Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Living Life On The Hedge

Last week some bloke knocks on my door while I'm at work and offers to trim my unruly hedge. Tells wife it will cost £70. Obviously she turns him away.

Sunday is spent scouring the internet, countless google searches and visits to price comparison sites and I finally arrive at the Argos website. After an hour comparing prices and specifications I reserve a cordless hedgecutter for just £43.99.  That's a whopping £26.01 less than the seventy quoted, I'm on a winner here, methinks. Saving already and an investment for the future.

Monday morning I drop kids off at school and head straight to retail park and collect. I've three days off from the day job, the sun is shining. Great. Before I can start I have an appointment with the chiropractic student at the University of Glamorgan for my regular torture session. Can't beat a bit of manipulation of the cervical, thoracic and lumber spine (that's upper, mid and lower back if you're not medically au fait - Oh dear I'm sounding a bit pretentious here!). So I put the 14.4 volt battery on charge and off down the A470.

I would just like to point out that if you have any spinal problem, or joint pain, or any other kind of physical problem, you could do a lot worse (and spend a lot more money) than go to the Uni for treatment. Phone 01443 348 555 if your interested.

On returning home I carry ladder down two flights of stairs, I insert battery into new gadget, apply SPF 6 (might as well turn my utterly pale complexion a little brown) and head into the garden in a pair of Trespass sports sandals (no socks of course) topless and wearing black shorts. I meander to the bottom of the garden and peak over the fence at next doors perfect hedge, which is at least four feet lower than mine.

I start at the boundary, taking the height of next doors' as a guide and merrily start trimming away, cutting the sides first, as instructed in the manual, which I had surprisingly decided to consult before commencing. I did about a third of the hedge (about 8 yards), and realised that next doors perfection was way out of reach for a novice like me. I then went back to the start, climbed the ladder and started trimming the top. The hedge is far to broad to reach all the way across the top, and I realise that I will have to tackle the top outer part from outside when I'm trimming the side outer part. If I'm getting too technical here, then please accept my sincerest apologies.

Well I haven't gone more than three or four feet when something catches my eye. I stop trimming and take a closer look. Nestling just a couple of inches from where I had trimmed the side, and about a foot higher than I had started trimming the top; inside the hedge was a very small birds nest. I climb a little higher and pull back some of the branches to inspect my discovery. This nest would have been too deep inside the thick hedge to be inhabited I thought. It must have long since been abandoned by any previous tenant. Surely! Wrong! I was greeted by the open mouths of four tiny little chicks. Please don't ask me what species, I'm not David bloody Attenborough, am I? But at a wild guess, and as far as wild guesses go this is completely untamed, I'd say sparrows. Maybe you can tell me?

How can I continue to cut on the same line now? There would be four little birdies homeless and easy prey for any would be predator, or wild shots at goal from 4 year old son. So feeling proud of myself in the fact that I'm doing my bit for wildlife preservation, I leave about a foot of hedge above the nest and continue on this line. Bill Oddie would think I'm a goody, for sure!

About half way down the hedge the trimmer stops trimming, getting stuck on even the thinnest twigs. So I stop work and put battery on charge. Manual says 3-4 hours should do it. So 3 hours of pottering about, collecting cuttings and putting into garden refuse bags. What's this? Printed on bag 'small amounts of cuttings only.' Now I pay my council tax, well I didn't for a while, but I do now. Part of that is for collecting refuse and recycling isn't it? Why can't I put as much garden refuse for recycling out as I like? Should I put some out and the rest into the rubbish bin? Would that just go to land fill and exacerbate global warming? Why am I asking so many questions? So I fill eight bags and pile the rest up in the corner, or shove it underneath some parts of the hedge.

After three hours charging, I can't wait any longer and get back to work, after picking kids up from school. I manage to cut most of the other half when the battery goes flat again. So I stop trimming for the day. I try to organise the kids into an (unpaid) work gang and get them collecting all the cuttings, well they are closer to the ground than me. And they don't have bad backs. But I end up doing most of the work as usual.

This morning I again take the kids to school, and then straight back to work. I finish the inside of the hedge and then move to the outside. The battery lasts a bit longer after a full charge and I get halfway down the outside. Gather up the cuttings and use the leaf blower to pick up the smaller bits. I have to clean out the blower every three minutes due to the amount of rubbish it picks up. Bloody litter bugs!

So now I'm sitting here, telling you all about it. Well I think there may be two of you reading this - thanks Rob for following my blog, and Sian, if she hasn't got bored by now. If anyone else is still with me at this point, please become a follower so I know that it's all worthwhile.

I'm mentally preparing for the final phase of the job. Physically I'm knackered. My back, neck and shoulders are very sore and my right wrist aches so much that you'd think I'd been going solo for two days solid. Another half an hour and the battery should be charged, and an hour after that, finito! Except when the chicks have flown the nest, I'm going to have to try to level the whole thing off as there is not even a hint of a straight line anywhere along the whole length of the hedge.

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