“OK, I need something that is going to cut the grass and not me,” I smiled at the friendly sales assistant the store. Thanks to the recent unusually wet May weather not only has my vegetable patch grown at rapid speed, but also the grass in the field next to me.
There is an oak tree right outside of my front door and I kind of like the symbolism of the tree and the connection with Dubrovnik, in fact how the city got its name. And under the shade of this oak is a rather relaxing spot to enjoy a coffee. Even though its literally five steps from my front door it feels like you’re in the middle of green nature.
However, a jungle had formed under this tree, a jungle that David Attenborough could get lost in.
Now I had already tried (and failed) on numerous occasions to trim this field with an electric strimmer. These are clearly meant for manicuring gentle English lawns and not for hacking through tough meadows. After acrid smoke bellowed out of the last one I bought I knew it was time for a substantial upgrade, it was time to go petrol!
Now I have next to no experience of using these more powerful (and more dangerous) trimmers. In fact, the only experience I have is watching other people use them. But I’ll try anything once.
“Could you recommend the least lethal one and all the necessary equipment to go with it,” I asked the by now laughing sales assistant. “Give me two minutes,” she waved over her shoulder and came back with a whole armful of stuff.
“One question. Why is the strimmer in two pieces?” – “Because you’ll have to put it together” – “If I had wanted a puzzle I’d have bought a Rubik cube.”
Loaded down with all sorts of guards, petrol additives and strimmer parts I waved goodbye.
Being a man I attempted to put the new strimmer together without actually opening the instructions, bad idea. Although when I opened the little booklet I feared I’d never do it.
So here are my two gripes about instruction manuals. One – they are translated with Google translate making them as understandable as Mandarin Chinese. Two – the diagrams inside are so small that even with a microscope you’d have problems reading them. “Slide part (b) across gap (c) and turn in a counter clockwise direction whilst pushing down on flap € and with the valve (7) held in the open position.” I am not an octopus!
After some blood, sweat and tears I finally had a strimmer that looked like I should. Petrol poured in and I was ready for action. I tugged and tugged on the starter cord but apart from a few coughs my strimmer remained silent.
“You’ll need to press this a few times,” advised a neighbour who could see, and probably, hear my frustrations. BOOM! The blades whizzed. Impressive. And then they stopped. A few swear words later and I was away. I looked like a storm trooper from Star Wars. I had protective gear on top of protective gear.
I lowered my blades and the meadow massacre began. Green flew everywhere. My self-constructed grass killer was hungry. In a few seconds I’d already cleared enough space for a barbeque. It was fun.
And then a snake, or rather a lizard without legs, slithered across my horizon. Abort, abort! I lifted the blades and the terrified reptile headed for the long grass. I almost made snake minced meat.
After about ten minutes I had cleared half of what I wanted to. Without killing any animals or losing any toes. Quite a victory. Time for a break. It wasn’t until I turned off and put down the strimmer that I felt the vibration in my arms. My new strimmer might have stopped but my arms were still going. If you want to get in shape use that gym money subscription to by a strimmer.
The aroma of freshly cut grass is intoxicating. Reminds me of playing football at school when the huge grass cutting tractor would pass by. Another ten minutes or so and the meadow was now looking sexy after its haircut. Birds started taking the dead grass away to build nests, my dog was rolling in the freshly cut grass and I spotted my reptile friend peering from the deep grass at the boundaries.
And my arms felt like I’d gone ten rounds my Mike Tyson. How quickly does grass grow?
Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to