Saturday 3 August 2013


I misunderstood a blog comment from Sue Garrett and apologised, “I am an idiot”. She flashed back “yes I know, I met your bother-in-law at your recent Open Day. I only need  say two words, wellies and mower!”


Wellington Boot 
Outside, wellies are my uniform. I use them all of the time, even wearing shorts! I buy what at best might be called ‘bog standard’. They are at least one size too big. I like them that way, they slip on and off easily. I wear them to death. Eventually holes become apparent when I discover they squelch if I stand in a puddle. That is the signal that I need to be more careful where to put my feet. I like the extra ventilation. Eventually holes and tears become so bad someone gently inquires if I know I have a hole in my boot! It’s not Brenda, she has given up! Eventually and reluctantly I have to throw them away. If, by my own low standards, a single boot is still wearable, I store it on my garage shelf. I might eventually have one to accompany it? There are three left boots waiting...

Harry next door would go about his work. No, not gardening, only rarely and reluctantly. He would be tending his animals, working on some machine, do-it-your-selfing, taking wildlife pictures, computing, or more significantly, helping all and sundry when something went wrong. He was a brilliant and gifted engineer and craftsman. Although usually casual, he always wore the best. In contrast to my ten year old cheap t-shirt, his cloths were immaculate and of high quality - as were his wellington boots. 

We were regular visitors to each others homes when we would wander round for a chat and a coffee. Each time Harry came round, by his second or third coffee he would have diagnosed and repaired some household fault. In ten years he virtually rebuilt our home! We would always remove our wellingtons at the door.

Harry had recently bought some new wellingtons from an up-market e-bay supplier. A week after his purchase he mentioned to Cathi that he was afraid they were not of the usual high quality. They noticed a small hole. They muttered about falling standards. During the next few days they became increasingly critical of the boots. They got themselves into a bit of a lather. When Harry found another small tear it was just too much. Cathi, who is a publisher and a former journalist, can be pretty acerbic! She shot off a formal complaint. I can imagine how curt and incisive it would have been. No sooner had she released her epistle into the ether, the penny dropped. Was it just possible…. Could it be that Roger?… He always takes off his wellies when he comes in...

Harry came round on a mission. ‘My’ boots were conveniently parked by the door. They were his! I think gentle Harry was really quite cross! I could imagine when Cathi would later come home, what she might say. My ears burned. They were obliged to eat humble pie and explain to the e-bay supplier that their boots were really quite perfect. They rightly blamed the idiot next door.

Harry and Cathi wrote a blog post on Brenda’s wellies. They called it

Pest Traps

Forticular auricularia hibernaculum. Common name: Earwig haven! Or more commonly referred to as Brenda's Wellies! 

Unloved mower
I mulch mow my lawn. My Mountfield rotary mower has a sturdy engine and a plastic blocker at the back. All my mowings are shredded and fall to the ground. One day my engine seemed to be faltering and it’s tone unnervingly laboured up and down. Harry immediately came round. As an engineer he could not bear the grating engine. He took it back to his workshop. He was good like that.

On another occasion my mower’s forward drive connection ceased to connect. It would need a new expensive part. I took it round to Harry. He had already seen me, red faced, pushing the wretched machine around. He cobbled together a ‘Heath Robinson’ contraption. He said if it failed he would try a different ploy. With my funny shaped lawn I do more adjusting of the drive than is normal and, sure enough, six month later I was back at his door. Eighteen months later, his Rolls Royce mark 2 invention is still working.

Quality botch -the genius of Harry Poole

Harry loved my mower. After all he knew it intimately. When he saw it seemingly abandoned on my front verge, not wishing to disturb us, he took it home. It was all Brenda’s fault! What had happened was, when I had just finished mowing she had urgently summonsed me to do some chore. I completely forgot my mower was outside.

Harry, ever critical of my powers of observation and even doubtful of my sanity, decided to test me. He left my mower standing on his lawn, clearly in full view of my garden. He wondered how long it would be before I noticed. After three days he was starting to despair!

Dave, the aforesaid brother-in-law, was up for a visit. Harry let him in on the secret and enrolled his help.

“Harry seems to have a new mower”. 
“ Yes, I have seen it, its a bit like mine”
(Next day).
“Harry’s mower looks very like yours, Roger”
“ Yes, but mine’s bigger, wonder why he wants one. Perhaps he wants to mow his edges where his ‘ride on’ won’t go?”
(Next day)
“Is there any chance it is your mower, Roger” 
“No of course not, why should my mower be there? Mine is in the garage. His is rustier than mine anyway. It’s most unlike Harry to leave something lying around.”

