These days there are two types of jobs to be done on my series 3 Land Rover, Annie. There are those in the areas Mud has already been through/worked on, so any seized nuts and bolts have already been cursed at, hit with a hammer, beaten into submission with a mallet and generally forcibly removed and replaced with shiny new ones, coated in copper slip.
Then we have the other kind, those that are yet to be tackled, have nuts and bolts caked in 30 years of rust and grime and will invariably lead to more cursing, scuffed knuckles and grit filled eyes.
Last Saturday saw Mud and I undertake just such a job, one which we have been putting off for ages but which we finally couldn’t delay any longer – Annies engine needed sorting out and in this case that meant replacing the piston rings.
Mud no longer tries to hoodwink me with phrases such as ‘It’ll only take a minute’ or ‘This should be a quick job’ because we both know that this is rarely the case and there is always something which will hold up proceedings, adding hours onto the process, causing no end of stress. This time it was piston number 1 which proved to be a nightmare to remove, requiring the aid of a rubber ended mallet and carefully applied brute force. Mud was on his back, in his least favourite place in the world – the gravel drive – trying to gently tap the piston out, with oil and grit dripping all over him.
The full story in glorious technical detail can be found on his blog here but suffice to say the job took much longer than expected and the end result wasn’t entirely what we had hoped for or expected.
With as much done on Annies’ engine problem as we could do for the day and with nothing to do in the vegetable patch following a seed sowing stint the previous evening, I decided to pop up and see if there was much left over from a local plant sale which had been running that morning. I found a whole tray of what were obviously squash or pumpkin seedlings but the absence of a label meant that exactly what they were was any ones guess. I decided to buy these as a gift for a friend, whose pumpkins and squash plants had been really badly hit by some pest or disease attack. I also chose a beautiful little plant for myself which, once again, didn’t have a label but once I got it home, I consulted the RHS encyclopedia of plants and decided that it was in fact a Coleus/Solenostemon of some description.
I popped over to deliver the tray of seedlings and came back a little later with two Morning Glories that my friend had spare and a white geranium (I think) that she had been given free by the garden center because, she told me, it had looked dead when she found it in the ‘Sale’ plants section and the till lady couldn’t bring herself to charge anything for it. It had been successfully nursed back to health but there was no room for it in her garden and so she had decided to give it to me.
Outside our back door was the very spot for these newly acquired plants, in the form of five very tired and overgrown blue pots. One by one I cleared the pots of weeds, salvaged a couple more strawberry plants (yes, I know!) emptied most of the old compost into the brown garden waste bin and then refilled each pot with fresh compost. I decided to put the white geranium into the largest of the pots with the Mudlets frog ornament which I had found buried amongst the weeds.
During the emptying of the pots, I had spotted and managed to save a Snapdragon which keeps on coming back year after year (this is its’ third year now) and I put this into the medium sized pot, along with a couple of tiny pieces of self-seeded Lobelia that I had seen, growing alongside the strawberries in the hanging baskets. The Lobelia may not come to much but I wanted to give it a chance.
The Solenostemon went into one of the smaller pots, again with some of the Lobelia for company and for the two other smaller pots, I retrieved some of what I believe is Ophiopogon Japonicus Nigrescens (Black Mondo Grass), from the flower bed where it has been happily living and spreading for a number of years now. This black plant produces sprays of gorgeous tiny pink flowers which should look beautiful against the blue of the pots.
As for the Morning Glories, one has been planted in the old toilet cistern, against the fence and the other will go into another large blue pot which is by the front door. All in all a productive hour or so and with any luck, we will soon be greeted by a lovely display of colour when we open the back door.