That’s right, yesterday was the big one. A whole day of RHS exams, but I survived and lived to tell the tale!
Over the last few weeks I’ve found myself increasingly removed from the world, locking myself away with nothing more than a stack of RHS books and notepads filled with illegible scribbles which I’ve made in class over recent months. No longer was I the mature adult striding about his plot oozing charm, confidence and panache! (Well, that’s how I like to think of myself.) Instead, the spotty, lanky sixteen-year-old I thought I’d left behind a long time ago had come back to haunt me with his exam anxieties, unusual chest rash and 80s fashion sense.. (For the love of all things holy, not the ‘Flock of Seagulls’ haircut again! My hair can’t handle that much hairspray, it’s not natural!)
But it’s over, I did my best, so now play can resume. And to officially kick off my summer, this evening after work I stopped by the plot to take some photos, take stock and.. breathe. And after a bit of watering, a little weeding and a smidgeon of pruning, that ‘coming home’ feeling had returned. Over the last month, although I’ve been working on the plot I was always clock-watching, knowing I had to get home and make time to revise.
However, tonight was the first time in a long while I could just, be.. It was wonderful. And to cap it off, the plot is now rewarding us with all things edible. So not only did I go home with that warm feeling and air in my lungs, but a big bag of freshly-grown veg. Life is good!
‘Have you brought any fruits or vegetables onto the planet?’
’Two weeks?.. Er…. two weeks…twooo weeeks’
Arnie’s unforgettable delivery in the sci-fi classic Total Recall couldn’t have summed up my repeating internal dialogue any better. Let me explain why.
As you may (total) recall in my post First Day at School back in September, I announced that after playing truant for nearly 20 years, I was going back to school to study the RHS Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Garden Planning, Establishment and Maintenance. Well, several months on and I’m about to sit the first of my exams – in just under two weeks.
As someone who never got to grips with the academic side of life when I was a wee whippersnapper, I went into this course with the attitude that I wanted to learn and enjoy the experience of learning. If I passed the exams then that would be an added bonus but I wouldn’t blinker myself into solely chasing the grade and missing the adventure along the way.
Since September, I’ve never been far from my notebooks, swatting up whenever a free five minutes has presented itself. It’s not because I want to be top of the class, it’s just that there’s so much to get through in such a short period of time. From the start our lecturer warned us that it would be intense, so to help us get to grips with Latin, pruning and all things garden-related, he has been setting us tests at the start of most classes. And each week, I find myself getting nervous. Looking around the classroom, I take comfort in the ashen faces of the other forty-something students hiding behind their text books. ‘This isn’t so bad’, I think to myself, ‘we’re all in it together’. Well, apart from the know-it-all who sits at the back of the classroom with all the self-satisfaction of a proud peacock, spouting the entire encyclopaedia of horticulture whenever the lecturer is seeking answers and we’re all avoiding his gaze: ‘Please don’t ask me. Ask the peacock, ask the peacock!’
Yet despite all my worries, I’m really enjoying the course. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I think that perhaps with all my work and other commitments, maybe I can afford to pull a sickie from class once in a while. But to date it hasn’t happened, the little gardener growing inside me looks forward to his weekly classes and is quick to slap me into shape.
As the years creep by and my youth sinks into the horizon, I realise it becomes easier to close doors rather than open them and embrace the new challenges behind them. So I’m determined to open every door I pass and peer in. Once I’ve had a good nose around, then I’ll decide whether it’s worth sticking around or to move onto the next door.
So to finish as I started, I’ll leave the final words to Arnie. Who has never looked so good in a dress. Over to you big guy!