The Bilberry Cottage Chronicles
Well, it came in with a blast, cooled off and then gave us a heat wave which has prompted memories of 1975-76. But will it last? Sir W has told me that, enjoyable as it was for a while, the novelty has worn off and, as his fur coat has not, he has had enough. His favourite shaded spot at the back of my nicely developing rose garden is fine during the day but perilous when the hose makes its evening appearance. The best portion of these hot days are the hours between midnight and 6 am, the very time he is forced (bribed, always keep a ready defrosted prawn or two on hand) to come inside and forgo untold nocturnal adventures so that his Mama (and Papa) can have an untroubled night’s sleep. On mid-summer night when they were foolish enough to leave the balcony door open so they could enjoy the cool of the early hours, he took his chance and slipped through the Juliette grill and onto the wisteria. The subsequent rustlings and scrapings alerted his ever-vigilant Mama who got to the window just in time to see him make an impressive arcing leap onto the garage roof. At this point, Brian got involved and for the next 20 minutes or so they took it in turns to stand on the top of an ominously creaking step-ladder and, sotto voce, entreat Sir W to give up his attempted remake of “Free Willy” or, for the Literati, “Cat on a Tepid Asphalt Roof” and come back to bed. At first he thought he would make his Great Escape via next door’s garage roof but, steep and corrugated, it was too much of an unknown quantity in the dark so after repeated pacing up and down, plaintively miaowing all the while, he plonked himself down in the middle of his own flat roof and began an long and complicated toilet. Brian went back to bed and I did the washing up before ascending the ladder for one more try. With Brian off the scene, Sir W was ready to capitulate but not before I had sustained substantially bruised forearms and a scratched shoulder – and that was before I attempted to open the garage door with a squirming feline under one arm and a snapping aluminium step-ladder under the other. Now we all suffer the heat of the night, as Sir W has his revenge by generously spreading his warm, furry weight across the extra-light duvet.
The sun and warmth have their advantages, however, as we have already harvested our own mint and strawberries (Pimms!) and look forward to cherry tomatoes, bell peppers and figs. Honey suckle is rampant on the garage wall and ballet tutu roses in every shade of pink adorn the S E corner. Good Friend and I held a Summer Solstice celebration in the summer house and very magical it looked by candle light (and under the mellowing influence of a bottle of Prosecco). I forgot to say last month how much I enjoyed painting the old green house and transforming it into my very own play house. I’m sure Brian thought I would get fed up after a couple of panels, especially with all the many window edges. Two coats of Country Cream on the outside and the same of Willow inside was easily and very happily accomplished within a couple of days and, unlike Tom Sawyer, I would not have surrendered my brush to anyone and certainly not for any of the following “a kite, a dead rat, twelve marbles, a jew’s harp, some blue bottle glass, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire crackers, a brass door knob or a kitten with one eye.” On second thoughts, maybe that poor kitten...... As I write “Engerland” have crashed out of the World Cup courtesy of their old rivals, Germany aka The Hun as the Daily Mirror thought fit to label them. Praise Be – I know this is heresy in some camps but perhaps now we can take a clear look at football culture in this country and re-evaluate. The mediocre, in-articulate and obscenely over-rewarded young men and the WAG culture which goes with them, are certainly not national heroes and very poor, even damaging, role models for young people. The day after the 1966 World Cup victory, Geoff Hurst recollects that he was washing his own car and the match report was confined to the back pages of National newspapers. What price 40+ years of “progress”? Brian, never a football enthusiast in any of his 50+ years, has remained steadfastly unseduced by the lure of the telly and ploughed on with the renovations. The hall now has furniture back in it and, more importantly, the dining room no longer has a toilet in it. That is back in its rightful position in the newly re-painted cloakroom although yet to be commissioned – visitors please note. It feels like we’re really “getting there” – the porch now has its own door bell if not a letter box and there are no longer toe -imperilling tools all over the study floor. There is still a snagging list but I feel confident to leave this for actioning by Brian while celebrating the start of next month with a Girls’ long weekend away in Brighton and a day out in Kent to see Bob Dylan headline at the Hops Farm festival. So keep my roses watered, your jobs on schedule and that Willy out of mischief!