They both threw in the towel. Harry pushed it home again. He declared, “I rescued it just as a passing white van had stopped to inspect it!”

Sometimes I think I am not all there.

Anyone want a mower
Loss of a dear friend and neighbour

Harry Poole was full of fun and mischief. I am sure he would approve of this frivolous post. Sadly he died on April 4 this year. Life is not the same.

Cathi has now mastered his large mower. The sprayer that Harry repaired so often has been put to good use and there are no weeds in his garden. The two-stroke hedge trimmer he mended and showed me how to start, has cut his side of the hedge. I am embarking on new planting. A memorial pear tree is waiting to go in. Part of Harry’s legacy was a huge pool of love and goodwill. Everyone has rallied round.

Cathi is selling the old Lotus Europa that Harry restored. It has been parked, unused, in his garage for the last 15 years.

Our own life has changed. Brenda has renewed the maintenance contracts on the heating and burglar alarm systems. I am fretting over the mower forward drive repair and handling my sprayer with extra care. I am wearing Harry’s wellingtons.

No words needed


  1. Roger, if you can have No-dig vegetable beds etc, is it conceivable that you could also have No-mow lawns??

    1. Good morning Mark, No, grass perhaps, with grazing. Not lawn.
      No dig veg in the hands of a skilled practioner can be as good as or better than conventional. Veg are your passion Mark and my own come nowhere near your own quality. I am far too casual and untidy- wild even!
      I do have a few small wild fescue grass stands in my cemeteries, perhaps about 1 or 2 square metre patches that are unmown and at certain times look rather good, especially when the wind blows through them giving a combed effect

  2. That really is so sad.

  3. Get Cathi to write a sitcom as I bet she has lots more stories she could use (your brother-in-law did say they were the two stories that came immediately to mind). You could be the gardening answer to James Herriott - It Shouldn't Happen to a No Dig Gardener

    1. Cathi helps run YPS self publishing and she would love me to write a book! No chance
      I would not have the patience
      I prefer the instant gratification (and sometimes mortification) of blogging!

    2. A lovely tribute to Harry. At least you aren't too embarrassed to own up to your failings!

  4. Harry is your wildlife photographer, isn't he Roger? What a sad but sensitive post. I think we'll all miss those pictures.

  5. I was so sorry to hear about Harry - I have enjoyed and looked forward to his brilliant pictures ever since I first started following your blog Roger. He sounds like a special friend that you will miss for a long time. I loved reading your funny anecdotes and couldn't stop laughing about the wellies. I will look forward to a picture of that pear tree on the blog!

    1. Thanks James and Poppy. Cathi has a large library of Harry's pictures and so I hope to be showing more in the future. Indeed my next post as a tribute will be nine of his lovely pictures

    2. I'll look forward to that very much Roger. And I'm really pleased we'll still be seeing Harry's pictures in future posts - hopefully that means there'll be a few more garden wildlife ones!

  6. Beautiful and moving x

  7. I met Harry exactly 5 times, 1st. time to help with a Netgear router problem, well not exactly a problem more a password issue, it's a chicken name, but which one? Next was another techie type internet problem but more about me wanting to understand solar PV and here was the best person to ask, next was to "prune" a Pear tree, that for some reason was in the wrong place?

    This was the ultimate prune, and he had lots of wood and a little mess.
    4th time was to chop up said wood, and to evaluate the patent log splitter, what a fun day

    Last time, was to "walk the walls" of York, taking pictures, so interesting.
    I also shared the beautiful photography, and just loved the "sparrow hawk" in your garage rescue pictures
    Now I have the 1969 Lotus Europa in my garage, this is just a beautiful car, it just needs a little prod, and this car will be on the road, but most of all this car is a true testament to Harry's skill at engineering, apart from all the other stuff


  8. What a sad loss. Harry sounds like the sort of neighbour we would all want. I have always loved his wildlife pictures. Your wildlife posts are his legacy - long may they continue.

  9. Hilda and Johan4 August 2013 at 21:58

    Earwig traps? Brilliant. Great way to recycle old wellies!

  10. Thoughtful and funny - a great post. He was certainly a very good photographer.

  11. Harry sounded like he was a very good friend to you Roger. I think all your blog followers have enjoyed his photos. It is kind of you to help out in his garden now - we hope that you may blog your endeavours!

    1. Heartrending and funny at the same time. I agree with Grant - this post is indeed a testament to friendship.

    2. I would have loved to see Cathi's second letter to the ebay seller!

    3. So would I Grant. I wonder if she has kept a copy!

  12. Cassie Charlesworth5 August 2013 at 20:42

    A lovely story of friendship.

  13. What a lovely story! Mad! But lovely :)


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