On a balmy summer’s evening, Martin is round for dinner and we’re sitting outside wondering if the zoom lens on my camera is powerful enough to take a reasonable picture of the stunning moon.
Deciding it isn’t we eat ice cream and stare out into the wilderness.
“Your garden reminds me of your mum’s,” he says, a piece of chocolate falling onto his trousers.
“Because it’s so overgrown and unkempt?”
“I liked your mum’s garden. Do you ever cut any of these shrubs back?”
I thought about it for a moment and realised that it’s rare for me to prune anything preferring instead to let it run wild, just like my mother but without anything like her expertise.
The clutter and chaos that surrounded her, especially in later years used to infuriate me. I assumed she was just disorganised but I think she just had different priorities.
As the UK prepares to swelter in brief but sultry heat next week those that lived through it have been reminiscing about the long hot summer of 1976.
On a visit to my uncle, who happened to be a TV repair man, I managed to convince my mother to buy from him a second-hand colour television, our first.
All I can remember from that summer, aside from the complete absence of green anywhere, was my joy at being able to see the ball when watching the England v West Indies Test series on TV, and playing cricket with my friend Phillip Robinson in the garden between the apple tree and the plum tree that, without fail, used to produce one solitary fruit every August.
The only other thing I can remember is feeling happy in those summers of a childhood in which I frequently didn’t.
I want to buy a campervan but there is an argument within the family about whether or not we need one with a toilet.
I’m wholly against the idea of carrying other people’s waste around in my vehicle but, as is becoming increasingly obvious, I am at my happiest when outside, regardless of what it is I’m doing.
I’ve started to question my motivation for wanting to disappear in a van and I think a lot of it is fueled by that child playing cricket in the garden during the 1970s.
As my children need me less than they once did I find myself turning increasingly to my own playful inner-child, a part who, when he has been obscured for periods in my life, has seen me at my lowest ebb.
I think he mostly wants to drive around in a van with the dogs, not going anywhere in particular, writing in notebooks, taking pictures, and eating ice cream rather than hanging out the washing that is currently sitting in the machine, or cutting the grass which is now making it difficult for the window cleaner to get in through the back gate.
It isn’t laziness, or a desire to shirk responsibility, it’s more a determination to focus time on the things that bring me joy, just like my mum and her wild collection of shrubs and flowers.
Part of the wonder of my mother’s garden was that it invited exploration.
Long and narrow, winding its way towards the embankment and the railway line below, even when you knew what was down there it still held a mystery looking from the house that seemed to draw you in.
It didn’t take you anywhere but then, not everything needs to.