The hot stuffy weather continues and I’m afraid so does my reduced garden activity. I had good intentions this morning, but Aideen distracted me! We had a phone call from Hatch End Horticultural Society asking for details of the zoom talk they have booked me to give in November. This prompted a planning meeting between Aideen and myself to prepare the content of the talk which we think will be called ‘Church Gardens: A family’s restoration journey’.
We had a lengthy discussion on what should be included and the photos that we would use to illustrate the talk. We then discussed what other subjects we could offer talks on and then further ideas we had about how we can develop fundraising opportunities at the garden and how this will involve Aideen.
Certainly, one positive aspect (sometimes not easy to see due to the overriding negativities of completely losing one’s source of income) of being compelled to shut down your normal work due to the pandemic, is it does galvanise you to consider alternatives. I have now totally reassessed my own working situation and I do not intend (even when allowed) to go back to the same number of hours as I worked prior to Covid. I have worked at least six, if not seven, days per week during term time for as long as I can remember. Luckily, the nature of my work as a professional musician/teacher meant my working hours were mainly from mid-afternoon through to late evening which gave me flexibility to work in the garden earlier in the day and I had the benefit of school holidays (time, not money as I am self-employed and do not get paid in school holidays). However, my hours were long, I commonly worked until 10pm or later (for concerts). Since lockdown in March, I’ve had the opportunity to review my situation and re-evaluate how I want to spend my time. My main focus is now the garden and this alongside my increased caring responsibilities will limit what hours of work I can return to. I remember prior to lockdown when I was caring for dad and Jean on top of my work, that I was completely exhausted and I do not intend to return to that state. This strange ‘Covid time’ has given me pause for thought and I know I need to take this opportunity to follow my dream (sorry to sound corny).
This is particularly special as Aideen who is at the beginning of her working life is coming to similar conclusions. Having had to be completely single minded for so long, practising five or six hours a day, she is now diversifying and deciding what she wants to include alongside her music. Luckily for us, it includes the desire to incorporate working with the garden. She already administers the visits and organises the gardens ‘online profile’ she wants to organise events, maybe run a part time café and she has lots of other ideas. She is now producing wildflower artwork as well, which eventually she intends to sell. I couldn’t be happier with how this is turning out because we really enjoy working together. I’ve always enjoyed the privilege of playing music alongside my girls, but I consider myself extremely blessed to be able to work with them on this garden restoration project as well. I might be able to create a garden, but no one else would know about it if it was left to me. Having spent hours talking, we pay a brief guilty visit to the garden to water and trim the cotton lavender for Aideen’s flower press before I start teaching. Later in the evening I’m pleased to notice James is adding a small courgette to the meal he is preparing, “good boy”!