To be honest I was determined not to work for Lord and Lady Mantle, AKA Phil and Brohna. They live a fair drive away, just on the edge of Exmoor, traditionally where the rain and wind of North Devon practice their evil ways. To get to their home you must face fledgling roads, not grown enough to be called lanes, liberally scattered with escapee sheep and farmers. I also had a full calendar and didn’t really have space in my working week. Then I met them and I was hooked. I made space.
Brohna is an artist, all wobbly lines and fantasy. Phil is an engineer, all straight lines and facts. Together they make one great big lovely whole. They are known as Lord and Lady Mantle due to Brohna’s love of, bordering on obsession with, Alchemilla mollis. This is a trait mirrored elsewhere on my rounds, yes Lavinia, you know who I am talking about! My drive across the moors is never a chore and I always come away feeling a little bit happier than when I arrived. They make me bacon butties with homemade bread. Hard working, star pupils, if only they could grasp the labelling lark ……
When I asked them to write a blog for me, I didn’t expect the following masterpiece (including the cartoon above, look carefully and you will see my knee pads and working boots).
ps In part explanation, some of my friends call me Mouse (pronounced Moose as in the Wee Mouse).
Mouse’s adventures in Wonderland and the Mantle’s Tale
They enticed her with muffins, she doused them with lice.
They retaliated with mustard and cress.
They plied her with jam and asked for advice;
Posing conundrums and making her guess, expecting an answer, more than less.
She scattered seeds, then no labels on plants Lady Mantle did tie,
Mouse was confounded, and pulled a long face.
She beat Lady Mantle who started to cry
You can whip me severely she sobbed in her tea, but pretty please agree to rescue this place.
Lord Mantle doused the plants with strong poison he found in the shed.
He blamed Lady M, she threw mud in his eye,
Said flowers fell over and by morning were dead.
Mouse looked on in despair as she munched on a fly; I am off out of here she was heard cry.
Lady Mantle cried it is this, it is this, we have had it before,
Mouse grunted indignantly and then brutally said,
You promised me labour you promised me more
You are no gardeners, you have no shame, it is this, it is that, it is this that I dread.
An argument started, t’was long overdue
You speared the slugs, trod on the snails, that’s not the rule,
Your coffee is rotten and so are you.
Back and back and forth it went on, one side then the other, each to be cruel
(It got out of hand and the dragonfly took a ringside seat in anticipation of more)
They punched they spat they sniffled and dribbled and then they made up.
They ate bacon sarnies followed by cake and other sweet fare,
They drank some good coffee out of a cup.
Mouse looked out at the garden and smiled, it’s just not true that I do not care.
But you are both absolutely barking mad!!
And with that she drove off down the lane.
Is it true, is it true this has happened before, are we mad mad? Or are we just bad?
Tis a lie we are sure, why only the other day the Hatter said we were all sane.
Gill slowly opened one eye and winced against the sunlight. She stretched her limbs and let out a yawn. A piece of grass tickled her arm. Her dream floated, then tiptoed away quietly from her side, as she lost all memory of it. I must have been tired to fall asleep like that in a client’s garden she thought to herself. I’d better get on with it before they get home and find me lying on the grass.