Bobbie, In Memorium

It has been a time of challenges. Can this be said too often? Turn off now if you think so. A’top of my own challenges, no worse and undoubtedly far less than many, there have recently been various sadnesses. On their own they would have been tricky, but added to the pile they seem to sting a little more spitefully.

Far more than a meagre sting, was to hear yesterday that my great canine friend and garden helper, Bobbie, has passed over to the great running field in the sky. In the few weeks since moving to Cheshire, a sudden and devastating illness proved too much for her. You do not need to hear about my tears, they are really inconsequential. I am pleased that I did not have to suffer her rapid decline and I consider myself honoured to remember her in her full crazy prime and that is how she will stay in my heart. If you are of the mind “but she was just a dog” then you may also switch off now, you are not needed here.

Mr and Mrs Bun have had sadness in their lives and have turned this pain into positivity, sharing their home with people who needed respite from their troubles. I have seen Bobbie, asking no reward, give unconditional love to these strangers. I have seen smiles on weary faces, a glimmer of hope where perhaps there had been none. I have seen people who were scared or dismissive of dogs, welcome her attention, indeed encourage it. Bobbie was special, a healing treasure. She was joyous and I never saw anything but love in those irresistible eyes. And perhaps a little mischief. Ok, a lot of mischief. Which makes it all the better.

There is a big hole in The Buns’ home at the moment and I send love to them. And I thank them for sharing just a little bit of their cucumber-stealing, apple-eating, chicken-guarding, hedge-living, ever-wandering, lovely girl by the name of Bobsie. One in a trillion. You should be very proud.

Careless

“’To lose one client, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.” Almost Oscar Wilde in The Importance of Being Ernest.

Today was my last visit to The Buns’. Ever. Yes, another of my clients has wriggled from my clutches, another has sold up and is fleeing my domain, they will no longer be under my horticultural spell. And I am feeling rather sad. This is possibly the only downside for working for people you are fond of, when your working relationship draws to a close, as all things must, you are bereft.

Whilst working this morning myself and Mrs B chatted about our time together, our greatest hits, so to speak. How I first met Mr Bun when naughty Bobbie, their perennial puppy spaniel, made herself very much at home in the herbaceous borders of Cliffe. How Mrs Bun and her buddy came to check me out the next day and how we hit if off instantly. First impressions did not let me down.

Over the following (possibly, a recount has been requested) five years we have had our thrills and spills. On my first visit I ripped my trousers on a particularly vicious rose; Mrs Bun was mortified; I was embarrassed at my clumsiness. I still eye that well-armed but beautifully bedecked shrub with caution. Over my tenure Mr Bun created a well-researched and sublimely successful wildflower patch, he also mowed and trimmed and made fire. Myself and Mrs B planted and shuffled and sowed and pricked out and planted again. The seasons passed. And we laughed a lot. My every visit was greeted in the most exuberant, totally over the top and then over that top, style by the joyous tomato and cucumber thieving Bobbie, putting an enormous grin on my face and warmth in my heart before I’d even started work.

There have been many highlights. I will never forget the waving Father Christmas on route to the local school, courtesy of the Coastguard’s Sea King; or the most splendid chicken of them all, Big Bertha (big boned, I’m sure); or Mrs Bun’s hilarious milk carton, rose cutting container; or planting up the kayak; or wondering for years why the rhododendron was struggling, only to discover it had been planted upon lumps of limey concrete; or Mr B’s pre-wedding weeding; and much, much more. And I will forever wonder if the wisteria will have its inaugural flowering next year, to much applause from the new owners.

Before I woman-handled my tools back to the car park for the last time, we sat on the patio, supping freshly brewed coffee and scoffing some of Mrs Bun’s finest cake. The caring soul that she is, she found me a rug and we sat wrapped up and chatted some more. There was even a guest appearance from Mr Bun.

Mr Bun has tolerated my incessant, compulsive cheekiness and strange habits with good cheer and a wry grin and Mrs Bun has become a confidant and close ally. They have fed and watered me, shown me love, they even provided me with a weekend retreat. These are good people, truly special souls, to be cherished. And I am proud to call them friends.

