Sunday, 16 June 2013

A Dish Of Blogallimaufry

Gardener and I may be falling out. Since he had his heart attack there is much less of him to go round, he has cut back on the number of gardens he works, as well as the hours he puts in in each individual garden;  all very understandably; now there are just three of us, another woman and me, and an old gentleman’s manor gardens. Recently the old chap has taken over most of gardener’s time to the detriment of the other two gardens. As a member of the class of centuries-established landed gentry, ordering the peasants about comes naturally to old Mr. Beesley, and gardener being a horny-handed-son-of-the-soil, having worked on the land all his life, always for the gentry and aristocracy, equally naturally defers to that class without question. Mr. Beesley even pays him less than I do, gives him neither tea nor tea breaks and certainly never ever treats him as an equal, but as a member of the Jilly-come-lately class I just haven’t the same clout, kindness and friendliness notwithstanding.

Rather darkly, -  under my breath and not so that gardener's deaf old ears could catch it  -  I’ve been muttering about organ grinders and monkeys and looked for the ring through gardener’s nose every time he complains about the old gentleman’s demands but I’m probably fighting a losing battle. These are old-fashioned people, steeped in the tradition of master and servant, and modern attitudes have not reached them.

I am looking for gardener’s replacement, just in case.


So, I’ve been slogging away at it on my own when it wasn’t raining.  Consequently, I’ve been collapsing on the sofa at night, or even during the afternoon;  with feet up and a comfy cushion under my back I’ve taken to reading on my ipad. It’s made a huge difference; I’ve recently noticed that my eyes tend to blur after a bit and the small print in books is getting hard to read with ease. Ipads and Kindles are the perfect reading medium for tired eyes but there is some getting used to them to do. I’m the sort of person who likes the smell of books; I also sneak a look at the final paragraph while half-way through and, even worse, I read with a pencil in my hand, marking and annotating as I go along. An electronic reader is therefore like a straitjacket, flicking from page to page without detour; yes, I can electronically highlight,  but where’s the fun in that? Real bookmarks sticking out from between the pages let me get back to the paragraph or sentence which caught my imagination so much more easily.

Another thing is that I find I can only read thrillers or soppy novels on an electronic reader. Non-fiction, literature, poetry, need paper pages for turning and returning to. I am thoroughly ashamed of some of the books I’ve downloaded and the worst of it is that all books appear on both Beloved’s and my electronic devices (I use the same email address) and when he shows interest in what has appeared on his home page I warn him under no circumstances to open certain titles.


We had Sunday lunch at The Sun Inn, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding was on the menu. Home-cooked beef would have been tastier - although I don’t know how to cook Yorkshires - but it’s nice to go to the pub, chat with other guests and not lift a finger myself.


  1. I know it isn't any consolation telling you this, Friko, but my garden this year looks a complete disaster and I'd give my right arm for even an hour or two of Gardener's time. Old age doesn't come on its own. BTW the pictures of your garden are beautiful and the people who come and visit on Open Day will be delighted with what they see.

  2. I love Sunday pub lunches, especially the not having to lift a finger myself bit!
    My gardener is also cutting back, and not able to do much. I got a (young, female) replacement, but she charges 3 times what he did. She probably has a diploma, but I don't need a diploma- holder, just someone to clip and cut! Good luck with finding a replacement.

  3. Sunday pub lunch with Yorkshire pudding sounds relaxing and delicious. Hope you and Mr. Gardener works things out ok.

  4. tradition does hold sway. I've only ever been the gardener in my yard but I wouldn't mind a helping hand these days. the only reason i prefer the tablet to a real book is when holding it is cumbersome. at the table (yes I rudely read at the table but so does he and it's only the two of us) I stand it up and need only reach over to swipe the page.

  5. My eyes were similar
    no problem except for my love of reading.
    Right eye 6 weeks ago and left eye almost two weeks ago
    had cataract surgery.
    I eyesight is perfect
    at this time...
    Understand about gardening
    and I am reducing mine - do not like this - but no help.
    Do have a 13 year old young man that works with me
    and as good as the older helpers.

