A few days of glorious sunshine and the zest for spring cleaning is upon me. The first job is to tackle the gates at the back of the house. There is something quite invigorating washing off the green algae that mars the white paintwork. On the radio the world cup cricket is in full swing. Hopefully you can tell the difference betwixt the gate I have cleaned and the one I have not in the photo below!
The same spring cleaning madness has fallen on the house. Cook Jenny and the three domestics are rushing around with cloths and sprays and goodness knows what else. The whole house is being turned topsy-turvy in their zeal. I knock cautiously on the window and one of the domestics kindly fills my bucket with hot water whilst Cook Jenny is upstairs.
In one sheltered corner a magnolia stellata has burst into flower, the epitome of innocence and divine beauty.
There is a commotion in the house and the past three weeks must have flown by because the Duke and Duchess are back. I’m working on the terrace gathering a few stray leaves and I can see through the kitchen window that the Duke has taken centre stage regaling Cook and the domestics with tales of derring-do whilst riding a camel through the Thar Desert.
“There were scorpions the size of your hand, said the Duke, gesticulating wildly with his hands, “oh, and snakes”, he continued. His face shone with the exuberance of a school-boy. Meanwhile, the Duchess, who had clearly been more interested in buying shawls in Jodhpur market than wrestling with truculent camels, stood to one side, tut-tutting at her husbands’ slightly exaggerated account of their holiday.
Don’t be fooled though, the Duchess is a plucky old bird and I’m sure she enjoyed every moment of the trip, and just for a moment, watching the pair through the kitchen window, I can see the Duchess as a Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen although it takes a little more imagination to see the Duke as a Humphrey Bogart.
One would think – being deep in the heart of the tranquil countryside – that the local wildlife would get on with their romantic liaisons with quiet and joyful hearts. Not so. Every male cock bird seems to be muscling around, boasting of his prowess and keen to dispute the matter with anyone who would care to disagree. And the girls are no better, pretending to be coy and modest whilst all the time giving the boys a run for their money. ‘Pipe down will you?’ I grumple, but they pay no heed to my protests and carry on with their noisy flirtations.
Blimey, I can barely hear the cricket on the jolly old radio with all their goings-on!
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