January’s and February’s storms had smashed parts of the fence to pieces and my neighbour Clive, a grumpy old man who lives in a large, ancient cottage all by himself, with only Willow, his fat old pony for company, had been giving me dirty looks every time the wind tore down another bit of the wooden panels. He’d been propping it up with large planks, and even a metal pole, more or less all winter. I expect he only just managed to stop himself from adding a large sign with an arrow pointing to the damage.
Clive is still not happy because Gardener has replaced the panels with pig mesh. “It’s a bit open, isn’t it?" he complained. “We’re going to grow shrubs along the fence” . I had told Gardener to calm Clive down, they are both genuine Shropshire men and know how to deal with each other, not like me and Beloved, who are ‘From Off’. It’s up to me to erect a fence and I have every right to choose the kind I want. “Make sure you plant them a foot off the boundary”. Clive had to have the parting shot. He’s alright really, keeps himself entirely to himself. When we moved in he found a gap in his busy schedule of pottering around in the field with Willow, his garden and cottage, to remind us that his neighbourliness went no further than telling me when any plants in my garden encroached on his. “ I like privacy,” he said. “That’s good, so do we,” I replied in very friendly tones - someone ‘From Off’ needs to be careful in these parts.
I know I said earlier that I “worked” for a day; truth to tell : I shirked more than worked. I helped Gardener by telling him how to keep his lines straight, dug up a few weeds and stood around planning what to do where. Millie helped with the latter. We also had several cups of tea. Furthermore, I had a very busy time working out who this little fellow was. There had been a flock of bramblings a few days prior, during one of the storms, but they had all disappeared again. Perhaps this one had lost contact with his mates. He sat for ages under the feeders, all puffed up, occasionally picking at the ground; I expect he was catching his breath and it was my duty to stay within reach to repel predators.
However, I have promised to open the garden in aid of charity to paying customers at the end of June; Gardener was full of pity for me and my rash decision and just a tad doubtful that, on current showing, I would be anywhere near ready by then.