  6. Poor old gardener, at the beck and call of tradition. Maybe he would like to recommend somebody new; I hope you find a new, competent person who is equally interesting to write about.

    My e-reader has some awful titles on it, but the dumbest thing I ever downloaded was a cook book. Cookbooks absolutely must be paper!

  7. I'm with you on the electronic books. I'll take paper, thank you -- at least for now, although I suspect at some point my eyes will get to that point where the pad is better. Gee, so far I have even defied the iPad trend. When it is no longer a trend but the forever-reality, I suspect I will have one!

    Your stamina makes me blush with shame. I felt downright giddy-proud that I planted a row of sunflower seeds yesterday (and some gourds). My little garden is all in pots except for the herb and hosta gardens and those are nothing to write home about! I think you have a television Brit-com (as we call them here) about the relationship of Gardener and his various clients -- especially Sir Manor House! Think about it -- the Americans would love it!

  8. Gardner loves his chains. Too bad. Kindness and appreciation would be the better choice. I so enjoy visiting you. Yorkshire pudding! Imagine e!

    Aloha, F

  9. I like the way you can enlarge the text on electronic Kindles but I also do not like the lack of ability to thumb through the pages and find that photo or phrase that you had looked at yesterday. I still buy poetry in book form, you cannot read poetry electronically.

  10. lunch sounds wonderful...smiles...have yet to go electronic for reading so i have nothing for you there...oy on the gardens...kerry's idea on getting him to recommend someone is not a bad idea...

  11. As fascinating as all that British class system is to me, the practical effects would be annoying.
    If you really want a replacement for Gardener, I hope you find a good one, but I'd miss him. He's such a character.

  12. Like June I'd miss Gardener if ever he listened to the "higher" calling. I was wondering around my garden yesterday trying to find some energy to tackle a biggish job and thought, "That's a job for Gardener." That's almost like believing in fairy tales. And, as I believe in fairy tales, I trust he will forsake all others, and stay as an integral character in blogland.

  13. Friko, where to begin.

    Not totally joking, I put my own self forward to be a Gardener in training. I don't know much about gardening (all my childhood experience is well back in the last century,) but I am willing, even enthusiastic, and am quite good health considering my age. I would ove to talk with you about all sorts of things out of doors.

    I do understand Gardener's loyalty to a certain tradition, but I could rise above that.

    I am in total agreement with you regarding holding and reading bound paper books being an experience that reaches many more of our senses than possibly could the electronic alternatives we are offered.

    When I get a bit more free time, I will e-mail you. If you find time first, please do e-mail me.


  14. Like you, I prefer the heft and smell of a book in my hands, so the OC's couple-of-years-ago gift of a Nook gathers dust on the bookshelf! Too bad you don't go by "Lady Friko," you might still have gardener's services!

  15. Gardening or reading ... either way you get a good night's sleep. But reading is easier on your joints.

  16. I am so pleased to hear someone else admit to reading the last paragraphs/pages before completing a book. And it doesn't matter what type of book I still do it. Murder mysteries/biographies/diaries. I too MUCH prefer real books.

    I hope that your gardener sees the light and comes back to where he is valued.

  17. I will always look forward to reading your blog, but I must admit it just won't be the same without Gardener. However, I guess I can understand his deference to the gentry and the old ways.
    I almost had a fit, however, when you said you go in and collapse, until I read the next words about reading. Whew. I had visions of you working yourself into one of those heart things just to get the garden in shape, when it is already absolutely beautiful.
    The only good thing about my yard (can't call it a garden) this year is the abundance of spring rain. The only time I watered was when I had put grass seed on some bare spots.
    Working hard this week because we're having a garage sale/yard sale/junk sale in our driveway next weekend. I hope the weather stays cool. It can get SO hot here in the summer. People say "but it's a dry heat" which makes no nevermind to me, because it feels like a blowtorch to my lungs.
    Meanwhile, it's wonderful just to be feeling better, and able to do anything at all. I'm so glad I yelled at my doctor, because he changed my blood-sugar medication and all the horrible pain and suffering has stopped. I've been complaining for a year or more, but was ignored because I'm a woman with grey hair. Disgusting. If a new doctor could be had, I'd change, but they all have all the patients they can handle.
    Hoping to feel well enough to go out to BC with husband and dog, to visit my family, then go to my 50-year high school graduation reunion.
    Take care of yourself now. And do ask Gardener about recommending his replacement. It might make him think.
    Luv, K

