You asked for it.

garden makeover

When I blogged about not having anything to blog about earlier this week, some of you were kind enough to say that you’re willing to tolerate posts about the Less Than Interesting stuff which is basically all that ever happens around here at the moment.

This post is your fault.

Nah, I’m just joking. See, the thing is, I’ve always kept journals. I got my first diary when I was ten, and each new year after that was marked by the opening of a brand new journal, in which I would meticulously document every tedious detail of my life, just in case I became famous one day and my biographers needed some info on what I had for lunch on the 16th of January, 1994, or something equally important. When I started this blog, I stopped keeping journals. There just didn’t seem to be much point, when the blog was there to serve as the record of my life instead. But then, as I mentioned in my previous post, somewhere along the line the blog stopped being about my life, and so all of those little details were lost to the mists of time. What will my biographers do NOW, I wonder?

Well, today I’m here to help them along, because in an bid to re-introduce some of the more personal/boring stuff to this blog, here is a novel-length post about my garden. You’re welcome.

When we moved into our first house, I somehow neglected to take any photos of it. Oh, I took hundreds before we left, obviously, and I also remembered to take some before and after shots of a couple of the bigger projects we did, before getting bored and giving up on it. Because who wants to look at photos of house renovations, seriously? Oh no, wait: that’s kind of what THIS post is about, actually. Uh-oh.

I do have SOME photos  of the house through the ages, is what I’m saying. But when we moved in, and the entire place was bright blue, from ceiling to floor, and I’m seriously not joking about that?  (I’m also not OVER it, apparently. I mean, who puts blue gloss paint on the ceiling? WHO?) Nah, I didn’t bother to take any photos of that, which meant that once we’d replaced every single wall, ceiling and floor covering, and oh yeah, also the entire kitchen and bathroom, we had absolutely nothing to compare those “after” shots to, other than a few blurry photos of me peeling blue wallpaper off with my fingernails, and looking kind of dead behind the eyes. Anyway, I don’t want to make the same mistake with this house, which is why ever since we moved in, I’ve been busily snapping away, so that we will never forget that our garden once looked like this:


I call this photo “Still Life With Rotary Dryer”. I’m entering it into a photography competition next week. No, OK, you’re right: there’s really no way at all to make this photo seem interesting is there? Maybe madam would prefer this view?

there's a garden under there somewhere

No? Jeez, tough crowd.

So, as you can see, the garden is… a project. To put it mildly. It’s a project that might have put some people off, but luckily not us, because the thing is, and I may have mentioned this once or twice already, we absolutely HATE gardening. Detest it. I know lots of you love it, and hey, good for you, but, you know, the weather here sucks most of the time. I spend all week waiting for just ONE sunny day, and when that sunny day finally arrives, I want to be able to enjoy it. The very LAST thing I want to do is to spend that prechus day out digging and weeding and mowing, only for it to start raining again the second I’m done, so I don’t even get to enjoy the fruits of my labours. Not my idea of fun. When we started looking at houses, then, one thing we agreed on was that our future home would have a garden which was as low-maintenance as possible. No lawn to mow. No flower beds to weed. Just something minimal and modern, and really, REALLY easy to maintain.

This garden… well, it was none of that, granted. And you’re probably wondering why on EARTH we bought a house with a garden that needs SO MUCH work when I’ve just told you how much we both hate gardening. It’s OK, I’m getting to that. You see, the thing is, this garden was (and still is!) a hot mess, but it was also something of a blank canvas when we first saw it (It was April, and none of those weeds had grown yet, so it was basically just a patch of bare earth. When we rolled up in August and saw how well the weeds had grown, we were less than thrilled.). This was good, because although we knew we’d have to do a LOT of work to get it how we wanted it, at least we wouldn’t have to destroy someone else’s hard work in the process. I mean, if the house had come with beautiful, mature gardens and perfectly manicured lawns, we wouldn’t have had the heart to destroy them, so we’d have ended up with a high-maintenance garden which would always look shabby because we just don’t have the time/inclination to spend all our free time maintaining it. That would’ve sucked. That’s not, of course, to say that the state of the garden when we moved in DIDN’T suck, because it totally did, and we knew we’d have to do something about it pretty quickly, if only to make sure it was safe for Rubin, and stop him escaping down the side of the house. This is the side of the house:



