This week, in yet another step to a new normality, I went to an actual library, rather than ordered another bunch of books. The day before, I'd been merrily dropping titles into my Bookshop.org basket and failed to notice that the total was nearly 3 figures until I came to check out. At which point I needed a brief lie down and a talking to from myself.
Yes, the gardening books are important, but not that important. Not when there is another, free, option...
We have an excellent library in the city, run as a partnership with the university. Their hours are long, the collection wide and there's a cafe that does a decent cheap Americano and a gluten-free pecan brownie you'd step over your own child for. Both of which came to £4.50. As I'd paid £4 for a coffee alone not too long ago, I am now considering making this my temporary office base for those days when I just can't face staring at my own 4 walls again.
The library also wins because borrowing books will always have a lower carbon footprint than buying them, so I get to be all smug about it. Even smug-er after a visit to the plastic free shop for hand soap, deodorant and cashews.
Of course, all this green work is then undone by the arrival of my lovely new office chair. A thoroughly impractical pale pink, the chair looks like it might develop a personality above my station but I don't care. As long as it holds me up and stops the left side of my body from feeling like it's slowly grinding to a painful halt, that's all I need.
I would never have been able to have a pink chair in any of my previous offices, I know that. I also know that it looks good against the dark blue of the one wall, and will clash splendidly with the peach that will cover the other walls. It cheers me up every time I open the door, which I think is more than enough reason to have it.
As his voice ENNUNCIATED seemingly random words, he fell up STEPS while telling us to watch OUT for them and forgot his PLACE in his notes, I took the photos you can see here. It's a wonderful building - I especially liked that they'd based one of the interior grotesques on Wallace & Gromit* - and it reminded me why I'd fallen in love with heritage in the first place...the buildings just can't be beat.
Then we went for lunch. Which was also splendid and not in the least bit eccentric. Although our turning down of the speakers (right next to where we were sitting) probably was. But we don't care. We are ladies d'une age certain and we have earned the right to talk to each other without shouting over jazz-funk fusion beat combos.
Up at the allotment, I have been harvesting wineberries and blackberries, both of which have gone into the freezer until I have enough and a moment to turn them into a flavoured gin for everyone to get at Christmas. Yes, I am thinking about Christmas already, as much as I hate to be the one to mention it first. And as much as I can't really even begin to consider the shape of this year's Christmas, not with such a key person gone from the family.
Dad has been much on my mind this last week or so as I completed registering for the RHS Level 2 study course at our local horticultural college. What would he have made of my mid-40s environmental crisis? He'd have shaken his head at my refusal to use weed killer, even on the knotweed and would probably have reminded me of how much of a fair-weather gardener I've been until recently.
But I am committed now. And excited to be so.
On 16th September, I will be doning my steel toe cap boots, clicking the lid of my new pens and bracing myself to be the oldest person in the room. Perhaps if I become the young people's college-mum, they'll deal with the big greenhouse spiders for me?
I hope all the readers who pass by here have a lovely weekend. Eat the good things - you deserve it.
*NB: this is by way of a joke based on the fact that the grotesque on the left of the painting has that Wide Mouth thing you see in Aardman Animations films. As good as AA are, I really don't think they were around when these were made...