NOWHERE

Let me explain: not quite nowhere, but we didn’t actually get out of the car. We had decided to go to a garden centre, but out of the three we tried, one was still closed and two had long queues. The man at the gate of one of them said helpfully: “There’s only a 20-25 minute wait, today. Much better than it has been.” It was hot and sunny and neither of us do hot and sunny very well, plus this was taking place in the OH’s lunch break, and he had to get back to his computer within the hour.  A test email had already been sent round that morning to all staff from the office manager; to check they weren’t sunbathing in the park, we presumed.

Prior to going out, my hairdresser rang me and my first words to her were: “Yes please!” She laughed and said, “Sorry, I’m just ringing for a chat and to see how you are.” She lives in Kent, very near to one of our favourite garden centres, which was featured on the news the other day, but she hasn’t tried to go there yet.  She said she’d wait for a while longer. I asked her how her garden was looking. “Glorious,” was her reply.

Their grass wasn’t looking too healthy, though, so they splashed out and turfed the whole lot. Ours is awful at the moment, but looks slightly less awful when I’ve cut it, which I like to do. In fact, with so little rain recently, it’s turning a pleasing shade of brown, which I love, as it reminds me of the ploughed fields I used to see from my bedroom window as a child growing up in a village. When we all had that roasting-hot summer a couple of years ago, the grass stayed brown and close-cropped and I didn’t have to cut it for several months.  Others are so particular about their lawns, wasting precious water with sprinklers on day and night, but it all grows back in the end, so why bother? In any case, the plants need it more than the grass.

I digress. The salon won’t be open until July at the earliest, my hairdresser told me. I said I’d just have to wait, then. I’m not too bothered about my hair growing out. I was always a long-haired girl. It just means my curls will get pulled out with the weight, but it will be interesting to see what it ends up like, and as long as I have the OH to help me colour it, I don’t mind. She said she misses the chat at the salon. Her partner, a salesman, is now involved in distributing masks and one of her sons is delivering for Amazon, while the other is buying and selling on eBay.  Diversifying at its finest!

Talking of turf, on our way out to find a garden centre, we passed our local rose nursery, run by a delightfully bohemian and slightly eccentric couple.  It looked pleasantly busy in there, which is good, as they have been there forever and I would hate to see them having to close down.  One of them was helping to load rolls of turf into the back of a customer’s car. We’ve bought some beautiful roses from them over the years. They really do know their stuff.  They have remained open throughout lockdown, as well. You can do that sort of thing when you own the place.

Someone I spoke to on the phone at the weekend, from a chain of garden centres, said she had hated not working for so many weeks.  She loves her job and none of them had wanted to close but they had been told to do so by the government, of course. She was so happy to be back working, she said. I could hear it in her voice. We tried visiting there half an hour before closing, thinking we would be OK, but there was still a long queue outside, with no hope for most of those in it of getting in before closing time.

Also something to be considered: no point in queuing for half an hour or so, only to find they haven’t got what you want. This happens frequently in “normal times” let alone now. I do hope they are limiting people’s purchases, as well – a bit like the toilet rolls situation of a few weeks back. Though I like to think that gardeners are a little more civilised and wouldn’t descend into any supermarket-style shenanigans amongst the shrubs: brawling in the Berberis or punching around the Pittosporum.

We passed a flower shop open nearby. It looked busy outside, so perhaps it was selling other things as well. I couldn’t see. Or maybe people were just desperate for flowers.  You might argue that flowers aren’t an essential purchase but I think they are such a lovely, uplifting thing to treat yourself, or someone else, to. In fact, sod it, I’m going to do just that the next time we go out shopping. I’d love a separate cutting garden, here, for flowers only, but haven’t the space and I’d far rather see anything flowering staying out there. They last a heck of a lot longer, that way, in any case.

On one of the roads we drove down, there was a big sign that said: STAY ALERT. CONTROL THE VIRUS.  SAVE LIVES. So – an update from the previous signs we have been seeing everywhere, then. The STAY IN/STAY AT HOME ones.

We passed a pub, where a few people were sitting outside. I would never describe myself as a “pubby” person, since I rarely drink and only visit them for meals or to see bands, but I felt a definite pang when I saw those people sitting there; for all the world as though things were back to normal again.

On our way home, disappointingly plant-free but having had a nice little run-out nonetheless, we passed a police van blocking one of the roads in nearby Claygate.  Another case of domestic abuse, perhaps? As happened down our own road a couple of weeks ago. Or drugs, maybe? As happened in our area last week, when six men were arrested. STAY SAFE, EVERYONE!

 

 

 

 

Author: Hampton Caught

The rants and ramblings of an ex Deputy Fiction Editor of Woman's Weekly magazine.

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