When one has time away from something, one does tend to view the time past through the rose tinted glasses of forgetfulness. Tis if your brain decides to only remember the best bits, the moments that bring a smile or remind you of internal warmth and the haze of fuzziness that the good bits give you. When returning to that 'something' within the here and now your arse does tend to be bitten by the hard coldness of reality.
So this week has been my nearly full on return to work:- oh the joy of t' outdoors, to be immersed in nature once more, the clean freshness of just being 'out there', oh to wax lyrically about my return to good and honest work with clients casting rose petals at my feet upon my approach...... errrrr cue sound of the long playing record arm being dragged swiftly across precious vinyl, its needle gouging the disc deeply and bringing abruptly an end to the angelic music that was accompanying this fantasy!.....
So this week has been my nearly full on return to work... I have had to struggle and compensate for the lack of full mobility that the 'Snap' has left me with causing other areas of my degrading and bloated body to ache and making me curse with various Anglo Saxon choice words under, and over it has to be said, my breath. That warm, fuzzy feeling? bollocks, the wind has scythed through my clothing as if I toiled naked in the field and I have learnt the hard way that my new ish coat that I have looked forward to wearing for my return is an absolute a pile of rubbish. Yes it does keep a modicum of the cold out but the payoff is that it is in no way whatsoever breathable so as soon as I stop moving I discover that my upper body is now dripping in sweat and my temperature plummets. I am unable to reheat until I stagger into a bath full of boiling water that strips my blue tinged flesh off aching bone. Time to source a replacement coat m'thinks but finances (or lack of them) deem to dictate otherwise at the moment. I now spend a goodly part of the evening pulling, teasing and digging out the million and one thorns that have embedded themselves within my pudgy little fingers and palms during the day, usually in positions that make the grasping of tools a living hell, Blackthorn thorns being particularly bastardly! The fresh open air? I have managed this week to step into dog shit, sheep shit horse shit and worst of all cat shit.. it has been a particularly rank week in that respect. Clients have also been a tad 'off' a couple of times, with one couple not knowing what they actually required upon my arrival and another canceling my visit the evening before I was due. To be fair and honest both sets of clients are lovely people to work for and in both instances the reasons were totally understandable, and normally I would remain unaffected and not think twice about these delays, but this week has proved to be a hard one to say the least and has left me in 'full on' moan mode.
But after all is said and done it is bloody great to be back 'out there', even though there are no rose petal strewn paths to greet me. I can think of no better way to earn a crust and where as every hour spent in the factories I dreamt of retirement, now retirement is not given a thought and I can see myself working well into my seventies, health allowing that be.
One thing that I have found this week is that my approach to my work has changed a tad. I always considered myself as a relatively safe and conscientious worker, following good working practice when an engineer and carrying on with the same approach now that I am a professional gardener. Speaking of which, it still sounds strange to my ear when I call myself such as I still find it against the grain that I earn a crust working at something that I find so pleasurable and would gladly work for free if finance allowed. But, getting off that tangent, my accident has made myself even more wary when working with the constant nag in my shoulder an ever present reminder. But I am not just talking about this renewed interest in my own safety, which is only natural after such an accident, but rather about how I am approaching the tasks in front of me. It is difficult to explain this change but try I shall...
One of my tasks this week was the replacement of a gate post and restoration of the gate...
The post had rotted at the base as is so often the case when the concrete it is set in is not laid correctly allowing water to accumulate around its base and the recent storms had finally ended its resistance to the inevitable. With the Orc's Workshop still in transition, ie a bloody mess, I was struggling to access the majority of power tools that would normally be used but my hand tools were within easy reach and it struck me that the task would be no harder with these. Happily it proved to be the case, the old posts' concrete base came away with reasonable ease using lump hammer, cold chisel and a mini pick axe instead of a heavy, noisy SDS drill, the gates' fixings came away with the use of a simple flat bladed screwdriver in place of a small battery drill, the support timbers that were used to steady and keep straight the new post whilst the new concrete hardens were hand sawn to size instead of using my circular rip saw and the pilot holes for the supporting timbers' screws were drilled with a simple hand turned drill that was my fathers..
There was a certain feeling of satisfaction using these old tools and the work was far more enjoyable for their employment. It made myself take a moment to consider the way I, and most others for that matter approach things, always looking for tools and gadgets to make life quicker, bigger and better but with scant regard for the cost. Not just the financial cost, but the environmental cost of power tools and also the cost to ourselves and the work we do. I have continued using hand tools this week, where possible, and have found that this more 'backward' way of working is much more rewarding to myself then using modern, make life easier, power tools. I have found myself taking far more care on each task even though I considered that I approached each task before with care and with the want to produce the best work that I could. It is if I am more a part of the work and the task rather than just someone working on it from the outside of it, if that makes sense. Of course there is a place and use for modern power tools but I will definitely be employing this new 'old' approach to my work in the future where applicable, whether it be 'out there' or within the walls of the Orc's Workshop. One other thing that working this way and using his tools was the connection it gave my to my father and this is always welcome.
The gate awaits further attention within the Orc's Workshop (yes I have actually made some space within it) as it drys out before some repair, sanding and restaining so hopefully I shall share the renewed gate with you later in the week. I hope that your weekend is enjoyable and that I find you all in fine fettle.
John t' Gardener.