The cleaning caught up with me, as I knew it would. I have wiped the kitchen worktops, and the cupboard doors, and scrubbed at the Aga with proprietary cleaner, and the sinks with Mr Muscle for kitchens, and washed the floor. It was not the heaviest grade blitz, since I didn't clear out the fridge or wash the pottery on the shelf over the Aga, but I did wipe the chair legs where the cats have rubbed against them and left a film of grease, and spent a long time winkling grease and fluff out of some of the Aga's more obscure interstices. The man who sold it to us told us a cautionary tale of discovering that one of his customers was in the habit of shoving a knitting needle through the front grille and perilously close to the electrics, in her attempts to extract fluff, but I can't say I'm surprised.
The Systems Administrator was sufficiently moved by my display of domestic activity to volunteer to do the vacuuming, and collected five boxfuls of dirt, mainly cat fur. I am trying to decide whether this entitles me to cross Clean Sitting Room off the list without my dusting it, or whether that would be cheating. I am sure it needs a wipe, but I don't like dusting.
There is a strange seed pod on the mantelpiece, green, nobbly, and fully 10 centimetres long, with a deep groove down one side which suggests that at some stage it may burst open, Alien like. It is from Araujia sericifera, the Cruel Plant. Some time ago a customer brought a similar pod in to work, for the boss to identify, and it was proclaimed to be from the Cruel Plant, which gets its name from the fact that it is moth pollinated, at night, and has the habit of seizing hold of the poor moth's proboscis and holding it captive until morning. The pod sat in the office, until it spectacularly split open and a mass of silky seeds burst out. Nobody seemed to want them, so I took some home to try and germinate them. The plant now growing in our conservatory is the result.
I have only ever seen two or three flowers on my plant, though one of those must have managed to do its cruel thing with a moth. They were very high up, small, pale coloured and utterly unremarkable. However, there is a nice symmetry to having arrived back at a seed pod. The Systems Administrator appears rather nervous of it.
Now it is a toss-up between summoning the energy to go and clean the downstairs cloakroom, and settling down with the Kevock on-line catalogue. They have a marvellous list of bulbs, and a separate list of herbaceous plants and shrubs. I can get quite a few of the latter from work, if I need them, or from Beth Chatto, and I am mainly interested in the bulbs, this time round. The persistence of some fritillaries in the long bed makes me think that it would be worth planting more of the varieties which like free drainage and a summer baking. The relative prices of bulbs give a pretty good clue about how easy they are to grow. Seven pounds for 25 bulbs, they probably bulk up easily and are difficult to kill. Eight pounds for one bulb, probably trickier to manage.
The temptation is to compare all prices with Peter Nyssen. Their website will not accept bulb orders until the first of June, but is already available to view. Eight pounds for 25 bulbs from Kevock versus £4.75 for the same thing from Peter Nyssen is a tough call, when I know Peter Nyssen's bulbs are of good quality. But if keen gardeners like me don't support specialists like Kevock, they won't exist. The trick to avoiding internal conflict is to order varieties from Kevock that Peter Nyssen simply don't do. Avon Bulbs have sent their catalogue through the post, now in A4 size and beautifully produced. They do lovely plants, but god, they are expensive compared to Peter Nyssen's wholesale prices.
The rain has finally stopped, and the sun come out, though too late for the chickens to have a run. Poor chickens. I suppose I had better clean the cloakroom, before hitting the bulb catalogues.