I've never had a garden I have been able to enjoy. Well that’s not strictly true, up until the age of about 12 I think the garden was my football stadium, my jungle, my alien planet and my Narnia, but after 'growing up' I have never been able to settle in gardens.
It's either too hot, too cold, too many wasps/flies/alien things flapping around. On the rare occasion when I would get comfortable with a book (and that’s another thing, how are we suppose to get comfortable on garden chairs? its almost impossible, has anyone invented a garden sofa yet?) then of course the neighbours would decide to work on the engine from an F16 jet they had picked up at a car boot sale, or 43 grandchildren would descend, each armed with a megaphone, a football, cricket bat and enough energy to keep Norwich running on electricity for several months.
The very idea of eating outside was so full of pitfalls that when it was suggested I would start to panic as each danger shot through my mind;
Flies land on food.
Flies land in food.
Wasps land in drinks.
It's always colder than you think, or it's so hot that salads explode as they leave the kitchen.
It's always windy. Always.
I can't see the t.v
It was supposed to be relaxing but I would shove food in my face like Oliver Twist before nature invaded my lunch.
And I haven't even mentioned barbecues.
Well we moved last year, practically in the middle of nowhere, with a proper garden that has nature and strange things. Last winter took so long that I changed my name to Jon Snow and took to whispering "winter is coming" to anyone I saw. The very idea of a summer was a distant memory, or just something you saw in American films.
After the Starks had left and the Lannisters had taken back the throne of Coningsby, Spring eventually arrived and a few weeks ago I found myself sat in the garden, something was different and I couldn't quite think why, after a few minutes I realised what it was; I was relaxed.
No noise apart from nature noises, it wasn't windy, no Phil Collins Greatest Hits in the background and I was comfortable. I actually felt like I had taken two nurofen for a headache and they were working instantly.
I found myself watching birds going about their daily routine, collecting twigs, having a snack, talking to each other, always busy and it occurred to me that humans really are stupid aren’t they? And so arrogant.
We feel superior to nature in so many ways but really we have got it so wrong. Despite what God announced in his press release Sunday isn’t a day of rest for all his creatures is it? Birds don’t have a lay in on a Sunday, or stay up till 3 drinking vodka on a Friday night.
They eat with the seasons, they don’t order food from Tesco, although they can fly so they have an advantage I guess.
Nature gets up when the sun comes up, works away, quietly, peacefully, without annoying anyone, has some food and drink, then goes to bed when the sun goes down. And when winter arrives they either sod off to somewhere nice or if they can't fly they hibernate for six months.
Whilst we plough on regardless getting up at the same time regardless of daylight or weather, even changing the clocks, yes we have got the nerve to change actual time itself to suit our routine!
Driving to work in the dark, coming home in the dark, the only daylight we see is car parks or outside busy shops, the only thing stopping us from going completely mad, or that tips us over the edge of madness, is Christmas. One day to keep us going in six months. Really??
All the while the birds and the cats and the bats and the rabbits must watch us and think "what on earth are they doing?!"
Anyway my point is this, gardens are great. If you have one appreciate it, spend time in it, don’t try and impose silly human values in a garden, we don’t need to smell burning cheap burgers or the Macarena in our gardens to enjoy them. Sit and watch and listen and you will feel the benefit, as you realise how insignificant we are compared to how significant we think we are.
All of this came to me whilst sat in the garden as I watched a pigeon fly back and forth from a tree in our garden, collecting leaves for a new nest at 7am on a Sunday. Then as it flew overhead for probably the fortieth time something happened.
It shat in my coffee.