Friday, 3 May 2013

odd jobs

Today should have been a full day in the garden, but little bits of other things got in the way.  It is a friend's birthday next week, so I needed to post her card and present.  I got her a book.  I am not sure she reads books nowadays, but I couldn't think what else to get her, since she is one of those people who is very keen on her career to the point of having no discernible outside interests.  My finances and the nature of our relationship don't run to jewellery, trophy handbags or an i-anything, so a book it was.  I wrote her a short letter to go with the card and the book, and schlepped off the post office.  When you live in the country it is a five mile round trip to the post office.

The birthday is not until next Wednesday.  I asked the man in the post office whether second class post would get there in time, but he replied that nothing was guaranteed except guaranteed overnight delivery.  I said that I didn't expect a guarantee, just an indication of whether, given normal service, it was reasonable to expect that a parcel posted second class to London this morning would arrive by next Wednesday, and whether I was right in thinking that if there was a monumental screw-up and not normal service then the package was equally likely to be delayed whether it went first or second class, but he replied again that nothing was guaranteed except overnight delivery.  With a helpful attitude like that to customer service it is no wonder that the Royal Mail is the fast-growing, profitable success story that it is.

Then I had a look at the bees, as it was finally warm enough and not windy.  The books say not to open bee hives unless the outside temperature is sixteen degrees C, to avoid chilling the brood, and although it was sunny earlier in the week and last week it never got within three or four degrees of that.  I've gone well over the ten day limit between inspections since I last opened them, and was getting worried that they might have started thinking about swarming.  None had, though as I feared one hive was queenless.  I gave them a frame containing eggs from another colony, which theoretically gives them the opportunity to make a new queen and sort themselves out, but I'm not optimistic that they'll do anything with it by now.  Still, to have kept three colonies out of the four through the long winter wasn't too bad, and they all looked healthy.

Then later on I wasted a quarter of an hour on the phone trying to get through to the British Museum to change some tickets I can't now use, and spent another quarter of an hour writing 100 words of gardening tips for June for work.  A regional glossy that the owner advertises with manages to largely save itself the expense of paying a garden journalist when it wants some gardening blurb, by dint of asking its advertisers to contribute copy.  The owner is more of a finance woman than a writer, so subcontracts blurb writing to me.  I was supposed to run off the one hundred words this morning, and clean forgot about them, until the owner sent me a plaintive e-mail at around five this afternoon.

I spent the rest of the time weeding the herb bed, which shouldn't have been that big a job, since it is not that large a bed, and I had a go at it back in the winter, but I didn't finish it.  It is annoyingly infested with a coarse but clump forming weed grass, which if I can prevent it from seeding should be possible to clear out given a year or two.  A paving slab and cobble path runs diagonally across the bed, and the cobbles had got clogged with moss and weed grass.  The path is edged with chives, and four iron tripods planted with Clematis alpina, one of which is flowering beautifully while another is completely dead.  I'd like to get the area tidy before everything has finished flowering, and while there is still time to buy new herb plants at work.

The coming weekend is a working one, and then on Tuesday morning I have to go and get my hair cut, and won't have another potential full day of gardening until Thursday.  No wonder it is so wild and weedy.

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