This outdoor housework lark is uncovering more and more of my ignorance. Strawberries can grow in walls?!
When I bought a couple of strawberry plants three years ago I thought they were delicate little things. I planted them carefully and they generously produced a glowing crop of delicious strawberries (or so the slugs told me). The next year there were a dozen plants or more but, worn out from all that growing, they didn't produce very many strawberries. Or perhaps the slugs had just got quicker.
Last year there were loads of plants which had reverted to type and produced masses of tiny wild strawberries. They were a bit hard and the slugs generously left us some. This year, two beds are completely covered with pretty strawberry flowers. Our Visiting Garden Expert (known to MariainWales as OH) very kindly set to digging them up, separating them and replanting the best ones.
While all this was going on, an excavation into the shed for some garden tool or other uncovered some pea and bean seeds between 10 and 27 years old. Visiting Garden Expert and MariainWales soaked them, set them all out on a tray, carefully labelled, and covered them with damp cloths. It reminded me of jam jars and blotting paper and runner beans in primary school. So one day we might even get beans for first course and a strawberry for dessert.
All this organising and tidying, also going on inside the house, is because I will be hosting four of the 60 Grenoblois arriving here on Wednesday. In February our choir leader asked whether I'd organise their accommodation. I didn't say yes but she announced at the next rehearsal that that I was in charge of finding homes for everyone. I set up a spreadsheet. It grew. And grew. I bought a bigger screen. Two months and well over 400 emails later, all the visitors on the list were allocated a bed. Then, 6 days ago the group decided that the train strike (which we've all known for ages was scheduled for their travelling day) meant they'd come by coach instead.
Some people drop out. Others are added. I find a home for a newly added family of four then discover they also have a 7-year-old they hadn't told me about. I check with all the Oxford hosts whether they can meet the coach at the arrival time of 6pm and find alternative meeters for those who can't. Then I get an email saying the arrival time will be 4.30pm. Or maybe 5pm. Can all the meeters make the alternative time? Can all the alternatives still be alternatives? 420 emails, 440 emails... I need a home cinema to monitor it all.
I never, ever, want to work in hospitality. I'd rather learn how to commune with slugs.