I woke up at ten to six this morning and could not get back to sleep. David wasn't snoring particularly loudly and he was very firmly on his side of the bed with the duvet clutched over his shoulder. The birds weren't doing their usual dawn chorus right on my window ledge (I sleep closest to the window and it is open summer and winter), the dogs weren't mooching around demanding attention and there was no sign of Mac. After twenty minutes of just lying there with everything going round in my brain I decided to get up.
I crept past Mac's door - I could hear contented snuffles - and down the stairs. The dogs thumped their tails in welcome but didn't get up. Senior dog doesn't rise much before 9am. I put the kettle on and changed into a tracksuit that was fresh from the radiator before stepping out into the garden. Aaah, nature. My brother-in-law has gone Green all of a sudden. He started talking about his carbon footprint on the phone the other night and I didn't have a clue what he was talking about - Bea is slightly miffed because he's happily driving an eco-car around leafy Dulwich. And it isn't an Audi. I've met other Greens before, of course. Ruby Over The Road has a mini recycling plant in her garden and recycles everything you can possible think of. But Nature? Never really had much to do with that. And it's all about the same thing isn't it?
Jack Next Door has a fantastic garden. It's pruned, teased and swept to within an inch of its life. One bed for flowers, one bed for veg and he's in the middle of erecting canes to support his runner beans. Our garden looks like a bomb has hit it. The lawn is pockmarked courtesey of Mac playing football, the gravel is unraked, the raised flower beds are all weed and no blooms. The path is looking raggedy and the ivy, hooked painstakingly last summer by David up and over the shed, is dead and brown. Now that the house is more or less decorated (just the bathroom to do now, waiting for new suite to be delivered and installed this week) I need another project. By seven o'clock I was seriously considering knocking Jack up and asking him if this (rather spiky looking plant) was a weed or not and planning a rockery. Nature!
Tea made and enthusiasm well and truly stoked, I set about designing my dream garden. I've watched enough of Ground Force to know what I'm talking about. Decking, a water feature and a few hardy annuals and all will be well. I then went into dreams of a wonderfully fragrant patio filled with lavender plants, rosemary and mint so that the wonderful smells would invade the house on hot summer evenings. Mac's felt tips came in handy as I sketched and coloured. I left the drawing propped up on the tea pot and crept back upstairs with a cup for David. He sleepily took it, expressed surprise that I was up and dressed before falling deeply back into the Land of Nod. Mac was still asleep and I was getting a bit miffed about this. My family were asleep while Nature happened outside!
The birds were singing, wood pigeons were cooing and, although still very cold, it was a fresh cold rather than chill-you-to-the-bone cold. It was now nearly 8am. On a Saturday. And I was awake. Normally I have to be prised from my pit by a hungry child or desperate dogs. Today though I was raring to go. I left a note telling my husband of my whereabouts and bundled all three dogs into the car. Senior dog appeared to still be asleep and looked extremely confused when he found himself standing in the car park of Peckham Rye Common at just gone 8am. He gamefully trotted off though. Junior Dog got over excited to have the Common all to himself and ran round like a thing possessed. Middle Dog took it all in his stride and peed copiously. Where was everyone? Why weren't they out enjoying Nature? Blackbirds congregated in the middle of the Common searching for worms until the dogs formed a three pronged attack and they took to the skies cawing loudly. Nature!
I rang Bea and got her au-pair. I could hear Caitlin and Ian arguing over which jam to have and tried and failed to find out if Bea was in fact up and awake. The au-pair professed not to know but promised to let her know I'd called. There was no-one else on the common apart from me and my woofers. People drove past in cars all looking half asleep. I was awake and ready for anything! Senior Dog, however, had had enough and was looking plaintively towards the car.
Back home and it was barely past 8.30am. Why had I never taken advantage of this time of the morning before? Why do I lounge in bed on a Saturday until 9 or, worse, get up to sort Mac and the dogs out before GOING BACK TO BED! I've achieved so much today. Not even 9am and the dogs have been walked and fed and are wandering around the garden. I joined them and found Jack Next Door pruning something and he listened patiently to my plans for the garden and offered any help I needed. At five to nine I was cooking breakfast, determined to get my boys up and out. There are garden centres to visit, Nature to witness.
At five past nine David appeared looking rumpled and sleepy. He was most surprised to find his wife leaping around the kitchen toasting bread and grilling bacon and had to sit down to recover. He found my drawing and clutched his head. He knows what I'm like when I get the bit between my teeth. He also knows that I have expensive tastes. "Water feature? It's a rock with a leak" he exclaimed as he slurped stewed tea, denigrating my plans for a cutting edge water feature. The dogs were whizzing around - even they had caught the Nature mood - and Junior Dog brought in parts of the garden to show me. The plant I uprooted earlier was laid at David's bare feet with a wag of a tail and a goofy expression. Mac joined his father ten minutes later, also rumpled and sleepy. "Is mummy alright daddy?" he questioned. "Not sure lad" came the considered response. I outlined the plans for the morning: old clothes and into the garden for clearing up purposes. In the absence of Tommy Walsh and Charlie Dimmock we'd have to do it ourselves. To give them their due, neither my husband nor my son told me where to go.
They're out there now. David is weeding the flower beds and Mac is carefully replacing the divots in the lawn. And me? I'm about to publish this blog and then look on-line for the nearest garden centre. Nature!