“Succulence In All Things” Was Their Mission Statement

Golly, it has been rather longer than I anticipated since my last Blog. Did you miss me? No, don’t answer that: scrupulous honesty might be unsettling and outright fibs may be bad for your Karma.

What has happened? Quite a lot really but at the same time not much. You know the feeling. I have been to Luxembourg to write about another garden but this time, instead of tearing back again, I was accompanied by both my sons so we overnighted in Brussels on the way back. Life is odd sometimes: haven’t been to Belgium for about thirty years then twice within a week. We decided that we needed to do a bit of rapid absorption of the ways of the Belge so we took the train from Luxembourg (very slow and rather uninteresting) to Brussels Central and then mooched about.

It is a remarkably scruffy city with a lot of graffiti, many empty lots and all the parks look a bit unkempt. Rather disappointing really, I thought it would be awash with EU sponsored spiffiness. Luxembourg is oozing shininess. We ate at the restaurant where, apparently, they invented Steak Tartare. That may, or may not, be the case (i) what it did mean was that one of us (me) had to eat an indecent quantity of raw meat – with chips. It was then considered churlish not to try the puddings which were all extremely large. I was defeated and Max had to step in. I know, I know it is very shaming when one’s child can eat more whipped cream, hot chocolate sauce, meringue and ice cream than you but that is one of the many humiliations a chap of declining years has to endure.

The next day we went to the Magritte Museum where two statuesque Flemish women fussed over whether we were allowed to put bags in the left luggage or whether they should be hung on hooks. Then we attended the music museum where you wander around wearing headphones and, whenever you pause near an exhibit, you connect with a wireless link that plays a snippet of solo Sackbut or a duet of Mandolin and Fife. Very jolly.

We then ate buckets of Mussels (with chips) and went off to catch the Eurostar.

On our return we then went off to Scotland where it was sometimes sunny and occasionally very wet (as is its won’t). I spent much of Saturday night dancing reels with the net result that my knees were a bit shaky the next day. Amongst others there were reels of the 51st, Dukes of Perth, Postie’s Jigs, Eightsomes, Willows were Stripped, Sergeants were Dashed, Gordons were Gayed, Canadian Barns were sorted and two completely knackering Highland Schottisches (thank you Jill) were cavorted. For those of you who have never done any Scottish Country Dancing then, believe me, you are missing out on a very joyous part of life. We have only one kilt in this family (that was made for my Great Grandfather – born 1860 – so it is quite ancient): it fits both my sons and I so we had a bit of a contretemps as to who was going to wear it: Max won. Which in retrospect was fortunate for the wider public as I had to spend some of Saturday evening up a ladder and one thing you do not want to do is accidentally look upwards when there is a bloke in a kilt half way up a ladder. Believe me, nobody looks that hot from that angle.

And now we are back and August stretches out before us: all the frantic excitements and rushing around tarting about on stages is over for the Summer. It was fun. The weird thing is that you never know whether or not it will be the last. Those of us who work for ourselves get used to answering to nobody – if I want to design a garden then I will. If I want to take a day off and do the weeding/eat bacon/go and watch my children do something/  then I can. When it comes to the other stuff there are people in conference rooms deciding who stays and who goes. So who knows if I will get to do it all again next year: I hope so.

Nothing at all one can do about it except smile. And never let them look up your kilt. In the meantime there are assorted clients that need sorting: I feel that I may not have actually written much about gardens for ages. Before we know it, it will be autumn and there will be bulbs and plants and wind and rain and business. Every year I decide to be organised and spend August preparing: every year I fail dismally by being distracted by other things. I have a huge distraction looming about which I will tell you more very soon.

I have also been reading quite a lot of RHS stuff in readiness for my first Council Meeting at the beginning of September. There is a lot to take in, fortunately most of it is quite interesting. I am sorting out which of the many committees I should be on: if I am let anywhere near anything to do with finance then you should probably pull the communication cord and have me ejected. The garden here is going through a bit of a sulky moment so this weekend I must roll up my sleeves and do a bit of thrashing about.

And it is my birthday: today.

The picture is of harvested poppy heads and I am listening to Soul Man by Sam and Dave.

(i) Apparently it could be credited to the Tatars who never had time to cook so ate raw meat tenderised by being tucked under their saddles all day. Which may explain at least some of the 9th Century carryings on around the Gobi Desert. They must have dreamed about a nice Cauliflower Cheese or simple Pork Pie after picking all that horse hair out of their teeth. To add extra confusion the dish is called Steak a l’Americaine: which seems to be a cause of passing the buck.