On Saturday I announced that as Spring had Sprung it was time to clean out my shed. This declaration was greeted with hoots and guffaws from Mrs Cromercrox and expressions of the gosh-you-really-know-how-to-show-a-girl-a-good-time variety, but, well, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. My shed is my workshop, not a dumping ground, and this summer I have kitchen cupboards to make, as well as finishing a long-neglected wooden boat project with Cromercrox Minima. Spring arrived a week earlier in our 10'x10' summerhouse, wherein we redicovered the joys of our table football set, so why shouldn't the shed follow?
So, Mrs Cromercrox took Cromercroxi Minor et Minima into Cromer to do a trawl of the charity shops, and I took Canis cromercroxorum to the beach.
After that, it was down to the shed. I unearthed our old wooden garden furniture, sanded off any imperfections (mostly spots of paint when I used the garden furniture as a workbech last year), sprayed the lot with teak oil, and generally spiffied it all up. I love getting the garden furniture out, for the same reason I love tidying up the shed - it's a springtime ritual, an acknowledgement that warmth and light have arrived, and we can emerge from our enforced hibernation. I removed most of the contents of the shed, swept the floor, sorted and bagged any old rubbish, and put back the remainder in good order. Now I can actually have space to sit down inside the shed, and enjoy the warmth of the sun streaming in.
When the family arrived home Mrs Cromercrox told me that there is a whole stream on the Discovery channel devoted to sheds. For some reason she'd never let me know this before and so I've been forced to endure endless shows on giving your cat a makeover and people deciding to re-decorate their piles for sale. However, this is a channel clearly marketed at sad middle-aged blokes like me, wherein husky chaps demonstrate the power of their drills to one another, and show you the best way to fillet a splanch-necked throstle-grinder for less than £50 and other useful things of that sort.
On Sunday, Mrs Cromercrox and Cromercrox Minor went for a jog with their personal fitness trainer, Canis cromercroxorum, as preparation for their forthcoming appearance in a local Race for Life. That's when Cromerox Minima and I headed off to one of our favourite places, Taverham Garden Centre, to buy plants and compost, our garden for to refresh. Cromercrox Minima loves shopping, and we both like garden centres, so we both returned with £££ of garden plants, bedding plants, houseplants and potting compost. The drive to and from the garden centre was lovely - windows down on those country roads, just like summer. Goodness, we even had to wear sunhats.
By that time Mrs Gee, Cromercrox Minor and Canis cromercroxorum had arrived home and put on the roast dinner. No longer, for us elder Cromercroxi, the roast potatoes and the yorkshire puddings. No, we are now on a diet and I hope by year's end to have shed the equivalent in poundage of a sack of chickenfeed. So we enjoyed steamed veg, and veg will feature greatly in our diet from now on. Instead of snacking on a cookie, I shall now munch celery and carrots. This diet is likely to make me fart like the exhaust on a 1927 Hispano-Suiza
A 1927 Hispano-Suiza, driving hastily off, stage left.
But you're likely to see less of me in future. After lunch, Gee Minima and I worked for two and a half hours solid, potting up those plants. We had pyorrhoeas and hernias; neuralgias, amygdalas and alopecias; impetigoes, gingivitis and sanitaria, and were left wondering why it is that the loveliest flowers have the most horrible names.
Another benefit of the Spring is that we've relocated Cromercrox Minor's shamefully under-used 8-inch Dobsonian reflector telescope from a corner at the back of the summerhouse to the conservatory, whence it is easily shifted to the patio, which, now hosed clear of a winter's worth of chicken shit, makes a lovely viewing platform. As balmy evening fell I trained the scope on the rising, gibbous moon. I had a 4.5-inch Newtonian when I was a lad, but spending the money on raw power and economizing on the mount - a flatpack Dobsonian rather than an expensive Equatorial - really paid off. The 8-inch is great as a light-bucket, so even with a wide field eyepiece, which shows the whole of the moon, you can see the most incredible detail. Moon-raking with a high-power objective at the terminator shows every crater, ever wrinkle, the flatness of the lunar seas against the pin-sharp mountains. Cue much expressions of wonderment and joy from the younger Cromercroxi.
Yes, we had a wonderful summer this year. Many memories to save against the inevitable washout to come.