The Easter holiday, in numbers.

Visits to garden centres: 3.

I know; how tediously Bank Holiday of us.

Types of plant that need replacing, exactly as per the original planting plan by the famous garden designer otherwise what’s the bloody point, it would be like scrawling a moustache on the Mona Lisa: 4.

  • Chianti rose (the nearest we could find was House Red, ha ha yes how apt).
  • Clematis flammula (small white flowers, strongly scented, late spring).
  • Dianthus doris (otherwise known as “pinks”, and seemingly available in every colour other than pink, the Chatsworth garden centre having racks and racks of a nasty two-tone effort called “Alan Titchmarsh”, ooh dear me no I don’t think so).
  • Sisyrinchium (probably spelt wrong, but CBATG).

Replacement plants successfully found in garden centres: 0.

Apparently – although we didn’t realise this at the time – all the cool people obtain their plants by mail order; picking stuff up at garden centres is considered terribly declassé. (To say nothing of the inflated prices.) This confirms my long-held suspicion that garden centres are every bit as indefensibly soulless and ghastly as out-of-town DIY superstores. It also helps to explain why I regress to Sulky Foot-Dragging Adolescent Mode every time I enter one.

Plants actually bought in garden centres: 2.

A diddy little Alpine to fill in a crack, and a bright yellow lily for indoors. And I’ll tell you this for nothing: that Chatsworth garden centre’s a dismal dump, and no mistake. Minuscule range of stuff; everything’s just plonked down any old how, without any coherent alphabetical system to guide you round; dying and/or dead plants everywhere; and nobody seems to care. And yet people flock there, because it’s on the Chatsworth estate and so must automatically be marvellous. Sheep!

Bags of mulch applied to garden: 8.

With two more to be applied next weekend. I’ve become quite adept at chucking my muck; crouching down low helps, as does using smaller handfuls over smaller areas. That “standing up and spraying it everywhere” approach isn’t as good as it first looks.

Applications of Crabtree & Evelyn’s Gardeners’ Hand Therapy cream: 4.

Oh, the scars and welts and calluses! These dainty Drawing Room hands weren’t built for heavy manual labour.

Daily pedometer readings screwed up, due to the “reset” button accidentally being pressed by my overhanging belly whilst in a crouching, muck-chucking position: 2.

That “abdominal jut” of mine is clearly developing a mind of its own. In my opinion, K found this unnecessarily hilarious.

Easter chocolates eaten: 0.5.

A Lindt bunny rabbit in white chocolate, with a ribbon and an actual ringing bell attached round its neck (there’s class for you). K was all for smashing its head in; I opted for an infinitely careful removal of the foil wrapper, followed by a delicate prising apart of the two halves. Sensing K’s hostility, the bunny rabbit wreaked a posthumous revenge by triggering his ever-increasing lactose intolerance. As a result, white chocolate must now be added to the ever-growing list of Banned Items, where it joins Second Cups Of Tea and the Duchess Of Devonshire’s Passionate Carrot Cake.

Meals out: 3.

1. A fantastic meal at the newly refurbished, revitalised and thoroughly gastro-pubbed Druid Inn at Birchover, subsequently described by our similarly excited journalist friend as a “benchmark for Derbyshire”. In particular, the terrine of pressed ham hock, rabbit, chicken, foie gras and duck (served with finely chopped home-made piccalilli and a slice of fried French bread) was an unqualified triumph, and the single best dish that K and I have eaten in months.

2. A disappointingly mediocre lunch at the newly refurbished and thoroughly blanded-out restaurant at the back of the Chatsworth farm shop. How the farm shop can sell the finest foodstuffs known to man, while its restaurant can dole out insipid toasted sandwiches served with titchy bits of under-dressed salad and (worst of all) crisps was quite beyond us. To say nothing of the twenty minute queue for a table (shared with two strangers) and the ten minute wait to place an order. Still, lovely views of the estate and all that.

3. A well tasty bit of fresh turbot at the Bowling Green pub in Ashbourne, served with a Hollandaise sauce, beautifully plump pieces of asparagus, and crinkly chips done just so. The Bowling Green may never win plaudits for its interior design concept (think Berni Inn traditional), and the menu may stick to tried and tested “pub food” combinations, but the fish is brought in daily from the highly regarded Manchester fish market, the chef knows exactly what to do with it, and his jolly Lebanese wife on front-of-house makes you feel welcome and relaxed as she takes your order. We’ll be back.

