After volunteering to help man the Swishing rail at a village event run by our local Women’s Institute (WI) later this month, it occurs to me that perhaps I ought to find out exactly what I am letting myself in for. I know that in this context swishing means swapping clothes, but I’m intrigued by the derivation of the term.
Up the Garden Path
My resolve to tidy my small front garden before the autumn turns into a bigger job than I planned. By the time I’ve pruned the trees, pulled up the weeds, and rescued the periwinkle from the ivy, I’m gazing at a surprisingly large empty space. Next step: to refill it. Next stop: the garden centre.
Three days in a row, I pop into the one in Nailsworth, emerging each time with an armful of pots. One by one, I plant my purchases, choosing each site carefully, as if placing the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. But by the end of day three, there are still some spaces. I resign myself to a fourth shopping trip. This could prove to be an expensive week.
But before I set off next morning, I must stop at Hawkesbury Upton Post Office to buy a stamp. On my way up the path I spot a tray of plants for sale. There’s a pansy in just the shade of purple I want to match my periwinkle. I check the price: just 20p. The garden centre till receipts flash up in my memory. Their prices were ten times higher. I rummage around in the tray in search of further bargains. I find a lovely sage for 35p: perfect for my colour scheme. Dropping some coins in the honesty box, I wonder why I bothered with the garden centre when this humble little tray was just yards from my door. It’s an added bonus that these plants were raised in the village – it means they will thrive in my garden too.
It makes me wonder whether I can source the other item on my garden shopping list so close to home and at a comparable price. I’m after a bench. I know I won’t get much change from £200 at the garden centre. Then I remember a little while ago I drove past some home-made garden seats for sale outside a house in Horton. Before I can be tempted to hit the garden centre, I nip down the hill and discover I can secure two lovely chairs for just £20 a throw.
So no more lining the pockets of garden retailers and chain stores for me: I’m going to be shopping much closer to home in future. Globalisation – who needs it? Give me villagisation any day.
(This post was written for Hawkesbury Parish News, October 2011 issue – now on sale in the Hawkesbury Village Shop and Hawkesbury Upton Post Office!)