Living the Dream: Dirty work will be worth the toil come spring

With the recent break in the damp weather, I thought it would be wise to set to and clear out the ditch which runs through the middle of our garden. I have been dodging this little treat for weeks, but I am sure that will come as no surprise to regular readers of this column.

Shaun McKenna had to get his hands dirty on a job he had been putting off.

The biggest issue is that almost every inch of the ditch is overshadowed by many trees of all shapes and sizes as it winds its way through the garden. Sycamore, maple, cherry, willow, chestnut and even walnut, to name but a few, but the resulting impact of having all these beautiful trees is that they deposit all their leaves into the ditch below.

In the past I have spoken to a number of companies and have enquired about getting the ditch cleared out by a team of professionals, but for some reason nobody has jumped at the opportunity to take the work on, so once again we have had to turn to Yours Truly to figure the job out.

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On the last two occasions I have tackled this less than appealing of tasks I have enlisted the help of my Dad to give me a hand, but I think the last time I roped him in was the final straw, as I sent him home looking like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. He was left covered from head to foot in rotting leaves. It wasn’t intentional, but my job was to stand in the ditch and, with a leaf rake, hurl the contents of the ditch towards a wheelbarrow and quite often my aim wasn’t all it perhaps should have been.

This occasion was different and I needed to find a willing accomplice who could help me to get the job done yet wouldn’t suspect that they may get covered in gunge.

I found such a person in the shape of our ever so willing gardener Simon who stepped up to the plate. I got everything arranged with all the tools out ready to start the job, but just as Simon arrived I had to go on the school run and you might guess what happened next.

By the time I got back from school, he was already comfortable in the ditch and funnily enough he wasn’t ever so keen on switching places, so it turned out that this soft lad had to take his turn on the wheelbarrow run.

We started at the front, beside the road and over the next few hours we worked our way through the garden until it was all cleared out. In fact we even got it completed before it got dark, which was a great result.

Whilst getting the job done we did come across a few ditch residents; locals who weren’t so overjoyed at being awakened from their slumbers.

Firstly we had Mr Frog who was somewhat startled at his disturbance as he was unceremoniously dragged out of the depths of the ditch.

Then, even more excitingly, we came across a fish, a real fish! We were surprised to say the least.

It wasn’t a whopper, like those our two boys would brag about when they have been out all night, carp fishing, but all the same, it was indeed a very real fish.

The end results of our ditch cleaning day means that not only do we have a free flowing ditch once more, but our raised vegetable beds now have some fantastically fertile compost to break down over the winter months, which I’m sure will be a very welcome sight in the spring.

Apart from the smell, I suppose the only down side is that I ended up looking like I had contracted some nasty medieval disease. Thank goodness for the modern luxury of showers.