Sunday, 23 November 2008

Prince Caspian

Some of you have seen our Privet Hedge but for those who haven’t let me explain why it deserves those capital letters. It’s a whopper of a beast: twelve feet high and eight feet thick, it runs round the two outer borders of the garden. Keeping it in check requires strategic planning, a good head for heights, and a lot of energy. But it’s worth it and it now provides a home for a whole variety of wildlife, from hedgehogs to just about every variety of garden bird you can name. It also sets up a Bingley secure perimeter and prevents him from leaving the garden.

Or so I thought!

During what we might optimistically call our summer, Jane enjoyed Bingley’s company whilst she pottered around the garden. She’d be doing the borders; he’d be exploring the smells. He’d enjoy pushing his muzzle into the hedge, but it was way too dense for him to get through. All was well, and safe, and secure: there was nowhere for him to go.

Imagine then Jane’s surprise when one day she looked up from her perennials and found herself alone.

He must have gone for a drink of water, she thought as she padded through the house to check. No Bingley. The house was empty!

Dashing back to the garden, she double checked but he definitely wasn’t there.

Now, the side road is quiet but it is used and cars can come along quite quickly. Charging down the path Jane ran out to the side of the house, heart pounding. But still no sign of Bingley, and as she looked up and down the road calling for him she began to wonder how on earth she was going to be able to find him.

I remember once, a couple of years ago, we were out walking in some woodland down by Durham when we came across a dog (a Labrador, of course) wandering along by himself and obviously on a mission. About twenty minutes later we were accosted by an exhausted and distraught looking woman who asked if we’d seen her dog. He’s back there a couple of miles, we told her. I can still hear the way she moaned as she resignedly trotted off in the direction we were pointing.

Now it was Jane’s turn, but before starting the search she thought she’d double check the garden and house. There was still no sign of him however, and once back on the street Jane desperately tried to decide which direction she should start walking.

But as she was doing that she happened to notice a movement at the far end of the hedge. Then, as she watched, a muzzle gradually appeared; slowly followed by the rest of Bingley. He stood there blinking in the sunlight then, spotting Jane, he leapt towards her like a deer, bunny-hopping around and licking her fingers. ‘Did you miss me?’ he seemed to be saying, ‘I’ve been to such a strange place’.

Daft pooch, he must have pushed himself into the hedge and then realised that he couldn’t reverse or turn around, but only push forward through tightly packed branches full of birds nests.

You’d think that he wouldn’t want to do it again, but a few days later he was at it once more. This time I was waving Jane off to work and I thought that it’d be nice to let Bing have a romp around the garden. He likes to go on a morning treasure hunt and track down the latest gifts left for him by his feline friends. It’s disgusting but there you are! But just as I was about to go and put an end to his truffling he disappeared into the hedge. I’m not sure about Narnia, this was more like Field of Dreams where the baseball players simply disappear into the corn.

Rushing out of the garden I was just in time to catch him as he began to wander off. Like the Pevensie children he clearly can’t wait to get back through that hedge, explore that other world and encounter all the adventures that await.

But this isn’t Narnia and until I get some fencing put up around the bottom of the hedge the garden is out of bounds. Bingley doesn’t seem to mind though; inside the house is like Green Knowe to him and there are plenty of adventures to be had indoors.


Anonymous said...

Hi Rob

Loved reading about Bingley and his hedge exploits. I've only seen the hedge once but it still sticks in my mind as a rival for Levens Hall or the beech hedge at Meikleour!!
Do you have a chiming clock in the house and if so, have you checked whether it strikes 13 and Bingley sets off some 'otherwordly' nighttime adventures?


Rob said...

Bing's Midnight Garden

What a lovely idea! Thanks, Alex.

And you may well be right: although I don't think that we have a clock which chimes 13, for the past week or so Bingley has been surprisingly sleepy in the mornings. It's almost as though he's been up all night having adventures in his own midnight garden.

Hedges hide mysterious realms, and although ours isn't as vast as Meikleour I still think Bingley can't resist exploring its twilit secrets.