden for a bit of horticultural therapy – if horticultural therapy isn’t a thing which someone is capitalising on, it most definitely should be!

When we first arrived at number 111 our garden was more like a jungle; overgrown, and overrun with brambles and stinging nettles. There was a ‘pond’, which was literally a washing up bowl sunk into the ground, and a stray kitten which had already claimed the jungle as its own. Over the years the garden has grown into what it is now, but throughout, one thing has been constant, and is the reason why I love it so much; the garden at number 111 is really just an extension of the house. Although perhaps whilst in its jungle-like state it was less accommodating, as we stripped away the interior of the house, so too was the exterior stripped back to discover what lay beneath. 

The top of the garden nearest the house; the washing up bowl/pond
was in amongst this somewhere
The bottom of the garden; this is where we now park our cars!
(I don't even know what the metal thing near the fencing post is?)
The first part of the garden to be uncovered was the small patch of grass which still remains today. In the early days we would sit out on the grass for lunch with the kitten (to whom the jungle really belonged).
Not the most attractive photo of any of us. Oh the 90's!
Nowadays there are also three patio areas and the decking to choose from and we’ve even upgraded from a picnic blanket to patio furniture where breakfast, lunch, and tea are consumed whenever possible! Al fresco dining is quite the luxurious experience in the Brockway household, although I do feel for my poor, unsuspecting neighbours who have had to bear witness to countless risqué conversation topics over the years whilst I have entertained my girl friends! Our patios have provided the perfect place for an over-spill of guests at parties thrown by my brother and I, whilst in my younger days and the beginnings of my ‘musical career’, the decking became a stage for concerts performed to my long-suffering parents (photos of which I am massively upset not to be able to locate)! Oh wait..

Year 6; this is what Laura the clarinettist looks like!
Throughout our childhood, the garden was brought alive by mine and my brother’s imagination. Our sheds lie between a cherry tree and a medlar, and when we were smaller, lighter and more limber (I say this, I may have to test the theory!), we had our own little treetop world to play in. We could easily spend hours up there, on look-out (or rather, spying on the neighbours), and pretending to be explorers. The beauty of our garden is that it is split into two. At one end lie the patios and the decking. At the other, secreted away by a Dogwood and various other tall and wide shrubs, is the lawn and our trees. We used to camp out for the day, making fires and sneaking to the house for provisions!

In the very early stages of stripping the interior of the house, lots of floorboards were kept outside providing excellent den-building materials! Suddenly the trees were exclusively our own as we built entrances at the bottom which only we were small enough to squeeze through. As exciting as these floorboards were, my favourite piece of abandoned furniture must have been the bath, which of course became a boat amongst other things and took us on many exciting adventures around the world! Unfortunately we couldn’t convince mum and dad to let us keep it.

Upon visiting friends, it often felt as though most gardens belonged to their parents, where they were expected to keep off the grass and away from the flower beds! Our garden has never been like that; it is a place for anyone who may come to be there. As a friend even said to me today, ‘your garden feels like you could be anywhere in the world when you’re sat in it’. I don’t think it will ever lose its magical qualities, even in adulthood. 
Food & wine on the decking this summer, bliss.