Been home just over a week now. An uneventful week. Nothing to get the pulse racing. Just plodding along. But then that’s what much of life is, learning to cope with the tedium and trying to inject a bit of challenge.
Mind, there is always a bit of pulse-quickening when I cut the two 20-foot hedges as I have been doing the last couple of days. They are only short lengths of hedge but are tall in order to achieve privacy for the house and patio area. The one hedge I have to kneel on top of and use the hedge trimmer like a canoe paddle vertically down the sides in order to cut the top 2 feet or so. The hedge trimmer is quite heavy with a 42 inch bar to give extra reach and wielding that while perching on top of the hedge swaying around in the wind is always interesting! The other hedge I have to climb up inside and stick my head out of the top while balancing on a piece of 3×2 spanning the gap between the trunks.
At least now I can do the sides using a scaffolding tower. Previously I balanced a ladder on top of a box on top of a table. Enfys quite rightly got a little twitchy about that, particularly after an incident about 4 years ago when I fell off the roof trying to put the finishing touches to a neat bit of trimming. I like to think that it was concern about my continuing to be in one piece that she was concerned about rather than the expletives I was giving vent to as I emerged coughing and spluttering out of the debris which I dragged down with me from inside the tree. I don’t know what I’ll do when I get old. I can’t imagine anyone else taking on the job.
I’m also going for two new world records. The one is for the heaviest crop of apples from two dwarf trees and the other is for the number of culinary alternatives for using apples. I’m so far up to 145 lbs of apples and the research into apple recipes is a work in progress. One I have tried is to combine the glut of apples with the glut of beetroot and make them into a very dramatically coloured juice, fired by lemon and root ginger. It is amusing to monitor one’s movements after drinking this concoction.
Days are getting noticeably shorter now and by coincidence, early morning rumblings a couple of days before the Autumnal Equinox, meant that I was greeted by a fiery sky as well.
Unfortunately I’m doing very little walking. Partly this is because my feet are now only comfortable in sandals and it just isn’t pleasant ploughing through wet grass and bracken which are usually sopping wet in the Autumn from overnight dew even when it hasn’t rained. Partly it’s because, when the weather is dry, I’m busy trying to catch up with the work which needs doing in the garden and when it’s wet I just don’t fancy it.
I used to enjoy going out in the rain and have good quality wet-weather gear. But I don’t really enjoy it any longer. I think it’s something to do with the fact that much of the time when it’s wet the weather is just grey and boring, mountains shrouded in grey cloud and heavy drizzle. I particularly used to enjoy going out in very heavy rain but that normally meant getting wet from the inside as the layer of water on the outside of ‘breathable’ waterproof cags stops the breathable Gore-Tex membrane from working. Try explaining the physics of that to someone complaining that they get wet in their £300 Gore-Tex cag.
At the moment my exercise is swinging around in trees and scaffolding towers rather than leaping around craggy mountainsides. At least it keeps me from sitting swaying backwards and forwards like those stressed-out caged animals in the zoo.
Come Sunday and I just had to get out for a walk. The morning was very wet but when it dried up in the afternoon I seized the moment and went. I devised a variation on a favourite walk to the top of Garn Wen which I could do in sandals and keep my feet moderately dry and free of mud. It was very pleasant in the late afternoon sun though a brisk pace was needed to keep the blood pumping and, except on the mountain top, the path was pretty wet and squelchy. I chose to try to stick to hard surfaces as much as possible, including the ‘Roman Road’, though with limited success. I’m going to have to bite the bullet soon and start wearing boots again.
Perhaps the best part of being home is meeting up with family and friends. I miss that when I’m in Greece and it’s good to catch up again. Subconsciously, and for no real reason, I tend to group friends into ‘old’ and ‘new’. The old friends are the ones from college days. I’m still in touch with a number of those and we have a shared memory, going back nearly half a century!!!! In addition there are the ‘old’ friends we met when we lived in Cardiff straight after college. The ‘new’ friends are those we met when we moved to Pontypool. But ‘new’ is a relative term. It struck me recently that many of those I have known for 25 years …… a quarter of a century. And even those I think of as very recent friends, such as those we met in the Greek class, I have known for a decade. It’s good to have friends. Many of them are now finding themselves in receipt of bags of apples.