You wouldn’t think that the excitement of a new drive was worth waking up at 5.30 am for. Yet, for the last three mornings I have been waking at this hour and been out in the garden working on my bit of path or levelling bricks in the old bit of the drive before the men come to fill in the sand again. I think it is the sense of coming near completion of a project. This is (nearly) the end stage of a very long sequence, of dreams, ideas, design, assessing finance, finding builders, working as they worked (they were very helpful). I don’t think it is that different from writing a book – though rather quicker and a little more under one’s own control in the final stages. When I was working 9 to 5, I used to wake early and write before setting off for work.
They have finished – we have a new drive – but the surrounding chaos is daunting. We will have to barrow large quantities of earth and probably buy some as well. I still have much path work to do, and this includes the path to the front door. We forgot to ask them to move back the wooden half-barrel they had shifted and whose bottom will certainly fall out if we touch it. Still the fun bit is to come, making the surrounding garden beautiful again.
We’re a little concerned about the birds. The noise and movement right near their feeding areas must have been very disruptive. The mad blackbird is unfazed, but I think is short of some (bird) marbles and doesn’t know it is supposed to be wild.
This morning we saw a blackbird with a leaf as large as itself (ivy?) disappear into the holly tree outside our front door. This tree is only about twelve-foot high and brutally pruned each year to a ball shape to stop it taking the light out of the front windows. It’s pretty dense, but I have just looked and there is a nest there on eye level for the post man, or anyone else approaching the front door. This is no doubt the same blackbird (female) that does not bother to move if I cross her path while gardening.
The heap of earth and turfs growing on the front lawn (ready to fill in the new bank after the drive is remade next week) is probably regarded by the blackbird as a permanent meal table. The state of my back may mean she is right as it will be a while before I can move, shovel and barrow it all into place.
I should be writing while the back recovers. I am – sort of, but without any sense of making progress. With two books in full draft all I can do is tinker, make submissions and try to decide when to make the break and self-publish – and check the clock to see if it is time to put on the kettle.
Spent this afternoon dodging Robins and being blatantly ignored by blackbirds. I was working hard on the new paths lifting turfs and either piling them up to fill the new bank or taking them elsewhere in the garden to fill in edges. I couldn’t move without the rush of wings close by as the robins leap in to grab the worms and larvae. As I shovelled sand into the spaces, unseen robins would fly up. No doubt there were only two, but they worked non-stop shifts. The blackbirds never even bothered to fly up. If in danger of actually being hit by a spadeful, they would hop in inch or two left or right, but made it clear that it was my problem to avoid them.
Made some progress on the brick paths, but am regretting my failure to use string and measure out from the wall. Having bricked round a small rectangular bed, I find the gaps slightly bigger on the other side. Of course the old path I made alongside the house path may not be dead straight.
Frost again tonight. Someone coming to wash the bricks on the old bit of drive that we are keeping on Tuesday. We think it was laid 20 years ago, so it is doing quite well as all it has had in the way of cleaning is me, EG and a trowel in all that time. The giant concrete slabs that are to go are now at least a 100 years old, broken, and very ugly. There is so much work to be done before the new bricks go in, it is difficult to imagine being ready. I guess we will be working all weathers by the time they start. I have to admit, though that I enjoy the challenge and feel better for the exercise.
Will get more fun exercise tomorrow night as Amy will still be here and will come Lindy hopping with me.