Monday, March 23, 2009

Travels with my strimmer....

I'm the first to admit that I'm a newbie to this strimming lark. Not because I've consciously made a decision not to strim, but more because all previous attempts have ended in disaster.

A few years back we bought a sooper-dooper heavy duty Honda strimmer for 200 euros from a friend who'd bought it in a job lot of stuff from a couple who had lost the will to live with their house renovation and scurried back to the relative civilisation of the US. (did you manage to read that sentence without taking a breath? If so, stop now and breath IN). Said friend had tried it out and and reported that it worked well and was good buy. What said friend failed to mention was that he had inadvertently filled it up and used it with 2 stroke. But as any Honda connoisseur knows, they run on 4 stroke. On first use the entire engine casing split in two and our local repairer of all things mechanical, the snake hipped Monsieur L, pronounced it 'compl├Ętement foutu' and beyond repair. Said friend shrugged his shoulders and was in no hurry (then or ever since) to refund the money. The foutued strimmer is still sitting in the barn as a dreadful warning not to buy things from mates in the future!

Those who have been reading for a while will remember that when our very expensive Honda mower died a death not four years after it's purchase I replaced it with a very cheap one that came in an unbranded box marked 'Lawnmower', much to the disgust of the CH. Needless to say, you do get what you pay for and the unbranded Chinese lawnmower has currently gone tech. But with several viewings on the house this week, I felt that the unkempt look of the lawn was reducing our kerb appeal - and as an acolyte of Phil and Kirsty, I know how important kerb appeal is.

The trouble with our lawn is that it was originally a field and if you turn your back on it for a minute, it reverts to the sort of lawn only really suitable for a herd of Limousin cows, in fact, Mellors, my old gardener, suggested we do just that. Cheeky bugger! So with the Chinese Lawnmower out of action I had to resort to trying to tame the lawn with our recently acquired (for 30 euros from another friend - some people never learn!) Ryobi strimmer.

I've always had this vague idea that strimming the lawn would be a relatively calm affair, all you have to do is hook it up to your harness and off you go, creating a bowling green from the cow pasture in wide, sweeping arcs. Maybe if you have a bowling green to start with some sort of neat, surburban affair can be achieved but trust me, if you start off with a field, you end up with a field, only this time it looks like it's had a bad haircut.

The first problem was adjusting the harness so the strimmer sat at the right level. Obviously if you do this before you start it's hugely helpful because trying to adjust it at the same time as trying not to amputate your toes, or those of your nearest and dearest, is more tricky than it looks. Actually no, the first problem is getting the damn thing started. All you do, says the CH, is press the priming thingy eight times then pull on the starting cord thingy, it fires up and off you go. It took me half an hour and lots of swearing to start the damn thing. Why can't things just have keys?

Next you don your goggles - absolutely vital in order to avoid corneal abrasions which are incredibly painful. That's when you discover that your eyes can actually sweat! I used to have a full face mask but..... oh it's another long story involving the same friend who sold me the Honda strimmer but yet again I seem to have come off worst.

All kitted up you meander round the garden swinging your strimmer and in an hour or so, voila, a nice neat lawn. Not so in my case. Your strimmer alternately digs large holes in the lawn and bounces off the tops of the long clumps of grass, spraying you with chopped up dog poo that Prudence, the golden non-retriever, has left behind. Words will be had with the offspring, who's job it is to collect said excrement and dispose of it on a daily basis. It seems that standards are slipping on the Homestead.

A slip of the strimmer and you've beheaded the daffodils and narrowly missed a chicken but you press on gamely. You strim and strim some more, trying to recreate the wicket at the Oval, but what you get bears more resemblance to the Somme the day after.

By now, you've lost all feeling in your hands, so much so that the concentration required to peel the potatoes for supper is such that you might need for splitting the atom with a chisel and a hammer. You look down at your clothes - decent ones which you probably should have changed - and discover that you are now covered in a fine layer of grass cuttings and other things that you decide not to look at too closely. Not only that but the juicy grass has left, well, juice all over you and your white leather trainers are now lime green.

Eventually the petrol runs out and you breathe a sigh of relief and swear that you'll pay someone to do it for you in future. You step back to admire your handiwork. It looks more like the Russian Steppes than a lawn. In fact it looks more like the Spanish Steps.

On the plus side though, you congratulate yourself on all the useful items that your strimming has revealed. The missing head to the pool brush, about 20 pegs, a screwdriver and the dog lead.


softinthehead said...

Although your description brought tears to my eyes, I would love to see photos or are they not fit for publication. At least you got a workout. :)

Anonymous said...

Crikey, strimming has got to be one of the worst jobs! I got tennis elbow the first year and ended up having physio on it for three months.

I fear it might have been a big mistake letting our spouses know that we were "capable" friend in the UK, posh Julia, has always had to have a rest on the sofa every afternoon and couldn't possibly do any physical work. She gets away with it too.

That's where we went wrong!


Holland Park Football said...

Lovely blog, thank you I've really enjoyed reading it

(Very) Lost in France said...

Softinthehead - I did indeed get a workout so I should be grateful for small mercies. I will try to take a photo but you really need to see it in 3D to appreciate the true awfulness of it! VLiF

NWbD - I wish I'd followed Posh Julia's lead and gone for the daily siesta rather than the daily grind! I come from a long line of capable women. My mum says if she had her time again she'd be feeble and incapable. Wish she'd encouraged me to be! VLiF

(Very) Lost in France said...

Holland Park Football - thanks for dropping by. Ah, Holland Park, I remember it from another life. I used to go to a champagne bar in Holland Park, was it called Julie's or something, when I worked at the Beeb. I shall pop over to you soon. VLiF

Anonymous said...

ROFLOL! I used my strimmer once, decided life was too short and now my lawn grows into the flower beds and gets cut as far as the mover reaches. After that I don't care, I can't see it. The strimmer is growing mould in the shed.

teapot said...

All that twisting from side to side will quickly firm up that waistline. People pay good money for that kind of workout at a gym.

Teapot's for hire, strimmer and all.

Phil Lowe said...

Loved reading this post. You've got a great sense of humour. I think every garden has a secret stash of hidden clothes pegs.

Had a quick look at your cats pictures too. Baz seems a character.

(Very) Lost in France said...

CA - I've always wanted to strim. Don't ask me why but I've loooooonged for a strimmer. Now I hate the damn thing! Still, the CH can take over. VLiF

Teapot - ah, dearest Teapot, how nice to see you again. If only you could see my waistline you'd know how much strimming I really should be doing! As soon as the CH leaves you can come and strim. That should get tongues wagging. VLiF

Hello Phil and welcome to my blog. I'm sure if I collected all the assorted clothes pegs from around the garden I'd never have to buy another one. My darling Baz is, indeed, a great character. He's asleep on my foot as I write. Foot is dead but if I try to move it he sinks his teeth in. I'm sure it can't be comfortable! VLiF

Anonymous said...

Have strimmed through dog poo myself on more than one occasion. Fresh ones are the best!