‘Head down bum up Caitlin!’ came out of the loud speakers at the event taking place in the Show Grounds this morning while I was outside. I wondered in this pc world, if that sort of comment was allowed. I have no idea who Caitlin is but I do know she was ‘racing’ in the 8 year old category along with a selection of Daisy’s, Eleanors, Mia’s and a lone Charlese. It sounded like a good event. When I looked up from the garden-of-the-damned, that impression was reinforced with adult/child pairs running the course together. Making adults run with their kids instead of yelling encouragement from the sideline is a new thing. If that had happened when my kids were at school I’d have had to have had period pain. The course everyone was running was rather unusual. If I created a space in the midst of the self-seeded giant parsley plants, I could see it had a waterslide. Without fail the kids ran all the way up to the top of the little hill and launched themselves into space. The parents all stopped for a risk assessment. It is what happens as common sense and a history of bad decision-making suck away at the joy of life. Take this garden I was attending to this morning. I could’ve been joyfully writing a book – or reading a book but no, I was pulling out weeds taller than I was. Putting in so much garden when we moved here was probably not the best idea but I’d lived in London for a long time and I had really enjoyed my garden there. I had nice garden implements with little brass plaques on the handles telling me who made them. I had a compost bin that dutifully created compost that came out looking exactly like the stuff that kills you, sealed up in plastic bags. I even had special clogs so I didn’t have to go out and work in gumboots. It was a wonderful pastime but not entirely without it’s annoyances. Squirrels were the main one. They adore nibbling shoots of anything you might wish to grow and also dig up your bulbs and bury them somewhere that suits them a whole lot more than it suits you. There are also nocturnal raids from foxes who like to chew things up but on the whole, the plants in the UK are grown in their natural environments and the snow kills off the weeds. It’s different in NZ. My garden fork and spade with their little brass plaques took one look at what they were supposed to do and fell to bits. It wasn’t the earth but the weeds that did them in. Leave that garden to go inside for a drink of water and you can almost hear the chickweed and fat hen reproducing behind your back. It’s put me right off. No longer can I go out with a pair of dainty secataurs and snip off a rose. Instead I require a machete to hack my way to the rose bush and a degree in horticulture to identify the disease it’s covered in this week. It’s never ending and the longer the summer goes on, the more disheartened and overgrown things become. OK, I did find some more cherry tomatoes, and an entire chilli bush I thought had died. And there were three ripe strawberries that were a real surprise and tasted wonderful with a bit of grit, but most of my morning was spent, ‘head down, bum up’ trying to work out how much it would cost to get someone in.