  18. Hi Friko - I can quite understand your dilemma with Gardener ... those salt of the earth folk and their erstwhile landowners ne-er seem to part .. in fact in a lot of respects it's a good working relationship - yet for less and with less care and compassion. Such is life I suspect ... I hope you can find some extra help - so many are slash and burn ... which is remarkably unhelpful and not kind to the earth.

    I too have purposely only downloaded books I'd read through quickly on the Kindle/iPad .. I need to sit with notepad and pencil, or computer nearby to jot interesting snippets down ...

    The pub visit sounds a good option after all that gardening ... and beef at home may have been better .. but yorkshires ... too good to miss ..

    Cheers and that Open Day must be looming ... enjoy the promise of better weather this week .. Hilary

  19. als ik dichter bij woonde dan...... nee hoor dat is voor een jongere garde.

  20. I have downloaded two books on my iPad that I haven't even cracked open (if you can even say that with an electronic book) because I've also been inundated with books I had put on hold at the library. They all came in at once, it seems, and I only have them for two weeks and cannot renew, since somebody else in the queue wants them next. I do hope you find a gardener soon, but you ARE getting lots of exercise, and you know how I feel about that! :-)

  21. That's the first thing I noticed when I came to the UK for the first time. There is still an enormous gap between social classes !
    Fortunately I had arranged our garden that way, that there is almost nothing to do in there ! Bushes around being cut twice a year by a professional. Bark and flower pots and to mow the lawn a robot. I never liked garden work !

  22. I have been away from reading blogs for 4+ weeks, and truly should not read them today since it is our 46th wedding anniversary and I should find some outfit for our restaurant outing. But, I have been away long enough and am starting blog reading again – and there are many to read. I looked at your beautiful pictures of your garden – so fresh and colorful. Of course we have not been in our yard for weeks but it did rain and all the potted plants and herbs are doing well by themselves. Talking about reading – I still have not read a single book on my Kindle that my daughter gave me 2 years ago … too many real paper books to read.

  23. Amazing that manor owners still exist! Sounds as if you'll need a new gardner soonish.

  24. Frico, I agree, I do love the 'paper' book in my hand. About gardener: he has to be a good helper in your garden, there is a lot of work as digging, pruning, weeding, etc.
    Have a nice week!

  25. It's, no... I can't quite figure out how to start this... It's curious how many generations it takes for cultural norms to change, vis a vis the gardener and the gentleman. We have the same thing in the Southern U.S. with white gentry and the blacks but with far fewer generations of "equality" than you.

  26. I wish I lived nearer to you Friko, I'd be happy to help out in your lovely garden - for free! Perhaps, in return, you'd let me see your list of ebooks. I'd love to know what titles Beloved is banned from looking at!

  27. Now I'm intrigued by the list of books you don't want Beloved to open.
    I concur 100% with your evaluation of reading electronically. Fiction, perhaps. Non-fiction, never. Flipping back and forth, writing in, bookmarking - all those things make reading a multi-sensory experience that e-readers cannot duplicate.

    Sorry about Gardener's intractability - will the English class system ever disappear - I wonder?

  28. I often find that modern attitudes reach all sorts of people when it is to their Benefit to be reached, but never when it appears to them to be to their detriment. They stay old-world & cotton candy-headed & keep him a slave, quite convenient.

  29. Oh that is a bummer about your old gardener....makes it doubly hard on you I see. Sheesh!
    As for reading...I have taken to reading on my has the Kindle app. I love it and tend to read more that way. I must confess I don't miss my books as much as I thought I would. Right now I have about 30 of them, patiently waiting for me to crack them open. It may be a long wait. Ha

  30. Don't fire the gardener - you'll be sorry if you do. There will be no adequate replacement. Trust me on this! I am in love with the Kindle - read any and all on it, including non-fiction and poetry. I still have shelves of books and like seeing them - but holding them and reading - I prefer the electronic one! PS Don't fire the gardener - did I mention that?

