Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Hedge fund

Hello strangers. It’s been a while. Turns out my baby-addled brain can’t quite cope with having to apply itself at work all week and then find the capacity to switch itself back into blog mode. That and the fact that I have been spending every spare moment squelching my way up muddy hills or dangling with legs and arms flailing about like a very mal-coordinated chimp on the monkey bars in our kids’ play area in an attempt to prepare for the X Runner race this weekend. I’m not sure I’m any fitter but my arms and shoulders have ached so much these past couple of months that non-essential typing duties have been somewhat put to one side.

Anyway, the good news is that I survived, despite waking up on the morning of the race to a complete white out. Snow everywhere and sub-zero temperatures. Just what you want to see when you are faced with the prospect of launching yourself into deep open water down a slide from a great height. I swear to god I have never been so cold in all my life. And as for the mud….. Well, I thought living here I was a pro when it came to all things mud. Turns out I had barely touched the surface with my slightly mucky ankles and spots of dirt on my running tights after my training runs at home. We were WAIST DEEP in thick, sticky mud, much like those documentaries you see of intrepid explorers braving the Amazon jungle. Except it was only 4c. And hailing. Oh and did I mention that we were completely soaked to the skin after an open water swim in our running kit? Bonkers. Utterly bonkers. But I haven’t had such good fun in a long time. And if nothing else, wandering around the place today after a week of rain, it seems positively pristine and desert-like in comparison.

Bit nippy after an open water swim (dodging icebergs)

So what have we been up to these past couple of months I hear you ask? Well, to quote a comic source far greater than myself, we have been mostly planting or chopping down hedges and trees. We spent Easter weekend in the driving rain planting 250 native species hedging plants (Hazel, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Field Maple, Dog Rose and Bird Cherry in case you’re interested) down one side of the garden. We spent most of the rest of the month chopping down about 250 non-native conifers and hedging plants on the other side. The irony of one cancelling the other out has not been lost on us but alas you can’t easily transplant a hedge, more’s the pity. The result is that we have lovely open views out to the west now and have enjoyed some beautiful sunsets (and the odd cheeky sundowner beer – didn’t take the training that seriously as you can probably tell) albeit wrapped up in three blankets against the cold wind. We also have the world’s biggest supply of wood chip from endless evenings of chipping the branches. My dear husband was out there night after night, ramming the stuff into the jaws of the chipper until he finally lost his shit and started a ruddy great bonfire one night on the drive. We had to phone the neighbours to let them know that our house was not in fact on fire and to hold off calling the local fire brigade. Such are the neighbourly codes of practice around here!


Baby hedge

One thing is now for sure though, we will not want for firewood next winter. Our wood stores are once again full to the gunnels after many days dedicated to chopping and OCD stacking. It seems that a man’s love for his chainsaw hath no end. It’s also nice to think that we have (hopefully) managed to stash our winter store without having to buy anything in, even if our haul does happen to be made up of non-native species. Is this the timber equivalent of an off-shore fund do you reckon? I’m sure Mr Cameron would turn a blind eye to our little seasoning nest egg of foreign winter warmth wouldn't he...

Wood stock

Speaking of hedging our bets (ahem), we also had a little flutter on the Grand National last weekend. Despite spreading the probabilities and betting each way on five horses we still somehow managed to lose about forty quid. Then again, allowing your one year old daughter to go crazy on the Racing Post with a felt tip pen and then having your dog place his paw on his favourite horse (a la Paul the octopus at the 2010 World Cup) are perhaps not the soundest ways to make an informed choice of steed. Perhaps we should stick to stockpiling wood as a safer form of investment from now on!

How the west was won

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