By Melisseus

Spot the Difference

There is enormous pleasure in trading with someone who really knows their métier. We buy vegetables direct from a grower who has been running their business - which they started from scratch - for decades. In the summer, they run open days for customers. They explained how they encourage a population of parasitic wasps so that they kill the caterpillars of cabbage white butterflies. Who knew

For a while we were clients of a builder whose answer to every question, suggestion or doubt was a solution or a couple of options and an explanation of their reasoning. Never once did I hear them take a short intake of breath

We are regularly helped by a heating engineer who specified our boiler and some of our rather complex central heating. After racing around the house at breakneck speed, flicking around websites on their mobile phone, a few quick calculations, they paused for a second of perfect stillness, looked up at us and said "god, I love my job"

It is obvious immediately you meet someone whether they are confident in their expertise or whether they are trying to convince themselves of their competence. My new bike needed a few tweaks (partly because I stupidly bought the wrong variant by clicking the wrong button on the web site); I was recommended a specialist in the village, took it there on Thursday and collected it today. In just a few short moments, my confidence is won and payment for time and expertise is a pleasure

It is nine years since "Jack" pruned the garden bramley. Jack is not his real name; I don't know why he does not use his real name, some people just don't, do they. He was another one whose every quiet statement revealed the depth of his knowledge, experience and expertise. We trusted him to turn our unruly, tangled tree into something calm and manageable.

I don't really know what I'm doing with pruning, but every year I trim back most of the new growth to the skeleton Jack created, and it seems to have worked so far. It takes a while with awkward and unwieldy secateurs on the end of a pole, and I get a stiff neck from levering and pulling with my neck craned to look up through the branches. Bright, low sunshine, as we had for a while this morning, also means I can only work in one direction. But slowly it gets done - a couple of hours today and I think I'm close to half done. I hope you can tell which half

I think really I just wanted an excuse to take a picture of a pretty sky as sunset approached

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