It was my first visit of the year to the grand estate of Lord and Lady Mantle. I was met with a cup of coffee and a barrage of excuses as to why absolutely no gardening had been undertaken in my absence. And I mean not even an itsy bit of weeding or a peruse or a passing thought or even a quick shufti. Most of their “reasons” were feeble – the flu, a back back, dodgy knees, monsoon weather conditions. Reading the disbelief in my flaming eyes, they even tried, “Christmas and family commitments”. As I said, feeble. Anyway, with hunched shoulders and dragging wellies they agreed to join me in the great outdoors for a mornings horticultural activities. We delicately pruned roses and ferociously hacked brambles. The hail hammered and the sun shone. These extremes took polite turns to be in charge, keeping us vigilant and incorrectly dressed. By the end of our session I think I may have won the Mantles back to the fold. As a reward there was no homework. Just this once. Don’t get used to it.
This crumpled emerging rhubarb leaf, although young, is leathery and took no mind to the attack of the bouncing hail stones. I, however, shrieked.