Autumn by proxy

It is now 2 months, almost to the day, since the builders arrived, and the inability to get into my own garden is really starting to bite. The toddler likes to stand on a chair in the back bedroom and gaze out over the forbidden territory, intoning ‘Mine flowers! Mine Peter Rabbit!’ (he’s a well-loved garden ornament who has been with me since my early childhood gardening days) – and I know exactly how she feels.

My flower beds are going unweeded, my trees and shrubs are being allowed to sprawl everywhere, and pretty soon leaves will be falling with no-one to rake them up.

Without even having access to an outdoor broom or secateurs (stuck in the garage we can’t get into), I can’t tidy up the *front* garden – the other day I couldn’t bear it any longer and used my kitchen scissors to cut back a few things that were overcrowding the path, and used the toddler’s toy dustpan and brush to tidy up the fallen leaves.

That, at least, gave me a bit of satisfaction – but as for enjoying the best of early autumn, I’ve had to seek it out elsewhere, by proxy, instead of being hard at work in my own garden.

Our old favourite haunt, The Rookery, was looking lovely the other weekend, and the sight of a huge burst of Michaelmas daisies made me nostalgic for my old garden, where they were self-seeded liberally.

The colour of the daisies is always a joyful sight in autumn, and I was especially pleased that the toddler identified them as ‘daisies’, which I didn’t really expect, they are different enough from the regular garden variety, after all.

I also admired these gorgeous shades of pink at the Horniman gardens – a giant version of Cosmos, from the look of it – I know I want something like this in the garden!

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Then, on a slightly more dramatic scale, we went to Alice Holt Forest on Surrey/Hampshire borders to do the Gruffalo trail (which was coming to an end, but soon to be replaced by the Gruffalo’s Child trail, fear not). At this stage of the autumn, leaves were not quite on the turn, but the scale of the trees was still impressive.

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There were also these rather charming or sinister, depending on your view, owl sculptures…

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Closer to home, on a gorgeous sunny day, I found evidence of late summer and approaching winter within close proximity – beautiful late-flowering clematis one moment, and fully-berried holly the next.

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(Am I allowed to be a wee bit excited about Christmas already? I will have a fully functioning kitchen by then, after all…)

Finally, and most exciting, here is the new room as it looked today – with concrete floor fully laid, and plaster-boarding over all the ceiling pipes, it really begins to look like a proper room now.

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The fact that the builders will soon be out, and decorators will soon be in, is very thrilling, but as the Mr said today ‘it’ll get worse before it gets better’. As soon as the kitchen installation starts, we’ll probably lose our temporary sink in the living room, as the plumbing will have to be removed, so day-to-day living will get a lot harder, but on the plus side, the skip will go and we’ll be able to get into the garage at last. And seeing that we will have a really decent sized downstairs loo, now that the walls for it have gone up, makes me very happy indeed – what can I say, it’s the little things…

And the saga of the new dining table and sofa? We went today to the showroom of Made.com, on the 9th floor of a half-derelict office block in Notting Hill, (which is probably worth a blog post all of its own, it was such a surreal experience). Notting Hill is very much not my natural milieu, so even venturing there at all was well out of my comfort zone, let alone going into a shabby old tower block to hang out with hipsters sitting on chaise longues, and well, no final decisions so far, but at least going to look at real furniture, sitting on it and trying it out, gives you a feel for what you really want, and crossing off what you don’t.

Bit by bit, we’re getting there, though I still want to plan good storage for everywhere – toys and books in the living area, glass and crockery in the dining room, shoes and coats in the hall – and all the final details to iron out. Hopefully that will be the fun bit after the hard work is over!

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