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Wednesday 20 July 2016

107. It’s all gone a bit Pete Tong

We had the most unholy storm last Friday. I’m talking hailstones the size of golf balls, no electricity, water running down the inside of the walls, a foot-deep torrent of water running down the street kind of storm. (‘Human sacrifice. Dogs and cats living together. MASS HYSTERIA,’ as Bill Murray would say.) It was pretty cool at the time, you know, apart from all the water in the house. Then, the next morning, we went out in the garden…


I could have cried, it was so bad. The hailstones have ruined most of our fruit and veg. The courgette plants were ripped to shreds. So were the globe artichokes, nasturtiums, kale and spinach (although, I hope the kale and spinach will sprout new leaves and be fine). The butternut squash have huge holes in them, so, even if they manage to ripen, they won’t store over the winter. Worst of all, we’ve lost loads of apples and grapes – and that seriously affects our booze harvest.

My booze! My wonderful booze! So many emotions!
(Also, I've been re-watching a lot of Community lately. Can you tell?)

The only bright spot is our tomatoes, which were safely nestled in the polytunnel. Yes, miraculously, our bodge-it polytunnel survived The Storm. It’s got a few holes in it, but nothing terminal. Tomatoes are probably the most important crop for any self-respecting Bulgarian (and probably the crop that saves us the most money, not counting the homemade booze), so we would have been really upset if we’d lost them. Stanka, our neighbour on the left, says she has lost most of her crop. Luckily, we have a few of her plants in our polytunnel (she donated them to us because she had too many), so we can give her all the fruit from those when they ripen.

The last of the alliums (I mean, those not destroyed by Barney the Terrible) were all snapped over, and so were the dahlias and hollyhocks. But, surprisingly, really dainty things like cosmos and verbena were basically unharmed. Uma the Puma also survived intact (or, as intact as she is these days, with her wing mirror held on with glue and the passenger window wedged up with a bit of wood).

All in all, though, the garden looks very sorry for itself and I have no courgettes, I repeat, NO COURGETTES, piling up on the kitchen counter. It’s a disaster. I miss those green bastards already.

Still, it could be worse. I could be developing a hunchback. Oh wait, I am developing a hunchback. I knew my posture was pretty bad, but I didn’t realise my early-stage hunchback was noticeable to others. Which it clearly is, as demonstrated by this conversation with Rob last week:

Rob: My God, what’s up with your spine?
Me: You mean my hunchback?
Rob: It looks so swollen. (Reader, it’s hard to convey the level of actual disgust in his voice. It was ... significant.)
Me: It’s not swollen. I’m developing a hunchback. *Panic* Is it really that noticeable?
Rob: *Prodding my back* So swollen…

So, yeah, I’m working on my posture now. I refuse to have ‘text neck’, like some Instagram-addled teenager. I will not end up with the biggest dowager’s hump in the nursing home. I’m going to be so upright, people will whisper ‘military,’ behind my (incredibly straight) back. Generals will fear me. It’s going to be a whole new me. Maybe.

Other than lamenting our ruined garden, obsessively checking my hunchback in the mirror, and Googling x-rays of smartphone-addicted youths to make me feel better, not much has been going on. I’m ghostwriting a business book, which, let me tell you, is hard work in the heat. I used to be able to concentrate under any circumstances (TV on while doing homework, presenting in meetings while dreadfully hungover, that sort of thing). But I find now that if the temperature goes above 28 degrees, my brain refuses to function and I have to take myself off for a little nap. Like a bad-tempered toddler. Seeing as the temperature is above 28 degrees for much of the summer and, as a freelancer, I only get paid when I actually work, it’s bad news. Let’s just say I am drinking a lot more coffee than usual.

There must be something jolly to report. Let’s see … Rob put up some guttering on the summer kitchen, and it survived The Storm. (He even went out in his raincoat to check on it.) And we’ve been using our wood-fired pizza oven lots. As well as pizza (obviously), I’ve been roasting tons of tomatoes to freeze for winter (they take on an amazing smoky flavour in the pizza oven), and I’ve even managed to bake cakes in it. Small victories.

So, to sum up: Garden fucked. Hunchback. Adequate guttering performance. Naps are good. Pizza and cake.

Sounds about right.