|Wednesday 31 August 1664
At noon home to dinner, and there my wife hath got me some pretty good oysters, which is very soon and the soonest, I think, I ever eat any. After dinner I up to hear my boy play upon a lute, which I have this day borrowed of Mr. Hunt; and indeed the boy would, with little practice, play very well upon the lute, which pleases me well.
Very impressed with Pepys who maintains his interest both in singing and in live music.
I would like to talk about hard physical work in the garden. The same principles apply if you are a private person or a professional gardener. There are ways of making a six or seven hour day, or period of time, more agreeable. Imagine you are an artist. In fact we are all artists and should be looking how to make the most of our apartment, our garden, or indeed doing actual works of art. The above is an art installation. It arose because I found one or two single gloves of the owner of the property where I was working in long grass.
The first rules are, do not panic and do not rush and do not fight. In my early days of gardening – I started when I was 14 years of age – I used to attack a digging job like a maniac and wear myself out in 20 min. In an adjacent plot was a pensioner who was digging his plot so slowly that he seemed to barely move and yet he had finished before I had. Timing is all, rhythm is all.
If you have six different types of jobs there is no harm in doing a little bit of one and a little bit of the other. It’s very much like painting a picture, after you have done the outline you paint here and there. Different skills are required for each type of job and you will find the time goes far quicker.
I can also recommend sips of water at regular intervals, much less disruptive than having a cup of tea though I never refuse such a beverage if offered by a hospitable customer.
The title of this post is “when is a grass mower not a grass mower”. The answer is…………………When it is a strimmer or a leaf collector. The Briggs and Stratton 150 cc motor, typically 4.5 HP, is a tough old thing with very little to go wrong and is in millions of petrol machines. I do not often use my strimmer because the mower does it far better in most instances. You set the height to the highest and push down the handle so it moves along at 45°. when you have done the first pass, you can see what you’re doing and then you put the grass box on, set the height lower, and go over it again. Watch out for stones.
It is also very useful as a leaf collector particularly in autumn and can equally well be used on a path or cleaning up a bed that you have weeded. You set the height to the lowest and merrily walk up and down. There is a mild vacuum effect which will suck all the leaves and debris up and give you a lovely clean area without needing to use a blower. I’m trying to get you not to see mowers as just for mowing. It is a great all-purpose tool and they are not easy to break. The blades are designed to break to save damage to the mower itself. Prior to the breaking stage the mower will just stop. Again, no damage will ensue. Beware of poles cemented into the ground for example to support a washing line. Also beware of wire including coat hangers because they get tangled up and take a lot of effort to untangle. The worst they will do is stop the motor.
Also, if you want to be really brave, you can reduce piles of hedge cuttings and small branches to a volume 20% of the size. Don’t worry about the noises. I used one petrol mower for five years and subjected it to all sorts of abuse and overuse and it never complained once. I only got rid of it because I damaged the central column because I hit a buried piece of metal firmly fixed into the ground.
Finally, there is unlikely to be someone holding a gun to your head saying that you must finish. A good time to stop is when you are getting bored with the process. If you are working in England, you may be lucky enough to get the excuse of a shower or so.