Weekly Photo Challenge: Urban

30 Aug
Dead Thorns

Dead Thorns (Photo credit: Bryan Gosline)

I have always lived in towns or cities. I have moved house twelve times in my life, despite never being in the military; always to another town or city.

My parents were from central Liverpool.  My Mum had never had a garden so she was delighted to have a small patch when we moved to Runcorn.

She bought gloves, tools and a sun hat and went out armed to the gardening teeth, ready to dig up a storm.

Three minutes later, she was back.  She stood in the dining room and gazed around, not speaking to us as we looked at her.  Finally, Dad said, ‘What’s up? Why aren’t you gardening?’

Mum replied, ‘I saw a worm.’

That was the end of her gardening life.

Our first Christmas there, Santa brought my brother and I a swing for the garden.  I remember swinging happily one day, then suddenly finding myself lying face down in the rose bushes, a plank for a neck rest.  I must have let go too soon.

Dad loved roses but he struggled to grow them, despite careful pruning, watering and the following of instructions.  Around his seventh year of no roses whatsoever, he lost patience and hacked at the lot with a spade and much temper.

Year Eight: a fabulous crop.  Urban gardens are awkward for the sake of it.

Once we moved to South Africa, though still in towns, the houses had huge gardens.  Dad used his to escape Mum.  And Mum encouraged him.

I have never had any interest in gardening.  We had an acre of land around our last house and all we ever did to it was pay someone to cut the grass.

I am a town girl, born and bred.  Nature is for farmers and unhappily married people and the odd weirdo like Pseu and Viv.  I relate to the Mike Harding joke about his first visit to a large park: We knew we were in the countryside because it had railings round it.

But one nice thing about urban living, besides public transport, a shop on the corner, pavements and regular refuse collections, is the council’s attempt to bring the countryside to the residents.  This is the tree outside my kitchen window:

I watch it change all year round, from season to season (plastic bags blowing gaily from its branches).  My favourite time of year is autumn, when it changes colour.

Then the leaves fall off and the street looks a mess.

Ah, the beauty of urban living: someone else cleans it up.


58 Responses to “Weekly Photo Challenge: Urban”

  1. viv blake August 30, 2012 at 12:01 #

    I clicked 2 stars, because that brings up the word poor: those who live in cities are deprived – never knowing the thrill of spotting the first primrose, scenting violets beside the lane, identifying a rare bird, glorying in whole forests of trees changing colour; and some city children think the milk is made in a factory and packed in cartons, instead of given by gentle furry cows with beautiful eyes.

    PS I am not weird and neither is Pseu 😦


  2. adinparadise August 30, 2012 at 12:13 #

    I laughed about the worm. When we had our first garden in South Africa, it was one a brand new estate. I spent hours out there weeding and filling buckets with stones and weeds and chucking them over the wall into to vacant stand next door. I shuddered at the sight of worms, but tolerated them. What really put me off gardening was when we moved to the well established Northern surburbs of Jhbg, and those monstrous Parktown Prawns peeked out at me from under the rocks I was digging around. I just couldn’t do it any more, and we employed a gardener. I like to have a bit of a garden, like we have now; just a few pebbles and pots with pretty shrubs and pansies. 🙂


  3. misswhiplash August 30, 2012 at 12:33 #

    That made me laugh..your Mum and a worm!
    I love the countryside and when the leaves fall they just crumble back into the soil. I couldn’t live in a city, to many people all rushing about. But we cannot all be the same otherwise the country or the rural areas would either be completely over flowing with people whilst the otherside was deserted……so it’s spread around evenly


  4. taniamend August 30, 2012 at 12:46 #

    Precious memories. Love the tree photo, love the colors.


  5. katharinetrauger August 30, 2012 at 13:03 #

    Tilly, I love a great side-splitting joke, but when you just write these gently humorous essays, it is enchanting. I could read this for days.
    I was city-raised, but all my life longed for the country. Now we are in our 60’s and finally can afford country life and I’m really getting too old to labor over a hoe in 105 degree (that’s around 41 to you) heat.
    Still, you are one funny one. This piece fits the description so well. It ought to be translated into several languages so more could enjoy it. Thanks for it.
    And I yield my Malteser prifileges. 😉


  6. sharechair August 30, 2012 at 13:42 #

    Loved your post. I don’t have a garden either, but I always feel guilty about not growing stuff. You made me feel better. 🙂


  7. Elaine - I used to be indecisive August 30, 2012 at 14:14 #

    I wouldn’t like not to have a garden, in fact I would love to have a huge garden – but I would need to have a gardener to do it for me. I can manage my very average sized suburban garden, but any more than that and it would become a chore (not that it’s not already a chore sometimes!)


