Man versus Machine?

Not normally being one for using power tools, I have today succumbed to the lure of the Leaf Blower.  The reason for this in a word is gravel.  Our new house – as of March this year is surrounded by it in one form or another!

We have neighbours too with a shared gravel drive between the three properties and right of access for the farmer to tend his huge often waterlogged field.  Having neighbours comes with a certain sense of responsibility, especially when neat and tidy looks the norm!

For the last four days on my return from work my senses have been bombarded from both sides by the continuous – and after only a few minutes annoying sound of the leaf blower. For me nature, rake and broom have been my tools of choice in the matter of leaf disposal. However on all this gravel I fear it will become an evil necessity.

I have always found the sight of workers spending huge quantities of time blowing leaves from one place to another slightly amusing. As fast as they blow them in snaking orderly lines even a gentle breeze will whisk them up and distribute them back from whence they came starting the whole process again.

Of course there are other reasons to clear by hand, the whole body workout you get in the process is as good as any session spent in the gym.  The fresh air for another -petrol power tools by their very nature give off fumes, electric with the easy to cut cable can shock you or worse without a circuit breaker.

Well, with all the gravel and pressure of recent activity I had the opportunity to try one out today, thanks to my kind neighbour. The model offered was an electric Black and Decker with the blower attachment fitted – apparently it sucked as well with a different part fitted on.  A short tutorial, basically how to switch it on and I was ready to go

After plugging in and flicking the switch the force from the powered air jolted me backwards like the recoil from a rifle, I was momentarily stunned having not expected such a high power level for blowing around a few dried leaves?  Looking down I was dismayed to see that along with the leaves the gravel was now displaced and I was looking at a patch of bare driveway.

Unfortunately, before I could gather my wits and find the off switch more damage was being done, self seeded Myosotis ‘Forget me nots’ and Nigella ‘Love in the mist’ were being uprooted and flying across the drive at alarming speed along with more of the leaves, driveway and goodness knows what else!

Eventually finding the off switch calm and more importantly quiet was restored, well almost, apart from the security alarm from next door still emitting its constant beep now on day three. They return tonight!

It was my turn to be the butt of my own amusement, I felt I was acting out a scene from a cartoon sketch. With much trepidation I resumed blowing, it was a thankless task but did get easier once I had got to grips with the distance between blower and leaves.  In the end it was down to my long suffering husband to rescue me from this most mundane of mind numbing activities. He blew, I happily by hand gathered and disposed!

Verdict then…… Even surrounded as I am with a sea of gravel, very tidy neighbours and lots of leaf producing trees I will stick to rake, broom and for the leaves I happily leave behind Nature can reclaim as it sees fit with my blessing.








Leaves glorious Leaves

My new watch arrived yesterday a week early, not only does it tell the time but tracks and records my activity levels amongst other things.  Waterproof to 50m – an added bonus for me a regular swimmer all my life. The last four years especially, the water has been my lifeline helping me to walk again. In water there was freedom my limbs could move freely – albeit not always in the right direction. I felt like me before…and then I would have to get out. Back on poolside I was Quasimodo again, limping on my uneven legs, trying to control the sticks from slipping on the wet floors, fear and pain with every step. The challenges of the changing room another story…..

This morning I decided to put my watch to the test.  After a night of heavy rain and strong winds I left home early to drive to my local pool. There is something about being up and out at the crack of dawn, you get to see magical sights that later on completely disappear as the world wakes up. This morning the headlights of my 4×4 revealed the beauty of untouched fallen leaves. They lay on the road in a thick layer covering every inch of the tarmac like a never ending soft eiderdown illuminated in shades of burnt orange, brown, red and gold. The roads became like tracks through fairy tale woods enclosed for miles by the tall hedges and trees on either side of me as I left my village in rural Dorset.

At the centre, my watch set to 25m pool swim I plunged into the cool water. At the end of the session a quick check of my watch revealed it was still watertight. All I had to do was stop the activity counter. Sounds simple!

The first problem was flashing instructions on the watch face, without my reading glasses I could not read the small print. There followed much pressing, swiping and tapping to no avail except to cause reboot!

Back in the car, watch rebooted, in the natural daylight I could just about make out the message on screen. Turn dial to expel water – ok I thought it was watertight! Water expelled and looks like my activity counter has stopped itself.

This time of year out of doors there is no getting away from the leaves, I love nothing better than spending a couple of hours raking them up into neat piles or spreading them as a mulch under the hedges. This was my first job today for a client. The worms had already started working them down into the lawn to decompose and feed the many organisms below. Above ground a robin foraged amongst them looking for his next meal.

After an hour or so of brisk raking I checked my watch to see how much energy I had used only to see it was still on swimming mode, I had now swum 148 lengths and counting! Obviously a lot to learn on the watch front but for now I didn’t need technology the sun was shining, the cold wind was chilling I was doing a job I love in the great outdoors surrounded by Leaves glorious Leaves.