"Put detergent in drawer number one and run the machine through a full cycle" . I repeat, the instructions, given in respect of "Your new Bosch High Efficiency Washing Machine" quite clearly said "Put detergent in drawer number one and run the machine through a full cycle". So I did. Then I read the rest of the instructions, and the helpful "Trouble shooting" guide, which effectively said "If you are one of those morons who by the term 'Detergent' understands this to mean 'Washing up liquid' , you will find your new Bosch High Efficiency Washing Machine to be frothing some what. Add fabric softener, stupid, and start again".
Frankly, I have come to expect more from our German cousins (makers of Bosch) than the sort of terminological inexactitude which necessitates an addendum to their original instructions, although I am grateful to them for supplying same, albeit 23 pages after the fact. Satisfied that I have not ruined our new washing machine, my day continues, plastering, screwing and refusing to clean up my mess completely until the imminent return of RHB from her Italian sojourn. She will return to a few surprises, including fully trained cats. Trained, that is. to wake her at four am demanding to be allowed out to play. She will also be pleasured no doubt by my plastering, an new window seat and a fridge completely devoid of food, althouh the garbage will bear testimony to my earnest recycling, despite a degree of uncertainty whether pizza boxes are recyclable or not.
The biggest surprise, though, and one which she is living la viva loca entirely unaware of, will be the front garden, which has been transformed from a garbage dump into a cat/bee/bird friendly haven. Working closely with my great friend JJ, who's new business venture is landscape gardening, we have slaved long and hard to design a front garden that adds kerb appeal to Large Mansions. The idea sprung forth fully realised in a flash of inspiration, similar to those what were responsible for most of my brilliant theories. Even sober, the next day, the nub of the idea was re-examined, and discovered to still be sound, although plans for the solar powerd waterfall, frog-pond, trellised archway and Japanese Zen area were scaled back due to both practicality and stupidity (in that order).
Next day, I questioned JJ closely, as the details of his horticultural knowledge, the foundations on which the plan was originally based, had become hazy over the course of the previous evening. Despite discovering that he was not, in fact, responsible for the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, nor, after all, did he achieve a Gold Medal at Chelsea Flower Show in 2005, but was in fact Irish, (and therefore capable of making anything sound plausible, and easily within his powers) we decided to soldier on in complete ignorance. We have, after all both occasionally listened to Gardener's Question Time on BBC Radio Four.
After a solid hour of hard graft, inspiration struck, so we had a cup of tea.
After another hour, tea-break was over, so we soldiered on, and despite clay soil and absolutely no idea what we were doing, a garden has been created. It may well not be that all we have created is a massive cat toilet, and at the moment, it is a little short on plants, but they will grow. RHB is sure to be surprised. Especially when she thought all I was doing this vacation was getting plastered.