TV


I woke in the middle of the night, dragged sleepily to semi-consciousness by thousands of bees.  The dream was one of worry; will they survive? A few days later I peeked into the hive and found them dead.  They had no stores left.  They had plenty of fondant, but it simply was not enough for them.  They starved in the local county Antrim definition of the word; they got too cold due to lack of food.

Did I dream their death through some spiritual connection as a beekeeper? To be fair, I dream this dream every spring and this is my first year of winter loss. Of course I am sad and I will miss having bees about the home. That said, looking after them last summer was problematic.  I had less time for them, and I promised myself that if they did not make it through the winter; I would take a year off beekeeping. In a fight between the bees or the little people; the little people win. I told the little man about the bees and he knew I was upset. He gave me a hug and told me it was going to be ok, we could buy honey from ASDA.

I’m shrugging beelessness off and refocusing my efforts into the garden and growing things to eat. The old buckets and bricks are already on top of the early rhubarb shoots, the potatoes are chitting on the window ledge and the seed packets are all purchased. I have plans. In the autumn I bought eighteen more raspberry canes to fill a vegetable plot that we normally grow lettuces in.  For the last two years all we have seem to have done with this is feed the slugs. These raspberries were supposed to be planted in November. The sodden cold earth and the winter darkness put a stop to that.  They are in little pots and have been added to the list of things to do.

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Last night I sat down with netflix intending to start House of Cards.  Then I remembered that Gardener’s World had come back to TV and iPlayer. Monty Don won and Francis Underwood lost my vote.

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This morning I stole away some time as the little people sat eating breakfast and feasting on saturday morning cartoons. I made a dent in some of the items on the gardening list: mulched the redcurrants and blackcurrants, split and spread the snowdrop bulbs, cleaned out the chicken coop, and had a fight with an unruly cottoneaster. Ever since we lost the pear trees to canker I have been keeping a close eye on the apple trees and clipping and burning any little signs of disease.  The little man’s tree seemed to be infected on the main trunk at about shoulder height.  I was a bit hesitant about doing anything harsh as it is called the little man’s tree as it was a gift for his birth from some friends.  All the little people have a tree of their own now. I pondered trying to spray it and then thought WWMD (What Would Monty Do?)  I cut out the disease and this resulted in a dramatic pruning of it’s height.  It had to be done and it does still look alright.  It seems to have opened it up quite a bit. I just hope I won’t have to hug the little man and reassure him by telling him we can buy his apples in ASDA.

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They say that having children brings life to a house. They never said they would bring a film crew. Just a week after the littlest man was born, a children’s television film crew descended upon the cottage to film the little man and the little lady either cleaning their teeth or looking at the stars, depending on the weather. For weeks now I have worried about this as usually teeth cleaning would end up with lots of crying and the little lady and I falling out over our different viewpoints on dental hygiene.

They arrived in the early evening and began unpacking their things. The cottage was suddenly filled with people, kit bags, cameras and sound equipment. The little man was excited and talkative, showing the crew his Lego. The little lady sat with a fever of thirty nine degrees, she curled up beside her granny and would not be the star of the show. The littlest man lay oblivious in his Moses basket. The crew cooed and smiled at him, but he just slept, indifferent to the prospect of fame.

They kept us, and the little man, away as they decorated the bathroom and his bedroom. During this they constantly stepped into the freezing winter air to check the twilight sky. Coming from London, they were astounded by the lack of light pollution and remoteness of the cottage. Eventually the teeth cleaning was abandoned as the stars began to come out. We started filming in the little man’s bedroom which was now covered in stars; glow in the dark stars, star lights on a string, star duvet, star covered pillow and star pyjamas. Then we headed out into the night. This phase of filming required a parent to be on film. It was always the intention that the lovely Sharon would do this as I hate the concept of being in front of an audience, never mind television. However, she refused and played the ‘I’ve just given birth’ card. How could I argue, childbirth trumps…….everything. We looked up at the stars, at the plough and the moon. We talked about how they twinkle and tried to count them. Then back to the bedroom to talk about the stars in his room.  Some voice over recording was called for after the footage was reviewed by the crew, then talking about stars while going to bed. Filming for little people is a long process as the regulations are strict regarding film time and breaks. The breaks were filled with Lego, and tv, and fish fingers, and chips. By the time the bedtime filming was done, he really did want to go to bed. The film crew withdrew and packed up with professional silence as I read stories before he drifted off to dream of stars and stardom.