  31. I tossed my reader into the corner, I can't break away from paper. Satisfying. Soothing.

    As to Gardener, I too am on the horns so to speak as my Leo is in lust with another cabin dweller and my grass is a foot high and the wood remains unsawed :(. The perils of living where we need assistance...


  32. I'm with you on paper books and the quick glance at the final paragraph, Friko. A bad habit, but I can't seem to break it.I'm still steadfastly resisting having any kind of e-reader, as our local library relies on me to keep its borrowing statistics healthy. :-)

    I do feel for you about the lack of Gardener's time, especially with the Open Day coming up. Like you, I think he probably wouldn't dream of refusing Mr Beesley's demands, as that kind of deference will have been bred into him. I need a Gardener, but who would want to tackle my wilderness?

  33. No gardener here, alas, but I can see how you'd miss the old fellow if he were to forsake you entirely. In-bred loyalty wins out, in some cases, over tea...

    Still reading books here, too. My eyes do not take well to lighted screens so I've bought some reading glasses and voila!

    Pub lunches are a fond memory of my trip across the pond. I remember one with roast lamb and mint -

  34. I found this post so interesting as you spoke of the generational mindsets of the landed gentry and those who care for the land. I can see why the relationship between you and the gardener would become strained. I hope you find a satisfactory replacement soon.

    I agree with you on e-readers and books. I only like to read fiction on my e-reader for the same reasons you state.

  35. The best part of eating out is not having to clean up.

    Regarding the gardener, I now have the theme from Downton Abbey rolling through my head. :-)


  36. A reduced bit of gardener is better than none.

  37. If I were Gardner, I would far prefer to be in your garden and, for sure, would want to have tea (with you) :) Re: electronic readers. I am right there with you. I need a good old paper book in hand when it's something worthy--otherwise, it's news, and fluff and stuff downloaded to said devices.

  38. I hope you succeed in your quest for a 'new' gardener; it would have to come soon anyway.
    I agree with you about electronic reading devices. What I miss most is not being able to flick back to check a detail - it takes forever on a Kindle. Nothing beats the smell of a book though if a book smells unpleasant - and some do - I can't handle it, literally!

  39. One reason I gave up my two acre garden for a place in the city is so that I have less garden to fuss over. I fear some days I dream of a long balcony with flower boxes and me watering them as needed. Lately, I have stumbled onto a helpful young man who has assisted me greatly, leaving the smaller tasks to me this spring. I hope he stays around a while, but all the old ladies in the neighborhood have his number.

    As for Yorkshire pudding and roast beef, I love the former but cannot digest the latter too well anymore.

    I used my Kindle all through graduate school marking pages and underlining passages but never liked it quite as much as post-it notes on real paper pages. There is a difference if you are reading a serious book. I don't think its quite as important for the more frivolous types of 'literature.' Dianne

  40. I remember when I started to employ students (horticulture students, ideally ) to help with my big garden, and that was lots of fun as we could work together and enjoy fun conversations. Your gardener clearly belongs to a passing era. Interesting though, all this. May the garden thrive anyway.

  41. I love my kindle, but only for non-fiction. I have to have a pen and a hard copy for that.

    Hope you can either work things out with the gardener or find a good replacement. Too bad it's going down the way it is...


  42. Dear Friko, I read a variety of mystery novels written either by British authors or by American authors who set their stories in Britain and travel there each year to do research for their stories. I'm saying this because I've wondered at times whether the relationship between landed gentry and the "commoner" is as portrayed in these books. I can see from your post that most of these novelists have it right. Peace.

  43. Frustrating about Gardener, to say the least! About the Kindle (which I now read on the iPad, an improvement so far), the idea for me had been to be able to carry a number of books back and forth, yet somehow, I keep buying them. Moreover, on more than one occasion, I've bought and read an eBook, only to decide that I must own the book book. Longtime habits die hard, I suppose.


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