About a year after I moved in to Swanvale Halt rectory the cypress trees along my drive were cut back. Cypresses grow like nobody's business, however, and a couple of months ago my neighbours in the 1960s terrace adjoining the rectory asked nicely if I would consider restraining them again. They were certainly beyond me doing anything about them myself (the trees, not my neighbours) so I was given the name of a helpful tree surgeon by the Diocese and a little while ago he visited and did what was necessary. The difficulty presented by this horticultural exercise was that one of the trees had died and its removal has opened up the ugly and ragged gap you can see in the photograph. It's also opened up an unanticipated vista which allows me to sit on my sofa and regard my neighbour's kitchen, and them, uncomfortably, me.
Last week I went to the garden centre and bought a conifer to plug this gap. What on earth possessed me simply to grab the first potted tree I saw on the unconscious assumption that they're all the same I can't imagine. They aren't. The one I bought will grow no more than about eight feet high, and I thought to look at the label, revealing this information, only once it was planted. So now I have a proper cypress to plant and will move the silly little conifer (which I can't exactly take back) to the site of a former tree in the back garden which died a year after I moved in.
Clergy can claim against tax for their garden expenses, though I never have as mine have always been very modest. Other clergy I know have more justification in doing so: one of my former colleagues had a garden so big it could accommodate an entire Boy Scout jamboree and needed a sit-on petrol mower to deal with. But I think I will make a claim next year: not only has cutting back the cypresses cost nearly £600 but another neighbour has requested I cut back the big lime tree in the back garden, and the diocese says it only pays for tree works 'if it's a matter of health and safety'.
This morning has already been enlivened by the visit of a cheeky bullfinch, and because such a visitor is a welcome one, here, albeit in a blurry photograph, he is.