I was green with envy. Why do I always miss out?
Answer, because I don't generally know that there is anything happening that I will be missing until after it has happened and I have duly missed it.
Friends in the next department are in the hospitality business, the sort of place where people start booking for the next year at the end of their current holiday, and they have a huge organic garden. They used to have pigs, sheep and poultry of all sorts too, but it all got a bit too much , so it's back to the fruit and veg and a few chickens.
There have been a few health problems too, which did not make keeping things going very easy, but they, intelligent and resourceful people, have found the solution. They have wwoofers.
When they first told me about this system, I thought they were talking about dogs...well, I would....and visions of St. Bernards in stout green jackets hauling little carts to and fro filled my mind, an appealing vision, but totally inaccurate. What they actually had was human help...the wwoofers turned out to be Willing Workers on Organic Farms and they have been a godsend, not only in terms of physical help but also in injecting variety into their lives. Different people, different cultures, different ages...it all leavens life in the country.
The latest wwoofer was a young French guy but they have had all sorts, Chinese Australians, Americans, artists, postgraduate students, youngsters touring Europe and all with lots to offer.
I immediately started to think of all those jobs a wwoofer or two could help with at my place and the imagination was running overtime......I could get the spring cleared out properly and repoint its' stone housing, repair the bridge to the island, move the soft fruit beds, get the watering lines sorted out properly....all the things I want to do and never seem to have time for.
Then reality set in. My friends are open, hospitable people, glad to see a new face and ready to accommodate its owner.
We, on the other hand, have become recluses, embedded in our daily routine and circle, somewhat like trolls busy turning back into rocks, and I doubt we could cope with strangers in our midst any more. It has been a sobering realisation.
In our time we have been the family Borstal...the misbehaving youth sent down for hard labour by their parents... the family holiday centre in the sunshine, a staging post for friends, and we have enjoyed all of it, but whether we could now cope with someone new I do not know. I think not. In theory I would love to be able to talk to someone of a different generation with a different culture, but the effort to prise myself from the rock would be immense...to have to explain things that are taken as given by our own circle, to have, in the end, to question or - horror - change my way of life.
Other friends scoff.
'It's only a question of feeding and watering them and giving them a comfortable bed.'
I don't think so. I see what our friends do, and it's not just a question of creature comforts, though there are plenty of those. Our friends give their time and their interest too, they include their wwoofers in their family life so that they are truly in a home while they stay there.
I am ashamed to say that I don't think I could do it and any less would not be fair to potential wwoofers, so, unless anyone can offer St. Bernards in stout green coats, I'm back to being on my Jack Jones in the garden. Still, if I'm missing out, it is entirely my own inflexible fault.