May Day passed us by rather. We did not stand under Magdelen tower to watch the sun come up, or fling ourselves off the bridge into the river, or parade somebody encased in green branches through the streets of the town in a fertility rite possibly invented by Edwardian folklorists, or march with banners in support of Jeremy Corbyn. Instead I weeded and spread gravel and the Systems Administrator had a bonfire, while rain showers through the day sent us repeatedly ducking back into the house.
One of the enduring mysteries of the East coast is why windy, showery, generally rather shoddy days are so often followed by glorious evenings. We noticed it when we sailed, batting along all day in an uncomfortably stiff breeze with rain showers and spray finding its way down our necks, only to find the marina bathed in golden light and with scarcely a ripple of wind when we finally arrived somewhere. This evening it is still windy, but the light is beautiful, and I was able to spend the last couple of hours until half past six weeding in pure sunlight. When I nipped over to the Beth Chatto gardens after lunch in the drizzle to buy a birthday card they were doing a reasonable trade, but the atmosphere was scarcely festive.
I groomed all the old plantlets out of the clumps of tatty grass in the turning circle, which took some time but made them look much better. It has an extraordinary growth habit, this grass, sending up stalks on which grow little baby grass clumps, just like a spider plant, some of which in turn sent up another stalk and made another plantlet, with a flower stem capping the whole thing off. The stems with the plantlets droop with age, and some of the little clumps rooted where they touched the ground, which is partly how the grass spread to cover so much of the turning circle, although it seeds as well, which is how it leaped the breakwater that divides the turning circle to set up shop among the dwarf tulips, until it was unceremoniously evicted. If I see a grass specialist exhibiting at Chelsea I should ask if they can tell me what it is. There may not be one, for I detect that the great grass enthusiasm of the 1990s and early years of this century is gradually waning among domestic scale gardeners.
Mr Fidget thought that tidying the grasses was a great game, and occasionally jumped on my fingers as I combed and tugged, which was was moderately uncomfortable since my green gardening gloves are not claw proof.
I am almost at the end of the first bag of gravel, which is not bad going in four days. We debated how much the gravel I'd moved must have weighed. The SA asked how much the whole bag weighed, but I did not know because the supplier's website didn't say. It was a large builders' bag. We agreed that it contained a cubic metre of gravel, and the SA said that if it was water it would weigh a thousand kilos. I said in that case it must weigh more, since gravel sank in water, but the SA countered that while individual pieces of gravel sank, the bag had air in it between the stones. I said I thought that if the bag were waterproof and we put it in water it would still sink, and the SA said that if I were to weigh a litre of gravel I could calculate the weight of the whole bag. I began to think that we might be rather sad people, and have not yet scooped up a litre of gravel and put it on the kitchen scales,