... and out

losing the plot
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Indy Lifestyle Online
THE MAN in the junk shop looks and talks just like Blakey from On the Buses, but I am not going to be put off. I am on a mission to buy.

There is no thing finer on a sunny Bank Holiday weekend than to embark upon A Project, and my gardening magazine has just informed me that making a water feature is much simpler than I think.

An attractive pot or bowl is suggested, but I am thinking big. On the phone, Blakey has lugubriously promised a choice of three old-fashioned cast iron baths. "I've even got some of them feet somewhere," he drawls. "But my partner died last week..."

I can see my lovely roll-top already, with its ornate clawed feet. When filled up with miniature bulrushes and water lilies, it will be the envy of the neighbourhood.

Out in his back yard, my optimistic mood begins to pale slightly. The baths have been ripped out of some 1960s flats, and the feet, when unearthed, turn out to be bits of rusty metal. But still, I'm sure one of them will clean up lovely.

Back home, Blakey earns brownie points by helping to lug my purchase round the back. I look at it critically. All at once it has mutated into a huge lump of scrap metal.

Strangely, the neighbours are not enthusiastic. I even hear the words "new age travellers" muttered. But never mind. A lick of paint and a couple of bits of trellis to hide the outflow pipe should do the trick.

Three hours later, my water garden still looks like a piece of junk. Now, though, it is junk with new green paint and a bright yellow trellis attached. Still, the plants will make all the difference. The water garden centre beckons.

Using my latest ingenious money-saving technique, I arrive five minutes before closing time and embark on a mad trolley dash which leaves me covered in bits of mud and pond weed. The woman on the till is very kind and even tries not to laugh when I tell her about my plan. If I keep cutting back the invasive variegated grass I bought on impulse then everything will be just fine, she says.

That's the problem with gardening: things just keep on growing. Well, from now on I'll have more time to keep them under control, as this is to be my last appearance on this page. Happy grubbing!