People socialised with: 4.

All from the village; we decided against having anyone to stay this time round.

(Aside: when they come for the weekend, why do most of our city friends insist on adopting wildly geographically inaccurate “comedy” rural accents? “Da-a-a-a-arby-shoire!” And whatever makes them think that everyone in “the countryside” speaks the same way in the first place? I blame the media.)

People socialised with who thoroughly enjoyed the new Doctor Who: 3.

(But then we never got round to asking the fourth.)

Oh, what utter bliss from start to finish! And there are twelve more weeks of this stuff to come, you say? Russell T. Davies, I kiss you!

DVDs watched: 1.5.

Couldn’t get on with Hedwig And The Angry Inch, despite its appealing subject matter; perhaps it was the music which put us off the most. (Rock musicals: always a dodgy proposition.) However, Heaven passed the time acceptably; difficult to dislike anything starring the radiantly beautiful and patently intelligent Cate “OK, if you gave me a million quid then actually I probably would” Blanchett.

Lines of her Guardian Weekend column read, before having my weekly J— R—— Moment: roughly 15.

Although this week’s was more of a slow fizzle into boredom, rather than the usual hands-in-the-air shriek of affront.

(Incidentally, although there were no further pronouncements upon the vexed issue of “shorts with tights”, I noted with interest the article pronouncing the death of the low-waisted hipster look, just five days after I had predicted a “sea change” in this area. God, but we’re zeitgeist.)

Books read: 0.26.

Having ignored Dymbel and Dymbellina’s advice to put some time aside and read it in large uninterrupted chunks, I confess to be struggling quite badly with Ian McEwan’s Saturday, and its relentlessly detailed (and almost entirely plot-free) dissection of one day in the life of a not-terribly-interesting London neurosurgeon.

“Sixty-nine pages in, and he’s only just put the f**king kettle on for f**king breakfast!”, I wailed to K as we sat up in bed on Saturday morning, cups of tea by our sides. “And then he spends a whole f**king paragraph meditating on the advances made in the design of the f**king kettle!” As for the seventeen-page description – literally shot by shot – of a squash game, it nearly did for me entirely.

However, since Ian McEwan is one of the tiny handful of authors whom I “follow”, I’m determined to keep faith. Sooner or later, a reason for all of this tedious accumulation of detail will emerge; and when it does, all the slogging will seem retrospectively worthwhile. After all, look at Captain Corelli’s Mandolin: a joyless trudge for the first 120 pages, before it blossomed into something wonderful. And look at Hollinghurst’s The Line Of Beauty, which I was initially so keen to mock, before its quietly devastating ending lodged into my brain (where it haunts me to this day, off and on). So perserverance will out.

Deadlines missed: 1.

Let’s just say that events conspired against me. Although I could have turned in half-baked rush-job crap, I chose not to. This will not happen again.

Blog postings: 1.

(But not on this blog. Only worth clicking if you like experimental art-prog sound collages.)

(All still with me, then? Yep, thought as much)

Songs whose lyrics gave me and K recurring fits of the giggles all weekend: 2.

(Readers of a more delicate disposition may prefer to stop here.)

First, there was K’s impromptu in-car re-wording of Jimmy Ruffin’s Motown classic, What Becomes Of The Broken Arses.

Tried to shit/but only farted“, he quipped. Improv genius. We giggled all the way home.

Second, there was that solemn declaration in Fistful Of Love by the increasingly preposterous-sounding Antony & The Johnsons (whose album I take less seriously with each hearing):

I accept, and I collect, the memories of your devotion on my body.

Which, when you think about it, is just a fancy way of saying “Come on me tits, and I’ll promise not to wash it off.

(We’ve taken to wandering round the house doing warbly impressions of Antony & The Johnsons. “Woo-oo-oo, I’m a m-a-an! But I’m a gi-i-rl! But I’m a ma-a-an! But I’m a gi-i-rl! Tiptoe, through the tulips, with me-e-e!“)

Times I felt oppressed by an impossible “to do” list of Important Tasks: 0.

Mission accomplished, then. So many Bank Holidays fail to deliver on their promises. But for once, this one did.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: