I tinker. And when I do, I really enjoy it. But I tinker in a pretty inconsistent, blissfully ignorant sort of a way, in fits and starts as the mood takes me. And when the mood leaves me - or it starts to rain, or I get interrupted by a child, I quite often abandon my gardening and leave things in an unfinished state for days and sometimes weeks on end. Sometimes, I even have helpers. But they mainly specialise in transporting soil from flower beds to places it shouldn't really be, or heavy handed relocating of stuff that is a bit too delicate to be tampered with at that precise point in the growing cycle.
Our next door neighbour, Dick, (who, I feel I ought to point out, is retired), is a gardener. He is pretty patient with our poor gardening efforts - he helps us out by trimming the hedges, and, at the moment, is being remarkably tolerant of the fact the grass on our side of the fence is starting to look like the nature reserve down the road from where we live. Over the years we have lived here, Dick has an uncanny knack of `appearing' from over the garden fence and offering some advice, just at the point one of us is about to cause fatal damage to some kind of plant life.
This is possibly the one time in the whole year where we can feel pleased we have done something right when it comes to gardening. And, I might say, not much effort has been needed. Even better, you might add.
I couldn't tell you which variety of raspberries they are - we bought three or four cheap stumpy looking raspberry plants from Wilkinsons about four years ago, shoved them into the ground, and time has taken care of the rest, with barely any involvement from us. For the benefit of those outside the UK, this is an excellent shop for selling all manner of things, and cheaply, too - but a posh garden centre it is not.
The joy, oh the joy! Raspberries on a daily basis at the moment! This is exciting at the best of times (if you like soft fruit, that is), but I think the excitement quadruples when you are a small child.
The youngest has been on Raspberry Watch for about a month or so, waiting for the white fruit to magically ripen into a colour she recognises as something she can feast on. Unconvinced the white raspberries would in fact become the things she knows and loves, she'd keep taking me by the hand to the bushes, pointing and saying, "Raspberries, Mummy?", just to be sure.
I swear she still holds early memories of last year, when her naughty pleasure was to quietly totter off down the garden, only to be discovered a minute or so later, head under the net, with a fistful of juicy gems which would quickly be stuffed into her mouth the instant she realised she'd been caught quite literally red handed.
This year, in a bid for some of the raspberries to make it to the kitchen where they can be enjoyed by all, I have laid on thick the importance of washing bugs off the fruit, and so on, and she seems to be taking it seriously. But boy do I have three very enthusiastic little pickers.
Some of my own happiest childhood memories are of being taken to the fruit fields in Kent, and picking tubs and tubs of juicy fruits, so I am happy to be able to have a few raspberry bushes in our own garden. One day, when they have a bit more restraint not to unsubtly eat all the fruit they come into contact with, I know I will take great pleasure in taking my girls out for a morning of fruit picking.
And as we seem to have plenty of the little gems all at once, some jam making had to be done. Even with a dodgy back, raspberry jam making was pretty easy. Having checked with my friend and gardening guru, Sarah, it is just equal parts of fruit and sugar boiled up in a pan for ten minutes, and you are well on your way to finger licking heaven. Although wait for the jam to cool first. Obviously.
A perfect holding present for three lovely friends who are still waiting for their actual presents to be made. Ahem. Bad back, and all that. Talking of which, though, a couple of days after seeing a very lovely gentle chiropractor called Debbie, and some equally lovely prescription pain killers, things are looking up on that front. Sewing, and hopefully not too much later after that, running, here I come. In the meantime, there are plenty of other simple pleasures to be enjoyed. Such as home made raspberry jam.
Simple pleasures, huh?