It seems fitting at this time of the year to share another extract from one of Mr Middleton’s books ‘Village Memories’, this time on holidays:
Choosing a holiday is always something of a problem; in most cases the family opinions and desires have to be taken into account, but in my case economic considerations narrow down the choice somewhat, and this year l found it more difficult than usual to make up my mind. Should l go abroad? I could probably find a cheap ten-day tour to some uninteresting place or other, get a number of impressive looking labels stuck on my suitcase, and come back worn out and kidding myself l had had a marvellous time; but somehow the idea didn’t appeal to me. I stood on the main road and saw and smelt the roaring procession of cars making for the sea; l watched the stream of sweating cyclists with their heads bent low and their coat-tails flying; l pictured the crowded beach, shimmering in the glare of the sun, and smelt the cockle stalls and the peppermint rock; and a feeling of laziness came over me. Any kind of travel seemed to demand a greater measure of energy than l possessed, so why, l reasoned with myself, should l do anything at all?
I possess a pleasant garden, complete with shady trees, a hammock and comfortable chairs, and rarely do l get the opportunity to enjoy them for more than an hour or so at a time; and the more l pondered the more the garden called me, until at last l decided to stay at home and rest- to enjoy a good book or two in the company of my beloved roses; perhaps to work or play a little as the spirit moved me. To forget the clock and be absolutely free- free to follow my own immediate impulses; free from the daily grind and the restraining hand of time and convention- and thus it came to pass.
Mr Middleton goes on to tell us about how he enjoys sitting back and watching two gardeners that come to help him in his garden share banter between themselves and how the day slowly slips by:
Later in the day the good Mrs Osborn appears on the scene with the tea trolley, and we all down tools, or books, for another social half hour. Towards evening a friend looks in, and we discuss matters over a bottle of something or other. Then a walk round the garden to gather a bunch of sweet peas, a round of clock golf, and back to the seat again to watch the twilight fall, and hear the blackbird sing vespers from the top of my wire-less pole. Finally to bed, with the windows wide open, and the breath of jasmine, night-scented stocks and tobacco flowers as a sweet sleeping-draught, and so ends a typical day of my holiday.
I thought at first l might soon get tired of it, but not a bit of it; the less l do the lazier l get, and the more l enjoy it. I had planned one day to go to the Test Match, but the day was hot and the honeysuckle smelt extra sweet. It seemed a pity to leave it and mingle with a sweating crowd, so l read about it instead. I have a loud speaker in the garden for special items, but it annoys Henry intensely, so it doesn’t get overworked. Cracker seems to think it ought to be in the kitchen garden to scare away the birds.
The holiday is nearly over now, but l have no regrets. Soon l must be back in the hurly-burly again, but never mind, l have learned how to know and to love my garden better than ever before. Among the roses and the robins l have found rest for body and soul, which no amount of excitement could have given me, and the cost has been practically nil.
For a fortnight l have not worn a collar, and have entered neither tram nor bus. My car is silent in its garage. I have not greased it nor washed it, as l solemnly resolved to do. But never mind. I’m not sure that l haven’t enjoyed my garden holiday than any other. There is only one snag about it. I feel rather less inclined to work than l did before.
I remember several years ago now when l was in a highly stressful job having several short holidays at home, just because l could. It was wonderful wandering out into the garden and taking my time to just flit from one area to another, some pruning here, cutting of flowers and gathering some vegetables. To be able to sit with a coffee in the garden with the sun on your face and know that l didn’t have to leave it all behind in a minute to face another days madness was so calming.
We sometimes have a habit of forgetting what is on our own back doorstep in a desperate rush to ‘have a great holiday’. For those of us fortunate enough to have our own gardens l say, take your time this weekend to sit and enjoy what you have got. I have been looking at some pictures on here of other people’s gardens and they are amazing. Other people would pay good money to go and sit there so enjoy it yourselves.
Soon, just a matter of weeks, l will be leaving my garden for the last time. I am proud of what we have achieved here over the years, but more on that another time. Have a great weekend everyone…and enjoy your gardens. I’ll leave you with some pictures of the past week…..