Thursday, 22 April 2010


Forget all the vernal equinox versus the 1st April debates. Here at the "Pile" Spring arrives when I finally drag the mower out from its lair and use it with menace on the lawn.

Lets start with the mower. I like mowing the lawn - its not particularly taxing and the lawn isn't huge so its quite a pleasant way to spend 30 minutes or so on a sunny evening.

However, I don't like the mower it is an oily, smelly, noisy beast that coughs and splutters BUT WILL NOT DIE. My Dad has a beautiful mower that gleams and purrs and cuts beautiful stripes in his lawn. Last year mine kicked out a stone in a fit of pique that shattered one of our windows and I ended up forking out over £200 for a new double glazed unit. See, it hates me - why cant it be a perfect garden companion like my Dads?

Because I hate it. I neglect it. I don't have it serviced. I don't change its spark plug. I barely keep the sump topped up with oil. I certainly don't remove the accumulated grass and oil its chassis. BUT IT WILL NOT DIE. I just want it to fail so I can go to the DIY store and get a new one like my Dads.

Yesterday evening was its first outing of the year - hence the official beginning of Spring. I dragged the beast from its lair where it had been tipped on its side so that other junk could be crammed in there with it. I believe that piling rubbish on it over the winter ensures that it understands my loathing of it. To get me back for this poor treatment over the long winter months it slowly oozes the contents of its sump via the piston rings up in to the cylinder. A consequence of this is that I then need to remove the plug, clean it and then pull the starter cord several times to expel the oil from the cylinder - remember O Level Physics - You can't compress a liquid so pulling the started cord with a cylinder full of oil ain't gonna happen.

I dutifully performed these actions and then primed the carb and tugged that the starter cord. The beast decided that it would take revenge and gave a mean kick-back hence I type this with very sore fingers this morning.

Having taken revenge it then starts, fills the garden with an oily smoke and performs perfectly for the first run out of the year.

It is a love/hate relationship. I hate the mower and it loves the fact that I hate it. Hence IT WILL NOT DIE and allow me to go and get a new one like my Dads.

There is however a glimmer of hope, during the starting escapade I noticed a rust spot, quite a large one, on the chassis. Like a teenager with a zit I probed and picked and a hole appeared. MAYBE THE END IS CLOSER THAN I THINK.

Now to the lawn. Over the winter the lawn has been abused by three dogs and a trio of Light Sussex. I see a trip down to the garden centre in the next week or so for a couple of rolls of turf as surgery will be required in a few places. I find a freshly mown lawn a pleasing sight and the impact of three dogs and the occasional chicken means that some degree of Groundsman type activities are required each Spring. I may well offer the Guys at Wembley the benefit of my experience 'cos the state my lawn gets in to over winter makes their job look like a walk in the park.

While on the subject of Spring - the increasing day length means that the aging poultry flock have finally gotten off their perches and decided to pay me back for the vast quantity of food that I give them. For those unaware, a chicken only lays when there is more than about 10 hours of daylight which is why commercial birds have artificial light. They also lay less as they get older. My lot are definitely not Spring Chickens so generally can't be bothered to do much before the middle of March.

Egg production is now the order of the day and I take the odd box in to colleagues in the Nine Circles of Hell and the other 30% does quite a trade at her place of work. I now have quite a quantity of small eggs and it seems a bit mean to sell them so I'll be pickling eggs at the weekend. I absolutely love pickled eggs and they are nothing like those white blobs floating in cloudy, detritus filled liquor at the chip shop. Simply hard boil a few, shell them and put them in a clean jar with a 50:50 mix of malt and pickling vinegar and shut away for about 6 weeks. Then open and enjoy.

Oh Dear - it just went a bit Nigella there for a moment - apologies.


  1. Tell me - Do you collect your cuttings or leave them to feed your lawn. This assumes of course that they are of a manageable length, so possibly from the second cut of the year onwards ???

  2. I thought that you might not have been serious but just in case you are .... having chickens they do tend to do an excellent job in dethatching and fertilizing the lawn - so in answer, I collect the grass and compost it with shavings and poo from the chicken houses and then use that on my veg beds.