We built the makeshift barrier (Yes, we did it ourselves. What gave it away?) on day 1, just as a temporary measure to stop Rubin escaping. He’s a fairly intrepid explorer, though, and something like that would really be no obstacle to him at all if he put his mind to it, so on day 2 a gang of our friends turned up with a rotavator, some fence posts and a ton of sheer willpower, and while my parents and I were inside, stripping wallpaper and building furniture (Yeah, I mostly, er, “supervised” with that stuff. Well, SOMEONE has to, no?), they turned that scruffy patch of earth into this slightly LESS scruffy patch of earth:


Ta da! Look, there’s even a blue sky now, too! It’s like one of those “miracle weightloss” adverts, in which the woman in the “after” photo isn’t just slimmer: she’s also got a new haircut, designer clothes and a professional makeup job – amazing!

Some Things We Found Hidden in the Weeds:

* 2 vacuum cleaners (deceased)

* a small pile of cigarette butts, placed handily next to the patio window, so we could step right into them any time we left the house

* a cat’s bed

* a litter tray (the people who rented the house before we bought it weren’t allowed to keep pets, so we’ll just have to assume the cat stuff was for their own use)

* a plastic bucket containing at least 200 further cigarette butts, soaked in filthy rainwater. Rubin tried to eat these.

* a large bin, stuffed full of rotting food and other pieces of trash. Rubin tried to eat this too.

* a bendy roller. Just the one. (Rubin didn’t eat that, but he’d thrown up at least twice by then, so I guess he was full.)

Anyway, with the weeds removed and the earth tilled, the guys then built this fence:


And with the publication of this photo, I think I’ve finally hit the bottom of the blogging barrel. The only way is up, folks!

My dad, meanwhile, built two desks, two chairs and a bathroom cabinet, then he popped outside and quickly put this together:


It’s a storage box, for all of our garden tools and whatnot. Which we don’t actually have now, because there’s no lawn to mow, so we gave the lawnmower to my dad, who collects… everything. I have no idea what’s in that box now, to be honest. Maybe bodies? Anyway! Did I mention they did all of this in ONE DAY? And that while this particular transformation was going on, some of our other friends were busy out front, where they took up the very small amount of lawn that was there and replaced it with pebbles, and some shiny things. The front garden transformation is actually much more dramatic than the back, but there are no photos of it other than the one at the top of the page, because:

a) I don’t want to post photos that will really obviously identify where we live. That’s why that photo has been very obviously Photoshopped to remove identifying objects.


b) Yeah, I totally forgot to do the “before” shots. I hate myself sometimes, seriously

My main point, however, is this: we have the BEST friends. And family members. We really, really do. Those guys worked SO hard, and did such an amazing job. It would’ve taken us MONTHS to do it all by ourselves, and would’ve cost us a fortune to pay a professional, so we seriously owe them one. Maybe even MORE than one, actually. We still have a long, long way to go, obviously, but just in case you think Terry was resting on his laurels while all of this was going on, rest assured that not only was he part of the garden transformation team on Day 2, on Day 3 he went out and did this:


tenporary deck

This is a really temporary solution, as you can probably tell. We are going to be building a deck in this part of the garden, but it’ll be a while before we can get round to it, and in the meantime we wanted to basically clear an area that Rubin could safely wander around and, well, pee in, without getting covered in mud. The decking boards and patio slabs were left by the previous owner, who’d bought them, but never used them. They won’t be much use in the long term, because they haven’t exactly been looked after, but they at least give Rubin something to walk on for now. This arrangement has actually been changed and extended a bit since this photo was taken, because, yes, Rubin totally jumped over that barrier, got covered in mud, and then tracked it up all three flights of stairs inside the house. Did I mention we have really pale, almost white, carpet on the stairs? Why, yes we do! D’oh!

Anyway, having done all of this work in the first three days of living here, we probably won’t touch the garden again now until we decide to move. On the plus side, that means no more boring garden updates for you. On the minus side, however, well, did I mention we’re thinking of knocking down a wall in the kitchen?