Rain, rain and more bloody rain; that has been the story of the last month.
As someone who is addicted to spending time outdoors, to being active and enjoying open spaces, the last month has been very tiresome.
Whilst I have been very lucky not to have been directly affected by the awful floods that have devastated the Somerset Levels, the foul weather has certainly taken its toll on me psychologically and it has put this year’s veg growing plans on the back foot.
I am not a fan of spending time indoors and unfortunately, since my last blog post, I feel this is all I have done.
My daytime job is office based and finds me plonked behind a desk, staring at a computer screen for most of the day. Recently, as soon as I have got home I have had research and writing to do for various freelance assignments; finding myself slumped in front of the laptop for another few hours, pulling together something that is (hopefully) vaguely readable and pleasing to an editor’s eye. At the weekend, when I can finally free up some leisure time during daylight hours, weekend after weekend has greeted me with ever increasingly foul weather, cocooning me indoors.
As such, I haven’t gotten out for walks, runs or general outdoor pottering half as much as I usually do and the occasions when I have donned waterproofs and braved the elements, it hasn’t been a particularly enjoyable experience. Hacking up an out of control hedge in the pouring rain, getting soaked for hours on end, with angry chickens squawking around my feet last weekend was not up there in my ‘Best Moments of 2014’.
This enforced indoor inactivity has left me a grumpy, angry mess.
I know that everyone relaxes in different ways, but for me, I judge the quality of my life very much in terms of how much time I can spend being active outdoors.
By getting outdoors and doing something physical – be it walking, gardening or running – I give my brain a chance to shut down and forget all the nonsense that clogs it during the working week. Bills, disappointment, work stress and bad news all fade away and I find that eventually my mind reboots and I can ponder more enjoyable things. Anyone who knows me can tell when I have had an active, enjoyable, outdoors weekend; I am simply a happier and – if I were being frank – better person.
So the last month has been very hard for me and my long suffering, but very patient wife!
The rubbish weather has also held up my veg growing plans; after all, what’s the point in planting anything when the chances are that given the current meteorological conditions it will simply rot in the damp, cold, rain sodden ground?
I did finally manage to get some First Early potatoes planted out yesterday after work, making the most of a few days of dry(ish) weather and spurred on by the knowledge that my free time will be very limited in the coming couple of weeks.
I also took the opportunity to get a selection of salad seeds and peas on the grow in the greenhouse, ready for planting out as the weather hopefully improves over the next few weeks.
When I look back at this time last year, I had already grown trays of salad seedlings ready to transplant, potatoes were in the ground and Pak Choi shoots poked up through the soil of my veg patch. I was prepared, keen and ready to go.
In no way shape or form do I feel like that at the moment!
Another big difference with last year is that I also had something that closely resembled a lawn.
Now, thanks to the ravages of the constant rain, worm hunting chickens and the scavenging of several pheasants that now pop into my garden to cause an extra bit of carnage, the grassy areas of my garden are looking decidedly swamp like.
The damp weather has also led to masses of moss popping up all over the place and the girls enjoy nothing more than clawing their way through it and nonchalantly casting it all over the place with their beaks.
What a mess.
But, good on the girls; they have endured some of the worst weather I have ever witnessed and, what’s more, they have continued to lay eggs for us all through the winter.
There have been many times that I have peered out of the kitchen window as the wind howls and the rain crashes down, to see the chickens huddled close together, heads down battling through the wind in search of a sheltered spot in the hedge. They are hardy beasts and one can’t help but feel a pang of respect for the animals.
So here’s to the start of spring proper. According to the media, this coming weekend in England is supposed to be a fine and sunny one; a weekend that cries out for lots of outdoor based activity and one that I plan to take full advantage of.
I do hope that this month proves to be a more promising one and my fingers are tightly crossed for many more hours can spent in the garden, re-kindling my food growing motivation.