One of the worst things about moving house, apart from the fact that you arrive at the new one and find the view might be nice but the house isn't actually as big as it first seemed,
...and the water supply's a bit dodgy,
...and the boiler has to be condemned,
...and you throw out the resident curtains you've paid for because they bear no resemblance to the ones you agreed to buy,
...and it's darker at night than you ever thought possible and the electricity goes off and you can't even remember where the stairs are let alone find the candles and a box of matches,
...and you've a inherited stupid burglar alarm that goes off at every whit and twit and calls the police and you don't know how to stop it,
... and it all needs far more work than you first thought,
well all these things are bad enough, but worse it turned out was what we had to leave behind at the old house.
Our first home, a gorgeous little end of terrace cottage bought mostly by the Halifax Building Society for the princely sum of £12,300 in 1980, perfect for babies and small children but not perfect for teenagers, and so we moved here seventeen years ago and if there was one thing we would have brought with us had we been able to it was our neighbour's tree.
Actually there were several things because after watching The Victorian Kitchen Garden Bookhound had built us an exquisite little traditional brick-based Victorian greenhouse which couldn't come with us either, and come to think of it the kitchen was really nice too... and we had an en suite bathroom which I've never had since, but anyway, no regrets.
The tree we discovered was a Eucryphia, always clotted with masses of beautiful white flowers in early August, and therefore resplendent on the day that I came home from hospital with a tiny little firstborn, Offspringette.
So we called it the Birthday Tree and we loved it.
And each year we'd have the birthday party out in the garden underneath the gaze of the Birthday Tree and its gorgeous white flowers.
I wouldn't have thought it possible to grieve for a tree when I should have been more worried about the fact we were having to pipe water from a cattle trough and there were bits of dead 'things' coming out of the taps, but grieve I did. It was a connection none of us could bear to lose and we quickly realised we would need a Eucryphia of our own in our garden here, so we bought one straight away and had a little planting ceremony.
Then it was in the wrong place so we had to move it which set it back a little, and we waited in vain for flowers.
Then we had a huge and terrible disaster with a chain saw in the wrong place at the wrong time and five foot was accidentally lopped off what was by now a six foot tall tree, which didn't do it much good either.
There were real tears and Bookhound hid in the shed for a while.
I would drive past the old house and covet the house that had proper water coming out of the taps, and covet the Birthday Tree. We would make a point of passing by each August just to enjoy the towering mass of flowers. Then horror of horrors a few years ago the tree was chopped down.... no I'll bet it was 'hacked down mercilessly while people stood around saying, great, look at all the light we can have now' or something. It disappeared without trace and a horrible new fence appeared around our lovely old home and we went into mourning for the Birthday Tree, all the while looking at our own rather stunted and withered version.
Our version is a funny shape because we have been too scared to touch it since its accidental amputation, let alone prune it, and after two frozen winters, the leaves were looking patchy and brown and things were not looking hopeful.
So there we were, sitting out on the garden seat this week and lo verily what did we see...