Today I left with more than one tear in my eye.

Hedge

After a successful morning in the garden, Mrs Bun and myself were sat on the Lutyens-esque bench, chit-chatting over a cup of tea and a piece of homemade ginger cake. The side gate swung open and a woman peered at us inquisitively. “Is this your dog?” she asked. And indeed there was the lovely Bobbie, at the end of a borrowed lead, looking very pleased with herself. “We found her at the other side of the village rummaging in the recycle bins.”

Let us get something clear from the start. Mr and Mrs Bun care very well for Bobbie. She is the recipient of all the best things in the doggie universe: long walks, a warm bed, plenty of grub and of course a plethora of love. In return for this canine cornucopia she is charming, adorable and mischievous to the point of being perpetually forgivable.

But she refuses to grow up. At the age of eight she should at least be making an attempt at “refined”, perhaps slowing down just a little. Instead Bobbie is a turbo-charged bag of craziness and, most importantly in this instance, a demon of the sneaky side-step.

Bobbie’s kind rescuers must have wondered what sort of home this canine delinquent had come from. However, I think their mind was put at rest when Mrs Bun said, in an attempt at explanation “She lives in the hedge and we thought she was in there.” Yes, I thought, that will definitely have reassured them, she lives in a hedge.

It is true that Bobbie enjoys snuggling into the ample privet hedge that runs down one side of the garden. From this slightly elevated position she can spy on all things that a wayward spaniel considers attention worthy; next door’s cats mainly. After months of trying to dissuade her; blocking holes, firm words and such like, it was decided to let her have her way, she was at least out of trouble’s way.

However, she was in for the long-game. Little did The Buns know, this was all a ruse for a future escape plan and a lunchtime munch on some leftover takeaway foils.

Very naughty, but of course forgiven. Whether or not the hedge excuse will work again, we will see.

Back to my roots

Today’s predicted “fair” weather transpired to be “a fair amount of mizzle” or even “a substantial amount of gloom”. Still there was light to be found in this dreary day.

A couple of months ago, myself and Mrs Bun took some rose cuttings. As we couldn’t find a pot of quite the right dimensions, we pushing the prickle stripped stems into a gritty soil, cossetted in a customised litre milk bottle. Mrs Bun can be very creative, and not just in the cake department.

Five new rose plants is more than enough for most mortals, so I shall be helping out by taking one or two off her hands. And who wouldn’t want a little piece of this action …..?

Barricade

Mr Bun should know that it would take more than a few measly wheelie bins to keep me out. I’ve got past a lot worse. I’ve got past a lot worse here. In fact, just for fun, I leapfrogged over each in turn and then back again.

And if I had known this beauty was waiting for me, I would have done a double back flip as well. Perhaps only a mental one.

Welcome Rain

It was predicted but you never can be quite sure, I have been disappointed before. As we slept it started, but in the morning it was hard to say quite how much had fallen. A morning at The Buns, planting in mainly mizzle with a little drizzle, showed just how little it had penetrated into the soil. It would have to try harder. And this afternoon it did. Proper rain. Welcome rain.

Grumpy

In our house we are very happy that the wind has changed direction.   As I type I am accompanied by a roaring, whistling, splashing medley.  Much mischief is occurring in the back garden, where the weather is doing its utmost to uproot plants, dishevel pots and flatten the shed which is being held up by ivy and good intentions.  On the other side all is relative calm.  As our bedroom is at the front of the house, this means that our night will be a quiet one.  The windows will not rattle and creak while I lay alert planning what to do if they fall in, the floor boards will not shudder in authentic haunted house manner and we will hopefully sleep the sleep of the innocent.  Which is good for everyone.  I am very grumpy if I don’t get my sleep.

I was quite the opposite of grumpy when I spotted this little rose flowering at The Bun’s today.  So sweet, so vulnerable, I wonder if it will be there in the morning.