I like to think of myself as a delicate little flower, hence today’s picture. But the men in my life since childhood have always thought otherwise. As a kid I used to help my dad mend the clapped out old bangers that passed as our family cars. Hot Stuff, the now retired heating engineer, has used me as his ‘apprentice’ on a few occasions when installing radiators and boilers. This week during one of the hottest weeks of the year I’ve been grafting.

Now we have a log burner, installed by the man of the house himself. In the spring our friends Mr Metrosexual and Ruff Stu came begging. With rising energy costs they were after a supplementary heat source. Could they borrow Hot Stuff to fit one of their own.

So, with the go ahead from the orthopaedic consultant to get more active after breaking his ankle, Hot Stuff decided to start the job. Mind you I’m not sure that the doctor would have approved of self administered physiotherapy involving climbing up a roof to pop a liner down a chimney. But there we go. I’ve been roped in too. I’ve lugged two tonnes of rubble out to a skip, generally skivvied and mixed more buckets of render than I can count.

I’ve also been filling buckets with rubble from our own home to take to the aforementioned skip. When Hot Stuff fitted our log burner he didn’t plan on how to get rid of the rubbish. It’s been sitting in the garden ever since. I’ve also cleared out side alley in anticipation of a wood delivery next week. More grafting. And I’ve been chopping up scrap wood with an electric saw. After a couple of hours we’ve probably got enough kindling to last the winter.

I have an admission. Even though every muscle in my body aches I’ve always enjoyed hard physical labour. A late life career change to a navvy will suit me fine. There’s still more grafting to do. Next week I start clearing the back garden. Steptoe and Son would be proud of it at the moment. It has become a dumping ground. But once I’ve reclaimed the space I have plans to turn it into a pretty but functional small space vegetable garden to supplement what we grow at the allotment.

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