A recent coffee spillage on the computer keyboard left us without a fully functioning computer. It was kaput. The same thing happened to somebody else I know, only in their case it was red wine not coffee. When you no longer have it you realise how much you miss it, especially in today's world of emails, websites and such like. It's only a button push away as long as your buttons are working.
Frustratingly aware that our buttons weren't working, and the laptop computer wasn't going to mend itself without some form of human intervention, a last ditch attempt was made to restore technological sanity to the household with WD40. It works well on lawn mowers and spark plugs so why not computers? We sprayed copious amounts from all angles, switched on the machine and awaited the result. It was disappointing. The computer was possibly more kaput than before and exuded a powerful aroma of oily coffee. From now on whenever the topic of a computer malfunction arises I shall advise against WD40. It's not really a good use of engine lubricant.
Anyway, as a garden writer of international repute (the man who brought you such gems as 'how to prune your roses with a chainsaw', 'eradicating black spot with tuna pasta left-overs' and other such innovative techniques for the horticulturally emboldened) being without a computer is most inconvenient and not something that I am used to. Worse still, I discovered that I may have lost the knack of hand writing. Nothing cognitive, you understand, simply that the relevant muscles are too weak to function on a sustained basis due to a lack of hand writing practice over the years. (I blame the computer!) But then again, does it really matter?
The coffee spillage situation occurred on a Sunday morning. With no internet connection to research what might be happening in the locality that afternoon I perused the Ross-shire Journal and spotted that House of Aigas was having a Garden Open Day.
As a garden writer of international repute (blah, blah, blah) there's no better way to update your gardening knowledge than to visit someone else's garden for a good rummage about in their flower beds and shrubberies. Each garden is unique. So we took advantage of the Scotland Garden Scheme (Garden's Open for Charity - this one in aid of the Hospice) and headed for House of Aigas near Beauly.
Car parking on the lower lawn was well orchestrated by a gentleman with a stick who behaved as if he owned the place (he probably did), the scenery was spectacular and the weather kind. The garden, of course, was well worth a visit - for otherwise it wouldn't be open to the public in the first place. We wandered the grounds, admired the herbaceous and non-herbaceous borders and then inevitably arrived at the main house for coffee and cake. A garden is a garden for all that, but refreshments on the other hand can range from the dour and uninteresting to the truly spectacular.
I found myself in the 'great hall' sitting next to Hamish, a well-known accordion player in the Strathpeffer Dance Band, who seemed to enjoy his plate of sandwiches and cakes as much me. We briefly discussed music venues in Ross-shire as well as exchanging pleasantries about the state of the cakes. "Have you tried the carrot cake? Must get some of that. What's she eating?" was the general gist of it.
Anyway, we had a good afternoon out and I would heartily recommend both the gardens and the refreshments.
The following day we made a trip to Inverness to buy ourselves a new computer (that was an expensive cup of coffee) and life is now restored to how it used to be.
Copyright Patrick Vickery 2011