I'm talking, of course, about the front and back lawns. The last time they were done was late October, but obviously, where it's been winter, the growth has slowed. Until the randomly warm/damp weather of late February/Early March which forced it to grow like, well, grass.
Yesterday, it was due to rain, so I decided - in my wisdom - that first thing, to beat the rain, I would battle the green stuff.
However, yesterday, I was tired and sore - but the grass NEEDED doing. People, however, suggested I DON'T do it. Some of you lot that follow me on Twitter could tell I was ouchie, but I didn't listen. I couldn't, really. If I had left it, the rain would have soaked and flattened the grass, and it would have taken ages to dry out again, while growing even more. The longer I left it, the harder it would be.
As it is, we only own a crappy little Flymo. The "blades" are just toughened plastic, so hitting anything thicker than a Hairy Spiders Kneecap tends to shatter the blade. It doesn't DO long grass. Hell, it doesn't DO longISH grass. So I have to use the strimmer first (some of you over-seas sorts call it a weed-whacker I think), which takes a while and is pain-inducing.
So, at half seven, I fill up on painkillers, give them half an hour to kick in a bit, throw on my boots, stick in my earphones, and get to work. I decide the front needs doing more as, after all, people can see it. It's not a huge garden - maybe fifteen to twenty feet square, with bushes down one side, a flower bed down the other, and "the bit under the window" that is perpetually dry on account of the balcony above it.
Strimming takes about 45 minutes. Twenty minutes in, I was hurting and sore and tired. But I pushed on. Once the grass is taken down a few notches, I rake it up - another job that effs me up. That takes a while to do as well, and now my work is being punctuated by chatty neighbours. Stop, earphones out, gossip, say bye, earphones in, continue.
Every time I stop, however, I feel the insidious pain creeping further into my body.
While talking to the lady next door, she tells me "you look like shit, why don't you stop" and we laugh and joke, I tell her it has to be done, I NEED to get it done and push through... She knows I have health problems, but doesn't know the details. She can see the Strimmer/Flymo combo is time consuming, and offers me the use of their Big Petrol Mower that seems to be some kind of beast in the future.
So, I carry on with the front garden. Mow the lawn, rake it up, RE mow the lawn, rake it up, grass done. But garden not complete. Now, considering I've only been out there for about ninety minutes, I am properly exhausted. My whole body is crying in pain, but I'm not finished. Now for the hedge which is growing out of control - people are having to walk on the lawn to get around it, as it's growing over the path.
The hedge trimmer is quite heavy, and I have to go a bit at a time as I am struggling to hold it up. Twenty minutes later, I have a trimmed bush and a path people can walk along.
Am I done yet? Am I f$ck.
NOW all the edges need the grass pulling up, and the flower bed has to be de-littered. Thanks to the construction of Long Riding, the wind is channelled along it, blowing leaves and rubbish as it gusts. All, apparently, across my garden. So Autumns leaves are scattered throughout the flower bed, as well as roaming grass and a creeper-type-weed, all which has to come out.
I lower myself to the ground, and spend the better part of an hour crawling along the flowerbed to remove everything that shouldn't be there.
NOW comes the clean up. All the lawn cuttings, all the trimmed bush bits, all the stuff off the flowerbed, plus all the other rubbish.. Another half hour of working.
It's taken almost three hours, which in the grand scheme of things, 180 minutes is not that long. And considering I was going to do the back garden as well... I conceded defeat, there is no way I can do the BIGGER garden now. But it was only three hours of work. Three. My body should be fine.
My body, however, thinks it has just run a marathon, with bricks and pain and nasty. I am in agony. I take another handful of painkillers, and collapse on the sofa. Every part of me is hurting - from the base of my skull down to my fingers and toes, and everything in between. My body is pulsing, throbbing. I just want the pain to go away - even a little bit just so it's not quite so intense.
All I did was some bloody gardening. As a kid, I spent every moment of daylight working in my grandparents garden... Digging, cutting, lifting, spreading, cleaning... I wouldn't mind if I was old. My elderly next door neighbour spends day after day in her garden, trimming her perfect lawn, digging and planting her perfect flowers, sweeping and mopping her perfect patio... She suffers no ill effects.
So why me?
Moving off the Pity Bus, I spend the day pretty much flopped out, taking pain killers are regular intervals, reading, Tweeting, Facebooking... Generally doing nothing in a hope the pain eases.
Twilight (the time of day, not the wanky vampires) rolls around, and there's a knock at the door. It's next doors eldest son. "Mum says you want to borrow the lawn mower?" he says to me. Ooh please, I reply, but not at the moment - can't do it now. "That's OK, mum said you were suffering - I'll jump over the back fence with it and do your lawn for you. Won't take ten minutes." And without another word from me, he dashes off. "Er, OK" is all I can say.
Now, usually, I cannot accept help from anyone. Anyone. I don't know why, and I know I should, but I can't. He, however, didn't really give me much of a chance to reply. So, I stagger through the house and get into the back garden. He's at the fence, lowering a beast of a lawn mower into the garden, then jumps in. "It won't take long!" he says before firing it up. It's a petrol mower, and apparently, long grass doesn't deter it.
I'm a little worried - while the garden has been neglected for a few years, last year I got it looking nice, with a nice lawn. It's still quite wet underneath, and from previous experience, mowing wet grass means tearing it up.
Off he goes, churning through the jungle and, thankfully, the grass is CUT not torn. He runs around, emptying the collecting box a few times, then goes over it again to pick up any bits he may have missed, and job done. Ten minutes.
It would have taken me all afternoon, especially feeling this way.
I thank him profusely, but he won't have it. "Mum said you needed a bit of help, so there you go. Let me know if you want it done again!" And he and his mower and off over the fence once more, like a green-fingered super hero...
The final punchline to the story?
The alarm went off at 6am. I struggled to roll over in order to shut it off. I struggled to sit up. I struggled into the bathroom...
Today, I am in agony. It took me an hour to get my socks on. The laptop is too heavy to lift to my lap. I am blogging this in sections - it's taken me almost two hours to write...
Today is not a good day. Those of you that warned me off gardening, you were right, I was wrong. I am suffering.