  8. dorannrule August 30, 2012 at 14:16 #

    Congratulations on your Addictive Blog Award! That’s how I found you – in the recommendations from Kate Kresse of Believe Anyway. I love this post and the several others I have looked at. And they are wonderful. So I’m following you. 🙂


  9. laurieanichols August 30, 2012 at 14:34 #

    You know I love my garden but your post made me smile because you made me think of my dear Papa, he was a city person through and through. He told me that if he were ever exiled to the country he would pour concrete all around the yard so that he wouldn’t have to mow or rake leaves. He did love New York City in the spring however, when others tended the plants. Great post!


    • Tilly Bud - The Laughing Housewife August 31, 2012 at 10:49 #

      If we had the money, I would pave our little patch of garden. It is useless because it is small and in the wrong place.

      Having said that, I am very much in favour of green spaces; I wouldn’t like to pave over everything – it’s not good for the planet.


  10. gigihawaii August 30, 2012 at 14:45 #

    I am not into gardening, either. We hire yardmen to tend to the yard once a month.


  11. aleafinspringtime August 30, 2012 at 14:54 #

    Plastic bags blowing gaily from its branches 😀 Count me in as the other odd weirdo. (though I do like to have my corner shop) Sharon


  12. SchmidleysScribbling August 30, 2012 at 15:32 #

    I’m with you. My daughter and her husband bought a farmette (17 acres) with a bison farm surrounding it. She loves it, but I wonder when she is my age if it will look so wonderful?

    We have a street sweeper too, and the grocery store is .25 miles away. David measured it on his pedometer. That’s what you do when you retire in the city, walk everywhere. Dianne


  13. Tammy August 30, 2012 at 15:42 #

    Oh, I’m definitely amongst the weird! Love the feel of dirt.


  14. Pseu August 30, 2012 at 17:22 #

    Oh, weird now is it? Harrumph!


  15. Lisaman August 30, 2012 at 17:29 #

    Find a fisherman in the village…he’ll have your worms!!!! hahahaha


  16. kiwidutch August 30, 2012 at 18:13 #

    As a Foodie I’d LOVE a garden, as a non-gardener I’d love there to be someone who has green fingers to be on hand to show me the ropes… and help out LOL.
    Sadly our first and second story apartment is in no danger of sprouting a garden any time soon so it’s a moot point for the moment.


  17. terry1954 August 30, 2012 at 22:34 #

    i loved the photos and so miss having a garden. hate the high prices in the stores………………


    • Tilly Bud - The Laughing Housewife August 31, 2012 at 10:59 #

      It cost us more to grow our own veg than it does to buy them. Never again 😦


      • terry1954 August 31, 2012 at 12:57 #

        wow, really? i didn’ know that, back when i was younger, it was the only way to go……..


        • Tilly Bud - The Laughing Housewife August 31, 2012 at 14:20 #

          It was probably just us 🙂


          • terry1954 August 31, 2012 at 14:22 #

            no, i believe you. if you don’t live where u can get free fertilizer, that is costly, getting the ground ready is costly, if you can anything that is really pricey today!!! why do things that were in our earlier days so much better than now!! sometimes the new inventions are costly


  18. robincoyle August 31, 2012 at 00:19 #

    I’m a gardener, so your mom can send her worms my way.


  19. viveka August 31, 2012 at 00:23 #

    I’m an autumn girl too – … I love the finishing of this wonderful post –
    Then the leaves fall off and the street looks a mess. – Ah, the beauty of urban living: someone else cleans it up. Never thought about my urban living like that before – but it’s a good part of it.
    Your mum .. probably save both her back and knees that day – she can thank her lucky star that that worm came along that day.


  20. sarsm September 1, 2012 at 09:03 #

    Hello fellow autumn lover, you’ll be surprised to know that I exceed you. I’ve moved house 19 times! (And also never in the military) 😉

    I’ve lived in both town and country and I’m torn because both have their merits and their disadvantages.

    I find myself fantasising about moving house, but don’t tell my husband. 😉

    Your father should have grown weeds because they’re free and they grow with great optimism.

    It took me 19 or is it 20? no matter, houses to actually get down and dirty with the garden. I have found I can only cope with gloves on and sitting on cushions wrapped in carrier bags and 72 showers when I come inside again to rid my mind of all those ants and worms and beetles and woodlice.


  21. eof737 September 2, 2012 at 09:37 #

    It has its charm… but I am a bit jaded… I don’t like the noise, the dirt; the detritus of urban life… but that is me! 😉


I welcome your comments but be warned: I'm menopausal and as likely to snarl as smile. Wine or Maltesers are an acceptable bribe; or a compliment about my youthful looks and cheery disposition will do in a pinch.

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