The reason for this absence, a three-day jaunt as hired hand, secateur monkey, food-sponge, strimmer jockey, laptop tech support and walking encyclopaedia of military hardware at Castle Reeve, was exactly as fun as expected, which is to say: fun on a bun. I had booked (terrifyingly expensive, even in advance) train tickets down from Brum a few days before I learned Mum and Dad would be bringing Olly up to Cov on the Monday. Derrrrp. But! My train went through Bristol, so after coming out for a massive all-I-could-eat at the Coventry branch of Cosmo (which I didn’t realise was even a chain), they gave me a lift home, and I got a couple hours more of what turned out not to be nearly enough sleep anyway.
Then on Tuesday morning, a long train journey through idyllic sunlit south coast to Newton Abbot, and from there to Castle Reeve, where there were days of ruminatin’ on stories and creative processes and writing by committee and the internet and media and publishing, and afternoons of interesting Reevefriends to provide conversation on law/acting/music/careers/COMPUTERS, and evenings of tea and hobnobs and Victoria sponge and strawberries & cream. Also Gainful Employ, mainly involving one form or other of violence towards plants.
I shredded bamboo and brambles with wild and gay abandon while Mr Reeve pulled up bulrushes in the more Passchendaele-esque end of his lake, rooted up dandelions and such with a trowel (which held some strange fascination for Frodo the Reevepoodle), chopped up thistles with a thistle-chopper-upper (one particularly glorious specimen got held up like the head of Medusa), and, as a highlight, turned unruly overgrown banks into nice grassy knolls with My First Strimmer. I love machines like this; I like the petrol-stink and the ponderous heft, the whir and torque and heat of the motor, the shoulder harness that makes me feel like Vasquez with a smartgun rather than a glorified 21st-century reaper with a glorified 21st-century scythe mowing down small green xenomorphs. Most of all I loved having its half-controlled power in my hands: feeling rather than hearing the motor’s thrum and fighting the weight and torque of it, seeing grassy verges and patches of reeds dissolve as chlorophyll-coloured plant viscera spatters on my hands and face like a palette-flipped splatter film.
YES I CAN WRITE GUSHING, MILDLY PSYCHOTIC-SOUNDING PARAGRAPHS ABOUT GARDENING, WHAT OF IT, MAGGOTS?
So that was all good wholesome fun, and a shining beacon of shiny beacon-ness in what’s otherwise been a pretty shitty Easter. Could be worse; at least I didn’t get nailed to a cross or anything.