The Twingo tango

‘Are those horses yours?’

That was the question Lloyd posed to me on Facebook last night. And as I said no, he might have been surprised how much work I had put into rescuing Ulysse yesterday (yes, of course it was the Escape Artist among the herd).

It took a good hour to grab some apples, drive up to the field where he was not, coax him back off the road where he was alarming cars, getting the electric fence unlatched, shoving him back in with his mates and then trying to work out where he broke through.

Then it was a drive back home, a rummage for a few hundred feet of electric fencing wire, back up to the field and a rather sporting half hour adding a strand of wire to stop the damn horse getting out again.

Ulysse loved the attention. He had a marvellous time.

And I did too. The spring light was gorgeous.  Of course I could have done without the bramble lacerations I copped on the steep bank where I was trying to add the wire, but the job got done.

And it set me thinking about community. Especially rural communities.  Everyone who lives somewhere isolated knows that you contribute to the well-being of the whole. And you don’t crow about it or let the people know how much you do.

Or moan too much about the amount of work that is sometimes involved. Because there is a credit and debit side to every act.  I look after my neighbour’s escaping horses. He chain sawed the fallen pine tree that was blocking our shared road. And didn’t come back up to tell me what he did.

I grow dozens of extra seedlings of every vegetable and flower variety to give away to friends; they come in and water the plants if I am away.

I won’t get preachy, but it is a good way to live.  And it means that when I drive up to town to go into the agricultural supply shop (our marvellous Gamm Vert – the hub of rural life) I join in the eye-rolling but not the moaning about the octogenarian parking habits.

I call it the Twingo tango.

Renault Twingos are those boxy little cars that seem to be favoured by the over 80s set round here. The cars their children forced them to buy about twenty years ago and which they have grown used to. Excellent for driving to the shops.

But as the cars age, so too do the owners. And there comes a time when turning one’s head to check for traffic, or trying tricky manoeuvres like parking neatly are just beyond them.  But they know where they are going. And they are going to buy their seed potatoes or that sack of lime for the potager as they have done every spring for decades.

Our agricultural supply shop is located on the side of a hill. As a consequence the flat area for parking is limited to about four car spaces right outside the big depot doors. These are prized.  The rest have to park on a slope. As a rule one leaves the easy parking spots for the elders.

But in actuality it’s a bit of a free for all. And there is usually a giant truck doing a gas bottle delivery to mess up the whole choreography in the tight space.

All it takes is for two or three drivers who have given up the art of parking to just drive in, spot a space near the flat bit and abandon their Twingos and stagger inside. Leaving the rest of us about to head out, trapped, and trying to do elaborate 18 point turns to get in between their abandoned vehicles. One avoids paint scrapes by millimetres, with other equally penned in drivers doing elaborate hand signals to guide you out.

But no one complains. No one storms back into the shop to demand which idiot parked their car across the exit. No one beeps their horn.

It’s just eye rolling and very deft wheel turning and you leave ten minutes later than planned.

I love it. The old crumblies have no idea of the havoc taking place outside. And as long as you aren’t running late for anything, it just adds a layer of interest to your morning chores.


Oh, gardening? That’s right, it’s a gardening blog.

I decided it was time I pulled down the little fence protecting the newly planted Dry Garden from marauders. The storm helped. Rather than repair, I thought it might be daring and fun to dismantle.

The badgers and hares will be delighted. The sturdy fence along the side of the garden will stay. That deters the big beasts – the wild boar. But they don’t usually come so close to the house where the cars are parked to hunt for grubs.

Besides, I think the plants are established now and a bit of small animal grubbing about won’t have the whole area dug up and destroyed.

I gave the lavenders a thorough weed. Added more sedums. These were from cuttings I took in autumn and most had been blown onto the floor of the potting shed during the storm last night when the windows blew in and all the plants were scattered.

I decided they had a better chance out in the open with wild animals rather than dealing with wild weather inside the shed.

Hopefully the lavenders will now grow a bit more evenly too. They are in a perfect south-facing position and aren’t trapped and sulking behind my makeshift fence.

Let’s see how long the bucolic neat scene lasts.  There may be hares and badgers doing a tango all over that lawn and in among the plants next week.